Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shades of Gray

I was thinking about this for other reasons, but then Kori's blog motivated me to actually write about it.

It goes back to why I call this blog "It's All About Balance."

I've read some things lately that make me feel like I need to talk about this again. The thing is, there are no absolutes. I don't believe in absolutes.

I talk in generalities a lot, but I've been reminded more than once (just today, even) on why that's dangerous.

Let's take something like "personal responsibility," for example.

Yes, I believe in personal responsibility. Someone like my ex-husband makes me champion it because he fights it so desperately. At the age of 46, he still doesn't have his own place to live, his own car, a steady job, let alone be able to live up to the responsibilities of being a father. The man has been in jail for the past 2 years on his daughters' birthdays. Yes, I have every reason to be a fan of personal responsibility.

But there are times when we all need a little help. There are times when those of us who exhibit personal responsibility for most of our waking hours deserve a little break and some support.

The issue of how much companies should be responsible for the use (or mis-use) of their products is one way I've been faced with it recently.

On this community site I belong to, the issue of the voluntary recalls of children's medicine is being discussed. More than one person has said that the parents alone are at fault for "mini-dosing" their children.

I have been there. When Riley was a baby, we did not have health insurance. So when she got a fever, I would get the infant's Tylenol. I read the label that said for children under 2, consult your physician. I didn't have a physician to call. So I took the first actual dose listed on the package, and cut it either in half or by a third and give it to Riley. Or, if I had consulted a physician with her immunizations, I would just use the dosage they recommended (are you really supposed to call every single time?).

I guess some would call me an irresponsible mother for doing so. I guess it's not surprising that I would disagree with that. But you know what they would've called me had I taken my little girl with a slight fever to the emergency room without health insurance? A drain on the system. Without health insurance, I simply couldn't win.

Now, if there were universal health insurance, then it would be easy, right? But "personal responsibility" advocates generally (sorry, I have to use generalizations) oppose that because, hey, it's my responsibility to have insurance, right?

Well, my employer at the time didn't offer it. And there are many employers who don't offer it. However, this employer did offer housing, so I don't think I was out of line in accepting a job that didn't offer health insurance. And most people think, just let me earn a paycheck, I'll figure the rest out.

What's ironic is, had I not had a job, not taken on that personal responsibility, I probably could have qualified for Medicare. But then, I'd be a "lazy, welfare mom" right? Like I said, sometimes you just can't win for trying.

Halloween was another issue that came up. Some schools have banned parades, even costumes and parties, for fear of offending people.

First of all, I find it interesting that some Christians find this absolutely acceptable, yet whine that their children aren't allowed to be taught the Bible at school. So, really, you want public schools to be Christian. Well, can't you take on the "personal responsibility" of teaching your children the Bible and telling your children whether or not they can participate in a costume parade? No, all of a sudden, it's the school's responsibility to do that for you. Personally, I don't want anyone telling my children what to believe or how to believe. From Adolf Hitler to David Karesh to the Catholic priests to members of the friggin' Senate, the religious ideology of others have caused so much pain in the world today, I don't know how anyone foregoes that personal responsibility.

Another issue is one that Kori brings up of the personal responsibility of sex education. Now, believe me, I'm going to be telling my daughters my views on this subject, as Kori did, but wouldn't it be nice if Kori had a little bit more support on trying to give her own daughter ALL of the information about sex? Or if they had at least put this under the category of a BELIEF system, not absolute fact.

Things like this actually make me want to be an atheist.

Dr. Laura Schlessinger and others love to tell single mothers how to live their lives. She's a fan of single moms marrying again, but she's not a fan of them dating. Now, first of all, how does that work? How do you marry someone without ever having the benefit of dating?

Second of all, there are reasonable ways for single moms to pursue romantic relationships without negatively impacting their children. I've gone out a few times over the years without my kids even knowing about it. But some people (and it particularly bothers me when it's other women) don't give us the benefit of the doubt that we can be reasonable, and that yes, we are allowed to be someone, to have a life outside of our kids.

Then there's the whole "Mommy war" thing - SAHMs versus working moms. I don't know how some of these women find the time to put that much energy into worrying and judging how other mothers are trying to get by. And, btw, great lesson by example that you're teaching your kids by putting that much effort into putting other women down (note sarcasm).

When we cling to absolutes, then that must make us absolutely "right" or absolutely "wrong," right?

Isn't it kinder, more compassionate, to say that we're simply HUMAN - capable of degrees of "rightness" and "wrongness"? When we accept shades of gray, we accept a certain level of leeway that allows us all to pick ourselves up and maybe even have a hand from some compassionate fellow human after we fall.

I know I'm not always good at it, either. I find it hard to forgive the folks who voted for Bush (particularly the 2nd time), I find it hard to not judge someone by their labels (Christian, Republican, etc.) But I'm hoping that by writing about this, I'll take some of it to heart in future dealings and remember that every choice and decision one makes can be affected by fate, or can adversely affect another. At the same time, every choice is also an opportunity - I hope most of us opt for choosing a compassionate approach most of the time.

1 comment:

LunaNik said...

I just read this post now...I don't know how I missed it! I make it a habit to check in with my fav blogs once a day. Anyway, great post, you covered all the bases.