A friend of mine posted this on Facebook:
Here's the deal. The woman who posted this is really a Good Person. Kind, caring, great mom...she was instrumental in the foundation of Occupy Portland. Has an immense sense of social justice. Very serious about Doing the Right Thing.
This little motivational card typifies everything about my friends on the Left who are a certain type of lefty that drives me absolutely crazy.
It's all the kindness, all the love that it prescribes as the cardinal (or even the only) method of child-rearing; "...if we choose to be there as a guide, as a compassionate presence that can motivate from a place of genuine interest with patience and understanding so that ultimately our children will WANT to do things."
Now in case you're already reaching for the phone to dime me off to CSD, look; I don't believe that kids - any kids, my kids, yours, whosever - should be raised through force and fear. I agree that "tricks and threats" are not a good idea; I didn't like them as a kid and I don't like them now, either as an adult or a parent.
But I do think that there is more to parenting...hell, there's more to LIFE...than "genuine interest...patience and understanding."
The bottom line is that there are some things that nobody wants to do. Nobody "wants" to go to the dentist. Nobody "wants" to pay taxes. Nobody "wants" a colonoscopy, to break up with their lover, to clean up human waste, to go forward through mortar fire, to work long hours in bad conditions. No amount of interest, patience, understanding, love, money, incredibly great mind-altering monkey sex...will make any of that shit more likeable and want-able.
But that stuff still has to get done.
Some of the most important lessons I've ever learned in life involved discovering the ability to persist through truly rotten times and places and finish whatever task I had to complete. That required a certain degree of internal toughness that wasn't inherited or inspired from within; it was instilled, and often through the teaching of people who were anything but compassionate and gentle.
So, yes, as parents (or peers, or leaders, or mentors, or followers) we should be patient, compassionate, understanding, and interested. That's an important part of teaching and learning; the saying "If you don't care about them they won't care about you." is true as hell. The only thing a savage who "leads" through fear earns is a cooked-off grenade through the door of his hootch as soon as his victims work up the nerve.
But...I think there has to be some steel there, too. I believe there has to be a place for a simple declarative statement; "You need to get this done. Now." Because...well, because sometimes it does have to get done now. And not in your time, or in your way, but at some time and in some way that you may not "want" because if you don't then other people - and, possibly, you - will lack for something or suffer ill consequences.
I always get the sense that this kinder-gentler thinking has permeated the Occupy movement and much of the Left in general. It's the need for consensus, the unwillingness to be rude, judgmental, abrupt, and unpleasant. Sure, we do our name-calling, but to what effect? How does marching in the street calling some bloated bankster a "vampire squid" affect said bloated plutocrat up there in his paneled office? How does that reinstate Glass-Steagall? How does that kill the sunofabitch's "carried interest" deduction?
Where's the lefties who "want" to do the had graft of twisting legislators' arms, drumming for donations, running campaigns, winning votes and defenestrating these rotten plutocratic bastards and their bought Republican stooges?
I'm not exactly calling for the rope and the torch...but, still...I just don't see how you beat Darth Cheney with love, patience, and understanding. And I don't see how that - and ONLY that - helps give a kid the kind of persistence in the face of frustration and lack of pleasant reward to become an adult who can do unpleasant things when they need to be done.
I am being to harsh on my liberal friend? I feel like I am being so. I sort of hate the feeling of being the Mean Boy and rudely thumbing my nose at all that lovingkindness and gentility.
Yet I can't escape wondering if people like the Homestead strikers and the freedom riders of Montgomery, the Paris Communards and the students and workers on the barricades of 1848 and 1917 - the humble people who actually took on the bosses and their hard men and changed the world - might have had something a trifle more demanding in their upbringing than genuine interest, patience, and understanding.