(Orange, Texas)

April 13, 2013

Let’s relearn and relive the fourth “R”

Dr. Andy Pate Jr.
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — If we failed to learn it early, we likely have also failed in many if not most of the endeavors we have tried as adults.  Readin’, Ritin’ and Rithmetic make no sense without it, the fourth R that is, Respectin’.

For those of us who think ourselves fortunate to be counted among the elderly, it is most comforting and reassuring when younger folks treat us with honor and dignity.

The opposite holds as well.  Our youth yearn, and rightly so, to be treated as worthy, not only by their parents and other adults but by their peers as well.

Which is why the alarming increase in acts of intimidation and cruelty among our children ought to be greatly disturbing to us all.

There are no doubt many causes for the increase in bullying:  working parents and single parents with their latch-key homes leaving children unsupervised for extended periods and in general the loosening of social controls like, for example, those once enforced by solid family units, by groups of friends and by churches and other community-centered organizations.

The decline in church attendance among the younger generations may indeed be a key factor in the rise of bullying.  For without a spiritual center many individuals in the “under 40” age group lack the strong moral compass that once worked so well for their parents when they were young.

Children without a close-knit network of good friends and solid family support are especially vulnerable to bullies, as are those who are “different” from, say, the most popular boys and girls, or from those who are superbly talented or among the most successful in athletics and in the classroom.

But sadly, bullying has the capacity to reach across every presumed barrier and strike out at even our most capable youth.  It’s that disrespectful of and that stubbornly resistant to guidance and purposeful direction.

People of good faith show respect.  They preach it.  They live it.

For this second week in April 2013, there’s perhaps no sounder advice we could follow than that found in the words of wisdom the apostle Paul directed to the Roman Christians in the first century, “Pay everyone what you owe them.  Pay the taxes you owe, pay the duties you are charged, give respect to those you should respect, give honor to those you should give honor”  (Romans 13:7).