Monday, August 18, 2014

Respect . . . and some rough ways to get some.

     A Facebook friend posted a video this evening. It runs about one minute and forty seconds, and it shows an African-American man of probably thirty-something, dragging a young kid (probably a teenager, also African-American) off his bike in the middle of the street and pretty much slapping the crap out of him. City and State unknown.
     It's kind of hard to tell just what the kid on the bike said to the guy to have teed him off so badly, but it had to be an insult of some proportion, as the older guy was no way amused. The video has engendered some comment, most of it negative toward the older dude, and I understand that. But as I watched the drama unfold, I also realized something else. That is, that the older guy could have killed him if he had wanted to, or he could have beaten him nearly to death and done a great deal of physical damage, again, if he had wanted to. He could have put him in a wheelchair, if he'd wanted to do that. It wasn't even a contest.
     He didn't. He pretty much just slapped the little wise-butt around and thoroughly embarrassed him. After putting the kid on the ground, I didn't see a closed-fist hit, and there was no visible blood. The kid finally got up and walked away, largely unhurt.  Lucky.  It could have been a whole lot worse.
     Probably not a real smart thing for the older man to do in this day and age, as in a day or two, the kid might very well return with a car full of gang-bangers and drive-by shoot the guy to death.
     Not smart . . . but he did make a point.
     Used to be that respect was taught in the home. No more. In so many cases, there isn't even a good old-fashioned home for a kid to learn things in.  And many time when there is a home, it is a single-parent running it, without a father present to be a role-model for his own children.  Someone else does the teaching, and sometimes not nearly as gently as the man in this video. This is not restricted to any particular race or culture. It is simply a fact of modern day life. It's one of the many things wrong with us these days. And it's why we are where we are--in a society that has little respect for anyone or anything anymore. Not among the races, or churches, or the left or the right, or political parties. We didn't learn it as kids from the grown-ups. And we're not getting it from our fathers.
     The sad fact is, that if respect in not taught in the home, by a father, and at a very early age, someone, somewhere along the line, may very well teach it--sometimes someone that has no regard for life. It is part of the problem we see every day, reflected in the grim murder statistics of any large city, or even the bullying statistics in the local schoolyard. There's an old saying, that if you can't have respect, you might as well have fear. This day, the kid learned fear. With luck, that might morph into something close to respect.
     So, I'm sorry that the older guy totally lost his cool, and I'm (kinda) sorry the kid got a good butt-whuppin', but the truth of the matter is that the next day, he is probably going be a little wiser and probably going to have a little more respect (or at least fear) for his elders, and a lot greater sense of his own mortality. He knows now what it feels like to be helpless on the ground, and he knows what it feels like to be humiliated. Maybe, just maybe, by some miracle of miracles, he will grow-up a little. Maybe he won't play the knock-out game with an eighty-four year old woman in a walker, or a pregnant lady innocently walking down the street and minding her own business. Maybe even, saints be praised, he won't pick up a gun.
     And at the risk of being politically incorrect (which I almost almost always am) that's not such a bad outcome at all.

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