The Importance Of Consequences
Why a simple approach to parenting will never be attempted outside the home
As many parents learn (but sadly, many more do not), consequences are essential for behavior modification. Clueless parents modify their children’s behavior by accident, for example by yielding to screamed entreaties like “I wanna wanna wanna wanna ice-cream NOW!!!”
Even a very dull-witted child will quickly learn it can get what it wants by pressuring its hapless parent unit in this way.
Equally, if a child is told in advance that a certain behavior will result in a consequence that is meaningful and unwanted by the child, there’s a chance the child will eventually learn to moderate its displays of that particular behavior — but only if the parent actually follows through, every single time, to impose the aforementioned consequence.
Fortunately for our wonderfully functional modern world, most people then forget all about this terrible concept once they reach puberty or the moment they step out of Parent Mode, and they never again permit it to trouble them in the slightest. Instead of consequences we get zero consequences.
Naturally this means that all kinds of interesting behaviors flourish unchecked.
We now live in a world where people believe the Earth is flat, that the climate isn’t being changed by our astonishing emissions of greenhouse gasses, that Trump isn’t a compulsive liar, that Brexit wasn’t 100% based on infantile lies, that evolution is untrue, that being obese is merely a legitimate “body option choice” and an endless list of equivalently brain-dead nonsense.
No consequences are imposed for any of these harebrained imbecilities so they flourish everywhere, causing incalculable harm to society.
There is, fortunately, a very simple solution: impose consequences.
Let’s start with a favorite among members of various right-wing Christian sects: evolution is “just a theory” and that the real truth is “intelligent design.” We should not waste time with facts and reason; debating with such people is no different from attempting to explain to a worm the concept of integral calculus. Instead, let’s impose a simple consequence based on basic logic: if evolution is untrue then bacteria can’t have evolved resistance to antibiotics. Therefore if an evangelical Christian or some other spouter of such infantile nonsense is suffering from a bacterial infection we can simply prescribe penicillin. Because that will still work if evolution is untrue.
This will have two welcome effects: a certain amount of suffering will be imposed prior to death, which may have a much-needed educational effect on the person’s family and friends; and it will remove from the face of the Earth someone who was using up precious oxygen for no good purpose.
As for the flat Earthers, we simply pass a law forbidding them to use any technology that depends on the Earth being in fact an oblate sphere. No more GPS-enabled devices such as smartphones and automobiles that have navigation systems embedded within them. No more airplane flights to any destination whatsoever. No amateur shortwave radio sets. Nothing developed in consequence of the last 60 years of space exploration: no Teflon, no computer technologies, no polarized sunglasses. In fact there are literally thousands of products that must be forbidden to flat Earthers arising from this simple rule alone.
Next up come those who think that climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese to enable them to sell solar panels. As climate change is untrue there’s clearly no drought in the western States of the USA so we can stop permitting farmers to drain the water table. We can also remove all homeowners’ insurance that covers climate-related disasters, because if climate change is untrue then the incidence of such things will remain low and well within yesterday’s actuarial projections. Which means good ol’ boys won’t need those fussy carpetbagger insurance policies, will they?
Next up, the mindless howling Trumpists who are intellectually incapable of understanding that their great orange god has been lying shamelessly to them for years and they’ve been too stupid and ignorant to notice. As Trump has built “the best, the most beautiful” wall in all of human history, we don’t need those thuggish ICE personnel and those concentration camps any more. So we dissolve ICE and tear down the cages. Problem solved!
And as obesity is simply a perfectly valid fashion choice, we can stop treating all those obesity-related diseases, thus freeing up healthcare spending and hospital beds for people who need them for illnesses that aren’t caused by appallingly irresponsible lifestyle choices.
Of course we’re not going to do any of this, because we now live in a world in which practically everyone imagines they are entitled to free ice-cream always and forever and with no consequences attached.
We have become a society of infantile adults, unwilling to accept the responsibilities that come along with our many privileges. The very last thing we want is any form of consequences for our actions, no matter how self-harming they may be. We want politicians to pander to us, to promise us that we can have free ice-cream forever. And if they don’t then we’ll vote for someone who does make those promises.
Because we’re human.
It’s going to be a truly glorious future!