Whiting column: Time to prepare for necessary changes

Bryan Whiting
Personal Responsibility

We cannot eliminate the errors of the past by trying to hide their existence. Not only does that lend itself to future generations making the same mistake after memory has faded, but the continued decrying of what happened is wasted time and energy. If we desire to make things better, it’s more productive to focus on determining how to actually make the necessary changes today.

At the same time, it’s imperative to try and think ahead to determine and prepare for the ramifications and unintended consequences that may accompany those necessary changes. Given the occurrences of the last few months they are considerable.

The educational process is significantly affected. The reduced classroom hours and one on one teacher contact that accompany increased online education, will make it difficult for achievement to maintain let alone increase.

Online education can’t replicate the success of effective teachers in facilitating learning in multiple subject areas or providing motivation. Parental involvement at least doubles in importance. Both situations mean the achievement gap, whatever the source, will increase. Any effort to mitigate the effect will require additional will power on the part of students, additional evening and weekend time for both parents and teachers, as well as increased hours of operation for classrooms. The pandemic environment requires everyone to do more as has been meritoriously modeled by our health care professionals.

Online education requires computer and Wi-Fi access. This necessitates additional budgetary commitment demanding both schools and parents to revisit in manner in which they spend their money. Such reallocation isn’t easy. For schools it might mean elimination of a non-teaching position; for parents choosing monthly home Wi-Fi access over the weekly six pack or other non-essential purchase.

An increased emphasis on English literacy accompanies effective online education. Most understand it’s our personal responsibility to be literate. Sadly, some do not feel the same. Recently, a mother was unhappy because her 1st and 2nd grade children couldn’t understand the online education offered in English. The mother had lived here 10 years and was at least functionally literate. Her children were born here, but the mother hadn’t felt the need to have her children speak English. Being a resident of our society carries with it the responsibility of literacy.

The increased limitations and accountability being demanded of law enforcement is obviously a necessary change, but carries its own ramifications for which we must be prepared. Given the coming restrictions on justified contact, use of weapons and force, along with methods and degree of pursuit, we would be naïve to not expect increased criminal activity. This will include all types of crimes, but especially those crimes considered “minor” because they don’t involve life and death.

Perhaps most concerning is the realization that urban gangs and international terrorists can only be smiling in anticipation of decreased police presence.

Police will increasingly find themselves baited by those seeking to generate a response that can be photographed and publicized.

There is an increased liklihood some citizens will become frustrated precipitating increased occurrence of vigilante activities. People may feel they have to take things into their own hands when their family or fellow citizens are involved, because police may not be available to respond or be hesitant to do so. However, one can argue that our being willing to step in and help one another is not a bad thing.

If these changes in law enforcement are going to be effective in the long term, they must be sustainable. This involves solving the basic problem: How to detect and eliminate the person with racist or violent tendencies in the recruitment and training process while still generating enough officers and agents while raising not lowering standards. I’m not smart enough to know how to do this, but development of this ability is essential.

If our Police and our public figures are going to be held more accountable, we have a personal responsibility to hold ourselves more accountable as well; especially with how we raise our children. All of us, of all races, are perpetuating racism by what we are saying and role modeling to our kids. They aren’t born racist. We can’t systemically eliminate racism until we realize the system didn’t cause it, people did; whether through their own actions or in the system they developed.

We must hold ourselves accountable to take advantage of the opportunities we are provided. We can’t expect society to provide a career if we choose to not utilize the education provided, develop a marketable skill, demonstrate work ethic and an ability to get along with people. In other words, do the work and meet the needs of an employer. If we choose not to possess these characteristics, we can’t expect others to bail out our bad decisions in this regard. Most employers will tell you that more people want to get paid than want to work.

The United States isn’t easy. The freedoms we enjoy are not only of benefit but require a lot from us. If we genuinely believe in freedom of speech, we must also be willing to tolerate words. We can criticize what someone says, but we cannot criticize their saying it. We can disagree even despise their words, but we have the responsibility to not only accept their right to say it but celebrate their right to safely do so.

It is our personal responsibility to anticipate and prepare for the ramifications that accompany needed change and to hold ourselves accountable in their regard which will automatically assure the desired systemic response.

Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to:

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