Monday, February 20, 2012

Soccer Moms: Pillars of Modern Society?

They seem harmless on the surface.  In fact, they seem downright selfless. 

Soccer moms are almost everywhere, scurrying about, sacrificing their own interests to make sure Junior and Sally get to all those developmental activities.  They help their children identify and cultivate interests, develop skills and relationships, and grow stridently into young adults with a solid base of knowledge, grace, and confidence.

Perhaps we should all pause and thank the next soccer mom we see for her important role in raising the next generation of Americans.  Unless….wait a minute... maybe they’re not pillars of modern society but parasites on modern society.

Many, if not most of the soccer moms I encounter, are bright, aggressive, college-educated women who see themselves as the CEOs of their families.  Nothing wrong with that; I applaud their strong sense of conribution.  In the CEO role, their key goal is to secure maximum advantage and resources for their own offspring.  All the scheduling of activities and seeming sacrifice to get the kids to those activities are mere byproducts of their own master plans to help the family “get ahead”.  Great attention is paid to small details that can enable better seats at the school play, a free instrument from the band program, the teacher of choice in 4th grade, or any other special attention or privilege that might be available to the cunning CEO. 

Unfortunately, some scarce community resources (participation in an advanced academic program, for example) are made available only in small portions.  The community sets them aside from the general pool and meters them out to those most deserving students with qualities that might, if properly developed, help the entire group.  Undoubtedly, some such resources get secured by the more capable family CEOs and cannot benefit other, more deserving recipients, for which the resources were intended.

We all want what is best for our kids and our families, but we also all live in communities where sometimes, what is best is to have a strong network of trusting neighbors and friends.  The all-out effort to achieve personal gain at the expense of the community is a direct affront to the notion of cooperation.  It’s not OK to put your own family ahead of every other, all the time, in every respect, regardless of what’s at stake.

Cavemen figured this out and gathered together in cooperative tribes. They learned to share resources and eventually, to divide labor into specialized tasks according to whom in the group was most well suited for each.  In the early days, survival of one and all depended on each tribe member fulfilling their role.  If Thog or Gruk acted selfishly, it would have been immediately obvious, and dire consequences would presumably have followed.

We’ve come a long way since then and today; any single individual’s contribution to society is an imperceptible blip, lost in the grand scale of a global economy.  But through it all, our keen ability to perform social accounting has stayed with us.  In fact, there is palpable animosity toward those who appear to be willingly “living on welfare”.   This speaks to our innate sense that we all owe it to one another to live civilly in cooperative groups where each plays a role, contributes to the greater good, and consumes no more than their fair share of common resources.

If you ask me, many soccer moms (certainly many of those in my neck of the woods), are way over the line in this regard.  I see them engaged in an anti-social routine of diligently exploiting the system, expertly capturing social favors, and ruthlessly hoarding public resources.  They do this each day, in full view of the children who observe it all from the backseat of the minivan.  These soccer moms are unwitting models of devastatingly selfish behavior, training a whole new generation of anti-social adults.

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