This was the unedited outburst that a twelve-year old shouted out upon hearing that his favorite ice cream was unavailable.
My son, James, was working behind the counter of the sweet shop where he is employed when this child had a conniption because he couldn’t get what he wanted, when he wanted it.
James, and all his co-workers — especially the poor guy who was trying to help this kid — were horrified by this bratty display of temper.
James immediately looked at the kid’s father to see what, if anything, he intended to do about his inappropriately apoplectic child.
This dad didn’t even look disturbed by his kid’s behavior.
James said the dad had this vacant, vacuous look on his face. He might as well have had a “Space for Rent” sign plastered across his forehead.
Ok, you can already tell that this one is going to be a rant. I’m giving you fair warning. The roots of my rant run deep into the soil of the U.S. Constitution, and the responsibilities I feel as a mother, and as a citizen.
As I see it, there are two issues here. The first has to do with parenting. When people decide they want to bring kids into the world, a boat load of responsibility comes with that. Teaching kids how to behave, even when (especially when) they are disappointed, is a big part of the job.
In my purview, it runs deeper than social decorum; it speaks to the development of character. Character breeds integrity. When this process breaks down, it lays the groundwork for problems with this kid. When enough parents fail to teach their kids the basics of civility and respect for self and others, we are heading into rough waters. When parents fail to make the effort to cultivate integrity in their children, the idea of polite, and even democratic, society begins to break down.
This is not hyperbole. This, so sadly, is our current reality. We see it every day as more and more leaders of families, communities, businesses and government opt out of behaving with respect, kindness and grace because it is either too hard to take the high road, or because they simply don’t care.
What some see as a matter of bad manners can easily snowball into serious problems. It’s easier and more effective, in my opinion, to safeguard our families, communities and society by taking our job as parents tasked with raising polite, respectful, well-informed kids very seriously.
This line of reasoning also applies to being members of a democratic society, which leads me to the second issue…the tolerance of the casual and frequent castigation or anything unpleasant, unflattering or unsavory as ‘FAKE NEWS!’
Democracy demands a free press. When petulant children in ice cream shops, or the halls of government, denounce facts that don’t suit their fancy as “untrue,” it is a far more than a nauseating annoyance. If left unchecked, it threatens to undermine the bedrock of a free society.
As you know, this blog is about where faith and real life come together. Here’s how this incident fits in to this…
I think having faith in God, or, on a more secular level, having faith and confidence in Country, takes courage and resolve to stand up for what is right. The self-serving disregard for rules of polite social conduct as well as the blatant attack on free press in America is disturbing. It is outrageous. It is horrifying.
I feel like if I sit idly by and say nothing about this alarming trend, I am complicit, to a degree, in the unraveling of the democratic fabric of our society. I might have just limited my rant to the confines of my own home and family and my like-minded friends, but the novel I’m reading about the weeks and months leading up to World War II and the Holocaust has changed that.
The story talks about the growing fear among Jewish families for their safety as Hitler began stripping Jews of their advanced degrees, denying them the right to practice law, or medicine. That was just the start.
People couldn’t believe that this government sanctioned decimation of an entire race of people could happen. Many who lived in that frightening, horrifying time said they just didn’t see it coming. They just assumed that reason and justice would protect them from the unimaginable horrors Hitler had in the offing. People felt with good reason, powerless to stand up to the forces or a corrupt government.
It all started with the ego-maniacal machinations of a dangerously insecure, narcissistic little man who was so hungry for power, dominance and ‘security’ for his people, he annihilated millions of innocent, contributing members of society. And the genesis of this devastating chapter of human history was propaganda…a war of words.
We need a free press, imperfect as ours may be, to shine a bright light on the truth, to defend against power grabs by people in power in both the public and private sector. We need a free press to protect people from injustice.
We need a free press to safeguard democracy. We need to teach our children about the importance of that in our way of life. We need to defend a system of checks and balances.
Normally, I like to write posts that lift people up.
Today I’m asking people to rise up…to stand strong against attacks on the media, to teach our children about how and why the founders of this country framed our government to protect individual freedoms.
Today I dig deep on my faith, courage and resolve to stand up for what is right, and call out what is wrong.
Today, out of respect for my role as a parent and a participant in the U.S. democracy, I say without reservation, I will fight to protect the free press in America. Spurious, unsubstantiated attacks on the veracity of press reports will meet fierce resistance from me and my family.
With love and light,