The United States of America has been in precarious positions before, but it seems lately things are not turning as they should. Something is out of balance, or as we would say in the south, out of whack. The list of what is out of whack is long and disturbing. To name a few, a satanic group will deliver a satanic invocation at the next City of Pensacola meeting in an effort by the council to be fair across religious boundaries, a spotlight shines on law enforcement and their use of force and sometimes deadly force with black lives (not all lives), a sniper shot and killed five police officers in Dallas during a Black Lives Matter rally in what appears to be retaliation for black people who have lost their lives at the hands of deputies, former secretary of state and now presidential candidate sent classified and top-secret emails on an unsecured server at her house and is deemed reckless by the head of the FBI yet no charges are filed and no consequences are delivered, we are at war with Islamic extremists in our own country and abroad. We are a nation under siege by both ourselves and others.
How did we get here? In the late 80s and early 90s and continuing today, we began to raise our children differently. Instead of instilling in them integrity, humility and a sense of work ethic we raised them to believe they could do no wrong. We didn’t punish them or show them consequences for their actions. We enabled them, we covered for them, we made excuses for them. We didn’t teach them that they are no better than anyone else; instead we taught them that no one is better than they are. We didn’t teach them that only with hard work, dedication and loyalty come rewards. We taught them that they are entitled to what adults have worked for their entire lives. We didn’t teach them that life isn’t without disappointments. We taught them if something goes wrong it is someone else’s fault. We taught them to take advantage of whatever programs are available and that government handouts are good for everyone. Why work when you can get it for free?
Here’s the big one. We didn’t teach them the simple act of showing respect. We taught them that they should be respected by everyone. The simplicity of saying “yes ma’am, yes sir” has gone by the wayside. Even a complete “yes” or “no” is forgotten. Instead kids say “yeah” to adults or nod and shake their heads without uttering anything. Kids don’t speak any differently to adults than they do to their friends. When positions of authority challenge them, instead of complying, they challenge back. Why? Because they are allowed to do that to their parents without consequence.
So, now a person is walking along the streets at 11:30 p.m. and someone calls 911 to report a suspicious person prowling the neighborhood. Of course the person doesn’t know the police have been called. A deputy arrives, gets out of his car and tells him to stop. The deputy begins talking to him, and even after being instructed to, cannot keep his hands out of his pockets and is a little on the nervous side. So, the deputy, for his own safety tells him to put his hands behind his back. Instead of complying, he starts asking questions, “What did I do wrong? Why do I have to do this?” What happens next is anyone’s guess, but the moment the person decided to start asking questions and getting a little jumpy is the moment things can turn bad. Had that person been properly raised to respect authority, he would have immediately complied with the deputy’s request and probably would have been home within a half hour if everything checked out.
Every action has a reaction. And almost always, in those cases, if not for the actions of the suspect, the officer’s reaction would not have happened. Children, black, white, Hispanic or other must be taught respect. Respect for people in authority – they have a job to do and a family to go home to at the end of their shift. Respect for the country we live in and the opportunities everyone is given. Opportunities are free for the taking. And some of those opportunities take hard work. It’s what you make of the opportunity that makes you successful or not. Respect for one another as fellow human beings, regardless of color. If you give respect – you get respect. But respect doesn’t come free. You have to earn it.
We can’t go back and re-raise America, but we can do better going forward. We need to move toward the future while embracing some of the characteristics of the past: good manners, humility, respect and hard work. Just like milk – it does a body good.