Monday, February 20, 2017

Chivalry's Not Dead

I was recently making a short road trip to take something to one of my children; it seems to me that I run around more for my adult kids than I did when they lived in my house. Because I have reached an age where my body’s “storage capacities” are rather...diminished, it has become essential to make frequent stops and to be aware of those places where the aforementioned stops are possible. One doesn’t want to be faced with the prospect of a “rest stop” on the side of the road.

But I digress...

On this particular trip I decided to stop at a McDonald’s. I pulled, parked, and exited the car, making my way to the building. I arrived at the door at roughly the same time as one of the employees. I spoke to the young lady and held open the door for her. She attempted to defer to me, but I insisted that she go first, saying “my mamma taught me that ladies always go first.” The smile that spread across her face made whatever delay my chivalry caused disappear faster than a piece of chocolate at my house when my wife isn’t home.

Before heading back to the car I decided that I would get a small drink for the rest of the trip back (Root Beer, thank you, it’s caffeine free) and made my way to the counter to place the order. Who should be standing there but the young lady with the precious smile that I had encountered at the door earlier. We chatted for a moment; she thanked me again for holding the door for her earlier; stating that chivalry was not dead. I told her that we had tried to teach respect for all women to our sons. She looked surprised and thanked me for being willing to “break the mold” and that she hoped I would have a blessed day.  I returned her wishes and returned to my car.

I have two daughters; they are the joy of my life, even though they have both broken my heart by getting married and running off to other states to live. I attempted to consistently model for them the way a man should treat a woman, as a great and precious treasure. I mean no disrespect or demeaning towards women, I simply believe that a man, any man, should treat women with honor, and that honor should manifest itself in things like opening doors, deferring to women, and generally submitting graciously to a woman’s desires. As a matter of fact; we have tried to teach all our children to treat all persons with honor and respect, regardless of sex or color or age. We saw this lesson as being important enough that we taught our daughters to expect such treatment and to not be involved with a man who not treat her accordingly and we taught our sons that they would treat all women in that manner.

Why is this important? We were teaching our children that all life was important and worthy of honor and respect. We have attempted to raise color-blind children in regards to race or culture. All persons are created in the image of our Creator and by virtue of that fact alone are worthy of our respect. “Please”, “thank you,” and “yes sir” and “no sir” (and ma’am) are vanishing from our culture and are being replaced with a familiarity that only serves to demean the honor and worth of all persons. That sounds like an outrageous statement on the surface but I believe that we only have to look back over the last 25 years or so to see how our treatment of each other has deteriorated.

The change must and can only begin at home. Dad, start being a gentleman, not only with your wife but with all women and treat others with respect, regardless of any distinction that you might imagine. Mom, start expecting your husband and sons to treat you with honor and respect. Do not allow yourself to be denigrated...God made you special and you should be treated that way by your husbands and sons and any other men in your life.  If we are to see genuine, lasting change in our culture it must begin in our homes. It won’t be easy, but perhaps one day a young lady at McDonald’s will smile and thank one of your children for being so polite.

Then it will be worth it. 

Friday, February 10, 2017


I moved a lot when I was a kid and I by a lot I mean A LOT.  By the time I had turned sixteen I had lived in four different states and in over 23 different places in those four states. I know that there are a lot of folks who have lived in more places in less amounts of time, but most of them were members of the armed forces. My family was not in the armed forces or oil field workers, we just moved all the time.

My birthplace is Houston, Texas, but I lived there for only six months. My family then moved to Chicago, Illinois. While in Chicago we lived in what is called the “south side.” You know the south side; Jim Croce made it (in)famous in his song “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” There is nothing unusual about that, lots and lots of people live in the south side of Chicago. What made our living in the south side, or at least this particular part of it was that we were Chicago’s south the mid 1960’s.  I’ll let that sink in for just a moment.

My memories of that time are generally good. My first best friend was a boy named Jimmy; the first girl I liked as a girl was named Susie. They were both black, in fact everyone in my kindergarten was black and everyone in my grade school was black; students and teachers.  The first church I ever attended was a black church. Yet in all that I never felt threatened or ostracized. But I must confess to you that I was not allowed to go to the playground at recess or to eat lunch in the cafeteria. My mother would later tell me that it was because of concerns for my safety around the older kids. I never felt slighted or in danger, to be honest I never noticed the difference between myself and all those other kids and teachers.

In the middle of second grade my family moved from Chicago to Little Rock, Arkansas. My life was about to change in more ways than one with this move. I vividly remember my first day of second grade at my new school. The principal brought me to my new class and introduced me, telling everyone that I was from Chicago. My teacher smiled down at me and asked my name. I responded, telling her my name and my mother’s and sister’s names.

At this point it’s important that you remember that I had been living in Chicago for the previous seven years. The words that came out of my mouth were the words of a young black child from the south side of Chicago, not a little boy born and raised in the south. To say that my teacher’s face registered shock and confusion would be an understatement.  I remember her looking up at the principal with a look of complete confusion. Clearly there was a problem with my communication skills.

So I was sent to speech therapy for the rest of the school year. I guess it worked because I’ve had people from Illinois to California to New York tell me that I don’t sound southern (whatever that sounds like). It’s an amusing story to tell on the surface, but it’s below the surface that it becomes a little disturbing and germane to our discussion.

There is a lot of noise made today about respecting other peoples and cultures, noise that is usually made by people who are intolerant of those who disagree with their point of view. Aretha Franklin sang a song with these lyrics: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me...” The song is about a woman who wants her man to quit stepping out on her and to start respecting her as a person. That’s a noble desire. We all want to be respected. The truth is a different story altogether.

I was told as a child that respect must be earned. I have come to believe that statement is wrong, respect should be given to all based on the value that God had placed upon them. Yet our nation is rapidly becoming a land where respect is vanishing. Respect is our duty to each other, to allow for the existence of differing opinions, differing likes and dislikes, all while working towards the common goal of a better world. But that concept is no longer true in America. Our homes, our streets, and social media are incubators for disrespect and its first cousin, hate. We actively divide ourselves along racial, political and economic lines and are seemingly intent on the destruction of any and everyone who doesn’t fit our preconceived ideas.

What does this have to do with parenting? Where do you think our kids learn respect and tolerance (now there’s a word that’s been redefined in our time); the home. Parents, you are the persons primarily responsible for seeing that your children learn how to respect those who are in authority over them or who look differently than they do or who might have differing opinions. We primarily teach that through our examples. When was the last time you lost control of your emotions over a sporting event or a political discussion? Your reaction is the foundation that your kids will build on when they encounter those who are different.

We must demonstrate to our children how to live at peace within the structures of the law by living within the confines of the law. We must demonstrate to our children how to live respectfully with those we disagree with by finding common ground in which we can create a better world for us all. That begins by demonstrating our respect for others, regardless of race or religion or nationality.

Let us begin by engaging in respectful conversations in our homes and ball fields and in places like Wal-Mart. Treat those who serve you respectfully, whether cashier or waitress. Speak respectfully of the police and political leaders. Work at being a part of your community, respecting that others can believe differently about the “how” but be in full agreement of the “why.”

It is an understatement to say that we live in troubled times.  Our nation is rapidly becoming a war zone over personalities and politics. Sadly, most of this warfare is being encouraged and enabled by so-called “leaders” who are doing nothing more than trying to advance their own agendas. There is no room for such a lofty idea as respect, and it shows. Yet if we don’t learn how to live together in peaceful disagreement based on mutual respect our grandchildren will be left to sweep up the ashes. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Some Random Thoughts

After your relationship with Jesus there is nothing more important your relationship with your spouse. The familial relationship is the foundation of human society....always has been and the moment we see the final demolishing of the family we can begin the countdown to the implosion of civilization. But I do not intend to go quietly into the night, and neither should you. Just as we so often hear that we are just one generation away from the downfall of this or the destruction of that I believe that we are just one generation away from turning the tide. The work won’t be easy and it won’t be done quickly but it can be done. And it starts with parents.

First, we must fortify our marriages. I am the product of a broken home, a home that was broken long before my parents separated.  Their relationship set the bar of expectation that I carried with me into adulthood. It was many years and much hurt before I was finally able to overcome that example. Parents, it’s time that we modeled strong marriages based on biblical concepts of respect, dignity, and mutual submission. The stronger examples we give our kids the better our culture will become.

Secondly, we must fortify our homes against the onslaught of a culture that wishes to destroy us. Parents, we must take control of our homes again. Most of us grew up without a cell phone or a tv in our room or unfettered internet access. We turned out all right (for the most part) and I don’t think our children will suffer greatly without all that stuff either.  It’s time that we as parents and adults begin to control the content of what is beamed into our home. Television and the internet are not suitable baby sitters and their life advice stinks. Why don’t we unplug ourselves and our families for a least a short time each day and talk to each other.

Third, we must value our children. Parents, stuff doesn’t equal love. We have the most affluent but morally bankrupt society that the world has ever seen. Our kids don’t need new cars or designer clothes or the best and finest of everything. They need our genuine love, attention, and discipline. Adults are not raised in a vacuum. Our children need our presence, our attention, and our love. They can see when they have been replaced. When we value our kids less than our stuff we are simply creating a generation who don’t know how to value things or people.

The list could go on and on, but I don’t want to pile on you anymore than I have. The purposes of this blog are provoking thought and encourage discussion around the challenge of parenting.

What things would you add to this list?