Does age confer wisdom?

Not necessarily. Left to develop on its own, oldiness is a waste of time. Nothing is learnt, when nothing is attempted. My evidence is anecdotal, but consistent, over all groups and ages, then and now. We begin by learning nothing at home or in school. Having formed this habit, it continues later.

Among the most essential lessons for youth, is the art of saying, No — to things that shouldn’t happen, even when temptation is involved. Surely I am not the first to have observed this. Nor will I be the first to continue, scolding in this way.

Parentage is crucially important. Habits, once acquired, will be maintained, and will not be changed, by a law of spiritual physics, matching the rĂ´le of inertia in the material science. The newborn may sport an individual nature. As a sometime rescuer of kittens in childhood, I became aware of this. Each appeared to have been born — conceived? — with a unique personality. It is not so wide as for human babies, however.

Without picking another fight with the Darwinoids, let me gently insist that this is where their first assumption is undermined. For kittens have much behaviour pre-installed; verily, all creatures come with “instincts,” as we awkwardly call them. And this behaviour irresistibly implies all kinds of foreknowledge. Some “instincts” do, and some don’t express themselves over time, with or without experience. It is a practical mystery, how they cut in and out, and how one interacts with another. And too, how they interact with learning: the gradual, or traumatically sudden, formation of “habits.”

But the newborn human hasn’t any habits, yet. These must be instilled. Chiefly they are instilled by example, though reward and punishment comes into this. Family is, for good and for evil, where the habits start, and the earliest are, unavoidably, externally imposed. I am using this term “family” very broadly here, so that the “family” of an infant may be an orphanage.

The first habits will prove the hardest to overcome, if, with the passage of time, the defeat of a bad habit appears to be a good idea. The longer it has gone unchallenged, the harder it will be. This is why I say parentage is crucial, and on closer investigation, we are likely to find that real love was crucial. By “real,” I cannot mean the “love” that permits anything — especially in children. I mean the love that includes foresight. Eventually, self-love must include this, for the formation of which Christians speak becomes, with growth, a conscious undertaking. It grows until it can govern and control the body’s mere pleasure-seeking.

Among the features of our society most visible to an adult observer, here in Parkdale for instance, is the proportion of children who never grow up. By sixty, they are still exhibiting habits they should have thrown off by six. Tantrums particularly come to mind, as I listen at my window. This “art of No” has never been absorbed. An adult should know he cannot always get his way, or demand that others provide him with services at no cost to himself. He should not be the seed for totalitarianism, as it were.

The political “culture” at the present day is “conditioned” by these personal failures. One might cite statistics on public and private debt, or in a thousand other areas where statistics are collected. This practice itself — of being guided by statistics — indicates a childish fatalism. We count things as inevitable because, “statistics show …”. We use them ludicrously, to do things like predict the future; we wish to participate in trends. The fact that numbers are invariably meaningless unless a great deal of context is provided, is not understood. If it were, the population generally would grasp that whether true or false, most statistics are unnecessary.

Rather, one might just look around.