90-to-40: Yo Mama

Day 38:  *Strong language alert*

As a child, I learned to have good manners. My parents didn’t go crazy with it, but I learned the right way to act. I was expected to sit still and be quiet during church. I was not allowed to throw temper tantrums in public. Talking back to my mom got me popped in the mouth, and once or twice was enough. Yet, I was NOT one of those “be seen and not heard” kids (go figure…right?). Quite the opposite, in fact. I was expected to speak to adults… respectfully and thoughtfully.

I was also taught other useful things, like to never to use the word “hate.” I was groomed to respect, not only my elders and people in authority, but ALL PEOPLE. I learned not to be entitled. I learned to dress for comfort and respect, not for attention.  I didn’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I had were “good doobies” and treated me well.

Sounds pretty old-fashioned, huh?  Well… yes. It was. My grandparents were children of the depression era. My parents were born during World War II. They didn’t have much, but they still did their best. Our homes, our clothes and our mouths were clean - anything else was just a perk. So, in spite of any shortcomings, I feel like I had pretty good parents. They raised me to be "good people."
Then I grew up and I couldn’t understand why others saw me as being “hokey” and called me a hippie. In fact, I’ve been downright laughed at by MORE people than you can imagine. I’ve been called a wimp (and other colorful, more anatomical names) for walking away from a pointless fight. I’ve been laughed at for writing about inspirational pursuits like “Pay it Forward,” or “Random Acts of Kindness.”  I mean, I get it… to an extent. I chose to do my best to take the “high road” and that’s my choice. But… people react in a downright rude way about anything that is positive. It’s shocking.

Then, I watch the same people who ostracize me, then go off and spin into a world of negativity and self destruction and cause great problems for everyone around them  – and everyone else is supposed to put up with it. Our society has become a self-centered, cultural wasteland. I’m supposed to watch people abuse their kids and spouses, but not say a word.  I’m expected to watch people walk all over me (and others), but never stand up and say “enough is enough!”    

Fortunately, I think I have realized what is really going on. Basically, what I’ve figured out has happened is that an entire generation of parents got really messed up by our selfish society - then went and had kids. As a result, they raised a bunch of assholes.  

Yeah… I said it.  Assholes.

Oh… I am definitely not including everyone in this grand sweeping statement, but I’ll go out on a limb and say 90% of parents raising kids after 1980 raised bad kids. If you’re one of their kids, then I’m pretty sure you’ll know who you are.  If you’re an “in your face” kind of person who values getting a reaction out of others over engaging in a human conversation… you’re an asshole.  If you are rude to your waitress and customer service employees for no reason… you’re an asshole. If you blow your money on drugs and expect me to pay for your kids… you’re an asshole.  If you urge your kid to be a bully… asshole.  If you hate people without knowing them… HUGE asshole.  If you brag about what you own and how much you paid for it… you’re a douche and an asshole.

And chances are… the uptight Mother and the jerk of a Dad YOU had are the ones who taught you how to be that way. They taught you that owning material possessions mean more than being generous. I mean, that’s a real good start for having a kid who is an ass. And if your dad taught you to judge others based on some random fact about them that they cannot control… he is likely a HUGE asshole. If they glamorized violence, or were violent themselves… you’re basically hopeless.

Oh wait.  YOUR parents are nice people?  They didn’t do that stuff?  AND they taught you morals?  Did I hear you say that someone was a good example of how to be a good human being? 

Then, if it’s not your parents fault, WHY are YOU an asshole?

Okay, so maybe parents who raise their kids differently than I was raised have some redeeming qualities. And, yes… I know there are no perfect parents… everyone makes mistakes.  But JUST LOOK AT YOU. You’re a mess!  It’s got to be their fault! They HAD to be bad parents, right?

Or maybe… you’re just an ass?  Maybe? Just a little?

Okay, so MAYBE I’m being fantastical.  But WOW did that feel good!  And… you have to admit - there is more than a grain of truth in it.   

The truth is that MOST parents do their best, and every parent makes mistakes. You may have even survived those “new-fangled” parenting techniques and all the changes that have taken place in the world at large. But now – with all the freedom and whatever values they’ve given you in your life… what have you done with it?  The bottom line is that it is YOUR LIFE. YOU are responsible for how YOU behave. Whatever your challenge… even if your parents really WERE the problem – it’s time to stop taking it out on the rest of us.

LOOK at what is going on in the world!  For example, a beautiful American woman from New York won the Miss America pageant and she is subjected to hate and ignorance. Disenfranchised people randomly shoot up schools, ship yards and office buildings. Extremists protest against people they would have NEVER MET without intentionally going to seek them out and express their hate!  COME ON, PEOPLE.  Is this REALLY okay with you?

SOMEONE has to take responsibility and step up to the freakin’ plate here. AND I’m sure some smart ass is going to comment about how "everyone should just have guns", or we should just "LOVE them into submission." YES... and NO. I truly believe that the reason our society is lazy, mean and entitled is that we stopped focusing on our relationships with others, made excuses for what our parents DIDN’T teach us, and got VERY, VERY self-focused. That doesn’t make us bad… it makes us negligent (and in some cases, it makes people into assholes.)

Like I said earlier, when I was a kid I learned to have good manners.  SO, I probably won’t walk around randomly calling people assholes.  However, if YOU are walking around BEING an asshole – don’t expect me to tolerate you. By being irresponsible, hate-filled, or downright mean or violent… you’re dragging the rest of us down. You need to step it up. They are called “Boot Straps.” USE EM!

I still believe – with all my heart – that love and kindness conquers all. But… sometimes it’s just as valuable to say that bad behavior is NOT acceptable. It’s a balance… but we can’t just go around being all “flowers and sunshine” OR “doom and gloom.”  There is a place in the middle where we can find flowers amidst the doom, and sunshine in the gloom. We have to start showing that to people more often, coupled with an honest observation about their behavior.

You may laugh at my choice of words. You may be offended. You may even “unfriend me” on Facebook. BUT, if you’re being an ass, or are watching someone else BE an ass and choosing to ignore it… then maybe you ARE an asshole. It is YOUR responsibility to be “good people.”  It’s everyone’s responsibility to stop accepting bad behavior.

And … if you are an asshole… expect that I may lovingly, but clearly, call out that - even if she was a lovely lady -  "Yo Mama" may have raised someone who is acting like an asshole... and I will not tolerate it in my life.

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