By Joe Rector
One of the benefits of getting older is that a person can more easily say what he thinks or feels. Most of us are too worried about what our comments might do to others or to our professional standing. Ah, the joys of retirement and age give us the courage to be true to principles. Just today, I commented that I began teaching in 1974, and a woman wrote, “Wow! That was five years before I was born!” That should qualify me to speak my truth.
First, I believe that the worst invention of modern times is the cell phone. Oh, the phone itself is wonderful. It’s reassuring to parents that their children can contact them in case of emergencies. The rest of the features are things that make the cell phone so bad. I’ve never known another generation so absorbed in themselves. They constantly take “selfies” in every situation. Most people don’t care what someone else has eaten for supper unless it’s strange, but meals are photographed and uploaded by the thousands. Games of all kinds and for all ages can be downloaded. Social media sites are available with the touch of an app. These people can spread rumors, make comments, and join like groups. All the while, people are looking down at a small device in their hands. They have no idea who or what is surrounding them. Minds are shut and personal communications cease to exist.
For 30 years, I taught English to high school students. Grammar was one of my specialties, and I pounded personal pronoun usage into students’ brains. I clobbered their grades when the wrong ones were used. Now, some people tell me that the use of “they” is acceptable for those who identify as “non-binary.” Who determined that? How many future students are going to struggle with pronoun usage with this change? I have no bias against any person’s sexuality; however, I say that he should be used for males, and she should be used for females. If a change occurs, then a different pronoun can be used. Allowing people to use incorrect grammar to defend their personal beliefs is ridiculous. If language is a legitimizing tool, before long, groups will be unable to communicate because of their altered English.
I am disgusted by extremist groups and their fights to control this society. No fringe group should have the power to tell the majority how to act or what to say. Neither should they have the ability to “cancel” or “segregate” another who fails to live by their rules. Some words are purely evil, but in the end, they are only words, and their effects are dependent upon those who hear them and the acts which are associated with them. The middle is where most of us live, and we’re growing tired of the tripe that both extremist sides spout.
Last of all, I am tired of the citizens of this country taking democracy for granted. Most of the world’s countries practice some type of authoritarianism. Few people live with the freedom that we have. In these days, our political parties seem to care little about supporting and defending that freedom. Instead, they snipe at each other and throw one-sided arguments at opponents so that they can stay in power. The idea of governing for the good of the people has disappeared. More important is the political agenda of parties. It’s about time that our representatives stopped polarizing their parties and members and started working together to make this democratic experience work.
I told you I am old. Whether or not I have the right to directly call out things and people and action is up for debate. At least anyone who reads this will know my truth.