Why Self-control Must Be a Standard for a Safe Society
A young sheriff’s deputy in a small town kills six and injures another before being shot and killed himself. It’s another grim story that causes shock, sorrow, a lot of conversation, and… then what?
Some people have yet to hear of this incident, caught up as they are in their daily struggles to get ahead. Maybe it’s a good thing they don’t have time for news like this. Then again, maybe it’s time to review the hundreds and thousands of stories in the recent past of senseless violence.
I’ve heard people argue that the killer was the victim of bullying and that although killing was “not the right thing to do,” a person can understand how he got provoked into doing it. No. By continuing to understand the provocation and thereby dismiss the incident, we facilitate danger in our world.
“No formal national standards exist for hiring police,” said one news article. How could there be in our multi-cultural, multi-values, generally reactive, adolescent, get-ahead society? A standard is “something established for use as a rule or basis of comparison in measuring or judging capacity, quantity, content, extent, value, quality, etc.” So says Webster’s Dictionary, itself becoming an obsolete standard in the age of Wikipedia.
We could argue about the value of standards. Looking at mounting evidence, I’d say we’ve already abandoned too many and perhaps forgotten why we had them to begin with. Some resist the notion of standards with the argument that discrimination results from having them in place.
Yes. That’s the purpose of standards: to weigh, measure, judge, and select from a compendium of choices based on some desired outcome. Once upon a time there were standards that we as a nation embraced with a vision of producing a populace that was civil, educated, tolerant, and resourceful.
What are these desired outcomes today? Financial success on a grand scale, celebrity looks, sexual prowess, and notoriety? Fun, an easy life, lots of attention, and understanding when we cross the line?
We have big questions to confront and standards of self-control to examine. It’s not good enough to let experts debate the topics or look to authority figures of one sort or another to help us determine the right choices.
Self-control must be a standard for a safe society. Decorum in the public square must be re-birthed as an idea that has merit for all. It can and must be taught. And it must begin now—at home, at school, at work, and at play.