Monthly Archives: August 2019

The Pantsing of America

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fall into a long, long sleep only to awaken and not recognize your surroundings? If you had been in a medically induced sleep in let’s say – 1980, and were to awaken almost 40 years later, what would the wonders be? The shock? The surprise? The horrors?

Of course there is no “normal” waking up after that amount of time, but imagine for a moment that there could be. The advances in technology alone would be enough to transfix that person. It’s hard to even imagine the societal changes. Those of us in our fifth decade may have seen the greatest 40 years of change our country has ever known. We’ve lived through those years of imagined sleep. Now we find ourselves as the beneficiaries of all that transition, as well as being answerable to the chaos.

At 57, I consider myself old enough to have observed and probably taken part in the transformation of a society, both good and bad. In just two generations I have seen the explosion of mechanization, computerization, and animation in everyday American life. On the other hand though, I fear I have watched before my very eyes, the degeneration of what was once a respectable and honorable union.

And just standing by makes me responsible for it.

I wonder however, as I see the carnage left by corruption and blatant disdain for order and respect, if it is really so new. Or has it been hiding – waiting – ready to pounce upon finding an excuse to justify itself and warrant its Godless presence?

Don’t mistake my questions for ignorance. I’m damn mad about it. It’s one thing for someone else to come up from behind and take down someone else’s pants. It’s something completely antithetical however, to pull down your own trousers, bend over, and with intent, show your shiny backside to the entire world.

I, along with you have watched the shameless actions of some New Yorkers as they douse police officers with water, friends all around, cheerleading these offensive and technically illegal actions. When did this become acceptable? The Law of Diminishing Returns applied, says that once these behaviors become happenstance, it will require a greater risk or thrill to satisfy those who feel the need to disrespect and degrade the men and women that are simply doing their jobs. Who knows what they’ll add to the water next time?

One of my internet feeds this morning yielded video of a man being detained by a state trooper after being stopped for going 101 miles per hour in his car. The officer, doing his duty, makes the man come to the back of the car (while his female passenger is videoing). The man is not compliant, saying he has done nothing wrong, and refuses the officers directives. The officer is now forced into handcuff the man for resisting arrest along with the traffic violation. The whole time, he and his woman passenger are screaming at the officer because “He didn’t do anything wrong!” When backup arrives, the man is then treated with force and he still resists while the woman goes bananas.

The act is bad enough. But the comments from individuals who have watched the video are simply repugnant. Although there is some support for the officer, the vast majority of the comments reflect encouragement for the arrested man to sue, and even more disgusting – turn the circumstances into a racial issue. The man was driving 100 mph. Should be end of story. But it’s not.

The behaviors of many in our nation are beyond unacceptable. Their blatant disrespect for both authority and patriotism should make every other American embarrassed and ashamed. This is our country – our union – our family. Like it or not, this aberrant ideal reflects on us all, and if you’re not pissed about it, you should be.

A couple of weeks back three young male athletes attended a national presidential debate. They were invited by one of the candidates that was participating in the debate. Why did these three young men stand out to receive such an invitation? They were highlighted by the media for “taking the knee” during the playing of our national anthem prior to a high school football game. Of course – they are just kids. They likely had no idea the implications of the choice they made, or even why it was important. They were simply emulating the actions of a professional athlete whose initial reasoning for kneeling during the anthem has long since past, and the real basis behind it has been revealed. But now, like the creator of this “movement,” they are celebrities. He needs to be victimized by every part of American history, and due to his visibility, American kids are finding it convenient – and popular – to do the same.

Believe it, one of the most precarious environments in our country right now is public school – its hallways and classrooms. And the person walking the tightrope every second of every school day is the teacher. Many students are waiting – cameras at the ready – for one conflict – one slip up – and hopefully – another video of criminally acceptable behavior to go viral.

Listen. The worst part of all of this is the way it is all being excused – explained away. According to them, there are viable reasons for adults and adolescents alike to behave this way. It’s not their fault! It’s either the economy, the condition of the city, bad teachers, poor community leaders, and best of all – yes – our president. EVERYTHING, it seems, is “Because of Trump.” This extends from the smallest neighborhood to the highest positions in the government of our country. And it’s a shame.

Having to make everything you do the fault of someone else is bogus, lazy, and cowardly. Being a victim doesn’t strengthen your position, it weakens it. Criminal behavior or the violation of rules does not help you gain ground, it ensures that you lose it. Intentional and blatant disrespect of authorities doesn’t elevate your status, it makes you the smallest, dumbest fool in the room.

The world is watching, people. And they’re laughing at America. They should. You and I would too if we were in their positions. The idea that our Republic is a stable union worthy of replicating is a frightening one right now.

I’m just sayin’

Ignorance is This

Since most school districts across the nation are in the process of starting a new school year, maybe it’s a good time to shout out an encouragement to the parents of the kiddos donning all those new backpacks. In my time as a public school educator it has astonished me how much this part of their education they take for granted. I wondered if my generation did the same thing, and deduced that indeed we did. There were differences however – differences in perspective, in effort, and in ignorance.

Don’t flinch or raise your eyebrows at the “I” word. It’s unfortunate that people over generations, have reduced such a resourceful word to a – well – ignorant style of insult, when in fact it has a very simple and useful meaning. (That simply means that ignorant is a word people use when they don’t know what else to say) Look it up if you want to, but at the end of the day, to be ignorant simply means that one doesn’t know much (if anything) about a particular thing.

If you want to get real and raw about ignorance, we’re all way more ignorant than we are informed. We know a lot! But our collective intellect and knowledge is so small it’s harder to find than Waldo or Carmen San Diego. That’s not meant to be an insult, but a reminder of how important it is to share what we know. We know a lot of truth and consequences regarding the power of education. We simply have to start teaching our children about it.

Every day right now we’re being bombarded with information (some of it formed out of ignorance) about the possibility of free college for many, most, or all. For now at least, it’s just a campaign promise. It’s a dream for some, a matter of interest for others, and has a very small probability of ever happening in America – or anywhere for that matter. Part of dreaming things into reality requires reality. The sheer dollar cost of sending most 20-somethings to college without having to pay is unimaginable to most of us, and likely unsustainable, regardless of the dream.

Here’s the encouragement. If there is ever a possibility of free college for everyone, what good is it to us as a society if children currently in public schools are ignorant to the value of the education they are currently receiving? In other words, how many parents are making a daily effort to ensure that their children are taking their public education seriously? I doubt there are many parents that don’t have “the talk” with their children when they begin school, or maybe at best, each time they “graduate” to another level of public education. They tell their children that their education is important, and that winners are educated, and that educated people get all the breaks, and that nobody cares about what your degree is in, but they care that you took the time and effort to earn one. But do they make it their daily responsibility to stay on top of something that is so important?

A middle-aged woman and her husband were having a meal together one evening. While they ate, she reminisced about their life as she observed his graying, thinning hair, and the newest wrinkles on his forehead. She became a bit wistful and finally asked, “You do still love me, don’t you?” The man put down his fork, wiped his face with a napkin, looked across the table at his bride, and said slowly, “Honey, I told you when I married you that I loved you. If I change my mind, I’ll be sure to let you know.”

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Not making your child’s public education a continuing education experience at home is a mistake that will render many if not most 20-somethings non-college-worthy. A very high percentage of households determine that it is the job of the teacher and the teacher alone, to encourage and cheer and forgive and instill. The professional educator is usually the one expected to carry the load of getting each student across the finish line, just so they can start another race in a few weeks. If a student’s parents aren’t leading this charge, ensuring that their child understands the need to persevere through education, free college is as useless as the “ueue” in queue.

Even if a student carries the flag across the finish line at high school graduation, they need to understand the importance of their public education, and to have developed a work ethic of dogged perseverance during their formative years. Whatever dollars might be provided by the federal government to send a young adult to college will be wasted on many of these students. Not because they are inept, incapable, or stupid, but because they are ignorant.

Educate your student about their education. Pour into them the importance of putting their best effort forward. But do it regularly! It doesn’t require renting a billboard or purchasing advertising time on television. It requires understanding what your child is studying, and keeping up with the rigor of their classroom work. It requires knowing what their assignments are and when they are due. Without that parents do their part in this process, and enlighten their children by example, free college will be a short-lived concept in comparison to other successfully instituted government programs. In order for it to be successful with ignorant students, the education will be diluted and contaminated. The resulting effect on the leadership of free enterprise and governance of the United States of America could be catastrophic.

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Educate your child about their education. Don’t be fooled – we’re playing the long game here. It’s a daily and sometimes inconvenient effort to be a great parent. It requires sacrifice and consistency, discipline and consequences. The absence of any of those characteristics is indicative of ignorance.

It also produces more of it. Start this school year with a positive educational experience. After all, it’s up to you!

I’m Just Sayin’