My first title for this was, "Because, yeah, encouraging kids to work hard and stay in school is REALLY subversive." Then I realized that the whole point of writing this is that after the past few weeks I feel like I've had enough negativity to last a lifetime. So I've tried to eliminate all sarcasm and cutting from the following. If this makes me less entertaining, well, perhaps it makes me less offensive too. And, whatever else you may think, I have no wish to offend.
So let me start with a disclaimer: If you are going to pull your children from school on Tuesday so that they cannot be "brainwashed" by our president, that is your right, of course. I wanted to make that statement right off the bat as I was told on Facebook yesterday by a mother I didn't know that it was her God-given right to control everything her child learned. While I wish her luck with that, I bring up her comment to illustrate just how strongly people feel about this.
Now, if you are keeping your kids home Tuesday because you have studied what is available about the speech, or because you are disturbed by the lesson plan your child's teacher is planning on presenting with the speech, then I commend you for your research and the obvious concern you have for your child. I don't know if it is a God-given right to control each thing that enters your child's head or not (I'm not sure about the scriptural backing for this statement), but it certainly is your right to parent how you wish.
However, if you are pulling your child on Tuesday because of something you heard a television or news radio host say, or because you disagree with Mr. Obama's policies, or because you have been reading opinion columns, I would ask that you reconsider. Here is my reasoning:
1--There is a shocking lack of respect from children in this country for adults in general and particularly for people in positions of power. To teach your children that all respect must be "earned" by some arbitrary set of principles that involves others agreeing with all of your dearly held ideals is to deny the fact that each person is a child of God. Whether you agree with Mr. Obama or not, even in every particular, I am guessing that he has done nothing to offend you personally. I'm guessing that if he were invited to your house for dinner you would find him affable and friendly, optimistic, and eager to talk with great affection about his kids. Naturally, you would avoid politics and religion, but dignified acquaintance demands that these topics not be discussed anyway.
Using negative and incendiary language around your young children about local or national political leaders confuses and hurts them. After all, they are reprimanded severely if they use such language about children they know and interact with. You might think that you are merely passing on political ideaology to your children, but it is important to be very aware of what else you might be teaching them.
2--I believe that running negative talk radio shows or television in your home that involves hosts who shout, berate, belittle and constantly criticize drives the Spirit away. Even if the host of such programs is LDS. If you disagree with this, please find the titled reference in 3rd Nephi in the Savior's initial sermon to the Nephites. He is very plain about the source of the spirit of contention. Children are especially sensitive to the spirit of contention; indeed, it is the opposite of the Holy Ghost. There is nothing wrong with you listening in your car, or after bedtime with your spouse, particularly if such programs lead to mature discussion of ideals and principles that you either agree or disagree with. You wouldn't allow violent or rude cartoons into your home, how much more confusing and even scary is it for children who see and hear talk show hosts using almost violent terms as they urge people to "reclaim their country."
The thoughts expressed concerning Laura Schlessinger last week have really prompted me to think about these talking-head types who feel duty bound to tell the whole world what is wrong with everybody but them. These people, whomever they are, get paid, and well-paid, to set themselves up above others, to mix enough truth with lies that they sound credible, to shock, to divide, and to gain popularity and influence. If you have copy of Mormon Doctrine hanging around your house, look up the definition of "Priestcraft" and see if that doesn't match pretty closely. For how many generations have men been warned about the danger of following the "philosophy of men mingled with scripture." How many more times must we hear it to truly be on our guard?
Again, don't misunderstand, I'm certainly not against people profiting from their labors, intelligence, talents or ingenuity. I am against the preservation of people's right to profit above all other moral responsibility. I am against people using these same skills to incite normally sensible people to extreme anger and divisiveness without offering clear and positive alternatives. I am against people using their God-given gifts (and all good gifts are from God) to wreck and create enmity between people. Just so we are clear--I am not against their agency to do so. I just think they are selling their souls.
3--If your family disagrees with Mr. Obama that doesn't mean something cannot be learned from him. Last month, Bill O'Reilly wrote an article for a weekend circular magazine, Parade. Perhaps you saw it in your paper? Mr. O'Reilly is a Fox News journalist who has routinely been critical of Democrat-sponsored policies and Democrats in general. He is also a shrewd and talented newsman who holds people accountable for what they claim to know and be. His article details some very positive things that American children can learn from our commander-in-chief. Isn't it possible to help our children see, in a calm and rational manner, that there are positive things to learn from all kinds of people, even when we don't agree entirely with them?
I hope that no readers here take offense from what I've said. I have no idea exactly what you believe politically or where your information is coming from. My assumptions here are not aimed at anyone in general, but more at the mood prevailing in our country right now. And I'm deeply disturbed that the heart of such controversies is often in Utah. Gay marriage, which our prophet spoke plainly against is one thing, but to treat a classroom visit by the president as a very affront to all you hold dear, is to create a climate in which Mormons look not only foolish, but as a group that is only allowed to think a certain way by our leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth. I often think of Kennedy and Hatch, life-long friends, when I think of people whose opinions are generally diametrically opposed but managed to form a bond of brotherhood that is built on mutual respect and admiration, and not merely on shared opinion.
Yesterday a friend in Utah sent an e-mail with the following, "I have a friend in Arizona who is being almost bullied by her Mormon mom friends there who are telling her she can't send her kids to school that day, that she needs to send a clear message that she will not be brainwashed by 'that man.' " Of course you should keep your kids home from school if you ever worry for their safety or the appropriateness of what they are learning, but don't assume that because your friends are LDS that they feel the same way about it. And above all, don't judge their commitment to the gospel based on your own perception of politics.
In our "fight to save men's souls" (though I'm quite certain Mr. Obama's speech is not what our leaders have in mind when they use such terminology), let us no lose our own to anger, frustration, discord and ignorance.