There is nothing new about instilling fear in children – just ask the Brothers Grimm.
If anything, the stories we tell our kids these days have been hugely watered down. In a modern tale like, say, Finding Nemo, your protagonist might get swallowed by a whale, or flushed down a drain, but not generally abducted Pied Piper-style.
But while the Brothers Grimm have long since retired to Florida, the political left seem to have stepped in to fill the vacuum.
During the 1980s, nuclear annihilation became one of the great bedtime tales – so much so that psychologists gave it a name – Nuclear Anxiety. At one point, researchers claimed that 45–50 per cent of western youths aged 10-19 worried about the negative impact of nuclear war on their lives. For some, it was a factor in deciding to be childless.
Ironically, for most of us, this most fearful time coincided with one of the most peaceful times in world history. In fact, it was so peaceful for most of us, that someone had the time to come up with a name for it – Pax Americana. Though readers of this blog from the likes of Vietnam and Cambodia would have good reason to question it, there is sound empirical evidence supporting the idea that we have been living in historically peaceful times.
Despite or, more likely, because of the threat from nuclear weapons, nobody has used a nuclear weapon in warfare or felt the need to march into Poland for more than 60 years.
With the end of the Cold War, presumably much of this fear has fallen away.
Ironically again – I hope your irony-meters don’t explode with all this – our fear of nuclear power (now proven as one of the safest sources of power) has contributed to increased carbon emissions, and our latest scare, global warming.
Once again, the left has stepped up by trying to frighten our kids. As Tim Blair points out, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that fear of climate change is invading young minds.
Now surveys of Eco-Anxiety are starting to mirror those of Nuclear Anxiety amongst children of the 1980s.
History seems to be telling us that at any one time, the left seems to need a certain quota of apocalyptic dread. The question arises, why?
One possible explanation is that by simply building anxiety about existential threats, activists can then create a world of good and evil – and heroism – around lives which are otherwise pretty mundane.
Maybe this helps explain actions like the Climate Fast, where ordinary citizens are starving themselves, all in an effort to
achieve a state of sanctity one step up from their current state of grand delusion.