Before Americans consider political solutions to the problems
embedded in our popular culture these days, we ought to be thinking
about changing our own behavior — and what we’ll put up with — first.

If seeing kids in baggy pants with nose rings, belly pins, tongue
rings and a wildly “creative” haircut bothers you, then as a parent
don’t put up with it. Just say “no.”

If you’re sick and tired of turning on the television set during
prime time, only to see a man and a woman — or two people of the same
sex — in bed together, then don’t watch. Turn off the set.

If you can’t trust your kids not to watch MTV when you’re not in the
room, then block the channel, get rid of digital cable or check in on
them more often.

If you don’t like the lyrics to popular music, don’t buy it, don’t
let your kids buy it, and don’t punch it up on the radio the second you
get into your car.

If you’re upset because your local cable franchise is running
commercials glorifying abortion and a “woman’s right to choose,” let
them know it ticks you off and demand that they pull the ads. That
actually worked here where I live, if you can believe that; in fact, the
local paper was flooded with letters from people complaining about that
very ad.

If you’re fed up with the way your kids talk to you, then don’t put
up with it anymore. Tell them they’re going to respect you in your own
house or they can get used to the surroundings in their own room. If
they tell you they don’t have to listen to you, then they’re obviously
old enough to get out and get a house — and a job — of their own.

If it seems as though I’m picking on kids, remember most pop culture
is geared toward adolescence. Movie companies do it, advertisers do it,
record companies definitely do it, and so do most of today’s popular
magazines and television shows.

So, guess who ends up being corrupted by the influences of all this
hedonism? Our kids.

The trouble is, too many adults — parents included — seem never to
have grown up. They not only enjoy the hedonistic pop culture, they seem
to revel in it. More and more I’ve noticed a shrinking difference
between the attitudes and behavior of teenage kids and adults who are
supposed to be their peers.

When was the last time you heard a kid call an adult “Mr. or Mrs.
So-and-so?” Or do they most often use the adult’s first name when
addressing them? And do the adults insist on having kids call
them by their first name?

Do you ever see young people opening doors for older folks? Or have
you seen young people most often opening their car doors into your
$30,000 SUV then looking at you like it was somehow your fault?

Why do young people just entering the workforce expect to be paid top
salaries for entry level work? Why do they expect to be paid big bucks
for doing little or no work at all? And how come many of them can’t read
or write complete sentences after 12 years of high school and four years
of college?

If you ask most kids these days, their ambition is to be some highly
(over) paid athlete, “star,” model or performer. Few of them will
mention being a cop or a soldier or even a politician for that matter.

When did our kids lose their ability simply to accept who they are,
what they feasibly can and cannot do, and just aspire to lead a good,
wholesome and decent life with their own family?

Why have we made it so important for American women to look
twenty-five years old from the time they hit puberty until the day they
die? Why do men not have to live up to the same standards? Why do we
even have these standards in the first place?

Why is it so hard to teach our kids abstinence? Why do we so often
try to find excuses for allowing them to behave badly together? How come
many of us are indignant when we find out our kids are behaving
badly, while still allowing them to dress like they do, buy the kinds of
music they buy, watch the kinds of things on TV they watch and read the
kind of trash magazines we let them read?

The point is, as yet another presidential election nears, our
politicians — one of the most corrupt group of people in this country
— are not going to solve these problems for us. They haven’t so
far; in fact, in many cases, they’ve made these problems worse.

If there is ever going to be any cultural reform in this country, it
has got to come from all of us. Then, as a result of our efforts, we’ll
manage to elect responsible adults to office because by then we’ll no
longer put up with the kind of hedonistic bs they are infamous

Trying to reform our country from the top down doesn’t work — it has
rarely worked. If we don’t stop co-opting our children for a
little short-term peace or pleasure of our own, then how in the world
can we expect them to mature into responsible adults — who will, by the
way, be making the rules for all of us in just a few decades?

Consider that the next time you think your son’s new earring is
“cute” or your daughter’s teenage magazine’s discussion of her favorite
sexual innuendo is “awesome” and “clever.”

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