by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
October 10, 2006
WHAT WE NEED IS MORE SNITCHES
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- What this country needs is a whole lot more snitches, tattle-tales, informants and even amateur sleuths. We raise our children to believe tattling is a dirty word, telling them they should be ashamed for tattling. That's the way we were raised.
Lying may rightfully be called a dirty word but don't confuse snitching with behavior unbecoming a lady or gentleman. Actually, looking back, my sister was in more trouble for tattling on me than I was for whatever unseemly childhood digression I may have gotten into.
When someone is guilty of heinous behavior, then allowing knowledge of that behavior to go unreported is more detestable. And, one step further, a cover-up designed to explain away facts as they become known is considered the worst behavior of all.
We learn that as adults but the behavior began a long time ago, when it was somehow allowable to fib under certain circumstances. Today, however, little white lies are not so little when they're in bold type on tomorrow's front page.
When we consider cover-ups, we're thinking of people who are not of themselves guilty of unlawful, unethical, immoral behavior but who, though blameless of any wrong-doing, try to help a friend, a benefactor, a relative, or a colleague out of a situation that, if known, would destroy their reputation. This gullible, guileless friend believes it noble to stand behind their buddy, their boss, their fraternity brother, even if it means lying under oath. And this friend allows him to do it.
All this starts on the playground. A child may tell a parent that Butch is taking lunch money from Jeffrey and wonders if he should tell the teacher. The parent most often will say, "Stay out of it, they'll only bully you on the playground." Oh, Heaven forbid: bullied on the playground? That's a fate worse than death to a young kid's thinking.
Perhaps the mighty who have fallen lately look back on their lives from playground days to the posh country clubs they now enjoy and realize they handled the bullying then more easily than they're handling the disgrace now.
When those children reported things to their parents it was because their natural instinct was to do the right thing. Their thoughts got redirected by their parents whose misguided thinking about staying out of it was more important than speaking up. That thought process continues today.
Some of us have been known to sneer at psychoanalysis saying: "If it's not one thing, it's the mother." As mothers we're sick and tired of being blamed for societies ills and the butt of such jokes. And yet, we're also caught in the fallout from psychobabble declaring how to instruct a child in the proper ways to grow into honorable adults. If they're unsure of how to do that, parents do nothing. A parent's instinct folds and they "go with the flow," preferring to listen to the experts.
The news lately is filled with murders, uncontrollable anger bursting forth in school rooms in Colorado, a school principal killed in another state, cold and calculated premeditated deaths to innocent children in Amish country by a man who two hours before appeared "normal." In between these announcements, we followed the sordid trail of one of our prominent Congressman text-messaging a Congressional page in the most suggestive way, actually putting in the words, "do you find me attractive," according to CNN News, which has the copy.
Along with all this we're bombarded with the news and death count in the war in Iraq. A witness, a U.S. Marine, testifies another marine put a gun and a shovel in the hands of a victim to assure that the fingerprints so obtained would provide evidence the victim was an insurgent, thereby absolving the marine on trial for his murder.
The witness "struck a deal," in today's courtroom parlance, and will serve 12 months for his part in what the other seven marines could serve life for, if convicted. I suggest this young medic chose to offer his eye witness account for reasons other than its being the right thing to do - despite the fact he claimed the incident made him sick to his stomach.
So, who is to blame? Somewhere between birth and today, we've made room in our society for the growth and spread of misfits. We can't blame the parents, we know they mean well and want the best for their children. Is it the schools? Is it our entertainment, is it allowing our children to tell us what "the other kids are allowed to do?" Is it too much too soon? It may not start in the family but it certainly impacts on it.
Does anyone ask for accountability anymore? And with the busy society we've developed into, we don't appear to offer the nurturing that was part of a normal day at home in previous generations. We see more and more children who really never learned right from wrong.
I was about to end this diatribe with a word or two about the "building blocks of character" when I discovered in my search that you can buy, that's right "buy" Lego's building blocks of character. Saying building blocks is a euphemistic way of saying there are elements to character. But character isn't "built," it's instilled.
"Here, kid, build yourself some character; you'll need it some day."
They're labeled and you can start off the day with a "structure." As the day progresses, you add a block for behavior that is "caring," and if the child is, say, "unfeeling" - well, you take a block away. The goal is to end up each day with a taller structure. In essence, this is a wonderful idea, but a soft voice, a warm lap and some conversation along those lines will go a lot further.
By the way, I did find the list before I committed it here: Caring, Responsibility, Citizenship, Respect, Fairness, Trustworthiness. I found it in a school supply catalog. They are not listed on posters for display in the classroom; no, they are on pencils designed for teachers to buy and use as rewards for deserving students.