I enjoy and appreciate the steady flow of correspondence I get in response to my columns and media appearances. Periodically, I get a letter that is so poignant and on target that I feel I should share it. Here is such a letter recently received, with a few editing touches:
"Dear Ms. Parker: Recently my 12-year-old daughter has expressed interest in using her hard-earned baby-sitting money to purchase a CD by an artist I was unfamiliar with, Usher. I am so grateful to have read your most informative and disturbing column ... it was extremely eye-opening. I read it together with my daughter and she now understands fully why we won't be purchasing this filth. She had never even heard of the concept of abortion, and we had a good talk on the sorry state of our society. Thank you so much for your words. I have forwarded your column to everyone I know who cares about their children's well-being, in the hopes that those people will continue to spread your word."
The column to which the writer refers is a piece I wrote weeks ago about a rap number, then at the top of the Billboard 100 list, in which rappers Usher and Joe Budden say that if your girlfriend won't abort the baby you have given her you should take matters in your own hands and punch her in the stomach.
If there is any doubt in anyone's mind what parenting is about, this short letter says it all. What more can be asked over and beyond a young mother, with a clear sense of values, keeping a close and watchful eye on her child? And, that the relationship between mother and daughter is such that this 12-year-old girl listens to her mom.
Needless to say, the satisfaction I derive as the source of information for this mom about the "sorry state of our society" is somewhat limited. It causes me to do some soul searching of my own. As I see the unquestionable deterioration of family and traditional values in our society, I do believe we are in a "sorry" state of affairs. However, this certainly does not diminish my sense of the unique greatness of our free country.
Perhaps my concern is that as we enjoy the unprecedented prosperity that our freedom has made possible, we are losing a sense that every benefit has a cost, and that the other side of the coin of increased freedom is increased responsibility.
We seem to be going in the opposite direction. The more we get, the more irresponsible we become. The easier things become, the more we view our bounty as an entitlement rather than as a gift.