Lines in the sand

written by: John Shuff

A lack of accountability may be a large part of today’s troubled society.

I remember as a teenager the rules my father established as long as I lived in his house: Tell the truth, no drinking and driving and always let mom and dad know when I was coming home if I was going out for an evening. If I was going to be late, I was to call them and let them know when to expect me. My father in particular made me accountable for my actions. No negotiations, no stretching the rules into some kind of convenient interpretation, just three directives that I was expected to follow. This was not unreasonable, but the consequences for crossing the line were severe as I found out late one summer evening when I sashayed into the kitchen smelling like the Burger Brewery. He asked if I’d been drinking. I said “Yes” and he said, “You’ve lost the use of the family car for a year.”

That was yesterday. Fast forward into the 21st century where there have been dramatic changes in the dynamics of the American family and the attitude of our young people. I’m worried. No, I’m terrified at the prospects for America given the current state of America’s youth. Call them Generation Y/Millennial (born 1980-2000) or Generation Z/Boomlets (born after 2001).

For example, when I was growing up I could not have conceived of burning the American flag, or seeking counseling after my candidate lost as some universities offered to distraught students after the recent presidential election. Last year we saw professional athletes who kneeled when the national anthem was played, and more than 750 homicides in Chicago, mostly gang-related. Public schools are failing—and have metal detectors at their entrances.

Look at our government. They work for the people yet make rules for us that they themselves do not follow. For example, they have exempted themselves from sexual harassment in the workplace but our courts are filled with civil suits involving this same subject. The doozie is healthcare; our esteemed leaders (who are our employees) put in a healthcare plan for the nation but opted to keep their current private healthcare plan instead—and got away with it. There are no boundary lines for them when it comes to protecting their bureaucracy.

I’m a practicing Catholic but I’m still angry at powerful members of the church protecting priests who abused children. They tried to sweep it under the rug but the lawsuits mounted. As a result, the American Catholic Church’s treasury has taken a hit of nearly $3 billion to settle these cases. The church leadership looked the other way as pedophile priests were transferred from one parish to another and the molestations continued. Today, the church has been proactive in addressing this problem but the horse left the barn decades ago, scarring the creditability of the church among some of its parishioners.

You get the drift. We have become a society with no boundaries and no consequences. Many of our children are being raised by parents who do not establish expectations or standards of behavior. Instead, the boundaries are continually moved to accommodate the situation. Therefore, there are no consequences and everyone is just cozy—so comfortable that accountability is a forgotten word.

The admonition:  Establish boundaries of expected behavior. State the consequences for straying outside those lines. Never move them. Never. They will reinforce accountability for your children’s behavior. That’s the result we want and the hope they will carry it forward to their children. A society without these boundaries is a society in chaos.

Salt Lake Magazine
Salt Lake Magazine
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