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Monday, July 18, 2016

WHEN IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU

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Text-book case of selfish over selfless

President Obama’s remarks at the memorial service for five slain Dallas police officers recently was a sad reflection of why our nation is so divided and why it’s not only important for us to do what is right in our communities but to do it for the right reasons and not just because of what’s in it for you.

That’s because you can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. After all, most people are really nice to those who can help them in some way. Whether it's your manager at work when you are asking for a raise, or your plumber when you have a burst pipe and water is running everywhere – we act differently when there’s something in it for us – even when it’s the right thing to do in the first place.

And yes, having the POTUS attend this memorial service is both honorable and appropriate. But when the president took the opportunity at the memorial service to make a speech supporting more gun control legislation in a room full of people hurting with heavy hearts from the loss of these officers’ lives – it felt like the president came to Dallas more for what was in it for him – and about how a grieving community could help make the case for his political agenda.

Unfortunately, this “what’s in it for me” culture is increasingly expected. Although the president’s remarks should have been only to express the nation’s sympathies to the grieving families and the law enforcement communities as well as the Dallas community at-large, he took this solemn time to lobby the crowd, saying, “We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book.”

First of all, none of that is true. None of it – not to mention that the killer in Dallas was not even close to being a teenager, or an at-risk youth. Secondly, Pew Research Center conducted a survey last year and found 87 percent of U.S. teenagers had access to either a desktop or laptop computer, and books are plentiful in our communities. In fact, our public schools literally hand our children books every year, not to mention there are more libraries in the United States than McDonald’s restaurants. So why lie to an audience, not to mention one that is grieving, just to advance an agenda?

Well, it’s not the first time for this administration. Remember the BP oil spill and Obama’s moratorium on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico because he said it was a matter of national security? There are 32,000 Louisiana jobs dependent on drilling, and many drilling rigs were forced to leave the Gulf of Mexico because of inactivity – and they haven’t come back. In the end, the moratorium on drilling was used to help pass new alternative energy legislation in Congress, not increase our national security.

Remember, too, that Obama began withdrawing our combat troops from Iraq in 2011, and justified doing so because he said we had achieved success and “the tide of war is receding." But it wasn’t true. To the contrary, our military advisors had warned that it was too soon to leave, and that the tide of war had not, in fact, receded.

In the end, though, this single decision to withdraw from Iraq left the door wide open for ISIS to flourish, and expand their terror around the world – all while Obama could now make good on his 2008 campaign promise to withdraw our combat troops, and he was re-elected in 2012.

There are other examples of this “what’s in it for me” culture, but the bottom line is that it’s rotting our country from the top down. It is no doubt what is largely responsible for the increasingly deeper divisions between blacks and white, rich and poor, conservatives and liberals, etc. over the last eight years.

Yes, I know our culture and all of the advertisements within it promote this life being all about us and what’s in it for us: “Have it your way,” “You deserve a break today,” or “You’re worth it.”

But the first sentence in the book “A Purpose Driven Life” perhaps says it best: “It’s not about you.”

And our president should be the first one in line to say so – especially at a memorial service for those who put their lives in harm’s way so he won’t ever have to.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman and attorney. He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com.

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