When I was around 8 years old, my parents took me to Disney World. My Disney vacation went thusly: we walked into the Magic Kingdom, my dad checked my watch, he gave me a bit of money for food and drink, and then we went our separate ways. We met back at the front of the park at the end of the day, and I had enjoyed a wonderful day. Aside from the fact that I don’t have much in the way of family memories from our family vacations, I had a great time. I lost count of the number of times I rode Pirates of the Caribbean and Magic Mountain. I probably enjoyed 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea nearly as many times. When it rained, I found shelter, had a soda, and waited until I could start riding the rides again. By the time I was 9, I was a full time latch-key kid (and, just a few years later, having a handgun in the house saved me from a home intruder– but that’s a different story for another day). Does that constitute criminal behavior on my parents’ part? Did they deserve to be jailed for “abandoning” me? I certainly don’t believe so, but times have changed.
Here are the facts: Debra Harrell works at McDonald’s in North Augusta, South Carolina. For most of the summer, her daughter had stayed there with her, playing on a laptop that Harrell had scrounged up the money to purchase. (McDonald’s has free WiFi.) Sadly, the Harrell home was robbed and the laptop stolen, so the girl asked her mother if she could be dropped off at the park to play instead.
Harrell said yes. She gave her daughter a cell phone. The girl went to the park—a place so popular that at any given time there are about 40 kids frolicking—two days in a row. There were swings, a “splash pad,” and shade. On her third day at the park, an adult asked the girl where her mother was. At work, the daughter replied.
The shocked adult called the cops. Authorities declared the girl “abandoned” and proceeded to arrest the mother.
As I said: times have changed. Is the world that much more dangerous? Or are our children that much more vulnerable? Or have we just lost our sense of context and reasonableness? I actually don’t know the answer to that question, but it seems like an overreaction.
What my parents did with me, I wouldn’t do with my own kids, but it isn’t necessarily because I’d be worried about their safety. It’s because I would want to be sure that I had memories with my children.
This is an important little piece from Foreign Policy’s Shadow Government blog. It’s compact, but quite important, especially when you understand what the author is critiquing:
If “Setting Priorities” is the most recent attempt to argue for a more coherent internationalist grand strategy — a worthy endeavor — then whatever weaknesses it has might throw into relief some broader problems of U.S. foreign policy.
Why important? Because of this note near the end of the piece:
… the report-like all “national security strategies” published by every administration since Congress mandated the document in 1987-is less a “strategy” document than a list of aspirations and goals.
“Strategic” foreign policy thought, as expressed by our government in the public realm, has long been reduced to talking points, wish lists, and occasional partisan sniping. Now is the time for serious discussion about the proper place of the United States in a changing international landscape of political power. Simply saying that we should show leadership or advocate for some laudable goal isn’t enough. Means, actions, and expected ends along with an honest assessment of what role the US needs to be playing in everything from “democratization” to moderating talks between warring groups.
The United States seems to be suffering a deficit of strong and wise leadership along with a paucity of serious thought in the public realm. While our last presidential election should have revolved around things like our foundering economy and our nebulous foreign policy, it instead seemed to focus on binders full of women, free contraception, and taking gratuitous pot-shots at China. We need better, although I would suggest that our reality-show obsessed culture doesn’t necessarily deserve better. I’ll consider changing that view when we start rewarding serious thought with the same acclaim that we do a bunch of dignity-stripped attention whores and fools on the latest terrifying reality TV series.Read the original.
Click through and read:
Jay reminds us of an important point: The great achievement of the Reagan economy wasn’t that the rich got a lot richer (though they did, and good for them!) but that the poor got a lot richer, too. As Treasury figures from the era document, the vast majority (nearly 85 percent) of those who were poor in 1979 (meaning they resided in the lowest income quintile) were in a higher quintile by 1988; even more impressive, two-thirds of them had moved up two quintiles or more. And most impressive of all: Of the people who were in the lowest income quintile in 1979, more had moved to the top quintile by 1988 than remained in the bottom quintile. Which is to say, if you were on the bottom in 1981, you were statistically more likely to be on the top by 1988 than to remain at the bottom.
There is more and it acts as a good reminder of why we on the right continue to fight for our vision of America.
Call me crazy, but today’s tolerance doesn’t much look like it did when I was growing up.
Look, tolerance doesn’t mean that everyone parrots the same line or that you have to like what people are saying around you. It means that they have a right to live their life the way they choose even if that means believing some things that you don’t and that you don’t have to hold them as evil, call them assholes, argue points in an unreasonably personalized manner, or harass them just because of a disagreement. I say this as much to remind myself as to remind others.
People have always talked politics and I’ve always been politically minded, but what is happening today is moving so far away from a reasonable dialogue that I wonder how we are managing to hold together as one society.
Of course, reasonable minds understand that this version of tolerance stops when it comes to truly harming others. Advocating for a political position rarely rises to that level. I have no idea how that conversation started nor do I know how it escalated, but I do know that a chicken sandwich wasn’t worth the kind of fight that left one man re-assigned and all folks starring in their own little accidental reality show on all of the news sites.
What happened to the kind of tolerance where we actually manage to get along on a daily basis without someone trying to shout us down or tell us how vile and horrible we are for, essentially, not believing every little thing that they believe? I wonder if people see just how hugely damaging our over-politicized culture is becoming.
When everyone thinks that they have to take absolute stances on all of the issues of the day, when it comes to a place where it harms friendships and family relationships, and when it is so unyielding, how can anyone be surprised at the size of the wall we’re building between us? Of course, we’re a deeply divided country. Not only are we faced with hugely difficult problems, but we’re faced with an increasingly uncivil nation where folks are happily willing to demonize each other with little regard for the harm or hurts caused.
Whatever threads still bind together the fabric of our nation are being slowly unravelled by our own unforgiving nature.
“…Roman writers had been lamenting the decay of the national character for years. As early as the second century BC, Polybius blamed the politicians whose pandering had reduced the republic to mob rule. Sallust railed against the viciousness of political parties, and Livy– the most celebrated writer of Rome’s golden age– had written that ‘these days…we can bear neither our diseases nor their remedies.'”
Lost to the West, Lars Brownworth