Much can and has been said about the great sacrifices made in creating the Constitutional Republic we know as the United States of America.
The deepest and wisest principles ever applied to human government were carefully embedded in the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. We owe our long continuance, prosperity and peace to the founders and those who have defended them and us since 1776. One nation, under God. The legacy has been unparalleled.
All Presidents have faced difficult times — perhaps none more critical than now, when erosion from within has been undermining everything this nation stands on and for, even to its very sovereignty. The infrastructure is being shaken, but it must stand. Without it we fail and fall. Those tearing at the foundations have no idea or possible regard for the consequences and outcomes, and others need to fight back.
For those fighting to save, rebuild and restore, I post this short message today. Quoting from Michiavelli, in “The Prince”, words dated 1513, nothing could better sum up the present circumstances and sadly, the challenges, not to create something new but to save and restore. May our President’s courage be richly rewarded:
“… THERE IS NOTHING MORE DIFFICULT TO PLAN, MORE DOUBTFUL OF SUCCESS, NOR MORE DANGEROUS TO MANAGE THAN THE CREATION OF A NEW SYSTEM. FOR THE INITIATOR HAS THE ENMITY OF ALL WHO WOULD PROFIT BY THE PRESERVATION OF THE OLD INSTITUTION, AND MERELY LUKEWARM DEFENDERS IN THOSE WHO WOULD GAIN BY THE NEW ONE.”
Copyright 2019 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
[This article will be one of many chapters under our title series, “Reversing Eden”. The purpose of this series is to address areas of conflict between men and women that can be improved with understanding of their God-granted differing qualities. We hope the ideas presented in these articles can help smooth the path back to what was originally intended — peace in relationships!]
I begin with a brief story. The story is true. It happened to an elderly widow I know when she was very young. In her late teens or early 20’s, she was working for a woman whose son took an interest in her. No special relationship was formed, at least not in her mind. The young man, however, was thinking something else, though nothing formal ensued, to be either declined or accepted. He enlisted in the military, and told my friend that when he returned he would marry her. My friend heard not one word from him for five years. Meanwhile she married and had two children. One day the first young man, now an accomplished and confident soldier, appeared on the scene, totally shocked she had not waited for him! What was he thinking? What HAD he been thinking for five long years? Or did he lose track of time?
Women often complain that their men don’t seem to mind time the same way they do. They are right. The women may badger, complain, belittle the men and guilt-trip them for forgetting details that are simply not on their minds. They get busy at work, forget to notify they will be late. Maybe it’s safer NOT to notify, because they get chewed out anyway (damned if they do and damned if they don’t). Cut them some slack. Maybe they are too tired to think but won’t say so.
Sidetracking for a moment…
It is difficult for most people living today to remember a time before instant communication. Those who were around even before telephones are for the most part no longer with us — centenarians excepted. Some remember when phones were unreliable, hard to locate and expensive to use. Snail mail was the routine and that worked for centuries. People lived without communication. By boat it took months to get mail anywhere. Wagon trains were not very helpful either, but better than nothing. The pony express was an improvement. Trains and planes came later. Never mind the internet which has destroyed all aspects of patience. We once survived without it.
Since forever, men have always had jobs to do, often very tough jobs. Work is their fulfillment; it is how they fulfill their existence, using their talents and providing for others. Providing and protecting is their mission. They need to be appreciated; they crave respect for what they do. It’s not complicated, or shouldn’t be.
Men often disappeared for years, fighting wars, in maritime work, exploration — even cattle drives not that long ago required months of absence. On the other hand, those men whose entire lives were occupied in small towns and villages were fairly predictable, but again the only communication was face-to-face. What did women do in the interim? They waited.
Today no one wants to wait for anything. Countless stories abound of tired soldiers returning from months of exhausting “duty” only to find their houses, bank accounts and possessions raided and gone. Divorce papers on the table. One sad soldier was able to locate his dog which had been given away. The pet was all he had to start over with. Some go through this more than once before they give up completely. Others give up immediately and re-enlist. Some commit suicide. Often because someone didn’t wait for them.
Women experience time differently than men and in very small increments.
There are excellent reasons for that. Women are the detail life support of the family, and by extension, in much of what they do for society as a whole. Not much of what their jobs entail can wait very long to be accomplished. Babies don’t wait. Neither do school buses or scheduled appointments. There is no “time out” from the clock when caring for children, families, just as in the management of clerical and administrative details on most jobs. Everyone else’s timing often depends on the woman’s efficiency and it’s not a small responsibility.
Men, meanwhile, have other gifts, matching their responsibilities. They can be very tunnel visioned. They can focus hard and long and accomplish amazing feats. They can literally make themselves “stop thinking” about distracting subjects, even if that means people they care about. All that is very useful when working scaffolding on a high-rise building or pulling off some project; it’s no time for unrelated text messaging or phone calls.
Men have a capacity to store things in mental “boxes” until they are done with one and handle each one at a time. Don’t try to talk about one when they are busy with the other; they may not hear you!
The woman never forgets about time. Never. She is trapped in it. Ruled by it.
The woman’s mind is completely different from the man’s. In one sense it reminds me of the old-fashioned turntable recordings, which in this application means that past, present and future are constantly rotating around each other as reference points. That is why “the past” is often brought up when men resent it. It’s not that she chooses NOT to forget; often she can’t. Everything is on constant replay because it connects and relates to other events present or future. It’s very helpful for planning, as well as for training children. It can also do damage when used to revive painful reminders, something a woman would do well to avoid. There are some things that men prefer to forget. Miraculously, they are actually able to do so; that’s the truth; they may not be lying!
Another pertinent analogy is that the woman’s mind operates like a computer screen with dozens of pop-up windows. The “windows” concept is why a woman can be occupied with one task and suddenly remember something that needs to be on the shopping list, or the phone call that has to be made “right now”, etc. It all seems disconnected but it’s not.
If a woman seems obsessed with the details it’s likely because if for once in her life the details are all taken care of, she may just have a moment left over for herself. Which seldom happens. One upset in the details and there goes her plan, unless she’s more resourceful than most.
Now I’m going to take “time”, lift it to a different dimension, and shed light on a historical reference that is easily glossed over without picking up the significance.
Who created time?
God created time, when he established the creation, the seasons, and the first day and night cycles, based on the physical heavens. He himself is not bound by time. We are told, “a day with him is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day…” (II Peter 3:4, Ps. 90:4). Our purpose is not to elaborate on that but to preface the following story. If not familiar to all, it leadsto an important point worth absorbing.
This particular story is about the Biblical patriarch Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel. Jacob, as we know, was a bit of a wheeler-dealer. After getting himself in trouble for securing the birthright away from his brother Esau, he fled to the safe distance of his uncle Laban’s vast estate, fearing for his life.
Laban was also a wheeler-dealer, and Jacob was going to be learning some hard lessons for 21 years.
Jacob fell in love with Laban’s daughter Rachel, and was subsequently tricked into marrying her sister Leah instead. That was in keeping with customs of the time and place, that the eldest daughter was to marry first.
The “bait and switch” marriage must have been an agonizing shock to Jacob, as it is to us now upon reading it. The uncle then stipulated that Jacob must work another seven years to obtain Rachel’s hand in marriage. Tragically, what would likely have been a wonderful marriage between Jacob and Rachel turned into a terribly confused and dysfunctional family with more than one woman bearing Jacob’s children, but that is another subject.
Here’s the catch, and the pertinent passage.
From Genesis 29:18-19: “Now Jacob loved Rachel; so he said, “I will serve you seven years for Rachel your younger daughter. And Laban said: “It is better that I give her to you than that I should give her to another man. Stay with me, So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.” (New King James)
I have tried to imagine the agony and grief Rachel must have gone through day by day as this mess unfolded. She expected to be married to the love of her life, and found herself usurped by her own sister, by order of their father. For seven years she endures her expected husband living with Leah. Did those seven years seem like “a few days” to Rachel? I choke at the thought. To her, every day must have seemed like a hundred. And they were painful days. Later the strife which ensued as a result of the non-monogamous marriage carried forward to the half-siblings as well. That’s how we end up with the brothers selling Joseph into slavery years later. The situation spawned jealousy, because Jacob always loved Rachel, and Joseph was her son.
Meanwhile, Jacob, with his undying, passionate love for Rachel, focused for seven years on his work because she was his motivation. He did it for her. His God-given masculine qualities are what enabled him to carry through and follow through. Though he must have been traumatized by events, he was able to function, bury the thoughts, and work.
A woman can only puzzle at how seven years would seem like “a few days” to a man. But this story tells us that a man’s conception of time approaches a quality closer to God’s own. Which is why he needs his helper. Because he is only human. He can’t do the big stuff and the little stuff at the same time. Can love bridge this gap? It should!
A man can sideline feelings, ignore time, and not even be aware he is doing it. A woman cannot ignore time, details, and is unable to detach emotions. That is an important understanding.
The stress a woman takes out on her man is often due to some detail interference with her planning. Her mistake is turning it into personal conflict; his in not taking it seriously.
Both need to understand where their viewpoints are coming from!
Using Kindness to Overcome Conflict
In any area of conflict there is usually room for personal growth, especially between people who care about each other and are willing to work on the problem.
Differences in time perception are absolutely real and are at the core of many unnecessary arguments and conflicts.
Since God is not bound to time as the created universe is, it is quite possible he purposely designed the man’s mind with the capacity to “space out” time, so he can do his job and specifically ignore distractions.
When a man forgets details — anniversaries, birthdays, the kid’s football game, the item on the shopping list, etc. — is it the proper response to assume his forgetting was deliberate? Is the proper response to nag, complain, badger and accuse? If he forgets to tell his wife he loves her every day, does that mean he has stopped loving? Or is his ability to focus to the exclusion of interfering information the more natural explanation? Yesterday and today may be the same to him. He told you yesterday, that carries forward for… seven years… and beyond?
Not to the woman!
On her side, the woman needs renewal every day, if possible. If she is craving her man’s attention and getting none, she stresses. His love for her is her motivation, just as doing his job for her is his. She needs reassurance. That is not complicated, or shouldn’t be, if she’s mature and not clinging out of co-dependence (that’s another problem).
Assuming people are literate and can talk, this should be easy to resolve. Women have the upper hand in initiating communication in this area, simply because they are the ones on top of the details, and men are the ones who don’t notice.
Men can improve in paying attention, and making time to listen.
Women need to be reasonable, time their demands, and be patient.
If a man tells his wife on Monday that he loves her, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t need to hear it again on Tuesday and other days of the week. She has not forgotten what was said before, but the turntable in her mind needs a new track engraved every day. Remember her life is running on a different clock.
Barring evidence to the contrary, women, give your men the benefit of the doubt. Cut them some slack. Stop blaming. Stop expecting. Let them focus on their work. Clear the decks of details for them and let them be free of those. If they are going to be late for dinner, have a “Plan B”, skip the fit, and be kind to them. A reasonable man won’t mind the cold food; it’s better than your tongue-lashing. Putting the meal ahead of their job is not going to put them in a good mood in any case.
On the flip side, men need to be aware their focus is often perceived as neglect in other directions. They should resist letting themselves feel diminished if they are wrongly criticized and say so. It is not warranted. To compensate for the problem, make time with the spouse to talk. Try to fix a time when you both can do so calmly. Knowing the opportunity is coming can be especially helpful to the woman.
If a man is doing his job, be thankful. Be thankful he has a job. Joblessness can be a man’s greatest misery, and he will make it yours as well. He also needs gratitude from those he loves.
In the process of meeting this subject of time, somewhere in the middle, there is so much room for love and kindness to grow. Make the most of the potential for conflict to grow in kindness towards one another. Plus, if there are children watching, they will learn from what they observe, and love you both all the more for the security they glean from your peace.
Copyright 2019 Nancy Diraison/DiraisonPublishing. All Rights Reserved. [All Photos Dreamstime stock photos.]
[Suggested Reading: “For Men Only” and “For Women Only”; terrific books by Shaunti and Jeff Feldham].
Teaching children to say, “No”, and when to do so!
I’ve always been fascinated with the decision-making process. Making decisions seems to be one of the greatest difficulties in life. Some people, for fear of making mistakes, avoid making decisions as often as possible. Others charge right in and wonder, “What happened?” afterwards.
When it comes to teaching children, it is easier to teach them when to obey than when not to. Each challenge will be different, probably unanticipated, and most likely we will not be there to advise them. Can they say, “no” when they should? Can they resist peer pressure or any pressure that goes against their parental guidance or consciences?
A terrific management principle I embraced years ago is this one: “The hallmark of a good management decision is how quickly it can be reversed if it turns out to be wrong.” Let’s see how that can be applied to child rearing.
There is a lot to that statement. It spells out the truth that even the best management decisions, made by skilled professionals, CAN turn out to be wrong! Decisions are made from information that could be faulty. Also circumstances and people involved can change. If the equation changes, then there needs to be another plan.
Let’s face it, human beings are not perfect. Even in the best of circumstances. Children most certainly need to be helped to understand how to think through decisions.
Moving forward with a decision takes courage, and so does backtracking one. Both can be correct, and both can be bold, but the second takes some humility. Changing a decision is not the same thing as breaching contract, by the way. That is a separate subject. Marriage is one example where the decision must be made carefully, and the bedrock of lifelong commitment adhered to faithfully. Sadly society has almost completely undermined that, destroying one of life’s strongest teaching models of fidelity and steadfastness. It’s a primary reason faithfulness and trust have vanished, because those were qualities best learned in functional families.
There can be many twists and turns to decision-making.
I pondered how to make decisions over a specific repeating situation when I was in my teens. My family lived in a west coast area separated from beaches by high hills and twisty roads. On those rare occasions when my very busy father decided to call it “family time” and insisted we all go to the beach with him, I faced a problem. The combination of his hasty driving and the hair-pin turns on the mountain roads made me horribly carsick. That made the beach trip a terrible experience, lasting until long after we got back home hours later. What was the point of going?
I thought about deciding to stay home, and at first did not want to face the static from my dad. Eventually I realized I had to do something different. I had to make a decision. The first time I stayed home I was miserable the whole time. I was bored and felt like I’d missed out on something. Even the dog had gone and I was alone! So I thought it through again and realized I needed to OWN my decision. In other words, decide to stay home but have a plan to occupy myself in ways that satisfied me and made good use of my time. I only had to execute that once to realize it was the answer. Make a decision and decide to be happy with it. OWN IT. My responsibility.
How Children Learn
Children can be helped to make wise decisions every day. It’s one of the best ways for them to learn responsibility, provided they also understand they “own” the results. If they make a mess, they clean it up. Not somebody else. They can make decisions about their attitudes, how they spend their time, how they choose what to eat and many other details. If they ask, “Why?”, that’s OK. Nothing wrong with wanting to know.
Teaching children to make their beds every morning sets a tremendous precedent for them. The military has long had that practice, and not without good reason. At the end of the day, if everything else has gone wrong, the well-made bed is something that started out right. Believe it or not, it is confidence-building. It is one thing even a child can have control over. Every small discipline helps. Mine started by age three and never missed a day afterwards. Expect more and they will do more. They will feel proud of small accomplishments, and having small accomplishments helps diminish the impact of other things that disappoint.
What about disobedience?
Can disobedient decisions be right? Under what circumstances? And how should a parent handle those?
Disobedience could be rebellion. It could also be the result of overwhelming curiosity. Or it could be heroism, planned or not. A parent needs to evaluate, so as to not discourage the higher motives. Obedience should be the norm, and disobedience the exception. Rebellion is another problem to be handled very differently.
A situation that happened to me when I was 8 years old illustrates an important point.
My mother had been waiting for baby brother to fall asleep for his nap so she could take a walk to the neighborhood market. We did not have a second car, as was common and not needed in those days. In the quiet neighborhood where we resided, there was no danger in leaving the house for 15-20 minutes, not in “once-upon-a-time America”. The store was only 2 blocks away.
On that day, rather than having me stay with the sleeping child, my mother needed me to help with the groceries. The trouble was baby brother refused to go to sleep. Through the closed door to my parents’ room where the crib was, we could still hear him blowing bubbles and making noises, indicating wakefulness. So we waited. And we waited.
Finally! My mother determined the baby was asleep, so she motioned me to be quiet and follow her. We wouldn’t be gone long. We had done this many times before.
But. Something was bothering me. I felt an urgency to take one more peek at the baby. I just HAD TO! Maybe it was an angel prompting me. Either way I disobeyed. My mother’s face changed from smiling to something vastly less friendly as despite her instructions I proceeded to just barely open her bedroom door an inch, then more than an inch… and then suddenly I flew across the room just in time to prevent a horrible accident.
Mother had forgotten to raise the bars on the crib! Baby had gotten quiet only to focus on figuring out how to hoist himself over the railing, from which point he had gotten far enough to be hanging upside down by his hips, head facing down towards the hard tile floor. Another second and he would have been down hard, headfirst, and forced to lie there until our return. We dreaded to imagine the consequences had I not disobeyed and caught him in time.
History is replete with stories of heroes who disobeyed orders. Many of them were military heroes [see reading suggestions at the end of this article]. The reason they are heroes is because they saved lives — not risking them but saving them, and usually risking their own. There is an appropriate time for disobedience. I had learned that early.
We do not want children to be robots. We do not want them to be afraid to make decisions. We also cannot expect them to run ahead of their learning years and make decisions too far outside their reach. Children need to be children. But they need to be taught. By those who love them the most. Whatever happens, they own it, and we own it with them. This also diffuses the “blame game” that is so prevalent today.
There first needs to be a platform established of good, solid values that children understand clearly and to which they must adhere — values like not stealing or lying, and following the Golden Rule. They also need to know and respect who their highest authorities are, so if someone else’s orders conflict, they can decide if it’s right to obey, contest, or report a problem. They will learn that many decisions take courage.
The best way to diffuse a bad decision is to confess and apologize. Children should not fear doing that. Confessing and apologizing are analogous to the management principle stated earlier, that of reversing course. Stealing and lying may take the wrong kind of courage, but confessing and apologizing take the right kind. Doing so may just prevent repetition of whatever mistake was made and maybe bring about a way to fix the wrong that was done. Admitting wrong and apologizing are good habits to build as they put down pride and replace it with humility.
The World is a Dangerous Place
Today more than ever, children are faced with choices never heard of before. It’s gone way beyond, “Say ‘no’ to drugs”. Can they say “no” to many other challenges? Can they stand up to intimidation, think through consequences in both directions? There are no locks in place against most temptations, since many are available from anywhere and everywhere, “no thanks” to technology.
Can our children resist peer pressure? That’s a big challenge, more for some than others, but the answer is, yes, they can!!!
Most importantly can they come to us for help if they make a mistake, without fear? They need to understand early that undoing a bad decision is part of the decision-making process to begin with. Failure only comes from doing nothing.
Also pray for them. Parents cannot be everywhere, but we know who can be. As when the time I saved my baby brother. By disobeying. At the right time.
More then ever, parents need to be spending time with their kids. However “hovering”, the helicopter parent idea, is the wrong way to do it. It has its place, in moderation, in some circumstances, but the most important thing we can do is teach children how to think and make decisions, when to say “no”, give them the chance to practice, and let them “own” their responsibility.
Copyright 2018 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
[All Photos Dreamstime Stock Photos.]
Additional Reading: One of my favorite stories about military disobedience that saved lives!
Most people, when shown an acorn, see an acorn. President Harry Truman was fond of a lesson from that fact. He knew that when shown an acorn, very, very few people can see the tree — the massive tree that grows from that one humble seed.
It has to do with vision. Not just physical vision, but far-sighted mental vision, the kind that connects the dots between events and consequences, the kind needed for effective leadership. To visualize the tree from the seed first requires relevant experience and education. A child who never takes a walk in the woods or is never shown a seed will be missing a strong object lesson. But the connection between the two needs to be grasped, just like the elementary principles of simple math, for logical reasoning to develop.
To lead with vision requires humility to listen for more information, wisdom to make the right decisions, and the courage to carry them out, because the right decisions are always opposed by someone. Always. Usually the opposition comes from those lacking the ability to grasp the negative consequences of ideas that may otherwise “sound good”.
There are consequences for all actions, just like for planting acorns. Parents have an enormous responsibility in teaching that process, and it begins with small actions.
Teach them about the tree!
When a child is taught not to run into a street or never to stick little fingers into electrical outlets, he or she has no idea of the dangers involved. Not at first. The child does not know about the “tree”. If he’s stubborn, rebellious, or just plain not listening, he may learn a lesson the hard way.
The first exposure to cause and effect is planted by parents. Since children have short attention spans, correction needs to be timely to be memorable. Delayed corrections may have no effect at all. Any ounce of prevention can be invaluable. Someone needs to be present when the lesson is needed.
The human brain does not begin to seriously question it’s “ideas” (whether to carry them out or not) until age 25, when maturity sets in, or should.
It is no wonder that without vision, young people are particularly at risk for making mistakes.
Some people are born with the ability to see the tree and others are not. That’s OK. It’s not a negative, just a difference, something to be understood and accepted. Those who lack vision have other gifts, but should learn to defer to the visionaries for guidance, especially in times of crisis when rapid decisions need to be made. The first visionaries in a child’s life are his or her parents, where leadership is first taught by example. Respect should be a natural outgrowth of that process, as good results are witnessed.
Those with limited long-term vision capabilities are not good candidates for all levels of leadership. What matters is that they work at a level where they can excel. Leading a sports team or running a shop is not the same as leading a nation. Different levels of experience and education are needed where risks are increased. The more visionary a leader is, the more courage they need to act when opposition arises. Bad decisions can be made by anyone, for various reasons, but for lack of vision the worst ones often result.
A Real-Life “Acorn” Example
Sad case in point. Recently horrific fires devoured parts of California. The losses and heartbreaks are beyond measure. Many acknowledge that poor long-term decisions have contributed to, if not directly caused, the jeopardy created by unmanaged forests. There were also long-term decisions made with regards to water management which greatly limited fire-fighting capabilities. Waters which could have been stored were allowed to dump into the Bay and the ocean to protect a tiny breed of fish.
I lived in California during most of my junior and high school years, and have an “acorn” story to tell which illustrates the point.
The community where my family resided was in Marin County. We were surrounded by hills, lush with green grasses in the spring which turned California gold in summer. The primary trees were oaks, some of them hundreds of years old, dotting the hills here and there and forming pleasant groves along the ravines and crests of the hills. For decades that valley had also been grazing land for cattle. The cows came and went, with plenty of grass to consume, causing no problems whatsoever. Their grazing kept the grass short and tidy, allowing it to stay green longer even without rain, as the fog and morning dews sufficed to keep it growing. Plus they fertilized as they traveled. Grazing herds improve soil quality overall, allowing it to retain more water.
As turnover occurred with the residents of that valley, eventually some people decided the cows were “not natural”, possibly interfering with forage for wildlife, and maybe transplanted urbanites also considered the livestock an eyesore. Perhaps some were afraid to hike up there for fear of cows. Who knows? A petition to ban the presence of cattle on the visible side of the hills was filed and won. Most residents never knew about it. It’s possible none would have bothered to oppose.
So the next Spring the grass grew. And it grew and grew until it was very tall and no one dared hike up there because of the unpleasantness. The higher the grass, the higher the jumping off point for ticks and other vermin. It wasn’t good for hikers, and dogs would come back infested. The view was marred, and instead of a parklike setting the area was a mess.
When a fire spontaneously ignited, late that summer, there was nothing to deter the flames. Thankfully weather allowed it to be contained before it spread over more parts of the County. For at least two days no one got any sleep, all on the verge of evacuation. Some houses burned.
Could this have been prevented? Obviously so.
During the same years, deer-hunting was also banned. Another short-sighted decision. Poor little deer. Over-protected Bambi grew in numbers until the herds became severely diseased. Their natural predators had also been banned. Eventually the authorities had to organize volunteer hunters to shoot as many as they could to keep the deer from starving and dying from their sad conditions. It was a man-made disaster, cloaked as misguided kindness. Another bad “acorn” decision.
To any far-sighted acorn-to-oak-tree thinking person, the initial petitions to bar grazing cattle as well as the managed hunting of deer bore predictable consequences. One is left to ponder if any rationale was offered to those seeking those petitions, to educate and inform why they might not be a good idea? They only saw as far as they could see, which wasn’t far enough, much of it guided by feelings instead of wisdom.
Can We See the Tree?
Ultimately, President Truman was the leader to whom it fell to make the decision to end World War II. He saved an estimated 3 million lives by deciding to end the war at the sacrifice of a comparably much smaller number. He had to see the tree beyond the acorn in deciding to drop the first nuclear bombs. Without his action millions would have perished in an unfinished war. Most of the lives saved were Japanese. Due to their high sense of honor it was known the Japanese would have fought and died to the last man, and that was part of the equation involved in the decision. Allied casualties would have been in the hundreds of thousands (possibly up to 750,000).
Harry Truman was a humble man who never sought the Presidency but had distinguished himself for his integrity and willingness to tackle corruption at other levels of government.
It is said that the best way to study history is through the eyes and experiences of those who lived it.And that is asolutely true.Without an understanding of history it’s not possible to develop vision for the future. Biographies are invaluable and a great replacement for the drier studies of history that grant no insights into why and how decisions were made.
By age twelve young Truman’s wisdom was sought out by his relatives due to his deep studies and understanding of scripture. There is much about “vision” contained in those words, some about good decisions, and a lot about the bad ones. There’s also much to study about courage and integrity. Applying all of those, as Truman went from rustic farming to fighting corruption in labor unions, he wound up as Senator from Missouri. He had no desire to move beyond that post, but fate had other plans.
To lead at any level requires far-sighted vision, selflessness and courage. Those with their eyes only on acorns, without focus on the long-term results of their actions, may be temporarily satisfied with short-term results, but in the end, there will be no lasting tree.
We can certainly help children study the simple lessons from acorns. Every small experience in their lives counts. Hopefully they can learn to plant good trees throughout their lives. All can turn out to be leaders no matter what they do in life. First they need to learn to lead themselves.
Copyright 2018 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved. [All Photos Dreamstime Stock Photos.]
[Recommended reading: “Harry S. Truman” by Margaret Truman; William Morrow & Company, Inc. New York, 1973]
If that isn’t potentially the most insulting question anyone can ask a woman who works 24-7 in a household I don’t know what is.
“Do you work?”
When do you not work?
I recall when my family lived in a suburb outside Chicago, circa 1960, and every woman “worked”. Every woman worked all shifts, day and night, tending to her family and household.
There was one aberration in the neighborhood — a curiosity, in fact. Just across from our house, another suburban home had two cars, not just one. Most needed only one.
Every morning the Mrs. exited her home dressed in high heels and office attire. She was gone all day and came home in the evening, just like her husband. Besides that they mostly kept to themselves. Children brought about interaction between neighbors, but that couple, though friendly, no one knew much about.
They were the only childless family on the block. I was especially aware because I was the chief babysitter for everyone else. In those days, you didn’t need CPR certifications and business licenses to babysit or run lemonade stands. It was pretty cool. A kid could learn many things by providing a neighborhood service and have a full piggy bank, too.
Of course we knew the lady in the high heels worked. We never questioned if the other women worked.
So what happened?
When did “work” become equated only to a standard paycheck? And when did it become demeaning not to have one? [This is despite the fact that studies showed a woman in the 1980’s doing all the usual tasks of running a household was worth $50,000 in equivalent outside services.]
For years before I had my own family, I was a manager in many businesses, launched newsletters, worked in many consulting fields and finally co-founded my own company all while running several other projects on the side.
Of course I worked. But not in the same manner of sacrifice as a full-time homemaker. I actually had moments to myself, time off, and predictable rewards. If I wanted to load myself up, all I had to do was ask to take someone else’s kids off their hands for an afternoon or longer and take them someplace. That usually eviscerated the rest of my stamina. It creates a drain that is hard to describe.
It is true that working for a regular job is instantly more gratifying. There are paychecks, bonuses, vacations to look forward to, and even appreciation from co-workers and superiors (maybe). You don’t get thrown up on. Not usually (not true in the health care field). Women who have worked office or other jobs and then transition to being stay-at-home wives and mothers often miss those benefits, unless they have a particularly appreciative family.
There is very little, if any, satisfaction of “completion” with any work done in the home. It’s always repeat, repeat, repeat, and human beings, especially little ones, being what they are, crisis follows crisis, problem follows problem, until notoriously enough, there’s hardly time to go to the bathroom.
So I think it’s time to level the playing field. There is no such thing as a super-woman if only because no one has more than twenty-fours in a day, and part of that has to be sleep. I know because if anyone could have done it all, I would have. I knew better. I’d already done everything, just not all at once. When I had children later in life, I focused on what I knew was going to be my biggest job ever. And it was. And still is. It cost me, but I gained something else.
I have a marvelous sense of completion. Hurray! I DIDN’T MISS ANYTHING! Any of my other jobs could have been done by someone else, but nobody — NO ONE — could be the one and only true “mom” to my children. I didn’t miss any of my children’s silly moments, didn’t miss their first steps or their first words. I searched out their talents and nurtured those, then home schooled through their elementary years. I missed no opportunity to teach and correct while we played. Kids who end up raising each other without an on-duty parent have no such advantage. There were tough moments, many of them. But when it came time for graduation, and for leaving home, I was ready. Totally ready. I had finished, done my job. No regrets. No empty nest syndrome either. Just an immense feeling of achievement and an eagerness to resume my prior interests having grown myself from the sacrifices I’d made.
So, did I work? What a silly question.
Please don’t ask women who stay home if they “work”. Those who manage or try to do both, kudos if it works for a while, but no one can be two places at once. Eventually the burnout comes, when time has passed, and there is no way to recapture the lost moments.
Copyright 2017 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved. [Photo public domain.]
There is nothing more impressive than the sight of an elegant team of draft horses working smoothly together. The flowing manes, the massive hooves, the powerful muscles pulling — those all depend on highly skilled training when properly “hitching” these majestic creatures.
The exact source of the expression “to be hitched” is not clear. The word “hitch” means to be “connected” or attached to something or someone. Some say the word came from the western wagon trains, because when a marriage occurred en route, the new bride’s belongings were “hitched” to her husband’s wagon!
I wanted a horse from childhood. When I was finally able to get my wish, I chose the biggest horse I could find. After observing hitch horses at State fairs, my choice settled on a Belgian, the strongest of all the drafts.
Belgians are real work horses — tough, with great dispositions. They can pull a light sleigh through snow or haul multi-ton loads. They’ll do anything.
My new friend, when I found him, was a 2400-pound red sorrel beauty named “Buck” who stood well over 17 hands tall. He was being retired from the show horse circuit which included the National Western Stock Show.
Buck was a winner, and there was something unique about him. His “heart”, referring to the horse’s level of obedience and willingness to work, was so exceptional that his handler and trainer was holding him for a special place to retire to. My purpose for taking Buck to my mountain ranch was in line with a gentle retirement.
Owning a horse like Buck quickly expanded my longtime musings about draft horses and relationships. There proved to be value to my prior thoughts on the subject.
Experienced handlers must know their horses well. Careful thought must be given to how horses are placed when harnessed with others. An “unequally yoked” situation often leads to injury or chaos. Even if only two horses are harnessed together, inevitably if one is not performing up to par, the other is going to strain to make up for the imbalance. Horses need to match up physically so the elevation of the harness is evenly distributed. My horse’s neck was so massive he needed a special partner.
Slacking off in the harness damages the relationship between the horses as well as their performance, and makes more work for the handler.
The art of the six-hitch is the one I want to focus on because it best illustrates the fluid roles partners need to consider in making a relationship work.
In a six (or more) horse arrangement, the first two horses in the lead are called “lead horses”. To be “leads” they must be skillful listeners and respond accurately and quickly to instructions. They must also be decisive in executing them. Those instructions could be verbal or from the handler’s skilled movements of the reins. The team must be totally reliable and not given to independent or stubborn resistance. When they lead, the others must follow.
The horses nearest the load (wagon) should be the ones with the strongest haunches and the strongest pulling ability, fitted to their tasks and equal in stature and build. Their strength and endurance provides the forward pull and momentum for the load. If one is weaker or shorter, the load falls unfairly to the other horse, so matching is important.
Horses in the middle positions are called “swing” horses. Swing horses need the greatest flexibility in smoothly following the lead horses and pulling ahead of the wheel horses, all while remaining synchronized in their movements. They must not create resistance, or try to set their own directions. This is a cooperation.
It’s not as easy as it seems, and most horses are not interchangeable in those three primary positions. Some are better suited to one of the positions, due to personality or physical build. Few are as interchangeable as my Buck was, who managed any position he was put in with exceptional talent.
Hitch drivers know a lot about slackers. Most horses take advantage if not corrected. They will slack off on their side of the load if they sense the “other one” can take the extra burden. If one horse must continually work harder than the other, physical injury may result. Drivers have to be astute to correct such misbehavior with the reins, reassign the position, or replace the horse.
Human partnerships, and marriages in particular, can learn valuable lessons from the way horses work together. When there is no third-party “driver” involved, the reins of communication depend entirely on mutual love, listening, concern and attentiveness to each partner’s needs as they shift and change. It is important to understand each partner’s roles. There can be no slacking off or overburdening of either partner or resentment results. When the character qualities of leaders, swings and wheels all work in unison, and places change when necessary, life’s journey becomes so much easier.
Copyright 2018 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
Once upon a time girls dreamed of finding their prince charming — men of strength, valor, gentleness and kindness. Life seldom works out that way but the fantasies are fun. Barring extremes of bad behavior, men were traditionally admired and appreciated as protectors and providers.
Feminism took a lead role in seeing to the disappearance of the princes by attacking the very heart of femininity. By diminishing appreciation for the strengths of men and convincing women they had no need, or less need, of male partnership, the value of our differences became confused. We know the story and frankly most women never bought into the toxin but it spread anyway.
A distorted vision of “equality” was easy to sell in an age of advancing technology where tools gave women illusory abilities not bequeathed to them by nature.
Men and women may be equally intelligent. Or not. Both can drive cars, but hitching a trailer to a truck takes a lot of muscle. Men and women can both fire weapons or fly aircraft, but hand-to-hand combat draws irrevocable lines. Turning up the thermostat bears no comparison to logging and cutting trees for firewood. That is common sense. Or used to be. And there’s nothing unusual if a female supervisor in Walmart asks a male co-worker: “May I borrow your muscle for a moment?” Exactly my point. Nothing has changed, fundamentally. Except attitudes.
My question is, “Why is there a problem with admitting that?” Why the delusion that competition is preferable to complementary partnership? The same woman who needs help with the heavy load, is doubtless more adept at some other task that would bore the man to death, but he won’t be making a big deal out of it. Just because men don’t.
All human beings disappoint, but experts agree that what men need most is respect; and what women need most is to be loved. When a woman rejects respecting a man, or sets unrealistic standards for doing so, she is rejecting his ability to cherish her, which is the love she needs. She is bruising his inner need to cherish her. She is not valuing him. When feeling valued the man is inspired to protect, love, provide for, treasure, prize and admire his beloved. In a word: he cherishes. It’s hard to do that when gratitude is absent.
Recently a young husband was telling his co-worker how proud he was of his wife. That morning for the first time she had relocated their truck and trailer by herself, successfully backing the trailer into a tricky driveway. Yes, there are women CDL drivers who do this with semis every day, but that was not this young wife’s experience.
Boasting to her husband over the phone how well she had done, the wife concluded with, “Now you see I don’t need a man around!”
Really? The husband posed a thoughtful question: “Honey, how did you get the trailer detached from the truck hitch?”
She answered: “I called my dad.”
This story makes the point. Gratitude, respect and honor. Give it and it will be given back to you. To be cherished, cherish HIM. He will love you for it.
Copyright 2018 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved. [Photo Dreamstime stock photo.]
It was during my first audition with an honored Hollywood voice coach that the question was posed to me — the question which forms part of the backdrop for this website.
In fact the Maestro was not taking any more students. He was 86 years old and had survived numerous health challenges. He had no compunctions about turning students away. Trained as a young man at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Milan, Italy, and after opening to excellent reviews in New York City, he had decided to teach rather than perform. He earned his reputation as the “Hollywood Starmaker”, perhaps a label since applied to others, as this was a long time ago.
I was permitted an audition thanks to the fortuitous referral of an existing student. As the vocal testing proceeded, the Maestro also chatted with me. He wanted only serious students, not the type expecting to become billable superstars in two weeks. (No kidding, he’d seen and rejected quite a few of those). In Milano, they studied hard for ten full years before being allowed to take the stage. A first fiasco is never the recommended way to launch a career. To perform well requires an underpinning of confidence.
At the Maestro’s behest, I explained about my business pursuits, personal interests, goals, etc. There was nothing detailed about my childhood. Near the conclusion of the session, however, this very wise man lowered his head a bit, looked straight into my eyes and asked: “You had a mother at home growing up, didn’t you?” Well, yes, I had. And he said, “I can tell”. And he shook his head. Because Hollywood is full of aspiring and even successful people who never had the luxury he discerned from my past. Wealth measured nothing to what he felt carried more weight with a child than the security and attention of a mother at home. He said he recognized an unmistakable core of confidence evident in those raised in traditional homes.
A mother at home. What does that mean, what does that require, and what does that accomplish?
First, to have a mother at home means there must be another means of support. That means there must be, ideally, a father, husband, provider. Oh, now we’re going back to tradition. If the father makes it possible for the mother to devote herself entirely to her household and family, that means the children never have to wonder if there’s anyone home to take care of their bruises, answer their questions, help with school work, feed, clothe and otherwise see to their comforts and security. No latchkey syndrome. She is the anchor to their development, if she does her job well. If she does her job exceedingly well, she imparts wisdom, good character lessons and the kind of self-discipline needed for success in life and work later. And her hard work allows the father-husband-provider to focus on his own responsibilities which are huge, because everything rests on his shoulders, and the children can see that, or should. Assuming the father is also doing his job, not just in his career but in the home, we have a secure model for children to develop in.
We’ll have more about that in later blogs.
Is there anything wrong with the traditional picture?
In principle, nothing is wrong with that picture. In practice, because people are imperfect, the model does not often or always work as it should.
So does kicking the model aside solve the problem?
In the end, if the model is broken, everyone suffers, but perhaps the children suffer the most, because going forward into life they have no memory of a working model to replicate.
To live well, like performing, requires an underpinning of confidence. This is what husband-fathers-providers do, or should, or must. To diminish those roles is like building a house on sand, sure to fall in the storms, because houses divided against themselves cannot stand.
More on this later, too.
Copyright 2017 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
Some of our recent product posts bear the mottos, “America, take your children back” and “America, take your families back”. While the intent is clear to some, it provokes questions from others.
Just “what” do we take our children “back” from?
The short answer is to take our children and families back to a time when home and family were positive, nurturing atmospheres. Take them back from the realm of negative influences by offering better. Nothing has ever been perfect. People never are. But for those who traversed enough decades to know what has been lost — what millions have never experienced — the perspective warrants some dialogue.
I roll back to a time in my early childhood. Family time at my maternal grandmother’s was some of the most memorable in the collective lives of that part of my extended family — grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins gathered often at grandma’s kitchen for a generous meal. The food was great but the laughter was greater. With a couple of natural comedians in the group, we were always assured of side-splitting outbreaks of laughter. Memories were built. On a smaller scale, the same thing happened at home daily, even without the comedians. We ate together. Most of the time.
It was fun.
It was supposed to be just another one of those great get-togethers. But something new was there. My grandmother, in the intervening week, had obtained her first television set. It was just a black and white screen, and the device sat on a wheeled cart in the adjacent sitting room for her pleasure. BUT. She had already become hooked on some stupid soap opera, and it was “time” for the day’s episode.
Grandma opened the door connecting the large kitchen to the sitting room, wheeled the cart around so the screen faced the kitchen, and informed everyone there must be silence for the next 30 minutes. Silence for the next 30 minutes.
Faces fell. Anguished looks exchanged between kids. No one was sure how serious this was. The sounds of forks and glasses clinking without the veil of talk and laughter was uncomfortable.
But it was serious. Not just because every meal now began, on most occasions, with 30 minutes of silence instead of the profoundly bonding discussion and laughter, but because it killed the tone for the rest of the occasion.
Over time this pattern was repeated in nearly all households, to various extremes. Eventually it got worse. Where there used to be one television in a home, there came to be more in other rooms, so teens, in particular, never came out. Later video games killed eye contact between parents and kids, everyone had different schedules, if any schedule at all, and taking meals together became a thing of the past. Whatever happened to reading books to children at bedtime, or the countless other uses of the waking hours between sleep, school, work, and errands?
Take the nightmare of earbuds which plagues us in all venues. Parents trying to quip a remark or joke to kids in the car are met with stony silence. In an emergency even a warning is lost. Music no longer brings people together, it separates them.
Meanwhile. Mental health issues have escalated. That is heavily documented and there are so many studies on the subject they stumble over each other. The more hours spent on media outlets the less contact there is between family members. The most crucial losses are those between parents and children. The opportunity to pass on values, traditions, history, to keep the doors open for communication in times of crisis — all those go by the wayside. The tech-oriented schools just made things worse. And “phones” were the coup-de-grace. Parents no longer raise their children, they respond to whatever else is raising them in their place.
Everything separates us, even to the individual screens in front of airline passengers. Fly overseas on a nine-hour flight, or longer, and there is no conversation. We were not better off when they introduced just one screen with one “chosen” movie. At least we had one common movie to talk about, if we watched it at all. We were better off when there were no films being shown; we found other things to do, and so did our kids. Often we read, or colored together. Or talked.
We have lost our connections. We’ve replaced the ones that matter with things that don’t. We’ve given up our children and the only way to take them and our families back is one hour at a time, one decision at a time, and start making a difference. Now. Today.
Copyright 2018 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
It happens to everyone, young and old, poor and prosperous… Troubled times show no partiality. Losses, griefs, illness, sometimes with no clear reason at all, we can find ourselves “in the pits”. Is it depression? Maybe, maybe not. The word is overused these days. We can be sad without being clinically depressed. Grief happens; and there are ways to process. Most troubles are temporary, if we can just hang on long enough.
Hope. It’s all about hope, and about avoiding the crutches that destroy our ability to develop it.
Nightmarish wars and disasters have always plagued humanity. There is no diminishing the horrific times millions have managed to survive. However, there is perspective to be gained from considering them. Things are bad, but they could surely be worse, right? If we talk to others about their troubles, sometimes ours seem lessened.
Still, when it’s dark, it’s dark.
Hopelessness makes us want any kind of crutch, anything to make ourselves feel better. Many of the ones available are not healthy. Temporary “highs”, even social ones, render the void even more void. Escape mechanisms abound, substance abuse and technology perhaps topping them as ways to numb the mind and waste time instead of solving problems.
Darkness is a time to analyze deeply. Perhaps those things or people in our lives that have kept our “lights” on are not what we need for long-term happiness. As long as we draw breath our journey is not over. There are new bends in the road, futures we do not discern, people waiting for us who will miss us if we don’t show up.
For those with faith in God there are other dimensions to consider but that doesn’t mean the same difficulties don’t arise to torment.
Especially as we approach holidays, suicide rates go up exponentially. It seems the more some things glitter, the more darkness swallows those whose lives are in despair. It reminds me of Christmas tree ornaments. So beautifully shiny and sparkly on the outside… yet if you step on one… there’s nothing inside. Good for nothing. Sometimes we feel like that. Do not believe the lies your mind may tell you.
There are ways to cope, and there is hope to be practiced, even if we never perfectly master it. Every wave is different, but as we gain experience in passing through past troubles, we gain confidence to crest the new challenges.
First rule is: DON’T GIVE UP!
I came to view this as darkness and light, and a revelation about both, when going through one of the toughest times in my life. I was losing all I’d materially worked for, through no fault of mine, but through the default and attacks of others. That made it worse, because there was not much for me to analyze about my own mistakes.
A unique part of my situation at the time was residing at the modest Rocky Mountain ranch I’d purchased to get away from urban problems. I was losing that, too, by the way.
Broad wooded valleys separated me from the Continental Divide. I enjoyed watching the sun set over the distant 14,000 foot peaks from a favorite rocky vantage point.
With my standard glass of wine in hand, I was seated on a rock thinking, pondering my losses and lack of plans, defeated at everything I’d tried. Friends had left me, too, once they realized my fortune was not coming. Not friends. Not really. Real friends stay through the hard times.
When my darkness came it came thick and deep. I had no idea what I was going to do next. Not a clue. Not a dime, business lost and no job offers. This wasn’t my first dark tunnel and I had survived others of different kinds, so I knew it would literally “get darkest before the dawn”. That platitude, however, means absolutely nothing to someone in the throes of troubles.
That evening I watched the day draw to a close. I was able to see the forests, the thin thread of river streaming through the valley before me, and the mountains themselves lit up in bright sunlight, varying shades of grey given all the last winter’s snows had melted. As the crow flies I was gazing probably 30 miles westward, unobstructed.
As the sun sank lower in the sky, the shadows lengthened in the valleys, deepening the darkness over the forests. The mountains slowly blended into the twilight, and I soon had to strain to see anything at all. There was no moon and it was going to be a very dark night indeed, and a bit of a walk back to my house.
Now it was all variable shades of black. Black upon black.
Until the first star showed up.
And I pondered.
How far is that star? Light years. How many? I had no idea. How far was I seeing the darker it got? Farther and farther, as more stars sprinkled into view.
Darkness is mandatory in order to gain long-range vision. Every observatory knows that.
I was seeing much farther in the dark than I had been able to see with the sun in full force, and a different kind of light went on in my mind. Later I would hear it said that “suffering triggers the learning center of the brain”, to which I fully concur.
We want to turn off darkness and suffering. We want to run away from it, bury it, anything but learn from it. There appears to be nothing we can do about it, constructively. But it will come again, so is there also opportunity in the event? Apparently so.
Our darkest circumstances provide a singular opportunity to search for a different kind of light source, something beyond our previous range of sight and experience. Some, perhaps many, manage to find it. If we don’t progress we’ll go through this again.
When all is bright and lit around us, we search no farther; we are complacent. The opportunity, the drive, the need to reach beyond our norm does not propel us to do anything extraordinary. In the daylight we limit ourselves. In the dark, unless we want to stay there, we wake up. In fact, wemust wake up.
Steps to consider:
1. Step outside our comfort zone. Make ourselves do it. Talk to new people.
2. Reach out for help. It’s always available. One step leads to another. Keep reaching.
3. Exercise! It’s an automatic “reset” for depression, and something we CAN control! Vigorous exercise suppresses stress hormones, making us better able to cope.
4. Be outside, if at all possible, and search for beautiful spaces in nature. They remind us of what’s important, and what is not. Sunlight boosts our immune system as well as our mood. Keep up with daily tasks; just do it.
5. Sleep. Then repeat steps 1-5. Nutritional changes may also help a lot. Too lengthy to detail here.
6. Pray. I would put that first but not all do that. If inclined to seek God, do it now, read the Bible. Many of the greatest spiritual leaders went through terrible times and expressed their feelings openly in the Psalms. They hurt, they were betrayed, often they did not know why they went through so much pain. Those remind us we are not alone, and going through terrible times does not mean we are worthless or cannot find reprieve. When it’s time. Believe. “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you…” (Matthew 7:7). If we are living outside God’s will for us, if we need to change so He can lift us up, that will be revealed, if sincerely sought.
7. NEVER GIVE UP.
Do not take yourself out of your future. Every person is a tributary to a stream, a river that is constantly flowing. You do not know which one you are on or who or what you may connect with downstream.
The stars in the night sky are a reminder that we are all near-sighted. Look beyond the lights around you and those that have gone out. Never mind the crushed tree ornament. It was nothing to begin with. The lights have not disappeared, it’s just time to look for some farther out.
All Photos Dreamstime Stock Photos.
Copyright 2018 Nancy Diraison/Diraison Publishing. All Rights Reserved.