When I was young, my friends and I spent a lot of time trying to stay OUT of trouble. Our parents would yell from the windows if we played ball in the streets (we’d move around the block), or if we were in a fight, or if we were making too much noise, or whatever.

Our teachers would scold us for talking in class, sending notes, not completing assignments, making fun of classmates, and so on. Store owners would warn us not to touch anything, to get out if we had no money to spend, and to keep our voices down.

Entering the work force, we were apprised of proper hours and attire, warned not to steal company property, had our expense reports checked for “errors,” and were evaluated quarterly.

The sights and sounds of authority were intimidating.

You can make a point that this was inappropriate child-rearing, old-fashioned schooling, and oppressive management, However, you can also see the point that the priceless old Cole Porter song “Anything Goes” is entirely apt today. We should be prepared for anything written or even uttered to be published globally, to be mocked by internet “trolls,” to expect no privacy, to endure nihilism instead of adherence to norms. The prevailing views on social media platforms seem to be that all opinions are equal and we’re all entitled to our own facts. That would have been laughable before Facebook created what is actually a huge vanity press.

Freedom is worth fighting to preserve. But so are intelligent boundaries. We shouldn’t have to be exposed to porn, to thousands of idiotic SEO offers from India, to Nigerians criminally hustling “millions that we’re owed,” to those who feel that work is something that gives you money, not something to which you give your best efforts.

Thee is such a thing as being too tolerant, too permissive, too lax. Sometimes we need someone shouting out the rules.

© Alan Weiss 2015


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