Friday, August 20, 2010
Families are strengthened when they can discuss difficult topics without personal attacks. An oft-heard statement is that religion and politics should not be discussed among family members and friends. This statement may apply to those groups who want to maintain a superficial level of association, but family members must be able to share thoughts and feelings in a respectful manner about those topics that are most important to them. Families do not become strong by only discussing the weather, which team is going to win a tournament, or the schedule for the week. I recently had the opportunity to share several days with some of my children and their families, and one evening we became involved in a political discussion. The discussion began when one of my daughters asked me to explain why I have suddenly become so interested in politics. I answered her question as best I could, and the discussion grew from that point. I am pleased that we could have the discussion that we had because I believe that understanding took place. I know that I came away from the conversation a better person in spite of feeling a little bruised on my ideas. I hope that our family can continue to enjoy many more such conversations. The discussion helped me to clarify in my mind exactly how I feel about certain topics. I enjoy having serious discussions with my children because of their intelligence as well as their training and experience. They are far from being my clones and have ideas and experiences much different than mine. I have learned much from them for many years. I sometimes tend to have "tunnel vision" until one or more of my children help me to see a wider vista. For example, I stated that I would like to end all entitlement programs of the federal government. I didn't mean that they should be ended abruptly but could be gradually phased out over several decades. Several of my children explained that all entitlement programs cannot be deleted because we need a safety net for people who cannot take care of themselves: They may have fried their brains with drugs. They may be crippled through no fault of their own. They may simply be old and sick or have experienced more downs than ups in their lives. Whatever the reason, there are people who cannot work to provide for their own needs and have no other means of support. Even though I was already aware of this group of people, my children further convinced me of the need for some kind of program for those who really need it. I still believe that government programs have too much fraud in them, are too large, and are growing larger as time goes by. In our discussion we agreed that government needs to become better organized and be downsized in order to use taxpayers' money better We also discussed patriotism and why more people do not fly the United States flag. We agreed that there is a difference between people who do not fly the flag and those who will not fly the flag.