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Personal Responsibility
05/13/2010
IconA recent female caller wondered if she should stay with and even marry a guy who spent the full first year of their relationship being violent.I immediately said, "You're a grown woman.' If you want to play Russian Roulette with your life you have the right to do that.' Please, though, have your Fallopian tubes tied so that you can't bring any babies into this situation to either be hurt directly or indirectly by a messed up, violent home-life."She wanted to know if people can change.' Well, the correct answer is....YES!' Of course people can change.' When people are motivated and disciplined and committed to being, thinking, and doing things differently, they can most definitely evolve in a positive direction.' It does take time and simply acknowledging the need for change is not (contrary to popular thought) 50% of the problem.' You all know that's true because every one of you remembers making a New Year's Resolution - which clearly acknowledges a need for change - and even a plan....which just evaporated with time and ennui.Therefore, in the context of this woman's call, a person prone to violence is not one who is going to make a quick change.' The caller wanted to know if there was hope that in the future...no matter how distant...that he could be different.' Well, sure - IF he makes the commitment and is committed long term to whatever it takes to change his way of looking at the world, intimate relationships, and his own identity.An interesting fact is that when people do make such profound changes, they rarely are interested in the people who wanted them when they were less positively functional, as they recognize that it takes a less functional person to be attracted to same.' Said in a bit 'o different way: emotionally healthy people, even though they may protest love and compassion, just don't commit their lives to a recalcitrant, unwilling to change, difficult, or dangerous person.' It is because of their own sad inner dynamics that they find solace in being involved with an unhealthy person...it makes them feel needed or puts the responsibility for their unhappiness somewhere else or is simply a place to hide from the threat of not being capable of a good life.This particular caller thanked me for my advice...I asked her to tell me what my advice was; she said, "I don't want to play roulette with my life."' I gave her kudos for making a healthy and good choice.' I also told her that she'd feel stupid for the time already spent, lonely for the company, scared of being alone, and more...but that this decision was still a healthy and good choice.You see...she is the one in her life she had the power and the necessity to change; focusing on him was just a way to hide from that.I love the beginning of happy endings...and that call was one of those. More >>

Tags: ChildrenDatingHealthParentingPersonal ResponsibilityRelationshipsResponse To A Comment
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05/13/2010
IconI had an interesting call just the other day.' A husband and wife, each on their second marriages, called because the family dog, a dachshund, was consumed by a coyote.' The wife wanted to know how or if she could ever forgive her husband for this "National Geographic" moment.' It seems they've been feuding for quite a while: he doesn't like the dog to pee in the backyard and make the grass yellow; she doesn't like the dog to be loose in the street to pee because he could get eaten.'While these two were fighting, the dog got eaten.The righteousness in her presentation was astounding. It seemed she was willing to dismiss yet another marriage because she labeled her husband responsible for the dog's demise as he let the dog out.I asked her who the 'alpha' person in the dog's life was - every dog, no matter how attached to all family members, identifies the 'alpha' person as its owner and "main squeeze."' She immediately jumped in to say it was just everybody's dog.' He quietly offered that she had the dog before they married.' Oops!I then told her that she was responsible for the dog's death as she was not taking responsibility to walk the dog three or so times a day for its exercise and for it to eliminate itself where (a) it wouldn't damage their home property and (b) she could make sure the dog was safe.' That she was sad her dog was dead was reasonable; that she was looking for a cause of this event was reasonable; that she was blaming other than herself in combination with what is "nature's way" was plainly unreasonable.I suggested she apologize to her husband and promise, should she want another dog, to take personal responsibility for that animal.This leads me to a recent news headline, "Icelanders irate at lenders who ruined country." It seems that only one year after winning the United Nation's "best country to live in" poll, with its residents rated the most contented in the world, the result of a country's decision to swap cod fishing for a complex debt-laden economy exacted a heavy toll.They were encouraged by the government to upgrade to a more luxurious lifestyle by buying houses and cars that were financed by 100 percent loans with extraordinarily low interest rates based not on their own money, the strong krona, but based upon a spread of foreign currencies.According to news reports, "Icelanders are also increasingly angry, looking for somewhere to point blame for the country's spectacular fall."' "Somebody has to take responsibility," said one father complaining that his son has lost his savings.It took one 21 year old print machinist, Alvin Zogu, to give the most mature response: "We can learn from what they did wrong.' We can make better decisions." While governments and banks can offer "pie in the sky," it takes the individual decision to gorge themselves with pie while dangling in the air to cause the ultimate fall. More >>

Tags: ChildrenParentingPersonal ResponsibilityValues
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05/13/2010
IconOne television show I'm both intrigued by and ambivalent about is called House .' It's a medical drama in which the main character, a physician, is a diagnostic genius...except that he almost kills his patients a number of times until he brilliantly deduces the correct problem.One problem he and his associates always have in diagnosing these strange presenting disorders is that, as Dr. House says, "everybody lies."' It would seem that patients will withhold information essential to their proper treatment because of shame, guilt, embarrassment or to get out of some potential problem -- even if it threatens their lives!' Sometime during the one-hour drama, for better or worse, the truth comes out.' Moral debates sometimes arise about the value of truth and honesty.During my radio program, I have often cautioned people about being too flippant with honesty...it is, in fact, not always the best policy.' For example, "Your child is ugly and below average in intelligence!" or "Aging is sure being mean to you...look at all the wrinkles between your chin and your chest!"' Now, they may be honest assessments, but must all truths be spoken if they are going to hurt someone with no reasonable or positive motivation or intent?' My answer is, "no."' My answer is to find something sweet and kind to say...there always are those aspects of a person or a situation.However, there are circumstances where the truth is essential; and sadly, so few of our young people believe that is so.' Every school age child in America knows that a sitting, married President looked right into the television news cameras and lied about having had a sexual relationship with a young, single intern.' What was astonishing was how quickly his supporters and political party members were to dismiss this kind of lying since it was "personal."'It's funny how "personal" impacts the world.' ABC News produced a story about college cheating using the most advanced devices our technology has to offer.' The piece centered on a Texas college freshman, Kiko Kho, who had used a see-through plastic pen, opened up the back and slipped in a strip of paper with vocabulary words on it so that she would pass her French exam.' If you think it is remarkable that she admitted all this to a reporter...hang on to something...she posted a video on YouTube detailing how she'd pulled off her cheat that received more than 120,000 hits.' Did she show remorse and argue against cheating?' Nope.' She did admit "it's not a good thing to cheat," followed up quickly by "everybody has done it."'''''Our young people watch television political talk and debates and hear time and time again..."that's not true,"' "that's false," or "that's a lie."' When I was a child all I heard about was that President George Washington didn't lie about that cherry tree...that was something to aspire to!In Jasper, Indiana, two of three challengers for a congressional seat have agreed to be hooked up to lie detectors during an October 21 debate, but an official with the incumbent's party dismissed the idea.' The Republican Party Chairman made this proposal to Democratic Incumbent and the GOP and Libertarian challengers.' The only one who declined to comment was the Democratic Incumbent...now that just looks bad.I think all political debaters, product promoters, attorneys, teachers, scientists, and students in exams should take advantage of lie detection technology...and that's the truth! More >>

Tags: Internet-MediaInternet/MediaMorals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilityTelevisionValues
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05/13/2010
IconHere's a simple test for you to contemplate:'What do you get when you leave a golden retriever dog in a car on a hot day with the windows cracked a bit, and the dog dies from being cooked in that car oven?' Well, you get arrested for felony animal cruelty, with bail set at $20,000 while you await your trial, which, if convicted, will get you about three years in jail.Okay, did you get that one right?' Probably.' Next test is:' What do you get when you leave a human child in a car on a hot day with the window not cracked a bit, and the child dies from being cooked in that car oven?' You get to be on Oprah! with an entire audience of dewy-eyed women exuding understanding and sympathy.Disgusting.Here are a few view responses to that program: "I too saw that Oprah episode.' I scoffed and hissed as I watched the 'sympathetic nodding' of Oprah's audience who were apparently relating to the distracted, forgetful 'busyness' of a mother who was asked by her husband to drop the baby off at day care that morning.' According to this woman, that was something her husband normally did, and it was outside of her daily routine. She had a lot on her mind and was concentrating on what the day had in store for her at work.' That was her reason for forgetting the baby in the car!' I just wanted to scream!' Then a thought came to my little pea brain.' I wondered if these 'understanding' women in the audience would actually 'understand' if their husbands forgot their birthday, Christmas, Valentine's Day, or Mother's Day because he was stressed and busy, concentrating on work, blah blah blah. Hmmmm.....yeah, I don't think so; we all know what these women would think of their controlling, nasty, insensitive husbands for forgetting these important things in life." Oh yes, there was one thing that mother did remember.' With the forgotten, ignored, unimportant human being in the back seat, she evidently did make a hurried stop to get donuts for the staff, which means the child was also left alone in the car while she got those all-important calorie-laden munchies.Right after I brought this travesty up on my radio program, I received an email from a single, twenty-three year old man, who had been watching this Oprah episode with his girlfriend of two years.' His immediate take was that the woman, the audience, and Oprah were being utterly disgusting, offering sympathy to a woman - a mother - who didn't have her child on her mind.' It seems he went on and on to his girlfriend about the sacred obligations of a mother - i.e., putting the child first - and about how awful it was to see women clucking in sympathy for this neglectful mother and not for the buried child. His girlfriend was in sympathy with the audience and was aghast that he would have such a "cold, cruel" non-understanding point of view.'''He decided at that moment to break off with her, because he couldn't see any woman with that point of view being his girlfriend, wife, and certainly not the mother of his precious children.I tell you, I was very impressed that we have such real men among our young people today.'When Oprah and other feminist, liberal, influential women take the point of view that children are not the first priority, when they coo over the "pain" of a mother who leaves her child to slowly cook to death in a car instead of storming the citadel demanding jail time for reckless endangerment, neglect and manslaughter, then we have women telling women to have compassion for irresponsibility, self-centeredness and murder.' When we have compassion for evil, we show disdain for the innocent victim.Shame on Oprah. More >>

Tags: ChildrenFamily/Relationships - ChildrenMotherhoodMotherhood-FatherhoodParentingPersonal Responsibility
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Tags: CharityEthicsMorals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilitySexSexualityValues
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05/13/2010
IconFriday, September 19, 2008, I was reading the last page of the "Weekend Journal" in The Wall Street Journal .' It was adapted from a commencement speech given by David Foster Wallace to the 2005 graduating class at Kenyon College.' Mr. Wallace, 46, died'recently, an apparent suicide.I thought it odd that an entire page of The Wall Street Journal was dedicated to the musings of a man who opted out of life after giving advice to young people just beginning their adult foray into the trials and tribulations of existence.The main focus of his presentation to the students seemed to be on the issue of self-centeredness: "It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth.' Think about it:' there is no experience you've had that you were not at the absolute center of.' The world as you experience it is right there in front of you, or behind you, to the left or right of you, on your TV, or your monitor, or whatever.' Other people's thoughts and feelings have to be communicated to you somehow, but your own are so immediate, urgent, real - you get the idea.' But please don't worry that I'm getting ready to preach to you about compassion or other-directedness or the so-called 'virtues.'' This is not a matter of virtue - it is a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting, which is to be deeply and literally self-centered, and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self." First, he is "right on" with the hard-wiring of self-centeredness.' I remember my mother telling me once that when, as a teenager, she experienced the death of her mother from breast cancer, and was consumed with grief, that she looked out her window to see people outside driving, walking, talking, and going about their business as though nothing had happened.' She related feeling shocked that, somehow, the whole world did not stand still as did her own heart.It is obvious that, of course, we are the most absorbed by our immediate environment and experiences....which pretty much means ourselves.' However, Mr. Wallace's consistent dismissal of virtues is perhaps what was missing from his life. Seeing, acknowledging, and caring about others does not necessarily come naturally.' It is a virtue taught by parents and community as well as by religious teachings.' One of the most central aspects of religious training is to "love thy neighbor."' Why?' Just because it's "nice?"' No, although it is nice.' It is because caring for those outside yourself gives you a connectedness that minimized loneliness and a purpose which minimizes despair.Towards the end of his speech, he points out: "The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little un-sexy ways, every day.' That is real freedom." He then asks the audience to "please don't dismiss it as some finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon.' None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma or big fancy questions of life after death.' It is about making it to 30 or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head." So, in attempting to enlighten the young people about a bigger value in life - commitment and obligation to others - he came back to his essential hard-wiring:' it is all about living in a way which makes you not want to kill yourself.' Ironically, his thought process came all the way back to being self-centered.In eschewing morality, religion, dogma, considerations of eternity - all of which he assembled under "finger-wagging Dr. Laura sermon[s]," he disconnected himself from the kind of motivation, identification, support and spiritual reward which may have kept him from committing suicide.' Sad, really. More >>

Tags: AttitudeFeminismHealthMental HealthPersonal ResponsibilityPurposeSocial IssuesSuicideValues
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05/13/2010
IconI am watching TV news early this morning and hear that Senator McCain is suspending his campaign for President of the United States to stay in Washington, D.C. to actually do the job he's been elected to and getting a salary for.' I also hear that whether or not a plan is agreed upon to deal with the financial crisis of the United States, that Senator Obama will leave Washington D.C. early this morning to continue his campaign for President.After talking to one of my friends who quipped: "McCain is using this opportunity as a campaign maneuver." I said, "Hey, he's actually doing the job he's being paid for." I am always impressed when a politician takes personal responsibility to actually do their job.Unfortunately, by noontime, Senator McCain apparently had decided that he had completed the job and decided to call it a day and head off to join Senator Obama for a long weekend of campaigning.What other job is there in the known universe where you can get elected, have a nice title, get paid a really good salary, have fabulous job security for two to six years, and then spend most of your time working towards another job?' Only the job in Congress!' We have Senators from Arizona and Illinois who are spending just about every waking hour vying for the Oval Office, and a Governor from Alaska together with a Senator from Delaware who are trying to get second dibs on Air Force One.I, for one, believe that they all should have resigned to run for further office, and left the support of their constituents to someone who's doing the job full time. More >>

Tags: Personal ResponsibilityPoliticsValues
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Tags: ChildrenMarriageParentingPersonal ResponsibilitySexSexualityValues
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05/13/2010
IconI've been hearing from a lot of stay-at-home moms, and sharing some of their letters with you.' I got this one from a woman who is not a mother, but who has strong feelings about those who stay at home with their kids: My grandmother was a homemaker.' My mother was divorced, and raised us without our "sperm donor" father, because she chose to leave an abuser.' She worked at a company at night, so that she could walk us to school and help with homework (I didn't realize the magnitude of this when I was young, but I surely do now). I'm over 40 now, and don't have any children, and I work full-time.' However, with every job that I've ever taken, I've always known in the back of my mind that it would never be a "career," because I would eventually leave to be a stay-at-home mom.' So, I had to come up with something that I could do to generate income and stay at home:' writing. I haven't quite pursued my writing "career" yet.' I watch pregnant women around my office leave, have their babies, and come back.' Some of them are married, and some not.' Either way, I am dumbfounded that they would not rather be at home all day with the baby. I never wanted to have children as a single woman without a husband.' First, because I didn't want to have to do everything by myself.' As it is now, I hate taking out my own trash, and wished that I had a husband who didn't mind taking on that chore!' And second, because each parent's role is important.' They both matter and make a great contribution.' It's what all children want:' a mommy and a daddy who are together and care about each other.' So, as I get older and my biological clock "explodes," I've never been tempted to do it alone, i.e., just have a baby because that's what I want. Maybe one day, I'll have a MAN who loves to call me his "girlfriend."' In the meantime, I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that I'll miss that joy of being able to stay at home with my baby and welcoming my husband home at the end of a hard day at work to provide for us. More >>

Tags: CommitmentFamilyFamily/Relationships - ChildrenFamily/Relationships - FamilyMarriageParentingPersonal ResponsibilityRelativesStay-At-Home-Moms
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05/13/2010
IconAfter posting a blog last Thursday (9/11/08) about "shame," I got this response from a reader: I grew up in a Roman Catholic family.' I attended parochial school, and I also became pregnant at 17.' I was shamed and ostracized for what I had done, but I have to say that the "shaming" I received from my family and community actually led me back onto the right track. I completed my high school diploma by attending school in the morning, and I began college at night (I was admitted to a local university because I was an honor student in my high school).' I attended college with 30 and 40 year-olds!' Ultimately, I graduated college and became a Certified Public Accountant. This was a difficult path, and I recommend it to no one.' I sacrificed much:' my young adulthood.' I did not do the things other kids my age did.' I took care of my baby, I studied, and I cleaned houses.' Although I was ashamed of becoming pregnant so young and out-of-wedlock, I loved my child more than life itself, and I always placed my child's needs before mine.' I did not "party."' I did not hang out with friends.' I did not do things just for myself, and most of all, I did not whine. I don't think most teens are capable of this, and most babies are probably better off being placed for adoption.' I had my family's help - I was not tossed onto the streets, but my parents' expectations were high, and "I" was my child's caregiver (not my mom).' I was the one up at night with my sick baby.' I was the one who took him to the park and the doctor's office, and I was the one he came to depend on most. I have been happily married now for many years to a man I am so blessed to have as my husband.' I have three beautiful children.' I have chosen to stay home with my younger kids and not work outside of the house.' I ALWAYS hated to leave my oldest child and felt tremendous guilt when I headed off to school for the day or to clean houses. It's an absolute treasure to be a stay-at-home mom.' My job in life now is to provide a warm home environment, and to be there for my hubby and kids.' By the way, the baby boy I had at 17 is now an honor student at [a major university], and quite a wonderful young man.' To this day, I still feel remorse that my oldest did not have the same childhood as my other two kids.' I feel I cheated him, and I suppose I always will. More >>

Tags: ChristmasCommitmentFamilyFamily/Relationships - ChildrenFamily/Relationships - FamilyFamily/Relationships - TeensHolidaysMarriageMotherhood-FatherhoodParentingPersonal ResponsibilityPregnancyRelativesSocial IssuesTeens
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