Whiting column: Times have changed; values shouldn’t have
It’s easy to be naïve about issues in our lives. We all fall into that well from time to time. It can sneak up on us.
It’s naive to believe our leaders can effectively negotiate with foreign leaders who don’t share our values. When their values are so divergent from ours, rational argument isn’t on the table. Their mantra is “my way or the highway.” Morals, ethics and honesty are not characteristics they possess. They cover their destructive actions with the false cloak of religion in an attempt to rationalize and develop public sympathy.
The only life they value is their own. Most will sacrifice not only their countrymen, but their own family without a thought. When a foreign leader advocates brutal public death over human rights and due process, they aren’t concerned about people. They are governed by the need to assuage their own ego. Sadly the only solution to the problem involves taking the road they advocate: death. As strange as it seems, fear of their own death is the only strategy with a chance of making them change their behavior.
Education is essential, but we are naive to think it is enough. Two brothers, Ben and Bill, were at Thanksgiving dinner. Ben was highly successful, Bill not so much.
Bill: “Ben, what is the secret to your success? We both went to college?” Ben thought for a moment and then responded: “Did you watch all 80 hours of the Game of Thrones?” Bill: “Yes.” Ben: “I didn’t.”
It’s naïve for us, media and politicians to believe we can determine, let alone fund, a solution to a problem by just adding enthusiasm. Whining and protesting a perceived problem or injustice without an accompanying solution is a waste of time and effort. When the enthusiasm is directed toward developing a workable solution, change becomes more likely.
We’re naïve if we believe giving someone something improves their self-esteem.
Naivety can morph into hypocrisy.
We can’t say we believe in the 1st amendment and criticize or attach a negative label to those who say something contrary to our belief. As hard as it might be, we have to be prepared to fight for their right to say it; not criticize them for doing so. We can criticize their words and their ideas, but not them or their saying it.
Aspen can’t say they’re concerned about reducing their carbon footprint and not be willing to do whatever necessary to facilitate housing for their employees in or close to town.
Our elected leaders can’t say they do what is best for us, when they pass a required health insurance plan and exempt themselves from it; require us to utilize Social Security as a retirement vehicle and adopt a separate plan for themselves; restrict the oil industry and fly in a private jet.
We can’t complain about not having enough money when we’re at a Broncos game, buying the latest phone or a third TV. We can’t complain about being too busy and spend time on Facebook and Twitter. We can’t say we care about the environment when the only plant we are saving is “weed.” We can’t say the current generation is narcissistic as we take a selfie.
It’s naïve to think controlling guns will eliminate evil. Guns are only a tool that can be used constructively or not; it’s up to us. A hammer is a tool. If our new deck falls down, we don’t outlaw hammers. When I was in high school, our parking lot was full of pickups. Every one had a gun rack in the back window, and the rack wasn’t empty. It contained a rifle, which in most cases also wasn’t empty. You never knew when you were going to see a coyote.
Most pickups were unlocked, with the keys on the seat. If a friend needed to borrow our pickup, they just asked, used it, put some gas in it and brought it back. No issues. No problems. We never had a pickup or gun stolen.
In school, our lockers didn’t have locks. Neither did the athletic lockers in the gym. Issues were few and far between. Times have changed, but the biggest difference was two-fold.
1. Our parents actively taught us, sometimes repeatedly, our family’s values and role modeled them continually. We knew what was expected of us and they held us accountable.
2. If an issue did occur in school, we dealt with it ourselves. We all knew the expectations, helped each other make decisions in times of weakness and knew violations would be dealt with swiftly and social ramifications permanent. Underclassmen knew the expectations coming in. If they chose to test the waters, justice was swift. One freshman took a pair of basketball shoes from an athletic locker. He found himself run up the flagpole with the rigging wrapped through his belt loops.
We learned to think and consider possible consequences; not because we were concerned about repercussions from the school principal or police, but rather the opinion of our peers and having to call our parents. When we did make bad decisions, our parents were there for us. That didn’t mean saving us. It meant supporting us both before and after we faced the consequences. Times may have changed, but with effort such values are still possible. We have a personal responsibility to make the effort.
Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of non-partisan economics rather than by government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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