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The big stick approach and a failed state

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

One would think that the images and gruesome stories would be enough to slow us down on the roads, but sadly we value the money in our wallets more than we value our lives, which is why we would slow down for fear of being ticketed rather than fear of an accident. That thinking translates to a country that obeys the speed limit only when enforced rather than driving safely out of respect for life and law.

When thinking of ways to curb crime we jump to law enforcement. One wonders why we didn’t say “Catch and Charge” because clearly no one follows “Protect and Serve”, after all, the latter would be proactive and dripping of integrity.

Have we ever questioned why it seems that we only obey as far as we can get caught? Have we ever considered that the very DNA of our parenting style is the cause for this?

How many of us take the time to receive buy-in from our children? Do we set examples and take the time to prove to them why we want them to do the things we ask? Or do we simply hang the threat of licks and consequences over their heads and use that as our only trump card for obedience?

Are we raising a generation that follows rules because of fear or because of respect? And fear of what? Fear of being caught or fear of the real consequence of disobedience? The truth is, if we took the time to really create a sense of respect for the road, then our citizens would understand and appreciate the speed limit without threats. In the same way, if we created a sense of respect for life, a love for learning, a true desire to succeed, then threats would be superfluous.

I get that sometimes it feels easier to just threaten kids into good behaviour, but this only works for a short time. In this day and age, they are far too equipped to get caught. The world is making it easier every day to do wrong in the most covert of manners (the new USB-disguised cigarette is a perfect example). In addition to the new-found tools to hide, guess what, they eventually grow up, turn 18 and legally, need not hide to do what they want. Hopefully their rebellion only happens after they leave home and hopefully their rebellion is limited to texting while driving or some perceived petty crime.

If we are to see real change in our country then the answer will take patience. It will take parents moving away from a big stick “do as I say, not as I do” approach and moving towards one of buy-in. It will take us being brave enough to raise children that aren’t broken into obedience but children who value themselves. Children who grow up feeling a sense of importance. Children who believe their voices should be heard.

These children will grow up with integrity so obeying the law would be a decision based on values and ethics and not on the efficiency of our law enforcement agencies.

This style of parenting is certainly much harder, but I think we can all agree that the previous styles have left our country on the brink of failure. It is time we raise children who become citizens filled with respect, integrity and a sense of pride for self and country.

Marsha Riley


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