Definition of epiphany
They’re brain dead. Idiots. Bigoted. Racist. And they feel the same way about us.
They listen to their tv news, read their schlock newspapers and believe in unfounded opinion articles as news. And so do we.
Not me! You declare. So, I ask you….whatever place on the spectrum you live, have you read “the other side’s ” news? Ever? Just to try to understand why they don’t know what you know? Not even once? Once per day would be a good try.
I posted an article on Facebook recently that asked people to state their opinion after reading it. I also emailed this to some friends who are not on Facebook, to ask their opinion. The article, by NBC News, explains a study done by political scientists at Texas A&M. I am not going to summarize it here; it is THAT IMPORTANT that you read it for yourself. What I will tell you is that most people did not respond, and those many who commented back to me had NOT read the whole article. One said it was too biased. Another said he knew that NBC was a liberal organization so he didn’t bother.
So, I just wonder who is pulling the strings? Who are the puppet masters? Why are we allowing this?
I don’t feel like a sheep, following the leader blindly. I suspect you don’t feel that way either. And yet, for much of what is going on, we are experiencing a significant effort to keep us separated. To make us angry at people who don’t agree with us. To reduce them to less than equal status in our thinking….and then in our behavior.
But we have had situations that have polarized us when, in truth, we really should all have a similar reaction. The horror of people being pulled from their cars and beaten. The rhetoric of our nation’s leadership making broad statements about a group of people based on…..pick one….color, nationality, religion, gender, sexual orientation….and many feel threatened instead of talking to people they personally know in that identified group of people to get first hand information about the situation. The unbelievable situation where children are taken away from their parents when they enter the US illegally, and about 1500 have been “lost”. The lack of transparency on the actions of some government agencies whose actions beg answers. The science showing us we are essentially killing ourselves, ruining the planet’s oceans, air and more. All these issues should really have a unified reaction by EVERYONE regardless of where they are on the political spectrum.
I think we each have a choice. We can continue sharing news that is phrased in ways to agitate and polarize or we can seek the truth behind the news and point out who the puppet masters are and why they want us distracted and separate. Follow the money is a truism.
When laws are passed to permit cars to hit protesters who are blocking a roadway, when peaceful protestors who point out the inequities of police treatment are distorted as demeaning the flag and the military, when the anger over abortion leads states to close clinics that provide all kinds of health services and screenings for people, when we incarcerate illegal aliens and separate their children from them and then “lose” some because of poor record keeping, and I could go on….we are being played. We are being made angry to uphold values we consider very important to the definition of what this country is.
Both sides feel this way.
We need to stop paying attention to WHAT is being said and start asking WHY. And like a curious toddler, the WHY question needs to be asked again and again until we finally get to the truth. And if, like an impatient parent, we are cut off from the explanation, as adults we know that is not right and we need to push some more.
Yes, there are people in this nation whose concept of what the United States should be would be to eliminate many of its current citizens and residents from being here. They do not think beyond their discomfort and fear. They do not recognize that there are consequences to deporting or otherwise eliminating a class of people not “desirable”. They do not know the slippery slope they propose would, inevitably, include them. How can I suggest this? I’ve read my history. Not only Nazi Germany but many other countries where tribal factions, religious schisms, ethnic identification have resulted in millions dead.
I am appalled when I see people threatening civil war if something happens they don’t like. They need to read. They need to watch some good films that will clearly show there is no winner in war, other than those who own the corporations who run the war.
So ask yourself when you have a reaction to something you read…..how can I bring THE TRUTH to people in a way they will listen, and join together? This means no knee jerk reactions or you are fanning the flames.
Be smart. Let’s turn ourselves around. What’s the goal?
What’s the most important job in the world? Nope, not being the President of the United States, although we are learning right now how leadership in that role can influence how others think about us. But few of us can do that job well, and so, not just anyone should assume the mantle.
I’m speaking about parenting. Many of us are parents, have been parents, or want to be parents. Many of us should NOT be parents.
Ouch! Was that too nasty? Perhaps….and perhaps not.
Let’s take an example from something on my Facebook feed today. Facebook is an excellent way to measure the values of your extended community. Some people who post on your feed are people you know well, others not so well, and others are “friends of friends” and you don’t really know them at all. It’s a microcosm of society. Facebook is NOT good for trustworthy news….make sure to check everything you think is news there. But Facebook is good at understanding people’s viewpoints and that is what makes up society.
This morning a friend shared a concern that a teacher friend of hers had with parents of elementary school aged children. The teacher had posted that she starts the school year each year for the past 25 years the same way. She sends home papers for the parents to complete. We know this pile, and yes, it is an annoyance. But she sends home one more that she originates. She asks for information about the child: likes and dislikes, attitudes about going to school, family life and activities and more. She said she used to receive these essays from 98% of parents, she said in the last decade she has noticed a huge decline. Only 20% of parent’s participate in this.
Yes, I know we all work long hours. Yes, I know there is a lot that needs to be done each and every day. But, this is parenting. You had babies. Now, the question becomes, what kind of adult do you want to grow?
About 30 years ago I had to make a decision about my marriage. I had two small children (ages 1 and 3) and a husband who was self-centered and diagnosed with several mental health issues. When I saw the toddler mimicking his father’s behavior I knew I was not raising those kids in a healthy environment. I knew that my job was NOT what made money and supported the family (he had stopped working) but to raise those children to be healthy adults who not only could function in society but contribute to it.
We have lots of complaints about kids’ behavior and lack of ambition. We hear all too often that some kids lash out in anger over disappointments. We hear that there have been three generations of families on support programs. We have a problem and it IS us.
It is parents who are not emotionally mature enough to recognize that their priority for the next 18 years after giving birth is to raise a child who finds joy in life, is excited to be intellectually curious, and enjoys participating in community service to feel a part of solutions.
What? No time? Unless you are physically out of the house trying to earn a living 16 hours a day, that won’t fly. And if you are out of the house that much, who has your child? Surely you will place your child with a caregiver who will be teaching them how to tackle life’s challenges and embrace the wonderful things.
But I think most people are not away from their children. Most people may be struggling themselves with the burdens of everyday life and may be focusing on their own needs as their first priority. And that is still not the best.
Yes, you need some alone time to regenerate energy. No question about it. I chose 5am-6am. I asked no one to disturb me even if they were awake. That was MY time.
Then at 6am we could start the kids’ day. They had picked out their clothes (with my help as age appropriate) the night before so there was no “where are my shoes” emergencies. There is time for breakfast and packing a lunch before needing to be out the door for the bus or walk or car ride to school when you start early enough.
Can’t get up that early and be functional? Why not? What time did you get yourself to bed to sleep? What kind of “help” did you use to relax the night before that leaves you sluggish in the morning? What are you teaching your children about responsibility and how they will be as adults? They will mimic you.
When my youngest was in high school he ran cross country and track. After the first track meet I saw I would be sitting in the stands for 5 hours between his first and last race. The next meet I brought my camera and started taking photos. My husband did also. We were recognized as team photographers and allowed on the field and for 4 years we captured photos of all 80 kids trying their best.
I posted the photos on a site where (with a password) anyone could grab them and just about all the kids and some parents thanked us for our effort, but no one took over when we “graduated”. It really amazed and saddened me when most parents never showed up to the high school track meets, even when they were held at our school. No car? There’s a bus and there are other people you can call for a ride. There are ALWAYS solutions. It depends on you and what you want to do with and for your children.
Just as lust is not love, having sex does not mean you should have a baby. But if you DO have a baby (and this is for men as well as women) you have just assumed responsibility to raise them. To be better than you are! To learn right and wrong! To develop solutions to problems! To recognized they are part of a community and receive benefits from that community so make time to give something back in service!
Because parents are ducking their responsibility, the concept of “life 101” classes to be held in middle school and high school needs to include a lot of things parents USED TO teach their children. How to develop a budget and live within it. How to balance a checkbook. How to cook so you can make healthy meals and not need to depend on frozen options that are full of chemicals. How to sew so you can at least put a button back on a shirt. How to iron. How to change a tire. How to make a goal and work towards it. How to how to how to. The list goes on.
How to adult. Just because you are over 18 and legally an adult does not seem to equate to maturity with many people. My parents had a saying that irritated me but it was a truism. At that time 21 was the age of legal majority so they would say “You do not automatically become an adult and know how to do everything when you are 21.”
They taught me much of what I needed to know and yes, some of their concepts were outdated and I rebelled. I failed and picked myself up again and went on. That is also part of what we need to teach our kids. How to be resilient.
So, when you look at that beautiful newborn and get teary eyed over his potential, develop your plan of action. When you catch yourself spanking the 2-year-old trying to explore her world, change your parenting discipline to one that teaches with reason, not pain. When your 7-year-old tells you he hates you, explain calmly you know that feeling because perhaps right then you are hating their behavior, but you know they can choose to behave in a way that is better. When your 10-year-old gets Cs, look to your own time helping with homework; if you haven’t been you should be able to help pull that grade up to a B at least. Long before your 15-year-old gets pregnant tell her age appropriate information about the physical and emotional responsibility of actions….ALL actions. (Get over it people….you had sex and guess what, they will too!)
It takes work to be a parent. And to be a good parent takes a lot more work than many people are putting in.
Look around you. How many people are lonely? Their kids have flown away and hardly ever come to visit or have contact. How many people are so judgemental that if the child had opinions that differed from the parent the kid was told they were wrong but not why the parent feels that way. I talked to an elderly man who was trolling the parking lot of the church looking for his daughter who was homeless. He told me how he hated her having a Latino boyfriend and had told her she could come home but not with him. He did not see he had built the wall that his daughter would not climb over. Do you know people like that?
It starts with babies. How you raise your kids makes a difference. Remember that each time you are ready to condemn the actions of “kids today”.
When I was in first and second grades my teacher, Mrs. Hibbard, helped establish a wonderful foundation for the love of learning. One year, for example, we built a list from encyclopedias and other little kid references for each day of the month of February. We all know February 2 is Groundhog Day but did you know that February 1 is Victor Hugo’s birthday? Imagine knowing at age 7 who he was and what he did!
She had a bowl of those tiny hearts with sayings on them that are sold around Valentine’s Day. They were a treat, a carrot so to speak, for achieving something good. Most typically they were for behavior not scholastic performance, so achievable to everyone equally. With those small bits of sugar she taught us self control.
A little less than a decade later my mom often criticized the hippie concept of “do your own thing” as a problem. I guess, Mom, you may have hit part of the reason we’re so messed up now on that philosophical rebellion against the establishment. If only we were satisfied to stay in the proscribed roles, our society would have been “great” all these years. And yet, there was and continues to be good reason to make noise about some of what the people in power have foisted on us.
To put it mildly, this movement to break through conventional gender roles, color barriers and more upset the Establishment. Those of us who are old enough to remember the late 60s and early 70s also remember how divided this nation was. There were those who supported the way of life that had been good enough for generations and the fact that those conventional mores restricted equal protection and application of the law was not recognized by people who perhaps felt threatened by others being given “equality”. And the fight continues.
As we’ve moved away from back fence discussions with neighbors we know to the faceless aspect of Facebook, these discussions often become rude and completely worthless as an exchange of concepts. Part of the population never quite understood that “political correctness” just meant being polite to all people and most of the population never learned how to hold a persuasive argument. If a person has no way to frame their position like a salesman, gently showing the benefit to the “prospect”, that person has no recourse but to say the same thing again and again and then, in frustration, turn to denigration.
I have a good number of friends that I have made in places I have lived. While we never really talked about politics until recently, I had commonalities with them that nurtured our friendship. Some of them have disowned me; others continue to today and are able to present their viewpoints and respond to mine. What’s the difference in broad terms between these two groups of people? Generally, it is their own self confidence in the life choices they have made and their self control in the way they live and speak.
I have other friends on Facebook, people I have never met face to face. They became friends because of some commonality. The farm-to-table movement attracts people who are concerned about how the food we eat affects our health, and politically, we are all over the spectrum. It amuses me that one of the people who “likes” almost every food warning I post on Facebook is unable to write out her own feelings on the political issues that shake us, and relies on some of her Facebook friends to engage with me.
It doesn’t bother me to have discussions with people who hold opinions different from mine. How can we ever find our commonalities and perhaps solutions to these issues without sharing our concerns?
But there are many people who degrade rapidly or eventually. It’s as if they just can’t handle the points I raise. Perhaps they start to agree but their longer held position pulls them back and scared a bit, they lash out. Perhaps they just can’t imagine that anyone who holds a different viewpoint is worth their time, a classic example of cognitive dissonance.
It doesn’t matter if they are smart or average. It doesn’t seem to matter what their financial status is. It DOES seem to reflect on their love learning or lack thereof.
And I want to stress here that this kind of childish behavior is displayed by people throughout the political spectrum, not just one side or the other.
So, if you, like me, wants to see us avoid another civil war, I urge you to get a handle on your self control.
Sorry for mixing my Broadway musical metaphors but I need your two cents because, like Tevye, I’m getting a lot of On The Other Hand in my decision making.
Back in January I wrote about my experience with six decades of wading through medical care with all its various changes. (I wrote that blog to help people who might not understand why the ACA is so important to people who have difficulty obtaining health care that can be within financial reach. Many of the comments I received were that people were sad I had gone through all that. The point was, many many many people do.) And even as I wrote of all my issues, that was before my left hip started protesting loudly the year plus of walking “wonky” with my bad right knee. After a gait adjusted for pain, my pelvis had tilted. It wasn’t enough to juggle the stupid knee and then the cornea transplant, I had a new medical issue that provided a new education. Lucky me.
The increased level of pain led me to think I would have to close my business, Can-Do Real Food, My logic said that was the right decision. My emotions were not in agreement. (You can see how Tevye’s dilemma discussion seems to be part of my DNA, or at least cultural norm.)
My regular doctor offered me pain pills. While I filled the prescription for the muscle relaxant, I soon discovered not only did it not work, but neither could I with a muddy head. I decided to go outside of standard medical practice and found a chiropractor who might help move that pelvis back into alignment. Between his gentle pokes and prods as well as physical therapy inside his office environment, the screaming pain has diminished and I can see a glimmer of dim light ahead.
But then I ran out of insurance benefits.
The chiropractor reminded me it had taken me a year to get into the twisted position and it would take a while longer to get out of it. His thinking was once I got that part aligned I would be functional and need only pop back in to see him when I realized I was hurting again.
But I can’t afford him.
So, back to my primary care doctor who offered to send me to the same doc who said my original injury to my knee in June 2016 was “only arthritis” and “I would never need surgery”, all without the benefit of a scan. I told my primary doc I would not go back to him. I expect my doctors to base their advice on information and avoid those who don’t.
Also, since I’ve been hearing I have arthritis for years now and the pain is increasing in the affected joints, I asked to speak to someone with arthritis expertise to give me advice. Turns out that specialization is a rhemolotolgist and the first clinic said I was not bad enough to take up their time and the second clinic gave me their first available appointment four months from now. Since I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis it is perhaps not a needed visit anyway, but it sure would be nice to get some better info.
Yesterday I had an appointment with a new orthopedic doc. I went in wanting info, very much convinced I am not a surgical candidate nor is my knee hurting that badly right now so why would I want surgery?
He convinced me I need to have the surgery. The pelvis will NEVER be right until I am walking more normally. My knee will never be better and will only get worse. I wanted to know the probably progression of the deterioration and he was able to take the time and explain it.
So, straddling the conventional/nontraditional medicine routes gets sticky when I opt to lean one way or the other; the other side of my care spectrum voices their concerns. Some are valid. Some may be self-serving.
Here are the issues of my dilemma:
And then, on the nontraditional side,
The new ortho doc said something that sounds real: “Many people opt to wait because they are not feeling “that bad”. And then something happens and they are in horrible pain, wanting the surgery and then needing to wait a month or two to fit into the schedule.”
And he also said “Most likely you will heal better and faster than someone who is in high pain prior to the surgery because you are still pretty mobile.”
We have mundane but real issues also.
So, like the King of Siam, it is a puzzlement to me. A time of change is upon me. A decision needs to be made that will have consequences. Those issues, with the exception of the health insurance costs, are not easily quantifiable.
I came of age during the VietNam war and so, the diversification of our nation now is not a new issue to me. There seemed to be three camps in those days: my country right or wrong, things are not right so I have an obligation to protest to get change to occur, and the silent majority. Once again, we have proof that the more things change the more they stay the same.
A close friend recently posted on Facebook how dismayed she felt when at a kids’ recreational football game, the opposing team took a knee during the anthem. She has felt the protests at the NFL games are primarily a disrespect to the flag, to the military and to first responders. Her husband is a retired cop who walked his beat with patience and persuasion, so I understand well how they are angry that all cops have been brushed with the unethical and illegal response by others.
My understanding her viewpoint is the first step to initiating a discussion. That discussion may go no where, butting up against the brick wall of inflexible consideration of emotions and facts that do not fit an acceptable scenario. But it might also open a window to a new enlightenment.
What has particularly bothered me about people who condemn the protest is that they never address the base issue. They never talk about WHY the protest is taking place.
They don’t understand it is that silence, that negation of importance, that drives the need for protest.
And when I ask people what kind of protest would be acceptable, the silence is deafening.
When there is silence, there is acceptance. There is complacency. There is collusion.
People I know who protest the protest are usually loud in their argument that they are colorblind, that they treat each person equally. That may or may not be true and in truth, if each person actually believed in and lived the Golden Rule, we would be living in a whole different culture.
But the people who protest the protest NEVER say anything about the innocent people who are shot and killed, not because of their behavior but because of their skin tone. They NEVER say anything about court decisions that absolve responsibility for a death of a person of color whose actions in no way required being killed.
They argue black on black crime. Not the issue being protested–stick to the point!
They argue women are also subjected to discrimination. Oh yes, but not the issue being protested-stick to the point!
They point out cruelty to animals. Horrible, but not the issue being protested-stick to the point!
There are a lot of things that can use improving in our society. I can’t fight for every issue that calls to me and neither can anyone else. But a strong emotional response sure indicates this may be an issue that needs more attention. And attention means education first to gather the facts and reduce the emotional response as much as possible. To think calmly and logically. To even place yourself in the same situation, empathically.
Adding anger about protest is adding fuel to the fire.
About thirty years ago I had an epiphany. My job was not the activity I did that provided income. My job, it hit me, was to raise those little munchkins I had birthed to become healthy and happy adults who could function as contributing members of society.
It wasn’t an easy road, as anyone who has walked it can attest. Having a spouse who had a completely different parenting philosophy was harder, believe it or not, than when I was a single mom. But trying to parent alone can be a constant struggle against fatigue and a slippage of consistency.
I’m not a deep analytical thinker generally but as a kid, whenever I chafed at the rules and restrictions imposed by my parents that seemed unfair, I thought about why. What was the purpose of the rule? Was it fair? Could my parents have achieved my compliance more readily if they had presented the need for a certain behavior a different way? It seemed to me that the answer was yes, life was unfair to me then.
I knew my parents, overall, were okay. I understand better now that they had their own issues and that they did what they thought was the best thing for my sisters and me. And despite some developmental restrictions I had to learn to overcome as an adult (i.e, how to deal with anger in a way where it would not blow up into World War III) they gave me a lot of experiences that many other kids don’t get.
Our family was in no way child centric, but my parents were involved in activities that provided for my exploration and growth. Scouting, encouraging my love of reading, camping and travelling, helping us learn to swim, and PTA were things they did. There were inconsistencies about religious training and practice which I now recognize was a struggle between the way my dad and mom had each been raised. They encouraged my participation in the music education program starting in 4th grade, something I did with my kids and learned quickly to appreciate that my parents had provided that model.
What’s fascinating is that when I discuss memories and issues with my two sisters, their experiences sometimes were considerably different from mine. If that can happen in the same environment, the whole nurture vs nature concept shows up more clearly.
Looking back it is easy to see that each of my kid’s personalities was evident right from the beginning. They were who they are even as infants and toddlers. The way they expressed themselves, their willingness to explore or need to stay close, and their responses to me were challenging and wonderful and scary, all at the same time. I recognized that this was my biggest responsibility in life and I knew I wanted to give them something better than I had had.
I knew I wanted to parent differently but also knew that unless I made an effort to learn a new way, the guidance I heard in my head and heart would be the way I had been raised. I was fortunate that my older two kids attended an elementary school in the “poor” neighborhood of a town in Connecticut where education was held in high esteem. (in other words, we paid higher taxes for the school system there than any other place I have lived.) The principal of the elementary school was a consummate grant writer and we had an amazing array of programs, offered free. One was a parenting class called Systematic Training for Effective Parenting. While child raising practices have moved on, this served as an amazing framework for me to teach my kids about fair communication, accepting responsibility, and understanding that there will be consequences for misbehavior. One of the best parts, particularly after a year or two of practice, was that we all had fewer angry meltdowns. Me too.
I know it would be interesting to read their perspective of the experience. Now adults in their 20s and 30s, I suspect I would hear about all the horrible things I did to them. But I also think there would be many more positive issues. (I recognize that statement might be self serving. LOL)
I just came back from a long weekend to celebrate my youngest’s 23rd birthday. The joy I felt was better than any drug. I could easily see that despite a pathway taken that was not the original planned, he is doing fine. He is healthy. He is supporting himself (well, almost). He has good friends who also are finding their way along their own pathways.
One important difference, I think, between my parents and me is that I do not expect my kids to live their life the way I would if I had their opportunities. This son struggled in school, a surprise to all of us. Yet in today’s economic turmoil, a college education is not proving to be the answer it was to my generation, so understanding there are other ways to earn the money to live is part of my letting go. After all, earning a living is NOT the same as building a fulfilling life. My hope for this young man is the same as it was when he was born and he is well on his way to being the healthy, happy, functioning adult I tried to aim for with my parenting.