Observations on our culture

This past weekend I went with my family and visited one of our favorite local tourist attractions – Apple Hill. We go every year about this time. We always buy a way too expensive lunch and a slice of pie made with local apples and bring a frozen pie home to bake and eat later. Sometimes we buy some apples as well. There are a lot of crafts and interesting booths and even more interesting people to talk to. The people running the booths are happy to talk about their craft, even if you don’t buy anything. Apparently, it is getting more and more popular as it was more crowded this weekend than I have ever seen it before.

Most of the people visiting were similar to us; families from various places enjoying the Fall crispness and the harvest of fresh fruit and arts and crafts. I have to share, however, some exceptions that I observed disturbed me and, I think, make a statement on the direction of our culture.

1) A group of 20- somethings (when I first saw them they were using profanity as if it was their normal vocabulary and were not concerned that there were young children around) were stealing apples off the trees in the orchard. They were proud of the fact that they had gotten apples from the trees and not just from the ground and they did not care if people saw them. Of course, nobody said anything, including me. I thought about it, but decided that it could put my children in harm’s way if I said something and they chose to retaliate.

2) A 6 or 7 year old boy running around the pond hitting the fish with a stick. I didn’t see any parents, but they must have been nearby somewhere.

3) A group of 10-12 year olds running around and playing on some decorative trees. When they decided they wanted sticks to play with, they grabbed branches of the tree and broke them off. Again, I didn’t see any parents at the time, but when it was time to leave some nearby parents called them to go. They had been there all along.

4) Another group of kids digging in the ground in the park area. A parent told them it was time to go and one of the boys said “no.” So they stayed.

This brought to mind the environment this year at the high school at which I teach. This year we have had more fights than I can remember. A male student forced a girl into a bathroom and (at least attempted) sexually assaulted her. Another student went through a classroom in order to get to another classroom and gain access to a student he wanted to fight. The teacher tried to stop him and the student pushed her down and slightly injured her.  I should mention that both of these students are being expelled and appropriate criminal charges are being filed. A security staff on our campus was also injured breaking up a fight. The rules haven’t changed. The enforcement is still consistent, but the number of incidents is definitely increasing.

This might give one pause and cause many to shake their heads and mutter “kids these days.” I have two responses to that. The first is “no, parents these days, where are they?” Why are so many children not learning responsibility? Why are they not learning to respect the rights and property, or even the physicality, of others? My second response is to the “these days” portion.

I am currently reading a book calledWhen The Mississippi Ran Backwards.It is an historical book about the New Madrid earthquakes and the frontier of the United States in the early 1800s. I bring this up because the times were horrific. People stole what they could, murdered if they felt the need and swindled anywhere possible. Obviously, not everybody, but it was common at the time. I don’t see it being that much different from now. In fact, as we look through history, these phenomenon repeat themselves regularly. Perhaps we wonder why?

I am also reading the book of Job currently. A significant comment is made by Satan when God asks him where he has been. “Roaming the earth and walking around in it” he says.

Truth be told, Satan is roaming and walking around the earth, and always has been. As long as he is free to do so, there will be parents who do not teach their children responsibility and respect. Those children will grow into selfish, self-centered adults who will teach their children that same way of life. It creates a sense of entitlement that is evident from the kid with the stick hitting the fish, to the kid forcing a classmate into a school bathroom,  to the young adults stealing the apples, to the adults cheating on their taxes or manipulating the welfare system, to the congress member accepting bribes and pushing for earmarks and the executive running his company into bankruptcy and walking away with a golden parachute.

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