I don't watch a lot of old television shows but occasionally I will catch an episode of the Andy Griffith show and it always takes me back to my youth. I am not totally naïve – I know that the world represented by the town of Mayberry was not the norm for a lot of folks. But, for me, as a kid growing up in the '60s in Goodman, it was a pretty good picture of how life was.
I can remember riding my bike just about everywhere, playing baseball games with a bunch of friends just for fun, going down to the creek to swim or fish. Just about everything Opie did in Mayberry was what we did in Goodman. And, life was a lot simpler and less complicated.
Were there problems in the world? You bet there were, but us kids didn't really care. Most of us had a pretty good home life and we knew we were loved because if we did something wrong then we got a spanking for it. And, everyone in the town watched us and called our parents if they saw us doing something we weren't supposed to be doing. That network was just as effective as any social media that exists today. We could screw up in one part of town and our folks would know about it before we made it to the house.
Now fast forward 50 years and compare that life to what most kids experience today. Gone are the carefree days of coming and going as you please without your parents worrying that you've been gone most of the day. Activities are no longer spontaneous but rather all the kids are in programs. So far as discipline is concerned – heaven forbid that someone sees you spanking your child. That could result in a call to Children's Services for child abuse.
My grandpa Wilson used to say that the good old days weren't all that good. He and my grandma suffered through the Depression and he knew that when someone remembered the way things used to be that they didn't always remember the bad along with the good. So, I know that there were things in our society that needed to change and have been good for everyone.
But there is a lot that has changed in the last 50 years that hasn't been good. We wonder why there are so many instances of mass violence and why the "me first" mentality is so prevalent throughout society. Why does it seem that civility has been replaced with such raw and open aggression?
I'm sure that there are many reasons but I believe that a lot of the problems in today's society can be traced to a breakdown of our moral code. Society as a whole has now gotten to the point where just about everything is acceptable. And, political correctness demands that we don't say anything or oppose anyone for fear that we might be labeled intolerant of diversity.
Page 2 of 2 - What happens when everything is acceptable? Then there is no accountability for your actions because nothing is wrong. How in the world have we gotten to this point? Is it because we have become like sheep and follow whatever philosophy that makes us feel good and gives us cover for our wrongdoings? Or are we more like the ostrich that hides its head in the sand in the belief that if we don't see things then we don't have to address them?
It's probably a little of both. And, most likely it's going to get a whole lot worse before (or if) it ever gets better. We don't like to be held accountable – it's a whole lot easier to do our own thing and not be told no or to be told that what we are doing is unacceptable.
But as a society, if we don't have rules and a code to live by, then what do we become? I think you are seeing and living firsthand what happens when society quits holding people accountable and accepts just about any kind of behavior in the name of tolerance. If you are happy with things they way they are then just keep following or poking your head in the sand.
But if you aren't, then by all means raise your voices and let everyone know that the status quo needs to change – that there has to be rules and there are certain things that are wrong. And, don't be surprised when you are attacked for your "intolerance." But remember what I said last week about "what's right is not always popular." So, the question becomes, is popularity more important than accountability?
Kevin Wilson writes a weekly column for the Daily News.