The past few weeks have left the Wyoming Legislature and Governor Mead distracted, finding cover for the over-run costs, for renovation of the Cowboy State’s architectural version of the Taj Mahal. We’re reminded of the severe decline in energy revenue, and that they’re now serious about the budget. The distraction is that they’ve played “fast n loose” with our money. But for a few belligerents, most weren’t serious until forced, or backed into a budgetary corner they can’t escape. Most of us have been distracted by the same talk used in D.C. Not enough money to “feed their habit” of spending, and “pay the rent too.” Shameful behavior on two fronts-theirs for profligate spending and poor budgeting, and ours for being distracted. It seems to be symptomatic of Americans in the political, cultural and moral arena. It appears we’ve greater distractions and pursuits. Often “good things,” at the expense of the “better.”
It’s understandable not everyone’s a political or cultural junkie. There’re children to rear, jobs to do, sports to watch, time at the gym, shopping, Facebooking, building bigger homes, hauling off-springs to sporting events, ad nauseam. Sounds rather menacing at first blush. This “winter of life” generation, have the edge of reflection and sounding erudite. We’re saying we hopefully learned from our mistakes, ill advised pursuits, and escaped some of the “generational curses” haunting more recent generations.
We’ve discovered being uninvolved and distracted from the political process, at some level, has emboldened unprincipled scoundrels to seek and return to office, voting their own interests, and wreaking greater havoc upon their constituency. And, as the liberal institutions, media, and courts inform us that there are no absolutes-that moral relativism works best-we knew better. But too few even noticed or cared. Recent generations hasn’t a clue it happened. Our “corporal punishment” was trumped with your distraction style of “time out.” Parents, children and our institutions suffer the loss of self-discipline. The bill’s overdue. We’re paying a steep price for it.
When local, individual, parental involvement, once the back-bone of the local school, was marginalized, considered uninformed, replaced by a monolithic school board, marked by its “strategic initiatives” “mission statements,” and “stakeholder” corporate style language, that became a distraction, baffling the average parent, trumping their common sense, and trivialized their voice. Many school boards reject that charge, declaring that parents abdicated their role. Parents maintain the school boards supplanted their role, crowding them out.
Modesty “left town” nearly three generations ago. Too many parents, particularly fathers, were too distracted to notice their daughters shift toward immodesty. Adolescent boys noticed long before fathers. One reason, beside distraction, was that many mothers set the trend, and their daughters simply mirrored mom’s style. When “thong underwear” hit the market, many mothers bought them-and for their adolescent daughters too. Sadly, too many parents, single or otherwise, prefer their daughters be “in vogue,” rather than modest. Now twelve-year old girls dress provocatively, behave seductively, their innocence at peril, and dad, who should’ve known better, has his head somewhere else-willingly distracted. Fortunately, some have bucked this trend, and held to dress standards and comportment reminiscent of another era.
This Fall, the Natrona County School District established a new dress code to combat the slovenly and immodest apparel, aimed specifically at high school students. Some students protested the new standards, and were supported by complicitous, malcontent parents, declaring “their child” was mature enough to decide best what was appropriate dress. One only needed to visit the NC High School parking lot and observe the student traffic in and out of the building, to surmise those parents were either oblivious, blind-or both. It was the “Ringling Brothers School of grungy apparel and design,” on parade. Female students dress of choice was predominately “spaghetti straps” and bare midriff, with cleavage revealing tank tops, and skin tight leggings. Not surprisingly, testosterone-charged boys were distracted from scholastics. Many of the males donned baggy trousers, hanging precariously around their thighs, displaying their underwear, or worse, for all to observe. Some students were nearly impossible to assign a gender at first glance. A stark reminder of adolescents left to their own design. Serious students and faculty must’ve been distracted by this menagerie.
One must ponder whether parents are too distracted on any given day to turn loose their off-springs adorned in that deplorable manner. It’s true some kids are crafty, dressing to please before departing for school, masquerading as a quick-change artist en route. However, that fails to account for the predominately deteriorating dress culture that the school district and parents permitted in recent years. Teachers end up as “dress monitors,” among their manifold duties foisted upon them by the misguided district, while clever administrators “on the hill” devise more “classroom strategies and paradigms” to hamstring and distract teachers from teaching.
In the face of expanding challenges in this chaotic world of constant flux, we’re buffeted and brutalized by unsolicited distractions. “Balance is the key,” were told. Few disagree with that bromide. It’s a matter of managing distractions-to the extent one can. Often travail eludes our control. Vicissitudes on this orb are certain. Often we’re distracted by that which, in the long run, came to naught-yet seemed so vital in the distant past-that’s now clearly transient. We suffer an equivalent remorse.
We too easily sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the temporal. In retrospect, that hectic, expensive vacation last year at Disney World, may have been better spent getting to know your children or spouse, more intimately, in a quieter venue elsewhere, with fewer distractions. We’re often snared in the web of quick, easy choices, confusing preference with conviction. Let’s cling to enduring edifices, and be percipient to lessons learned. Often we opt for a revision suitable to our solace. The future, yet to be revealed, may jolt us from our artificial reverie. So, let’s not be distracted by external “glitz & glam,” and fatally settle for vacuous choices. What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org