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If Camp Utensils Are Banned, Then Only Criminals…

I grew up in a very small country town named Salt Rock.  With a name like that, you’d know it was country.  Population was about 2500, and if you weren’t related to them, then you still knew about them.  I remember getting a very large folding knife for Christmas when I was about eleven years old.  I was excited about it and took it to school to show off to the gang.  The principal heard that I had gotten it for Christmas and that I was showing it around.  He walked up to me while I was at my locker and asked if he could see it.  I pulled it off the top shelf and handed it over.  He opened it up and I can still recall the way his eyebrows went up when he realized how large it was when it was fully opened.  My father went a bit overboard when he got it for me.  But, after he was done looking at it, he handed back to me and said, “Nice knife.”  That was it.  End of story.

Today, we have a 6 year old boy named Zachary Christie in Newark, Delaware who, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article , is being suspended for 45 days for brining a camping utensil to school.  What utensil did he bring?  A combination knife, fork, and spoon–an eating utensil.  He got it to use during his Scout activities and brought it to school to show off.  The school district’s Zero Tolerance policy requires he be suspended for bringing a knife to school.  Now, my immediate thought is how utterly ridiculous this policy is and how unbelievably stupid these rules are that are now being applied to our children.  Put aside the fact that the boy is 6 years old and hardly capable of any evil intent, it’s basically a Spork with a serrated edge on the side.  At first blush, this might seem like a small issue, a rare blip on the radar–you know, one of Canadian pharmacy website  But, that’s not the case.  This type of policy and this type of political correctness is now common place in our schools and in our society as well.

Every day, I hear about or read an article where something goofy like this is going on.  Either this Scout group is no longer letting the kids carry pocket knives or that Little League district isn’t keeping score so kids won’t have hurt feelings if they lose a game.  But, no, this phenomenon isn’t just isolated within our youngest generations.  It’s a pandemic that spans all groups in our population.  We have become a nation of hem-hawers too afraid to speak our minds, too lazy to take responsibility, and too dependent on others to make sure that our basic needs are met.  If you want my honest opinion, I think we have too many safety nets in our society.  We burden the strong to carry the weak and we don’t let anyone fail any more, because that wouldn’t be fair.  Everyone has a right to just about everything.  In order for that to happen, then everyone must have equal access to all resources–whether they work for it or not.  This mentality has so beset our current adult generations that they no longer feel responsible for teaching their children right from wrong.   They leave it up to the schools.  In turn, the schools (hence the government) set the rules for everyone, and there can be no room for judgement or discretion, otherwise discrimination will occur.  That’s what they say anyway.

Zero Tolerance policies were brought about as an easy way to not have to make decisions and exercise sound judgement.  You don’t want Principal Jones to say Sally can bring a fingernail file to school, but little Bobby can’t bring his 10″ inch combat Bowie knife.  That’s discrimination.  Someone will sue.  These people are not smart enough to make decisions like letting the 6 year old with the camping utensil off the hook, yet they are smart enough to educate our children.  Explain that one to me.  I am actually not a religious person at all, but what in God’s name is going on with our country right now?  People feel like health care, television, and the internet are all human rights and that somebody ought to pay to make sure they get them.  Being wealthy is a sin and you’d better share what you have or you will be labeled as a racist, an extremist, or just a plain selfish ass.  And, no longer does it matter whether or not you produce something, get the right answer, or actually contribute to an endeavor.  All you have to do is say that you have good intentions.  You dream.  You aspire.  You hope.  And, to a lot of folks, dreaming and hoping is all that’s required of them to get an equal share of the pie.

No wonder we are losing our identity as a national culture.  A hundred years ago, we had 6 year old children working with knives and tools, and they were also helping with the livestock as well.  That was a necessity because there were no safety nets or government handouts back then.  You either made it or you didn’t.  There was no government agent putting a gun to the head of taxpayers to turn their earnings over to share with everyone else.  When our pioneers struck out to cross the prairies and mountains, they hit plenty of hard times.  In fact, they saw more dire circumstances than any modern citizen will ever likely see, yet they didn’t stop and whine and wait for the FEMA trucks and rescue helicopters to arrive and bring them food, comfort, and the trappings of home.  They pushed onward, knowing that they could only count on themselves to persevere.  We don’t teach that any more.

Now a days, we apologize for being successful.  We travel the world to ask the pardon of nations for being who we are, when who we are has actually saved the world many times over.  We no longer encourage our children to compete.  We shield them from the possibility of failure, and thereby muddy the gene pool that much more.  Case in point, the quintessential example of what I speak is the fact that our President, our ambassador to the world, has been given the Nobel Peace Prize for nothing.  Well, almost nothing.  He has hopes and dreams and that’s enough.  He didn’t accomplish anything.  He never brokered a peace accord or brought down the Berlin wall.  He flew around the world and apologized for us “Ugly Americans”.  With this bright shining example, it should be evident that we are now at the pinnacle of helplessness as a nation.  Half of us are ashamed of who we are and feel guilty about our past sins, and the other half are busy trying to pick our pockets.

So, how did I wind my way through this article about Zachary to this point?  I guess it’s my way of saying that this isn’t just about Zachary.  This isn’t an anomaly.  It’s not a rogue blip on the radar.  This is the direction we’ve been heading for the past five decades.  We’ve given up pieces of ourselves and our identity in the interest of being fair, unbiased, and non-discriminitory to the point that we’re paralyzed to be who we are for fear that we might be labeled, upset the enivornment, or possibly offend someone.  Is this truly the nation that fought a war for independence?  Are we the same group of people who rose up and smite the axis of evil during World War II?  If it is, then what’s happened to our ingenuity, our wisdom, our determination and our initiative?  When did we start believing that abdicating our responsibilities as parents and as citizens was the best route to guide our future generations?

Al Pacino once said in the movie, Scent Of A Woman, “If I was half the man I was five years ago, I’d take a flamethrower to this place!”   I’m not advocating violence by any means, but we’re in the same quandary as his character.  We’re lost and drifting with the current, instead of charting our own direction.  Our national identity is being lost, and we are letting it happen one little bit at a time.  My father’s generation used to play mumbly peg at school during recess.  If that happened today, someone would call for a SWAT team.  Knives haven’t really changed over the years. They do the same basic function now as they did for a thousand years.  What’s changed is us and how we handle every day situations.  Will we ever be that nation we were before, or are we already on a path that’s too far to go back than keep going to the end?  I hope not, because that’s not the legacy that we strived as patriots to build over two hundred years ago, but I suppose that only time will tell.

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