In June I’ll turn 62, and over the course of those sixty-two years I’ve been to a lot of places and seen and done a lot of things; some that I’m not so proud of. However, I’m not here to write a tell all article about the life and times of Neal Ross, I’m here to write about the changes that have taken place in the country I love over the course of those six decades. I may be wrong, but I think change is coming about at a much faster rate now, almost exponentially, and many of these changes are quite troubling to me.
Normally I write my articles by stating a simple pretense, then building a foundation and then layering on facts which support that pretense. However, in writing this it would be difficult to follow that pattern, so instead I’ll throw out some random thoughts I’ve been having and let you digest them at your leisure.
What the hell happened to manners; are they a lost art form? I’m not saying they are non-existent; but I am saying that it is rare to see them. This is but one example of what I’m talking about, the other night at work I was holding the door open for someone and this woman just cuts in front of the person I was holding the door for. She didn’t say excuse me, didn’t thank me for holding the door open; she just cuts this other woman off; bumping her out of the way as she did.
Whenever I go out to where there are a lot of people I see people walking, or pushing shopping carts, paying more attention to their cell phones than they are their surroundings. Frequently I see these people bump into other people; and instead of saying excuse me, they shoot the person they hit a nasty look as if it was their fault for being in that person’s way.
At work we eat our lunches in a cafeteria/break room and I often get stuck between people holding a conversation, I call them shouting matches; for they always seem to be yelling at each other; with me stuck in between them. How hard would it be to get up and move closer to the person so they could talk at a normal level so that someone could enjoy their break, or lunch in relative peace and quiet?
Or, you get these people who pull out their smart phones during breaks and lunches and play videos at full volume, interrupting the peace and quiet of others. Have these people never heard of headphones or ear buds?
Those are just a few of the many things that have led me to conclude that manners are a dying art in America; and I wonder what’s going to happen when they become totally non-existent.
Listen, I don’t care what a person’s sexual preference is; I really don’t, as long as you don’t shove it down my throat I don’t care what you do behind closed doors. That said, when I was growing up you were either a man, a woman, or you were queer.
Recently my wife went to a follow up appointment for her post-cancer treatment. When she checked in they told her she had to choose her gender identity, and they handed her a sheet to choose from. I swear, had they asked that of me I’d have dropped my pants to my ankles and asked them in return, “Well gee, take a look and let’s see what YOU think I am!”
People today are so confused, or possibly screwed up in the head, that he’s are she’s, she’s are he’s, and some are so confused they can’t decide which one they are; so they are just them; non-gender specific. Excuse the French, but what the fuck is up with THAT shit?
Honestly, it’s getting so crazy out there that I am never sure if I’m talking to a he, a she, or an it. So to be safe I ought to just call everyone asshole; either that or just not talk to anyone anymore so as not to offend their gender identity.
Now that I’ve gotten those two out of the way, I want to spend the remainder of my time discussing the top 3 things that bother me about society today.
Ethics are defined as moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or how their conduct in an activity. Again, I’m not saying they are non-existent, but they certainly are on a downward slide.
When I was growing up people took pride in doing a good job at work; it was a badge of honor to go home every night saying you’d put in an honest day’s work. It has been my experience lately that you’d almost have to stand there with a bullwhip all day just to get people to do ANY work at all; they think that clocking in and standing around for 8 hours entitles them to a paycheck. Then when you tell someone to do some work, you’re the bad guy, the one who gets turned in or disciplined for violating company policy. Have workplaces become community centers, or charitable organizations that give out money to people who are unwilling to EARN it?
When I was growing up there was another thing that I was brought up to believe; that you relied upon yourself to provide for your own needs. My family encountered a rough period when my dad lost his job and my mom had to start working so they could pay the bills and put food on the table. The LAST thing that crossed my dad’s mind was asking for handouts, or welfare and food stamps. It was a sign of failure that one asked for help in meeting their obligations as parents.
Nowadays if someone gets a paper cut they apply for workman’s comp. Yeah, that is an exaggeration; but it’s close enough to the truth to be of great concern. I don’t want to make this a political rant, but there is a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that I think aptly describes the phenomenon I’m discussing, “If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs.”
But ethics is not confined to how well you do your job, or if you choose subsidies over work as a means of supporting yourself; it also applies to your own personal conduct. If you lie, if you cheat, if you take from others the things which aren’t yours to take, if you try to force your views upon others, you have poor ethics.
Our entire culture seems to be based upon the belief that I’m right, you’re wrong, and I’m gonna do whatever I can to force my views upon you. Just look at our political system; with two sides trying to gain control of the government so they can impose their views upon the remainder of society.
Whatever happened to live and let live; which is just another way of saying, whatever happened to liberty? If your property, if your income, if your rights are subject to confiscation or infringement based upon the will of the majority, how can you honestly say that you live in the land of the free?
When one needs a permit or a license to exercise a right, or to hunt and fish from the bounty that God has given us to sustain our existence, there is something terribly wrong in this country. When parents can be fined, or arrested when their child sets up a lemonade stand in their front yard, or when they can be fined for collecting rainwater, something is wrong; and yet the people go on believing the lie; that lie being that they are free.
Which ties directly into my next topic-the truth.
When I was a kid we all grew up watching the Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves as the man of steel. At the opening of the show it always said that Superman was fighting a battle for truth, justice and the American Way. I think it is no coincidence that truth was the first thing at the top of the list of things Superman fought for.
Telling the truth and learning the truth used to mean something in this country – not anymore. Nowadays our schools lie to us as we pass through their indoctrination process, our media lies to us, calling it the news, and our government lies to us; while the people, for the most part, swallow those lies like a bunch of hungry guppies in a fish tank.
The thing about the truth is that it never goes away; it is always there waiting for people to seek it out. The truth is not rare, it is just not cherished and sought out by enough people; they instead choose to believe what they are told; which is typically a load of bull shit!
What is rare is finding people who care enough about the truth to spend the hours required to expose the lies being passed off as truth. What is rare is finding someone who knows the truth and is willing to share it with people whose minds are open enough to receive it.
I am lucky in that in the course of my studies I have met people at crucial junctures that had pointed me in the right direction; exposed me to truths that have shattered the lies I had been taught in school. However, none of those people would have made a difference in my life had my mind not been open to accepting the truth’s they presented to me.
Now that I’m older, and somewhat wiser, I feel lucky if I find 1 out of 100 people whose minds are open enough to accept the truths I’ve learned. Most people’s minds are so barred shut that a nuclear blast couldn’t break through; meaning their thoughts and beliefs cannot be changed regardless of the preponderance of evidence that proves those beliefs to be wrong.
So much for a love of the truth; may it rest in peace. I can only speak for myself, but I would rather go to my grave with a mind filled with the truth than a bank account packed to the gills with money; but that’s just me, and I’m weird like that.
You know, America used to be the leader in education, now we rank somewhere around 26th in the world. What happened; and I’m not just speaking in regards to our schools teaching our kids the skills to compete in an ever more scientific and technology based world either. Sure, those are important if America is to keep up with the rest of the world, but what about history, civics, and even basic geography; the location of the States of the Union and the countries of the world, what about those subjects?
I hear people talk politics all the time, yet most of them cannot even tell me what the Constitution or Bill of Rights say, or who is next in line to become President if something were to happen to Trump and Pence; (which happens to be Nancy Pelosi if you weren’t aware of that fact). But by golly people take great offense if you question how well informed they are; in fact, they become downright angry.
I hear people offering their views on the people and culture of other countries, yet they’ve never been to those countries and can’t even find them on a map for crying out loud. Yet tell them their opinions are wrong and they get pissed at you; even though you’ve been to the countries they are talking about, and have experienced firsthand the culture and attitudes of those people towards our country.
You see, education is more than just what we are taught in school, it includes everything we learn that forms that basis of our ideas and beliefs. If you’ve never left your State, let alone your country, how can you provide an informed opinion on the people and cultures of other countries; or how they might pose a threat to our way of life? If you have never read the document that established our system of government, let alone the heated argument over its benefits and its flaws, then how can you say you are informed when it comes to choosing who is best qualified to hold positions within that government?
America became great because people questioned things; they pushed the boundaries of what was accepted as established truth. We’d never have learned to fly had the inventors of the airplane listened to those who said that if man were meant to fly God would have given him wings. All our advancements in science and technology have come from those who QUESTIONED things; they didn’t accept what others told them were established truth.
Our education system is failing us not because we aren’t pouring enough money into it, or because our teachers aren’t good enough to compete with those of other countries. Our education system is failing us because it does not teach our children how to think, it teaches them what to think. You are free to discuss, and ask questions, as long as they remain centered around the lesson plan, or what is found in the textbooks; but heaven forbid you question the material being presented, provide facts that prove the material is incorrect or a half truth; you will be shunned or sent to the principal’s office for disrupting class.
It truly is a strange phenomenon indeed that people will accept that they need to learn more science, or math, or other skills if they wish to find a good job, or advance in their existing one; yet they think once they are handed their high school diploma they know everything they need to know about history and civics. I used to think that way, and it is only by the grace of God that my attitude changed and I began seeking out more knowledge on those subjects.
Even now, after 20 some odd years of study, I have barely scratched the surface; I learn new things every day; things that make me say either, “Aha; that explains a lot”, or else cause to blurt out “Holy Shit”! The way I look at life now is that my day is a failure if I haven’t learned something new about our system of government, or the history of my country. While doing a good job at work is satisfying, or getting a pay raise is nice; my days are focused around learning something new every day. But it all begins with a single step; and that first step is admitting to yourself that you don’t know as much about a subject as you think you do. After that, it all becomes fun to actually study those subjects we used to dread in school; history and civics.
However, I’d consider myself lucky if I walked into a room of 500 people and found 10 who were willing to even hold a discussion on those subjects, let alone be open to facts that challenged their existing beliefs on them.
That’s why knowledge and truth are the yin/yang of life. You cannot exist without some basic knowledge about how to get by; to provide for your basic needs. Yet for that knowledge to be of any use it has to be based upon the truth. Unfortunately, the truth is that most people don’t care one whit about either the truth, or expanding their knowledge upon subjects they think they know enough about to make ‘informed’ decisions upon.
As Isaac Asimov once said, “There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
Anyways, these are just a few of the things that lead me to believe that America is circling the drain; that at some point in our not too distant future, it will cease to exist. Sure, the land mass we call America will still be here, and there will still be people occupying that land mass; but the vital principles; the life force that made America such a great place to come and live will have been vanquished; to be replaced with God knows what. All I can tell you is that whatever it is replaced with won’t be good; and that’s on you for allowing these changes to take place without doing all that is within your power to resist and oppose them.