Respect is a Two-way Street
A friend whose family is almost entirely employed in law enforcement shared a video on Facebook. A young female student was not obeying orders. The end result was a policeman twice her size picked her up and slam her to the floor. The poster’s family began the lament that kids today are not respectful. I posted that I didn’t believe kids had changed all that much since I was that girl’s age but that our society sure has. Well, the argument was on.
Of course I have a story. A long time ago my juvenile delinquent buddies and I were sitting in a fast food joint on Chowchilla’s Robertson Boulevard. The enclosed picnic area kept the weather out but it also held the chatter in. A buddy of mine had just discovered the F word and he began to use it often and loudly.
A dad walked back to our table. “I’m here with my family,” he said, “and we don’t need that kind of language. Keep it down, okay?” As soon as the man left my friend began a blue rant. The man did an about face, came back and slapped my friend out of his seat. “I warned you,” he said. The rest of the customers applauded when he rejoined his family. “I’m a minor,” my friend whined. “I’m gonna sue.” We at his table told him he got what he served.
Yes, kids can be disrespectful. Same as it ever was. I don’t believe you can single out an past era and say it was better back then. Children have always needed boundaries and guidance. What short-circuits things is frustrating adult contradictions like “Kids should be seen, not heard.” “Do what I say, not what I do” was my personal favorite. Later on, our group was old enough to get killed in combat (some did) but too young to drink or vote out politicians who use them as fodder in their wars for profit.
Today, the epithet that caused the incident above is a staple of our culture. And, yes, today that slap would probably result in a lawsuit. The world has shrunk and information increases exponentially. Education creates power and responsibility. Kids are not stupid. My grandsons taught us how to use our handheld phones and computers. They are technically savvy. They may seem obsessed with video games and texting but they also use their own devices to study the generations governing them.
Local kids can’t afford housing or retire in their home towns. Driven away an influx of retirees, they hear the newcomers, who came here for the rural peace and quiet, complain about the lack of shopping and big box stores. They want the agricultural smells sights and smells hidden. Citing children’s lack of respect, some show precious little respect for the country they’ve chosen to spend their last day in.
Today our children are terrified of a maniac shooting up their schoolrooms. Then they have to sit in a diner next to a couple in camies with assault rifles at their side. On the overhead TV some celebrity or politician proclaims, “Your dead babies don’t trump my right to bear arms.” They watch too many kids of color killed and when they protest adults yell, “Go get a job.” These kids also watch patriotic corporations outsource jobs to other countries to increase profits. And others talk of deporting million of workers doing job that they know they and their family members would never do.
Geraldo Rivera says a hoodie got Treyvon Martin assassinated. Kids can’t even dress the way they want anymore. Save water, reduce usage, do your part, they’re told. Then they see the upper class arrogantly using 1,000 times their allotment. Christian scripture demands, “And eye for an eye” and “Turn the other cheek.” Protestants and Catholics are still killing each other. Ungodly acts are absolved on Sundays. Their parents leave them to fight wars and aren’t taken care of when they return.
Today, Big Business and Big Government battle each other without one tear shed for the little guy being ground to dust between them. Even if “little guy” means children, they don’t even blink because profits overrule children any day. I think it’s a “trickle down theory” that might just work. When the adults start respecting each other, maybe their example will trickle down to their offspring. I believe kids haven’t changed one iota. I think they comprehend how dysfunctional the adult world is and are being way too easy on us.
Jerry Tuck is a retired San Andreas resident and an indie author. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the Contact Form.