“The pastime of deriding the young never seems to grow old. Kids on the street: more must be done to tackle gang warfare. Kids inside; internet addiction is out of control. Kid sitting alone: depression epidemic. Kid running round: ADHD epidemic. Kid aces exam: standards are slipping. Kid flunks exam: no aspiration. The conditions the young endure are invariably a playground for adult moral grandstanding…
“For those who believe the voice of children is worth listening to, Woodcraft Folk has blazed a trail.”
Phineas Harper, Introduction, A People’s History Of Woodcraft Folk, 2016
My father, a career soldier of 26 years standing, was not strict, but on certain issues of upbringing he stood firm: a trophy-winning marksman himself, he would not allow us toy guns or quasi-army paraphernalia. In addition, joining the scouts was out of bounds. Like many who came of age in the 1910s and 20s he deplored the militarism the movement promoted among children. Doubtless the deaths of two of my uncles in the Great War lay at the roots of this.
He disparaged a Pacifist position, feeling it was his duty to serve, and so joined up as soon as he could, later playing his part at the pivotal battle of El Alamein in 1942. But after World War 2, militarism, even in the form of childish game-playing, was anathema.
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