I often used to wonder what on earth is happening to the world today.
I remember when I was in elementary school, playing Little League baseball. We were not very good, and we lost more games than we won. At the end of the year, the team that had won the championship in our age group got a trophy. The best players in the age group were then chosen to make an all-star team, which played the all star teams from other Little Leagues on our area, in an effort to move on to the Little League world series. The rest of us, most without trophies, went home with a uniform shirt, a team picture, and the resolve to try to be better next year. We were being taught sportsmanship, winning, losing, and the values of teamwork.
Later, when I was playing Pee-Wee (Pop Warner) football, we had coaches who would tell us we were doing things wrong. We would have to run laps at practices for penalties in the previous games, or for speaking during drills, false starts, or jumping off sides. If you did not do what you were told, it did not matter whether you had put forth a good effort. The only effort that was good was an effort to do what the coach's wanted you to do. When we had to run as punishment, the entire team had to run, with the offender being called out by name to the rest of the team so that everyone could thank him for the extra wind sprints or laps. We were being taught discipline, sacrifice, winning, losing, and the values of teamwork.
In high school, coaches were merciless. If you did not perform, you did not play. Period. No matter if the score was 55 - 0, you did not get in the game. There was no such thing as mop up time. If you did not do what you were told, you were disciplined. In practice, if you did not try hard enough, if you put out less than you had, if you didn't hustle, you did it again. Coaches yelled, screamed, ranted and raved at us. Practice was supposed to be taken seriously, and if you didn't take it that way, you would be dealt with in a manner that the coaches deemed appropriate. We were being changed into football players, and we knew that was what would happen when we went out for the team.
Later, still, when I was in the Navy, I went through Basic Training, A-School, and served for almost 5 years in the fleet on a combat ship. Nobody ever asked me if I was "OK" with my duties. Nobody worried about whether we "felt good" about our place in the pecking order. Nobody asked us if we were being "emotionally nurtured". Liking our superiors was not required, nor necessary. Obeying them was. If we decided to do something that was against the orders of our superiors, we knew that there would be a price to pay. If we did not follow the rules, we knew that disciplinary action would follow. We knew the rules, and we knew the consequences of not following them.
My father used to say "In this life, nobody can make you do anything that you don't want to do. But, there are people who can sure make you wish you had." Boy, was he right.
But things aren't like that anymore.
I was reading about a Naval Captain today who had been relieved of command and demoted due to "abusing subordinates". In the article, it is said that she "threw a wadded up piece of paper at a subordinate" on one occasion, and that on another, she had someone "sit in a corner" in "time out" and that this sailor "felt demeaned" by these actions.
I look back at my time in the Navy, and remember in basic training, having to do push ups until I threw up for the slightest infraction. I remember having to hold buckets of water with my arms outstretched, level with my shoulders, until I could no longer hold them, and then, as punishment for spilling my DO's water, having to clean the floor upon which I spilled it, with a 2" long scrub brush. Or cleaning the head (that would be the bathroom for all you land lubbers), toilets and all, with a toothbrush because he felt that it was not clean enough. We felt punished, we felt disciplined, and we felt angry, but we were not allowed to feel demeaned, belittled, or emotionally wounded. And we would have fought anyone who said a bad word about that DO. We were being rebuilt into Military Men, and we knew that was what would happen when we signed the papers.
I look at the world today, where kids aren't allowed to keep score in their soccer games, and everyone gets a trophy. We don't keep track of winning and losing, because it's all about making sure that everyone feels good about themselves. I read articles like the one mentioned, where military personnel are "abused" by a paper wad being thrown at them, or "demeaned" by being called out in front of their peers. I hear on the news about ACLU lawyers being up in arms about a 5 year old kid's constitutional rights being infringed upon by being told to get a hair cut to conform to school dress codes and regulations.
We have become a society where rules are only meant to be followed if we agree with them. We have become a society where rules and regulations are voluntary, and "self expression" is more important. We have become a society where results are not important. We have become a society in which we no longer accept accountability for our actions, nor do we hold others accountable for theirs. We have become a society where authority and discipline cannot be administered without the approval of a psychologist. We have become a society where tossing a wadded up piece of paper at someone is abusive, and holding someone accountable in front of his peers is demeaning.
We have become a frail, feeble, selfish society, where we are looking for someone to blame for our own failures and shortcomings. We no longer feel that dues must be paid, but instead feel that we are owed the things we want.
For a long time I wondered what was going wrong with the world, but I think I am beginning to see.