Swinging By The Tail

Delmar O’Donnell: Well, where are you going, George?

George Nelson: I don't know. Who cares?

Delmar O’Donnell: (To Everett) Now, what do you suppose is eatin' George?

Everett McGill: Well, they say that with the thrill-seeking personality, what goes up must come down. Top of the world one minute, sad the next. Yes, sir, it's as if our old friend George is an alley cat and his own darn humors are swinging him by the tail. I wouldn't worry, Delmar. He'll be back on top again.

In this scene from my all-time favorite movie, George Nelson has become depressed after a day filled with robbing banks, shooting up livestock, evading the police, and otherwise causing havoc throughout the Mississippi Delta. George is referred to as ‘Baby Face Nelson’ and this offends him somewhat. However, it is readily apparent that he is merely a caricature of a boy trapped within a man’s body while living only for the thrill of the moment. In an otherwise humorous movie, this is a poignant scene that allows the viewer a time for thought and reflection.

There are a lot of George Nelson’s out there in the world today, and the number increases daily in our modern, cultured society. Our children grow up with very little thought of responsibility as all requirements for such have been sacrificed on the altar of secular humanism. It’s the self-esteem of our children that matters, society preaches to us today. We should do nothing that could conceivably damage our children’s sense of self-worth, as that may seriously affect their ability to function as adults later on in their lives.

A chronic lack of discipline crossed with a large dose of instant gratification is today’s formula for allowing children to develop into their own versions of George Nelson; thrill seekers with their own dark humors swinging them through life by the proverbial tail.

On the news yesterday I watched a report on a teen-aged girl who cursed at her grandmother. The 80-something granny responded by slapping her across the face. The young girl then called the police, and they responded by arresting the evil grandmother. Granny obviously didn’t buy into the self-esteem building program, but she paid a hefty price for it.

It makes me reflect on my childhood and the way my parents raised me with the help of my own grandmother. To curse in front of them, or at them, never crossed my mind. Not only would it have been suicidal on my part, it also would have exhibited a dramatic lack of respect of which I never felt. This respect for adults carried over into my community, following me to school and jobs I performed while growing up. Yes, I knew certain adults back then that probably didn’t deserve respect from not only me, but others as well. Yet I respected them anyway as they represented the older generation regardless of their circumstance. To disrespect an adult in public, and to have my parents find out about it later would have meted consequences I was most assuredly not willing to pay.

Times have changed. Discipline has been removed from the school system and in literally every facet of our children’s lives. On the rare occasions when a child does get reprimanded at school, parents are called in for a meeting in which they vehemently defend their children despite the offense or the evidence displayed against the child. The government passes ever more legislation for our school system, new methods to madness, and the test scores continue to fall. From “It takes a village” to “No child left behind” – we are bombarded with new and exciting catch phrases while nothing seems to really be working. Johnny still can’t read. Sally can’t write. Billy can’t get a job. Joey was arrested for drugs.

Kids grow up with an inflated sense of self-worth, expecting to be the CEO of the company from the first day on the job instead of actually working their way into the position. They buy houses and cars with money they don’t have, stretching their meager budgets to an unsustainable limit, unable to fathom that it took their parents a lifetime to accumulate what they have. When the reality of life sets in - the reality that society tried so hard to shield them from as they grew up, they are left feeling empty and worthless. At that point either maturity kicks in, or they give up and turn to something else. See “government dole” or “entitlement programs.”

My parents adhered to the teachings of the writer of Proverbs, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” With a wisdom of their own, honed from G_d’s Word and through their own experience, they trained me in the way I should go. I didn’t always take that path, but as I became older I rediscovered the path and followed it. In the end that has made all the difference in my life.

I do not know what the final outcome will be for this generation of young people today. I have a responsibility to only my own children, and I did my best to train them in the way they should go. But not having a responsibility for another’s child does not prevent me from sharing in the fruits born from the consequences of those said children. In fact, it is going to truthfully affect all of us down the road somewhere soon in our country’s future.

But if you can actually read this blog, then you've probably already figured that out.

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