Two Sides To The Coin
In today's world, at least in the USA, we seem to be so concerned with "rights" that we have forgotten the other 'R' word…responsibility! Yes, one has the right to read what they wish, worship or not worship as they see fit, etc. One does not have the "right" to impose upon others, cause others discomfort, impose a burden upon others, etc.
Recently I was sitting at a bus stop. A young man sat down near me and he was carrying a "boom box" volume at the max, listening to some kind of offensive (to me) ear assaulting so called music. The lyrics to the song were vulgar, anti-social & nasty. I politely asked him to use the ear-buds hanging around his neck to listen to his noise. He promptly answered me with "F*#k you!" and a middle-digit salute. Now I could have done one of several things. I could have just beaten the living crap out him right there. I could have picked up his "boom box" & smashed it to the pavement. I could have left the bus stop. I chose instead to wave down a passing cop. He parked, walked over & before I could say anything to him ordered the offensive young man to silence that noise! He then asked me, "What can I do for you sir?" I told him that he had just done it. He then turned to the other 3 persons at the bus stop and asked them if they had anything to say. One elderly lady replied, "Officer, I am glad that you made him shut it off. I wanted to say something but I was afraid of him."
What has our nation and our society come to that people are afraid to speak up for their rights? I am appalled, sickened & damned angry about this social attitude! No citizen should ever be afraid to speak up about his or her rights being trampled upon but unthinking or uncaring louts! This nation has too many laws, too many "do-gooders" and not enough people of action & boldness.
From the very beginning it was a nation that made men free. First the explorers & adventurers came. These were men of vision, intelligence, courage & daring. They pushed into the wilderness and met the frontier head on. They were the wolves. Behind them came the settlers. They also pushed into the wilderness, located lands, settled them & began to build but still contending with the frontier dangers. These were the dogs. After they had pushed back the danger and had cleared a "safe" zone the sheep flocked to our shores. They were safe so they had nothing much to contend with and began to become the leeches who suck the blood from the body of society. Once the frontiers were conquered, the Indians tamed, the wild animals relegated to special areas, the wars fought & the "Great Depression" ended there was nothing to struggle against except each other. Baby-Boomers are the first generation to not have diversity, strife, and raw survival to contend with each day. The effects of that "I do not want my kids to suffer what I had to suffer!" attitude were evident in the reactions of spoiled boys going to Viet Nam, confronting a life of danger, hardship, responsibility & death without the creature comforts of their car, the corner McDonald's, mommy & daddy catering to them, TV, etc. These guys caved in mentally, emotionally & socially.
Discipline instilled by circumstance, environment & society makes one's own self-discipline stronger. Without that discipline, self-discipline does not exist. Respect for one's self is the first step to respecting others. If you do not respect yourself how can you respect others?
When I went to school my parents always told the teachers to discipline me as they saw fit, then to call them so they knew about it and I would be disciplined at home as well. Paddlings were allowed in school in my day and I wish to God that they still were the norm! Kids today need some sort of discipline not the "namby-pamby," "no-guts" kind of "time-out" discipline that has be come the accepted norm, but real thought-provoking, attitude-changing discipline. I am not advocating beating up a kid but a good swat across the fanny applied at the right time can & does do wonders for adjusting a wayward kid's attitude! My grandmother would send me to the back yard to one of the peach trees with a pruner when I misbehaved. "Get me a switch!" saying, "One as thick as your thumb!" The switching I received did sting but the anticipation as I cut the switch & brought it to her was much worse than the actual switching. It was what actually caused me to think about my switch-provoking actions. I was lucky enough to be sent to judo school 3 afternoons per week starting at age 8. This Japanese sport taught me how to defend myself, how to respect others & also self-discipline.
Everyone needs to be able to apply the brakes to their lives even when it is not fun or interesting to do so. Self-discipline is what allows us to do that. Sure…we all slip up at times but we do have some modicum of self-discipline that makes us able to do so.
Being responsible for our selves makes us also be responsible for others. It is instills in us a societal-conscience that causes us to have a desire to help others. It may be by doing volunteer work at the local hospital or whatever but it does happen in those with self-discipline engendered respect.
Hospitality is a key indicator of respect for others. The poorer nations of the world are the more hospitable nations. The Republic of Georgia (Kartveli), located on the southern shores of the Back Sea, is considered to be the most hospitable country on earth from a social standpoint. A guest has only to show an interest in something to receive it promptly with a smile. Food, drink, companionship are all hallmarks of hospitality. These are given in great abundance in this tiny country. One of the things that impressed me the most about the former Soviet Union was the respect shown to the elderly, pregnant women, small children & the infirm. On public transportation they were offered seats. Packages were carried for them, physical assistance was offered…by complete strangers at bus stops, metro platforms, even at stairways & pedestrian ramps…by complete strangers! Once I was identified as an American, I was constantly asked if I needed any assistance to find my way. The fact that I spoke their language was always accepted as a show of my respect for their culture & themselves as well. My usage was rusty, a bit archaic but it warmed their attitudes towards me and allowed the barriers to be breached.
RIGHTS are the opposite side of the same coin with RESPONSIBILITY on the other side. Politeness & rudeness are another way to state this obvious but often ignored fact of life. Remember this, "Do ye unto others as ye would have them do unto thee!" The "Golden Rule" is the keystone to societal tranquility.
Copyright © 2012 Donald R Houston, PhD. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.