WPCNR NEWS & COMMENT. By John F. Bailey. June 28, 2018:
I was not asked to address any graduation classes this year.
I didn’t even get an honorary doctorate. Ohio Wesleyan owes me one. God, I could use one of those.
However, I hope you graduates out there were sufficiently challenged by your speakers.
I hope the speakers you did hear delivered the most riveting, challenging address to any group anywhere.
Because you graduates really needed blockbuster send-offs this year.
Because you are The Guardians.
The Guardians of a wounded deeply reeling American Republic.
We the “Me Generation” despite the best intentions, the freedom and love childs of the 1960s and 70s that brought America to the highest place it has ever been now look upon how we have lost our way on The Lost Highway, as Hank Williams sang.
We are aging up and do not have time to undo and change the wreckage just a few years of selfishness, greed (one of the flaws of my generation), and a need for self-fulfillment at the expense of others, and yes, a sense of entitlement and superiority that have brought us and unfortunately you our children where we are today.
The me generation whose parents gave us the perfect little Pleasantville world. Excellent schools and the model of Father Knows Best, let the excesses of free love, drugs, and sex without commitment take over this mad ride into marriages that did not last. And we became more selfish as we grew.
I want to warn you of this danger.
You have to guard against complacency. Rationalizing behavior you know is wrong. Doing the wrong thing even though you know you should not.
The more we did that kind of thing, the easier it became to do things that were wronger and hurt not one person or your family, but groups of people.
Rationalization is one of the great sins people. It is the devil in you. You can always reason your way to a course of behavior, whether its hazing new pledges in a fraternity as I once did to my everlasting shame. I found hazing and making fun of persons so easy to do when there were no consequences. This was my first experience with the horror of mass mean hate just for the fun of it. This had its roots in the 1960s with race riots, attacks on demonstrators at conventions.
Another tendency that my “me generation” slipped into was blaming others for our own troubles. Resenting a person because they were favored over you. I saw this when I was threatened over a position at my college at the radio station. I received a telephone threat saying if I did not let a person have a position at the radio station I could be in trouble. I took that threat to the Dean. Who dictated a compromise, weak on his part, I thought. But at least I knew if anything happened to me, the police and the Dean would know who to speak to. That taught me that when you are threatened you have to report it. And up the ladder it goes.
This type of manipulating things by veiled threats leads to much more aggressive behavior: trading inside information (because it’s just business), so easy to justify matters.
Giving bribes. I was once paid $10 to attend a political meeting so the local Young Republican Club at my college could be taken over by a fraternity brother. That is another incident I regret doing. But the more you repeat behaviors like this rationalizing them, compromising your principles, or worse, demanding that someone else adopt your principles of living or beliefs, that’s what fixing, threatening leads to a life pattern that makes you unable to empathize with the other person.
My parents’ generation brought about significant change: the civil rights movement, medicare, and their children invented the peace movement the idea you could bring about change by pointing out what was wrong.
Well, as we were growing up the Me Generation we got away from the principles of our parents because we stretched boundaries, rationalized what we knew was bad behavior. We got away from religion, mocked it even, especially in college. We were going to be different than our staid parents who did not like rock and roll.
The Gene Autry Cowboy code just didn’t guide behavior any more. We adopted sloppy and dirty as a statement of freedom. We started to live sloppy, behave badly and do our own thing.
Now 30 to 40 years of us running the world has created things we never would have expected. Business is more corrupt than it has ever been, run by people my age who should know better. They are ruled by greed and they hurt people.
The entertainment business has created entertainment and news that promotes and celebrates violence against the innocent, violence against women, homosexuals, you name it. If you glamorize a shooter-murderer, a drug dealer, a gambling kingpin, a Mafia figure, a hitman, a shooter in a school by telling their story you are obliquely endorsing that way of life, just as rationalizing behavior you know is wrong makes it so easy to rationalize bigger worse deeds that benefit you.)
The Me generation has created an America today in crisis because the nation has started to believe the lies that our status if we think it is not high enough is the fault of others taking things that should be ours. My father used to tell me “The world doesn’t owe you a living. And you are responsible for your behavior.”
I want to impress on you all that you must always think of how your actions will affect other people. If you treat other people with respect they respect you. But not always. This sounds so simple. But it is important.
You must be skeptical because you are often dealing with persons who will take advantage of you. They’ll ask you to do work without pay to see how you do, and then there will be more work. Or worse, they will expect you to provide favors to them in return for advancement. Once you do that, it will be so easy for you to do it again. Stay away from those freeloaders, they are the comancheros of business.
Stay away from debt. Those of you students on college loans know what I mean. A generation of twentysomethings and thirty-somethings have been victimized by universities and finance companies into taking out loans for their tuition.
The government has already indicated they are not going to help you. Those of you tempted to go into debt for a degree that may or may not get you a job. Well save up. Work out with your parents how to do that. A $100,000 loan for a college degree dooms you to staying in an apartment for at least a decade or more. Stay away from credit cards. Man, I am sounding like my father but it is true, my Guardians.
Back to The Guardians’ theme.
If you read the papers, or at least watch the late night comedians, you should grasp the serious problems of leadership America has right now.
The courts have been turned conservative. Hating of people who are not white is now in fashion. A generation of bad gringos at the top of America and in the Republican Party and in the Democratic Party have allowed this new neo-Nazi, anti-immigrant, anti people-without –a-lot-of-money to throw their weight around and seize power.
They have wielded it irresponsibly damaging American tradition perhaps forever.
(There will be a 15-minute break while you take a water break, or walk out).