No Substitute for Experience

The greatest teacher one will ever have in life is one’s own experiences. Unfortunately, the negative ones have the most power to instruct us in the coarseness of reality. When we are young, the majority of us follow our hearts, and we imagine a world in which everyone views the world in the same way. The world, however, is the great teacher and it will teach us many hard lessons that guide the person we become. The animal kingdom is an excellent example of what life is actually like as an adult. Adults compete for resources with one another and look out only for themselves and their families. It isn’t like this in every respect as there are still groups of people that understand the value of friendship and working together for the betterment of the community. As you grow, you become more isolated in the sharing of your real emotions, and this is a universal defense mechanism against the pain inflicted by those that wish to use your desires for manipulation. This molds us the into various incarnations of the modern human being, and not all of them are good. 

One of the most significant joys in life is being a child. We have what seems to be an unlimited optimism for the future. Not knowing yet the true nature of the world we imagine ourselves capable of accomplishing anything we set out to do. We view the world as if we are living in an echo chamber that our wants and needs will manifest the reality we envision. There is always a moment in life we will all look back on when our carefully crafted illusion comes crashing down. For me it was simple, feeling the purest love, the type of love only a naive mind could ever conceive and then inexplicably having that love derided and used for the gain of it’s intended target.  I’m sure others have become acquainted with reality in this way or perhaps their childhood hero whether being a parent or other close relative revealed their less than true heroic nature.

These moments in our history craft what we become. As painful as life can be it’s essential that we allow our children to experience the pitfalls that growing up invariably produce. The harshness of reality shouldn’t be kept from our children for the entirety of their youth. The sudden realization of the bitterness of this world and it’s inhabitants after a childhood of sheltered existence can shatter the fragile ego that such a life creates. The sudden shock to one’s system can produce criminals, emotionally abusive people, and generally, add to the chemical dependence of society. This is not to say that exposure earlier will eliminate all cases of the above-listed maladies. Some people are just not made to cope with harsh conditions, and they will buckle. I saw this first hand during basic training in the army. There were those that couldn’t adapt to the circumstances, and it was impossible for them to do so. They were in effect grown children crying out at the unfairness of it all. Some of them even attempted suicide and in some cases murder. The conditioning that you receive there is a form of brainwashing that is meant to shock your system to its core to mold you into a shape fit for their uses.

The majority of us however after our brushes with reality learn to temper our emotions so that we may better handle the challenges that other people consistently bring to our lives. If the difficulties of living were limited to just living day to day with no input from others then following one’s heart would be as good of a way of living as any other. The reality is though that most don’t care what you want from life unless it benefits them to do so. The animal kingdom is a fair representation of what real life truly is. Yes, animals don’t have a conscience and increasingly as anyone with eyes can see neither do we Humans. We see the further devolution of humanity when we examine our prison systems, for there it is survival of the fittest and dog eat dog.

The younger generation has much to offer. They are just coming into adulthood. They have lived a much more isolated existence than those of my generation. The paradox of this being that society is more interconnected than ever before through social media and cell phones usage, but it has never been more disconnected from itself or actual feeling and emotion for our fellow man. We have young adults that have been read fairytales throughout their formative years in school and at home that grow into adults that don’t know what it means to be one. They want to rebel against the status quo as we all do to some degree. They haven’t yet stood up to live, and naively proclaim to others how they should live. Experience has been even less of a teacher to this generation. They have most likely grown up under overprotective parents made so by the constant news of violence shared on the evening news. I grew up in the eighties a much more violent time.  I grew up in a world where kids were allowed to explore on their own and yes get into trouble, but also to experience so many aspects of life that the children of this modern era have not had the pleasure of encountering. We have pampered our kids to such a degree that we have created an entire group of people that still naively believe that all their hopes and dreams should trump those of everyone else. They haven’t had the virtue of experience in their lives and thus are traumatized by improper pronouns or someone with a different view from them.  Nothing can ever replace the lesson that experience teaches and we should not hesitate to allow our children to make those mistakes because doing so might prevent a much more tragic one later on.

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Author: James Borden

I'm a veteran of the U.S Army, with one deployment to Afghanistan. I will not pull punches in my articles and what you see is what you get.

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