This is a long post. Grab a cup of coffee, have a seat and come along for the ride. I am going to go a little off my normal track here so bear with me.
It took only minutes for the tragic events of yesterday to turn into political fodder for everyone from POTUS on down.
These past few days we have seen a tragic event in an Oregon mall that I have frequented many times over the years. On Tuesday, we saw union members in Michigan skip work, and physically attack non-union members over a political position regarding the right to work. Today’s headlines bring us another member of society who released his monster bringing forth a level of evil against his family, and those that were important to them.
Laying the politics of the matter aside, as a nation and a community we will engage in a period of introspection and a search for meaning. We will simplify the issue and let emotions rule as groups try to address the symptoms instead of the root cause. No one will get anywhere and the wedge that currently exists between urban and rural communities will continue to grow.
What is the root cause? What is the solution? In a multi-cultural society that is as diverse as this nation is there are too many variables, and too many strong opinions to come up with a one size fits all cause and solution. Because of political agendas, there will be backroom deals made, and emotional arguments put forth that hold little or no basis in fact. Laws will be made, laws will not be enforced, and laws will be broken. Since the days of the Garden of Eden mankind has not done a very good job of obeying the rules.
All of this leads to a number of posts that I would like to send you to. I think they are worth your time. The science of the issue is here. My friend the Gundoc comes with a point of view and offer that I agree with (his won’t be the only offer like this either). The ol’ Riverdog, from my old Oregon stomping grounds brings perhaps the most specific causal relationship that reaches much closer to the root cause of our problems than anything else I have seen, here. While I don’t always agree with Riverdog, and he is sometimes over the top I think he is on the money with this one.
We have become a nation that is confused. In many ways and on many occasions we ignore the differences between right and wrong at every level of our society from POTUS, to the beggar on the corner. “It’s none of my business”. “It’s not my problem”. “Not my fault, not going to fix it”. “I’m going to do it and fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke”.
By the same token we have forgotten what it means to be proud of something. Proud of your spouse, father, brother, offspring for what they have accomplished. Proud of our own work. Proud enough to take credit for, and be accountable for what we have accomplished. But not so “proud” and self-absorbed, that we forget to help others along the way. As a culture, particularly in urban settings we have forgotten that we have to work to achieve.
Here is my prescription for our nation. The one guarantee that I can give you about this prescription is that there is not enough courage and moral fortitude in this nation to execute to it, and if it were to be driven from the “top down” it would be ignored by some, and vocally resisted by others. So, what to do? Let’s start by accepting the following statements as actions that we must face.
- Accept the fact that violence is part of all the cultures that make up this nation.
- Accept the fact that anyone that wants to bring violence against another person will find a way to do that. Club, gun, car, knife, hands, rope, firebomb, IED, pipe, wrench, chain saw they all have and will be used.
- The root of violence is people unable to control their “monster”. In other words knowing wrong from right and controlling themselves and being accountable for their actions.
- Self defense is an inalienable right, and any and all tools can be used to exercise that right at anytime by anyone. Those tools shall not be restricted or infringed. If that means I carry a katana on my left hip, in front of the spare magazine for the pistol on my right hip no one should be surprised or offended or uncomfortable.
While the above four points over simplify the situation, I think that they are core to the situation that we are faced with. Let’s get on with the prescription:
- Step one: Our moral compass. I don’t care how it gets re-instilled in people but, it needs to come back to the fore of our culture. The heroes of this age need to recognize their roles and hold themselves to a higher standard of behavior (NFL, NBA, MLB you hear this?). There should be no vacating of suspensions, no three strike rules. You F* up, you pay a price. Organized religions, you need to shepherd your flocks and teach them right from wrong. Help instill in people the knowledge of right and wrong and help them find the control necessary to keep their monster in the background. Hollywood, outlaws and criminals are not heroes. Good guys need to be a bit less “conflicted”, and do the “right thing”.
- Step Two: This one is going to roll into step three as well, and becomes more politically charged… Entitlements, they have to go. It cannot be “cold turkey” but gradually over a couple of decades they need to be removed from society. Government handouts are not the solution, and they have corrupted much of our nation. Even the New Deal put people into jobs to earn the funds that the government put forth for the infrastructure projects. This is a hard one, as we have not shown the political courage to embark on and take this course of action.
- Step 3: This is perhaps more important and compliments step 2. Americans need to learn to work. Not sit in front of the computer all day but get out and work. I look back at the tools and technology of the 1930’s and 40’s even through the 60’s and am amazed at what the effort that it took to place a phone call, or to dictate and type a letter. Today as I type this, and make errors a couple of keystrokes and it is fixed. Pressing a key is minimal effort compared to a manual typewriter. Welding, riveting, mounting an engine, forging parts for a 16″ naval gun, building and maintaining hydraulic systems, running a slide rule technology has helped us achieve tremendous things but, it has made us physically and intellectually lazy. To whip out a bunch of computations to determine where laminar vs. non-laminar flow at various airspeeds and altitudes will take place becomes a matter of hours or minutes with today’s technology and it is no great achievement. In the 1960’s it would have taken teams of engineers weeks to do the same work, and they would have felt a pride in that accomplishment. This is what needs to be re-instilled in society, a pride of accomplishment. Putting forth an honest effort and meeting with honest results. There is no prize for participating, only for winning. It has become cliché but the character Yoda had this one nailed, “Do or do not. There is no try”. We need to stop grading on the curve, we need stop grade inflation in our schools, we need to have winners and losers, we need communities of interest that produce more than just brochures and have tea. I remember the canned food drives, the trips to nursing homes, the work that I did growing up through school that helped to put a sense of community, and charity into my moral compass. I don’t see so much of that now.
- Step 4: It is your problem. If you are walking down the street and an empty beer can is rolling around in your sight… it is your problem, fix it. If you are installing an engine into the new Ford Focus and one of the tranny bolts doesn’t align right… fix it don’t force it. Take responsibility for your actions, and your world. Teach your children and your neighbors to do the same.
- Step 5. Charity. It is important but, our society has become focused on fundraising for every little cause that it is confusing and mind-boggling. Cures for cancer, cancer is a tragic disease and I wish it would be cured and removed from humanity but there are other charities out there that might provide a more tangible short term result that might just help us reduce and terminate entitlements.
- Step 6. Freedoms. Over the past 50 years this nation has been bloated with laws, regulations, and enforcement (or lack there of). In many ways this is a symptom the causes of which are outlined in step 1, step 2, and step 3. Restoring the moral compass of society should allow the repeal of many of our current laws and a restoration of many of the freedoms that have been restricted.
So there you have it. My prescription for what ails our society. The problem is as a whole this nation does not have the balls to do anything about it. The political class craves power, instead of providing leadership. Communities that would benefit the most from a restoration and reinforcement of morals are so deep in the mire of entitlements, that they will find their solace in the government dole…which only serves to reinforce the politicians and their belief that people need to be told what to do… go back to my Garden of Eden statement to see how well that worked.
Change can be effected at the community and neighborhood level. This is where it starts, with your family, the neighborhood, your church group (if that’s your approach). Work through the little league teams, the schools, scouting but a moral compass and a sense of being accountable for your actions and pride in your achievements are going to be the keys to improving our nation.
One last comment if you have made it this far. Regardless of your beliefs and your faith, evil exists. There will always be individuals and groups that work outside of the accepted norm in society. We call these people criminals. They have a disregard for rules and laws. Their achievements in life have not been earned but most often they are taken from others. That will never change, all we can do is be vigilant for this evil and try to take the action that we find to be most honorable to beat it back from our door.
Since you made it this far I will leave you with this final thought. If you embrace these three values, and define yourself and help your loved ones define themselves in these terms I don’t think you can go wrong. In fact I challenge you to embrace these principles and exhibit them in everything you do.
Honor: Define your moral principles and live by them. Exemplify the ultimate in ethical and moral behavior; to never lie cheat or steal; to abide by an uncompromising code of integrity; respect human dignity; and respect others. The quality of maturity, dedication, trust and dependability will commit you to act responsibly; to be accountable for your actions; to fulfill your obligations; and to hold others accountable for their actions.
Courage: Find your mental, moral, and physical limits and push them to grow. Courage will carry you through the challenges of life and help you to overcome your fears. Courage is the inner strength that enables a you to do what is right; to adhere to a higher standard of personal conduct; and to make tough decisions under stress and pressure.
Commitment: Be determined, be dedicated, be passionate, be tenacious. Commitment leads to the highest order of discipline for individuals and groups. It is the ingredient that enables 24-hour a day dedication to your values. It inspires the unrelenting determination to achieve a standard of excellence in every endeavor.
Honor, Courage, and Commitment.