A few weeks ago, before the economic meltdown set in, my youngest son greeted me with the announcement: “I’m a communist. And an atheist.” And good morning to you, too, son.
For a kid who hadn’t turned 14 yet, that was a pretty big deal. He explained his reasoning: The world would be better place without rich or poor. As for God, he just didn’t think he/she existed. I could identify with that last point. Somewhere around 11 or 12, I was stricken with doubt about the existence of the Big Guy.
The communist part brought up a rush of feelings: My son is for fairness and equality (Good thing!); He believes in a failed economic system that’s produced some nasty leaders (Bad thing!); What kind of terrible parents are we? (OK, that’s my issue: worrying what others might think); and finally, he’s lucky this it’s not 50-60 years ago, or he’d get blacklisted.
Since my son had read a book on Marxism and a warts-and-all biography on Mao Tse-Tung, I suggested he might want to read about the father of capitalism, Adam Smith. Then he would know what Marx was criticizing. No, my son said, he was worried someone would think him a capitalistÂ if he was seen with the book.
Since kids tend to be contrary, I didn’t make a big deal over any of this, though I explained that there might be some good things about the market system. And then the stock market crashed and my 401K plan deflated. I guess this is one of those teachable moments, for both of us.
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