Species invest time, energy and other vital resources into their offspring. They take critical calories and burn them in service to their progeny, calories they could be using to get stronger or more secure in their characteristic struggles. Some leave eggs on the beach, others raise them for a season, and still others raise them for years. Humans take significantly longer than other species to reach adulthood. There is a critical amount of investment needed to bring offspring to adulthood, at which point they are understood to have a sufficient chance at survival and procreation. Humans have in recent history counted children at age eighteen to be adults. I reference history because healthy modern eighteen year old humans are still fully or near-fully dependant on their parents. Other human cultures allow an earlier maturity and independence, but modern western cultures have been pushing this number back. I would guess a national average is closer to twenty now, and for the affluent and educated it would probably rest closer to twenty five before full independence is reached.
There are significant elements of the human population that are investing more in their children than historically normative. We are in a transition. Education levels for men and women of all economic classes are higher than their economic and working situations demand. We have a surplus of education in our culture. We have also begun to get more and more free time and free income for these same groups. This secures, at all but the lowest levels, a group of parents with education and intelligence that goes unchallenged during their work day, and the time and money to exercise their atrophied mental limbs outside of work.
A contributing factor is the idea of the meritocracy. The belief and trust that merit will win out in the end, maybe not in every specific situation but in the majority of situations, the best will be rewarded. Whether this is true or not is not as important as the belief of the populace that it is true.
This leaves modern affluent parents in the western world in a unique situation to provide unprecedented investment in their children. We still do not know what this radical change in parenting investment will yield. The children of the sixties became the first of these parents, and they had generation X, to whom we should credit the explosion of the information age. It was this generation of offspring who were sufficiently invested in, that they could dive into the primitive computers with active imaginations and a nurtured intelligence and bring in a new era of mankind. History will look back at this primitive information society and wonder at our rapid adaptation. Marvel at the type and amount of labor required to build programs that support our new economy.
Observation of Acceleration
This is an example of what the first generation of investment children have accomplished. They still live and work, and have much time left to add to this record. They have yet to fully take political power from older generations, although this is not too many years away. In the meantime they are having children of their own. On average they have waited later, and the more affluent and educated they are the truer this proves. They have waited till they were more capable and mature than their parents were, and if observation proves true they are investing more in their offspring than their parents did in them, possibly double or triple the investment of critical resources.
Speculation on Division
What will this accelerating investment cycle bring us? What will our first and second generations of investment children bring forth upon this planet? My speculations on this topic bring more hope than fear. I wonder if the cultural singularity will come or if we will evolve with too much speed leaving ourselves vulnerable to the still savage and brutal parts of the globe. This will cause upheavals and forced balancing of power. We see it beginning now.
Mankind will change dramatically, at a rate unprecedented, within the next three or four generations. They have the potential to fulfill our hopes for human kind, but we have a global concern; certain parts of the world will enjoy this and others will not. Those who do not are a threat to our offspring. We must equip them with similar advantages, or we must equip our children with the power to subdue them.
Those Standing to Loose and the Final Minority
The future is always opposed by those whose way of life will have to change to thrive. These peoples will wish to hold back change and even regress into our past where their ways of thinking were dominant. They will look ahead at the change these investment children bring and dread the future. Our offspring must advance to a point they can peacefully bring the majority of these people along with them, they can not be ignored or deprived. Their dread must be combated with hope, and assurance that they and their children can participate and thrive at an equal level. Once the majority of hold backs are convinced of this we will be left with the minority. The minority of these will have to be subdued and forcefully dominated until their generation dies off. With every generation the minority will find itself decreasing, and becoming more marginalized and irrelevant to the new world around them. Our investment children must woo and encourage each generation to join into their present; still our anticipated but future.
We are living in a historical time of transition. We would like the world to slow down, but we keep doing every thing we can to speed it up. How else to give our children a better life? What is the limit of investment that we would make in our children? Our only limits are our willingness and our capability, both of which are reaching levels never before seen in such a large section of human society.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006