No. 913



When I was growing up, we had a label for kids who would not go along with some of the habits and antics other kids practiced on a regular basis. We called them square. You remember those days? While I was never an angel, I was not a square either. I was definitely part of the “in” crowd, but in those days the worst of it was some of the kids going to a nearby community that was in a wet county and having a beer. In addition to having a beer now and then, many of these same kids, plus others, smoked and used vulgar language. We also had several girls who had a reputation for being promiscuous. Sadly, boys were given a pass. I never drank and didn’t smoke, so you can see what’s left.
It’s right here that I would like to make another valid point. These days I never hear of anyone being called a square. Do you? Maybe they do and I just don’t hear it. I believe the reason you seldom hear this is because nowadays everything goes. It is called the “new normal” -- the vast majority of kids do it, whatever the habit or behavior happens to be, and you could add a number of other things to my earlier list. Back then we did not have drugs (other than alcohol) to deal with. I have never taken drugs of any kind in my whole life, other than those prescribed by a doctor or sold over the counter. In one way kids have not changed, they still want to be in. I shudder when I think of the choices they are faced with today.
Here is the reason for my sharing this with you, and upfront I am going to confess to being a square. Looking back, I have worked with kids in one way or another for more than 40 years, and I believe most kids today want more authority, discipline and structure in their lives. A case in point is our local Junior ROTC program at our public high school. For the past several years, the cadets in this program have presented the “colors” for our annual Bookcase Awards Ceremony. They do a great job. There is a waiting list of more than 300 students who would like to get in the program but cannot because of the lack of resources to hire additional personnel.
In case you don’t know, this program definitely features authority, discipline and structure. This leads to me to say that most kids are a lot smarter than we give them credit for being. What I would like to present now is something a reader sent me titled, “The Old Paths” that comes from my generation. See if you don’t agree that our country would be far better off if more of us practiced these things. It begins, “I liked the old paths when moms were at home. Dads were at work. Brothers went into the army. And sisters got married BEFORE having children. Crime did not pay; hard work did; and people knew the difference.
“Moms could cook; Dads would work; children would behave. Husbands loved; wives were supportive; and children were polite. Women wore the jewelry; and men wore the pants. Women looked like ladies; men looked like gentlemen; and children looked decent. People loved the truth, and hated a lie. They came to church to get IN, Not to get OUT. Hymns sounded Godly; sermons sounded helpful; rejoicing sounded normal; and crying sounded sincere. Cursing was wicked; drugs were for illness. The flag was honored; America was beautiful; and God was welcome. We read the Bible in public; prayed in school; and preached from house to house. To be called an American was worth dying for; to be called an American was worth living for; to be called a traitor was a shame! I still like the old paths best.”
To this I can only say, “Just color me square.”
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)