Stuff We May Find We Need

Posted by Melvin Bray on October 1st, 2004 filed in Home-Training

Back in the day (as my generation is apt to say), when a young person used to cut-up in public, the old folks would shake their heads in disgust and question the child’s home-training. Well, I’m not sure enough of that still goes on.

Over the years what’s considered appropriate behavior from children as well as adults has taken an extreme turn for the worse. People seem to act in the most outlandish manner, and then, without a hint of irony, defend their right to do so. Take for example the behavior of Omarosa on The Apprentice last year. It was deplorable. Or consider Paris Hilton. She’s famous (not infamous, mind you) for behaving like a tramp. Not that there haven’t always been people who have conducted themselves in a less than admirable fashion, but there was a time when you knew for sure their behavior wasn’t admirable. Back then if as a young lady you were attracted to the bad boys, at least you recognized they were “bad”. Nowadays there is no clear denunciation of things that are way off the mark.

We live in a society where even our leaders try to justify indefensibly reprehensible behavior. Thus, we have a US Senator who resists taking a definitive stand on any subject for fear of the repercussions running for the Presidency against an incumbent who is so arrogant that he can’t relent even when his choices cost others their lives.

There may be a lot of reasons that we find ourselves in such a pitiful state. We may be still suffering from the backlash against an American culture that for 400 years built its morality on prejudices and fears and out-right self-interested lies. We may be experiencing the natural consequences of our parents’ generation’s attempt to pretend that everything was relative. The society in which we now live may even be the result of us selling out our collective soul to the Almighty Dollar to the extent that some might credibly argue that America no longer has a culture, only an economy. At this point it’s probably a confluence of things.

There was a time when the only time you saw kids come out the house looking or acting any-ol’-kinda-way was when they didn’t have a mom or dad to show them better. Today you see little boys running around looking like little girls with pigtails in their hair! And neither they nor their parents have any shame. I know I sound like an old fogy. I would probably make my grandfather proud. Old fogy or not, there was some definite merit to how my grandfather thought and lived. There’s merit to recognizing that there is a decent way to treat people. There’s merit to knowing that there is a respectful way to talk. There’s merit to acknowledging that there is a certain way that in polite society we should deport ourselves. One of our greatest challenges is that folks have lost sight that there actually is a “certain way”. Every civilization—with the possible exception of our current one—has recognized the importance of passing on their culture—their “certain way”—to the next generation. I think we need to get back to that. I believe what we’re missing is some good, old-fashioned “home-training,” for home-training is the vehicle through which culture is best passed on.

Thus, I have begun a series of social commentaries which I will call (what else?) Home-Training. These are just my humble thoughts and feelings on things I see happening in this world in which we are seeking to successfully raise our children. It is specifically because I have children and am profoundly concerned with the type of people they will grow up to be and the world in which they will have to live that I believe I have a great enough stake to voice my concerns, comments, questions and/or criticisms.

These are simply my best surmisings. May they offer more light than heat. I do not offer them as the final words on anything, but rather may they promote the intelligent discourse surrounding the issues that affect our daily lives, instead of adding to the nonsense that currently runs rampant and, at times, seems to hold sway over our communities and our nation.

In the words of Dr. Cornel West, may together we find that “love that allows us to criticize as well as embrace, to empower as well as to correct, to listen as well as to speak, and in the end, to ennoble as well as be ennobled” by each other.

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