Sharing Is Caring, You Stingy Little Jerk
*struggles into too-tight ranty-pants*
I just read this article:
And, y’know, honestly, I’m torn.
On the one hand, I get what’s going on here — and I agree that sharing as a blanket concept is one with some notable holes in the fabric. Sure enough, if my kid is playing at the playground or in the parking lot of a strip club and he has a Matchbox car he’s vrooming around, just because some other little shitbird or some parking lot hobo wants to play with it isn’t reason enough to give it up. Sharing is not a religious tenet — consent is a concept that is learned early, and if a kid says, “No, you cannot play with my Go-Bot, motherfucker,” then that has to be respected. You don’t just get to paw at things you want because you want them.
On the other hand, we try to teach little B-Dub to share — within reason. Because while sharing as a concept is a flawed one, most concepts are flawed and pretty much all of life’s lessons are possessed of a spectrum of nuance (and we know how well toddlers do with nuance!). I mean, it’s one thing if my kid has his own toy he doesn’t want to share. But if he’s bogarting a slide or has sprawled out in the McDonald’s ball-pit like he’s Baron Harkkonen or some shit, y’know, he has to let public objects be shared amongst other children. The slide at the playground isn’t a seat at the movie theater. He didn’t pay for it and stake claim to it — it’s a thing that exists for the public good. If I don’t step in, he’ll run that slide all day long, continuing a perpetual motion loop that freezes out any other kid who tries to get near it. Their eyebrows will be blasted off by the speed with which he continues to lap the slide again and again and again and again.
And it’s times like these I realize that lessons learned in childhood are lessons that could carry on through adulthood. This isn’t just playground bullshit. This is life stuff.
Recently, I’ve seen a fresh spate of Stupid Assholes on Facebook (they should really be their own tribe at this point — the SAoF!) say things like: “I’m an old man, why should I have to pay for some lady’s maternity care!” Or, “I don’t have kids, why should I pay school tax!” Well, uhh, let’s see, you selfish fuck-swab, maybe it’s because that’s not how this stuff works. You have to pay for that woman’s maternity care same as her insurance covers your boner pills so you can stick it to sassy Margie McGovern in the retirement home break room. You pay to keep schools up because — oh, for shit’s sake, do I really have to explain this? Because we want to live in a smart country, not a dumb one. Because our taxes go toward community support, and it isn’t an individual savings account geared toward the things you think you deserve. I pay for roads I don’t drive on because — oh, I dunno, YAY ROADS. Taxes aren’t about You. Taxes are about Us.
So, then I wonder: were these people taught not to share? Were they allowed to cleave to that most toddlerian of impulses — the near-feral ME, MINE, WANT, DON’T TOUCH, MINE, MINE, MINE?
Then, on the other hand –
People who download books and movies and TV shows and all kinds of things they didn’t buy. They, too, have that precept of MINE MINE MINE, but the original lesson could’ve gone the other way — they believe in wide open sharing, that what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is yours and sharing is caring which means give me that newest Game of Thrones episode or I’m going to upload web-cam pics of your naked mother to 4Chan.
And then I wonder: how much does this tie into one’s idea of personal liberty? I’m Murrican just like the rest of you — I bleed Heinz Ketchup and gunpowder, too, folks. The problem is when people extend that personal liberty to be something they deserve even when it inhibits the liberty of others. That’s where things get fucky. And again I wonder: does all this start in childhood? Does one’s rampant selfishness start there (almost certainly) and stay because of what happens at that age (could be, rabbit, could be) –?
I don’t have any good answers here. I’m just shouting about stuff.
What I do know, however, is this:
What you teach your kids matters. And what you teach your kids is better when it isn’t some black and white convention — because much as we’d like life to be THIS WAY or THAT WAY, it almost never is. Everything is on a spectrum. All things, given to nuance, and in the process, gravitate toward the middle of things. Maybe if we build into our kids a sense of “it’s a little bit this, a little bit that” — creating in them a clear sense that not everything is simple — then we won’t end up with the festering dungbucket that is the current state of the Internet, where everybody takes an entrenched MY WAY OR THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY position and digs their heels in so hard the horse they’re riding buckles, farts, and dies. Maybe if we teach them about give-and-take, and sharing (when it’s appropriate), and consent, and the complex vagaries of existing on this little blue-green planetary marble we call home.
Then again, maybe I’m a crummy parent. Who knows?
Oh, the other thing I know is:
The worst thing about other children is the parents of other children.
Seriously, Other Parents, if your kid is being a little jizz-stain, I blame you, not him, except one day he’s gonna be out there on his own and you won’t be around anymore and when he’s all-growed-up as an “adult” (note the sarcastic air quotes), the blame will fall to him by proxy, so maybe pay attention to your kids, don’t let them be little assholes.
Whitney Houston said, I believe that children are our future.
That could be a hopeful promise.
Or, knowing some kids out there, it could be a damning threat.
*rips off ranty-pants, flings the into the trees, runs into the woods*