There’s of course not enough detergent to clean – much less clothesline to hang – all the dirty laundry that seems an appropriate analogy to describe what’s wrong with the U.S. (and us, for that matter) but here’s just two quick examples from recent headlines:
“A former Stanford University swimmer gets a six-month jail sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman.” The leniency offered Brock Turner had critics “blasting the decision” calling it a “travesty of justice.”
“Violent crime is rising in Baltimore, Chicago and across the US,” Presidential candidate Donald Trump is reported to say, thus “crime reduction will be one of my top priorities!”
So what’s the plan?
In a town neighboring ours years ago a young sapling planted along the road had sometime previous been tied in a loop. As time went by the tree continued its upward growth taking the likewise ever-expanding girth of the circled-section of trunk along with it.
It had been trained in the way it would grow.
There are at least a couple of ancient proverbs that relate.
“The future disposition and conduct of a man may be very probably conjectured from his childish manners” (Benson).
“The graces or the faults of children are not trifles” (Barnes).
Indeed they are not. Or should not be.
Gumnos is the Greek word from which we get our ‘gymnasium’ which in turn means ‘naked.’ “Train (gumnos – ‘naked’) up a child in the way he should go and he’ll not depart from it.” In other words, from the time a child is ‘naked’ – which is how they’re born – the gymnasium-like training is to begin. Like the tree, they’ll grow how they’re bent.
If, as some observe, “a child so conceals and disguises himself, acts so fraudulently and deceitfully, and plays the hypocrite, and puts the cheat on men, that they cannot tell what he is, nor what he will be; and if children can thus dissemble, as not to be known by their actions, then much more grown persons” (Gill). Which is what the little terrors, left to themselves, will become.
‘No!’ – a one-word sentence (or should be) that is saved for the important things (ideally) and even then uttered only once and without volume (no, really) – serves much as does a stop sign to traffic, calling attention to ‘this-far-and-no-further’ behavior.
At least until time is given to not only stopping but also looking and listening (whereby wisdom happens from better choices being made) before proceeding. As opposed to running the stop sign or just plowing through life without a thought to the consequences.
Ironically, the headline to Kate Gelselman’s article in “The Washington Post” this past June 8 was entitled “In Brock Turner’s home town, we’re raising kids who are never told ‘no’.”
A link provided in Gelselman’s piece was to another article a couple years previous by Amy Joyce in which she cites recommendations by Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist, “about how to raise children to become caring, respectful and responsible adults. Why is this important? Because if we want our children to be moral people, we have to, well, raise them that way.”
All to say that saving America depends far less on whoever is president as whoever is parent.
And as parents the onus is on us to, among other things, say ‘no.’