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Changing how we talk to the future
by Nathan Orme
Jul 21, 2012 | 1556 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Now that I am in charge of two young children for the first time in my life, I find myself saying a lot of things I had only ever heard come from the mouths of parents: “Put on your pajamas,” “Scoot back from the television,” “Only if you eat your vegetables,” “Don’t tattle on your sister.”

I’m sure my own parents are gloating now that that their child has to experience what I put them through.

Even though they are foster children who will likely only be under my roof for a small portion of their lives, it is my job as a responsible adult to impart some basic wisdom and enforce some basic rules that I hope they will carry with them for many years. Among these lessons are to be honest and truthful, know your own strengths and weaknesses and do what is right. These are lessons that many children are never taught and it becomes obvious when they are adults.

Teaching these lessons is not easy. Children have all kinds of other priorities, such as satisfying their own cravings and not getting in trouble. I guess those priorities aren’t limited to children, either. Honesty, truthfulness and moral fortitude are not qualities we see much of anymore. Sadly, I am reminded of that a lot these days, particularly any time an ad comes on the TV or radio for a politician running for office.

First and foremost we are seeing a lot of ads in the presidential campaign. I can’t sit through an episode of “Jeopardy” without seeing an ad accusing Obama or Romney with screwing the American people. Without a doubt, they will attack each other when they visit the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno this week. In the messages put forth by both the incumbent and the challenger, there is an amazing lack of words to admire. They are playing the modern game of politics, which is completely lacking in any sort of respectability and makes me glad I am more worried about my 11-year-old teaching me how to play the game of jacks.

It is very important to children to appear more knowledgeable and cooler than they are to impress others. Part of growing up is wanting to be something and, with luck, their pretending will evolve into being. Unfortunately, some people grow up and don’t stop pretending, particularly politicians. They pretend to be in favor of one thing or against another to impress voters and once they are in office they do whatever they intended to do in the first place or go with whichever direction the wind blows at the time. My artistic cohort, Erik Holland, has his opinions about certain local politicians sending messages that conflict with each other — environmental sympathies versus urban sprawl, for example. Holland’s

cartoon this week speaks to that issue when it comes to Reno. I support his concerns about urban sprawl, but at the moment I am more worried about the the example being set for future generations. It is easier to teach a 10-year-old about honesty than about the impacts of leapfrog annexation.

What I can explain to them is that they need to listen and learn so they can make the decisions that are best for all the right reasons. For them, such decisions are as simple as going to bed at a decent hour or drinking their juice over the kitchen counter instead of over my carpet. Over time, I can only hope that teaching them to think ahead to the benefits of a good night’s sleep or not staining the floor will translate into thinking about how decisions they make or their elected leaders make will have impacts that touch their friends, neighbors, fellow earthlings and themselves.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to call mom and dad to see if they have any parenting advice.

Nathan Orme is the editor of the Sparks Tribune. He can be reached at norme@dailysparkstribune.com.
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