Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Truth or consequences II

[ I originally wrote this article in 2003, but felt it is worthy of repeating

Bill Johnson]

When I was a child growing up there was a radio program and later it was placed on television, named “Truth or Consequences”.  They gave contestants difficult, sometimes impossible questions to answer.  If they failed to tell the truth - gave the wring answer - they had to pay the consequences.  The consequences were to perform some embarrassing acts that required suffering.  There had no choice, if they missed, they had to pay the consequences.  After they paid the consequences, they received a prize for their efforts.

 I grew up realizing that all of my actions had consequences - some were good and some bad.  It was a simpler time.

 Our neighbor’s chicken house intrigued me and my friend Norman. We loved to go in and scare the chickens.  It was fun to watch them squawk and fly away as we invaded their privacy.  Once, a chicken flew into a window that was not open, breaking the pane and causing a cut on the chicken's leg which bled profusely. We tried to sneak quietly away, but got caught. Before I got home, my grandfather was waiting for me ready to mete out a stiff penalty.  We had to pay the consequences for our mischief.

 Fate was against me, every time I did something bad, I got caught and had to pay the consequences. Cheating in school was not an option. I was a terrible liar, so I always got caught.

The thought of consequences was a strong deterrent to bad actions. I had heard gruesome stories and watched those dark videos in school about the consequences of sexually transmitted diseases, and that was before AIDS became common. 

The deterrent for bad behavior was that you would always be caught and then there would be consequences to pay. 

Our society has changed. Today there is a laxity in enforcing the rules and even civil law.  

Now imagine a basketball or football game without referees. And you can visualize the problem. The biggest or meanest kid wins.

 Several years ago, a new police chief came to town to try to make a dent in the growing crime rate.  One of his first orders was to enforce all laws, including the speed limit on the Interstate Highway during the morning rush hour.

You could hear the squawks of all those decent citizens, “We hired you to put an end to the growing crime rate, not bother us upright citizens.” 

What the people didn't realize was that upholding the law does not mean to let lesser kinds of lawlessness pass and then stop it when it gets violent.  If there is no consequence to a minor infraction, people will continue to push the envelop until they get stopped and have to face consequences.  Once you go too far into lawlessness, it is difficult to stop.

Our society insists upon eliminating the consequences for whatever actions people want to take. Today, rather than face the consequences, society provides ways of reducing the consequences. Abortion has become an easy way to eliminate the consequences of extra-marital sex. 

Today we are fighting Islamic fundamentalist terrorism on our own shores. Suicide bombers do not mind blowing themselves up as long as they take people with them.  In their mind, the consequences for their actions are a blessing in heaven.

We have to take another look at consequences.  If you don't tell the truth, you have to face the consequences.  If you destroy someone else's property, there must be consequences. Most people realize that there are many factors which cause an individual to take part in riots, looting, violence, and other anti-social activities, but there have to be consequences for these acts. Some would rather blame society for creating the atmosphere in which they take theses actions. It does not matter why people do these things, it is their choice. But there must be consequences for their actions. 

Changing people is not accomplished by allowing them to escape the consequences of their actions, but by ensuring that there are consequences.