115 Where I learned right and wrong.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 12 months ago

I've been listening to what everyone has been saying.

It's true. We do not teach our kids the moral lessons we learned when we were kids.

But you know what? My family never taught them to me either. Not directly, at least. They lived a moral life and I learned by watching.

So who did teach me? Someone must have.

Church? Some, but not much. Mostly they just taught me the history of my religion.

It dawned on me. Books. Books we read parts of in school. That's where I learned morality. But even more it was sitting in a movie theater.

I learned morality from films? You bet! It seems like every time I went to a movie it was some kind of morality play.

They started way back in the 30's when I was just a kid. Films like All Quiet on the Western Front (1930), Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), Beau Geste (1939), Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), David Copperfield (1935), Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), A Farewell to Arms (1933), The Four Feathers (1939), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Good Earth (1937), Gunga Din (1939), Gulliver's Travels (1934), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939), It Happened One Night (1934), Lost Horizon (1937), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), Mutiny on the Bounty (1935), Of Mice and Men (1939), The Petrified Forest (1936), The Plainsman (1937), The Prince and the Pauper (1937), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), The Sign of the Cross (1932), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Stanley and Livingstone (1939), A Tale of Two Cities (1935), Treasure Island (1934), The Wizard of Oz (1939), You Can't Take It With You (1938).

Look at that list. I sat in movie houses as a kid and absorbed morality through my skin. I loved every one of those movies, and they made me what I am--a man who places goodness and morality above everything else. I could do nothing else after having been taught it almost every day of my young life.

And there were dozens upon dozens of others, wonderful to watch, and wonderful to learn from. All my life, teaching me, teaching me.

Why in the world are we not harnessing those films? Showing them in our schools? Letting kids of today learn what we learned when we were young?

Take just one film, "The Four Feathers," where a man is accused of being a coward because his unit ships off to Sudan to fight without him. His four best friends, including his fiance, each give him a white feather, meaning that he is a coward. He goes to the Sudan in disguise and proves himself in one of the most exciting films ever made, a film that shows the true meaning of courage.

Why do we we not have courses in school that teach morality, drawing on the literally free films of the past to do it?

The kids would love the films, love talking about them, and love the chance to see the past in some way other than in the dry and dusty pages of some history book.

Instead of watching the garbage that Hollywood makes today.


Ronald Hamric 3 years, 12 months ago

Tom, You know I so agree with your views expressed here. Those 3 for a dime Saturday matinee cowboy movies where the guy in the white hat always prevailed over the guy in the black hat, if for no other reason than the guy in the black hat was up to no good. We could fill books with our thoughts as to why things are so vey different in out nation today and just what those differences are. What we cannot do as those of us at our age simply do not have the years left to accomplish it, is to use the same methodology used by the progressive/socialist ideology that allowed them to make such a significant change in this nation's morality and fundamental principles of individual responsibility, character, and the ability to discern right from wrong. They literally and subtly took over our public school system and institutes of higher learning. I have to hand it to them. They were very patient, and willing to take the slow approach to altering traditional socio/political views into those that are more favorable to their ideological goals. I think they saw the payoff for their patience in the 2008 presidential elections. I can't help but remember the old phrase " give me the children, and I will rule the world". If we are to change the direction that those of that ideological view have put this nation on, then it will most likely take as long as they were willing to accept, to do that. You and I and most here simply do not have that amount of time to make any effective effort in that direction. Simply stated, they won and we might as well roll over and accept the reality of it in the years we have left. The only other option left to us is one that is unimaginable to even contemplate. Sad, but that's as I see it.


Ronald Hamric 3 years, 12 months ago

Tom, Since you are a reader, you might want to avail yourself of some of these free phamplets that are available for download from http://www.alphapub.com/. I've read several and although I don't fall into the catagory a Richard W. Wetherill follower, I think they give much pause for thought. Might I suggest you start with "Might is Right". Your milage may vary.


Pat Randall 3 years, 12 months ago

Tom, and Ron, We all didn't learn from the movies. We learned from church and our parent's example. I grew up in Payson and we didn't have many movies. Once in a while there would be a few. Wasn't enough people here to make them profitable.

I remember when APS brought in real electricty. Up until then we had electricity from a Kohler generator in the old garage at McLane and Main St.

I agree they should trash most all the movies that are out there now along with most of the TV programs. The internet isn't the best thing for kids to be looking at all the time either.


Pat Randall 3 years, 12 months ago

Our teachers in school also set good examples in actions and dress The women would not have thought of wearing jeans and t-shirts to teach. Always a dress with hose and nice shoes.


Ronald Hamric 3 years, 12 months ago

Pat, You need to come into the modern world. You're sounding as lod fashion as Tom and I.;-) We have to admit, it is certainly different now in so many ways. I'm afraid the America we knew is gone forever, and only a few of us "old timers" even care.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 12 months ago

The main point here is that morality does not come naturally; it has to be learned. Nature does not train us to do the right thing. Nature trains us to fight tooth and nail for the good things of the earth. It is in our genes. Just look at what any animal does, and in fact what even the plants do, and you'll see the truth of that. It can be summed up in a single word:


There is never enough of anything so that everyone can have as much of it as he might use if he could get it. That means we live in a world of never-ending scarcity, and nature teaches us to just reach out, grab what we can get, and to hell with everyone else.

But the wonderful thing about humans is that we are NOT animals. We can think. We can reason. We have emotions that no animal has, or can ever have. We can rise above the animal in us an become something far, far better. We can care. We can learn that it feels better to do the right thing.

That is a wonderful gift, a true gift of God. It didn't have to be that way. We, with our better brains, could be nothing more than two legged computers. The world could be a place of cold, icy logic.

But it isn't, is it? Humans are truly different! What elk looks up from its browsing, sees the mountains around it topped with snow and shining in the sun, and says to itself, "What a beautiful world this is?"

But we do, and that means we are special, different, human.

Why do you suppose the Ten Commandments lists things, and then tell us that we shall NOT do most of them? It's because those things were the things that are done by animals. In animals it is not evil to kill to get what you want, it is not evil to grab what you can get and run with it.

But us?

What is a human being, if not a being who can rise above the animal level and be more than any animal can ever be? That's what we have to teach our kids. That they are special, different, caring. Morality. Simple, everyday morality. And the schools are the obvious place to teach it. As the twig is bent so the tree will grow.

What we need are courses in ethics. How will kids know what's right and wrong if we don't tell them? They look at television reality shows and they're teaching them to lie, cheat, and steal. They are teaching them that winning is everything.

But winning isn't everything! Look back over your own life and you'll find that winning only really meant something to you when you knew that you were right, not just bigger or stronger. We can teach the kids that, and what we teach them will beat out the evil teaching we see elsewhere. How do I know that? Because humans are NOT animals. We feel.

Back to the simple idea of using movies.


Tom Garrett 3 years, 12 months ago

Movies are cheap, they are fun to watch, they are fun to talk about when you are young, and they teach ethics without preaching. We could have courses that touch on one part of life at a time, and each part that was being taught could be demonstrated by a film.

Take Gunda Din. Here some "useless" peasant of a water carrier who never "amounted to anything" in his life gets atop the dome of a fortress, right out in the open, right under the guns of the enemy, takes a bugle and blows it to warn an army unit which is marching into a deadly trap, and pays for it with his life. The end of Kipling's poem, on which the film is based, says it all.

Ah, Din, Din, Din,

Tho' I've belted you and flayed you,

By the livin' Gawd that made you,

You're a better man than I, Gunga Din!

Those words are so powerful that I can't read them without tears coming to my eyes as they are at this moment. I learned. You learned. So can our kids. We fail them if we don't teach them what is really important. But we have to find a way to do it, one that matches what they can understand at school age.


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