Advice For My Kids by @ToonsBrian -


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Tuesday, July 21

Advice For My Kids by @ToonsBrian

Typically this site is meant for entertainment purposes and just plain fun. It's meant to be a distraction from the mundane, joyless aspects of our lives that the world insists on placing in front of us.

This posting will be different.

The longer our society has access to social media the more dangerous it becomes to civility. Those who regularly use it become more and more convinced that their 1/7.5-billionth of the world's voice approaches the whole of what all opinions should be.

To my children, I would offer the following completely disorganized advice:

Always remain self-aware. Someone's eyes are on you at all times. Rarely will someone stalk you, to be sure, but you can be sure that at least one person will always have a view of your actions, an ear for your words. Even if that person is you. Represent yourself well.

Take ownership of what you say and do. Nobody should ever hold you as accountable for your words and actions as you do yourself.

Think like a liberal. Our society is filled with ills. People are not always kind to each other. You don't have to be "people." Never detach yourself from your feelings and empathy towards others. Your heart is a great tool for finding your moral compass.

Think like a conservative. Being open to your feelings is a great way to finding your moral compass, but it's easy to over-react to your feelings. Your heart should give you direction, but approach change with restraint.

The general idea is that you should not let the pendulum swing too far to the left or the right at any given time. Rational thinking begins with emotion and ends with restraint.

Take note of those who regularly opine quickly on news items and promptly ignore them. Kneejerk reactions are dangerous for a number of reasons. Those who react the fastest and loudest are almost always the least qualified to do so and typically base their immediate reaction of some twisted muscle memory in the brain. This habitual response compels them to ignore the facts of situations in favor of the much easier to follow talking points for which they typically might argue in favor of.

These immediate reactions lead to "mob rule." Mob rule is great for starting change so long as the mob diffuses quickly. Unfortunately, it rarely does and typically causes more damage by simply running past the solution, burning every bridge along the way. Liberals and conservatives rarely get along because of this. They rarely see that in their tug of war, there is only balance when they're keeping each other in check and not dominating the other.

No great long-term societal changes have ever happened without careful reflection happening first.

The tendency of human beings is to defend an opinion to the death once that opinion is openly expressed. For whatever reason, the words "I was wrong" are much more difficult to say in this age of social media than "I don't know." You're better off to start of with the latter, educate yourself to the details of the situation, sort out the emotional and logistical aspects, then formulate an opinion or approach to the issue.

Be open to being wrong. It will happen far more often than you can imagine.

Don't expect others to be open to being wrong.

Always be respectful of others. This one is tough. Most people - particularly on social media - will not be respectful towards you once you disagree with them. Even if you do agree with them on the vast majority of issues. Take the high road when you feel as though you're being disrespected. The fact is, if someone is willing to throw you under the proverbial bus at the moment you disagree, they're not likely deserving of your respect but if you don't provide it, you are no different.

Never talk politics with people you love. It can get ugly quickly if one party or the other does not have restraint in the face of differences of opinion. Politics is a time bomb.

In matters of love, I would say put your partner on a pedestal, but only for as long as they are reluctant to allow you to do so. Your willingness to do so should not be taken advantage of. Don't become dependent on a partner for your happiness.Complete dependence on another person can lead to a loss of self-worth and that will lead to greater damage than you can imagine.

Men and women are different in so many ways. It's not always easy to maintain communication. Our minds place different values on the same items. Each gender groups things together in different ways. Our strengths and weaknesses are often in conflict with each other. Neither gender should hold dominion over the other. Instead, strive for a mutual respect and rely on that self-awareness mentioned earlier.

If it turns out that you're homosexual, I wont always know what to tell you. I have no experience in such matters. The same things above apply. Find a good person. Love that person as strongly as they love you.

While we're at it, be wary of love. What we think is love is often not. Also, love only works if it is reciprocated. As much as we may desire a relationship with a specific person, if they do not feel the same, only disappointment awaits.

Never begrudge others' successes whether financially, socially or romantically. Jealousy is ugly and counterproductive. Those who are "better off" than you likely did not become so through nefarious means. Instead, ask them how they did it.

Listen to others' advice, especially those who don't seem to take their own. Chances are those people are speaking from experience. You don't have to necessarily follow everybody's advice, but file it away for future reference. Oftentimes there are hidden nuggets that don't make sense until the proper is experience is acquired.

Experience is the world's most valuable asset. Get it.

You will have good teachers and bad teachers. Learn the difference. You won't always like your best teachers and you won't always hate your worst teachers. If your teacher is bad, it's still your responsibility to overcome their deficiencies by some other means. After all, maybe their deficiencies are actually your deficiencies.

Despite what everybody preaches, the world is filled with stupid people. Learn how to identify and deal with them. And never forget to give them the same respect you would give anybody else.

Have heroes but never deny them their humility. No matter how impressive or trustworthy those who would take on the role of hero - voluntarily or not - they remain human and subject to failing. "Heroes" are not above reproach. Don't expect them to be.

If you feel as though your leaders are failing you, become a leader.

You are not perfect, so don't expect others to be. One of society's favorite things is to wait for someone to fail and then pounce. Don't be that person.

If you believe in God or a god, live by His/Her word. You may be tempted to call others out for their sins, but remember that I've seen you violate at least three of The Ten Commandments on numerous occasions.

If you decide that there is no God, remember that most religious people are great people. You'll be tempted to defend your own stance, sure. But even scientifically, it has not been proven that God does not exist, so be respectful of the pious' beliefs.

Clearly, this is an incomplete list of advice that my children - or any child - would actually need to go out into the world with. The world has changed so much in the past ten years, I shudder to think of what it will look like in another ten.

I'd like to think that I'll be able to tackle those bridges with the help of my kids when we get there. Besides, they'll probably have a thing or two to teach me along the way.

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