Doc Rioux At Large

Problems and resolutions for 1997

Richard "Doc" Rioux · December 29, 1996

We need a wind to blow across this land to rid it of the problems that plague it. Freedom is threatened in almost every quarter of our collective being. The depiction of violence, vulgarity and sexual promiscuity in film and on television continues to corrupt our children.

Taxation has overburdened families and forced mothers into the workplace, leaving children for schools, streets and empty apartments to raise. The deterioration of moral standards has resulted in an epidemic of teen-age pregnancies, a holocaust of abortions and alarming rates of adultery and divorce.

Our children still graduate from high school with little knowledge of American history and government. Far too many have no concept of freedom, the meaning of liberty or the value of democracy. They have never analyzed the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights or the Gettysburg Address.

And what of the Ten Commandments, respect for mother and father, and doing good works for others? Few children I know going to public schools have ever read the Sermon on the Mount or can recite the 4th Commandment.

That we have too much federal government in our lives is clear. The national debt is approaching $6 trillion. One out of every four dollars you pay in taxes goes to pay the interest on the money the federal government has borrowed to fund programs for which annual revenues could not pay.

Meanwhile, Democrats and Republicans in Congress call for investigations of one another in order to gain partisan political advantage at the expense of the collective well-being. Average Americans tire of the feuding between parties in Congress and in state capitols while special interests dominate the political process and the people's business goes ignored.

We've allowed an illegal drug culture to spread from our inner cities to our suburbs. There is no escape. Teen-agers can obtain marijuana, LSD and speed during lunch hour at any school in this country, public or private. And it is because most parents and school administrators deny this truth that the crisis only worsens.

The fastest growing area of the public sector in America is the prison system. We are pouring billions annually into a bottomless pit of building prisons to house hundreds of thousands of addicts while reducing dollars for what are most cost-effective treatment programs.

The answer to the use of illegal drugs involves education, prevention and treatment. Addicts need treatment. The proliferation of illegal drugs is a major public health menace and must be addressed urgently and with common sense.

OK, so what are we to do about this huge mess? The solution starts in the home and in communities. A grass-roots, personal revolution of people determined to change themselves, make sacrifices, work on their personal relationships and devote time to their children and neighborhoods is what is required.

It is wrong for me to expect society to change unless I'm willing to make changes in myself first. Once I change, then it is appropriate for me to ask change of others in my home, at work and in my community.

It's important for you to take the time to write letters to the presidents of corporations that sponsor violent and sexually explicit television programs. It's important for you not to buy products advertised on programs you consider harmful to the values you hold dear. It's important for you to make the time to let your elected officials know what you feel and think. Personal notes to legislators or school board officials are very significant. Do not ever underestimate the power of the pen or FAX or e-mail.

Your correspondence IS important.

Most people make resolutions for the new year. The year 1997 is upon us. We've got four years before the next millennium begins. I believe we can arrest America's precipitous slide into social chaos if each of us makes and honors a commitment to make things better one person at a time, one day at a time. There is everything right with being civilized, with removing vulgarity from our language, with being polite, with turning off television programs that our children should not be watching.

As for me, my commitments for 1997 will include writing several columns to promote healthy family relationships and teaching my children more about American history and the meaning of the Bill of Rights. I want to do what I can to help make the Santa Clarita Valley an even safer, cleaner and healthier place in which to live, work, and recreate. I intend to work harder to place God at the center of our community life and to improve my own working relationships with those who take issue with me or my philosophy.

In all that I do, I will try to remember the maxim that the final value society places on our lives will be measured by the extent to which we have served others.

Happy New Year!

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Dr. Richard Rioux is a resident of Stevenson Ranch. His commentary appears on Sundays.


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