There is something different in the air these days and frankly it stinks.
Subpar performance; oh you get an A,
530 credit scores; oh here’s a $2,000 visa credit card
You disagree with my twitter feed; oh you’re a hater
I only go to church on Easter and Christmas and don’t own a bible; oh but I’m a Christian
Are you catching my drift?
Standards these days have diminished to the point of over-acceptance. Somewhere along the lines of being tolerant towards others and maintaining norms/institutions we have lost our will to (re) enforce standards. Perhaps it is our rebellious nature as wo(man) to seek out and destroy rules, authority and traditions but at what cost.
People are now able to do almost anything and it be accepted by a populous group wanting to maintain freedom of speech or to establish more and more right to be “ones’ self” but is it at a cost? Are we losing our very foundations at the expense of total acceptance, where’s the limit?
No longer are there standard definitions, roles and traditions of religion, family, love, manhood, womanhood, community, black, white, culture, independence, acceptance, music, entertainment, success, ambition, education, wealth, good men or good women. Some will say for the better; others will say for worse but as it stands right now everything previously mentioned is in a current state of grey.
But at what cost…?
Now we sit in a generation where every conceivable idea is taking place and it appears everything is alright to do. Somewhere there has to be a standard right? A bar? A certain level of accomplishment before you can consider yourself (blank)? … Right?
Take for instance manhood and womanhood. Do we still have rites of passage in our communities? Are boys measured by responsibility and taught certain basic necessities before they are respected and able to wear the mantle of MAN? Are girls required anymore to accomplish anything before being considered a woman or menstruation it? I am reminded of the scene in the old Alex Haley movie ROOTS where all the young boys on the cusp of manhood had to participate in a rite of passage before they could come back into the village as men. Some of you are thinking, “oh that is primitive behavior that is back then; all a boy needs now is some girl to sleep with and then we label him a man or the ability to get a job or….” Really? So who is primitive?
Many of us laugh at ideas of old traditions like that with complete disregard but that standard of manhood reinforced something essential to that community, a standard. You knew who was a boy and who was a man. Nowadays… Ladies do you know who is a boy and who is a man? Now everyone is man but we place prefix adjectives to differentiate them, “good man, bad man, aint shh man, quality man, take care of home man, weak man, strong man and blah blah blah…
Let’s be honest those old traditions placed a minimal requirement on people. An expectation before they were allowed to be something; these things were compulsory but you knew what you were getting afterwards. When a boy came back as a man you knew what you were getting from him; there was an expectation to the level of skills, maturity, and savvy he had to possess. In other words his qualifications were in order.
But now for the most part we accept almost all shit and call it sugar. Take entertainment and public decency for example. People are saying and doing anything to a sound in the background and now its’ called music; women and men can virtually wear nothing on regular TV and it no longer is unacceptable and considered indecent for family viewing now we slap some dumb rating on the show before it comes on and hope our TV filtering keeps it away from a generation of kids who are setting the damn passwords for their parents; I mean cmon who are really fooling here.
Food has diminished to processed remains of leftover animals and pressed into food forms we recognize. You can now have beef with someone you never see via the social networking; I mean what in the world is this nonsense. Children no longer have the same incentive of working with the same intensity in school because most teachers just keep shuffling them through and say I did my best or they passed the test so I don’t Care anymore besides I got my check.
Not even mentioning our glorified consumption of unhealthy foods and the acceptance of obesity as if it is a healthy body composition to be over xx% body fat. Have we really let ourselves go? Are we now afraid because of our oppressive past and under-acceptance to tell someone NO sir that doesn’t cut IT, NO ma’am that is not enough? No you cannot call yourself a Christian because of your lifestyle, NO you two are not a family, NO girl he’s cheating on you Y’all ARE NOT TOGETHER, NO sir your child did not WIN second place they LOST first place, SORRY you are denied, BEST FRIEND the way you treated such and such WASN’T COOL, you’re children are hungry YOU are NOT a PARENT, you are slime.
On an individual level we are quick to say no and restrict people but when it comes to uniform rules for everyone to play by or uniform standards we are timid at best at taking a stand. Our feet are on edges of yes and no afraid to fully step into either. Someone somewhere has to make a decision right…? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander… right?
Not exactly sure where but somewhere we have gone off the deep-end of acceptance and no longer want to step on anyone’s toes or offend any group for the sake of our standards that we once held. This spirit of acceptance can be disabling and dis-empowering force incidentally while to many it enfranchises and empowers others.
One cannot talk about standards and not mention the destructive and prohibitive aspects of them. For one many standards in America began with the standard of being human and that most African were considered three-fifths human. Now the legacy of standards is rather grim but thru the course of history into today have we thrown out the baby with the bath water. Many never liked standards as they felt they were too rigid and the box too narrow to incorporate the newness and diversity of a growing nation. Often the complaint has been that the standards imposed are from “that” group and don’t fit well into the box this group. Now we have expanded the box of standards so wide that everyone is accepted and there is virtually no boundary to participation or requirement for entry which to many is appealing.
Standards have for a long time been a debilitating burden upon society. Many of the standards of what is acceptable and what is not have oppressed many generations of poor and working families, afro-descendants and women for centuries but I ask did we throw away the baby with the bath water? Did we give up on standards because of their tarnished reputations without taking away from them the wisdom of yesterday?
Let’s be real most of us were raised by third generation rebels. We can trace our parents & grandparents to involved hippies, civil rights workers, and women suffrage activists, the black power movements, Woodstock and anti-government protests. We are a by-product of generation after generation of fighting established order. Our bloodlines run deep with animosity towards established ideas and values we were raised to question everything, uphold self-proclaimed truths and disperse any centralized authority.
Have we allowed our disdain for standards, definitions, roles, and authority to force our hand in the struggle for justice to push away preservation of quality, or is it all a value statement? Have we allowed ourselves to be stuck in a false choice between progress and conservation? Have we had the picture painted in our minds that all of the institutions and norms that hold our society together are inherently bad? Can we maintain our tenacious desire for liberty, freedom and progress without self-destructing or degrading our entire living environment until there is nothing worth fighting for? God forbid.
Right now as we stand here; perhaps, between two alternatives, are we heading down a road less traveled to the promise land of human acceptance? Or are we escorting all living souls into a burning house unaware? Are we fundamentally reshaping the society in which are children will live for the better or will they say to us with a melancholic voice, Dad, look what you guys did?
Until Next Time
**Please share (leave) your responses, beliefs and comments to this piece or any of the questions in the comments section. This is a dialogue I believe needs to take place between proponents and leaders of change and progress.**