25 October 2007

Like A Jail On Wheels...
One thing you can always say about the future...IT'S COMING. And in most cases, gets here a lot sooner than you had anticipated. Question is - are YOU ready for it?
Last night while watching THE O'REILLY FACTOR I got a disturbing glimpse into America's future. And it's not all that pretty a picture.
Now first let me state that YES, I DO watch Bill O'Reilly. He's a good journalist, a good debater, an excellent author, and pretty darned entertaining as well. Then again, he IS a contemporary of mine. We're not too far apart on issues as well as age, and he's from the east coast, so he knows what a REAL deli sandwich is...LOL! The one point we don't agree on is the death penalty. I'm for it...he's against it. And if the ONLY point of contention I can find with the man, that's fine with me. I'd still buy him a drink at ANY pub...anytime.

But on last night's show, in conjunction with his latest book (Americans Are Kids, Too) they did a "man on the street" segment, asking teens a very pertinent question:
The answers were troubling.
Most every kid did not know what it "meant" to be an American (lack of patriotic spirit, no doubt), and most all also felt that they DID NOT "owe" America ANYTHING. Rather, they thought America OWED THEM. As to what this nation owes them...they wouldn't (or couldn't) articulate. When asked if they would think about serving in the military, some snickered and smirked and said "yeah, right...no way". Not ONE of them mentioned the flag, our struggle to become a free nation, denying tyranny on our shores, or even what made America the greatest nation on the planet. Some kids would even consider moving to another country (maybe we should take up a collection for their TICKETS now).
Without exception, these kids think they owe nothing...to no one, and in the same breath EXPECT everything from everyone. Anyone think something's WRONG with that picture?
My Dad would always say: "You must think the world owes you a living" when it came to being lazy, disingenuous, or otherwise selectively ignorant.
And he was right.
And one can look no further than in our inner cities....many people there "think" the world owes them a living, and in most cases, we find a way to make their belief a reality. That's wrong for all the right reasons.

When *we* were kids, we knew what it meant to say the Pledge of Allegiance, place our hand over our hearts and look at our flag. We grew up from parents, who just one generation before fought against a power that would have enslaved the world, giving their lives in pursuit of that noble goal. We played with army men, wanted to be soldiers (we didn't think about boot camp, unfortunately...lol), and we were brought up to believe we were some of the most fortunate people on this planet...and with good reason.
Our parents had civic, moral, and ethical values that they passed down to us; values that embraced patriotism, as well as the yearning to return something back to a country that gave us so much, and we're just talking about monetary or tangible items. it's the INTANGIBLES that we oft times forget about. perhaps it's ignorance that causes this...or maybe we're too just doing "our own thing" to even be bothered, and that's WORSE than ignorance.

Somehow, we've lost or way regarding this. We preach tolerance and diversity over civility and ethics. We'd much rather embrace everyone else's "uniqueness" than acknowledge our own, first and foremost. We dumb down the educational system to allow everyone a "fair shake' at passing, rather than holding everyone to (even) higher standards and promoting personal accountability. We deny justice for many in lieu of "fairness" in justice for "all". The funny thing is...these kids (today) are not unlike kids of MY era...they learn by watching others. And they learn all too QUICKLY, too. This iPod generation, concerned with self-gratification and hedonistic pursuits (at most any price) is nothing less than the prerequisite of the situation that felled the Roman Empire...and we're apparently OK with our kids being this way.
Or are we?

Maybe we should back up a few generations and start afresh, before we find ourselves slipping too far down a certain slope, with no possible chance of recovery. Like the song goes..."I believe the children are our future...teach them well, and let them lead the way".
Perhaps if we start setting the bar HIGHER for OURSELVES first...then the kids might begin to emulate THAT, instead of the poor examples they HAVE been following. I feel America is still great...we've just gotten sidetracked with that belief. But we can get it back. We must if for nothing else, then for our children.
The precipice is closer than a lot of us think...and that precipice is the future.
It's time to decide...we either fly...or we fall.


Jana said...

Thank goodness it's not ALL kids who are that way.

I think it depends on where the kids grew up and/or live.

And, I hate to say it, what race they are as well...


Bobby G. said...

Yeah...it's more "nurture" (or to be more precise...the LACK of it) than nature these days.

And puh-lease don't say it's about "money" or "poverty"...poor kids have JUST AS MUCH opportunity as everyone else.

Whether they CHOOSE to avail themselves if it is up to THEM (not us).


Jana said...


It also has to do with "role models" children have.

Dave and I have decided that we're going to teach our children to put education first, even if we have to be the "un-cool" parents every once in a while.

If my kid(s) think that I'm just gonna ignore bad grades, bad behavior, etc just so I can be "buddies" with them, they are going to be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

What a well-written, appropriate, but awfully depressing piece. As a member of the generation to which both Mr. Riley and you, Sir, refer, I am both embarrassed and terrified of the repercussions of this type of apathy and disregard for the price of our freedoms and our responsibility to revere them and/or fight to retain them.

Certainly, we all grew up hearing the “when I was your age” stories. However much I disregarded them as a child, I realize that today these stories ring with new truth. I wonder how much of this has to do with growing up in an age of privilege and entitlement, as well as the indoctrination of our children with liberal, tolerant, PC messages rather than a solid education that allows students to form their own reasoned viewpoints.

I keep hoping my generation will step up and show maturity when really called upon to do so. I remain optimistic and try to tell myself that if a force came to deny us of our freedoms, we would finally realize their price and our responsibilities. I fear it may be too late.

Thanks for this entry. I’ve been among the silent audience for a while now, but I couldn’t stifle my desire to respond this time.

Bobby G. said...

Sounds like you too have a plan...and from experience (on the "receiving end") I can tell you...it WORKS!

My Dad always said: "There is NO democracy under OUR roof while you're growing up".
It was more like a "parentocracy"!



Bobby G. said...

I admire your fortitude to come forward and BE a beacon for your generation. Maybe if more of you do that, we CAN get things back on track.

And believe me, not EVERYONE in EVERY generation is guiltless when it comes to problems like this.

But it's those that should (to use an ancient phrase) "stand up and be counted" that make the differences.

We just need to stop the pretense, the posturing and the uber-tolerance of everything and everyone without reason.

Some times it IS better to "let sleeping dogs lie", and get back to humanity's "basics".

Thanks for your comment, and for "getting it".
You've proven (to me) that there still IS hope.
(sounds like you'd make a fine journalist)


Tim Zank said...

I watched that episode too and I gotta tell ya i wasn't surprised. I was disheartened, but not surprised. I hope Jana is right and most kids aren't like the ones we saw. I know my three aren't but as for the rest, I'm a little skeptical!

Bobby G. said...

It is nice to know we still have small "pockets of resistence" when it comes to our children and young adults...and I mean that in the best of all possible ways.