"Not to know what happened before you were born is to remain forever a child," Cicero astutely observed. For many self-described progressives today, however, this seems not to be a drawback. On the contrary, like adolescents -- insisting that they are grown-ups when their parents get in the way of their fun, but then running home for all their basic needs and creature comforts -- such people seem to give no thought to the past and equally little to the future.
Many people like this are said to suffer from a "Peter Pan Syndrome": the inability or unwillingness to grow up. In thought, they seem to lean to the political left. They want the government to take on the role of parent, even if that involves maxing out the country's "credit cards," so that even for a short time, they can live beyond what they earn.
Possibly in a hurry not to concern themselves with "dreary details," they pressed for a huge health-care bill, passed in 2010, that forever changed how we receive − or do not receive − medical care. It seems the details of the bill were too time-consuming and complex for the world of tweets and sound bites for them to pay attention to what it actually contained. When the bill was being debated, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said, "We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy."
Many of these children in adult bodies were told, and actually believed, that better health care for everyone, including an unlimited number of illegal immigrants, would be attainable at a low cost, if only the government were to run it. That Medicare and Medicaid, both of which the U.S. government currently runs -- as well as the UK's National Health Service -- are going broke does not appear to have occurred to them. So they persist in their fantasy that government-controlled health care is not an ill but a cure.
Their fantasy is not restricted to the realm of health care. Many of these children in adult bodies believe that many, if not all, major aspects of the economy would be more efficient if the government ran them. This is in spite of the fact that the facilities currently run by the government -- from the Department of Veterans Affairs to the Department of Motor Vehicles -- are inefficient, unhelpful or sometimes even downright hostile -- to the people they are meant to serve.
Many children in adult bodies also seem not to know that Socialism failed in the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania, Bulgaria, China, North Korea, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Cuba, and is now failing in Venezuela. Yet, illogically, they appear to believe that they themselves could make it work. The irrational wish is evidently stronger than rational arithmetic.
These victims of arrested emotional development seem to confuse good motives with good results. They want better health care for a greater number of people at a lesser cost; so they fantasize that they can achieve it without denying care to those who are too old, too sick or too expensive to receive it. They kind-heartedly want a "more equal distribution of wealth"; so they fantasize that they can maneuver it without penalizing and discouraging the productive members of society, while rewarding and encouraging the unproductive ones. Yet this is exactly what has happened wherever the redistribution of wealth was tried.
These people, like all of us, want to be liked; so they fantasize that if they treat others kindly, the behavior will be reciprocated. They refer respectfully to the unelected theocratic leader of Iran as "Supreme Leader," even as oppressed Iranian demonstrators are arrested, beaten, tortured or killed.
Although bullies -- from those who terrorize fellow students in the schoolyard, to those who commit terrorist acts against innocent people across the world -- speak the language of hatred and force, children in adult bodies persist in their fantasy that if they and their government would only project appeasement and weakness, regimes such as that in Tehran would lay down their arms and hate-filled hegemonic aims. Hence, presumably, the support among progressives for the Iran nuclear deal that former President Barack Obama pushed through, without regard to its potential cost of a fully nuclear-capable Iran to America and the rest of the world after the deal expires.
These adults still clinging hard to their wishes seem to believe that crime is caused by poverty or other societal ills, and conclude that criminals are victims of society, such as Kathryn Michelle Steinle, who was shot to death in 2015 by illegal immigrant José Inés García Zárate. Garcia Zarate, a five-time deportee and drug offender. While Steinle met a cruel and untimely death, Garcia Zarate, not only was acquitted of murder and manslaughter, but aroused sympathy on the left.
These adults who apparently do not want to grow up call those who disagree with them "fascists" or "Nazis" -- without knowing the history of either -- yet accept as gospel any statements or actions, no matter how questionable, on the part of those who agree with their romanticized positions.
Like Peter Pan, these children wish to live in Neverland – a place that, in the real word, does not exist. Fictional characters, however, have the advantage of enjoying adventures with imaginary dangers. In the real world, unfortunately, people who never grow up may enjoy themselves for a time, but sooner or later the all-too-real dangers they had ignored, like an overstretched credit card, catch up with them. By the time their future is lost to them, it will be too late to wake up or rectify the situation. This means that the adults among us who acknowledge and take on the responsibilities of adulthood must be even more vigilant in exposing fantasies as child-like and preventing these daydreamers from doing even more damage than they already have done.
In the real world, people who never grow up may enjoy themselves for a time, but sooner or later the all-too-real dangers they had ignored, like an overstretched credit card, catch up with them. By the time their future is lost to them, it will be too late to wake up or rectify the situation. (Image sources: Pixabay, Wikimedia Commons)
Dr. David C. Stolinsky, a retired physician, is based in the US.