“Get ready for a better world,” shouts a slogan from a children’s theme park which first came out some years ago. The park, as described in Dr. Anthony Esolen’s illuminating book, Life Under Compulsion, is a dream world where children can pretend to be adults. Not, mind you, in the normal manner one might see with a young girl pretending to change her dolly’s diaper. Rather, it is a make-believe role-playing of adulthood, but in the new “productive” way. Esolen explains this theme park:
“Through role playing in adult occupations, they earn a ‘salary’ that can be ‘deposited in the central bank and accessed with a realistic-looking debit card’ – after a ‘tax’ of 20 percent is deducted. […] Every year millions of parents take their children to this theme park, happily handing over the large admission fee, so that their children can… what? So they can take their position on an assembly line, or deliver packages, or prepare fast food, or make plastics, to earn enough to amass the latest consumer gadgets and pay their taxes to an unseen government overlord. Here we see a firm commitment to the tyranny of the useful” (p. 16).
Industrial revolution, meet the indoctrinating revolution.
I cannot imagine taking my children to a theme park so that they can be baptized into a surreal adult world of dullness, fake joy and, perhaps my least favorite word of all, empowerment. But then again, my wife and I homeschool our children, and we are partial to the saner things in life, like imagination, play, and living without artificiality. It seems as parents we are a rare and dying breed.
What can explain the rush to have children experience adulthood so early? It surely must be madness, if not demonic hysteria. “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not” (Mark 10:14) says Our Lord. “Make them suffer indeed, and forbid their innocence,” replies the demon. It is an inversion of what is true and beautiful.
When I was a child – here we go again – when I was a child things were different. I remember fondly how I used to innocently say “Mass”. I would bow profoundly at the “consecration”, recite memorized prayers with solemnity, and receive “communion” – no doubt crackers or, on a good day, chips – with a purpose and devotion to put my adult life to shame. I was playing a game of discovery, imagination, and sweet surrender to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. But to be forced spuriously into this? It is an absurd contrast. Imagine a “program” for such a boy. He is brought to a church and given a perfectly prepared table to offer his pretend Mass. There is a gathering of hired people, with a choir, and perhaps even an audience paid to laugh at his scripted jokes he is supposed to say while preaching. What an inane thought. The boy would surely blush with embarrassment. It is not fun and playful. It is not devout. It is artificial. It is unimaginative. It is, in fact, an insult. Dare I say such a boy would never think again about becoming a priest. Dare I say he might never again return to church.
Let the boy play his Mass. Let the girl play mother to her dolls. Let them discover these rolls for themselves, and in doing so be elevated to adulthood in the right time and with the right disposition. The boy will become a man, for he will have conquered his dragons a thousand times already in his imagination. The girl will become a loving mother, for she will have taught herself how to make the many sacrifices required. Imagination cannot be factitiously created. It must be nurtured.
I return to the original excerpt from Esolen. He is rightly concerned that our pseudo-culture will poison the innocence of youth. His book was published in 2015. Dare I say it is already out-of-date. Or perhaps more precisely, his book has already come to full fruition. The innocence of youth is lost.
I am an elementary school teacher. Oh the stories I could tell! I can honestly say that, save a few children, I am the most innocent person in my class. That is a scary thought. Here are but a few examples of conversations in the new “better world”: Did you hear about the social media star who recently was threatened with being demonetized? All because he was seeking “subscribers” in exchange for his girlfriend stripping articles of clothing on a live broadcast. Or that TikTok now has “Testicle Tuesdays” which are for… I don’t want to know. And shall we, for fun, count how many violent killings there are in the movie Venom? As for video games, apparently many dark things go on in the online gaming world at 3am (a time when children used to be asleep). They must be intriguing things, or at least a good excuse to sleep in through the morning. As for the number one culprit of lost innocence, the cell phone (or rather the instant-pornography device), the destruction is dully predictable. When you give a child arsenic-laced candy you should at least have the decency to not be surprised when death is the result. “You should stay away from that stuff,” one child was advised by his parent, the same parent who pays for this unfettered machine of filth. But such a child will have never known any other life. It’s just what you do. A rite of passage. Starting in grade two, or younger.
No, there is seldom an innocent child anymore. They were dragged unknowingly into a morbid adult world, told it was “fun”, and left to fend for themselves amongst the corpses. It is systematic cultural child abuse. I mentioned the industrial revolution earlier, a time when youths were forced to bear the dreary loads of men – or rather beasts. We now have the moral industrial revolution, where youths must bear the disgusting loads of depraved adults. At least in 1840s London a youth would actually sleep at night.
The results of lost innocence are predictable. If adults are depressed, so too are children. “I hate my life,” “I want to hurt myself, “I want to die,” I have heard recently. Careful what you say. Seeing as I live in Justin Trudeau’s Canadian dystopia, soon the government will take care of these wishes instantly. Just like the adults. Get ready for a better world? This better world is but a stranglehold of demons, and they demand blood, the blood of children. Rather, get ready for a collapse. We are murdering a generation; spiritually, mentally, and perhaps soon, even physically.
I offer no solution. Nothing other than God, of course. But I do ponder what might happen if we were to reverse roles…
Get ready for a better world. Come as you are. Fathom this… the admission is free! Children can pretend to be a nurse, or a baker, or a mother, or even a priest. They can build a rocket ship to the moon, fight a dragon with a “real” sword, or even experience being a pet dog if they wish. The program is remarkably successful! Generations swear by it. And now, for an unlimited time only, it is available to your child. Of note, the contract’s fine print states that electronic devices are not permitted. We prefer to say that children are left to their own devices. But this place is unique and exciting. In fact, it sounds too good to be true! Where shall we find such a place of magical offerings? We shall find it in a place called Outside. In a place called Quiet Church. In a place called Classic Stories. In a place called Imagination. In a place called Innocence. In a place where we once dwelt, and must dwell again. In a place where there is a better world indeed.
Dan Millette is a husband and father of four. He teaches in Saskatchewan, Canada. Millette is a graduate from Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College in Ontario and has a Master of Arts degree in theology from Holy Apostles College in Connecticut. His personal blog is www.bravestthing.com.