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Thursday, March 6th, 2014
3 years, 3 months.
Last week at work, I had a conversation with a co-worker named Matt, who has two small kids.
I was telling him how, the longer I’m a parent, the mellower of a person I am becoming. In other words, stuff is just bothering me less compared to the way it used to.
To my surprise, he agreed- he can also personally relate. We acknowledged that whether it’s gaining more patience, or a greater ability to not allow annoying things to bother us, the journey of being parents has broken us in, for the better.
Over three years ago, when I become a parent, I was a much more out-spoken, polarizing person; especially in regards to the world of social media… especially in relation to politics and religion.
Well, that has definitely gradually changed over the past couple of years.
For example, I no longer care to publically share my political affiliation (or disassociation). I feel that public political conversations divide people; causing them to believe that by putting blind faith into a certain political party, that there’s hope that “the other side” will be converted into an opposing belief system; therefore “getting America back on track.”
I’m so over that. I can’t change people’s political beliefs. Plus, I don’t want to be labeled (and limited) to just one side.
All I can do is hope to change the world through my behavior, which (hopefully) proves the validity of my beliefs in the first place.
Having learned that, I’ve realized that same concept applies to parenting issues which I had previously debated with other parents about.
Like the “cry it out” method, attachment parenting, and circumcision…
I used to be so quick to allow myself to get involved in public online debates over those issues. These days, I strive to not take, or present, the bait.
And really, I haven’t said anything controversial in a while…
Granted, I’m still constantly thinking out of the box, and open-minded to concepts that many people might question.
But now, I’m handling these situations differently than I would have six months or even a year ago:
Has anyone else seen the documentary “911: In Plane Site” on Netflix (will be removed on March 15) or on YouTube in its entirety? If so, will you send me a private message including your thoughts on it? I am asking for a private message response (not a comment) because I am attempting to avoid starting a comments war on my wall, in which I appear as a divisive host or commentator, or am labelled as a conspiracy theorist. I am not seeking controversy; only private answers to help sort out some confusion I’m having. Thanks.
I still like to engage people, and learn from others, but not at the risk of being polarizing. So I’m more discreet and more private about my questions and concerns regarding the world and the people who live in it.
It’s my opinion that the chaotic process of parenthood has forced me to focus on what really matters.
I have gotten to the point where I don’t feel the need to have to explain myself to other people if they find out my point of view and disagree with it. What’s the point in defending your beliefs to someone who is not open-minded to hearing them anyway?
Instead of controversy, I’m seeking the collaboration of ideas with other people.
I seek truth, not simply believing I’m right.
Being a parent has peripherally taught me to focus more on how I can become a better person withthe help of other people; not how I can try to make other people better against their will or conviction.
It’s trained me to not let things bother me like they used to. I don’t know if this necessarily makes sense to other parents, but it’s definitely how I feel.
Parenthood is a humbling process.
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Saturday, February 22nd, 2014
3 months, 3 years.
My love for you is not based on a law; nor could it even be. After all, there is no law that can force people to love each other.
Same thing goes for my love for Mommy. Sure, we have a marriage license (as recognized by the state of Tennessee) and were were married in a church (in front of God and other believers)… but I can’t be forced to love Mommy, or you.
Yet I do anyway. I choose to. I want to.
On a global scale, I believe that if everyone truly loved each other as much as they did themselves, the world wouldn’t need laws; nor would there be wars… nor would there be rich people or poor people, escpecially to the degree that people are starving.
Despite a person’s acceptance level in regards to Jesus and what He taught and claimed, I think there’s no denying He spoke some truth when He summarized it this way:
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ -Matthew 22:37-39
But since not everyone does love their neighbors as much as they do themselves, the pattern of brokenness repeats itself.
I used to be a much more openly political person; thinking that my public beliefs as a [Republican or Democrat] would help convince the [opposing political party] to join “the side that truly cares more about helping people.”
But I was wrong to think that way. I was too focused on thinking that if our government would change laws to suit [my political affiliation] at the time, it would force people to stop doing the things that my religion teaches against.
I realize now, the law doesn’t prevent people from hurting each other. Nor does it change a person’s heart.
At best, when a person breaks the law and is incarcerated, it just puts them in a temporary time-out (jail or prison), yet that person (in most cases) doesn’t actually become reformed and redeemed.
Without a true change of heart… without a person truly having the mindset to love other people as much of they do themselves, how can they break that pattern and lifestyle?
And on the flip side, while it’s always the individual’s choice to commit a crime or hurt another person in some way, I do consider how that person’s home life and environment could have led them to make that destructive decision.
Had that person been more loved by those around him, maybe (not definitely) there’s a good chance he would have never headed down the path he did.
Meanwhile, my version of reality has been much different…
I realize that being a middle class American as long as I’ve been alive has given me major advantages and privileges in life; ones that you will have as well. However, I understand those advantages and privileges come with great responsibility. I try to consider this concept:
If I become richer, other people in the world are probably becoming poorer. If I become better well-known, other people in the world are probably becoming more forgotten. If I have too much, it means other people in the world probably don’t have enough.
In America, we are able to play at water parks while so much of the world is desperate for clean drinking water.
I am light years away from perfecting this “love your neighbor as yourself” concept in my life, but I have a feeling that if I’m mindfully teaching it to you, I can take a few steps in the right direction.
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Thursday, July 25th, 2013
2 years, 8 months.
I’ve decided that in addition to writing about the funny things you do and say on a daily basis, and covering trending parenting stories, I want to start teaching you “life lessons from dad.”
So here’s the first one:
I have learned that the topics of politics, religion, and food are so interwoven into emotions, moral beliefs, and sense of identity, that to bring up a point that goes against or even questions a person’s already established viewpoint…
Well, it often ends up becoming an insult, a threat, or a display of arrogance: It could put you in danger of being perceived as self-righteous or judgmental; even if you have the purest of intentions.
While it seems most people are familiar with the fact that politics and religion are sensitive subjects, I recently learned that the topic of “food you don’t eat” is equal in regards to one’s emotions, moral beliefs, and sense of identity.
But my opinion about these topics isn’t worth dividing people. I want to connect to people and make them feel included, and I’ve learned that openly talking about, or even just asking questions about, these three topics isn’t the way to do this.
So for the past month or so, I’ve been trying something out. I’ve been very careful not to use the “V-word” to label myself in regards to my eating lifestyle or the “L-word” to label my political beliefs.
And when it comes to speaking about my religious faith, I am trying to focus on humility, more than anything; which is one of the most important aspects of what I believe anyway. What good are my religious beliefs if my personal beliefs regarding politics and/or food distract people from my faith?
This is me trying to deliberately not perpetuate America’s polarizing tendencies, especially in social media. Both CNN and Fox News are pretty good at that already. I’ll leave it to the experts.
Regarding politics, religion, and food I don’t eat, I’ll let my viewpoints remain as much of a mystery as possible… until people specifically ask, or it works its way into conversation more naturally.
I want to earn the right to have these conversations with individuals, not broadcast my lifestyle across the universe to the masses like I’m the ultimate authority on these three sensitive subjects.
Here’s to finding out if my actions can speak louder than my words.
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Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
2 years, 1 month.
It has now been over a month since the tragic event that inspired me to write you, ”Processing The Newtown, Connecticut School Shooting As A Parent.” Since then, I’ve observed two natural responses from American society:
A) To help those who are grieving and B) to try to figure out how to prevent this from happening again.
The latter has led to many discussions about gun control, for as much or as little as that term may be referring to. For the past month, I have been deliberately avoiding public involvement in these conversations.
But now, I am willing to share with you how I feel about it. What makes it easy for me is that I read an article today on The New York Times’ website called “Families of Newton Victims Organize Violence Prevention Effort.”
After reading the story, and after reading between the lines, it appears to me that the Sandy Hook parents who are quoted are saying out loud what I’ve been thinking to myself for the past month.
To summarize, they are ultimately thanking the President for his efforts to help by trying to prevent another similar tragedy with his effort to ban the kind of assault weapon and high-capacity ammunition magazines used in the Newtown shooting.
However, the parents interviewed in the New York Times article, who have started a non-profit group called Sandy Hook Promise, are more focused on creating a national dialogue about school safety, mental health, and gun responsibility.
Here’s the Sandy Hook Promise, according to their website:
“I Promise to honor the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I Promise to do everything I can to encourage and support common sense solutions that make my community and our country safer from similar acts of violence.”
It can’t be assumed that all or even most of the Sandy Hook parents feel the same way as those who have founded Sandy Hook Promise. Even still, it’s interesting to see enough gun-owning members of Sandy Hook Promise who are basically saying, “Hey, wait, before we focus so much on banning guns and ammunition, let’s take a look at the other issues too…”.
Maybe (!) I’m reading too much into the article, as well as, the Sandy Hook Promise’s website, but I think the term “common sense solutions” is an indirect way of saying that banning guns is not a common sense solution.
I find it interesting and no coincidence that when you go to the website for Sandy Hook Promise, there is a button you can click to receive email updates. It says, “I promise,” followed by, “this time there will be a change.”
(It is worth noting that the President’s campaign slogan of 2008 was “Change we can believe in.” Complete coincidence? Again, maybe I’m reading into something that’s not actually there.)
Personally, I feel that if certain assault weapons and ammunition magazines were banned, it would surely make it more difficult for troubled, mentally ill young men to use those certain assault weapons and ammunition magazines in public shootings. But it wouldn’t stop them from finding other ways to hurt large groups of people in theaters and schools.
Even with a complete gun ban, which I know the President nor the Democrats are not actually in favor of, a crazed attacker could still find access to homemade bombs, poisonous gas, and most likely… guns.
Honestly, my opinion on gun control and the Newton, Connecticut shooting doesn’t really matter. However, the opinions of the Sandy Hook parents are actually very relevant and they absolutely do matter.
And best I can tell, they’re more interested in having a national conversation about school safety, mental health, and gun responsibility. Not “banning” guns.
Read The New York Times’ “Families of Newtown Victims Organize Violence Prevention Effort” and the Sandy Hook Promise website… see what you personally think about it.
Top image: Little boy holds his father’s hand: Shutterstock.
Bottom image, No guns allowed, abstract art: Shutterstock.
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