Escapism was blamed on moral failure. Any behavior we didn't like, any behavior we didn't see value in, we would blame on moral failure.

They weren't good enough. They needed to be fixed. We weren't the ones that needed fixing. We liked to believe we were right, even when we changed our minds. And as long as we had power over them, we could force our opinions on them, declare ourselves in the right without the risk of our reasoning being questioned.

We did not want to risk losing control. It helped us sleep at night. As long as we were in the right, as long as they believed we were right, or as long as they knew we could impose our opinions on the way they lived, it meant our own way of life was safe. We wouldn't have to change. We could keep doing what we had always been doing, and it would be up to them to fit themselves into the world we created.

And if they wanted to escape our world, whether through distraction or withdrawal, we blamed it on them. We wanted to believe it was they who had character flaws, not the world we had built. We didn't like admitting we were wrong, not even privately to ourselves. We wanted them to be the ones who were wrong. That was much more digestible. How could any normal, sane person object to what we wanted?

Clearly they needed fixing, and if they refused to submit, then they needed to be punished. We didn't question the power structure. This was the way everyone else did it too. It couldn't be that wrong if everyone else did similar things. If there were problems in society, we could blame that on moral failure too. Only the losers and misfits didn't belong, and we were determined to beat some discipline into them. After all, who wants to be a loser and a misfit?

We were doing it for their own good. They were still young, they were still malleable, and we would shape them into pieces that fit perfectly into the wider society. It didn't matter if society was perfect or not. That was not up for debate. Society just was. Either you fit in, or you didn't, and we would beat away all the parts of them that would not fit the world around them. It was for their own futures. They may have hated what we did, but they would thank us later. They would eventually see our wisdom. These investments were longterm. So we ignored their protests, no matter how loud they became.

The more they tried to escape the path we were preparing for them, the more frequently we were forced to beat them until they returned to the path to security. They had to learn to sacrifice present happiness for future happiness, just as we had. We could not let them escape the lessons of virtue.

Society wasn't going to be easy on them, so we couldn't either. If others were going to be nasty to them, then we would have to prepare them. Teach them to live in a world of nastiness early, and they wouldn't be surprised when they ventured into the world. If they were too soft, they would never survive. The system would beat them down.

We had learned not to fight City Hall, and we would teach them the same thing. Only those who went along with the program got anywhere in life. We would teach them to protect City Hall, to beat down those who tried to fight it. A lesson we had to learn the hard way, but we would impart our wisdoms on them now.

There was strength in numbers, and there was strength in propping up the existing system. There would be no attempts to defeat it, there would be no attempts to escape it. Those were not the values destined to survive, not as long as the system lived on.

Maybe they had it in them to change the system, but that was too big of a risk. We weren't going to waste our lives building towards a single pull of the slot machine. We chose the path of safety for ourselves, and we would choose the path of safety for them as well. If the choice wasn't wrong for us, it wouldn't be wrong for them.

Maybe they wouldn't be happy in the wider society, just as they weren't in the limited microcosm we had built, but it was the only rational choice. Fit in, or be obliterated. And they would fit in no matter what we had to do to get them there. We certainly couldn't let them be obliterated. How irresponsible would that have been? They had to accept their fate. They had to accept where the rest of the flock was flying, and play their own roles within it.

There was no room for stragglers. Not if they wanted to live. Not if we wanted to avoid being seen as failures ourselves. If they were our responsibility, then it was our job to make them behave like everyone else wanted them to behave. We were being judged too after all. We certainly weren't going to blame everyone else for building the wrong society, so we were instead going to mold our corner of it until it matched up with everyone else.

There was no escape for us either.