Thomasville Times Enterprise


June 20, 2014

Former Flame Syndrome

Imagine if you will, gentlemen. Remember that young lady you dated back in college? She was smart, funny, polite, cute and introverted. She loved you. You knew she was marriage material, but you weren’t remotely interested in marriage at the time. You wanted to be single. You wanted to mingle. So you broke up with her. And now, 15 years later, she’s on the cover of People magazine as the “Most Beautiful Woman Alive.” You didn’t want her then, and you don’t want anyone dating her now. That’s a textbook example of Former Flame Syndrome. Unfortunately, this malady can be applied to individuals, groups, political parties, vocations, and any other institution.

That said, why do so many Americans disrespect those who work in law enforcement? Police officers have never been more well-trained, smarter or quicker to respond when called upon. True blue keeps our streets safe in the climate of budget cuts, undermanned precincts and increasingly well-armed criminals. All police officers do is risk their lives every single day while performing their duty to serve and protect. What do these keepers of the peace get in return? Taken for granted. Ostracized. Vilified. When was the last time you simply walked up to a policeman or policewoman and simply said “thank you?” It’s the least you could do in light of their service. No one thinks about the police until you need them. No one wants them around until you’re in trouble. That’s Former Flame Syndrome, folks. Period. Everything I just said about law enforcement also applies to the valiant members of our military.

How about teachers? Why are they sometimes looked down upon by society? This sad situation is especially vexing to me because many of my friends and family members are educators. I was once an educator, myself. I know personally what it’s like to lie awake at night contemplating how I could motivate and inspire my students as I was motivated and inspired by my own teachers. I remember what it felt like to want to do more for at-risk kids but being constrained by the rules and regulations. I vividly recall worrying about those pupils of mine who I knew were going home to hostile domestic environments, crime-filled neighborhoods and even to homes without electricity or running water. Being an educator means being part cop, part counselor, part minister, part parent, part life coach, part child advocate and part missionary on scant pay and shaky benefits. What do these true believers get in return? Ignored. Unfairly scrutinized. Accused of being greedy union workers. When was the last time you thanked your child’s teachers? When was the last time you emailed them words of support? You have the time if were so inclined. Few parents work in partnership with teachers. Some are willing to curse them out but unwilling to pray for them. Former Flame Syndrome. Pure and simple.

How about government? No one likes the government, right? Progressives don’t think government does enough to help Americans; conservatives think government does entirely too much to help them. Democrats want to right-size government. Republicans want to shrink it down to the size of an hors d'oeuvre, smother it in Grey Poupon and consume it with a nice chianti. All you ever hear is what the government takes. Why don’t we ever hear about what the government gives us all regardless of our political leanings? As American citizens, we have free speech, the right to assemble, the right to vote, the right to own firearms and too many other awesome freedoms to count. President Obama’s presidency hasn’t changed a single one of those things. I find it rather peculiar that those who scream so loudly that our Constitution is sacrosanct are the very same people who seek to deny the rights granted by the U.S. Constitution to those they deem unfair or unworthy. You know… the takers. The 47 percent. The 11 million undocumented migrant workers. The working poor. The ever-shrinking middle class. Women. People of color. Young Americans. Liberals. Basically, anyone/everyone who doesn’t look like, sound like, or vote like themselves. America’s diversity is one of its greatest strengths. It has been, it is now  and it shall remain a nation of immigrants. When was the last time you thanked God for being an American? If you can’t stand Mr. Obama, when was the last time you prayed for The Lord to guide him to be the best leader he can possibly be? You say you want America to be strong; yet you openly hope for the failure of its leader. Former. Flame. Syndrome.

If this column stepped on your toes, good. That was my intention.

Our men and women in uniform, police officers, teachers, and members of government are worthy of your respect. Good people, don’t extinguish the flame. Let it burn. Bright and warm.



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