I think most of us who are parents live in perpetual fear that we’re doing it wrong. Aware of our own problems, we feel inadequate to help another independent, moral agent do it right.
So naturally, we scour social media for tips on how to do it better.
Typically, that makes us feel even worse because you discover that basically everyone is more organized, better in the kitchen, more disciplined, and generally having more fun with their kids than you are with yours.
But recently, I came across something that I thought was actually quite helpful. It was a simple but profound list of house rules. Things like…
“If you open it, close it.”
“If you break it, admit and fix it.”
“If you’re done with it, put it back.”
Then I got to this one: “If you value it, take care of it”.
First I thought about my kids. The frustration of watching your kid roll around in the bushes in brand new clothes or finding the toy that just yesterday they couldn’t live without in the remains of the grass clippings is real. How important can it really be to them if they make no effort to maintain it?
Then it occurred to me that the adults might have something to learn from this as well.
What are the things we say we value but don’t spend much time taking care of? Our marriages? Our kids? Our freedoms?
According to George Barna, during the 2012 general election, 12 million people who consider themselves to be born again Christians were not registered to vote. Another 26 million were registered but did not vote. That’s 38 million potential votes on the table.
Filling out a ballot is not exactly doing your taxes. It’s actually pretty easy. The lack of involvement suggests it’s not a priority.
But maybe the fact that we aren’t tending to it is a function of the fact that we don’t value it.
There could be an explanation for that as well.
My generation has been taught repeatedly that America is an imperialist nation that has profited primarily through exploitation of those less powerful.
We’ve been told that our Founding Fathers really didn’t know that much. After all, if you had slaves, how much respect do you deserve?
The idea that there is anything to learn from the way we lived in the 1950’s? Please. The Civil Rights Act wasn’t passed until 1964.
Honor explorers/invaders from Europe? Not in Seattle. Columbus Day has given way to Indigenous People’s Day because history has decided Christopher Columbus did some bad things. (Which is undeniably true of him as it is of all of us).
Apparently, Indigenous People, unlike Italians, have always been only virtuous.
The point is not to whitewash our history or suggest there aren’t plenty of things to improve upon. If you won’t acknowledge your mistakes the chances of repeating them are much greater.
But we seem to be at a point where saying good things about America—particularly its history—is an act of partisanship.
No person, government, movement, or organization of any significance will look good if the story of our lives features only our worst moments.
The need to emphasize the negative has had an impact. At least some students at Harvard believe the United States is a greater threat to world peace than ISIS.
Dinesh D’Souza discovered that making a movie arguing for the goodness of America gets you banned from Costco. Oddly, Michael Moore never had that issue.
Today I won’t try to make the case for why the idea of America is worth fighting for.
But if you are one who needs no convincing, help us do some maintenance.
Remember the house rules: If you value it, take care of it.
There’s an election in three weeks.
Most of the people you know have no idea who they should be voting for.
Help them with that. Send them to www.WashingtonVoterGuides.com so they can become educated or have them text their zip code to 77039 to receive their voter guide over the phone.
A lot of people will need a reminder to vote as well. Put 10 friends or family members who share your values on your Vote Finder account. We’ll tell you if their ballot has been turned in before the election is over. Yep. If you want to check in and make sure your kids, pastor, or neighbors have turned in their ballot the weekend before the election, you can.
If we all make sure 10 people besides ourselves vote, the world will look a lot different very quickly.
Many of the state legislative races that will be decided in three weeks will be decided by only a few hundred votes…or less. We’ll make a difference if we decide we want to.
Let’s set a good example for our kids. If you value it, take care of it.