Friday, July 11, 2014

Stand up straight!

The other day I drove by a couple of young teens slouching along the side of the road, shoulders bent, backs swayed, pants deliberately shoved down to cling desperately to the slight curve of young hips. Every nuance in the posture of the young people screamed disrespect, contempt, calculated boredom.

No doubt pursuing his ambition to be a Fortune 500 president.
So very very cool.

So very very tragic.

Our children are allowed to spend inordinate amounts of time and energy learning to shuffle, to slouch, to mumble and swear, to ape the mannerisms of the losers and the posers and the felons in society. How does mimicking the actions of an ex-con prepare you for a good life, much less a happy one? Instead of using the idyllic time of adolescence to develop and practice the characteristics of success, they are all diligently struggling to bury any normal attitude of youthful exuberance under a crappy haircut dyed like a Bozo the Clown wig, or collecting tattoos in what are known as "sleeves."

This is our fault. OURS. The adults in the room. From parents to educators to relatives to next door neighbors - these children are our fault. We are standing by and allowing our children to destroy themselves, to poison the precious enthusiasm of youth, to immerse themselves in a culture of nihilism and indulgence and impulsivity.

If it feels good, do it.

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

And no one says a word.

In school we have abandoned posture, most reasonable dress codes, and virtually all language restraints. We don't even have penmanship class anymore, for crying out loud! What, exactly, IS being asked of our children that would actually require them to exert a character-building level of self-restraint and discipline?


Not. One. Thing.

Parents have lost control, and then threatened schools with lawsuits if anyone dares to regain that control. If I can't control my own kid, you sure as hell aren't going to! So there!

But there is great, deep tragedy in all this. These children will often mature into adults who, even if they pull it together enough to find a job that keeps them off the streets, will spend their entire lives angry, threatened, feeling cheapened and disrespected even as they cheapen and disrespect themselves and everyone around them.

What a terrible waste.

So what should we be insuring these kids learn?

 Grit. True grit.

And posture. So stand up straight, for pity's sake!

Our kids need to get tough instead of just act tough. They need to learn the importance of throwing their shoulders back and holding their heads high. They need to believe that they have earned the right to hold their heads high.

But you can't do that if everything you encounter is supposed to indulge you or simply be fun. Self-respect doesn't come from watching Sesame Street, even if learning to spell does. Self-respect comes from doing things which we believed were too hard for us before we accepted the challenge to do them...and then learning that we can grow to be larger than the challenge.

So yeah...I blame Sesame Street for the collapse of society.

For lots of reasons.

Let's count them...HA! HA! HA! HA!


  1. Grab 'em by the neck and tell 'em. The original's good but this cover is my favorite.

  2. The Andrews Sisters were from my mother's generation, but I was a sucker for all the old movies and used to watch them all day long on Saturday's. LOVED the Andrews sisters. And my mom always used to say, "Straighten up and fly right." And we knew we were just one step away from getting tanned.

    1. That's where I picked it up too, Cagney, Crosby & Hope, Carey Grant, Abbot & Costello, Shirtley Temple etc. I still listen to and watch some of the stuff from that era. Pop culture that was pro American, pro morality and generally just pro human rather than anti.

  3. I think your 2nd video is teaching just the opposite: not to BE someone tough and powerful, but FAKE it. The lector is all what's wrong with science: pseudo experiments (think how easy for her subjects to fake the result as soon as they can get a whiff what is she trying to prove - and those are smart kids, they are in Ivy League collage!) , pseudo-scientific conclusions, everything for show, nothing of substance.

    Actually, I don't agree with more general idea that those assuming "powerful",. "confident" pose should be hired/promoted, etc. These people are fakes, they have no substance to back up their pose - just look at our Dear Leader. He is the best example of what she advocates. Empty suit - but oh how beautifully that suit "expands", how wide the peacock tail spreads.

    I'd rather hire for my assistant a shy, slim girl with hunched shoulders than an expansive poster-boy with confident smile and habit of putting his feet on the table. She is the one with grit, determination and most importantly, knowledge of the subject. She knows what she is talking about - or not talking, being shy, but doing. He is just "playing one on TV".

    1. Your points are valid, Creaky, and serve to illustrate why this subject is so complicated. The question: how do we promote HEALTHY self-esteem and encourage behaviors which lead to feelings of optimism and worth without encouraging a false sense of importance and narcissism? I fully understand your take on this as leading potentially to superficial and false mannerisms (the empty suit of our president) which allow an individual to manipulate others and present themselves as something they are not, potentially impressing people with empty gestures.

      But I don't think that's what she was talking about, really. Although I get your read on this. I think she was trying to make the point that how we feel about ourselves and our personal power is an intricate and little understood interplay between our posture, thoughts, and willingness to "pretend" long enough to actually create the new belief. Dennis Prager talks a lot about how it is one's responsibility to ACT happy, even when you're not. And that doing so leads to greater happiness. I believe this. Acting a certain way, putting on a smile when you're feeling low, is a worthwhile behavior which can very often lift one's spirits. This researcher carried it further with the idea that one's posture and mannerisms can not just convey power to others, but can change how we feel about ourselves. We see this in the military where they insist on correct posture. Once upon a time, children were required to carry books on their heads to teach proper posture and "SIT UP STRAIGHT!" was a common admonition.

      I think that's more what she was pointing out. That proper posture actually facilitates a more optimistic and upbeat attitude.

  4. Same here. Swing bands, Andrews sisters, 50's R&R and the
    crooners were my mothers cup of tea. Back then, teenagers
    did not look like drunken sailors on shore leave with tattoos all
    over their bodies.

    My teenage (female) 2nd cousin just got a tattoo on one of her
    arms. I tried to dissuade her. I told her it would limit her
    employment options and would make it more likely that she
    will end up in a bad relationship. Few employers outside of
    Whole Foods will employ a female with visible tattoos and
    piercings. This now includes the military, a once viable
    option in bad economic times, and a good place to go
    for an education and job training.

    How many good men out there would take a tattooed female home
    to meet his family? This is almost as bad as the story about one
    of my uncles, who told everyone he had met the love of his life.
    When asked "Where did you meet her?" he replied "In a bar."

    The problem with these idiots is the same as the people with liberal
    arts degrees. They will all end up sitting in their parents home into
    their 30's, wondering why they still cannot find a job.

    1. When I see visible tattoos on a young person, I always muse over the idea that they just never considered being old. Tattoos look horrid on old people, with wrinkles skin over slagging muscles. ICK.

      And you're don't take tattooed women home to meet Mom and Dad. And if they do, they certainly don't expect a warm welcome.