Saturday, December 01, 2007

What's Left?

// various times in my life, I’ve been in a position to contemplate who I am without family or friends, who I am without health and the ability to participate in the world, who I am without materials or money.

Various answers have occurred to me at different times.

In times past, perhaps people would have taken pride in their name. (How did that become such an antiquated notion? Sad, I think.) Nowadays, maybe their honor, their honesty, their reputation, their compassion, the list goes on and on and on.

Some interesting characters might say their cunning.

The question of who we are when we have nothing has always fascinated me.

The answer always brings me great comfort.

I worry that we don’t teach values to our children so much. Honesty means so little to them. Of honor, they have no conception. True helpfulness is a rare gem. They are good kids, don’t get me wrong. It’s just I wonder what they have to fall back on, if they were stripped of family, friendship, possessions, and security.

I imagine we have only our principles left. I never really examined or thought of my principles before life forced me to, but I often think they should be taught more than they are. What great comfort they would give our children when they meet the trials of their life!

(Eegads! Did you just read that sentence? I have got to get out of this 19th century English lit phase before it destroys my voice!)

MySpace fascinates me at times. So much on a profile seems plastic and meaningless. I used to hate MySpace for that reason, but lately I’ve begun scouring the profiles for that one little detail that seems real and true, that enlightens the person behind the page.

We often don’t know ourselves, in fact, many self-help books advise you to ask your friends who you are, like when you’re struggling to find a career or a passion. But as writers, we not only need to know ourselves, but we need to know others. And we need to know our characters, who they are, who they think they are, and where the differences lie.

Just random, sleepy thoughts today. As Erica would say: thoughts, anyone?

5 bonus scribbles:

Barrie 12/01/2007 11:29:00 PM  

Interesting post. I had a long phone conversation with a girlfriend this evening. We were discussing our children along some of the lines you've brought up. Not nearly as eloquently as you, though. :)

Anonymous,  12/02/2007 10:18:00 AM  

I spent the day at a craft fair held in an elementary school. A HUGE poster in the cafeteria said, "Character is doing the right thing when nobody else is watching." They had lots of sayings like that up. I have no idea if the kids pay attention, but at least the school was attempting to teach the kids that.

Hmm...I learned those kinds of lessons at home.

spyscribbler 12/02/2007 10:54:00 AM  

Barrie, it worries me, sometimes.

Lorraine, you were lucky. And you're right, they should be taught at home. I generalized too much, definitely some kids are learning such things!

But you'd be surprised at the percentage of kids who think it's perfectly acceptable to cheat in school and to lie about things to get out of trouble.

You'd be even more appalled to learn the percentage of parents who lie for their kids! That drives me bonkers!

Bailey Stewart 12/02/2007 12:55:00 PM  

You really know how to cheer up a persons morning. LOL

When my nephew was little (he's 29 now)I once commented to my brother that the kid didn't show me any respect. My brother said that I had to earn his respect. I just stared at him. Our parents taught us that adults, especially our aunts and uncles, whether we liked them or not should automatically get respect. It came back to bite him as my nephew didn't show him respect either, and has been in and out of trouble. I was raised by WWII era parents.

I have no children, but I can guarantee that if I did, they would have been taught those same lessons of respect, values and morals that my parents taught me.

spyscribbler 12/02/2007 01:11:00 PM  

I agree, Bailey. Like "innocent until proven guilty," it should be "respected until proven unworthy."

I have one student who used to never just do what I say. I'm not much of a just-do-what-I-say type, but with him, he questioned everything.

The result was that I had to clearly explain his every fault or mistake. The poor kid! If he'd just do what I say, we'd fix it without ever having to go there; we could stay positive.

But your brother's attitude is definitely the prevailing attitude of our society.