By Rick Reynolds
No, the title is not a typo. This is NOT about the best selling book, The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, by Amy Chua, which has sent shock waves through a generation of permissive parenting. Having been both a permissive student and a semi-strict parent in Chappaqua, I can tell you that the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (and father) has played out for generations in the hyper-competitive, education-on-steroids world of Chappaqua academia. But this isn’t about that.
This isn’t about chaining one’s child to a piano till she can play Bach in her sleep. No, this isn’t about parents insisting their third graders get all A’s and no B’s, so they can go to Harvard, or Princeton, or Yale or West Point—and not those lesser colleges and universities. Nor is it about joining the debate club, or banning sleepovers, television, and free time–all of which is advisable, but unrealistic in the extreme. No, in a world where children have instant worldwide communication through the Internet, the notion that they can be controlled by anything other than solitary confinement deep in a mineshaft is absurd. As they say here in New Hampshire, “Thems days is over.”
So, relax parents. The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Moth is about the 1930’s and 40’s RAF biplane, and its look-alike, nest-spinning, tree-destroying, bi-colored moth for which the early aircraft was named. The plane was used as a flight trainer in the run up to World War II. During the war, it was deployed as a light bomber for even lighter targets, and with a specially fitted, scythe-like blade, it served as a parachute line cutter, freeing descending enemy paratroopers from their chutes. But most interesting was the Tiger Moth’s use as a tug for pulling dummy targets to shoot ordnance at. The tow plane, known as the “Queen Bee,” was one of the first remotely piloted aircraft, developed after tug pilots with short tow ropes refused to take flak from friendly forces.
The Queen Bee spawned the word “drone,” the robotic craft which makes up our modern fleet of pilot-less aircraft used for surveillance and pinpoint precision bombing. Instead of sending young troops into harm’s way, wars will more-and-more be fought over foreign soil by drones operated by “A” students in New Jersey and Utah. (Their commanders will be “A” students from Chappaqua–at least those few who don’t become doctors, stockbrokers, or their lawyers.) In either case, survival of the fittest may depend on the survival of the Tiger Mother and her hyper-educated cubs–not that this is about that.
The Tiger Moth plane was also used in battle against–you guessed it–the Tiger Moth bug. Outfitted with pesticide tanks, the Tiger Moth dusted crops and the trees housing the leaf-killing silken nests of Tiger Moths. The moth, having the advantage of numbers, luckily survived long enough to see the emergence of the organic movement. Having seen human folly come and go, the Tiger Moth now lives happily on the web, enjoying its bug life as a happy herbivore eating locally produced food.
So where am I going with this? you ask. Hell if I know. I do know that, the more things change, the more they stay the same. With today’s brutal economic environment, humans and bugs alike need all the ammunition they can get. It’s not just about getting A’s, though, but what we get A’s in. In the end, nature wins–with or without us. There’s only one war that must be won, and that’s the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Moth.