Just Let Me -- G -- Indoctrinate You!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dear America,

"Certainly his actions hurt me, and they caused consequences for me,
but they don't in any way take away my own self-esteem,"
she told ABC's Barbara Walters.
"They reflect poorly on him."

That was Jenny Sanford, Wednesday night appearing on Barbara's 10 Most Fascinating People of the Year.

This morning, she filed for divorce.

G has been there; matter of fact, G remains single today, raising a child, and with every ounce of my being building a home with the blocks of character in tandem with the man I left nearly twelve years ago.

Similar but not quite the same, my connection to her sentiment "they reflect poorly on him" gives me chills; that was my response to it when coming to my own rescue for a past that feels like a lifetime ago.

Given that my parents have been married fifty years -- of course you would already know that if you followed G during the summer when gallivanting around Yellowstone Park marking the anniversary with them at the foot of Old Faithful -- it would also be a given that the reflection of failing at the one thing I thought I would also live to see -- the milestone and badge of honor of a marriage blessed with the same -- had the potential to destroy me. 

Perhaps it is the Aries in me that gave me the ability to stealthy swing from bliss to defeat, defeat to shock, shock to indifference, indifference to peace, peace back to bliss on a dime way back when; truth be told, it's more like on a wing and prayer that gave me the strength to forgive myself for the fall from grace and lay the stepping stones to a new life.

No easy task for anyone -- but that's not the direction today; the thing is, with a child, every move we make is reflected back through their actions, demeanor, character and attitude.  Good parenting cannot fail even when our heart is broken; we simply do not have time to selfishly lose sight of our responsibility to our children amidst a shattered dream; the shards must be picked up and pieced back together to allow for real character to shine through.

While our culture seems to cling to stories of the Hollywood stars, politicians, and athletic phenomenons appearing to have the world by a string only to have it lost in a whirlwind of scandal and infidelity and loss of character -- perhaps our true failure comes from falling under a spell right from the start. 

Perhaps it is what we wanted to see in them that remains left in fragments on the floor; leaving only flaws reflecting poorly on them and certainly, and ever so hopefully, not upon us.

But what is it our children take in from this all too familiar scene played out over and over again in the tabloids and on TV?

We live by example; we grow up as a reflection of our parents and our environment; we make children from that which and all that we are; and it is within our children we show the character we live by.  We teach them through a happy marriage; and if we fail at that, we must teach them through the walls of a broken home.  It's as simple as that.

Good parenting does not take a pass simply because we don't make good soul mates.

...okay, pretend you just stepped out to walk your dog, like G just did...we're walking...we're walking...another storm is moving into the area so it's brisk and cloudy with a slight chance of showers.  Brr

...then it happened.  A light bulb moment.

...what if the rule was for every story we show on the lack of good character we must show a story that does?  Think about it.  Two days ago, my girl was so sick and tired of all the disappointment, all the yuck in the muck, all the virtues of a society gone bad at the detriment of finding anything worthy of substance, of value, of something that could lift her up and elevate her to a higher level of living -- she proclaimed enough was enough!  Mayday. SOS.

This is where we as parents step in; not only do we step in, but we do our best to reflect that which we want our children to mirror -- aren't our babies and the potential of our ever-evolving community in which we live worth it?  While with all of it's rhetorical attributes aside, I'm  really not asking.

So to follow the new rules, we would see little ole Tiger and his sweet Swede Elin be paired with Uncle Teddy and Auntie Lettie from Chattanooga -- after thirty five years, surrounded by children and grandchildren with a simple life, a living faith, and a loving heart welcoming another Christmas all together as a family, certainly around a fire place if the reality was there.

Instead, we get this,
"One of Tiger Woods's alleged mistresses, Jamie Jungers, 26, has told how she had "wild" sex with the wealthy golf star, including during 10 visits to his home, British newspaper the Sun reported Thursday.

She recounted how their relationship started in Las Vegas eight months after Woods married, and continued despite Woods telling her that his marriage to Swedish wife Elin Nordegren was fine..." Agence France-Presse December 11, 2009

Or this,
"CHARLESTON, S.C. – South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford blames his own moral failures for his wife's desire to divorce him.

He says Jenny Sanford is gracious and remarkable and has been patient and selfless since he publicly revealed his affair with an Argentine woman in June." by Bruce Smith, Associated Press Writer, December 10, 2009
What is our world coming to?  Is our culture becoming so insensitive to the values we are teaching our children -- and seemingly just crossing our fingers that they turn out alright -- that we stop teaching to be of good character, stories of real people with sound principles and values, altogether?  The emphasis has clearly grown to side with what ails us -- not in what nurtures, and feeds, and nourishes a young hungry soul for that which is good. 
It is bad enough that generation after generation we are seeing not only more of what we brush off as merely dysfunctional families -- almost laughing it off as simply our culture's mild sign of decay, a few flakes on the shoulder -- we are now watching it upon the big screen and the pages of yahoo, the macrocosm loss of every principle in the book. 
What are we teaching our children and shouldn't ABC, CBS, NBC, TMZ and YAHOO fulfill some of it's duty to bearing some responsibility of teaching both sides -- highlighting good with bad -- finding more news to the values that we hold dear than illuminating the raunchy, the absurd, the wicked and the immoral?  Showing the titillating nature of the news of our times may be considered selling our culture short of an opportunity to really shine in the face and earshot of our children. But time will tell now won't it.
My mama and I share our personal preference and love of wearing a cross. It's really nothing more than wanting to display for all the world to see where we aspire to live our lives from -- a reminder to the cross we bear at times in a world that doesn't always go our way -- it affirms daily a belief in something greater than ourselves and our ability to transcend the secular world in a flash, on the fly, and whenever we need "reinforcement" to get through the day.
Low and behold, on a rainy Monday afternoon this last week, my girl came to me and asked me if she could wear one of my crosses (hold on a second, I'm pulling a GlennBeck and needing to grab a tissue); but you gotta understand, she came to me and asked.  I didn't push or prod, I simply led and I did; that's all it took.
I'm not surprised by her modeling herself after her mama; it's what we do as kids, as I remember for myself.  We follow and learn and grow and turn into people much like those who sit around us at the dinner table, in the church pew, on the sidelines and in the front seat.  And we don't usually grow too much outside the family boundaries, unless of course we are graced by an angel or something very close to it -- the story of Michael Oher comes to mind.  (Thank you for the gift of The Blind Side, in theaters now.)
We usually can't make those kind of leaps on our own -- we usually don't grow much further from the tree -- we usually don't become something we're not or something that wasn't inherent to who we really are or where we came from...and from what I see and as time goes by, it is becoming increasingly hard for society to fake it.
Our character comes from values and principles instilled in us from our parents, and perhaps a mentor, minister, teacher or coach.  It takes work and effort to build a kind of character worth repeating itself in a new generation; it takes real, unadulterated stories that teach values -- not victims, villains or a veneer of a society that once was.
The latest book I'm reading is a collection of fables; and talk about the value and influence of story time  -- Aesop, a Greek slave, told stories to the king featuring animals as the main characters, in an effort to teach a moral platform without essentially hurting any one's feelings -- an indirect and delightful way to make a point, don't you think? 
Here's The Jackdaw and His Borrowed Feathers:

A Jackdaw flew over the wall into a garden where peacocks walked.
No one was around.
But there on the ground lay some beautiful peacock plumes.

Quickly he gathered them up,
"How fine I will look dressed up in these peacock feathers!" he thought.
He stuck the longest ones in his tail and some shorter ones on his head.
Then he flew back among the crows and starlings and sparrows. 

He strutted around proudly.  He made believe he didn't even see the common birds.

"I really am too fine to talk to them," he decided at last, and flew off to the peacocks.

But the peacocks saw at once that he was a Jackdaw dressed in their feathers.

They came up angrily and pecked their plumes off him.  And along with the borrowed feathers,
the Jackdaw lost some of his own.

It was a sad-looking bird that flew back over the wall.

He was glad to get away with both eyes in his head.

Now he was ready to be friends with the common birds around him.

But the starlings and crows and sparrows remembered what airs he had put on before.
And they would have nothing to do with him.

Moral: Borrowed feathers do not make fine birds.
Who are we as a people, what kind of Americana-Birdus of a Feathurus are we?  What are we made of and what do we pass on to our children of value, of character, of worth in order to carry this generation triumphantly on to the next? 
If we don't teach it to them, they will look for it from the outside, they will look for it disguised in opulent lifestyles and empty souls, they will look for it to be fulfilled by things, material and immaterial, to fill their void.  They will not learn to respect who they are -- and have enough moral courage and inner strength to give them the guidance and security to become who they are destined to be. 
This is the job that evidently, and the more society dictates, can only be filled by the one person we see in the mirror -- and two if you happen to be one of the lucky one's --  broken or not, the reflection we see in our children tells the whole story.
Make it a Good Day, G
Before sending them off to school, bless your children with a story, a fable, a poem, or simply a whisper in the ear with something that brings light and love -- in a lesson taught by animals or a thought that makes them smile; our chance to be better parents starts over in each and every new day, thanks be to God.

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