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Personal Responsibility
05/13/2010
IconWhy the heck do we need role models?' Can't everyone just think for him or herself and make decisions about right and wrong and choices of action without somebody on a philosophical runway modeling what they could or should be?Possibly...but role models alert us to POSSIBILITIES, in addition to serving as INSPIRATION.Angry rappers role model distrust, rage, anti-social notions and actions: killing, raping, hating.Stupid "stars" role model self-indulgence and excess, self-importance: self self'' selfSuccessful people who "pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps" role model perseverance, giving up a "victim mentality," optimism and plain hard work.Heroic types (military, police, firemen, and caring bystanders) who put themselves on the line of life and death role model taking care of others.'and so it goes.These days, however, good role models are few and far between.' Pastor Bill Shuler, of Capital Life Church in Arlington Virginia, pointed the way in his recent essay: 10 Reasons Why we Are Losing Good Role Models.What follows is my paraphrasing of his list:1. Honorable people are attacked for taking a stand for morality and values The favorite attack here usually takes the form of being called either a "hater" or a "hypocrite." If a person disagrees with you, you can say that they simply hate you or your stand, or that they once (usually decades ago) behaved contrary to their own words so therefore, they have no moral ground on which to defend their position.' I don't have to explain how ugly, stupid, and dangerous those approaches are to the well being of a civilized society.'2. High profile scandals in sports politics and religion have caused us to become jaded. Yup - it's hard to believe that a moral high ground even exists if the people you looked up to don't respect what they have and the responsibility it gives them.3. Fewer dads are present in the home. Soon, most children won't come from intact homes where they see a dad providing and protecting and teaching them how to be decent men and women.'4. Success has been defined as fame, fortune, and power. We used to have the word "infamous" to describe people well known for skuzzy behaviors...now it's all just "famous."' "Octo-mom" Nadya Suleman now has a television show because she's famous for showing incredible insensitivity and irresponsibility in having 16 children with no dad or intact married family.''' If someone is rich (no matter how they got there), they have admirers.'5. Image often supersedes character. Bad boys and bad girls reign supreme in our media-drenched culture.' The more stupid and horrid their behavior, the more important they are to the media.'6. Indulgence replaces sacrifice. Just think daycare.7. The practice of self-discipline is losing ground. If you "feel it" you have license to "do it" is today's mantra.' Consideration of consequences to others, as well as one's own future, became secondary.'8. Seeking of "self," on the other hand, is an over-practiced art." If I hear one more person excuse stupid, cruel, or self-indulgent behavior on the basis of "low self-esteem" or "I guess I have to learn to love MYSELF," I think I'll scream.'9. Family values have become a political issue rather than an ideal to be embraced. The responsibility and obligation to spouse and children outweighs feelings and urges, which are temporary and often foolhardy.10. Good people with deep convictions remain silent when they should speak up. I have said it quite differently:' way too often, good people are "wusses;" they are afraid to stand up (not without good reason...see #1), because they want to be liked. I have gotten myself into all sorts of trouble by "standing up," so I know what it takes. "Being beautiful, uninhibited or rich has become a cheap substitute for courage, decency and selflessness," writes the Pastor.' And he is so very correct. That's why I often ask people to project themselves 20 years into the future, and then look back on themselves at this very moment.' I ask them to tell me what they would need to do in order to be proud of themselves.' It's funny how they always know what's right when looked at from that perspective. More >>

Tags: Morals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilityValues
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05/13/2010
IconNewsflash from the University of Colorado, Boulder: scientist believes that animals can have a sense of morality that shows them the difference between right and wrong. Professor emeritus Marc Bekoff explains in his new book that morals are "hardwired" in a mammal's brain and has gathered - he says - evidence showing how various species appear to have a sense of fairness, will help other animals in need, and can even show empathy.First of all, the very word "hardwired" indicates a lack of choice.' There is no knowing or choosing between right and wrong without a clear conception of the notion of consideration of options.' Animals other than humans are, indeed, "hardwired" - that is, they act by instinct.' Secondly, using anthropomorphic terminology is misleading.' I remember being on a morning television show eons ago, when some feminist was pointing out that rape was ubiquitous, and then showing a clip of alligators mating.' Trust me...that wasn't a pretty or comfortable sight...but it wasn't rape.' Alligator males have to overcome resistance so that the best sperm wins.' That's the female alligator's world of making a choice with whom to hook up - as violent as it appears to humans.A hungry lion coming into a room with ten frightened human beings is not going to starve to death because it isn't "nice" to kill innocent humans.' He's going to eat the first guy or gal he clamps his jaws on.' That's not an immoral act.' Morality requires a choice.' The lion is "hardwired" to eat meat.' That's it.Here's an example from Dr. Bekoff's book that I believe is way off base: "Vampire bats need to drink blood every night, but it is common for some not to find any food.' Those who are successful in foraging for blood will share their meal with bats who have shared with them." He considers this a reciprocity which indicates the acting out of moral precepts.' I think that conclusion is just silly.' Bats are gregarious and need to be in "packs" for safety and comfort.' Therefore, they are wired to keep each other alive.' You'll see competition when they're mating.Ants will pile up over waterways to allow other ants to pass.' This is not self-sacrifice after kissing your family goodbye - this is instinct built into the tiny brain of an ant, over which he has no control.And that's the point.' Morality is an issue of making a choice between personal gain and the welfare of another which may even take away from the self.' Risking one's life to pull a child out of a river in which you might very well die is not an instinct.' Most people would never set a toe in the water.' That's their choice.' However, some souls will put their lives on the line, because their compassion overwhelms their sense of personal survival.That's what makes some human beings magnificent.' The stories of people standing by and not helping others in other in need are legion, and include individuals, groups, and even whole countries.' This sort of analysis about animals is emotional , not scientific, in my opinion.' And it seems important fodder for PETA-types to argue their points.The good and bad point of the human brain is obvious:' we can figure out how to walk on the moon and discover penicillin.' We can also think of ways to fly airplanes into buildings to kill as many innocent people as possible for the sake of our "god."' CHOICE is wonderful in concept, but either beautiful OR deadly in actuality. More >>

Tags: MoralsMorals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilityValues
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05/13/2010
IconResearchers at the University of British Columbia studied people who had undergone genetic testing to determine their risk for developing the neurodegenerative terminal disorder known as Huntington's disease.' Did you know (and can you believe) that those subjects who learned that they had a very high likelihood of developing this horrendous and ultimately fatal disease were "happier a year after testing than those who did not learn what their risk was."Many of you probably think that not knowing would result in more happiness, but you'd be wrong.' According to Dr. Daniel Gilbert of Harvard University, "...when we get bad news, we weep for a while, and then get busy making the best of it.' We change our behavior; we change our attitudes.' We raise our consciousness and lower our standards.' We find our bootstraps and tug.' But we can't come to terms with circumstances whose terms we don't yet know." Even those of you who listen to my program regularly may be shocked when I tell somebody their mother or father or spouse or even their child is a bum.' You may wince when I have them scream out how righteously angry they are at parents who didn't protect them.'' You may also sometimes recoil from your radio when you hear me push and push and push a caller until they reveal their innermost horrible truth.' Perhaps you've seen me as cruel...or hawking for ratings stemming from the drama.The fact is, that as a professional psychotherapist I have long realized the value of dealing with the truth - as ugly as it might be.' I've seen and heard people fighting to keep ugly truths submerged as though it protected them.' In fact, the energy that goes into burying reality is huge, and not available for healthy living.Not everyone who calls is willing or ready for this evolutionary leap in their lives.' Sometimes, they have to think about it more and come back later.' That's fine.' The seed is planted.' I don't see my job as making every caller feel happy at the end of our brief conversation.' I see my job as one of freeing them from their own personal jail of denial and avoidance, all of which lead to depression, anxiety, and poor ( very poor) choices in life.Knowing is always better than not knowing.' Several recent callers have demanded that I give them some magic to get their loved one to stop smoking or stop being obese.' I tell them to give up that ongoing, unpleasant battle, and simply enjoy the time they do have with that person.' Accepting what is out of your control opens you up to more happiness, because you are left with dealing with "what is," instead of fighting to have it be something else.'You can wrap your arms and joys around what is .' You can't do the same thing with what you wish was the truth. More >>

Tags: AbortionMental HealthPersonal ResponsibilityValues
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05/13/2010
IconI have often told callers struggling with their fears (real or imagined or exaggerated) that next to character, I admire guts.' Actually, having the fortitude to face the things we're afraid of is a measure of character.A few weeks ago, I was out for only the third time on my new paddleboard.' I was balancing well, in spite of passing motorboats leaving scary wakes in my path.' I was in choppy waters, which was not that smart at my level of experience, and feeling great about what I was doing, when-BAM-I hit the board full flat and hard on my left side and slid underwater.' I was stunned, cold, and worried about becoming a shark snack.' I swam quickly back to the board, pulled myself up, and lay there shaking with cold, shock, and fear. I pulled my knees under me, then got my feet down as I poised in a crouched position, and then stood straight up and paddled nervously for another fifteen minutes.' The point of these actions was that I knew that if I just swam ashore, I might never get on the board again.' My left ribs hurt tremendously, and I'm still healing.' But for me, the main point was getting back up then and there, and scowling directly into the face of fear.This is a small step for a girl like me.' A much bigger step for a little girl is the story of Bethany Hamilton.' She nearly lost her life in a vicious shark attack while surfing off the coast of Hawaii almost six years ago.' The shark attack happened while she was lying on her board with her arm dangling comfortably in the water.' The shark ripped her left arm off just below the shoulder, and she almost died from blood loss - the shark left a sixteen inch "bite" on her surfboard.' Grisly, to say the least.' By the way, they caught the shark.' It was a 14-foot-long tiger shark, which weighed 1400 pounds.What was Ms. Hamilton doing just a month after that shark took her left arm?' Re-training herself to surf competitively with only one arm.' Her positive attitude won her a 2004 EXPY award from ESPN for "Best Comeback Athlete of the Year."' She's now ranked among the top ten professional women surfers in the world.' With one arm.Does this mean she has no fears?' No. "When I'm feeling scared, I just sing a song or pray...or I just try to ignore it.' It's always in my mind, and it always will be, but I've got to keep my mind on having fun and just surfing." She says she sees two or three sharks per year in the water and heads in if she gets scared or thinks she sees a shark.' She doesn't go in the murky water after a storm.' In other words, she uses the common sense that all surfers should employ.She travels the world for surfing competitions, and for causes in which she can help children with fears - like going to Thailand to help young children devastated by the tsunami disaster.' With her unique experience, she has something very important to say about overcoming fears, much less overcoming fear of water.I've always said that one of the best learning tools in the universe is to read to yourself and your family biographies of people who have fought inner and outer demons and prevailed.' This is one of those stories.And you don't have to be afraid of the ocean to benefit.' Life has its disappointments, assaults, devastation, frustrations, challenges, and bad luck.' That's just life.' What you do after that point is the measure of your life. More >>

Tags: CharacterCharacter, Courage, ConscienceCharacter-Courage-ConscienceCourageFearMental HealthPersonal ResponsibilityValues
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05/13/2010
IconA 66-year-old British woman (yup - 66! ), unmarried (of course), went to the Ukraine and paid doctors over there to impregnate her with fertilized eggs.' The eggs were donated, as was the sperm, but the uterus - zapped with a regimen of necessary hormones - was hers.She is due to give birth by Caesarean section next month.' Wow.' What a medical miracle!' We have the technological know-how to allow a woman almost 70 years old to "make a baby" for her very own self!' Personally, I would have suggested a shih-tzu for her case of loneliness instead - she and the dog might live the same number of blissful years together.What about the child?' What about being born to a woman who could be your great-grandmother and statistically will not live to see you finish puberty or high school?' Well, that doesn't seem to matter - it's all about what the adult wants and not about how children pay the price.Yes, I know - parents of any age can die from cancer or car accidents, and, of course, that's true.' But this woman's chances of dying before her child reaches adulthood are pretty clear.' And with no daddy in the picture, what does this child do for family?The so-called "Octomom," Nadya Suleman, also wanted what she wanted, and now many children suffer not being able to get to a teat because there are too many competitors, and they have no dad to comfort them, either.I'm so proud (yeah, right) of women who have taken on the mantle of "I am woman, hear me roar."' They serve to make the example of how low women and humanity can go in diminishing the needs of children because of their own wants.' Shameful! More >>

Tags: Family/Relationships - ChildrenMotherhoodMotherhood-FatherhoodParentingPersonal Responsibility
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Tags: Personal ResponsibilityPoliticsValues
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Tags: Common SenseFamilyFamily/Relationships - ChildrenFamily/Relationships - FamilyParentingPersonal ResponsibilityRelationshipsRelativesValues
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Tags: Family/Relationships - FamilymarriagePersonal ResponsibilityRelationshipsRelatives
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05/13/2010
IconI love Susan Boyle.' I've never watched any of those "Idol," "Model," or "Talent" shows.' The only reason I know of Susan Boyle is that she has hit the news big time.' For those of you, like me, who don't keep up with these shows, Susan Boyle made a big hit on "Britain's Got Talent" as a singer.Unfortunately, the news was two-fold:' boy, is she ever unattractive, and boy, can she ever sing.Susan Boyle is 47, overweight, flabby, and has graying, frizzy hair, bushy eyebrows, and a blubbery face.' Susan Boyle also has the singing ability of an angel, giving a performance of the Les Miserables tune "I Dreamed A Dream" that has made her an instant star with more than 20 million views on YouTube.Now the debates rage:' should she or shouldn't she get some kind of makeover to look prettier on camera?''' The United Kingdom's Guardian published a "no, she shouldn't; she should stay natural" comment from one of their most "done over" women stars.' Others are repulsed by her looks, and can't imagine that beautiful voice coming from such a plain, frumpy woman.Many of those 20 million plus YouTube views very likely occurred simply because of that incredible contrast.' For many, it was like watching a geek or freak show, so they could laugh at her lack of physical attributes, without, of course, looking in the mirror themselves.Me?' I give her lots of credit for being more focused on her voice than on her lack of beauty.' She is definitely not attractive.' Should she get face work to match the scores of women who all look like they came out of the same factory:' the puffed-up face, abnormally protruding cheeks, and lips that look like the rump side of an orangutan?' I wouldn't advise it.Clearly, this is not a woman of means...yet.' So, getting her hair colored and calmed down, learning some makeup tips, and having clothes which best compliment her ample figure is something that is probably in the works now, which means that she'd be spiffing up what she has, and not getting surgically transformed into a vision which will make the snide snickers go away.' Making the best of what you have is admirable and advisable; getting re-made into something nobody is, is not admirable nor advisable.And the main point is that she has a beautiful voice, and a tremendous amount of talent.' If she were "pretty," I wonder how many YouTube hits there would have been.' Gosh...I long for the days before television and the Internet, when only the quality of what a person had to offer was revealed. More >>

Tags: choose wisely treat kindlyChoose Wisely-Treat KindlyInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMarriagePersonal ResponsibilityReality TVSocial IssuesWomen's Point of View
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05/13/2010
IconWhen I was a kid, we spent most of our time outside playing...something.' Riding bikes, playing ball, walking, running, performing dramatic vignettes, or finding clues in twigs, among other activities.' Imagination, strategy, and fresh air were the mainstay of life then.And then....the incredible technology age came along, with chatter, Twitter, and pics, texting and more.' You don't have to be a rocket scientist to guess that that isn't very good.Kids today aren't on "friendship" sites to get help with their math homework or discourse on all things philosophical.' They're basically trying to make a mark, to be somebody, or to impress somebody, all without having done a damn thing to actually earn the attention.But why should they?' Look at what they see on television:' reality show after reality show where people get "famous" for behaving badly and creating nothing of value or beauty.' Ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich may even be getting his own television show after being tossed out of office because of severe wrongdoing.That's where kids get the idea that "outrageous" is more important than goodness, patience, commitment to a goal, and values beyond their own immediate "fantasy" gratification.' I don't know how you parents can shield your children from this "Pinocchio Island," which ultimately degenerates the value of living and giving to merely depraved acting out.' Removing all TVs and never going to the movies might be a start - maybe the Amish have it right in that regard.' They have long held that so-called "modern" advances don't necessarily advance the human spirit.It breaks my heart to hear all the stories each day of children and young adults who, in a rush to feel the power of adulthood freedom, don't get the matched message of responsibility and nobility.' Religion in this country is breaking down as people go to Easter services or Passover dinners as mostly a yearly reunion, as opposed to a daily profound observance.' Families are breaking down with "shack-up," out-of-wedlock children lost in a morass of adult yearnings for easy intimacy.' And so it goes.Do I sound negative?' You bet.' I am worried.' I am heartened by the emails and calls from families struggling in the midst of all this societal turmoil, which has robbed them of the support and respect they so dearly need to help their children find a good and righteous path in life.' My heart goes out to them, and, hopefully, there will be more like them. More >>

Tags: DepressionFamily/Relationships - ChildrenHealthInternet-MediaInternet/MediaMental HealthParentingPersonal ResponsibilityReality TV
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