Random Firings of Neurons

The rest of your life is going to be spent getting back up after life has knocked you down again. You might as well just get used to it.

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Location: Round Rock, Texas, United States

Saturday, July 24, 2004

On the nature of respect

Respect is a funny thing. You are either getting it, or you are not. You are either giving it, or you are not. There is no middle ground.

Take the typical television sit-com family. The father is a bumbling fool, and the mother is just barely holding on to her sense of sanity amidst the chaos that running a family, holding a job, and cleaning up after her husband can cause. The father is portrayed as an idiot who only remembers his name because his wife keeps yelling it at him every twenty minutes. The father also has to deal with children who only tolerate his presence, as if they cannot understand why their mother ever saw fit to marry that buffoon. He also has to deal with a mother-in-law who constantly tell him that their daughter should have done better. His father-in-law gives him knowing looks, because he knows what the father is going through, because he went through it himself. The neighbors are in the same boat.

Now, what is missing from this situation? Respect. That's what is missing.

These shows do not show a wife treating a husband with respect. Nor do they show a husband treating his wife with respect, or the children treating anyone other than their mother with respect. Why is this? And why do we even care? And what does respect look like, if television shows won't show it to us?

What does respect look like? It looks like the wife not nagging her husband about everything he has done in that day. It looks like the wife actually consulting her husband on family matters, rather than issuing decrees from on high. It also looks like the husband doing what is in the best interests of his family, rather than what is in HIS best interests for entertainment. It looks like the children, while not agreeing with their parents, actually doing what they are told to do, rather than doing what they want to do, or just asking the other parent to get permission for something the first parent has denied. There are many other ways we could see respect, but these glaring examples will do for now.

Why do we care? Simple. Because these shows are just one way the everyday people form their ideas of how to treat others. Find me someone who treats their family with respect, and I will bet you that they are VERY picky about what shows are on their television at any time.

Now, the tricky question. Why do these shows reveal this type of family to us? The obvious answer is "for laughs". But, I think it goes a little deeper than that. I think that many of the writers of these shows are unhappy with how their childhood went, or how their marriages went, and are putting them out for the world to see. Problem is, by only showing how BAD a family can be, they don't show how good a family SHOULD be. So, while they are trying to get laughs from their earlier pain, they are unwittingly perpetuating those situations for future generations. No one wants to think that they are different from anyone else, so, if these writers had such bad family lives, then every one must have had bad family lives. These shows are an unconscious attempt to change everyone else's family lives to the same miserable state that the writers experienced. And I believe that is wrong, and a very bad trend for America.

Semper Fidelis: Always Faithful, to God, Corps and Country