BETWEEN THE LINES: The moral of the story

In a culture that places emphasis on the superfluous, moral lessons are increasingly hard to find. Children used to be taught these lessons using fables to convey truths. Occasionally, some youngsters today feast on classics such as C.S. Lewis’ "Chronicles of Narnia," but, mostly, they indulge on modern inventions such as the Xbox.

The TV shows I watched as a child focused on themes such as good vs. evil. The bad guys wore the black hats. Westerns were standard fare, with shows such as the "Lone Ranger." Also, there was an emphasis on family in TV series such as "Lassie," "Leave It to Beaver" and "Father Knows Best."

Contrast that with today’s "Two and a Half Men" and "Jersey Shore." Crude humor, sex and violence have captured the day.

I prefer shows and films that teach moral truths. I need to be constantly reminded of the person God wants me to be. Thus, I was happy to discover a rugby movie the other day on Netflix that is definitely worth watching.

"Forever Strong" is a true story that should be seen by athletes and coaches because of its powerful message.

The plot centers around two high school rugby teams vying for a national championship. One is coached by a man driven to win with a no-holds-barred approach. Subconsciously, the tough coach hopes to heal the wounds from a season-ending injury that kept him from participating in a national championship game.

The opposing team is coached by a man who loves rugby and who desires to coach a championship team, but has never lost sight of the big picture. The film is based on the real-life story of Larry Gelwik, whose coaching philosophy is summed up by his quote: “It’s not about rugby. It’s about young men. It’s not about building a championship team. It’s about building championship boys, boys who will be forever strong.”

The guiding rule for the team was that players never did anything that would reflect poorly on their teammates, their parents or themselves. This is certainly good advice. That point is driven home as one of the star players admits to cheating on tests, thus denying him the chance to play in the championship game.

The story also demonstrates the power of forgiveness for both the offender and the offended. Harboring feelings of bitterness is a cancer that destroys.

Moral truths are not inherited. They are learned through repeated efforts. Of what value is a formal education if there are no morals? Our children and grandchildren have mastered technology. They are experts on social media, cell phones and laptop computers, but they don’t understand the importance of a strong moral compass.

Youth today are byproducts of a changing culture. As a society, we have failed to establish deep moral roots. Our youth are besieged daily by depravity on a grand scale. This trend must be reversed if we are to survive and be what God intended us to be. The tools to accomplish this are available; we just need to change our priorities. By doing so, we will create young men and women who will be forever strong.

Laughlin is a Christian Libertarian. He is an economist, teacher, father, husband and most recently a grandfather. He has written a weekly column for The Tribune for 13 years. He and his wife Gina reside in Meadowlakes. To contact him, email He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company.

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