Tag Archives: Good Quote

Good Quote for February 27, 2014


“All too rarely do I hear people asking just what it is that we’ve done to make so many children’s hearts so hard, or what collectively we might do to right their moral compass – what values we must live by.”

― Barack ObamaDreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance

I’ve never bought the idea that people are just born good and then are corrupted by an evil society. That said, I’ve also never bought the idea that we are naturally depraved and have to have all of our horrible impulses tempered by constant vigilance either. I’ve spent a fair bit of time with kids and I’ve seen them display as wide a range of moral thoughts and behaviors as most adults I’ve known.

Instead of a black and white style “good” or “evil”, I think we’re all born with a drive to get our needs met. Good and evil actions come from how the situations we’re put in interfere with our ability to meet those needs and from the tools (i.e., coping skills) we have access to when the situation isn’t ideal.

So, in that sense, I like the way the question in this statement is framed (“what collectively we might do to right their moral compass”), but I think the answer is pretty straightforward: We have to shape the world, from our individual families on up to society as a whole, so that it meets everyone’s needs. That includes obvious physical needs (food and shelter), but also emotional needs (love, a sense of fulfillment, justice, security, etc.). The latter is just as important as the former.

In other words, we have to create situations that minimize conflict over needs.

That’s a tall order though. An impossibly tall order. That’s why we have to look beyond that. We have to teach our kids how to use their own physical, intellectual, and emotional tools to cope with times when the situation they’re in isn’t up to muster. I think in general that means modeling the way we use those tools ourselves. That’s the other reason I like this quote so much. He begins with a question that points at kids and the ways in which their character seems lacking. That’s where a lot of people stop, but he continues by pointing at us as adults and as a society asks us to consider the values we model.


Good Quote for February 24, 2014

“The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves—say rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”
― Victor HugoLes Misérables

Yesterday, I got really angry at my daughter, Grace. I had told her to stay on the sidewalk and not keep walking on the berm of snow. Which apparently meant it was a good time to walk on the berm.

That’s the part where I got angry and told her she was going to write lines about doing what she’s told when she got home.

We were actually parting ways — she and her brother, Liam, were heading back home with Wendy and I was going to meet them there later. When I finally got home, she had finished her lines. I was able to go give her a hug and a kiss on the head. She was able to tell me something funny she had just read.

***

She should have listened. I should have reacted more calmly than I did. It’s nice to be able to show Grace that I love her even when she makes mistakes. And it’s nice to know that she loves me when I make them.

It’s easy to love Grace and Liam when they’re impersonating the happy kids from Currier & Ives prints. If Victor Hugo was right, and it feels like maybe he was, it’s even more rewarding to experience the way that love continues even when they don’t listen and I overreact.