Stop asking ‘why’ and get to work on change
“Put the glasses back on. I can’t stand looking at your face.”
““How about you shut the f*** up?”
“You’re a troll.”
I heard these words and things changed. Such vitriolic hate can’t go unchecked.
I had very different plans when I sat down to write this week’s column. I was going to tell you all about my war with hot temperatures and my adamant refusal to turn on my air conditioning in an effort to save money.
There would have been anecdotes about my cat, Mia, trying to force my hand by lying on me, although she was as warm as me. She figured she would make me even hotter, so I would give in and turn on the blessed coolness that would come from my vents.
It would have left some of you shaking your heads at my cheapness, while others nodded in agreement because every dollar saved is a good thing. The column would have amused, possibly entertained.
And then I heard those words. They weren’t uttered in a cat fight or words thrown out in the heat of the moment. The reality was much worse: They were said by children.
On Bus No. 784 in Greece, N.Y., those words and more were slung callously at a 68-year-old school bus monitor. Karen Klein, a grandmother, had been a bus driver for years, but now rides along to keep kids under control.
There was not much she could do with these little hellions. She sat quietly and tried to ignore them most of the time, although she did retort once with a “Unless you have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
The students responded rudely and her attempts to quieten them only seemed to fuel their fire of disrespect.
They insulted the woman’s looks, her weight, her clothes and accessories and anything else they could find. By the end, they started talking about stabbing her — and even went so far as to rationalize the action. They talked about how all her family members were dead.
Klein’s son killed himself 10 years ago.
I was blown away that children, specifically these children, would talk to an adult this way. When I was growing up, I would have been terrified at the major repercussions that surely would befall me if I talked like these children. I’m not only talking about the cursing and f-bombs, but the complete lack of respect shown for an authority figure.
BFF and I have talked about this a few times as we’ve watched unruly children act out in stores or restaurants. While I wasn’t afraid of Mom, I knew better than to act a fool in public. I knew better than to do it in private, too.
Today, though, I see more and more instances that could serve as poster children for the abstinence and birth control movements. As time goes on, it seems today’s youth are getting louder, meaner and more unruly.
I’ve said before that I worry about Mom. She teaches high school English, and her students aren’t saints. A couple of years ago, a student put his fist through her door because he was upset.
I have no answers for why society is changing, mores are evolving, people are reverting to seemingly primal states. Maybe it’s always been this way.
I don’t know.
However, I hope to God that it’s a new development. If not, a single question should weigh on the hearts and minds of everyone: Why haven’t we done anything to stop it?
I’d ask that we turn this question on its head. Stop passing the buck.
We can’t worry about the shortcomings of earlier epochs. We can’t stand firmly in the past, hoping to effect change in the present.
The next time YOU see something that YOU know/feel/think to be wrong don’t rationalize the observed behavior, shift responsibility or assume someone else will fix the problem before YOU. Do something.
The question today isn’t “Why haven’t we done anything to stop it?” It’s a line of thinking that’s taken us nowhere.
The question today is: “Why haven’t I done anything to stop it?”
Get to work.
Amanda Greever is assistant managing editor for print at The Daily Times. She writes a weekly column in the Sunday Life section. She can be reached at 981-1161 or (email@example.com) Follow her on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com _editor.