A Degenerative Evolution
Richard F. Corrigan
Serendipitously, as I was toiling through my middle and high school years, I kept an unofficial diary in the form of letters to and from friends. Now that I have come full circle and have spent all day teaching in middle school, I have drawn some conclusions.
The first thing that struck me was the blatant rejection of authority, rules, and procedures by todayís students. This is not the case with all the learners, but many come to school under the impression that they may do whatever they wish, and that there is no consequence severe enough to dissuade them from pursuing their own desires. For their wants are paramount.
I remember, if you caused a problem in class, you not only received school discipline, but when you arrived home, you were punished again.
My son said it perfectly: "Dad, I know why you and Mom were so strict. You didnít want us to cause problems for others when we were away from home."
And therein, stated simply, lies the problem. Many parents are not raising their children to fit into the world; they are allowing them to go in their own direction, with no rules, little discipline, only threatened consequences, and few tools to become successful in life.
So, what is the end result? Children arrive at school with less social-compatibility skills, less reading ability, less of a right-from-wrong concept, less concern for others, and total lack of respect for wisdom, elders, and authority. Anarchy is the best word to describe the societal direction of these floundering, future-adult citizens who, rather than reason through a conflict, choose to shove, punch, or even possibly shoot their way to resolution.
Now days, it seems neither parent puts forth the effort to set the child on the right course toward adulthood? And if one tries, the other undermines the effort.
Parenting is more than giving birth to or siring a child. It is the responsibility of the parent to provide civilization with a proper, young citizen, capable of melding into society and affect positive contributions as they mature through life.
That being said, to think that others donít have an influence on the child is naÔve. The student is a product of genetics and all he/she has heard, seen, felt, tasted, and smelled since birth. So, to think that outside forces donít have an influence is unrealistic.
As we were raising children, we were painfully cognizant of the negative impact of other parents who wanted to be buddies with their children and teachers who did the same.
One episode still haunts the recesses of my mind. Our daughter was sixteen years old and was invited to a friendís party. We spoke to the mother. Her comment floored us. "Oh, I take the car keys from them so that if they drink too much, they canít drive home. Iíd rather they drink here."
Allowing teens to drink? Allowing underage students to drink? Was she crazy? Obviously, our daughter was not allowed to go to the party.
This type of behavior doesnít teach the child anything except the belief that whatever he/she does is okay. And, the rest of the world is wrong. Young adults must realize that in order to provide for themselves, they must adhere to the societyís rules before they can reach a point to change them.
Letís take a moment and think about a major influence on the child. Years ago, TV episodes were stamped with the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. When that appeared on the screen, a parent could walk away, leaving the youngster in good hands to watch the program.
Currently, even watching the local news ó with inappropriate behavior broadcast and graphic violence repeatedly replayed ó could affect the positive mental and emotional growth of the child. Radio hosts speak favorably about celebrities who continually exercise bad behavior, and so do TV entertainment magazine commentators. Sports figures are continually sited for poor judgments. And they are highlighted. There are even weekly series dedicated to reality participants who are encouraged to behave badly.
And the advertisers of these programs are subliminally saying, "Yes, we agree that you should show this ugly side of people who make more money that 98% of all the persons in the US so that young adults can learn that behaving badly will have no affect on their fame or income potential. And, it doesnít matter who you hurt, because you come first."
What about the singers, the songwriters, the rap stars. What message are they sending to the youth? What about the corporate executives, the nouveau riche and how they break all the rules to benefit themselves? What about some politicians who seem to throw away ethics when they take office.
What about community members who show complete disregard for their neighbors and break every compliance rule (over-watering, basketball hoops in the road, boats parked in the street, loud parties until 3:00 AM) or smokers who throw their butts out the car window, or drivers who cut you off intentionally, or people you let in line and they never say thank you.
Society is saturated with bad behavior and ignorance. So, how far removed is radicalization and/or terrorism? Moments on the Internet. A text message. An Instagram. Soon, "Radicalized Americans" will be an everyday mention in the news. It takes a village? Where have they all gone?