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home : blogs_old : ability and accountability December 17, 2014

Ability and Accountability
By Richard Haddad, Prescott Valley, AZ
"[Children] don't remember what you try to teach them. They remember what you are."
"Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It's a good life, enjoy it."

-- Two of my favorite quotes by Jim Henson

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Proud of the grandmother who spoke up

 By Richard Haddad

Portrait by James Peale, ca. 1787-1790
In July of 1776, General George Washington issued a general order to his troops addressing the virtues of refraining from profane cursing and swearing.
"...we can have little hope of the blessing of Heaven on our arms, if we insult it by our impiety and folly."

Not long ago I witnessed a woman shopping at Wal-Mart with her granddaughter when she heard a volley of four-letter words spew from the mouths of two teenagers sharing the aisle.

The woman turned and firmly asked the young people to refrain from such language in front of her 6-year-old granddaughter. The teenagers mocked and humiliated her for her request.

Disgusted, the woman took her granddaughter by the hand and left the store, wondering how these young people could be so insensitive and disrespectful.

It surely would have been easier for the grandmother to ignore the polluted talk, but this dignified woman was raised in a day when young people were taught to use respectable language and honor the requests of their elders.

Our language is a reflection of our character, as well as a measure of the respect we feel for others. Perhaps we have all become desensitized to the ever-present f-word and the taking of the Lord's name in vain scripted into movies, television and used in casual conversation.

I would hope that a nation so blessed as the United States could set a higher standard.

In July of 1776, General George Washington issued this general order to his troops: "The General is sorry to be informed that the foolish and wicked practice of profane cursing and swearing, a vice heretofore little known in an American army, is growing into fashion. He hopes the officers will, by example as well as influence, endeavor to check it, and that both they and the men will reflect, that we can have little hope of the blessing of Heaven on our arms, if we insult it by our impiety and folly. Added to this, it is a vice so mean and low, without any temptation, that every man of sense and character detests and despises it."

I'm proud of the grandmother at Wal-Mart who taught her grandchild a higher standard. I admire her courage and hope we can all do the same.

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, January 17, 2009
Article comment by: No name provided

I agree with Use2Do. We can't change others, but we can control our own actions and reactions. Some of the older people like to "idealize" their past and make it seem as though "bad things" didn't exist. "Bad things" have always existed and always will. Some of them are the same and some are different. Every generation blames the one before or the one after. But just remember, "we didn't start the fire. It was always burning since the world's been turning." Billy Joel

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Article comment by: Use2Do

It's too convenient to blame "Rap" for the use of profanity by our society in general. Every phrase and curse word that I know today I learned from my older sister when I was a fourth grade student in 1964. I remember this clearly because I actually wrote them down. I then endeavored to impress, (I thought), and shock my friends with my grownup vocabulary. I don't think that there's been that many words added to my list since then. Attempting to shield one's children from verbal profanity is understandable but simplistic and pretty much impossible as demonstrated by the encounter at Wall-Mart. My now eight year old daughter and I have had similar encounters in just the last year or two. Several of those involved my still older sister who continues to swear like a sailor even though I've let her know that I'd like to pipe down when her niece is present. We, (my daughter and I), have had discussions about what she hears from other kids and adults. She has an understanding, I believe, appropriate for her age, of respect in action and words. I tell her that she will continue to hear and see things in her life that are disrespectful, mean and sometimes cruel. I also tell her that she has the power to be none of those things. My wife and I strive to reinforce this by the way we speak to and treat each other. Ugliness will always be in this world. The best we can do in terms of our children is to arm them to deal with it.

Posted: Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Article comment by: Chris Bergman

I donít know that we can blame ďRapĒ music. It seems to be more of a symptom of the problem then the source of it. I do think we can blame parents, though. When a child is born they are naturally self-centered. They have no experience outside their own need. As they grow older itís the parentís job to teach them to look beyond their own needs and to respect others, especially their elders. Obviously, the brats in Richardís anecdote never had the benefit of real parenting. It may not be their fault but even then, being human, they are responsible for their own behavior. These children needed to be set down in short order. If this lady had notified a supervisor, the children would have been escorted out. If they had continued to be abusive, they would have been detained and their parents called to come pick them up. Perhaps (just perhaps) disturbing their parentís self-indulgent repose would have brought some quick action. bergman_blogs@yahoo.com

Posted: Thursday, July 31, 2008
Article comment by: Anonymous

Indeed blame must be squarely placed on the rap world for their part in teaching teens that profanity is just another word and welcome to it! The cure is self control and morality. Giving into the world's view of how a teen or young adult is to behave in word and deed is tantamount to impossible unless the person in question is home schooled or strictly supervised. Garbage in and sadly garbage out. I heartily concur with your sentiment.

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