It has been decades since Paradise was built. The first mice that lived there surely must have felt lucky. Disease was eradicated, food was infinitely abundant, nests were plentiful, and predators became a long-forgotten fear. The only rule in paradise was that no mouse could ever leave, but who would ever leave paradise?
Paradise became violent as it became crowded. The instinct to defend one’s mates and territory still existed in the mice, despite the irrelevance and irrationality of such an instinct in this newfound home. An underclass formed that seemed to believe it had nowhere to run to, and as such it simply endured all kinds of violence. Those that endured violence became violent themselves; A sickness took root in the underclass.
But the sickness ran its course. The violence ended, and an ever-increasing number lived their lives without suffering at all. Their lack of scars led the males to be called ‘the beautiful ones’, and by most objective standards their lives were improving all the time. If happiness is measured by a lack of suffering, the beautiful ones were happy.
Yet a new sickness came into full force with the beautiful ones, supplanting the old sickness of violence. This new sickness had grown slowly over generations. The infinite resources of paradise gave the beautiful one’s mothers too many children to properly care for and socialize. The lack of socialization led to unchecked violence, and the violence prompted further maternal withdrawal. This simple spiral reduced the social skills of every generation until the beautiful ones were born. The beautiful ones did not even attempt to socialize, which meant they never fought. The cycle of violence ended because a worse disease took its place.
The beautiful ones refused to interact with others. Even when plucked from paradise and paired with normally raised partners, every single one of the beautiful ones refused to mate. Not that it mattered, because the sickness of Paradise had other effects.
The spiral that created the beautiful ones also created a generation of females with virtually no maternal skills or instincts. Adapted to a violent world, the bodies of would-be mothers no longer spared enough resources to fully nourish a litter. The potential mates of the beautiful ones were functionally infertile.
Worse yet, we pretend like we learned nothing. “A man is not a mouse,” the objection goes. “Humans are so much more complex than mice that any comparison is foolhardy.” Of course, this objection is rarely spoken and is thus rarely challenged. It is silently believed.
It cannot be argued that my generation was normally and completely socialized. A majority of our parents prioritized their own ‘happiness’, their immediate emotional condition, over their parental responsibilities. Those parents not guilty of such neglect instead tended to micromanage their children’s lives to such a degree that those children were isolated from every sort of normal social interaction. As children we were either starved of real interaction with one (or both) parents or starved of the opportunity to interact naturally with our peers. As young adults we were all pushed away from our home towns through colleges and into new cities, breaking any chance of building community with those whom we shared a childhood.
As an obvious result, the social interactions in my generation are stunted. We pretend to mate, as if that is an adequate substitute for the level of social interaction that creates a family. We can have acquaintances all over the world through a screen and not a single nearby friend to eat a meal with. Only in the past few years have we found ourselves free from the educational grinder, so we are acting out in childish ways and playing the games of pretend that should have occupied our childhoods. To be sure, many still ended up as well-adjusted people with normal social circles, but many more are socially damaged in ways we are just now starting to understand.
I can personally attest that I only desire to put myself in social circumstances intermittently. I quickly grow tired of continuous social interaction, real or virtual. How much of this asocial behavior is natural introversion, and how much was instilled through a childhood of constant scheduled activities and traveling between the houses of divorced parents? I may never know.
Filling the immediate physical needs of every citizen is commonly treated as the ultimate goal of society, as if that solves all other problems. This pursuit is at best flippantly justified with individualist mantras. The social consequences of grand welfare visions, the potential to rot the human soul, is dismissed with prejudice.
Why should I be surprised though? Political decisions are still being made by the same generation that gave trophies to every single kid. That generation seems to believe that someone’s physical existence must be affirmed even at the expense of denigrating the legitimate accomplishments of others. That generation taught my generation that success doesn’t matter and was then surprised we learned to be nihilistic and materialistic.
Starting in the twentieth century, the conclusion of every great war has brought the declaration of a new union that none are ‘allowed’ to leave. These unions are not formed by the integration of conquered territories. These unions are formed by the voluntary surrender of sovereignty. We have convinced ourselves that humanity is so evil that it must be permanently caged.
A man is indeed not a mouse. Yet, we chose to prioritize the happiness of the individual over the social upbringing of the younger generations. We chose to focus exclusively on meeting our immediate physical needs. We chose to build social cages from which no one can escape. We have created the same social conditions we once created for mice and we are suffering the same downward spiral.
I stand in a dying Paradise.