Contributor Doug writes: When I acted out as a kid, my mother would correct me, and depending what it was I was being corrected for, I might point out that she does the same wrong as well. Her reply was categorically, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Of course, the proper actions should also follow proper discipline, but our earth has only been blessed with one perfect human being, and to show our “gratitude,” we crucified Him. OK, so that’s why pencils have erasers; none of us are perfect. I suppose even the “Do as I say, not as I do” hypocrisy is still better than the permissive way parents excuse errant behavior in their children today, predominantly out of sheer laziness and neglect, but often poorly veiled with the camouflage of, “Well, I did it when I was a kid, so how can I tell him or her not to do it?” No doubt even old Benjie Spock rolls in his grave over that one.
No matter how you slice it, there is much to be said for the primary type of discipline: example. I have seen a change in Mass. It used to be just the younger people who dressed like bums or street urchins. Now the older folks indulge in what could be called “Casual Sunday” as well. Some of these folks will tell you, “Well, at least I go to Mass.” Indeed, they deserve partial credit, but they are still no less accountable for their irreverence than the guy who only drove the getaway car for the armed bank robber. Why is it that people dress “to the 9’s” to attend a wedding, but like beer-drinking Friday night softball-playing slobs to go to pay homage (hopefully) to God? How is it that bride and groom carries more weight than God?
It’s not just the dress. It’s the demeanor and decorum, or more specifically, lack thereof that grinds my gears. Today in mass, I observed what I recognized as several confirmation students yucking it up and acting out in Mass like they were at a pre-game pep rally. Worse than that, however, I also observed two adult catechists behaving in an even more raucous manner with each other throughout most of the Mass.
President Reagan’s economic policy included what he called “Trickle Down Economics.” In other words, contrary to the populist class divisive warfare against the rich, the fact remains that it is usually rich folks who provide us with jobs and a place to live, like it or not. So when they prosper, we do, too.
When he was Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani drastically cut crime and cleaned up Times Square by using what sociologists call the broken window theory. A broken window in an abandoned building isn’t a big priority, but left unattended, studies show that graffiti, loitering and various types of crimes soon grow like mold around it. Giuliani caught a lot of flak for supposedly bullying homeless people, squeegee men, illegal street vendors, prostitutes, panhandlers and various other personified nuisances that not only compromised quality of life, but actually provided a foundation for worse crimes and more urban decay. Ask any good street cop how often they take real bad guys off the street just from making simple traffic stops for minor traffic or equipment violations. Even the serial killer, David Berkowitz, AKA:” The Son of Sam” was eventually tracked down and caught by a parking ticket he received. The sage adage is true: big presents come in small packages. Ladies, when your husband proposed marriage to you, how big was the box that diamond ring was in, hmmm…?
So some things trickle down, but other things can trickle up. To a limited degree, kids have an excuse; their kids. Adults, who should know better, have no excuse. So “adults,” for lack of a better term, let’s try some exemplary “Trickle Up Reverence” in our Lord’s house. OK? Traits, be they good or bad, are like colds; their contagious.
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin; it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-7)