On Wednesday night (Sept. 19), One-Eleven was broken into. The thief managed to obtain around $27 in coins and approximately $100 from donation jars for Paige Roberts and Brandon Lowe.
In the process, the restaurant received upwards of $20,000 in damages, and the employees lost two days pay as a result of the restaurant having to be closed during repairs.
My thoughts on the arrest of Casey Darling for the break in at One-Eleven:
Casey Darling is a young man who has been fortunate enough to have been given multiple opportunities for success by One-Eleven, its staff, the Etheridge family and other members of the community. Casey has made a conscious decision, however, to choose a path and a lifestyle which will only lead to an inevitable conclusion. While it saddens me to see a young man with the potential that Casey has make incorrect decisions, it is inevitably his decision to make and his consequences to accept. Casey is but one example of the direction that an unacceptable number of the youth in our community are headed.
The youth of our community are faced with a perfect storm of drug availability and acceptance combined with a lack of discipline and accountability at the parental level as well as our educational system (whose hands are often tied by rules established by political correctness). The blame for the state of the youth in our community does not fall directly on them, but rests largely on the parents. Parents who do drugs will produce children who do drugs. Parents who do not back the educational system when their children are in the wrong will produce children without respect for authority. Parents who do not demand that enforcement clean up the drug problem in the community will produce children without the understanding of the consequences of drugs in the community. While no longer politically correct, when all else fails, a good, old-fashioned butt-whoopin’ is also a good deterrent (at least it was extremely effective in my day).
The other trend in our society which compounds the situation is that we have become a “society of victims.” As a society, we no longer take responsibility for our own destiny. We have become a society that tends to blame everyone but ourselves for the position we find ourselves in. It’s the school system’s fault that our children are uneducated. It’s the government’s fault that we are poor. It’s the company’s fault that we do not have a job. All the while, we sit on our collective brains and do nothing to change our own environment. If you do not like the education your child is receiving, get involved with their education. If you do not like the direction your government is heading, get out and vote. If you do not have a job, get out and find one (they are out there, perhaps not what we want, but it’s better than a handout). If you don’t like the direction your community is headed, get out and work to change it.
We all come into this world in the same manner, and each of us has the ability to control our destiny. I am probably a good example. When I was growing up, I had parents who both worked to make ends meet. My father often worked two shifts. Many dinners consisted of cornbread and pinto beans. I studied hard. I worked hard. I paid my own way through college. Yes, there were hard times. Yes, there were failures and setbacks. Yes, there were plenty of butt-whoopin’s to go around. As a child, I had the support of good parents, an unrestricted educational system, a church and a community that encouraged a good work ethic, discipline and the importance of education, not to mention community involvement. In the end, as an adult, I controlled my own destiny, both my failures as well as my successes. Casey Darling, having been presented with multiple opportunities, had a choice to make. While he could have chosen the path to success, he instead chose to become a burden on society. This was his choice, and now he should face the consequences of his decision.
The time has come for us as a society to say: “Enough!” It is time we took responsibility for our own community and put a stop to its decay. The first step is accountability. Whether it be parents, children, our educational system or our government, it is time to hold those acting irresponsible accountable, including ourselves. The second step would be for us as individuals to do our part to better our community through involvement rather than complacency. Thirty-five years ago, I left a community that was vibrant and full of pride. Our school system had a high graduation rate and produced a generation of graduates with a work ethic second to none in the state and who set out to make their mark in society. I returned to find a community that I found hard to recognize. The once vibrant downtown, while well-preserved, was oddly quiet. Yet other areas in town had fallen into decay. The pride and sense of community seemed missing. The work ethic and the feeling that folks from here could go out and accomplish anything they set their mind to, diminished. The once optimistic outlook of the community as a whole was now negative. Drug deals going down on the street corner in broad daylight.
Does it have to be so? Not in my book. We can turn this all around by simply putting our minds and backs into it. One person can have an impact, but imagine the effect if we all join in to take back our community. It is time to get out the cloth and polish to bring back the luster to the Queen City of the Highlands.
Michael Lovelady, LaFayette