Get The Picture? By Sherry Hopkins

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 18, 2009

Sherry Hopkins

R-E-S-P-E-C-T and lack of it make week’s headlines

When I was growing up there were a lot of rules in our household. You had to go to school everyday unless you were near death. You were never allowed to be tardy and the only acceptable grade on report cards were A +, not A- and not just a measly A.

My parents were very strict, especially my Daddy. On weekends when we would often visit friends and relatives we were lectured during the whole trip over about our impending behavior. We were threatened with spankings and or restriction of some sort for any infraction.

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The return trip home was spent rehashing and “wait until you get home” admonishments. For those times we were probably not very much different than many other families. A firm hand ruled homes. Respect was a big deal. I was 15 years old before I ever even attempted to talk back to my Mama and never did with my Daddy.

Manners and respect were demanded, not voluntary. No foul language or slang was permitted. I distinctly remember Daddy trying to teach me how to ride a bicycle when I was 5 or 6. I kept crying “I cain’t do it,” and Daddy kept saying “Don’t say cain’t say can’t and yes, you can.”

I tell you all this to say how outraged I was to hear the Congressman from South Carolina shout out, “You lie,” during President Obama’s health care speech last week.

The words “lie” and/or “liar” were particularly offensive to my parents and we were never allowed to use it. NEVER EVER.  We were instructed to say fib or storyteller to describe the offense or offender. Dire consequences that left a red handprint on our collective bottoms would follow a slipup.

Now, I realize that standing up and pointing your finger and screaming “fibber or storyteller” doesn’t quite have the same effect that “you lie” does, but come on, where is the respect for the highest office in this great country of ours? I’m not talking politics here so don’t send any nasty anti-Obama letters to me. I’m just talking good ol’ manners and common sense.

Remember a few years ago near the end of former President Bush’s term, when we were all appalled when an Iraqi reporter threw his shoe at our President in protest? That reporter was imprisoned and tortured.

In my mind calling someone a liar is a much worse transgression.  Dialogue with opposing ideas and the ability to say them out loud is a constitutional right. Challenging one another’s thinking is why we have debates. But do we have to say everything we think? Shouldn’t we sometimes keep some things to ourselves?

How did we become such a polarized nation, where we spew angry, vitriolic words, threats and accusations at will? Can we no longer behave as adults?

I see a lack of respect for each other all across the board. I see and hear children arguing with and talking back to their parents in public. I see rude people elbow their way in front of others while muttering ugly things under their breath, I see and hear of people fighting and shooting one another if they don’t like the way the other person looks, feels or speaks.

We have taken away good ol’ discipline of children and replaced it with time out. Then these same children grow up to be adults out of control. In my book a swat to the behind and a healthy respect goes a lot further than anger unmanaged. The only timeout I remember as a child was the walk to the bathroom for my spanking.

 Anything goes in America and we are now all suffering the penalty for such behavior.

I long for the days of “please and thank you, you’re welcome and yes ma’am and no sir.”

Is civility too much to ask for? What kind of example are we teaching our children?

I just don’t like it at all, and we should all be ashamed of our behavior.

You get the picture.

(Contact Sherry at