—Henry David Thoreau
Through all of the years that I spent teaching, observing, and inter-acting with young people, I never figured out what made them (or any of us) “tick.” Why are some people kind and empathetic while others are cruel and amoral? Why do some happily immerse themselves in multi-cultural environments, while others shy away from anyone who does not share their heritage? Why do some grow up to be religious leaders, while others grow up to be serial killers? We might take comfort in believing that upbringing has everything to do with it, because then we could assure ourselves that our children will most certainly be perfect, but that answer is too simple and often proven wrong.
Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, by all accounts, had a relatively normal upbringing, and he ate people! Oprah Winfrey was repeatedly molested by her cousin, her uncle and a family friend. She finally ran away from home and had a child at fourteen who died shortly after his birth. Oprah overcame all of her hardships, was an honor student, went to college, has a net worth of 2.9 million dollars, and more importantly, she is a kind and generous person who spends her time helping others.
No, upbringing isn’t the answer (although it is many times a contributing factor), and I don’t believe that people are genetically destined to do harm. What is it then, that makes most liberals see immigration as a necessary kindness that we must offer at our own expense, while most republicans see it as a distraction and detriment to the good of our country. Both sides have merit, and both sides have flaws. I just wonder what makes certain people think certain ways.
I do realize that we all can be swayed by the right rhetoric, and some lobbyists will go to any extreme to get their way, but I wonder what goes on in the heads and hearts of those men and women who lobby to make cigarettes available to those who are slowly killing themselves with each puff? Or why do NRA lobbyists demand there be no gun control, allowing semi-automatic weapons to flood the streets, while some gun control advocates push for the removal of all firearm? Is it only money that controls their beliefs, or do they see things so very differently from each other that they will never come to a meeting of the minds?
It is easy to say that those who believe in immigration, welfare, gun control and pushing the human rights agenda are the true humanitarians, while their counterparts are without compassion or human kindness, but I know differently. I have a number of friends who believe in the conservative agenda while being truly kind in their dealings with others. They are thoughtful people who truly believe in the importance of a conservatively run country.
Dostoyevsky once asked if you would be able to kill one small child if you could be assured that act would save many lives. I have thought about that many times throughout the years since my college professor introduced me to “my good friend, Dostoyevsky.” I ultimately came to the conclusion that I could not take the life of that innocent child, but I wonder if those that could are seeing a bigger picture, and if so, what makes them see something that others do not see.
On a far simpler note, my very favorite part of the year fast approaches. Son Michael will be here come Saturday and several days later Nephews Jonathan and Nick arrive. We are lucky that Beth and her crew and niece Rebecca and her family live so close, and are contributing to our feast. My sister Judy and I have already started cooking, and our Thanksgiving table should be seating twenty this year. I know that Thanksgiving is controversial for some, but in my family it simply represents a time that we will all put aside our other obligations and come together to pig out. Everyone’s favorite dishes make an appearance, the kids will be a bit too noisy, football will be on some television, somewhere, and my dad will be sneaking tastes of anything that isn’t tightly wrapped.
I want to take this time to wish all of you a very healthy and delicious Thanksgiving. I will be taking the week off (only the second week since I began this blog almost four years ago) to spend time enjoying my family. Never fear...I will be reading, and I will be back the following week, fully recovered from the food coma that Thanksgiving always delivers.
I did find a book to help you through the holiday stresses though. End Game (Will Robie Series) by David Baldacci is sure to get your mind off of shopping, cooking and
feeding a hungry mob. If you are familiar with this author than you know that you have a treat in store.
As always a complete review of this book follows this blog.