Thursday, 24 January 2013

Farewell to Permission Slips

The Spear recently heard mention of a long-forgotten item which, in the opacity of his past, he vaguely recollects was of great importance.  The humble ‘Permission Slip’ as it were; that bottom-of-the-page, perforated slice of parental abdication, hadn’t found reason to impress the audacity of its existence on The Spear’s cognisant mind since the days of pre-tertiary education.

The very fact that there once existed a time when The Spear needed the written permission of a guardian to participate in such activities as excursions, sports and just about anything extending beyond the realm of lead-pencil-based education, now seems rather bizarre to him.  Now he is answerable only to himself and the Law.  Somewhere along the line The Spear evidently became his own person, free from the tyranny of the Permission Slip.  That somewhere, his living in Australia, was his eighteenth birthday.

From memory, there was no grand sensation of transformation which accompanied his shedding of ‘minor’ status upon reaching the Age of Majority.  The Spear believes this feeling was not present for himself, and likely most others, because the majority of freshly minted adults do not want to immediately abandon the security and protections which come with a degree of parental providence, such as free rent and groceries.  Only gradually once legal adulthood is reached do people, unless in dire domestic circumstances, seek to expose themselves to the full brunt of the indifferent world at large.  

And why is this?  The Spear imagines it would be a different story, were not the children in this modern era confined to their scholastic cloisters virtually right up until their adulthood, secluded and sheltered in an artificial environment, free from the various forms of predators at large in the adult world.  Not only is the schooling system free from most predatory types, but it also fails to instruct its pupils about those which are awaiting them once they are to free from the system.  Life experience, ‘street-smarts’, if you will, are left for over-worked, time-poor parents to impart to their children when they are not busy trying to earn the money to pay for their offspring’s very education.

So the majority of new adults are simply unprepared for adulthood, experientially.  Physiologically, this may also be the case, although The Spear would argue that some people, no matter how old and hairy they become, never reach the maturity levels one would suppose a ‘responsible’ adult to posses, and who in truth, if their own well-being was put foremost, should never be left to their own devices.  An adult one may be in body, but not in mind.  But such potential measures could impinge on the liberty of all individuals, and thus it is probably best to let each person ruin their own life in their own way. 

Would it perhaps be better if there was a more gradual assumption of the freedoms and responsibilities of adulthood, so that there was more scope for preparation?  Currently there are some gradations, but only based on age and nothing else.  If you take a trip to your local salad bar, you will likely be charged as an adult if you are over 13.  You can consent to certain medical procedures in your teenage years.  You can have sex when you’re 16.  You can join the army when you’re 17.  You can drink when you’re 21 (in the USA). 

The Spear has to assume that while these automatic triggers do offer freedoms, they are more-so a necessity to stop people from voluntarily declining the responsibilities of adulthood.  There comes a time when everyone must be able to be held accountable for their own actions as their own person (unless declared mentally unfit?), otherwise, like those deviant minors who know they are untouchable, the actions of some would be without legal consequence.

So fare thee well, Permission Slips.  Never again shall The Spear be able to distance himself from his actions using the auspices of childhood immaturity and a perforated piece of paper.  But then again he wouldn’t want to, if it meant giving up the freedoms.

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