As a person in the entertainment business I’ve been asked to write about what’s on my mind, so here’s a couple of things that I ponder. First of all, I’ve taken to substitute teaching on the days I have free. I live in a predominately white, middle to upper class community. After several months of this I’ve decided I don’t want anything to do with these high school teenagers. I’m a Harvard graduate and am reasonably accomplished in my profession. In short I’ve accumulated some wisdom, experience and am deserving of basic respect. What I’ve encountered is the opposite. “Dude”, “Bro”, “What’s up?” This is how I’m addressed. I explain that I am not a dude, I’m not their brother, I’m not even their friend. I’m their teacher. I’m not looking for their approval, I already have enough friends, and I’ve done the work that qualifies me to be a teacher so kindly respect that. I am, of course, met with sullen looks and “Whatever”. Let me state that there are good kids in these classes too, however they keep quiet and do their work. What strikes me is the number of disrespectful ones in each class. Obviously, parents and other adults in their lives are not teaching these unformed humans values they are going to need once they hit the workplace and find that “Dude” and “Whatever” are only acceptable if you are working in a meth lab or car wash. Clearly some movies and tv are culpable by presenting thuggish behavior as cool but, let’s face it, it’s the adults in their lives who are allowing this generation to behave like this.
My second thought is about “supporting the troops”. I believe America is a great country. I believe it needs the best armed forces possible. I believe those forces should be the best trained, equipped, and cared for forces in the world. However, I also believe those forces are at least as responsible for what happens to them as are the incompetent people who sent them in harm’s way. “Support the troops” implies that I am somehow responsible for their decision to voluntarily get involved in this mess. I had nothing to do with it. Of course, loss of life and limb is tragic. But if you are going to sign up for this duty without taking the time and effort to analyse what you are getting yourself into and for whom, then the consequences, sadly, are yours. The price of gung ho John Wayneism is clear. I wish these soldiers would have asked themselves some harder questions like “Where are Bush’s kids and nephews?”before blindly signing on to his misbegotten disaster.
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