I’ve already fussed about the trend I mentioned again in the last blog, the message that virtue and good deeds will ensure you are warmly accepted into the social community, regardless of who or what you are. This seems to be the trendy social message. I’ve characterized it as part of a movement to over-protection of children, but now I’ve been looking for the origins of the message. I think it comes from anti-bullying programs.

The United States has always been known for its philosophy of Individualism. This is defined as being independent and self-reliant, and also as a social theory that favors freedom of action for individuals over collective or state control. Anyone who’s uncertain of what this means can find it in novels by Ayn Rand. Specifically, this means that individuals should form their own opinions and take responsibility for their own actions without being dependent on others. It also means that strong individuals don’t allow themselves to be peer-pressured into things they don’t want to do.

The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP) was developed in the early 1980s by Norwegian professor Dan Olweus. It was first implemented in Norway, but soon crossed the Atlantic and took root in the USA. Bullying has changed over the years. In 1980, most bullying took place face-to-face, through either physical or emotional mistreatment. With the advent of social media, however bullying has disappeared from adult view. Sometimes the first parents hear of it is when their child tries to commit suicide. To counter this, efforts at bullying prevention have increased. The OBPP and similar programs have a number of components, some of which include immediate adult intervention when bullying is discovered, presentation of positive adult role models and a strong effort to include all children in a supportive social community.

So, we have opposing philosophies here. The supportive social community that suppresses aggression suggests collective control. Lots of kids don’t fit in. However, if you are this kind of kid, you have to learn to own it. Difference is the source of critical thinking, and learning to deal with this is one of the hallmarks of say, the successful scientists and engineers of the future.

I can see the point of the virtue + good deeds = acceptance message, but I just don’t think it’s going to work out for a lot of kids. No amount of virtue + good deeds is going to take the tragedy and conflicts out of life. I suspect kids who still can’t make it are going to be dangerous.