Wussification…and America

Our buddy and fellow commenter, the articulate and sensible (and more) BOCOPRO, wrote this in my Comments page yesterday and I wanted to make sure you all saw it.  I have questions about his subject, the wussification of America.
1.  Can we make America better again in the way we were raised?
2.  What caused this awful decline in strength and courage in Americans today?
3.  Yesterday we spoke of counselors supplied by the City of Oakland after the warehouse fire killed so many….is this a symptom of our wussification?   Please chime in after reading this:
bocopro says:

As a kid I got advice and counsel from the grandparents who raised me after raising their own kids. All my uncles except one were in WWII (one was too young to go, but went to Korea in the Army later). Bob was shot 3 different times during the Pacific campaign before they sent him home. Dave flew dozens of recon and bombing missions over France and Germany. Bill had a ship sink from damage in a typhoon in the western Pacific. John was an Army lawyer. My stepfather was a D.I. at Ft. Bragg. My bio-father was in state prison.

When my first dog died from some kind of disease (I was around 6 at the time), my grandmother told me that it was good because he was no longer in pain. My grandfather said, in essence, that’s life and for me to get over it. So he got me another dog. Think maybe their combined words to me on the event totaled around 50 or so.

My uncles told me never to come home with a bloody nose unless I had the other guy’s blood on my knuckles.

And EVERYbody, including the pastor at the Baptist church where my grandmother took me every Sunday morning, told me that if I did my chores, studied my homework, listened to my elders, and treated everybody the way I’d like them to treat me that my life would be pleasant and productive . . . hard at times, but rewarding.

In those days a large house might have as many as 4 generations living in it. Great Grampas died with dignity in their own beds in their own homes surrounded by their family. They weren’t warehoused in a facility managed by strangers. Death was a natural moment in the cycle of life and we all went to the funerals and listened to the preachers and then went home and had a big meals with pies and cakes and got on with life.

The kid with the best grades was the valedictorian. The kid who could run the fastest got the blue ribbon. The team that won the most games went to the sectionals and on to the regionals and finally to State if they played well enough. If they didn’t, they came home and started practicing for the next sport or the next season. They got the appropriate number of handshakes and pats on the back if they won, and brief “Nice try. You’ll get ’em next year” if they didn’t.

I donno what the hell went wrong along the way, but it sure’s hell did. I know that my life today is much more comfortable than it was when I was a kid. My wife and I have comforts and gadgets we couldn’t even dream of back in the 60s. And I understand how the mind tends to suppress the bad memories and exaggerate the good ones, but I know for certain that I had more fun between 1940 and 1980 than I’ve had in the 35 years since.

If someone had offered me grief counseling when Mother died, I’d have had no idea what to do with it. Just not the way I was raised. You put on your Big Boy hat and keep on keepin on. America the Wussified.  (end of article)

Thanks so much, Bocopro!   Z

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29 Responses to Wussification…and America

  1. fredd says:

    Sounds like the making of a good book. ‘The Way Things Used to Be.’ I’m sure most of your elder commenters could provide material. For example, back in the day when a third grade kid slid into second base and got a scraped knee in the process, he just let it bleed until he was either batted in, or the side was out. And after that, the coach told him to ‘rub some dirt on it.’

    Today, that same kid would be evacuated from the game to a hospital in an ambulance.

    Like

  2. My assessment is simple…..possibly simplistic, but my opinion nonetheless. We have transitioned from a work-centric society, where folks had to work, and work hard, to make a living……and whatever time happened to be left over, was used for pursuits such as sports, hunting, volunteering, etc..

    We are now a leisure-centric society, where work seems to be an afterthought, and primacy is placed on doing things we like to do….often disposable, fleeting and shallow activities. Physical fitness is hard, so the majority tries at all costs to avoid such. On-demand media, online gossip, instant fa(s)t food….coupled with a disturbing lack of parenting and mentoring….lead to a paradigm of non-accountability and self-proclaimed entitlement. When everyone gets a participation trophy and told their a winner….they forget how to lose….much less lose gracefully. We’ve seemingly lost the ability to deal with hardship, without [state-sponsored] consolation.

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  3. “If someone had offered me grief counseling when Mother died, I’d have had no idea what to do with it.”
    Me neither, but is that a good thing? I am not as articulate as Bocopro, but I do enjoy words: a well-turned phrase or a powerfully constructed argument is a source of great pleasure to me. I like to read them, and occasionally I can write something decent myself. I am, however, completely inarticulate emotionally. I cannot explain how I feel following trauma; I do not know how I feel for quite some time. Given that I am a member of the human species, it is totally fair to assume that I do have emotions, but they remain mostly subconscious: I do not have voluntary access to them.

    I wonder if it would make me a wuss if I developed more immediate and direct access to my subconscious emotions? Personally, I see no reason to look upon this differently from any other category of ignorance: as a lack.

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  4. Silverfiddle says:

    I love Bocopro’s amusing and articulately-spun wisdom!

    I agree with the professor and and Z on grieving: Best done with family and friends. However, so many seem to be disconnected from close associations nowadays, I don’t begrudge anyone anything.

    I believe this is related to our reliance on mood-altering drugs, etc. It seems too many don’t understand that human beings are analog creatures with ups and downs. It can’t all be mountain tops. The deep, dark valleys are often where the learning happens (or when God’s voice breaks through), and if you keep walking, you’ll be out in the sunshine before you know it…

    The pain of losing a loved one is unbearable; yet we bear it. Life is full of contradictions.

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  5. Silverfiddle says:

    I agree with CI’s assessment. Our society is functioning higher up Mazlowe’s Hierarchy than it was in the past, and that is due to admirable advancement, but it also means fear of hunger no longer motivates.

    Older folks will always complain about the younger generation, but there are bright spots in the much-maligned millennial generation. They use less drugs and are not as sexually promiscuous as we Gen X’ers were coming of age in the 1980’s. Things swing too far one way, they they swing back…

    My wife and I are doing our part with our kids, two in college and working jobs. They come home carping about the boss or too much homework, and they get no sympathy from my wife and I, just perhaps some commiseration as we bore them with stories of all-night study sessions or some crappy job we had, and because of our upbringing, we knew there was no way we could quit.

    You keep keeping on–that’s all you can do. What’s the alternative? Sit down and cry? That’s what we’ve taught our kids. Sure, get mad, cry, go through the range of emotions. That’s life and we are not just thinking creatures; we are feeling creatures, but you’ve got to move on.

    It takes hard work to make a good life for yourself, as all of us here have learned. This generation will learn it, and hopefully they will pass that on to their kids and demand more out of them instead of coddling them and handing out participation trophies.

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  6. Kid says:

    1. No, not for most.
    2. Over-protective parents shielding their kids from anything and everything.
    3. Yes.

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  7. If someone had offered me grief counseling when Mother died, I’d have had no idea what to do with it.

    I got that offer when my Mom suddenly died in 1987. I refused the counseling. Counseling doesn’t cure grief nor does it bring back to life a loved one — and often leads to more bellyaching (my father’s term for whiners).

    I was reared to understand that grief happens a lot in life. My first early understanding of this came at age four, when my paternal grandmother passed away. My parents took me to the funeral home for a private viewing, and I practically climbed into the casket to touch her so that I could realize that she wasn’t really there anymore. Grandma M was 88 years ago, and it was past time for her to depart this life. As my maternal grandmother said when anyone died: “Her troubles are over.”

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  8. My answers are the same as Kid’s.

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  9. Grandma M was 88 years ago should read Grandma M was 88 years old.

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  10. And one more thing…

    I’m sick and tired of all this counseling which promotes wallowing in grief. Such wallowing serves no good purpose.

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  11. I’ve jumped to the end to say thumbs up to CIs comment.
    Standalone material.

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  12. geeez2014 says:

    Silverfiddle; “I don’t begrudge anyone anything.” I agree, if someone feels they need it, they should have access to counseling.
    you say “This generation will learn it, and hopefully they will pass that on to their kids and demand more out of them instead of coddling them and handing out participation trophies.”
    How? That’s one of my questions..>CAN we become a really healthy society again which understands sacrifice and hard work and the joy of being THE winner versus “just another winner?” Who will start that trend again?!!

    fredd…it would be a very sad book, wouldn’t it. But I’d LOVE to have young people read that kind of book today and ponder it….with all the lovely things that life brought.

    CI, I think you’re right. Forgetting how to lose is an important point…people knew loss and knew HOW to lose a game…or a person…or a job.

    AOW…I think it’s largely wallowing but I do feel that if someone feels the need to talk to someone, they should be able to; I just feel that family or friends are the first line of help…..and I certainly do not think Oakland should be paying for grief counseling…

    Convergentsum; If I may be so bold, I would classify you as someone who just takes a while to ‘get in touch with emotions’…I believe you’re not at all alone in that. Not sure it’s a ‘lack’ or just ‘your style.’ ??

    Kid…I hate your “No” on Number 1 but I tend to agree.

    DOES ANYBODY HERE THINK WE CAN STOP GIVING TROPHIES TO EVERY KID? START SCORING T-BALL GAMES SO SOMEONE DOES WIN AND FEELS THAT JOY…AND SOMEONE FEELS THE LOSS SO THEY CAN PREPARE HIMSELF FOR LIFE LOSSES?
    I think CI had a good point and this dovetails that again.

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  13. Mal says:

    Hey! Watch it, AOW! “Grandma M was 88 years old and it was past time for her to depart this life.” I’m also 88 but no where near ready to depart this life.

    ;o)

    (No offense taken. Just joshin’ ‘ya!)

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  14. geeez2014 says:

    CI has a post on Mattis up that you’ll want to read; THAT MAN IS SO IMPRESSIVE!! WOW!!!

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  15. geeez2014 says:

    EVERYBODY:
    Do you get tons of emails with links you read a week ago on one or another of our BLOGS? I do!! Well meaning friends send them like BREAKING NEWS!

    I lost one friend during the Trump candidacy who emailed that I clearly don’t know enough to have decided Trump’s character wasn’t pleasing to me…my friend Ron, a friend, then boyfriend, then friend, who I dated 35 years ago! We stayed friends that long… When he realized I wasn’t a fan of Trump’s character he very snidely suggested I read more about this candidate and others (I couldn’t have read more than I did and he never read my blog so for someone to tell me, or ANY OF US, that we are not informed, REALLY RANKLED)…. I wrote back a kind and what I hoped was a conciliatory email but he’s never returned it….in about 2 months now.
    Yup…I don’t know enough so I couldn’t know what a STELLAR man Trump was.

    When I criticized T’s character, he said “Do you KNOW HIM? I know people who have worked for him…you don’t know him personally so you can’t know”

    WOW. All that to say I wish people I KNEW would read my blog!! To understand HOW MUCH WE ALL KNOW, right?

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  16. John M. Berger says:

    @z,
    “DOES ANYBODY HERE THINK WE CAN STOP GIVING TROPHIES TO EVERY KID?”
    I’d like to think that recent election results and a more conservative bent in many facets of our government, overall, bespeak a paradigm shift from this insanity by the public, at large. That said, however, I’m not holding my breath!

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  17. geeez2014 says:

    JMB, I HOPE SO, but our teachers are SO mired in the CONFIDENCE and EGOs of children that they aren’t teaching much else….and, of course, many public schools’ kids are so undisciplined at home that teachers have a heck of a hard time from what I’m hearing.
    Ya, we can hope that a Trump administration will be effective, but….
    fingers crossed!

    Like

  18. bocopro says:

    “Do you get tons of emails with links you read a week ago on one or another of our BLOGS?”

    Not really. Maybe a day or so late, but not weeks. And speaking of reading, what I’ve learned during my roughly 65 years of literacy and awareness is that the more I learn, the more I realize how little I know and how much more there is to discover and assess.

    I’ve also come to realize that I’ve never learned very many new concepts or perspectives from people who always agree with me. Another way to put that is that a society which gets rid of all its dissenters and troublemakers tends to stagnate and decay.

    I’ll knowingly take the losing side of an argument (not just a shouting match of contradictions but a true argument using facts and logic) purely for the cerebral exercise and opportunity to gain new knowledge.

    Arguing with well-educated, well-read, well-mannered individuals is good for the brain. Done properly, what happens is that the contenders ante up with their egos and then use their best tactics to deploy their strongest weapons in the form of sharpened points, concentrated explosives, and strategic bombs . . . all of which they’ve carefully assembled, tuned, and prepared for the battle of wits.

    Listening to the other side dismantle your side’s barriers and preparing to carefully tunnel under or eradicate theirs puts the personality into survival mode, a sort of psychological fight-or-flight syndrome. Even better is to merely watch the conflict from a safe distance and learn from each side as years’ worth of combined, distilled, honed knowledge is batted back and forth.

    Being in it is the thrill, tho, and if you’re willing to sacrifice a chunk of ego from time to time, you can absorb the essence of what the other guy took weeks, months, possibly years to gather and refine. Then all you gotta do is decide which data are legit and which have a barnyard aroma. And when your ego is as big as mine, you know that sacrificed lobe will regenerate in no time.

    I’ll argue with my own kids over which mockingbird will fly off the telephone wires in front of the house first, just to let my mind do some calisthenics. LOVE to argue with my grandsons about politics, ’cause they’re mostly purty lib’ral, as they should be at their ages.

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  19. geeez2014 says:

    Bocopro…I DO get old news…anywhere from a day to a week after it’s BREAKING NEWS…I think friends and family just don’t realize how much we bloggers know…from tons of reading….
    I get only conservative things sent to me.

    I am one who reads leftwing AND rightwing news, and watches MSNBC and CNN and FOX….not sure if I could live in a world where everything said was Conservative……
    I think a little of my rant above is my ego; I have to kind of laugh when I get emails from friends/family of older news they thought I hadn’t heard…they’re usually VERY known stories, or something I blogged on 2 days ago!!

    I was talking to a conservative friend the other day and we both admitted that when we’re around VERY RIGHTWING friends, we both take the devil’s advocate position! It’s true, I have to admit it….sometimes peoples’ input is SO devoid of having thought things through that I take the opposite side… I’ve always found it odd that happens with me but IT DOES!

    Well, maybe it’s just me, and I’m good with that!

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  20. John M. Berger says:

    Since the Liberal Democrats are so hell-bent on mediocrity, perhaps they should rename their party The Mediocrat Party and hence be known as the Mediocrats!

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  21. Bob says:

    Great comment, Bocopro. I think I can explain in part what has happened to the America we grew up in.

    When I was a kid, I had only one pair of shoes at a time. When I reached 12 years old, I made my own money, and bought my own clothes to a great extent. In high school I was up before dawn delivering newspapers, or working after school in grocery stores to keep my cash flow, and my wardrobe, serviceable. It was much the same story going to college when I wrked nights at a radio/TV station and tried to carry a full load in engineering at the University of Memphis, where I met my wife.

    When we had kids, I resolved that they would not have to go through the crap I did just to have cool shoes and clothes. I also didn’t want them to have to work their way through college because I knew from personal experience that it is impossible to compete academically if you work full-time. I wanted my kids to have life easier than either my wife or I. My wife’s father died when she was 15 years old, and her widowed mother raised her and sent her to school where we met.

    Somehow, my kids did develop a work ethic, but I think other baby-boom parents thought like we did, and just spoiled their kids.

    We have no one to blame but ourselves.

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  22. Sparky says:

    I know it sounds unreal, but most of what Bocopro stated is still going on here in SouthEast Georgia. Most people here go to a Church of their choice, carry guns, hunt, fish, etc. When someone dies, we go to the funeral to hear the preachin’, then gather together and have a meal. We go on. That’s our lives. It really is.

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  23. Kid says:

    Bob, I grew up pretty darn poor. As soon as I was able to handle a snow shovel or a lawnmower, I was out trying to drum up business which was scare because there wasn’t a lot of money in our neighborhood. I got no allowance. I walked a mile to school every school day, up hill in both directions. Some days I had to sleep in a shoebox in the middle of the street we lived on. No pillow either. Little humor there.

    I wouldn’t want people to have to grow up like that either, but the pendulem has swung war too far in the opposite direction. Cycles maybe will rule the day and the country will return to the mean, but damn many of these kids today are blindingly stupid. I was – we were – stupid once, but never this stupid. I can’t imagine it gets better before it gets a whole lot worse. Mainly the kids just don’t think there are evil people out there, and in fact,the are so many more than any of probably realize. They seem obsessed with the idea that if they don’t offend anyone the world will turn into one big Sesame Street.

    Now I’ve upset myself. Anyone have any extra playdoh or coloring books? Oh, and google coloring books for adults….. I’m now officially a dinosaur.

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  24. Bob says:

    Kid: I forgot to tell the stories about me having to sleep in the same bed with my five brothers, or having to camp out in the back yard if we had company at Christmas. Things were tough, but we never had to do the shoe box thing.

    The thing about having only one pair of shoes is that sometimes the soles would start coming unsewn while playing football in the middle of the street. You had to hope the shoe store guy had an opening that day so you didn’t go to school barefoot.

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  25. Mal says:

    Bob, when it got real cold, did your folks throw on another brother?

    Like

  26. bocopro says:

    Well, guys . . . tellya what —

    I shoveled snow, coal, wheat, corn, and that stuff you find on the floors of chicken coops and stables. I cut shoats, butchered hogs, sheared sheep, and plucked chickens. Had a paper route, caddied, painted houses, fixed roofs, and hoed corn (with a tractor). And by golly I want a do-over . . . .

    Back to a time when I could run effortlessly, for hours, in leather-soled shoes with hard rubber heels, do at least 100 situps and 40 or so pullups and enough pushups to burn off three cheeseburgers dripping with animal fat and smothered with salt and cheese and barely break a sweat. Back with the Debbies and Sallies and Judies and Charlottes and Kays – and how slender they were, how seductive they could make themselves without Oscar de la Renta or Lancombe or Estee Lauder, how mysterious their smiles and their innocent but all-important secrets, how they could slink and strut and completely destroy us boys without even knowing about Liz Clairborne or Maggie Sweet or J. R. Crew. The aroma of not-particularly-good perfume and spearmint gum together with inexpensive but effective shampoo was a lethal combination, elevating my blood pressure to dangerous peaks, causing various organs in my chest to attempt escapes, and putting those jungle-rhythm tom-toms to work in my head.

    To live again the outrageous boasts, the preposterous plans, the insane antics with the Bills and Steves and Alans and Roys and Everetts, draining the hoses at gas stations after they had closed so we could cruise a few more times past the girls’ houses, saving our precious coins for sodas and burgers and fries at the Sugar Bowl or the Town & Country drive-in restaurant on the edge of town where we circled like young Apache renegades, trying to make those ancient engines pop the tires and seriously impress everyone in earshot. Back to that little place exactly like all the ones thousands of other kids grew up in during the 50s, the genesis of the American Graffiti subculture. Those little towns were interchangeable, indistinguishable, and absolutely unique to Middle America. Unimaginable freedom linked inextricably to unfathomable angst. Yeah, I wanna do it all again.

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  27. Bob says:

    Mal: Since I was the baby of the family, I was the last brother in the pile. That was good and bad, My older brothers had complete rule over me, and my mom and sisters petted me all the time. Plus, my dad was starting to mellow after so many kids, and had apparently spent his spanking strength on my bro’s.

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  28. geeez2014 says:

    JMB…I like your MEDIOCRATS better than PROGRESSIVES, that has such a positive spin!

    Bob, I think a LOT of parents did spoil their kids….well put. Thanks for that input..
    (I have a lot of sisters, no brothers!)

    Sparky, I love to hear that. (I hope your sinus headache’s gone)

    Kid…thanks so much for that….good stuff. You weren’t spoiled! Bob wasn’t spoiled! Bocopro wasn’t spoiled! I was kind of spoiled, I have to admit, but I DID go to work at 15….for spending money, not for essentials, and that’s the difference….
    And TODAY? Kids are SOOO SPOILED>..and I hate that MANY MANY women work for luxuries (for them and their kids) and not just to get by. They’re sacrificing their kids by not being home for them…so they can have pools and Mercedes and the kids get EVERYTHING they want. So sad. And the kids, with all these GOODIES, grow up resentful Mom wasn’t around.

    Mal…. that’s funny!

    Bocopro…if you DO it again, I want to come, too! 🙂

    SO; the ANSWER IS…NO, WE CAN’T GO BACK TO THOSE DAYS OF KIDS LEARNING TO BE RESPONSIBLE….crap

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  29. Mal says:

    Actually, the line about throwing on another brother was from Bob Hope in his early years, Z.

    Like

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