Myrtle and Madge were on their way home from school, grumpity, bumpity in the little yellow school bus, when Myrtle stated, rather smugly, that handsome Johnny had asked her to the school dance on Friday. She knew that this would upset Madge, who had been pining away for Johnny since the beginning of the year.
As expected, Madge was most distressed at the news and muttered something unflattering about Myrtle under her breath. The situation began to escalate when Myrtle claimed the good Johnny had said that he thought Madge was a "Silly Ninny". The two girls then proceeded to exchange insults, mostly concerning the other's less attractive clothing items and anatomy. The situation became so heated, that there would almost certainly be hurt feelings as a result, and possibly necessitate an apology, or even two.
The bus driver, a sensible lady, turned to them after she had stopped at a traffic light, and gave them both a stern talking to - upon which both girls apologized and promised to behave for the remainder of the ride home.
That is how such a situation unfolds and is resolved, more or less, in a civilized society - one where parents raise their children to behave themselves, even during times of stress and discomfort.
Adults, act like adults and intervene just enough to set things on the right track again. Children respect adults, because adults are worthy of respect, having themselves, as children, been through similar uncomfortable situations that were ultimately resolved in one way or another and put into perspective with the passage of time. This process has made them wiser, and gives them good judgement which they put to use in everyday life to avoid life's little pit-falls and stumbling blocks.
What a valuable thing it is: good judgement. The ability to consider the possible outcomes of each decision or action before one decides or acts; a course of action that is fitting to the situation at hand, and the ability to recognize when a chosen course of action is grossly out of proportion with the reality of the situation.
Which brings me back to the reality of 2009 in The United States Of America, where Madge and Myrtle are just quaint memories or perhaps just figments of my imagination. Because in today's America, a squabble between two girls on a school bus requires police intervention, trips to the emergency room and will, most likely, mean an Arizona lawyer or two will be gainfully employed for the foreseeable future.
When you consider how much all of that will cost, you begin to understand how expensive it is for a society when civility breaks down and manners, restraint and a disciplined approach to proper conduct are tossed out in favor of self-actualization and the perpetual demanding of one's rights.
Let me reiterate: A situation on a bus in Arizona that should have been nothing more in the grand scheme of things than a mention at the dinner table, involved grown men carrying guns, an emergency medical response unit, and medical professionals at the hospital.
Send Gloria Steinem the bill for that.
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