Sunday, August 29, 2021

Boys Adrift and Mens' Organizations

As I've been repainting the trim from yellowish to white in our house (this project started just before school began when the little girls caught Covid and they were isolated to the office, so I knew I'd have a little bit more free time as I wouldn't be taking care of them quite so much), I've been listening to books, primarily the Maze Runner books, and podcasts including Jay Mac as well as several on Come Follow Me. A friend a bit ago mentioned how good Boys Adrift (2016) by Leonard Sax was, so while I was waiting for the last Maze Runner to become available, I grabbed Boys Adrift. IT WAS SO GOOD! The Maze Runner was fun, but....

I've heard many of the concepts mentioned in the Boys Adrift, but never to that depth and never all together. I particularly enjoyed chapter 3 about boys and video games. Luckily, my son (now 18) has never really been into video games, but the information was still fascinating. Sax mentions how distractibility is rewarded in video games like Call of Duty. It is treated like an asset, not a liability (usually it's not a good thing to be so distracted). Risky actions are rewarded and required. Boys who play violent video games are more likely to be pulled over and engage in risky driving. They are three times more likely to be in a car crash in the next five years as compared to those who don't play those games. Not only does the sitting around lead to weight gain, but the games tend to have an appetite stimulus effect. Boys who play violent video games tend to see themselves and others as less human. They experience a myopia for the future despite negative consequences. Violent video games are worse than non-violet because the players become desensitized to violence and have less empathy and a loss of connectedness. Success in the virtual world overrides success in real world. Apparently there is lots of evidence saying this can happen. We need to learn patience in real life, not just blowing something up when we don't like it. Boys used to hunt and fish and learned patience in doing those activities, but it is not being learned now. Sax implies there's a connection with these behaviors to ADHD.

In chapter 7, Sax talks about guiding boys to manhood and girls to womanhood. He says people who have a community helping their kids make this transition are most successful. Parents cannot do this alone. He mentions how the Navajo teach boys to be men. He mentions helpful organizations such as Boys to Men, as well as the Boy Scouts, and I believe he one called Somos Amigos who teach: using your strength in the service of others. I started to think about our Priesthood organization and Relief Society and even our youth programs. It was so interesting that he said this about the organizations because like many, I've wondered why this whole hierarchy of priesthood organization when the women don't have an equivalent. Additionally, why did the boys in the church have the Boy Scouts and the girls didn't have the equivalent. I've heard people say, well men/boys need an organization like that; whereas the women and girls don't. That never felt really fair, but according to Sax, there's actually some truth in it. Men apparently thrive more on these hierarchies and goals and competition, and women don't respond to it quite the same; it's not as necessary. Then, there was that whole thing about using your strength to serve others! Isn't that what the priesthood is? A way for the men of God to organize and serve? Honestly, I've heard more than once that without the priesthood, men just aren't likely to organize and serve like the women are. That felt so unfair to the men, but I suppose there's some truth to it. Also in regards to others who help our youth become adults, yesterday, two of my kids got to participate in youth conference. So, I had a greater appreciation for those youth leaders who are helping my kids learn how to become women and men. I'm so grateful for this Church that helps me raise my children into adults. Anyway, lots to think about.

Chapter 8
Sax says he likes to share true stories of real men and the value of masculinity without disrespecting women and devaluing them. He tells the story of Joshua Chamberlain, born 1828, who was educated and inspired to help free the Black slaves. He wanted to serve in the military, but his school wanted to send him to Europe instead. He decided to enlist and led the 20th Main in the battle of Little Roundtop at Gettysburg where they ran out of ammunition and turned to bayonets. This scholar and seminarian felt it was his duty to fight because he knew what really mattered. When it came time to accept victory, Chamberlian told his men to salute the defeated Confederacy rather than act unhonorably. His classic education taught him manners and how to be a gentleman. This was the only part in the book that made   me cry because there was so much sacrifice!

Anyway, this is kind of a ramble, but there's so much more good stuff in the book. I'd highly recommend it! I'm now excited to read Girls on the Edge also by Sax because I have four daughters!

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Saving Capitalism and Women's Work

I've been on a quest to learn more about the economy. It mostly started 20 or so years ago when I wanted to know how to invest money in the stock market when I worked. My dad never trusted the stock market, but our employers were (are) always saying put your retirement money there, so I wanted to understand it better. Finally, I'm starting to get it after listening to Saving Capitalism by Robert Reich. Basically many regulations were dropped making it, well less regulated, and there's a whole bunch of insider trading going on. The stock market used to be more predictable and make more sense, but now it sounds like it's kind of wild territory. So, it really helps to know the right people. But, that's not the point of this post, although I do have a lot more to say about the book.

In chapter 22 of the book, Reich is talking about the mechanization of jobs, and therefore the loss of jobs (lab techs, tax software...) to machines, yet the in-person service "one-to-one" jobs like nursing home aids, home health care aids, child care, etc. cannot and are not being replaced! It struck me that these are the jobs with the "human touch" as he says, and the responsibilities so often fulfilled by women/mothers. So, even economist, Robert Reich might say women/mothers are irreplaceable. It's easy to devalue women's work, but when it comes down to it, it cannot be replicated by a machine.

Raising Helpful Children

 I saw this article on NPR this morning while I was scrolling before getting out of bed.  Are We Raising Unhelpful, Bossy Kids? Here's The Fix

For decades, scientists have documented a surprising phenomenon: In many cultures around the world, parents don't struggle to raise helpful, kind kids. From ages 2 to 18, kids want to help their families. They wake up in the morning and voluntarily do the dishes. They hop off their bikes to help their dad carry groceries into the house. And when somebody hands them a muffin, they share it with a younger sibling before taking a bite themselves.

. . .I realized there are two key practices that parents, all around the world, use to teach children to be helpful and cooperative. And yet many American parents (including the one writing this essay) often do just the opposite. . . .

Basically, the concept is that when kids are little, we need to let them help when they are interested. For example, if we are scrambling eggs, let them try it. If we are cleaning, let them try it---even if they won't do as good a job as we would like.

The second suggestion is to regularly (like three times an hour) ask your kids to help in little ways, even as small as opening the door for you, or handing you a spoon while you are cooking. This helps them learn good cooperation skills.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

This Year, I Voted for Me

I've been feeling like I need to write why I voted the way I did this year. I feel like my posterity might wonder what my thoughts were for the election of 2020. I could write in my hand-written journal, but it will be too hard to find anything there in the future, and I might want to share my thoughts with a person or two now, and this is an easy platform for sharing.

I've been very opinionated in my feelings regarding Donald Trump and his lack of character. When he ran four years ago, I thought it was a joke. When he won the primaries, I felt obligated to remind people this was about character. I was dumbfounded when he won the general election, and that was the first time I really panicked for our country. Was such a bad, annoying, obnoxious guy merely a reflection of the type of people in our country or would he cause our country to become morally and ethically worse? Other than watching a few episodes of The Apprentice and watching The Choice 2016 from Frontline on PBS, I knew not much about him.

I've wondered why having good character and being a good person with integrity were so important to me. Of course, those are virtues good people seek, but recently I've seen a couple of old President Hinckley quotes that rang true to me, and I realized that he is probably a major reason I think the way I do today. I came of age when he was the prophet, so he was incredibly influential in my life. I don't recall which quotes I saw, but these are a few that ring true with me in the current societal/political climate. 

When Trump and Hillary ran in 2016, I just couldn't do it, so I voted third party. After watching what has happened in our country the last 4 years, I became a Never Trumper. I would do what it takes to get Trump out of office, even if that involves voting for the Democratic nominee. I agree that Trump has kept many of his campaign promises, where often politicians don't, even if I thought his promises were dumb (like the wall: I thought it was a terribly stupid idea). I've been a registered Republican and more recently Unaffiliated. I have voted for Democrats in the past, but never for President. I have to say I've leaned Republican primarily because of the abortion issue. In local races, though, I often vote for anyone who puts the environment first because our air is so bad here along the Wasatch Front. Environmental supporters here used to be primarily Democrats, but the air problem is becoming so common, that more people from all parties are supporting cleaning up our air, so that does pull me away from the single-issue party camp. My husband always tells me I'm more liberal than he is on social issues, which I think is funny. I guess I get angry when multi-millionaires or billionaires pay their workers a mere pittance and then I say things like, there should be caps on the difference between how much the CEOs make and the bottom-of the wrung employee! I wish people would CHOOSE to take care of others, especially their employees, but so often they don't, and we're seeing such a divide in our country between the haves and have-nots. I read an article years ago, maybe ten, about how the United States income distribution looks more and more like China's rather than the European Unions, which is what we'd actually expect. I wish I could find the article. I guess I get upset that people don't make better choices regarding their fellow man, and I sometimes fall into the "well make them do it through laws then" attitude because it's not fair. Here's a 2017 article from CBS News discussing income disparity. Ok, it's a irrelevant to this post, but I'll just put this quote here in case the link stops working.
The top 1 percent of earners in America now take home about 20 percent of the country’s pretax national income, compared with less than 12 percent in 1978, according to the research the economists published at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Over the same time in China, the top 1 percent doubled their share of income, rising from about 6 percent to 12 percent.

While that suggests that China and the U.S. are experiencing growth of inequality in tandem, there’s one major difference, which suggests the problem may be more dire on American soil. That regards how the bottom 50 percent of income earners are taking part in -- or in the case of the U.S., losing out on -- the country’s economic growth.

America has experienced “a complete collapse of the bottom 50 percent income share in the U.S. between 1978 to 2015,” the authors wrote. “In contrast, and in spite of a similar qualitative trend, the bottom 50 percent share remains higher than the top 1 percent share in 2015 in China.”

I can't say I love Joe Biden, but he seems to have empathy and he seems to care about people. He may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but at lest he's not a selfish jerk. And, with the general anger and hurt in our country, I feel like we need a kind healer at our head who will set a better example of love. I'm a firm believer that the head does influence the followers. Let me give you an example. When my husband and I were newlyweds, we lived in a ward that had a very formal bishop. The ward had a very proper feel that wasn't very friendly. It was rough. The ward boundaries changed and we were moved to a new ward. I was so happy that I started to cry! The new ward had a fun, energetic bishop, and the ward had that same feel. I can't say for sure that the leader totally set the tone for the members of the ward, but I believe he certainly had an influence. I believe that by having a kind leader at the top, it will influence at least some in our country to be a little bit better and not run rampant with whatever superiority they feel they have over others .

I appreciated my neighbor's observations that he posted on Facebook about the Presidential debate. Basically he shared that Trump puts himself and money first and Biden puts humanity first. My neighbor's summary:

Now to the question of corruption, I think both are corrupt and use, have used and will continue to use their political influence for economic gain for themselves and their families.
These are just my observations fed and informed by my personal experiences, beliefs, and values, but at the end of the day it appears that this election is about money vs. people, and I personally value people more than money. Maybe that makes me an idiot or a sucker, but I can live with that.

Ok, let's talk about issues. Usually I vote for what I feel would be best for our country. I even look at what issues line up best with my belief system. This year, though, I had to think differently. Maybe this is just a justification to help me feel better about voting for the "baby-killing" democrats, but I had to get it to make sense in my head.

The first issue that was hard to reconcile was abortion. I had to research this and see if Democrats are really a bunch of baby killers. Yes, some people want free-reign unaccountability-convenience disposal of their pregnancies, but I do know many more moderate Democrats don't want that. Even Bill Clinton said abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, and I totally agree, even if I can't stand the guy. I've been surprised by many members of our church who believe women should never have an abortion. Our church policy regarding abortion doesn't 100% condemn it (it grants some prayerfully made exceptions), so to some depending on how you define it, our Church would actually be pro-choice! Are you pro-life 100% all the time with no exceptions (not our church's stance), or are you pro-life with carefully considered exceptions? OR, are you pro-choice with very strict restrictions (or at the other end, are you pro-choice where you deny the consequences of your actions)? Those middle two might actually be the same thing! I've heard some say to just not consider the abortion issue this year, which I had to do because I felt there were bigger issues at hand: the country imploding on itself because of anger, and you know what else? Abortion personally doesn't affect me. There's a near 100% chance that I will never need to make that choice for me, so I'm not going to worry about it this election. I do not think abortions should be illegal, but I do think they should be restricted and carefully considered, and that people need to be responsible for their actions, and that should not include hasty abortions. A friend shared this article with me regarding late-term and defining abortions. I thought it was very informative. BTW, that friend is not voting for Biden.

So how about an issue that does affect me? How about the environment. Like I mentioned above, our air here is generally pretty dirty. I was annoyed when Trump left the Paris Accord, but I was pleased and surprised that he wasn't lying when he said our air quality is actually better now (the water is worse, however). I'm glad the average air quality is better throughout the US, but we have work to do here in Utah. I'm not sure why the air is better now, but I feel strongly about supporting politicians who will support the environment. I don't like seeing the fires and the hurricanes, and I believe they are related to global warming. And yes, I believe that's a thing. I believe that we as members of the church need to be good stewards of the environment.

Taxes. Yes, they affect me, but if they go up a bit, it's not going to kill me. Of course I do want my tax money well-spent (and I'm sick about the waste that happens), but I do want to help those around me, and I'm ok if taxes assist in that regard. I do not like the tax cuts that have been made for the extremely wealthy or the breaks that have been made specifically to real estate, Donald Trump's profession. So, tax policy didn't really sway my vote this year.

Education. Education affects me. I have four kids in public schools. I'm disgusted by the way teachers are being put at risk in this pandemic. I'm disgusted that some subs in Utah make $9.75/hour when they go sub. I want teachers to make more professional wages somehow. I don't know where Trump is on education, but Biden's wife is an educator, and I'm hopeful that she will influence bolstering education if he wins. But since it's more a state issue than federal, I guess it's not a terribly big national deal. I do not take major issue with national benchmarks of learning because won't it actually help a child who moves from state to state to be at the same level no matter where he or she is?

Healthcare. You better believe healthcare affects me. I'm in my 40s, have had five babies, have found out I have a connective tissue disorder, and am kind of falling apart. A few months ago I was going to therapy at least five times a month! Now I'm down to three. If I pay out-of-pocket, I pay $80 each time. If I run it through the insurance, I pay my copay of $100, then get a statement for up to $240 more! About a month later after adjustments, I typically pay around $100 more per appointment, even though I already paid $100 as my copay. Self-pay, please! I know there are worse stories, too, and things need to be fixed. I have seen Trump make some headway on lowering prescription meds, which is good. We all waited intently to see how he would change the ACA, but since he mostly didn't, I kind of think he must have liked it. I can see there were some negatives to it, but it did make things better for my family. I still think we need major reform though. 

Well, I'm getting tired of writing, and this turned out way longer than I expected, but I hope it will provide some insight to my future posterity regarding my thoughts on Election 2020. I believe the protections of our checks and balances work. I just wish they wouldn't be pitted against each other for party politics. I wish the parties and branches of the government would try a little harder to work together for the good of the people. I am excited for Amy Coney Barret. I think she seems like a good woman. I do think it's two-faced that she got put in at the end of Trump's term, yet the Republicans refused to vote on the guy Obama wanted to put in before his term was up. I hope if Biden wins that he doesn't pack the court because that seems dumb, and it will take so much time and effort to approve people. Anyway, I just hope getting Barrett in now doesn't create some negative repercussions later because the Democrats want to get back at the Republicans. Honestly, I feel like the Republicans, the party of old, white men, have been playing dirtier than the Democrats, and coming from conservative Utah, the reputation is how evil the Democrats are, but I don't know if they're as manipulative as the Republicans.

Lastly, since I'm contemplating government and politics, I've had a goal to read a book on the Constitution this year that my dad gave me. I'm going to guess that the author is Libertarian-leaning, but I'm not going to look it up until I'm done with the book. It has been a bit hard to read because the topic is SO BORING to me. I'm glad some people enjoy this stuff, but I'm just not one of them. According to the author, we currently do so many things already that are unconstitutional. He is probably right; at least he makes a good case. I feel we are so far into our way of life that to go back to being purely Constitutional would be really difficult, so we probably ought to focus on refining what we have. I've appreciated Sharlee Glenn's summary of how Trump is not Constitutional as well as the many other things she has written (but that's more topics for another day!)

So, these are my thoughts on this election. I used issues that directly affect me to make my choice to vote for the Democrats. My facts may not all be right; they are probably generalized and biased. But, as a history minor, there is still value in knowing how people felt about things because that was their reality, and it helps to explain their actions.

But for now, despite what happens, I'll try to keep a good attitude and remember President Hinckley's words:

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

When Women Don't Speak: BYU Magazine

I don't have time to really write about this, but I need to save it this article that was in the BYU Magazine entitled, When Women Don't Speak by Brittany Karford Rogers. They did some studies on when women participate (or don't) in discussions and how to fix it. It doesn't really help women if there's just one woman on a committee, you have to have several for them to be able to feel free to share ideas and make an impact. So much good stuff here. So many women just nod their heads and don't comment, but we do have our ideas! Hopefully I get this right: women tend to get better grades than men, but they're not in the discussions to the extend you would think. Women tend to focus on social issues, not taxes and I can't remember what it said. Hopefully I can read this again some time and pull out some memorable quotes.

From personal experience, I certainly remember the difference between my acceptance and comfort in a PTA meeting and a Scout Committee Meeting, even when I was the committee chair.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Happy Belated Birthday Relief Society!

Several years ago I found these quotes on my friend, Jan Tolman's blog (at least I think I think I found them all there). It used to be LDS Women of God, but now it's Relief Society Women. These are some of my favorites from the organization of the first Relief Society.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

I Learned It in Relief Society

Partly from a Facebook post from the other day:

I lay awake early this morning pondering where I learned many of the things that are becoming most useful during this crazy time (the pandemic and the Utah earthquakes, for future reference).

Haircutting: at Relief Society
Gardening: Dick Dresher at Relief Society
Bread making: Sister Spencer and Jane Merrill at Relief Society and Iris Hunt
Food storage and emergency preparedness, at Relief Society and work in the Welfare Department for The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints

(But what about sewing (one of my hobbies), you ask?: Mom, school, private lessons, Liz Clark, personal learning, but I probably could have learned some of that at Relief Society, too.)

I'm glad Tiffany Litster inspired me to make Relief Society my social outing.

And didn't I learn these things at home? Well, I watched my mom do them, but you know how stubborn kids are... It took some maturing to actually take them to heart.

Tomorrow I will try to post some of my favorite quotes from the founding of the Relief Society, but while I was listening to Saints the other day, I ran across this one from Eliza R. Snow:

"The society should be like a mother with her child. . . ." I feel so glad that I've had Relief Society to teach me skills that, at times, are invaluable, and I know it has made a world of difference to many more women, too.