Sunday, October 30, 2005

Elitism's Place

Parents make decisions for their children. Which schools to send them to, what they eat, who they can be friends with. Curfews are set too. As a general rule, those who don't set down rules and let their children run wild are viewed as irresponsible. Yelling without constructive criticism, lacking support are generally frowned upon. Parents know more than their children, and thus are better suited to making the decisions. We accept this despite its elitist bent.

Yet, when dealing with the RW community, elitism is frowned upon. Look at the J-blogosphere's reaction to all the bans, the various "takanos" (she'ain hatzibur yachol la'amod bo). Why not argue that the rabbonim are parents directing their children. They know more about the issues (or so we assume) than the laity and should be followed. Why do we not give these talmidei chachamim the benefit of the doubt?

Because parental elitism is different. With a goal in mind, to raise their child, ideally so the child is self sufficient, parents make rules. Rules protect the child in his or her formative years, until they are ready to go out and be part of the community.

But the bans and takanos don't seem aimed at producing a self sufficient society. In fact, quite the opposite. The bans keep society pinned down. We don't hear about Lakewood support systems for those who are addicted to the internet's seedier side, for those who have to use the internet for business and are at greater risk. We don't see an attempt by the rabbonim there to act as parents, to raise a responsible community.

They're treated like children who can never cross the street. The "parents" keep yelling at them, criticizng them, putting down new rules. Attempts to question are ignored, or worse yet, banned. The parents should realize that to make the community better, to make it more responsible, they need to do more than just yell.