The Culture of Disrespect

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There has been a lot of talk over the past weeks about burning the American flag. Our President Elect has stated that there must be consequences for burning the flag, perhaps a year in jail or loss of citizenship.

This has sent the social media world into a twitter with people screaming about the right to free speech and other issues.

What I want to know is this? WHY would you burn our flag in the first place?

And why is an action, burning a flag, protected as “speech”?

That beautiful red, white and blue flag is the beloved symbol of this great nation. We love it so much it has familiar nicknames, Old Glory, Stars and Bars, the Star Spangled Banner.

Federal Law provides us with the United States Flag Code to protect this flag. Section 8 of this code is even titled RESPECT FOR FLAG.

I simply can not imagine any reason for a rational person with one ounce of decency or respect to burn the very thing that defines and represents our Nation. This flag has flown proudly over blood soaked battle fields in the name of Freedom and adorned coffins of our lost veterans to this cause as well as Presidents and first responder’s who also gave of their own lives to save others.

Perhaps it is as simple as a lack of respect.

We are living in a culture of disrespect. This is seen in schools, ER’s, on TV and towards our law enforcement officers and any figures of authority.

In times gone by, teaching was a profession of respect. Teachers were persons of respect. Now it seems our teachers are no more than glorified babysitters who are not allowed to have rules in the classroom and if a precious angel is failing it is the teachers fault– not little Bobby’s for refusing to do his homework.

About three years ago my daughter got home from (middle) school and said, “Guess what happened in Mrs. So&So’s class today?” Mrs. So&So was her favorite teacher at the time. Princess went on to tell me that “Little Bobby” was talking while Mrs. So&So put the assignment on the board and she asked him to be quiet, please. Bobby stood up and said, “B*tch, I don’t have to do what you say.” as he threw his pencil at her.

I stood there staring at my daughter, praying to God to please provide funds to get my kids out of public school and hoping this was a horrible joke my kid was playing on me.

I asked what happened next? My daughter shrugged and said, “he got a referral to the office.”

Where I’m sure Lil’ Bobby sat through a lecture on proper classroom behavior and speech and was sent back to the class with his bad attitude intact.

Had I dared use a word like that towards one of my teachers the referral to the office would have included a phone call to my parents, who would have requested extra licks applied via wooden paddle to my fanny by the principle and I would have spend the rest of the day in detention so I could properly anticipate with dread what was going to happen when I got home and faced my parents.

My father had told me more than once that my teachers were educated and hardworking people who worked very hard to make sure I did not grow up to be an idiot.

In the medical profession we showed our doctors respect for the many years of learning and practice they endured for the title of M.D. You were of course, allowed to ask questions or request a second opinion, but you did not show up with your print out’s from the internet, self diagnosed and demanding the drugs and treatment of your choice. Then threaten to sue if the actual doctor disagreed with you.

Violence towards Emergency Room staff– Nurses, has reached epidemic proportions requiring new laws to be put in place in an attempt to protect our angels of mercy. One of my former co-workers had her arm broken by a patient who got angry with ER wait times and slammed her up against the wall.

Television “talk” shows have become so rude and hateful I do not watch them any longer. The clips shown on social media and the news reinforce this decision for me.

The attitudes towards our law enforcement officers absolutely horrifies me. Are policemen and women perfect human beings wearing a blue uniform over their wings? Of course not! But they are human beings who for the most part, take very seriously their vow to “serve and protect”. They are put into life and death situations where decisions must be made in a nano-second… and mistakes do get made. I will not argue that.

But the fact remains that the number one way not to get your fanny kicked by law enforcement is to obey the officer, be still, and keep your mouth shut! Wait until the situation is under control and diffused before trying to argue with the police about your rights! How hard is that?

I can tell you as a former ER nurse if you want to learn respect for police officers and first responders– spend a Friday or Saturday night in a busy city ER and watch what these guys have to deal with. It will  open your eyes.

I think back to those terrible days in mid September, 2001, hundred of first responders lost to us forever, as they rushed IN, where other’s ran out and never returned.

Their caskets were draped with our beloved Old Glory and they were shown the deep respect and appreciation they so deserved.

Fifteen years later, it’s like we live in another country.

Where has the respect gone?

I got a glimpse of where it has gone from my son. He was very angry he had gotten in trouble at high school for correcting a teacher. It seems that the school had to make coaches teach in order to keep them as coaches, so a football coach with no teaching experience was now the history teacher. He had put down the wrong dates for the American Revolution. My son, the history buff, corrected him and got a referral to the office for his trouble.

I let him vent then told him he may well be smarter than the “teacher” but he was NOT the teacher and he needed to show respect for the teacher.

My son informed me respect had to be earned and he would not show respect to anyone who would not show him respect first. What?

But this is prevailing attitude of teen’s and young adults. “Don’t Dis me Man!”

I was so concerned about this I went and talked to a friend of mine, a LMHC who works with mostly kids and teens. She told me she was noticing more attitudes and actions of not only disrespect but complete disregard for other’s. So she took a day off and spent it watching TV. She watched the popular kids cable channels all day long.

The prevailing theme on every single show was that the kids run the show and are in charge. The adults were portrayed as idiots and the canned laughter that accompany’s comedy shows was used every single time an adult was made a fool of by the kids.

In addition to this subtle theme of adults as stupid bumbling idiots was the fact that on several of these shows it was either a single mom or a single dad as the “head of household”. Only one of the popular shows had both parents and the father was the step-father and the butt of most of the kids pranks and laughter.

Not one show presented both parents as a unified front to control the little perpetrators of mischief.

My blood ran cold as she named the shows, my kids had adored and watched several of the shows named daily after school. Like a lot of us, the electronic babysitter had served us well as we worked and came home exhausted.

I was blind, but now I see…

The first Commandment attached to a promise is “Honor thy Father and thy Mother: that thy days be long upon the land”  Exodus 20:12

So it begins at home, with us.

Even as teen’s it’s not to late. Put your foot down and state, “you will not speak to me that way.”  Point out on the TV,  “do you hear how rude that was?”  Even in public you can point out that manners and respect get you much better service than behaving like an impatient jerk. Show, tell and do not allow disrespect in your home. Teenagers have very good eyes, and if you remove the ear buds, those ears of theirs will hear you. Cutting off thier smart phones works like a charm!

We’ve got a long way to go to re-establish respect, both in our homes and in our country.

So perhaps “consequences” for burning our flag is not such a bad thing. You can SAY you hate this country, hate the flag, hate everything it stands for, your speech is constitutionally protected by law and millions of American servicemen and women have died to protect that right for you.  But your ACTION of burning our beloved Star Spangled Banner is not…

How about this ACTION: Let’s bring back our Pledge of Allegiance in our public schools. Lets go back to teaching our young people what is  worthy of respect. I believe if the Pledge was brought back, along with teaching on why we show respect,  there would be fewer young people who think flag burning is okay.

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September 11th, then and now…

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Where were you on that Tuesday morning, 15 years ago?

I was asleep, on a twin bed in Dallas with my toddler’s feet in my face  when my husband ran in yelling, “A plane just hit the World Trade Center, get up and come see!”  WHAT?

Barely 12 hours prior to being awakened like this I had been aboard an American Airlines international flight from Canada with the toddler, car seat, stroller, carry on and my brother, flying home to Dallas. My husband had picked up this traveling road show at DFW and after a week of sister, nephew, constant noise, chaos and cousins my brother fled home for some peace and quiet. I was stuck with the wild toddler who would not go to bed and had passed out with him in his big boy bed since the cage, I mean crib could no longer contain him. In my sleep deprived state, I thought my husband was talking about the WTC Dallas, a gigantic square building in the Dallas Market Center that in 1963 was hosting a luncheon for a President who never made the date.

As he swatted toddler feet out of my face and grabbed my arm we made it to the living room just in time to see another fire ball and Matt Lauer and Katie Couric questioning two women on the phone if they “saw a plane”.

They got another camera angle and we all saw the plane. It slammed right into the south tower below the smoke billowing out of the north tower. The fireball and paper rained all over Manhattan. My heart was pounding in my throat and I have no idea how long we just stood there in front of the TV, mouths hanging open. I felt sick.

Finally my husband said, “Well I better get to work?” I looked at him like he was crazy, “What? World War Three has just started and your going to work?” He looked back at me, “Well I don’t know what else to do. What are you going to do?” I didn’t know what to do either, what is protocol for the day when the world is coming to an end? I thought about it and said, “Um…. it’s Tuesday! Ladies bible study, I’m going to church?”

“okay?”

“okay?”

“love you”

“love you too, bye.”

I grabbed clean clothes, toddler, a quick breakfast and just like that we all headed out into a different world.

At church the ladies bible study groups turned into one gigantic prayer meeting as more news rolled in. TV’s were on and cell phones were streaming.  Wives of airline pilots and travelers who couldn’t reach their husbands were consoled. Another plane into the Pentagon, the PENTAGON?  The sky scrapers of downtown buildings across America were being evacuated. The glorious Twin Towers of New York disintegrated into piles of rubble and ashes. Federal buildings evacuated. My brother works in a federal building but I was able to reach him quickly and let my husband know he was safe. At the dealership they were all standing in front of the TV. Everyone was in shock. Yet another plane down in Pennsylvania that was reportedly headed to Washington D.C. It was surreal, a smoky bad dream.

 

I picked up the wild child from kiddy care and headed home. Even he was subdued. We were new to Dallas in 2001 and my method of navigation was to follow planes in the sky back towards DFW as a landmark. But the skies were already cleared of planes and eerily quiet.   We spent that afternoon sitting on the coffee table in front of the TV, crying as more buildings in the WTC complex collapsed. And that horrible noise, the beeping of firefighter personal safety alarms as more firefighters and police officers frantically searched for surviving brothers and civilians. I made American flag ribbons for my husband’s staff to wear and cried some more. Prayed  for survivors to be pulled out of the unbelievable carnage. Went back to church for a special prayer service for our country and watched the President’s speech there.

I pray to never sit on a coffee table crying in front of non stop news of destruction and death. I pray to never spend a week driving around lost because there are no airplanes to follow home. I pray to never feel that this is “it” fear, while I watch my toddler play, blissfully unaware that the world has ended.

But I do wish to have some of that September, return to us. 15 years ago we were all AMERICANS. No bickering over whose life mattered– ALL LIFE mattered.  Our police officers and first responders were cheered and praised for the amazing jobs they do, running in where we run out, not counting the cost. And so many, to many, paid for that dedication with their own lives. We showed them the respect they so rightly deserve. I wish the rest of the world was still trembling in fear, knowing that the full might of the amazing military of the United States of America was coming…. I miss seeing our beautiful flag waving from every house, every pole, a beacon of hope for people all over the world. Our flag was treated with dignity and respect and adorned far to many caskets as that September marched on. I miss the feeling of patriotism and community in our country as we celebrated our hero’s, mourned our losses, donated money, time and blood because we were one people, one nation, INDIVISABLE.

Looking at where we are this September, 15 years after that horrible day, I can honestly say there were many good things about that September. And I pray our country gets them back.

This post is dedicated to our all law enforcement officers and first responders.

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