Just A Guy

Just A Guy

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Of Tattoos and Absolution

The sermon yesterday morning at my church contained a story about one of our younger parishioners getting a tattoo, told by the pastor who accompanied him to the tattoo parlor. A good story about where our parish is - the world - but it led to discussion at lunch about why tattoos have become so popular among young people (I'd go with "a blight on the landscape", but hey...) in the last several years. I contend it's because young people are being taught that no action has permanent consequences and that if they screw up, they can just reset the clock and start over (laser removal, that handy-dandy creme that some tat artist is hawking on TV - never mind that laser HURTS and the creme won't get it all).

A little bit of a stretch, you say, to equate tattoos with the larger refusal to take responsibility for our conduct? Let's consider:

1. Not one, not two, but THREE Obama administration nominees for Cabinet posts have very recently paid long-overdue back taxes, said, "Oops - sorry..." and it was as though it never happened. One has been confirmed, two (Tom Daschle and Eric Holder) are just waiting for the call.

2. How many sports figures (I'm thinking of "Pac Man" Jones, Kobe Bryant, any number of professional hockey players) have done heinous things or just been all around bad people and been told, "All is forgiven" and permitted to pursue their careers and make obscene amounts of money because, no matter how insincere the apology, they're dealt absolution "for the good of the game." Thank God Pete Rose is still in the doghouse.

3. Barney Frank letting his homosexual lover run a prostitution ring out of his Congressional office, Ted Kennedy's cowardice at Chappaquiddick, insert name here whose extramarital affair was discovered, apologized for and swept aside at no loss to career or reputation...

There are, of course, the occasional exceptions (mostly Republicans and church leaders) who are made to account for their misdeeds (Blago, Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, Ted Stevens - three of the four have refused to admit any wrongdoing even in the face of overwhelming evidence), but generally, we've been telling the last 2 generations that no bad action will carry permanent consequences. Hence, getting a tattoo is just "expressing yourself", cheating and getting caught are solved with an apology, substance abuse is just experimentation - that's healthy, right?

We are raising a generation that doesn't understand that actions have consequences, and forgiveness is not intended to shield them from the consequences of their actions. They've seen over and over again that what their parents taught about having the face the consequences doesn't apply to everybody and "isn't fair".

**Update that proves my point - Drudge this morning has links to stories about Jennifer Hudson lip-synching the National Anthem at last night's Super Bowl (her agent says there's just too much chance of a screwup if she does it live - hunh?), the Daschle debacle (he's sorry), and Michael Phelps getting caught smoking dope with a bong and apologizing for his youthful hijinks. I WEEP for this generation!

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