|The Strategic Concentration of Modern Children||President Obama Will Never Have a Plan|
by Christopher Chantrill
December 25, 2012 at 12:00 am
WHEN I WAS a child I liked presents, and I notice that children have not changed in this respect. My eldest grandson, who was born in France, knew all about “cadeaux” from an early age, and the children of Spanish-speaking friends know all about “regalos.”
But we adult men hate presents. No doubt that is why, studies show, the majority of shoppers in America’s stores are women except for the three days before Christmas. On December 23 I saw three men loitering suspiciously near the gift card display at my local supermarket.
In my case, the advent of Christmas always provokes a feeling of panic. At some point, I know, I will have to give up on work and writing, not to mention the care and feeding of the vast web empire known as usgovernmentspending.com, and think about other people. Bah, humbug!
The Lady Marjorie, of course, composes a list of presents and people by early November and has the whole operation complete by Thanksgiving. But she is something else.
Why do men hate giving and receiving presents, and women absolutely love it? I think it is because men want to concentrate resources, while women want to spread the wealth. Men are fighters, and anyone knows that you must concentrate your forces before giving battle. But women are lovers, and that means giving and receiving. It is better to give than to receive, of course, so that is probably why the president is so eager to shower his favorite voter Julia with gifts all through her life.
You can see why women are so focused on gifting. It’s all about relationships. When you are in a relationship you can gauge the other person’s interest by the intensity of giving. No gifts equals no interest.
What makes a woman really mad? It’s when she gives and gives, and gets nothing back in return.
So we can say that the manly disinterest in gifts merely reflects a manly disinterest in relationships in general. A man needs to keep his options open, his powder dry; he must be ready to make the bold stroke, fire the devastating broadside.
The trick is not to take it too far, you Scrooges. It’s all very well to snap at the professional charity fundraisers: Is there no welfare? Are there no food stamps? Official charity, whether governmental or non-profit, is cold and calculating. What makes the the world go round is a smile and an act of kindness. It takes you and me giving and receiving as free people, and that means closing the laptop and stop checking your smartphone.
When Charles Dickens’ Christmas spirits lead Scrooge around England in The Christmas Carol, the old miser gets to hear what people are saying behind his back at Christmas, and he discovers what he lost, years before, when he gave up Love for Gain. Mrs. Cratchit would like to “give him a piece of my mind to feast upon.” His nephew plays a parlour game in which a “savage animal” turns out to be Scrooge. And the worst of it is to see the women at the junk shop selling his bed curtains the minute he is dead.
It turns out that Scrooge is not a savage animal, after all. He is human, and a modern one at that. For the Spirits of Christmas do not need to frighten him with the threat of divine justice to straighten him out. All it takes is a bit of eavesdropping. Scrooge is a social animal after all: he cares what people think about him, and he cares about Tiny Tim.
What a lucky guy he is. As soon as he goes out into the street and starts smiling at the world, the world begins to smile back.
As for me, I managed to slow down enough get out into the Christmas scrum and buy a few presents. And I decided to buy a few gift cards to give to the checkers at my local Safeway. Those folks work hard and don’t get no respect.
For you Scrooges that still haven’t quit work for the holiday, here is an out. Charles Dickens may have celebrated family and domesticity, and conjured up an endless parade of sainted heroines from Agnes Wickfield, Little Dorrit, Little Nell, to Florence Dombey, but when the chips were down he dumped his wife after 23 years of marriage and took up with an actress. I suppose it just proves that Dickens was a true Victorian, double standard and all.
Sunday night, after I finished this piece, I headed out to the airport to meet Lady Marjorie’s flight from Charlotte--in green pants, a red shirt, tails, and a top hat. After all, I didn’t want people to think I’m a Scrooge.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America