Leave Them Kids Alone

Jay Griffiths emphasizes the need for adventure in a risk-averse society:

William Golding’s Lord of the Flies is cited as if it were documentary evidence, as if, without the authority of adults, children will become vicious little monsters. Children are made to read this malignant propaganda against their childhood selves, and its message is beloved by those who believe that the opposite of obedience is disobedience. But these are false opposites. The true opposite of obedience is not disobedience but independence. The true opposite of order is not disorder but freedom. Most profoundly, the true opposite of control is not chaos but self-control. …

For there actually has been a real-life Lord of the Flies incident, and the result was the opposite of what is portrayed in the novel.

One day, in 1977, six boys set out from Tonga on a fishing trip. They left safe harbor, and fate befell them. Badly. Caught in a huge storm, the boys were shipwrecked on a deserted island. What do they do, this little tribe? They made a pact never to quarrel, because they could see that arguing could lead to mutually assured destruction. They promised each other that wherever they went on the island, they would go in twos, in case they got lost or had an accident. They agreed to have a rotation of being on guard, night and day, to watch out for anything that might harm them or anything that might help. And they kept their promises—for a day that became a week, a month, a year. After fifteen months, two boys, on watch as they had agreed, saw a speck of a boat on the horizon. The boys were found and rescued, all of them, grace intact and promises held.