Saturday 21 December 2013

Some dreams

So, it's again one of those times of the year.

Oh, I don't mean festive food, long evenings with family and friends, and sharing of presents. All that's fine.

No, I mean one of those times when you are expected to lie.

OK, not to adults, not to most adults anyway. But you must be very, very careful not to say anything that may imply the non-existence of a certain fat beardy guy who, somehow, fails to ever be arrested for speeding (on a pretty hazardous vehicle, too) or trespassing, despite numerous alleged occurence, within earshot of a child who may not already be aware of the facts. On the other hand, nobody feels any hesitation in flat out lying in the face of kids who may not have been exposed to superstitious nonsense (and could very well start to believe it).

But the lying brigade has a ready-made explanation: kids need to dream. It is bad for them to learn some truths.

Well, I can't prove otherwise of course, but if they do need to believe in Santa to develop a balanced personality, that would mean that many, many generations must have been traumatised. After all, we are talking, essentially, of an early 20th century creation by the Coca-Cola company.

And it's some dream: if we are to believe the songs that we hear, Big Brother had nothing on him: he knows when you've been good, he knows when you've been bad, he knows when you're sleeping... And the idea is to reward that by an orgy of consumerism without meaning (there cannot be much meaning to a present if the person "presenting" it is supposed to be a mythical being with whom you've never had any contact). By the way, the only logical conclusion for a poor kid would seem to be that he has behaved a lot worse than the rich prat who got spoilt.

No, surely we should never let them imagine that presents might be thoughtgful gestures from people who make them because they love you and sought to convey some meaning through them. That would be nightmarish.

Anyway, I don't pretend to know for sure what's best for people of an age I haven't had in quite a while. But when I look around me, I don't get the impression that our society suffers from a lack of consumerism and an overdose of meaning. And I have to wonder whether shielding kids from the latter by pretending that the former is provided for by some magical being really improves things.

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