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THE DEATH OF SHAME

 

By Coach Dave Daubenmire
March 27, 2008

NewsWithViews.com

Shame--the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.

I’m not really sure when it began, as it has been a gradual thing, I’m sure. But like the slow removal of a grass stain from a teenager’s hack-around T-shirt, the impression has slowly been extracted from the conscience of America.

Whatever happened to shame?

I suppose some of it could be traced to Dr. Spock, as he is responsible for so much of what is wrong with child-rearing these days, or to Benjamin Bloom, and John Dewey, two acolytes-of-atheism, men who promoted the Humanistic ideals that have replaced Christianity as the bedrock of our educational system. “If it feels good, do it” has replaced “Thou shall not.”

But the bare boned bottom line is that the goal of “building self-esteem” in our young children required the elimination of any type of negative reinforcement and led to the development of the value system we now see permeating the American culture.

Let me ask you again, “Whatever happened to shame?”

I’m sure I was a handful in elementary school. I was small in stature but big on the inside. Always striving to be the center of attention (big families teach you to fight to be noticed), I spent my early school daze with my nose stuck to a dot written on the chalkboard, standing face-first in the back corner of the classroom, or in isolation in the hallway where I couldn’t distract the rest of the class.

In small town America in the fifties we still believed that shame was a good thing. My parents didn’t call the principal, we didn’t hire a lawyer, child psychologists were as common as cordless phones, and “mood altering medications” were something the hippies hadn’t even thought of. In the 1950’s they would have thrown you in jail for giving drugs to a young child.

Yep, I would have been the poster child for Ritalin. But instead of medicated, I was disciplined. Despite what the child experts want to tell us, applied lovingly, shame is a great teacher. I know it is a matter of opinion but I think I turned out all right.

It was 1989. I was over a decade into my “public-fool system” career when I first noticed it. I was teaching “special education” (in many cases this is nothing more than a made-up disability where schools warehouse students who won’t behave: read this on ADD) when a 15 year-old thug named John came waltzing in late to class, basking in the glory of having been in the principal’s office, and proudly strutting in to tell his fellow future-felons about “the discipline” he had just survived.

“F-Him Man.” John announced to his captive audience as his chain-linked ear-ring dangled under his long, scraggly, pot-perfumed hair. “I ain’t serving no f-in detention. I told that m-f-er that he ain’t my old man so he could shove the detention up his a--. Who does that m-fer think he is telling me that sh-t? I should have kicked his f-in a--.”

You may think I am making it up. Ask your child. This type of language is common-place in our “public” schools today. In 1989, John was a bit ahead of his time.

With all of the class waiting on my reaction, I uttered a phrase that I used often with troubled kids.

“You know the problem with most of you in here?” I declared to the room full of cultural-misfits. “You are ashamed of what you should be proud of and proud of what you should be ashamed of.” (By the way, it took 4 years but I eventually tamed John -- amazing what a little love and strong discipline will do for a malcontent.)

I thought of John as I looked around America this week. The results of this false self-esteem are all over the television. It has even crept into the church.

Hillary “misspoke” about her dodging of the sniper bullets. Where I come from we call that lying. But if anyone were to accuse her of “lying” the outrage over such blatant “judgmentalism” of her actions would raise a hue and cry that would turn her into a sympathetic figure. In my hometown elementary school, Hillary’s behavior would have earned her some time on a stool with a dunce-cap on. Today we laugh it off as “fatigue,” or “mixed-memory.” (Let’s see, can you remember confusing the specifics of the last time you had to dodge bullets?) Such blatant dishonesty should doom her career. She’s running for leader of the free world for heaven’s sake! But we’ll brush it off as “Clintonesque.” We’ve come to expect it from our leaders.

Eliot Spitzer is caught with his hand in the “cookie jar” and he doesn’t have the decency to immediately exit “stage right.” His too-proud-to-be-ashamed wife stands beside him as Spitzer tries to figure out a way to keep his job. The “cookie” into whose jar his hand was caught is offered millions for her story. A “high-priced hooker” (as opposed to a low-priced hooker) becomes a hero. No shame.

Like Monica, she will ride (sorry) Spitzer all the way to the bank. You see, they are all proud of what they should be ashamed of. Once again, America glorifies degeneracy.

Now the new governor of NY is self-identifying as a former drug-using adulterer. Former NJ governor James McGreevey is a “gay American.” The Mayor of Detroit is oblivious to shame.

Britney, Paris, Lindsay, all have gotten rich off of despicable behavior. The glorification of sluts is featured even on mainstream news shows.

Look at what our culture has become. We have lost the ability to blush. Even those in our pulpits make excuses for sin. Families watch together on TV what my parents didn’t speak of even in private.

Have you turned on the TV lately? Have you spent any time watching what our children are watching? Are you familiar with the MTV show Jackass, (WARNING: Should cause one to blush) where people become stars by doing things for which most folks would be embarrassed? How about “The Real World” which features the promotion of debauchery and adulterous behavior?

My Mom would have warned us to “Stop encouraging such behavior.” She could wield a mean yardstick. She wasn’t worried about her kids’ self-esteem. She was worried about our self-respect.

“Everyone lies. We’re all sinners, Coach!” Well, I guess you’re right, but there was a time in America when you were taught to be ashamed of your sin. Sadly, those days have gone the way of sin-hating Christians.

I don’t mean to pick on Hillary but has there ever been a more narcissistic couple than she and her husband? I mean, come on, has there ever been a pair that has been so natural at lying? Her recent “mis-statement” is merely the latest in a long line of serial-perjury, (I did not have sex with that woman, I don’t know how those records got in my office.) It is a way of life with them; sadly, it is a way of life with most politicians…with most Americans, actually. They are a reflection of us.

But here is the tragic part. We know that they lie, yet we still consider them qualified for public service. Pastors endorse them, pundits justify their behavior, and Christians vote for the “lesser of the evils.” “It’s only politics” (Is that John Dewey I hear?) as they try to convince us that lying is no longer a big deal. Let me ask you something. In your personal life, do you trust liars?

My wife came home from substitute teaching in our local elementary the other day and she was distraught. “The kids are out of control,” She lamented. “Discipline is non-existent. Everyone is afraid to do anything. The principals all look the other way. No-one will control the kids’ behavior.”

What is that popular term we hear today….”the chickens have come home to roost”….we no longer honor character. We glorify the character-less.

America needs more shame. We need to make it clear that some behaviors are not acceptable. We must teach our children that behaviors have consequences, that one’s actions affect others. That the world doesn’t revolve around them.

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The Clinton supporters said everyone lies about sex. I don’t. I don’t have to. There was a day when one was ashamed of both lies and sex.

Shame on us, America. Shame on us for what we are not teaching our children. Shame on us for winking at sin. We reap what we sow. Look at our current crop of shameless leaders. Why should we expect anything different?

Whatever happened to shame?

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Coach Dave Daubenmire, founder and President of Pass The Salt Ministries www.ptsalt.com and Minutemen United www.minutemenunited.org, is host of the high octane Pass The Salt radio show heard in Columbus, Ohio.

In 1999 Coach Daubenmire was sued by the ACLU for praying with his teams while coaching high school in Ohio. He now spends his energy fighting for Christian principles in the public domain.

E-Mail: coach@ptsalt.com


 

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America needs more shame. We need to make it clear that some behaviors are not acceptable. We must teach our children that behaviors have consequences, that one’s actions affect others. That the world doesn’t revolve around them.