Most folks know about Peter Pan. He is a fictional character created by Scottish writer J. M. Barrie in the early 1900s. He is “a free-spirited and mischievous young boy who can fly and never grows up. Peter Pan spends his never-ending childhood having adventures on the mythical island of Neverland.”
Various versions of the Pan story have been produced. If you are not familiar with some of the earlier works, you might have seen the 1991 film version Hook directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Robin Williams. Regardless, Peter Pan is well known as someone who refuses to grow up.
Hmm, sounds awfully familiar. Why does it seem that the West today closely resembles Neverland? The sad truth is, we are now raising an entire generation of Peter Pans. We are now creating millions of individuals who refuse to take responsibility for anything, who refuse to grow up, and who refuse to live in the real world.
They are in a state of perpetual adolescence, and many might argue they have not even progressed beyond the toddler stage. They act just like self-obsessed juveniles, forever interested only in themselves. As pampered snowflakes, they are ever ready to lash out at anyone and anything that challenges them or causes them offence.
They are eternal victims, always being offended and always ready to go on the attack. Incredibly, we mostly see this on display at our college campuses. Students there will declare war on anything that bothers or offends them. They are even happy to declare war on free speech, just so long as they can be free of being offended.
They have never grown up, and it clearly shows in their behaviour. Mature adults take responsibility for their actions, learn to get along with those they differ with, and seek to move forward. But this generation of cry-babies refuses to go this way, relishing instead the victimhood culture in which they forever take offence and live in a flood of microaggressions.
No one is safe in such a culture. The slightest thing can set these folks off, and they will respond with all manner of bullying and abuse. It seems they go out of their way looking to be offended, and then they will take suitable action: lashing out at others, demanding they stop what they are doing or saying and conform to their preferred way of living.
We had a classic example of this just the other day. Consider this story out of Australia:
Customers at a steakhouse in the Melbourne CBD were disrupted on Saturday night as a group of animal rights activists stormed the restaurant. Thirty-five members of the Melbourne Cow Save Animal Liberation Army forced their way into the Rare Steakhouse at around 6.30pm, chanting slogans, standing around tables and holding signs up against windows in an attempt to “speak up for animals where their dead bodies were being consumed.”
In a video posted to the group’s Facebook page, the group can be seen lining the restaurant with customers continuing to eat their dinner despite the demonstration, several bewildered diners reaching for their phones to film the scenes for themselves. “In order to create change in our society, we must challenge current belief systems and force people to take a side; oppression or justice, cruelty or compassion,” the group wrote on Facebook.
‘We will force you to do what is right in our own eyes.’ The coercive utopians in action again. Whether it is burning books in the streets in Germany last century, or shouting down visiting speakers on college campuses today, these snowflake warriors are on the prowl, and will insist that you stop doing what they do not like.
And hey, isn’t it quite common for these very same folks to tell pro-lifers, “If you don’t like an abortion, don’t have one”? Maybe they should apply their advice to themselves. If they don’t like a good steak dinner, then don’t have one, but butt out of other people’s lives here.
Welcome to our brave new world. That plenty of examples of this can be found on a daily basis is a real worry. Even more of a worry is when our experts and eggheads seek to normalise all this. Consider just one recent news item from the UK:
Adolescence now lasts from the ages of 10 to 24, although it used to be thought to end at 19, scientists say. Young people continuing their education for longer, as well as delayed marriage and parenthood, has pushed back popular perceptions of when adulthood begins.
Changing the definition is vital to ensure laws stay appropriate, they write in an opinion piece in the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal. But another expert warns doing so risks “further infantilising young people”.
Yep, we should just affirm and accept this tidal wave of young adults who refuse to grow up and become real adults with real responsibilities. Let’s just all live in a perpetual state of infantilisation. Beats growing up. Beats being a responsible member of society. Beats having to live in the real world.
Just act like a cry baby, forever take offence, and lash out at anyone who gets in your space or makes you feel bad. Hmm, as parents we tolerated that only slightly when our children were actually toddlers. But even then we sought to teach them how to grow up and better get along with others.
Now we are saying this is the new normal. That is a recipe for disaster. Over a decade ago Diana West penned an important volume entitled, The Death of the Grown-Up (St. Martin’s Press, 2007). The subtitle says it all: “How America’s Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization”
The book asked the question, ‘Where have all the grown-ups gone?’ West argues that America seems intent on creating a generation of adult adolescents: men and women who refuse to grow up, to become responsible and productive citizens, but who instead seek to perpetually remain teenagers.
She looks at various factors which led to this, such as modern marketing, cultural relativism, multiculturalism, and the youth culture – they have all combined to entice adults into never leaving childhood. This widescale case of arrested development, and the mainstreaming of adolescence, spells bad news for the West.
Her book begins with these words:
Once there was a world without teenagers. Literally. “Teenager,” the word itself, doesn’t pop into the lexicon much before 1941. This speaks volumes about the last few millennia. In all those many centuries, nobody thought to mention ‘teenagers’ because there was nothing, apparently, to think of mentioning.
In considering what I like to call ‘the death of the grown-up,’ it’s important to keep a fix on this fact: that for all but this most recent episode of human history, there were children and there were adults. Children in their teen years aspired to adulthood; significantly, they didn’t aspire to adolescence. Certainly, adults didn’t aspire to remain teenagers.
She concludes her volume as follows:
What to do? It’s not enough to yell “stop,” or even “grow up.” It’s a start, though, if, in the process, we withstand the likely excruciating growing pains to undertake a serious, candid reexamination of the human condition, circa twenty-first century: as parents who need to guide children to maturity; as individuals who need to reimpose boundaries on personal behaviour; and as nation states that need to reassert border control and enforce immigration policies that preserve, rather than transform, this uniquely Western culture. Such an undertaking begins by breaking our silence. And breaking our silence begins by conquering our fears. Which is also a part of growing up. We have nothing to lose. It should now be clear that the civilization that forever dodges maturity will never live to a ripe old age.
The opening quote she offers from Eric Hoffer is well worth me closing with:
“If a society is to preserve its stability and a degree of continuity, it must know how to keep its adolescents from imposing their tastes, attitudes, values, and fantasies on everyday life.”