Nothing has changed in a week’s time. Gun violence is still taking away multiple lives on a daily basis. We need to Make America Safer Again (MASA) from gun violence. Unlike the Make America Great Again campaign that failed to define a time period to substantiate its great claim, there is a definite time period when America was safer from gun violence than it is today.
At the risk of sounding like an old geezer by saying “when I was a kid,” we need only go back 50 years. There was a time when young potential rogues could be held accountable by almost any adult. The worker hanging off the back of a sanitation truck would not hesitate to redirect the wayward intent of a younger person with the mere threat of notifying his parents. The same could be expected of the postal worker on his route. Or the teacher. Or even the police could de-escalate a situation by giving the youngster an option of being taken to the station or being taken home, with the ride to the station typically the preferred choice. Young people used to respect authority and feared their parents and/or guardians. America was safer then.
A half century ago, young people respected the authority of adults, strangers or familiar. Every adult on the block had a vested interest in and responsibility for the order of the community. From the little old grandmother rocking on the porch to the football coach, every adult had a voice and was not afraid to use it.
Even when I was a kid, there was a time when a child may have challenged home authority. That defiance could quickly be diffused with a reminder of two simple truths: “I pay the cost to be the boss.” Or, “I brought you into this world, I will take you out.” Additionally, as a friend explained to me, his current reminder to his kids why his authority rules the house is “You are a cost center, not a revenue stream.”
While there is not a single contributing factor for the rampant, uncontrollable gun violence in many US cities, one thing is obvious. We have a generation of grandparents and parents who are afraid of their children. That is not the natural order of familial relationships. Without that fear or respect of parental authority, there is no order, no control, no safety.
Author Ellen J. Barrier succinctly identified the influence of authority, “When parents neglect their responsibility to correct and discipline their children society suffers. The results are crimes and harm committed against others. Too many parents became friends first. The initial response to hold an errant child accountable was evolved into an immediate need to protect the child against all accusations and evidence. We went from, “I know when my child is responsible,” to “How do I know you are not lying on my child?” Not only were some parents more friends than nurturers, they were also enablers.
We have multiple generations of residents who were allowed to age with no regard for the law or respect for authority inside or outside their residence. There was a time when teachers would wonder if the note to parents would reach home. Now, teachers are reluctant to send messages home out of fear of being confronted by parents.
We can malign gun manufacturers. We can criticize Congress. We can lambaste law enforcement. We can point fingers at poverty. However, the first line of protection for the community starts in the home. No part of society should be held hostage to the illegal behaviors of undisciplined deviants.
If we subscribe to the biblical adage “For the love of money is the root of all evil,” we can logically conclude that the lack of parenting is the root of all public danger.