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attitude
Tags: AttitudeBehaviorGratitudeHealthPersonal ResponsibilityPurposeValues
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Tags: AttitudeFamily/Relationships - FamilyHolidaysMorals, Ethics, ValuesPolitical CorrectnessRelationshipsRelativesSocial IssuesThanksgiving
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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 recently wrote a column for a publication in which I reiterated my position on day-care, and one of my comments was: "Tearing children away from their homes and families [for day care] is somewhere between sinister and cruel." A reader of the column wrote a letter-to-the-editor taking exception to my comment and countering with: "...there are many benefits to day care, including health screenings, nutritious meals, socialization and active play away from the TV." Could not agree with her more!' Where mothers and fathers can't or won't provide their children with food, medical care, friends in the park, and attention and play, being shunted over to an institutionalized setting may definitely be a godsend!I'm still waiting, however, for the proof that children do better or equal in day-care than with a loving, attentive, involved mommy or daddy. More >>

Tags: appreciateAttitudeFamily/Relationships - ChildrenParentingValues
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05/13/2010
IconAs I have mentioned on the air many times, I race sailboats.' I've won some races and lost some, but the favorite wins have been the ones that I least expected would or could happen.' I remember the time that we were over early at the start and had to do a penalty turn of 360 degrees, after getting out of the way of the other starting boats.' We had a heck of a time starting again, as, by the time we finished our penalty turn, many boats were already in our way.'This incident happened early on in my sailing training, and I became despondent almost immediately, because I realized we now had absolutely no chance of even a third place finish, let alone a first.' My coach and tactician sternly yanked me out of my doldrums and told me that we were "down but not out," and we had to work even harder now to catch up.' Frankly, I thought this was philosophically lovely, but hugely impractical, and I could barely see the sterns of the boats in front of us as they had so much distance on us.Nonetheless, after considering breeze, windshifts, current, direction choices, steering, and crew work, there were enough variables to work with to keep our chins up.'We pulled together as a team, and worked very hard to maximize every option we had, and we ended up winning the race.' I learned a lot that day.' It's a lot more gratifying to succeed when it is a righteous challenge than when it seems like more of a slam dunk.Jason Lezak knew this lesson.' Fifty meters from the finish line in the 4x 100 meter freestyle relay at the Beijing Olympics, Mr. Lezak doubted he could overcome the half-body length lead of his French opponent, Alain Bernard, who also happened to hold the world record in the 100-meter freestyle.Instead of just accepting the probable loss, a determined Mr. Lezak pulled grit from down deep, and swam the fastest he's ever done, and touched the electronically sensored wall, winning by eight one-hundredths of a second.' He shattered a world record and won a gold medal.'And then he heard the fat lady sing...the American national anthem! More >>

Tags: AttitudeEat Less-Move MoreFitnessHealthHobbiesHolidaysPersonal ResponsibilityPurposeSailingSocial IssuesValentine's Day
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05/13/2010
IconA Canadian court has lifted a 12 year old girl's "grounding," overturning her father's punishment for disobeying his orders to stay off the Internet.' The girl had taken her father to Quebec Superior Court after he refused to allow her to go on a school trip for chatting on websites he tried to block, and then posting inappropriate pictures of herself online using a friend's computer.Unbelievably, the judge, Justice Suzanne Tessier, decided the punishment was too severe, and basically severed this father's parental authority.' Unbelievable.' Unbelievable.Evidently, the girl's Internet transgression was just the latest in a pattern of broken house rules.Obviously, this situation should never have been accepted for adjudication.' Obviously, this judge has taken leave of her common sense.' Obviously, this judge should lose her position.' Obviously, this is going to undermine parenting in Canada, and anywhere else such nonsense is permitted.By the way, there's a twist to this story - one which may explain the judge's behavior.' The court-appointed lawyer who represented this child is the same lawyer who has been involved in the child's parents' 10 year custody battle!' If I were suspicious, I might wonder if this judge is a feminist type who identified with the mom as a co-oppressee and misused judicial power to support women - right or wrong.' Not an accusation, you understand, but just an attempt at understanding the unacceptable. More >>

Tags: attitudeInternetInternet-MediaInternet/MediaParentingSocial IssuesValues
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05/13/2010
IconJ.C. Penney officials are upset about a racy, fake advertisement on YouTube, in which the retailer appears to be endorsing teen sex.' The "fake" ad'was not done with their knowledge or permission.The video, called "Speed Dressing," ends with teens telling the girls' mother that they're heading down to the basement to watch TV.' As they head toward the basement door, the words "Today's the day to get away with it" flash on the screen, echoing Penney's use of the phrase "Today's the day to..." in a series of ads it launched last year.' Penney's logo and slogan then appear on the screen.The title refers to the beginning of the video which shows two teenagers in their own respective bedrooms stripping down to their underwear and then timing themselves as they race to put their clothes back on.'The amoral part of this story is the response of Alan Siegel, chief executive of New York strategic-branding company Siegel + Gale. "It's not going to reflect well on the brand in Middle America, but the ad is nicely done and the people in it are attractive; young people in New York and LA will get a kick out of it," he said.The potential impact on young people is irrelevant, however, as long as it's clever and attractive?' Amoral thinking at best. More >>

Tags: AttitudeFamily/Relationships - TeensSexSexualitySocial IssuesTeensValues
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05/13/2010
IconLast month, I was asked to write a note to wives of Los Angeles SWAT team members ("warrior wives") after a SWAT officer was killed in a real life incident.' I thought it made sense to share it with all of you:Not long ago, I received an award from a Native American patriot group for being "the proud mother of a deployed American paratrooper."' The representatives of this group travel the country giving special awards to military personnel and their families honoring their efforts, sacrifices, and suffering.' Part of the quite moving ceremony was that I was given a Native American name.' The representative of the tribe said that he got special permission from the elders to do so, and that he prayed to the spirits for many days until they told him what name to give me: Walks With Warriors .The obvious irony is that I talk about "warriors" with great reverence and respect almost every day on my radio program.' Modern-day warriors include the military, firemen, and the police.' These folks elect to put themselves in harm's way for perfect and imperfect strangers.' Why?' Because as the hot dog commercial touted, they "obey a higher power."' That higher power is purpose .When my son volunteered for the military, I was at once proud and scared.' I talked to him just before he left for basic training and said something like "You know, honey, this is not like a video game or shooting targets.' There will be young men on the other side trying to kill you before you kill them."' "Mom," he replied, nonplussed while I was reverberating with discomfort, "the way I drive, I could get killed on the freeway.' Of course, I don't want to die or even get hurt.' And some day, I'm going to die anyway, because, eventually, we all do.' If I die in combat, I will at least have died for a noble purpose." I was stunned.' My eighteen year old wild kid had overnight turned into a man who understood that a life without purpose is the greatest loss.' The constant memory of that conversation is what buoys me as a mother of a combat soldier.' I'm so proud.I have used my own experience to help the mothers, wives, and children of warriors; I help them understand that they are not just wives, mothers, and children - they are warrior wives, warrior mothers, and warrior children - and provide them real back-up for these extraordinary people' The sacrifice of time, energy, commitment, financial riches, and sometimes life and limb, make these warriors and their families special and deserving of infinitely more respect than they get by some who don't appreciate the price of freedom from enemies foreign and domestic, as well as from natural disasters.I am reminded of a scene from the Yul Brynner version of the film, "The Magnificent Seven." It takes place in Mexico, where a small village is one of the many terrorized by a roving gang of Mexican bandits preying on their own.' Yul and six of his gun-slinging buddies are hired to protect the town.' The scene of most importance to the issue of heroes and warriors is one in which one of the gunslingers tries to shoo away two young boys who are enthralled with him as a warrior and hero.' One of them insults his own father, calling him a coward.' The gunman grabs him and yells at him (I'm paraphrasing here): "We're just men with guns.' Your fathers are the real heroes.' They work hard every day trying to squeeze food from the dirt to take care of your mothers and siblings.' They struggle against the forces of nature and the evil of bandits.' And they survive to protect and provide for you - they are the real heroes!" The truth is, we need both.' We need those willing to fight evil and disasters and we need those who toil each day supporting those warriors and the life they have us live.' When we lose "one of ours," and collapse into negativity and despair, we destroy 1) what they built, and 2) what they lost.' Their deaths are best honored by our continuing to do what they lived for:' to have wonderful, productive, happy, and safe lives.'Don't take what they lost and waste it with self-pity and rage.' Take what they lost and honor their memory and their efforts by squeezing every ounce of joy that life,' love, relationships, hobbies, work, family, and just plain smelling the lilacs can give.We most honor the deaths of warriors by continuing their commitment, not by giving up on our own.'A respected rabbi once said: "Despair is a cheap excuse for avoiding one's purpose in life.' And a sense of purpose is the best way to avoid despair." I have relied on this sentiment many times as despair has grabbed at my feet.' I hope this helps you.My heart is with all of you, past and present.Dr. Laura C. Schlessinger More >>

Tags: AttitudeHealthMorals, Ethics, ValuesPersonal ResponsibilityPurposeValues
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