Letters to the editor 05-01-2015

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Freedom and responsibility
Recently I sat thinking about the changes that have taken place in our culture over the past 50 years. I was reminded of something I wrote as a teacher when I began noticing the change in school classroom discipline: “When people possess self-discipline, there is freedom. When self-discipline is no longer present, government steps in and takes control.” That principle seems to apply from the smallest unit of society, the family, up through our classrooms, our communities, and our country.
At the time I wrote about the change in student self-discipline, there was a growing trend away from family church attendance. Although the children who were raised in a church environment didn’t always grow up ad#hering to all that they were taught in church, they came to school at an early age prepared to sit still and listen. That was a time prior to “children’s sermons” and “children’s church.” Little ones were expected to sit still and respect that others around them weren’t to be disturbed. They didn’t necessarily like it. They didn’t have to like it! But they learned at an early age to control their behavior and emotions for a given period of time. Later, when starting elementary school, they came prepared to sit and listen, even though they might prefer to be doing something else.
Many of those children grew up without the knowledge of why that early training was so important. Their rebellion against self-discipline, which began in the 60s, brought about the “counter-culture” movements that many of them viewed as “freedom.” What they really seemed to be rebelling against was self-control. Their mantra was, “Do what you want, when you want.” Forgotten was one of the foundations of our country’s freedom: “With every right comes a responsibility.”
Maybe that foundation wasn’t “forgotten”; maybe it was just never taught. How much do we hear about self-responsibility today? Do we expect those who conceive a child to be responsible to raise the child to become a “responsible citizen”? Do we expect those who are given 13 years of free education to become “responsible citizens”? Do we expect our elected officials to be “responsible citizens,” carrying out their duties in an honest fashion?
Sounds “old-fashioned”, doesn’t it? But where has abdicating responsibility gotten us as a country? Have we blindly traded “personal freedom” for greater governmental control? And what, if anything, are we doing about it?
Shirley Strauss