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Keith Smith: Restoring a sense of responsibility

Posted: July 25, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 25, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Gary Horton’s op-ed in The Signal (“Something to which we can all agree,” July 9) was on the mark. Yes, this is something to which we can all agree.

We all have responsibilities, even if we don’t realize them or accept them. Knowing what our responsibilities are and being responsible are a part of being a good American.

Being irresponsible is being a bad American. However, how does one learn to “be responsible?”

Back in my day, learning consisted of the three Rs: reading, (w)riting and (a)rithmetic.

However, that wasn’t really all of it; included were two more Rs: respect and responsibility. We learned these both at home and in school.

We were taught to respect our teachers. They weren’t our pals; they were authority figures and they were the first to let us know this.

Their dress, their language and their demeanor put us on notice that we were under their control, but that they meant only the best for us. If we were told to do something and we defied them, we could expect, and generally got, punishment to match the offense — at school and at home.

We were in a disciplined and learning environment. And one of the things we learned was responsibility. We were responsible to be at school on time. We were responsible to do our homework,

We were responsible for being dressed properly. We were responsible for preserving our books (our parents had to buy them), our school supplies (ditto) and all the school property.

Some might have thought about writing on a school wall, but few dared the action.

Respect begins with having self-respect. If one lacks this quality, then why in the world would he or she respect anything?

One is not apt to have self-respect unless he or she has some sense of moral values. Without a standard of measure how can one know the quantity or the quality of anything?

In my time, the standard was set by the church and synagogue. The home and school were on the same page.

Even the homes that were secular shared these common values.

Fast forward to the 21st century: My observations of the current home and educational system informs me that such is not the case today.

In fact, it is almost devoid of any hint of respect and most in the system can’t even spell “responsibility,” let alone act like they understand the concept.

You might disagree, but I think that the “Greatest Generation” fell flat on its face in bringing up the baby boomers.

Now we have citizens with a hazy idea of what America used to be lacking a moral scale and with no sense of responsibility or respect for themselves or any one else.

Parents and grandparents today can’t turn back the clock easily and redo all that has been left undone.

We can’t teach or counsel our children that marriage is something that is worth working at when they see so many that appear happy, but have never accepted the responsibility of marriage nor have they stepped up to being a good parent.

And what are the chances that children from such homes will grow up to be respectable and responsible?

Yes, Gary, we can agree with what you said, but where we differ is in our assessment of how we got to such a sorry state of affairs and, more importantly, how to reverse course and get back to a society that values respectability and responsibility.

Keith R. Smith Jr. is a Canyon Country resident.


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