I believe I have a duty to teach my kids how to be naughty. Not rude, or mean, or nasty. Just a little bit, well, challenging now and again.
The phrase Rod for My Own Back springs to mind – do I really want to raise children who challenge my authority all the time? Certainly not. But do I want them to be equipped to know when to ruffle a few feathers here and there? Yes, I do.
People who make life a little harder for authority figures often get labelled as ‘naughty’, but their lives are no less ‘good’ because of it. Indeed, sometimes they live better lives than the majority of us.
I am not after total anarchy – I like all of us having a good understanding of the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. But equally, blind compliance with authority is not necessarily the ‘good’ path either.
The point that I am trying to get to is that, in my book, defining ‘being good’ as complying with the requests of the state, the media, your school, your employer or even your parents only really works if those institutions are themselves worth complying with
But how do we decide when to comply and when to rebel?
Plato spent rather a lot of time chit-chatting about virtue, goodness, justice and all that jazz. I have to say, Wikipedia kind of sums up how helpful I find this work:
“The Form of the Good is one of the most abstruse doctrines of Plato’s….and there is no scholarly consensus as to its meanings” Wikipedia
However, what I do like about Plato is how he wants us to challenge the ‘facts’ as they are presented to us. Nothing illustrates this better than his analogy of the cave.
There we are sat in a cave, where we are presented with shadows on the wall, and told that these shadows are the ‘truth’. You can decide for yourself who is casting these shadows: Corrupt Media Empires, Dodgy Politicians, whoever. But to really understand the world, you’ve got to (a) realise you are sat in a cave, being spun a load of crap, and (b) want to get out of that cave and have the means to get out of that cave in order to discover the ‘truth’.
If you have time, this Youtube clip sums up the cave analogy better. If you haven’t time, check out the first two lines of the Bay Watch Theme Tune. I can imagine the Hoff in a toga.
As a parent, I think I have a moral duty to my kids to guide them out of that cave (or, in the modern world, away from the idea that mindless consumerism and the ‘news’ as presented in tabloid journalism are reality). You might disagree, you might prefer the cosy comforting cave-ness of it all. But there is something in me that believes it is important that as our children grow they can question the ‘facts’ as they are presented.
It is therefore pretty evident to me that I have a duty to ensure that my kids are able to think and sometimes to challenge. This challenging behaviour might not be compliant, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.
Why is this important to me? Well, when having a ‘good’ career goes hand in hand with spending limited time with the family; when you get a job in order to be a ‘good’ member of society, to find you still cannot afford to eat; when to go to an ‘outstanding’ school you have to move and have a mortgage debt that means you have to work so hard that stress pours out of you, then it’s time to ask if the good life as presented really is all that great. It’s time to challenge that version of the good life as presented.
By querying, questioning, challenging and sometimes not complying we could end up getting labelled as being a bit of a pain in the arse. That’s good for me. And it’s good for my kids.
On that note, I leave you with the Hoff.