My Kid Will Make It

The spring thaw, don’t you just love it; waiting for the crocuses to come up and the grass to turn green. For over fifty years this was the time of year that I lived for. The boys of summer, 162 games in 180 days, what fun? I am not a participant any longer just a spectator. Every summer though from the time I was eight years old until I was thirty five that’s what I did, I played baseball. As a kid the dream was to become a professional baseball player and do it for a living. I am sure that kids today have those same dreams and can see themselves hitting the homerun that wins the World Series or pitching a no-hitter. It was such a fantasy fest and we all did fantasize, but alas none of us made it. We played in and out of uniform, organized and pick up, honed our skills, took batting practice and we all thought we were so darn good, but not good enough. There were some guys in the town that I lived in that were so good that we figured we would be watching them someday playing for the Yankees. Not so.

I started doing the math many years ago and finally worked out the numbers. There are about three thousand professional baseball players in the United States and that includes minor league teams. I am not including Japan or other countries that play in the World Baseball Classic every four years. There are eight billion people living on the planet. The chances are greater that a kid will be hit by lightning than becoming a professional baseball player. Professional baseball players are the cream, cream, cream of the crop and have certain physical abilities that are innate to them and only them. When scouts talk about a five tool player they refer to a player’s ability to run with speed, has a strong throwing arm, can hit for average and hit with power, and can field their position well. These are all God given abilities that improve with practice but really it’s all about natural talent.

I am not too concerned about teenagers understanding those numbers, I think they do, but I don’t think that parents have a clear understanding of those statistics and further more believe that their kid is going to be the next Mickey Mantle. It’s not the belief that’s troubling it’s what parent’s do with those beliefs that can make life miserable for a lot of people.

Let’s be clear, coach’s coach, parent’s parent, and player’s play, anytime these three things get co-mingled and they start stepping on each others toes it is a recipe for disaster with the player losing and I don’t mean the game. Let’s take a look at what happens when each person in the group above doesn’t know how to do their job, creates unrealistic expectations, and starts telling others how to do their job.

Coaches Coach
Coaching at times can be tougher than teaching. When a teacher teaches they are in a classroom with their students and unless they are being observed by an administrator no one is watching. A coach during a game and at times during practice could be being watched by large portion of the community in which they work. They do this job at times for little or no money, they invest hours of their time into trying to help improve the athletic ability of someone else’ kids, and can be under appreciated and criticized unmercifully by parents and at times by their own players. Parents I might add who have unrealistic expectations of their own child’s ability and talent. I realize that parents are required to read and sign the handbook that lays out the rules for participation and they should realize their place during games but all too often in communities where sports is the center piece parents continually discuss the coach and sadly hold these conversations within earshot of their children. The coach becomes the object of rumors and gossip and is placed under the community microscope with parents chomping at the bit for the coach to provide them the evidence to support their belief. This is all started because of the agendas of a few disgruntled parents who believe that their kid should play every game even if their kid is not the best pitching choice for the game that day. Teachers are hired for their expertise in a subject area and are left alone to deliver content to their students. When they are allowed to call upon their own creativity and don’t feel intimidated by parents, and potentially administration they feel more confident and relaxed while doing their job. Coaches are hired to coach and they need to be left alone to deliver their expertise to their players. Parents who interfere with the coach while he is doing his job place undue pressure on him/her and rob the players of the joy of competition, and camaraderie. So if you are a parent do your kid a favor and leave the coach alone. He was given the job by a school district or a community that believed in him and his abilities to teach kids a sport and to get the best out of his players. Let the coach; coach and let him/her do what they love doing.

Parents Parent
Your kid may be good at his sport but unless he/she is the next Bryce Harper their not making the pros. So why put all kinds of performance related pressure on this kid. By the way if you ask any professional baseball player what their parents were like when they were in little league they will tell you that their parents said to just go out and have fun; for the love of the game and nothing else. As a matter of fact that’s why they made it to the pros because of the no pressure or expectations attitude. Parents need to parent and that means to encourage, nurture natural talents, and to balance rules and regulations with compassion and understanding. Parents are their kid’s life coach and need to point their kids in the right direction by instilling in them lifelong values and character training that breads success in the future. The minute that baseball or any other sport becomes the benchmark for success any game related failures will result in the kid feeling like a failure in other areas of his life and lose the confidence necessary to move forward. So, be a parent not a coach, leave the coaching to the coaches and work with your kid to be the best he can be as a person not as a player. If they are good people they will be good players. Use sports as a vehicle to help your son/daughter show off who they really are; someone with character and values, who respects his teammates and opponents, and understands that there is only one person in charge during games and practices and that’s the coach.

Players Play
Players play; think about that we call those who participate on sports teams players. Not workers, players. What does it mean to play? It means you have fun, you do it willingly, and you can’t wait to start doing it. You enjoy it. Is that what our kids experience today when they are involved as a player on a sports team? I don’t know, what I do know is I have seen enough kids being forced to go to Tuesday night soccer practice and Saturday morning games. Many kids today only play on organized teams and to them once the game becomes something that is organized by adults the word play doesn’t enter into the equation. Furthermore kids don’t know how to play today. They don’t know how to organize themselves and play pick-up games. Often, some leagues are in townships and the kids live miles apart and they don’t have anyone to play with and sharpen the skills that they learned at practice. Kids need to run around together alone and learn how to solve problems alone with adult coaching and not with adults hovering over them offering correction because their swing was off or they don’t know how to catch a fly ball. So let the kids play, if we don’t playing won’t be playing anymore it will be work.

So What Do We Do?
The solution is rather simple, let the kids play and stay out of each others way; easier said than done. I have been asked for solutions to problems by teachers and parents alike. My response at times has been “I am going to tell you what to do but, you’re probably not going to do it.” They either can’t or won’t do it. Ego’s are too big and when there are folks who have some power they use it to get what they want even when it is not in the best interest of the team or a group. School districts and communities are controlled by the minority who don’t always want what’s best for a group. Sometimes parents don’t always want what’s best for their own kid and they live vicariously through them hoping that they will somehow bring completion to their own unfinished life. As a society we have lost some real professional and personal wisdom and we want to dismantle the playground because one kid fell off the monkey bars. Our kids are looking to us for answers but we are too busy arguing with each other. They then look to each other and have their friends parent them by proxy creating what Robert Bly called “The Sibling Society” where the ground is level and no one is in charge.

As adults we have created this culture in a very innocent and unwitting way, and now we have to dismantle the Frankenstein Monster. We have to stop telling parents and kids what they want to hear and be truthful about their academic and sports related ability regardless of any unrealistic parental expectations. Billy Beane of Moneyball fame was drafted in the first round by the New York Mets right out of high school. He was identified by scouts as that five tool player we spoke about earlier. He played for a short time in the major leagues and then went into scouting. He never made it as a player but became a successful general manager of the Oakland Athletics. He was successful but not as the player that everyone though he would be.

When Bryce Harper made it to the pros as an outfielder for the Washington Nationals Davey Johnson the then manager of the team asked him how he felt, Harper responded; “This is the most relaxed I have ever been in my entire life.” Harper knew that he was hit by lightening and that he was the one in eight billion who became a professional baseball player. He truly did make it. Everyone else will have to just keep on trying but in reality all kids have the potential to be great people but not professional athletes. Even if a kid gets a scholarship and is all state in his sport he will always be a big fish in a small pond so let the kid have fun, let the coaches coach, and help parents understand how unrealistic expectations can do more harm than good.

Good Grades Are Nice – But Mastery Is Better

When I was growing up, there was nothing better than bringing home a report card that had good grades on it. Oh, I wasn’t a straight A student, but I got my share of A’s and B’s. I also got my share of C’s and D’s. I guess I was what you call an average student. My parents always checked my report card and questioned any low grades and encouraged me to do better when they felt that I wasn’t working up to my abilities. Today good grades are still the benchmark we use to determine if a student is going to be promoted or retained. The higher achieving students who are in high school usually strive for good grades in rigorous courses, because they know that their class ranking among other things will determine the type of college that they will be admitted to. Good grades are something that everyone wants, and for some reason, they’re just about what everyone gets. The two questions that I have are these: does everyone who gets a good grade deserve it, and is that grade a good indicator of the person’s ability?

I remember when I was a freshman in high school, and I struggled with Algebra I. I couldn’t catch on no matter what. The teacher was great, she knew her stuff, and she did everything to try and get me through this subject. I ended up failing the class. I told my dad that I would take the class again in my sophomore year, because back then you only needed to take three years of math. He wouldn’t hear of it, and he made me go to summer school. In summer school I really got a grasp of the subject matter.  My grade was still only a C, but I really understood the material. I had mastered the content. When I took algebra two during my sophomore year I received a final grade of an A. That was one A that I felt I really earned. I felt good about the A, but I felt even better that I really knew the subject matter.

A student can earn an A in a class for a lot of reasons. He/she may be a very hard worker and really apply himself/herself. The teacher may be benevolent and award A’s to most or all of the students, the student might cheat on tests and quizzes, or the teacher may have cooperative groups set up in his/her classroom, which allows for group work to be turned in with everyone receives the same grade. In the last 20 years, the grading system has become progressively more liberal. Teachers almost never fail students anymore.   I think two of the biggest reasons why the grading system in schools has become so liberal is because of parental pressure, and because teachers have been told by administration that they can’t fail kids. Parents who have kids in high school know of the competition that’s out there to get into good colleges. If their son/daughter receives a B in a class, they know it could throw of their child’s class ranking and their child might not be able to get into the college of their choice. Teachers fear giving a low grade because district scrutiny says that if they fail too many students, those failing grades are reflection poor teaching.

Society views good grades as an indicator of student success. The current brain research tell us that in order to determine if a child has mastered school related material they have to show that they retained the information 24-48 hours after they have been given a test.

If a student takes a social studies test on WWII and receives a grade of an A, does that mean that he/she has mastered the content? The only way to be really sure is to test the student again in a day or two. This is very unrealistic and I could never imagine any school doing this.

I have a friend whose son is attending Dartmouth College. I know that he never worried about his grades and neither did his mother. He was more concerned about learning the content of the course. The good grades came as a result of his attitude about learning. I don’t believe that he measured himself based on grades, but rather on how much he learned and remembered. When he took a class he always tried to figure out what he was going to get out of the teacher, or out of a textbook if the teacher wasn’t too good. It didn’t matter to him how the material was taught, and it certainly didn’t matter to him if the teacher was good or if the teacher was bad. He applied himself as a student and he himself worked to master the content. Successful people don’t really worry about a grade; they are more concerned about what they are going to learn. Knowledge to them is sacred, and they work to get as much of it as they can. Grades create competition and that’s a good thing. Good colleges are filled with good students who have worked hard to get where they are and who want to stay where they are. Excellent students like receiving A’s, but they know that that the grades they have received are only an indication that they have truly mastered the material that was taught.




Everybody Knows

Yes, everybody does know. In this world of dysfunction, deviance and denial how could anyone not know? In the world of education there are things that go on that are so obvious that denying them is just embarrassing and we all should be red faced. There is an 800 pound gorilla in the room and he is being ignored and the path of least resistance is being taken. What are these things that educators, parents and society knows but for some reason won’t discuss or won’t even admit? Let me share with you my thoughts on ten things that everybody knows.

Everybody Knows: That disrespect is pervasive in society. Students aren’t corrected for it and they become adults who believe that they can say and do whatever they want. And that includes instilling the fear of God into a teacher who tries to correct their kid. Teachers complain about it, but no one talks about the problem. Why? Because this fear ascends the ranks and school administrators and even the superintendent live in fear of irate parents. No one confronts and everybody runs. The schools are controlled by 20% of the parents with the biggest mouth, and the most threatening attitudes and behaviors.

Everybody Knows: That no one has self control. Have you looked at the condition of society? 1 in 4 homes are in foreclosure. I guess we can blame the banks, or can we? Everybody wants something bigger and better. To get bigger and better the money has to be made to get it, unless the bank doesn’t care. But, in the final analysis the decision is made by the buyer.  Teenage obesity, diabetes, addiction, alcoholism, are all evidence of the lack of self control in society. And oh, did I mention anger issues and the left over bitterness from childhood that gets carried into adulthood reeking havoc on families. Society has lost control of its thoughts, its words, and its actions. Everybody knows. What produces a nation of people with self-control, consequences do. Unfortunately many people are sitting in that leaking boat right now and are experiencing the consequences of a lack of self control.

Everybody Knows: That we have medicalized education and have gotten to the point where meds are the first choice in treating behavior problems not the last. Oh, don’t get me wrong medication has proven to help kids with ADHD or ODD. Talk to any therapist though and they will tell you that medication in combination with therapy is the plan that nets the best result. In schools meds are relied on too heavily, and need to be used in combination with solid discipline and effective consequences.  Realistically though where were ADHD and ODD 40 years ago? They didn’t exist or they weren’t invented yet. Why, because kids with behavior problems were few and far between. Authority was respected by parents and students. What happens when we discover that disrespect is now the norm and not the exception, we create a condition to support the behavior. If a kid acts up today it is usually attributed to the fact that he doesn’t take his medication consistently, when in reality he is not being disciplined effectively.

 Everybody Knows:  That the statement, “I like you, but don’t like your behavior” is a lie. Be honest you don’t like the kid. The truth is we are all are measured by our behavior. I own my behavior, I am my behavior. Like me but not my behavior, stop it. There are some adults that we don’t like because of their behavior, we might be married to one, are kids any different. The truth is I don’t like you because of your behavior, and I go home every night praying that you take the next day off.

Everybody Knows: That years ago the only thing we wanted was for a kid to obey, now it’s the last thing we get. As a matter of fact obedience has become a dirty word. The educational gurus who have spent their time attacking education from a theoretical standpoint, but never really spent any time interacting in a classroom with a group of wild kids liken the word obedience to dog training. They fear that we will destroy the creative side of a kid’s brain by not allowing him to choose and by forcing obedience. Okay already, let’s change obedience to compliance. The definition; doing what you are told when you are told to do it, with a good attitude. The NJ Turnpike has a sign posted right after you pay the toll, it reads; You have left the NJ Turnpike OBEY local speed laws. I guess we only have to obey as we get older.

Everybody Knows: That we lie to kids, and we have inflated their grades because we don’t want to destroy their self esteem. By the way, what is self esteem? Today kids feel good about themselves for no apparent reason. It is almost impossible to be left back, and if a kid has low test scores the teacher always gets the blame. So we let the kid know that he is doing great academically, inflate his grades and give him a false sense of his academic ability. Don’t worry someone will tell him, like the college he will be trying to get into in a few years. Then for sure everybody will know including him.

Everybody Knows: That excuses are built around circumstance, environmental and genetic circumstance. Crimes get committed and circumstance is always brought up. Tough up bringing, or he was raised on the wrong side of the tracks are just two excuses used. We are determined, that’s who we are, and we can’t change. Circumstances only influence they don’t determine behavior. Provide enough excuses for anyone and they will provide you the evidence to support your belief. Teachers have been forced to excuse behavior by a dysfunctional system. A system that has been shoe horned into education by a dysfunctional society.

Everybody Knows: That parents need parenting. The question is who is going to do it? After speaking to hundreds of parents about their children what I discovered was they don’t talk to their own parents. They lack discipline skills and are so angry and lost that they take out their rage on their own kids. Three generations of dysfunction. Everyone knows it, and talks about it, but no one knows what to do about this disaster that Everybody Knows.

Everybody Knows: That kids don’t fear anything today. As a matter of fact parents fear their kids more then kids fear their parents. Systemic discipline is just a slap on the wrist and dysfunctional schools fight dysfunctional families. While all of this is going on the kids watch, laugh, and say and do what they want without any real consequence.

Everybody Knows: That kids have lost their ability to get along and are rapidly becoming adults who have matured physically, but not mentally, or emotionally. Society has been taught to disagree, but with the wrong attitude, so don’t disagree with me or I won’t like you. Disagreements are things that get walked away from because of the fear of conflict. The idea that a productive conflict could exist and the two parties involved could leave enough space between them for a disagreement is too tough to imagine because egos are just too big. Win-Win, can’t happen because someone always has to win and someone has to lose. Don’t talk too loud now because someone will hear, and even your whispers will get back to the wrong person, like your boss who will muzzle you and make sure that you always walk the line of political correctness. EVERYBODY KNOWS that we are all victims of bullies and we will be for a lifetime. We still fear man and the man with power determines how intense that fear will be. EVERBODY KNOWS that bullying is intergenerational and for it to go away, which it never will it is not about the 20% of kids who bully right now in our schools, communities and families it is about what they become as adults.


I Fight Authority And Authority Always Wins

As a young boy I always had a fear of authority. I don’t mean the police, I mean adults other than my parents. There was always some authority figure who was correcting me in the community or in school.  Since my father was the owner of a pretty popular bar in a very small town, I was well known in the town, and I knew a lot of adults. If I was involved in some stupid behavior on one side of town my parents found out through the grapevine very quickly.  My parents never questioned the guy who told them about my behavior, regardless of whether or not he was drunk.  They would always question me, because I was the kid, and they believed the adult. It always seemed like I was found out one way or another.

The other thing that never failed was if I was told not to do something and I disobeyed, something bad always happened to me as a result. I don’t mean like getting yelled at by my father; I mean something really bad would happen that was a direct consequence of my rebellious attitude.

As kids we all waited for the summer not because we were going on vacation with our families, but because it was a time to play baseball, drink soda, hang out, and ride our bikes all over town. I always had a pretty decent bike; it was fun to ride. I liked to ride my friends’ bikes sometimes, but for some reason my father had a problem with that. One day (I was 11 at the time) I pulled up in front of the bar riding my friend Johnny’s bike. I put the brakes on with my right foot and the bike didn’t stop. It only stopped when I used my left foot. My father was watching this entire scene.  He said, “Jimmy, I don’t want you riding that bike; it doesn’t have a coaster break.” I said, “Yeah it does, you just have to use your left foot.” He said, “Are you right handed or left handed?” I said, “Right.” He said, “Well then, you’re always going to use your right foot to brake.  If you’re on a bike that has the brake on the left side, you’ll try to stop using your right foot, and then you won’t be able to switch feet and stop fast enough.”  Well like all kids I heard but I didn’t listen. One warm summer night my friend Johnny pulled up on his bike, and I asked him where my other friend Izzy was.  He told me Izzy was up the block. My bike was in the back and I was too lazy to get it so naturally I asked him if I could use his, and he said yes. I took the bike; rode up the block, saw Izzy and told Izzy to come on down. I turned around and started back down the block at a pretty high speed. No sooner did I start when Izzy’s sister Elizabeth stepped in front of me. I slammed on the brakes, with my right foot of course.  The bike didn’t stop. I crashed into her pushing her up against a brand new car that was parked on the street. Oh, and did I mention that the bike didn’t have any rubber handgrips either? The medal handlebars were dragged across the car denting and scratching the paint finish. The owner came out of the house and asked me where I lived. I pointed down the block. He proceeded to walk with me down the street, through the bar, and upstairs where my mother was sleeping on the couch snoring.  I woke my mother up, and she was shaken to find a strange man standing in the living room. We all had to go downstairs and up the block to take a look at my art work. I was so frightened I didn’t know what to say or do.  I asked my mother, “Are you going to tell dad?”  Of course, I knew she was going to tell my father, but I just thought I’d ask. I was thinking, isn’t anybody going to help me.  I didn’t mean to do it. But, I was told not to ride that bike. I walked into the bar and in his own way one of my father’s drunken customers tried to comfort me. Dinny O’Rourke one of my father’s best customers Dinny was a four packs of cigarettes a day man, a guy who spent all day in the bar paying my father’s bills. We always knew when he was there because his asthmatic cough filled the place with a lot of noise and a lot of germs. He said, “Hey Jim, are you all right?” I said in a quivering voice, “Yeah.” He said, “Good, as long as you and the girl are all right, don’t worry about anything. Then he said with all of his drunken bravado, “You should have told me what was going on with that guy when he came  through here to tell your mom what happened.   I would have thrown him the hell out.”  I felt like asking him if there was any room at his house where I could stay for a while.

I crawled upstairs and went to bed. I got up early the next morning and slithered out of the house before my father woke up.  I went up the street and met up with Izzy and asked him how his sister was.  He said she was fine. I sat there with him and talked with him about how I knew I had to go home and deal with my dad. He said he would go with me. I walked into the bar, my father was in the back kitchen, and I made a made dash for the upstairs door. Izzy followed me, and as he was getting ready to close the door a voice cried out, “HEY ISRAEL, IS JIMMY WITH YOU?” Jimmy, that’s what he always called me when things weren’t going too well. I poked my head out and said, “Hi dad.” He said “Come here.” I slowly walked to the back and stood before the judgment seat of God. Well not really, but that’s what it felt like. He asked me the definitive question. “Did I tell you not to ride that bike?” I said, “Yes.”  He said, “So why did you ride it?”  I couldn’t come up with an answer. You know, he didn’t even care about the car that I wrecked.  He didn’t even mention it. He was really upset with me because I didn’t listen to him. I disobeyed. It destroyed his trust in me. He told me to go upstairs; I was put into solitary confinement. Izzy said to me, “I guess I better go home.”

This was the first time I was grounded. There wasn’t much to do up there, but I made due. I watched TV and spent a lot of time being ignored by my parents. They didn’t disappoint me either.  They were the experts at the silent treatment and withholding a parent’s love when things went wrong. I used to think as I got older that they wrote the book on conditional love. After about two days of this I got a call from my grandmother, my father’s mom. I was so happy to hear from her. She asked me if I would come over to her house and help her clean up the backyard. I figured, well it’s my dad’s mother He would want me to help her. I didn’t mention to her I was grounded, I didn’t ask for permission from my dad to go; I just left the house. Another mistake.

I rode my bike over to my grandmother’s house. She was about 90 years old, and partly blind. She moved around pretty well though. She had fallen down a long flight of stairs about a year earlier, just dusted herself off, and basically walked away without a scratch. She was a tough bird – definitely from strong stock. As I was cleaning her yard that day, I stepped on one of the broken pickets from her fence that was on the grass.  I stepped right on a nail that was sticking out of the picket. The nail was rusty. It only punctured my foot. I checked my foot and found no blood; I figured that was a good thing. I rode my bike home and immediately started to have some trouble walking. I quickly got to the point where I couldn’t walk at all. I didn’t tell my parents, because I was petrified of getting in trouble for leaving the house. I woke up the next morning and still didn’t tell my parents.  I sat around all day because of how much my foot hurt.  I went to bed early and was in a lot of pain, and I mean a lot. I was moaning. My mother came into my room very late at night and found me laying there crying and really scared. She asked me what was wrong. I told her I stepped on a nail at Gram’s the day before and that my foot really hurt. She pulled the covers off of me and there were red stripes going up my leg. I didn’t know it, but I had blood poisoning.

You have to understand that everyone in town was one of my father’s drinking buddies including Dr. Downs, the town doctor. Very early the next morning my father went over to get him. The only worry was whether or not he was going to be sober. Well he was hung-over, good enough; my father drove him over to the house. He came up the back door with his black bag and with his son, a car mechanic. To me he looked like Jack the Ripper. He took one look at my foot and said, “First.” What did that mean? Then, he washed his hands in the kitchen sink using dish detergent. He told my mother to have me lay flat out on the kitchen table; all I could think of was for what. My mother was at the top of the table and my sister was at my side. My sister said to me, “Remember Bonanza the other night, when Little Joe was shot with an arrow and Hoss had to pull it out.” I said, “Yeah what about it.” She said, “Well before Hoss pulled the arrow out he gave Joe a big stick to bite on.” She handed me a dish cloth and said, “Use this.” I dropped it on the floor.

My mother said to the doctor “What are you going to do.” He said, “I’m going to cut his foot open.” That didn’t seem to upset her at all. He pulled out a spray can and started to spray my foot. My mom said, “What’s that.” He said, “Ethyl-chloride.” My mind flashed back to all the times I had watched the Mets on TV.  I remembered how  when one of the players was hit with the ball the team trainer would come out and spray the player’s hand or arm with ethyl-chloride. It didn’t take the pain away it just held down the swelling and allowed the guy to stay in the game. I thought Ethyl-chloride that’s not going to help, he’s going to cut open my foot, and this is the best he’s got. He pulled the scalpel out of his bag and held it like he was getting ready to cut into a piece of steak and started to dig that thing into the ball of my foot. I started to scream like hell. My mom picked the dish cloth up off the floor and shoved it into my mouth to hold down the noise until Dr. Mengela was done. He wrapped up my foot with a gauze bandage collected $10.00 and left.  I still don’t know why he brought his son. Maybe he was worried my father’s car was going to break down on the way to our house. I forgot to mention that bike problem that I had was put on the back burner for a while, the bottom line was my father took all the money I earned working for my grandmother to help pay for the damage I had done to the car. Not a bad lesson and something that needs to happen more today if there’s any hope for our children to respond correctly to authority.

John Mellencamp’s lyrics in his song “The Authority Song” could never be truer. The chorus of the song goes like this, “I fight authority and authority always wins.” I fought authority, I didn’t listen to my dad, and it almost cost me my leg and maybe even my life, and in the final analysis authority won. Sometimes we think we have a choice when in reality we don’t. Sometimes, even adults think they have a choice about how they respond to authority in their in lives. Often we think these choices are small and they don’t matter, but they really do.

There is a true story about a man who went to his closet one day and had to make what he perceived was a small a decision, do I wear a regular necktie or a clip on tie. He made the choice to wear the regular necktie. He left the house and began to drive to work, and immediately got a call on his CB radio. You see the guy was a police officer. There was a robbery in a store in his area. He drove to the store to investigate and found the perpetrator still in the store. The police officer ended up in a fight with the guy, and was strangled with his own necktie. What do you think the dress code was for police officers? A clip on tie was standard. This man chose to violate authority when he decided to wear a regular necktie to work that morning. The end result: in 15 minutes it cost him his life. He made a seemingly small choice which had astronomical consequences

Authority is designed to help and protect us.  Somebody has to be in charge. In a family it’s the parents, in society it’s the police and the government, and on the job it’s our boss. We can fight authority if we want but, as the lyrics to Mellencamp’s song go, “I Fight Authority and Authority Always Wins.”  There is no doubt that when we fight authority it is only a matter of time before someone loses.