A constant state of always wanting to be right

Published 7:40 am Monday, September 14, 2009

I groaned with interest this past week as people were protesting President Obama making a speech to the schoolchildren at the start of the school year. I groaned because to me this would not have been a problem if I had children in school. I groaned because we have far more worrisome things going on than a speech by the president asking schoolchildren to do their best. What happened to common sense?

I grew up in a time when it would not have been a problem for the president to make a speech to us. It would not have mattered had the president been Republican or Democrat. We were taught to respect the president regardless of what party he represented.

We seem to be so afraid these days of someone with an opinion that differs from ours. We are a nation running in fear of people thinking and living differently from us. Are we so afraid of our children being indoctrinated into another party against their will that we ban them from listening to the president?

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Do we ban our children from watching the violence on television? Do we ban our children from playing violent video games? Do we ban our children from meeting strangers on the Internet? Do we get as upset as people seem to be about the president speaking to us when our children use bad language, when we use bad language or when our children show disrespect to adults? It seems to me those should be reasons to get upset. Watching the president is mild compared to other things to which we are exposing our children.

I have three children. They know what my political views are. They have always known, but they have been exposed to both viewpoints and so they made their own choices. They are Republican and Democrat. We have some exciting discussions. They grew up and they made their own choices independent of the viewpoints they were exposed to at home. I respect their choices.

As I was growing up, I was a member of a church that taught me to just believe and not ask questions. I did that as did many of the classmates I shared my church classes with. Later on in life after I had children, one of the people I had known had been a member of a cult and deprogrammed. I asked this person how this could happen. I was scared. I had looked up to this strong religious person, and if it could happen to this person, it could happen to my children. This person told me to make sure my children knew what they believed and why they believed it.

I felt that was excellent advice. How do we expect our children to make informed decisions about life if we don’t give them the foundation and the exposure to make good decisions? How do we expect them to learn to make good decisions if we don’t have conversations explaining both sides of view and why we believe our side is better? Why do we need to believe that only our viewpoint is right? Is it because we are insecure about our beliefs?

Don’t we indoctrinate our children with our viewpoints? We want them to believe what we believe. We want to be the ones influencing our children. It seems people have gotten carried away politically if they are so threatened that a speech from the president is going to corrupt our children. There were many popular leaders who got on the bandwagon and enforced that viewpoint before the speech. They fueled the flames. And possibly furthered their agenda.

It does seem our country is going backward. We are so busy fighting each other’s viewpoints politically on health care, the economy, the wars, etc., that we are forgetting to listen to each other. It becomes more important to be right than to compromise and listen. We don’t compromise and listen and take the good points from each other so that we can work together to solve problems. If we stay in a constant state of fear and a constant state of always wanting to be right, we are going to stay at a standstill. The president’s speech was a great teachable moment if you disagree with him. Let your children listen and then talk to them about it and explain why you felt he was wrong.

I was never very good at banning things in my household. I always felt it was better to tackle the problem together with my children and explain why I felt things were good or bad. Sometimes they listened and sometimes they didn’t, but they grew up capable of making their own choices and decisions. Yes, I didn’t always agree with their decisions and, yes, they made mistakes and they suffered the consequences, but they grew from that.

I don’t know about you. I am tired of the fighting. I am tired of the politics. Maybe we should all take the time to know what we believe and why we believe it including our politicians. Let’s listen to each other and not run scared from a differing opinion. Let’s learn from each other and then get to work with the focus being on the best solution, not may the “the best party win.” Let’s forget about the elections and being re-elected and work to do the best job possible because it is the right thing to do.

Maybe at that point the president will give a speech, and we won’t care if he or she is Republican or Democrat. We will not fear what they are going to say because we will know that person is doing what is best for the people and not for the party.

That is my opinion. Thank you for listening. It’s OK if you don’t agree with me. I would be happy to listen if you don’t. Perhaps we can learn something from each other.

“A closed mind is like a closed book: just a block of wood.” — Chinese proverb

“If you wish to know the mind of a man, listen to his words.” — Chinese proverb

“To talk much and arrive nowhere is the same as climbing a tree to catch a fish.” — Chinese proverb

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net or visit her blog at www.justalittlefluff.blogspot.com.