The Highest Good
February 18, 2019
In a fourth turning environment, as predicted by historians Neil Howe and William Strauss in 1997, we find ourselves in a polarized society that breeds distrust and disdain for the other side. Politics is rife with dysfunctional attitudes that bleed into our ears from the news media. We are trying to raise our children to be honorable and hard working, yet, they see dishonor and amorality daily on social media. What a mess! Or is it the normal fluctuations of life that has repeated itself throughout time? This is what historians would have us believe.
From a recent email, the Daily Stoic:
"To the Stoics, the answer is virtue. If we act virtuously, they believed, everything else important could follow: Happiness, success, meaning, reputation, honor, love. The Stoics didn't claim this path was easy, or that it would always be recognized or appreciated by those closest to us, only that it was essential. And that the alternative--taking the easy route or the shortcut even if unethical or immoral--was considered only by cowards and fools."
I find these words very poignant in this time of ours. It is really that time. The time to do the right thing. If enough of us do the right thing, then the collective emotional and mental growth of our children will point due north towards morality and love. Our kids deserve a due north moral compass.
I love discussing these issues with my children and patients as I truly believe that these little, "Dad talks" or "Dr. M talks" have a grounding effect on many of the listeners.
I think that every experience that a child goes through is an opportunity to stand up and face adversity with courage no matter the age. Our job is only to provide age appropriate counsel and be available if things go south for them. Then we redirect the growth opportunity toward due north and let them retry as many times as necessary to succeed and feel the beauty of moral happiness and completion of a difficult task.
Even simple events like poorly chosen words in a hurtful statement can be redirected to ownership of the misspoken language and reconciliation with better choices.
If you are a new parent or halfway through raising an adolescent, there is never a bad time to lead by example and allow your children the freedom to grow by attempting to act with virtue. Help them to not expect accommodations or accolades for their good behavior and then they will never suffer the crushing defeat of missed expectations for expectations are a sure path to disappointment.
Ultimately, what children need is love and moral guidance. Happiness is sure to follow.