Phoenix Bird


Stemming the Flow of Violence

When I was a child, the streets were safe to walk, the schools were safe to attend, and the yard was a safe place for a child to play; what has happened to change society? Is it gun ownership? I think not, since gun ownership has been a fact of life since the birth of our nation.

Some of my earliest childhood memories of my bedroom include my father's glass-fronted gun cabinet, locked but with the key inserted. My father was a veteran of WWII, having served in the German theatre of operations, and had brought many fine firearms home with him at the end of that war. I often admired but never touched those guns without my father's permission, for my father was indeed the head of the household and would not hesitate to punish any among us who dared defy his rules. Was he abusive? Never - but he was stern, he was in control, and he never questioned his own authority to discipline by whatever means available, including the stout wooden paddle hanging in the laundry room in silent promise should we stray too far from acceptable behavior!

I grew up respecting my father, because he both commanded and demanded respect and had no governmentally imposed shackles on his authority. Over the years I've seen the majority of American parents pay the price for the sins of the minority, those few parents who were needlessly violent and abusive to their children. Parents are afraid to discipline for fear of being labeled 'abusive'. My former job in Probation clarified to me that an open palm applied to a child's behind was not considered abuse; only the proponents of reasoning with unruly children has made it seem so. There is no reasoning with a child bent on misbehavior - there is only establishment of control - and whoever came up with the notion that children were logical, rational and reasonable should be blessed with a house full of 2-year-olds!

I grew up respecting both the beauty and the power of firearms, having been taught at an early age by my father how to safely and effectively use this tool. My father was a responsible gunowner and instilled a sense of responsibility in his children; his expectations were high and we rose to meet them lest we be denied the pleasures of squirrel, rabbit and deer hunting. Not a single one of us ever committed a violent act with or without a firearm, for my father's expectations included respect for our fellow human beings.

I walked the halls of public schools without fear, knowing that those few students who bullied and threatened their fellow classmates would be dealt with swiftly and decisively. There were no drug-sniffing dogs, no armed law enforcement officers, and no metal detectors in the educational institutions. Any administrator could open any student's locker at any time to inspect the contents. The school was not a democratic unit and we as students had no right to Constitutional protections from illegal search and seizure; we were there to learn, and we became the virtual property of the teachers and administrators during the school day with the blessing of our parents. There were dress codes in those days: boys with their shirts tucked in, hair neatly combed, hats and jackets placed in the lockers designed to hold them, unadorned by racial or ethnic slurs in the form of tattoos or insignias, girls in dresses or skirts no shorter than mid-thigh (this being in the days when mini-skirts were the fad), also neatly groomed and allowed jewelry and makeup so long as it was neither gaudy nor offensive to any other student. The expectation was that we would conduct ourselves as young gentlemen and ladies - and again we rose to meet the high expectations placed on us, both personally and educationally.

There were no multilingual schools, no tolerance of anything but properly spoken and written English. There were no excuses made for those who came from less-than-ideal backgrounds. The expectation was that we would all speak, write, and read proper English which was the language of Americans, and that those who were unable to do so would attend remedial classes until they could conform to the standard. Somehow we all managed to rise to this expectation as well, in spite of any unfortunate circumstances at home. There were no excuses - only the expectation that those who were behind must work harder to catch up. What has happened to high expectations?

I played freely without constant supervision in my yard, as did my daughter after me, without fear that some crazed passerby would snatch, molest or otherwise harm me. My grandchildren aren't free to do the same, for we have molly-coddled, made excuses for, and created victims of those who prey on the innocent. In our failure to exercise legal options to the utmost, we have failed to create a respect for both the law and human life. We pity and try to 'understand' those aberrations of nature which present a clear and present danger to society rather than removing them from our midst. We have thus encouraged and engendered the monsters that now walk among us.

If we are to stem the tide of violence amongst young people, we must first return to more conservative roots; control of the family unit must be returned to the family, the power to discipline must be returned to parents and educators alike without fear of retribution from well-meaning but misguided social agencies. We must set behavioral and disciplinary expectations higher and demand that children rise to meet the challenge rather than forcing those who do so to endure the misery caused by those who refuse to conform. It is not corporal punishment that breeds violent children; it is removal of corporal punishment in both the home and the school system that teaches children they can act with impunity. It is the systematic attack on the basic family unit by a society that both accepts and promotes tolerance of deviance from the norm that has fostered a generation of young tyrants. Giving lip service to the idea that there is a 'new norm' does not make it so. Tolerance and acceptance are not the same thing, and we would do well to remember that.

There are those among us who are so disgusted with the current state of society, and our inability to influence our elected officials to make meaningful changes that will turn the tide of permissiveness, tolerance for deviant behavior, and excuse-making that we exist in a nearly constant state of frustration and anger. We see government promotion of more central control and less local control as a further threat to the way of life we remember from our childhood. We throw our hands up in frustration over the ineffectual floundering of public officials who try everything but the right thing to bring us back to some semblance of sanity. I am one of those people. I remember a better way, a better time, and I am appalled at attacks on the supremacy of the family and my personal liberty, along with a lowering of expectations, which constitute the underlying cause of societal breakdown.

If we are to stop the onslaught of violence and threats to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, we must perform a root cause analysis that points the finger in the right direction for a change - at those who have undermined the basic tenets upon which this nation was founded. After all, the Constitution, like the Bible, is a living document that was engineered to last forever...

~ Warrior Woman