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Mon., Aug. 31
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To The Editor:

There are many sad things and events happening in our country now that should be demanding our attention, our action, and our serious consideration. So too are there lesser happenings that - because of the former - might have fall through our cognitive cracks.

I have found it so with five frequently misunderstood (I believe), and underappreciated concepts; these are, respect, courtesy, responsibility, accountability, and consequences. Failure to learn, understand and apply these at a young age and then throughout our lives has helped (I believe) to create a toxic atmosphere that permeates and suffuses our nation.

Some many years ago now I wan substitute teaching in one of our local schools. I doubt that the class was particularly momentous, and I certainly, being by nature pedantic, was almost surely being less than awe-inspiring; however, one young lady was being disruptive and I took her to task. She proclaimed. “You “dissed” me.”

What I had done had in fact nothing to do with respect (or in this case disrespect). I had no knowledge of the girl’s background or history which might have led to my holding her in any degree of especial esteem or admiration - nor vice-versa.

What had transpired were, in fact, acts of discourtesy. I, by age, background, history, or most other measures did not deserve her “respect,” I did’ however, deserve and demand courtesy.

Her discourtesy to me as a teacher, and to her class, (for which I held her accountable) had the consequence of her being banished to the hallway to consider the wisdom of her disruptive activity. I believed then as I do now, that my “discourtesy” to her was deserved and was a consequence of her irresponsible actions.

Similarly in some court in the nation a young woman recently was being taken to task by a judge for some relatively minor offense. As I understand what transpired next was that the girl bridled at being chastised and chose to show her peeve by “flipping the judge off.”

Whether this young woman’s action was driven by - disrespect, discourtesy, irresponsibility or plain rudeness and stupidity, it resulted in her being held accountable to the tune of 30 days in jail.

Prosaic terms, concepts and instances, yes - and yet - when you consider them and their interaction on a major scale as in (for example) the 9/11 attack on our consulate in Benghazi, one has to wonder whose responsibility was it? Who is being held accountable? Other than the four dead Americans and their families, who has felt the consequences?

Prosaic concepts, banal, pedestrian? I think not. Critical to, and in absentia, destructive of our way of life.

PJ Murphy

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