We need to raise civilized citizens

To the editor:

As I read the newspapers and watch the news, I get the feeling that we are no longer a civilized society. The headlines report murders, abuse, neglect and all sorts of cruelty. None of this should be so common in a happy civilized society. Of course, there are many solutions offered to correct the situation, but these solutions are always after the crimes are committed. Maybe a little personal experience might help.

I must confess that I came into this world a very uncivilized creature. I had no respect for the feelings of my parents. When I was hungry or uncomfortable, I bawled no matter how tired or busy they were. I had no respect for property of others. I would have been cruel had I been stronger. I was very demanding and not very nice.

But something changed. I actually became a pretty decent person in the first four or five years. This did not happen because of a wonderful diet, a bribe, or even cruel punishment, but by loving instructions by caring parents. From birth, I learned the value of love, firm and gentle discipline, lessons in respect, high moral values, and responsibility. I was civilized.

Later my life included association with others. I found that most of those around me had been given the same tools to be happy. Of course, there were always a few not so blessed as I, but they soon learned the values most of us were taught. The society of the times was civilized.

It might be well to look at some of the changes that cause all those reports of evil. Could it be that families are not considered as important and the first four or five years are neglected? Could it be that our entertainment is too coarse and vivid? Could it be that our public education does not regard morality as important as financial success?

True civilization cannot be measured by tall buildings, great armies, or even college degrees, but rather by happy, moral people. Civilization is not a natural thing but a learned set of values. These values have been in place for thousands of years, and are as pertinent as ever. The value of human life, respect for property of others, abiding by the laws of the land, and good manners are just simple definitions of a civilized people. In spite of the fact that most of us do qualify as being civilized, there seems to be many who do not, and make those awful headlines we see every day. I am sure that if a bit more attention was given to the first few years of every child’s life, our public education was more interested in good citizens than technical education, and our entertainment less graphic, we could raise civilized citizens.

Charles Cole

Auburn

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