It is generally accepted that we have become a very permissive society, while at the same time, no contradiction, a very regulated society; both premises may sound incompatible, but the reality tells us otherwise. Parents give and give and give, while the state keeps a close eye on them, ready to pounce at the slightest hint of abuse. We must applaud of course when a careless mother is arrested for leaving her toddler in a hot car, as she clamors in her defense: “It was just for a minute.” We also applaud when children show a history of bone fractures obtained through parental physical abuse and the father or paramour ends up in jail. Strangely enough we don’t applaud when an 8 year-old carrying 200 pounds is dragged through the aisles of the supermarket and the parents are pushing two carts overfilled with junk food.. paid with food stamps in many cases.
Parents can go to jail if a teen claims abuse; while the case is investigated, the family suffers the social humiliation even when innocent. And yet we fail to act against mothers who fail to feed their children a balanced diet with the logical consequence of diabetes and heart attacks. The state often provides food stamps to people who don’t need them, an abuse that goes unpunished. Among these, some illegal immigrants take advantage of our generous welfare system. Why should they work if they get everything they need? Housing, food, clothing, education, health care, are all free. Who can imagine such a paradise on earth in any other country in the world? Only here, where state and federal budgets can happily spend more than they have; politicians simply order more money to be minted unlike a working family which plunges into an ever growing debt.
The other side of the coin is the regulated society in which government tells us what to do, how to do it, where to do it, and how much to do it. The state wants to license everything under the sun, from cutting nails to combing hair to painting a room. It is getting so ridiculous that a city wants to license the sale of knives. It has truly become a nanny state. Why not regulate matches, cigarette lighters, rubbing alcohol, nail cutters, hammers, drills, etc..
We don’t punish parents who overfeed their kids, or who fail to teach them manners, or ignore the importance of personal responsibility, thus setting the social model not to follow. Yet we jail the mother of older teens who were drinking beer in her house with their friends, where she could keep an eye on them; we know that teens will drink alcohol, whether the legal age is 18, 21, or 51. The mother showed personal responsibility by recognizing that reality and protecting them.
Discipline is fast disappearing from American families. “I don’t want to end up in prison,” complained a mother who felt like slapping the face of an insolent daughter. Spanking a toddler in public is asking for trouble with CPS (Child Protective Services). Denying a sugary treat to your children in a supermarket is earning the visible condemnation of all present. Give them whatever they want to keep the peace. Let them watch television 4 hours a day without asking about the homework. “I’m too tired to argue with them,” sighed a working mother.
The result is the lack of discipline across the board in young America: Discipline is the backbone of success, whether material, academic or spiritual. Ask colleges what they think about freshmen: poor English, deficient math, and scarce scientific knowledge are the consequence of a soft and comfortable education that does not require sacrifices and hard work.
We should learn from most recent immigrants from developing countries, whether legal or not. They shame us by doing what we consider beneath our dignity and in the process they can save enough to make a better life for their families back home or to fulfill their American Dream.
Have we become too lazy by asking the state to give and give and give?