Ms Mohs ties for first place as my all-time favorite teacher, of which I’ve had many, because she was unwavering in her resolve to maintain a standard of excellence. It was in her classroom where I was introduced to the “List of 50 Prepositions”, which, to this day, I can still recall from memory. Lord knows how I do appreciate skilled writing and Ms. Mohs was instrumental in my own personaldevelopment. It was not from her, however, that I adopted one of my life mottos which is: Learn the rules and then learn why, when, where, with whom, and how to break them.
In addition to memorizing the prepositions, there were so-called “rules” regarding them, one of which was that I ought never to end a sentence with one. Handily, there was a little tune that I learned them to. (See what I did there?) “About, above, across, after, against, along, among, around, at…” and then those that began with “b” and so on. (Oops, I did it again!).
You, too, have undoubtedly heard the self-righteous grammarians who claim one must never end a sentence with a preposition. (They are often the same who claim that you may never begin a sentence with “and”.)And I am here to tell you, that is absolute hogwash. If you wonder at how it came to be that the English language developed with such a rigid criterion, it has to do with Latin not using a terminal preposition and the educated class trying to fit the language into the Latin-sized box. Oh phooey! It is nearly a dead language for a reason! (Just kidding, Omar!)
And if you are one of those who still insist that you are correct about this ill-thought-out mandate, well we will have to part ways on that. You be you in your tiny, little box, and I’ll be me, happily in very good company!
I say you shall yet find the friend you were looking for. (Walt Whitman)
Mrs. Bennet had many grievances to relate, and much to complain of. (Jane Austen)
The domestic man, who loves no music so well as his kitchen clock and the airs which the logs sing to him as they burn on the hearth, has solaces which others never dream of. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Then she remembered what she had been waiting for. (James Joyce)
Finn the Red-Handed had stolen a skillet and a quantity of half-cured leaf tobacco, and had also brought a few corn-cobs to make pipes with. (Mark Twain)
There was a little money left, but to Mrs. Bart it seemed worse than nothing””the mere mockery of what she was entitled to. (Edith Wharton)
According to Matthew Dowd, prior to these latest scandals, (AP, Benghazi, and IRS), the level of trust in government was at an all-time low and is now even lower. SQUEAL!!!!! Yes, folks, this is something to rejoice about for as my dear friend, Derrick J says, “The jig is up!” Everyone is catching on to the fact that Government is immoral by nature and that the so-called legitimized use of force is evil- something that good people want no part of and are waking up to.
For my readers who are monotheistic, particularly Christians who believe that having a “nation under God” means a worldly government, I suggest you reconsider what your relationship to God is. Author, Tim Suttle wrote, “Participating in the organization of society is a sacred calling, part of our original vocation to have dominion, to fill the earth, subdue it, till it, keep it, and cause it to bear fruit”. What he fails to point out is that it is THE EARTH that is to be subdued, not its inhabitants. Sadly, that minute, but absolute fact is lost on so many well-meaning believers…I guess that is what it is to be deceived. Heartbreaking really. It is tragic to think that one might justify dominating another in the name of God, doing the right thing, having the best of intentions, the greater good. But, to me, what is worse is the fact that that thinking undermines a personal relationship with God, dependence upon Him for righteousness, and intimacy with the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us.
And for those who are humanists…still true! Whether created, or not, humans possess a neo-cortex and not merely a limbic system. Metacognition, awareness of one’s ability to think, and other advanced cognitive skills, such as social intelligence, planning and reasoning depend on a region of the brain known as the prefontal cortex. In order to exercise those abilities, one must be free to think, act, and then experience the natural consequences. I cannot imagine that anyone would fault the three women who were recently rescued from a decade of captivity and abuse for any means they deemed necessary to survive, nor would we hold someone who is mentally challenged or who has not reached the age of reason to the same standard we would a fully functioning human. There is a direct correlation between thinking and doing, and any hindrance diminishes capacity and therefore humanity.
So whether Christian (God believing) or Atheist, the conclusion ought to be the same when it comes to freedom and autonomy: it must be absolute with the only social rules for behavior being ones that are voluntary and can be opt-out of, as well as natural law- that morality most often attributed to Aristotle, which is distinct from positive law. The three scandals currently facing the Administration are all rooted in positive law: entitlements and the oppression of one person or group to grant favor to another.
So yes, the jig is up. Oppression, theft, abuse, and violence are not repeatable processes that will allow and foster freedom (choice) which is the chief cornerstone to humanity. Governments are nothing more than an expanded feudal system, which, as we know, benefits a few at the expense of everyone else. The fact that people grant them legitimacy via a voting process is a scam, for as we know, simply saying “I’m sorry” to the IRS will not be keeping Lauren Hill out of jail. And those who have been hood-winked to believe that they have a right to the fruit of her labor are waking up to that lie that for so long placated them since they themselves were under the burdensome yoke of the Government taskmaster. As more and more people stand up to the evil, whether we believe it to be spiritual in nature or purely physical, in order to embrace our own humanity, the State will be revealed for what it is: Anti-human.
Recently, a friend of mine gave me a bit of a ribbing for watching trash on the tele, or in my case, the laptop. I didn’t argue with him about our obvious difference of opinion on how I spend my time, but it did give me pause to reconsider why I like “Celebrity Apprentice”. After all, Mark Burnett’s reality TV has never been a fave of mine, and Donald Trump is such a buffoon, with the manners of a goat.
Initially, I watched it because a gal I knew from my layover in Nashville was one of the contestants. Sweet, quiet, and elegant Niki Taylor so outclassed Trump and his boardroom antics that I found it hard to suffer through the first show. But then, I adjusted my perspective and found myself cheering for all of the contestants who are there on their own time, battling it out for their charity of choice- most of which are near the celebrities’ hearts on account of personal experience. Brett Michaels, for example, diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a child, made it to the finals, nearly dying from a brain hemorrhage, only to win over $250,000 from Snapple for The Diabetes Association. Good on him!
There is, of course, the melodrama of such characters as Gary Busey whose quotes are poetic and strangely insightful. I mean, who doesn’t love a guy who claims that “My dark side, my shadow, my lower companion is now in the back room blowing up balloons for kids’ parties,”? And some Housewives lady from Jersey turned over a table…I didn’t quite understand what that was about, but people cheered. Millions of dollars are raised through voluntary donations from people across the board, whether contributing five bucks for a slice of pie or hundreds of thousands. What excites me is that it is all voluntary. People are generous and compassionate.
Drawing from a pool of successful and creative talents, the contestants do some amazing projects. It is impressive to me to see how these celebrities, who have honed their crafts, can pull magic out of their hat to seamlessly problem-solve despite financial and time constraints. (Brett Michaels using a room service cart and some doo dads to build a camera dolly for a shot was very cool.) And speaking of pulling magic out of a hat, my favorite contestant has been Penn Jillette.
Penn competed a couple of seasons ago and was criticized by many for his seemingly arrogant and gruff manner, especially from finalist Clay Akin, whose delicate sensibilities were disrupted by Penn’s overbearing persona. He is back as a finalist against Trace Adkins this season, and though he is the same Penn, it is quite obvious that he adjusted his behavior, toning down his demeanor, in order to better get along with others. He even admitted to as much when asked by Trump if he’d done anything differently this season.
Penn is about dignity and that is demonstrated in his choice for charity- Opportunity Village. Started by Elvis Presley and Wayne Newton, it is an organization that trains people to do the jobs we hate to do, but which they love to do. His passion for it really shined as he took a moment to educate the fired contestants, who had been brought back to help him with his final project, about who started it and why. It pulled at the heartstrings to see this dispassionate, giant-of-a-man succumb to tears, wiping them away with a hanky as he shared his affection for the mentally challenged.
His commitment to self-control and self-government is further exemplified in the manner in which he speaks to and about others. Teamed up with Lisa Rinna until she was fired, the two of them were exemplary in how they refused to be reduced to catty name-calling or the blame-game with the other contestants. He even spoke up on her behalf when doing so may have caused him to be fired. Further, in a video podcast posted on Big Think, he claims that “One of the joys of [his] life is getting along with people [he] shouldn’t get along with.” That is demonstrated in how he conducts himself and is a testament to his commitment to self-control as the standard for human action.
I applaud Penn and I hope that he wins the game as he as so obviously has won the game of life. I am a devout Christian and Penn is a devout Atheist. And yet we both believe that restraining self is chief among the attributes we must constantly strive for as humans. The fruit of his life is love, charity, long-suffering, self-control, compassion, gentleness and perseverance from what I can see. From my perspective, that makes him a godly man. I wonder what he would say about that! And given that he opts for educating and building-up, rather than merely entitling as a means for enabling those with disabilities, he qualifies as a member of B.I.T.C.H.E.S!!!!
You don’t mean to. Neither do they. Neither do I. And yet we do. We all do. We all lie. So if we all lie, we are all lied to.
Lies come in all sorts of forms. One lies to escape trouble. One lies to make another feel better. One lies to defraud another. So are all lies not equal? If they are not, why are those actions not given a different label? I suppose they are in a way. My dad used to tell us these grand tales and he called them “Whoppers” and we loved it. Being pulled into a story that is so largely fantastic that it cannot possibly be true, but with just enough plausibility that it could be, only to discover that it is not, just at the moment we had fallen for it was great fun. But was he lying? There is also the proverbial “white lie” which is a grade of seriousness just above a “fib” which is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a childish lie”. But how does something being “white” make it less grave than not and aren’t all untruths childish?
And what about those lies that we tell because we want so desperately for something to be true? As a loved one, teammate, fellow soldier, or even stranger lies (as in horizontally) bleeding and broken, do we not tell them, “Hang in there; you are going to be okay” even when they clearly are not? And would we not be appalled by someone who would dare say, “No, dude, you are going to be dead in a matter of minutes”? And do we not tell our young son or daughter that they sang beautifully even though they were off-pitch, out-of-tune, and flat? He or she has just stepped off of a stage they were terrified to walk onto and performed a solo that sucked, but they came off smiling, exuberant, and proud. Think Little Miss Sunshine. To lie is to tell a falsehood and to basically trick someone which by most accounts would be considered wrong and unjust. But in that circumstance, would it not be more wrong to say, “Oh honey, you were terrible and those people are only clapping to be nice. You lack vocal talent and your singing hurts my ears and grates on my nerves”?
When you are stopped by a cop and he or she asks, “Do you know why I stopped you?” it is incumbent upon you to say “No” for the very reason that under the United States Constitution, the state is required to prove your guilt, even though you know darned well that you were traveling 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. The allowance that is made is the 5th Amendment which states that you do not have to incriminate yourself. So in that case, you have an “out”. But what about when your four-year-old is standing at the edge of the family room in her cute little footsy pajamas and says “Hi Mommy” with a mouthful of cookie and yet categorically denies having retrieved cookies from the cookie jar? The evidence is covering her tongue with chocolate smears on her fingers so you know that she is lying. Do you feel wronged in the same way as you would if you found your spouse had dabbled in a different sort of cookie jar and then denied it even though the lipstick is on the collar or the used condom stuck to the heel of her shoe? Of course not, but they are both lies. There is therefore something greater at stake than being given false information.
Sometimes we lie without even knowing it. Information is insufficient or we are not privy to it but we make a declaration of fact only to learn later that we were incorrect. Are we responsible for speaking a lie in that case? Lawyers try to litigate that and provide outs by including “I know the above to be true to the best of my knowledge.” Well isn’t that convenient considering we have no ability to prove what is inside someone’s head?
These lies that lie waiting like snakes in the grass can sometimes bite us and other times let us continue on without recourse. But there is one person who always knows. And to that person you are accountable. You are accountable to yourself. When Polonius says to his departing son, “To thine own self be true,” he is not telling him to never lie, but instead to always watch out for his own self-interest and thereby be better positioned to assist in the needs of others. That is hardly the deontological version of ethical theory that I so proudly have ascribed to, however, there is wisdom there. This oracle is contrary to the lesson of Pinocchio whose nose grew on account of his lying but who was rewarded, not for untelling his lies, but by saving his father at the expense of himself. Once again, there is something greater at play. And still, we lie in bed at night and sometimes fall asleep thinking of lying.
One of my fondest memories involves what I had understood “May Day” to be about as a grade-school-age little girl with terribly romantic notions about everything. My younger brother and I, along with one of the neighbor boys we’d corralled into helping us, wrapped flowers that we’d picked in cones of newspaper and left them on neighbor’s doorsteps. We would then ring the doorbell and scamper off to a hiding place from whence we’d sheltered ourselves on previous occasions of naughtiness, only this time it was to see the surprised and delighted expressions on the wrinkly, old faces.
We left the floral arrangements for a few neighbors, like the Stewart’s who owned the sports shop because Mr. Stewart fixed our flats and Mrs. Stewart baked, and, of course, our moms. The rest went to the old people in the neighborhood who, on every other day would be possible victims of our obnoxious ding dong ditching or loud and rambunctious kick-the-canning. This day was special. For us, it was a truce of sorts. Even the old lady living on the corner, who everyone was certain was a witch, received a conical of camellias. It was not comparable in gravity to the Christmas Truce of 1914 but it was similar, relatively speaking, considering we were wild things.
So today, nearly 40 years later, I noticed the date and basked in a moment of nostalgia. I was prompted to search out the history of the tradition and hoped to find some sort of similar activity going on with cute photos of young children. Oops! Instead, I found pages and pages of political protests and worker’s union riots, along with the accompanying violence from the state. And not just here in the US, but all over the world. Further down the page, there was also a reference to the international distress call for radio and telephone. How interesting that there are such conflicting associations with the first day of the fifth month.
Life was not so Rockwellesque or Mayberryish for my family. There was addiction, abuse, divorce, step-parents, more step-parents, economic difficulties, etc. But so it was with everyone else also. In addition, there was the Vietnam War, heat waves, gas shortages, and a major recession. There was no escaping hardship then and there isn’t now. But what there was then that there doesn’t seem to be much of a semblance of now is civility and sweetness.
There are still parades, apple pickings, derbies, and science fairs, but they are just not the same. Parades require gates for the on-lookers to stand behind and will soon involve some sort of anti-terrorist screening with bomb squads on hand; apple pickings no longer are prefaced with “Don’t eat too many apples because you will get a tummy ache” because the apples have all been sprayed and you cannot eat them until they’ve been cleaned of pesticides; and derbies and fairs have become a contest between parents, instead of the children, since no parent wants their kid to fail and see their success as a personal victory.
What has happened to us as a society? As a species? Because we are stewards of our children, our property, and our world, we need to get a grip. We are in distress and need to bail from this sinking ship. We must commit to doing it better. Rather than looking to government to implement the change that will create a more peaceful, romantic, abundant, and equatable life for all, we need to be the change we want to see in the world. Call a truce to the fighting, name-calling, blaming and bask in the pleasure of being human and capable of change and intention. Try giving someone a flower, literally or figuratively, and see the difference it can make.
Bullying in school has been quite the topic as of late. People can be so cruel. However, the most devastating abuse does not necessarily come from kids, but rather from adults. The same adults who educate, influence, and instruct kids. My experience was no exception. I recall one incident when a room mother actually said to me and in front of others that is was a good thing that I was so smart and such a good athlete because I was not pretty and nobody would ever want to date me. At forty-five, I can think back and feel sorry for that woman, but at the time and for years following, it devastated me. In fact, in actually altered the course of my life.
However even with my own experiences of bullying by adults, nothing prepared me to protect my own daughter or sons from the same. I guess it was because as children, we are often taught to respect our elders and therefore any non-agreeable reaction to their behavior is considered rebellion. But what damage they do to the tender hearts and minds. This topic has been hot on my family’s list of conversations for a few different reasons, but one thing is certain, the bullying done to my children by adults altered their behavior too.
As a beautiful and curvy young woman, Aziza’s exterior said only one thing according to the youth pastors of the different churches we attended. And despite being a teenager who actually enjoyed reading her Bible everyday, a person with tremendous faith, and one who practiced her religion by being merciful, kind, compassionate, and a help to everyone around her, what those men and women did was treat her like a temptress, and even blamed her for things that were clearly not her fault. I will never forget this one youth pastor at Calvary Chapel Truckee. He was such an idiot! He invited all of the teens to have a sleepover, boys in one area and the girls in another. He and his wife then went to bed. Duh! So when these kids sneaked out of their sleeping bags and started making out, Aziza was blamed. Only Aziza didn’t even attend. Why? Because I wasn’t going to put her in an impossible situation only to blame her for doing what any other healthy human would do. Sex is good and making out is fun. So how could she possibly have been blamed? He told me that it was her influence. And it didn’t stop there; it was so pervasive within the community that she was not allowed to participate in leading worship even though she had a 2 octave range, played piano/keyboard, and could read music. The girl who did sing with the worship team wore a purity ring, and the church leaders liked that external adornment. So much for not judging by appearances.
But most recently, what has me in a tizzy is the bullying being done to my youngest by a school staff member. According to the Anti-bullying policy, if this man was a student, his condescending, slanderous, and intimidating behavior would be criminal. But because he is an adult and a staff member, he is protected from such accusations and the punishment that would follow. He has worked at the high school long enough that people in their mid to late 20’s recall him and do so with contempt. So why keep him around? I think that it is because every team needs an enforcer and he is theirs. Sadly, whereas my daughter could simply stop going to church, which she did, in order to avoid the people bullying her, my son has to request permission from the state to remove himself from that environment. And how sad for him considering he, at seventeen years of age, actually asked if he could go to school. He was eager to join and be a part of the experience, which as a homeschooler, he felt he had missed out on. So despite having to enter as a 2nd semester freshman instead of a junior, he did so enthusiastically. It took less than six weeks for that man to smother that flame.
Bullying kills. Maybe not in the literal sense, but it certainly destroys hopes and dreams which I find far worse.
Having been a mother of two who have gone through the college application process, including the testing, interviews, campus visits and admission, I think that I can safely say that I am hip on the current procedure. And my opinion is that the entire thing is utter and complete bullshit. However, since Bloomberg was once again so kind as to provide fodder for me, I’ll pick a bone with a few of the issues regarding Amherst, the currently-ranked #2 liberal arts college in the US, and the admissions department.
First of all, unless your hands are damaged, or you are dexterously inept, you do not “feel badly”, Mr. Dean. Second, one divides “our” applicants, not “are” applicants, Ms. Dean. And then, I realize this is nit picky, but what is with the use of “got”? I understand that it serves as a catch-all in casual conversation, but when you are representing a top-tier school, judging who is to be admitted, and being filmed and interviewed with the POV of an elite group who has the tough job of gleaning the few exceptions from the gathering of superb, the standard for your communication really must be indicative of the standard by which you judge others.
But most important is that there is a crisis in this society where people are rewarded for overcoming what is fairly typical social conditions. Alcoholism is not so uncommon as to make someone truly exceptional if they’ve had to endure a parent with the disease while ambitiously steering their way through school. And financial woes? All but a few have not had those, so once again, economic struggles hardly make one unique. It was sickening to see how these kids (and I am certain they were encouraged, as my son was, by their school officials), to highlight their sad and pathetic situations, playing the emotional card as if hardship is a criterion for admission.
I absolutely believe that overcoming adversity and striving for excellence, despite circumstances that are not ideal Petri dishes for growing flawless product is wonderful, but ideal doesn’t exist within humanity anyway. Everyone has problems and issues. However, this insistence that “out-of-the-box” means “misfortune” is going to do a terrible disservice to the students, their peers, and those who are not admitted because their mom wasn’t an alcoholic, nor dad a speculator who lost his shirt. The good news is that those who are truly exceptional and “out-of-the-box” will reject the mediocrity and create something better. I want those kids on my team.
To determine how much something costs today compared to yesteryear requires knowing more than just the price of the good or service as my children so astutely pointed out to their Grandma Minnie back in 2008. We were all sitting around the dining table enjoying breakfast and debating going to see a movie. My mom asked the price of movies and when I told her that tickets were nearly $10 a piece, she said one of the three things that she will forever be remembered for: “Oh goody!”, “Oh shit!”, or “Oh boy!”. It wasn’t “Oh goody.”
Thus began a discussion of economics which was fairly typical for us as value, frugality, and scarcity versus abundance were hot topics in our household. Grandma Minnie was spurned on to “tell us about how much it used to cost to go to the movies.” I can picture my mom, sitting to my right, meticulously cutting her breakfast meats and fruit, savoring a bite before delving into her anecdote. “When I was a girl, it cost a fella $.50 to take a gal to the movies and that was for a double feature,” she said matter-of-factly. I just loved that she automatically assumed a guy would be taking her and paying for the tickets. All three of my kids whistled and expressed amazement at how cheap it was compared to today. “And that included getting burgers and a coke,” she added.
Pensive Omar was then awarded a big gold star for being insightful, asking what one had to do to earn the $.50. And sure enough, Mom had an answer for that too. Growing up in Oregon where a typical job for a teenage boy was to pump gas- a service that was mandated by the state, but also included checking the tires, fluids, and washing the windows, unlike in present-day New Jersey where an attendant is likely to put gas in your Diesel (yes that happened to me) and think you strange to request a window cleaning. The attendants earned $.25 an hour plus a dime, or so, in tips. So one could exchange two hours of labor for a date with a gal where you could both eat, drink, and be entertained for nearly 4 hours. Compare that to today, when for basically the same job, one would have to work four times that amount to purchase even less.
Why is it that there is such a disparity between the cost of living and wages today versus 60 years ago? Quite simply…inflation. People complain about the government regulations such as minimum wage, workman’s comp, and insurance as if those things are responsible for the economic crisis plaguing the US economy, when, in fact, they don’t even make a dent compared to the out-of-control printing of money that has no backing, other than a promise of the US government to tax the workers to pay the interest on the debt.
And the irony is that the very people who the government is portending to help with all of the regulations and stimulus are the very people hurt by it. But what does it matter to Congress when they can and do vote themselves a standard-of-living wage increase while exempting themselves of the mandates with which they burden their constituents? The solution is to end the Federal Reserve, allow for competing currencies, abolish the subsidies (start with the banks!), and allow the market place to establish prices and values. Incidentally, a quarter ounce of weed cost the same today as it did 30 years ago…chew on that.
A power to influence or command thought, or opinion, or behavior is Merriam Webster’s definition of “authority”. And I have absolutely no problem with the concept in, and of, itself. What I do take umbrage with is the presumption that any of you people can assign an agent or agency to exercise authority over me, without my consent. And I am quite certain that when it is put in such plain terms, most everyone else would take exception with that idea. So then why is it that people so willingly abdicate authority over their own lives and even worse, why do they feel the need to force their laziness and bullying behavior onto others?
Last night, I watched Parental Guidance, a surprisingly heartfelt and entertaining movie starring Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, and Marissa Tomei (my celebrity lesbian crush), as well as a guy whose name is lost on me, but who will forever be embedded in my mind as the darling drummer in That Thing You Do who liked snappy tunes. Using humor to poke fun and dare I say “ridicule” the contemporary mindset on parenting, Billy Crystal argues against the “everyone’s a winner” protocol that has oozed its way into sports and education, claiming that to eradicate competition undermines the opportunity for success…and failure- an intrinsic aspect of being human and having choice, or as I like to say “free will”.
Parallel to this concept of making everyone equal (notice that an authority has to impose that standard as people are not naturally equal in their abilities, talents, intellect, or capabilities) is the idea that judgment and discrimination are in direct contradiction to equality. Sadly, this paradigm has spilled over into all aspects of society to where people do not even judge their own behavior, nor do they exercise discretion but instead answer with “It’s all good”…even when it’s not. So what happens when you raise up a child to believe that reward is not directly related to production? You get adult-sized children who must seek a power outside of themselves to steer them in the direction they ought to go and who incorrectly presume that everyone else needs that also.
Third child, and redheaded demon-seed, Barker with his imaginary friend, Carl the Kangaroo, was a gorgeous illustration of parenting run amok, albeit with the best of intentions. The titian Tasmanian devil was rude, disrespectful, impatient, disobedient, and non-compliant, causing others to experience loss. What was so convenient was that Barker blamed every misdeed on Carl. What was so wonderfully demonstrated was the growing-up the young man did when he finally embraced the idea of personal responsibility and self-governance, killing Carl off, and burying his childish behavior. Amazing what can happen when a person says, “I am the captain of my ship.”
Can an authority, outside of yourself, cause you to be good? Can an authority, outside of yourself, cause you to create? Can an authority, outside of yourself, cause you to grow from child to adult in mindset and deed? Of course not! All that an authority, outside of yourself, can do is use force to punish, which does not provide goodness, creation, nor growth. Further, that “authority”, if imposed on a large segment of people, has to appeal to the lowest common denominator since people are not naturally equal in abilities, talents, intellect, and capabilities, as well as proclivity to adhere to what is noble, worthy, and stalwart.
And that has often been my contention in a courtroom: the State is beneath me, in every way, regarding the standard for my behavior and those for whom I am responsible. It is not because the State has said that I must send my child to school that I educated my children beyond the minimal requirements; it is not because the State says that I must not harm another that I leave everywhere I go better than I found it; it is not because the State says that I must contribute to a safety net that I help friends, family, and strangers with my resources. It is because I am the captain of my ship and I will my compass to point north.
All of this rambling leads me to my own parenting situation that has overwhelmed me in every way. I too have a third child. And he is a ball of sunshine shining on all those around him…as well as sometimes being quite the scorcher, particularly directing his fire upon me. Many times, I have been at my wit’s end, literally dropping to my knees in desperation because the situation seems to be fraught with failure. I have reached out for help to friends and family and have, for the most part, been ignored, with a sad response prevailing: “Contact the authorities.” WHAT???? Who in God’s name is the authority over my child and what takes place in my home, if not me? I don’t have a husband or partner to share in the magnanimous role of parenting, so it’s on me. What could the “authorities” do anyway? Punish him. That’s it. But what can I do? I can persevere, do good, set an example worth emulating, create new options, find solutions, resolve conflict, as well as make sure the fridge and cupboards are stocked while he navigates his way from the remains of childishness to manhood. After all, what I am growing is not a drone who must depend on another to direct his flight, but instead a bold, adventurous, daring person who will depend upon himself to steer his journey and who will exercise self-control, the indication of a mature and sentient being. So yes, I fail. But because I am a human being, endowed with free will, I get to choose to do it better next time and so does he…and so do you.