THE RAMBLINGS OF AN OLD FART
Everyone in these United States has heard about the grandparent or parent that had to walk 5 miles to school in blistering heat or a blizzard of snow, barefooted, uphill all the way at some point in their life. And while the story is false the analogy is pertinent; we all think we had it harder as a child compared to the youth of today.
Most of us did have it “simpler” in our day. I am not going to say harder, but the convenience of things was lacking in our day. There was no Starbucks on every corner. 7-11 was not beckoning us to stop and grab a big gulp on every drive.
If we wanted something to drink at school because we were thirsty we stood in line at the water fountain. You know the stainless steel dispenser that now stands corroded in some remote corner of school only to be used by some old fogies.
Bottled water was when you filled a canteen for the occasional hike or camping trip. If there was a gallon of water in your car it was because that damn radiator had a leak and you had to stop and fill it every 15 miles or so. We did not attend classes or school with a Monster drink or some energy drink we got our energy from internal motivation.
And the biggest convenience of today that we did not have was cellular phones. Hell I can remember we had party lines in our neighborhood that every house was connected to. You could not receive or make a call without the risk of someone eavesdropping on your conversation. It was not until my sophomore year in High School that we went to a semi-private line with our next door neighbors. And although the Cell Phone was invented while I was in High School in 1973, no one saw them on the market until around 1983 and the first ones sold for around $4000.00. They were definitely not common to the average consumer.
In 1990 when I deployed to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield and later to Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, NO ONE had cell phones; not even the Commanders.
Prior to the air campaign, once every three weeks or so we were afforded the opportunity to visit a pay phone complex located somewhere in the freaking desert where you stood in line for hours just to call your family (collect) for 15 minutes. That excursion usually involved a 1:00 a.m. ride in the back of a dusty 5 ton truck for at least two hours to get there and just as long to get back.
It was not until around 1998 to 2001 that cell phones became a common item amongst Americans. I bet you now IF you surveyed 100 Americans walking downtown that 98 of them will have a cell phone. The other two probably just lost or destroyed the one they had or had their service disconnected due to non-payment of their bill.
I am not going to try and convince anyone that this is a bad thing, just stating the convenience of the situation and the times we live in. I mean, had George Armstrong Custer had a cell back in his day he would have known what he was riding into. Paul Revere would have simply made a phone call; to hell with all that horseback riding at night in the rain.
But due to today’s convenience of phones, we need to educate and teach the responsibilities that go along with those distractions. And when I say responsibilities of use with a cell phone I am not talking about your kid running up a huge cell phone bill. That is part of it but I am mainly talking about the where and when to use their phone.
I would like to ask everyone, at what point is there a cut off for the necessity of cell phones. I mean should little Johnny need a cell phone in Kindergarten should he wet his pants and feels the need to call home for dry ones?
No? Too young? Okay, let’s move forward. How about in the fourth grade when little Julie forgot her library book that is overdue and needs to call Mommy to bring it to her? No? Still nothing? Or did you answer yes to that one?
I guess the point I am getting at is that we as adults are at fault for allowing our youth to be less stressed or inconvenienced by supplying them with all the technology we can throw at them. But don’t stress, we are not the first generation of failures when it comes to teaching our youth and aligning them with good old fashioned principles and responsibilities. Do you know who quoted this phrase?
“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”
That was one of the famous quotes from the great philosopher Socrates who died in 399 B.C. So folks, don’t feel like we are the first generation of failures as parents and grandparents.
But then, IF our youth is all that he stated, does that really mean that we are failures?
I love the joke that Jeff Foxworthy told in his earlier stand up days.
He said, and I have to paraphrase because I can’t remember the exact lingo, “For once I would like to hear one of these criminals say, My Father was good, My Mother was good, and I’m just a shithead!”
Let’s not equip them with a device to distract him/her from their studies and then be shocked when he/she receives a bad report card.
Let’s stop rewarding bad behavior. Let’s stop enabling them to be lazy. And for God’s sakes, let’s stop arming them to the teeth with the combination of cell phones and automobiles.
Text Driving, or Distracted Driving as some states are calling it, has become the leading cause of traffic accidents among the younger populace in America. We as parents and guardians are arming our youth with something just as harmful as anything they have ever taken into an automobile with them.
I am reminded of a true story that happened here in the current state I live in. I will not state any names just the incident. This does not reflect the use of cell phones directly, just the mental capacity or state of mind in which we are placing these devices.
A 16 year old boy parked his truck in front of a cattle guard gate that was pad-locked and bore a no trespassing sign. He knew he was not supposed to cross the gate. He knew he did not have permission to cross onto the land. The young lad proceeded to cross the gate ignoring the sign and walked to a nearby tree that supported a deer stand. The lad scaled the steps and stepped down into the tree stand. That morning the air was cold and there was a heavy frost on everything but that did not deter him from his pursuit.
As he stepped down into the stand his foot slipped and he fell out of the stand and broke his neck on the fall. He was found dead later and his parents sued the land owner.
The courts found the land owner liable due to the fact that “A sixteen year is not mentally mature enough to withstand the temptation of something as intriguing as a prominently displayed deer stand; and therefore the land owner should have had it out of sight.” The land owner ended up paying over a million dollars in liability.
Now, I ask you, if a 16 year old is not mentally mature enough to abide by a No Trespassing sign posted clearly in his face, what restraint do you think he/she has against texting while driving?
The temptation after receiving a text from their BFF in most cases is just too much to handle for most of these kids. They feel compelled, no Driven, to respond immediately. The situation does not matter. If they do not respond immediately their friend’s feelings will be shattered. And they feel skilled enough to do both, type and drive. And the sad result is usually and too often disaster.
This problem is epidemic. And it is one we cannot fail to address.
And I am sorry to say I do not have a solution. I always hated as an NCO in the Army when one of my leaders would assign me a task without the proper direction or equipment to accomplish said task with the excuse of “You’re an NCO, make it happen.”
Well, I feel the same now. I have no solution but we all have a big problem, and it is growing.
Last week I drove from Kansas City back to Lawton, Oklahoma and on at least three occasions I had to either slam on the brakes or swerve to avoid an accident and all three times the driver in the other vehicle appeared distracted and not watching the road. Two of the three occasions, the driver appeared to be less than 21 years old. The third time the driver was in a large truck and when I was able to finally get by him I noticed he had a phone to his ear. He looked older therefore he received the famous Rocking Robin that most of us apply in situations that scare the hell out of us due to some dickhead driver. Not classy, but it gets the point across.
In the other two incidents I think to this day that neither is aware of how close they actually came to causing an accident.
My wife used the very cerebral reasoning that she our daughter should be given a cell phone so that she could call in case of emergency or that we should be able to call her as well.
How many of you reading this has heard this before?
Well, the emergency should not be because one of our kids was texting and had an accident. That is the pinnacle of irony. We all want our kids to be safe, but at the same time we arm them with a one ton weapon.
C’mon America, we are smarter than this.
Tiny URL for this post: