Marcia Steffens: Absence of respect can damage our nationPublished 10:25am Friday, September 18, 2009
We seem to have lost respect for each other.
When U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina yelled “You lie,” to the President of the United States, interrupting his speech on health care, there was a lack of respect shown not only for the man, but for the office – the highest in our land.
About this time, there was another chance for parents to teach their children about respect for this office.
Instead, some parents taught their children a lack of respect when they refused to allow their children to hear the President speak through the television on the first day of school, because they were afraid of what he might say.
This man is the President of the United States. He is not a terrorist or a monster.
If you disagreed with his comments, wouldn’t this have been a wonderful time to sit down with your children and discuss what was said and why you might disagree with his words.
Instead, parents at some schools were given an option to have their children not hear him speak.
Lack of respect for authority isn’t going to help them get along with people, get or retain jobs or help them in life.
My friend works as a lunch lady at a high school in South Bend.
The other day one of the boys was having trouble holding his lunch tray and his pants up at the same time.
It looked as though he was about to lose one or the other, as his pants were about to end up at his knees.
When she made a comment that he better pull them up before he lost them, he returned with a sexual comment which shocked this woman.
Now, she has worked with high school kids a long time and it takes a lot to shock her.
Do we really teach our children to have respect for those who are older, in authority, etc?
When I was in school, the private Catholic schools had the ability to teach respect, without having the parents complain.
We stood up when an adult came into the room. We said good morning, greeting the adult.
It seems we have begun to put the rights of children above those of adults.
When the shift came that teachers and even parents couldn’t discipline the students or their own children, for fear of becoming too rough or abusive, we became scared.
Afraid of being in trouble, teachers and administration backed off and the ones who needed to be disciplined became braver and more powerful.
And too often, their parents stood by these trouble makers.
Instead of being called to the principal’s office and having your parents be called and then going home with a punishment, some parents stand by the kids and fight the administration.
I believe in standing by your children when they are right, but these parents have empowered their offspring when they should have been punished.
Many young people are growing up believing their rights are the most important.
They don’t care who they mouth off to, whether the principal of their school, the lunch lady or the bus driver.
I don’t think we have to go back to when the nuns hit the kids’ hands with a ruler when they were bad, but I would like to see of that basic respect we were taught.
Teachers and others who work with young people shouldn’t have to worry when they are doing their job, that they will be harmed or spat on or talked back to.
Basic respect begins at a young age, in the home. You expect your children to be polite.
That respect can be mixed with a healthy dose of also be wary or strangers and respect for their own person and body.
It is when people go to extremes that the problems come.
If you only want your children to grow up thinking the whole world revolves around them, you aren’t doing them any favors.
I heard on a radio broadcast after Joe Wilson said his now famous comment, that years from now history will write the story of President Barack Obama and whether his decisions helped our nation, or if they failed.
Wilson on the other hand, the radio speaker said, will probably not go down in history books at all.
He will be forgotten.
The growing segment of hate in this nation against a man because of his color can only bring this nation down.
Practice and teach respect.
Marcia Steffens, editor of the Niles Daily Star, Cassopolis Vigilant and Edwardsburg Argus, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.