Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Megyn Kelly and the Disappearance of Courtesy

I've never met Megyn Kelly. But based on what she said a couple of days ago, she seems to believe I'm a fraud. Agreed, she didn't say this about me. She said it about Jill Biden. But I certainly felt Ms. Kelly's disrespect, and I was not amused.

What caused Ms. Kelly to take to Twitter and express her outrage about the First Lady was this: during the Eagles-49ers playoff game, the play-by-play announcers, noticing that she was in the crowd, referred to her as "Dr. Jill Biden." This offended Ms. Kelly, and she said so, accusing the First Lady of being nothing more than a "wannabe" with a "fake title." She concluded her tweet by suggesting to the First Lady, "Get a real MD or just work on your self-esteem."

Okay, I understand. Ms. Kelly is a partisan, a former Fox News commentator, and she dislikes the fact that Joe Biden is president. I'm fine about that-- she has every right to her opinion. I can also understand that she might be criticizing Joe Biden by proxy whenever she criticizes his wife.  But the scornful dismissal of Jill Biden's degree, and Ms. Kelly's annoyance that the announcers used the First Lady's preferred title, was uncalled for. 

Like Jill Biden, I got my doctorate later in life: she was 55, and I was 64.  Hers was a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Delaware; mine was a PhD in Communication from the University of Massachusetts.  Like Jill Biden, I studied nights (and worked days) in my quest for the advanced degree. I promise you, it wasn't easy doing it that way. If you have an adult learner in your family, or if you are an adult learner yourself, you know that when you've been out of school for a while, it can be challenging to go back. I've read some online critics who claim the Doctor of Education isn't a "real" degree; but I know some folks who have one, and they worked hard to get it. They don't deserve to be mocked, by Megyn Kelly or anyone else.

To me, it's about good manners. I grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, and perhaps I'm hopelessly outdated, but I was always taught to be polite when speaking to others. For example, I was taught that you called professors "Professor." You didn't call them by their first name. Nor did you call priests or rabbis or ministers by their first name: you used their title. Ditto for a wide range of other folks, including your boss. Now, agreed, once you got to know them, if they gave you permission to use their first name, it might be okay. But it was their decision, not yours.

Thus, I'm not bothered if Jill Biden wants to be called Dr. Biden; it's her decision, and it reflects the degree she worked hard for. When my students are addressing me for the first time, I'd expect "Professor Halper" or "Doctor Halper." To me, it's just courtesy. I understand that we're in a more casual era now, and first names are more common: in fact, I often let my students call me Donna, if they ask. But if I were at an academic conference, I would want to use my professional title. And why not? Nothing pretentious about it. Nothing fraudulent or fake. Like Jill Biden, I worked hard for that degree (took me nine years before I finished), and I'm proud of what I accomplished. Lots of folks told me I was "too old." But I proved them wrong. And I see no harm in using the title that reflects all the research I did, and all the effort I put into it writing my dissertation (which was 365 pages long). 

So, my advice to Megyn Kelly is learn some manners. Jill Biden is not asking for anything unreasonable. She's simply asking to be called by her academic title. If that makes her happy, why should anyone be upset about it? She has a real degree from a real university. So do I. So do many folks with Ed.D and PhD degrees. We aren't claiming to be medical doctors. We're just saying that our accomplishments are valid, and deserving of respect. And Megyn, if you can't be proud of us, could you at least try to be courteous? We earned our degrees, so please call us by our title if that's what we want.


Sunday, January 15, 2023

Omissions and Corrections, or Why History Matters

When I was in high school, I don't recall learning anything about the Civil Rights Movement. Our American history books in the late 1950s/early 1960s focused mainly on U.S. presidents, famous military leaders, and some men whose inventions changed society (like Thomas Edison, or Alexander Graham Bell). We studied one or two women (Clara Barton and Betsy Ross come to mind) and while slavery was mentioned, not very much time was spent on it; the same was true about the "Indians"-- they were presented in the Thanksgiving story, and never appeared again. 

I came from a family of readers, and being Jewish, I knew about the Holocaust; but that wasn't taught in school either. The emphasis, as I recall, was on all the good things the U.S. had done. The fact that there were influential members of the government who insisted on restricting the number of Jews (and other immigrants) who could come here was never discussed. Truth be told, a lot of things were never discussed-- and besides, it was not an era when discussion was encouraged. Teachers taught, students took notes, and that was how it was done. Perhaps the goal was to avoid controversy, or perhaps the goal was to make sure we all turned out sufficiently patriotic. In either case, I only found out later how much was omitted from the typical history course.

I was reading an article in an educational publication recently that noted the steep decline in college students majoring in history. In numerous colleges, history is no longer required, and many students avoid studying it-- after all, who cares about what happened a century ago? How can that help anyone get a good job? Historian and author Mike Maxwell explains the rationale for this attitude: "The present system of American education emphasizes “21st century skills,” especially skills associated with the STEM subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Learning about events from the past has limited currency in this results-oriented educational environment."

Add to this unfortunate belief a bunch of self-serving politicians who have been demanding that history be taught a certain way-- reminiscent of how it was in the 1950s: no discussions of current events, no discussions of racism or sexism or antisemitism, nothing that would make any students feel "discomfort." In fact, no mention of any mistakes America ever made (to do that, said one politician, would teach students to "hate America"). These politicians, many from conservative states, insist that teachers are "indoctrinating" students, and there are now laws in some of those states that tell teachers what they can teach and how they can teach it.  

As many of you know, I'm a media historian. My expertise is in the history of broadcasting, as well as baseball history, women's history, and the history of rock & roll. I understand that there are numerous perspectives and points of view (and debates) about a wide range of issues; but I don't think avoiding them is the answer. Nor do I think going back to how things were taught (or not taught) in the 1950s is helpful. There are so many stories that still need to be told, so many events that need to be re-evaluated, in light of new information that we now have. Enforcing one "correct" way to look at history means important lessons will not be taught, and important conversations will not occur.

Frankly, I'd like to see changes to how history is taught in many schools-- not to make it partisan, and not to "indoctrinate" (which rarely occurs, by the way, but sounds wonderful for politicians to use in speeches, since it generates outrage from potential voters). I'd like to see history taught in a way that energizes students, a way that makes them curious about what it was like to live in that time, and what we can learn from how our ancestors handled the problems they encountered. Knowledge of history alone may not help someone get a job, but ignorance about history can make one more easily manipulated by folks who want to mislead, and much less able to decide what is factual, or what lessons from the past we can benefit from knowing.

So, I hope those who continue to minimize the importance of history will think again. As the philosopher George Santayana wrote, circa 1905, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." I see a lot of history repeating itself, and I see a lot of efforts to pretend past mistakes never happened. History contains some wonderful and positive lessons, about people who overcame obstacles or created something that made everyone's life better. But it also contains some lessons about times when we could have done better. Let's bring history back to life. Let's tell the stories (all the stories), write the people who were erased back in, correct the myths... In other words, let's embrace the study of history... because where we've been matters... as we try to figure out where we're going.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Legacy of Barbara Walters (and some thoughts about 2022)

I've mentioned in a previous blog post that I enjoy playing word games; it's a way to keep my mind sharp. I've especially become fond of playing Wordle, which I do once a day (you can only play it once); and then, I compare my score with online friends of mine who are also playing it. I found it amusing that the final word of 2022 was "manly." Okay fine, the words are chosen randomly; but at around the same time, coincidentally, we learned that TV newswoman Barbara Walters had died. Like many women from the 50s and 60s, she spent her early career dealing with men who did not want her to move up, who tried to prevent her from speaking, who limited how many questions she could ask a guest and when she could ask them (one male anchor made a rule that she could ask a question only after he had asked the first three). I admit I was never a big fan of hers, but I admired her for persevering, and she opened the door for a lot of TV newswomen.

On the other hand, she also changed the definition of "news" in some ways. For many years, newsmen and newswomen were expected to do hard news only. It was serious. It was formal. It was grounded in facts. It was supposed to be objective. (Even interviews with news-makers were done in a serious and detached style. News-people back then rarely showed their feelings. When JFK was assassinated in 1963 and Walter Cronkite broke in to tell the audience what had just occurred, he briefly showed his sorrow. Briefly. And this was unusual for the times. Human, but unusual.) 

But even the most traditional newscasts, then and now, have often ended with a feature that's considered "soft news"-- human interest stories, segments intended to inspire you or tug at your heartstrings. These stories have always been designed to provide an emotional reaction-- like the kid who hasn't seen daddy in a year because daddy is serving overseas; and we see the kid get a big surprise when suddenly, daddy is back home again, and everyone is hugging and they've all got tears in their eyes-- you know the kinds of stories I'm talking about.  

What Barbara Walters was good at was interviews with big news-makers; she was especially good at eliciting emotions from her guests (and from the audience). She often asked the questions reporters in the past would never have asked, but which everyone really wanted to know. She knew how to keep viewers glued to the TV, eager to see who she would talk to next and what that person would say. Oprah Winfrey developed a similar style, but Barbara did it first. In fact, Barbara normalized it for news-people. And by doing so, she helped to blur the lines between hard news and soft news. She also helped to change the audience's expectations. As Alex Weprin of the Hollywood Reporter noted, "Walters took the newsworthy interview and turned it into an event: must-see TV."   

In our internet world, where almost anything can be on YouTube or Instagram or TikTok within minutes, TV no longer has a monopoly on the celebrity interview. But no matter where we access it, we're still fascinated by the lives of the rich and famous. That's why even legendary newsmen like Edward R. Murrow did some interviews with movie stars or big names in the news. But it wasn't what he was known for. Barbara Walters turned it into a brand, and a very lucrative one at that. Whether talking about current issues with her colleagues on "The View," or sitting with powerful men and women and letting us be the proverbial fly on the wall, she expanded what a news reporter does--and is allowed to do. And she influenced an entire generation of newsmen and women.  

As I write this, 2022 is about to end, and I will leave it to others to do in-depth retrospectives. What I remember is that we finally got back to teaching in person after the pandemic gave us a year and a half on Zoom; I celebrated my 75th birthday and I also celebrated 8 years of being cancer free. My husband's health was better than a year ago this time, but it still wasn't where either of us wanted it to be. But it was wonderful to celebrate Hanukkah together at home, for which both of us were grateful.  

I watched with sadness as the nation had one mass shooting after another; and while families were devastated, the public seemed to become almost numb to it. And I watched with concern as antisemitism, homophobia, and white nationalism were on the rise in numerous places all over the country, and all over the world. I remember too many extreme weather events and too few solutions. The political rhetoric often seemed more heated; too many folks, especially online, seemed ready to argue over even the slightest thing.

But I also saw many people reject the extremes, reject the hate, and reach out to "the other" with kindness and compassion. I saw many people eager to just do the right thing. For those who have read my blog posts and articles, or watched the webcasts I was in, or reached out to me on social media to say hello, I cannot thank you enough.  2022 had a lot of ups and downs. But we're still here, and now it's a new year. Let's make the most of it. Let's work together to make the world a kinder and more courteous place. From my house to yours, much love, much health, and much happiness in 2023.      

Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Best Things in Life Are Free (Believe It Or Not)

I was walking to class the other day and stopped to say hi to one of my students. She looked like she'd been shopping, so I asked her what she bought. She told me it was Christmas presents, and then she admitted she felt really pressured because she has so many people to buy gifts for. She was worried that she wouldn't be able to afford to buy something for everyone on her list. She said she planned to work extra hours at her part-time job, so that she wouldn't have to disappoint anyone (I suggested that focusing on her studies was important too, but I don't think I convinced her).

It made me a little sad that someone who is no more than 18 and working hard to help with her tuition is feeling guilty that she might let someone down who was expecting a present. In fact, it makes me sad every year to watch some of my Christian friends obsessing over what to buy for whom, and worrying about how they will come up with the money for that special gift that [insert name of person] really wants. 

As a culture, we didn't always celebrate Christmas in such a commercialized way, but we certainly do in modern times. I've seen folks competing over which house has the most lights, or whose tree is the biggest and best decorated. I've seen all the commercials that equate being a good parent with buying your kids the most expensive toys. In fact, I've seen so many people worrying about "doing it right" that it seems to create more stress than joy. (I also note that Hanukkah, which used to be a simple little children's holiday and not even a major part of the Jewish calendar, has also been getting more and more commercialized with every passing year. I'm not fond of that trend either.)

As someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas, I'm fine about whatever my Christian friends do. But frankly, I wish so much of the holiday season weren't about the money and the gifts; and I wish there were a way to go back to a more simple means of observance. Perhaps I'm naive, but it seems to me the best gift we can give each other is love: welcoming folks who have nowhere to go for the holidays, bringing food to first responders and others who have to work on Christmas, Zooming or calling folks who are too far away to visit and letting them know you care, sharing a pleasant meal and good conversation with friends and family...  

And if you find yourself feeling stressed or guilty because your budget is limited, you shouldn't. The important thing is being there and letting people know they matter. I know that everyone enjoys getting presents; but my point is that love has no price tag. There are many people out there who need a kind word, and sometimes making someone feel a little less lonely is the best gift of all. So, as you prepare for whatever holiday you celebrate, remember that the best things in life (good health, good friends, the beauty around us) are all free. Don't take them for granted, and don't minimize them. And in this holiday season, that's what I wish for you: health, peace of mind, and the knowledge that you are loved. Happy holidays.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

The Year, and the Concert, that Changed My Life

I was sorry, but not surprised, to hear that Cleveland's Record Revolution (or Record Rev, as we used to call it) was closing. If you are a Rush fan, that store is part of the history of how the band became famous in Cleveland, and went on to become famous in other cities. As many of you know, I was the music director at WMMS-FM in the spring of 1974, and a music industry friend of mine (Canadian record promoter Bob Roper) sent me a copy of an album (they were all vinyl albums back then) by a Toronto-based band called Rush. It was on their own label, Moon Records, and Roper told me his label wasn't going to sign them. But he thought they had potential. I listened to their album, fell in love with the song "Working Man," and ran downstairs (my office was upstairs) to tell the deejay on the air to play it. 

I'd be lying if said I knew at that moment that Rush would become famous. To be honest, I was concerned that listeners would be confused by their name. At that time, there was also Mahogany Rush, a Montreal-based band whose new album, "Child of the Novelty," was getting a lot of airplay at WMMS. No, they didn't sound similar (in fact, listeners thought Rush sounded like Led Zeppelin), but the audience knew Mahogany Rush and they didn't know anything about these three guys from Toronto. Neither did I. And when WMMS started getting requests for "Working Man" (a song I thought would resonate with the Cleveland audience), listeners soon wanted to buy the album, especially once we began playing other tracks, like "Finding My Way" and "Here Again."

The store in Cleveland that was known for carrying records from other countries, or "imports," was Record Revolution. I contacted Rush's management-- they were shocked to find that someone in Cleveland had championed Rush's album, especially since they weren't getting much airplay in their home city of Toronto. We arranged to get some copies of that Moon import down to Record Revolution, and chances are, if you lived in the Cleveland area and still have one of those original copies, you bought it there.  (I still have mine, but it's the one that Bob Roper sent me. And it will always be special to me.)

John Rutsey was still with the band when Rush first played a gig in Cleveland. He and I didn't speak much, as I recall; in fact, the guys were all quite shy-- and probably still amazed that they had fans in Cleveland. But then, in mid-August, Neil joined the band, and Rush got a contract with Mercury Records. This now-well known August 1974 photo shows me, holding that first Rush album which was hurried re-issued on Mercury. (I still have the dress, and I still have the Mercury album-- I was absolutely stunned to find the band had dedicated it to me.) Some folks have commented that the guys in Rush looked very serious, but actually, they were exhausted (and somewhat unaccustomed to having photos taken for the trade publications). From left to right, Matt the Cat (one of the deejays). Neil, Geddy, Alex, me, my boss John Gorman, and Mercury Records local promoter Don George.

Not long afterward, on August 26, 1974, Rush performed at the Agora Ballroom, on East 24th Street in Cleveland, for a WMMS Monday Night Concert. (Tickets were $3.00 in advance, and $3.50 at the door; those were the days!) The guys returned to the Agora again in mid-December to perform again, and they introduced a couple of the new tunes they were working on, now that Neil was beginning to take on some of the songwriting duties. But in late August, they were mostly doing the material they had performed with John Rutsey. Neil, being a great drummer even then, made some of those songs his own, complete with a drum solo when they played "Working Man."

It was a very enthusiastic crowd, as I recall. And I was so proud of Rush. But here is something else I didn't expect: before launching into "Working Man," Geddy paused, looked in my direction, and gave me a shout-out. I know why he did it. There had been some rumors flying that someone else had really been the one to champion the band. The guys, who were famously loyal even back then, wanted to let everyone know that they gave me the credit, not anyone else. And for years after, they made sure I was acknowledged (and thanked) whenever they were interviewed about how their career took off in the States.

1974 was a difficult year for me in many ways. I was very lonely in Cleveland, I didn't fit in well with most of my colleagues, and I was seriously underpaid (the men on the staff made much more than the women, as was the custom back then, sad to say). But when I became friendly with Rush, it led to so many other changes, including my being hired by Mercury Records in New York (briefly) as a talent scout in 1975. But most importantly, it led to a friendship that endures even now. I've seen many Rush concerts over the years, in many cities. But I will never forget the first time I saw them play when Neil had joined the band, the first time it became apparent that Rush was going to become a major force in Cleveland... and soon in other cities. 

I am sorry that Record Revolution is closing, as I said, and I am sorry that I am no longer in radio-- I miss being on the air every day of my life. But I am grateful that I am still in touch with Bob Roper, and with Geddy (and his sister), and with Alex. No, we don't talk as often as we once did, but we are still in touch, and I am also still in touch with several of the folks in their management, as well as with several close friends of Neil (who I also miss every day of my life). It has been a remarkable journey, from Cleveland to New York to Washington DC back home to Boston, and many other cities along the way. I've met so many wonderful fans, and I have so many wonderful memories. And it all started with a Canadian record promoter doing a good deed in April 1974, during a year that changed my life.     

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The Times They Are A-Changing (Slowly but Surely)

So, as it turns out, democracy was indeed on the ballot during the midterm elections, and so were women's rights. Prior to the elections, numerous pollsters and pundits predicted a "red wave," but it never materialized. The Democrats held onto the Senate, and while Republicans were poised to take over the House, it would be by a very small margin. Millions of women voted, and so did a surprisingly large number of young people. Exit polls showed that voters from both parties disliked the idea of the government telling women what they could or could not do with their bodies. (Pundits had said the Dobbs decision would not be a factor, but they were wrong: it was on the minds of many of the voters, even in red states.)

For me, one of the biggest headlines was that voters from both parties overwhelmingly rejected some high-profile candidates with extreme views: candidates who had denied the results of the 2020 election; or defended the January 6, 2021 insurrection; or insisted that unless they won, the election was rigged and they would never concede. Some very well-funded Republicans with those views were defeated, and while a few managed to win, the majority of election-deniers in the battle-ground states lost. 

I was sorry that some of the Democrats I liked didn't win-- for example, Tim Ryan ran an outstanding campaign in Ohio, but he still lost to J.D. Vance. On the other hand, many people--even some who would never have voted for him--were inspired by John Fetterman, who overcame a stroke to win his race against Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania. (Rather than being alienated by his speech problems during the debate, voters said they could identify with what he was going through, and they commended him for his courage. On Twitter, partisans mocked Fetterman, but in Pennsylvania, his supporters cheered him on, and he did not disappoint.)

Another noteworthy thing happened in a number of states: after the elections had concluded, the losing candidates (from both parties) offered their concessions and congratulated their opponent-- just like candidates used to do.  Of course, a few sore losers refused, but I was encouraged by how many candidates acknowledged their defeat, and did not claim something nefarious had happened.  

It's easy to think that a large number of Americans are bigots and haters because on cable TV and social media, those folks are given far too much attention. But here in the real world, in states all over the country, there were a number of "firsts" that suggested America is changing for the better, showing signs of becoming more diverse and more inclusive. Consider this: more women, from both parties, were elected to governor and lieutenant governor positions: Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Oregon were among the states electing a woman governor. Among the many other women from diverse backgrounds who got elected, Maryland now has a female lieutenant governor--she and her family immigrated from India when she was a child; and Massachusetts elected its first Black female attorney general.  

Some men also made history: Maryland elected its first Black governor, while California elected a Filipino-American attorney general. California is also sending a Latino, the son of Mexican immigrants, to the Senate; another Mexican-American man is now the first Latino secretary of state in Nevada.  Locally, New Hampshire elected its first transgender man to the New Hampshire state legislature. And it was also a good night for some candidates who were gay or lesbian.  I could go on with the many other "firsts" from coast to coast, but I do want to give a shout-out to 25-year old Floridian Maxwell Alejandro Frost, the first Gen-Z candidate elected to congress.

And as I look at what happened, both the good and the bad, I am comforted to know that we do still have a democracy, that some folks still believe in the right to privacy, and that in both red states and blue, people voted for the candidate they thought would get the job done-- even if that person was a minority, or gay, or trans, or from a party they'd never voted for in their life. Yes, a lot remains to be done before this nation can heal from some of the traumatic events of the past several years, but I see some positive indications that we really are more united than some pundits might think. To all who voted, thank you. To all who believed in our democracy, thank you. And to all who rejected the negativity and partisanship, and trusted our system of government, I thank you most of all. 

Monday, October 31, 2022

Refusing to Be Responsible

When I was a kid, my parents always stressed the importance of telling the truth, and not making excuses if I did something wrong. I'd be surprised if your parents didn't teach you the same thing. For example, if you didn't do your homework, don't lie and say the dog ate it (or these days, that the computer crashed and erased it). Be honest and admit you messed up; and be prepared to accept the consequences of your actions.

What brought this to mind was some recent news stories which involved people who did something far worse than failing to do their homework; yet their reaction was to blame someone else rather than taking any responsibility for their part in what went wrong. In one story, an ugly brawl broke out after a college football game between rivals Michigan and Michigan State, a game that Michigan won 29-7. Things evidently got out of hand as the game was ending, when angry words were exchanged between some players. The situation escalated as the teams went into the tunnel at the stadium, on the way to their respective locker rooms. By some accounts, a group of players from Michigan State attacked a player from Michigan, kicking and punching him. An investigation into who did what, who started it, and why, is still ongoing. But preliminary reports seemed to devolve into various people blaming everything from crowding in the tunnel to trash talk between players. Meanwhile, four Michigan State players have been suspended, as both coaches called the behavior "unacceptable," and lamented the "poor sportsmanship." But why did it happen? Teams lose games. Teams have bad days. So, why did some players think that brawling with the other team was a useful way to act?   

And then there was the brutal assault on Paul Pelosi, husband of Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi. The guy who did it had become a follower of the QAnon conspiracy theory; and having heard repeatedly online and in conservative media that Nancy Pelosi was to blame for the problems in society today, he planned to kidnap the Speaker (she wasn't there-- she was in Washington DC), and "hold her accountable." He planned to demand that she "tell the truth," and break her kneecaps as punishment if she lied about the terrible things he believed Democrats had done. We know this because we have his own statements to police. And yet, a number of Republican politicians, and even some famous people like Elon Musk, either rationalized what happened, or spread an outrageously false story that Mr. Pelosi was actually at a gay bar and had a quarrel with his attacker, whom he knew. (He did not know the man, and he was asleep at home, as witnesses to the attack attested. But that didn't stop the rumors.)  One Republican governor, when asked about political violence in America today, blamed it on Black Lives Matter. But however you feel about Nancy Pelosi, there is no excuse for someone breaking into her home and beating up her husband. Sad to say, some politicians could not bring themselves to say that political rhetoric has gotten out of hand, nor could they acknowledge their side's part without reminding everyone that the other side is just as bad.

But as my mother used to say, "two wrongs don't make a right." Whether some trash-talking football player egged you into a fight, or whether you sincerely despise your political opponent's policies, when did violence become an acceptable response? When did blaming "them" become the best way to handle a problem? And when did finding the right excuse replace admitting you were wrong? When I was caught lying about my homework, my parents were not amused. Even though it was not the biggest sin in the world, they didn't want me to think that lying and making excuses was okay. They wanted me to be ethical, or to at least understand the importance of ethics. That was then. Now, we seem to be in a historical moment when whatever happens, too many folks (especially celebrities and politicians) seem to think that saying "it's not my fault" is enough. 

But it's not. Leaving things unresolved and putting the blame on someone else sets a terrible precedent. I don't miss the "good old days," and I don't expect a return to "how things used to be." But I do miss the era when folks took responsibility for their actions, and I'd like to see that attitude make a comeback.  It starts with something simple: telling the truth and acknowledging when we do something wrong, as well as striving not to make that mistake in the future-- whether it's about a little thing like not doing the homework or a big thing like allowing our emotions to get out of control. My parents taught me that honesty matters, and I want to believe it still does. But it saddens me that some people seem to think getting away with lying matters more.