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I may read some more on the history of childhood. I think the past was not uniformly unkind. There are certainly references in print to fond memories of childhood, at least in old literature from Asia. Lovingkindness is at least as old as the Buddha. I wouldn't doubt that there were cycles of mistreatment across place and time. It might be that we will be looked upon these days as providing a peculiar kind of mistreatment in diluting childhood early on and then inexplicably extending it into adulthood.

John Ptak

Yes. The problem with the history of childhood is the source material, which according to the few books I've referenced is very tough to find. Ther are studies that looked at large collections of letters looking for kindness/unkindness expressions and that sort, and they seem to find that the great majority mention punishment rather than tenderness. The only thing that necessarily means is that the writers weren't *writing* about the tenderness they expressed. Then there's the big step between the two assumptions to get to the unkindness part. Its very sticky. And I don't doubt that there's a big history of tenderness to go in there as well. It just looks like it is hard to find. Plus I think that I mentioned, I hope, that I was just talking about Western kids; I don't know anything about Eastern childhood history. I have a hard time imagining the Buddha giving up a kid at the public fountain as did some of our own american philosophical leaders (like Mr. Locke). The putting children to work part, though, say working kids at age 5 or whatever--well, that, there's a lot of evidenvce for. That isn't tender.

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