There is only one success--to be able to spend your life in your own way.-Christopher Morley
Delicately Balancing The Truth
Posted January 23, 2010
It's evening time and I'm sitting in our kitchen, having dinner and chatting with Beautiful Eema and our kids, when the conversation turns to the topic of politics. For a change, it's not me bringing it up. This time, it's the Good Boy. “Is Obama going to take away all our money?” he asks.
Good question, I think to myself, realizing that an answer is required, not a vague, dismissive one. It was a few months after the presidential election and the children were well aware of the issues involved, at least the important ones. From the serious faces of the TV pundits and most other adults, they surmised the potentially deep effect the elections could have on our family and on the rest of the country.
The answers are swirling in my head. In truth, I can say that the President will not tax all our earnings, but he certainly made no secret of intending to "redistribute" a major part of it to his voters, and that's what the Good Boy alluded to.
"No, not all our money, but he wants to take away a lot of it," I answer.
"Why does he want to do that?"
The G-Rated Version of the Truth
"He doesn't believe that people who work hard for their money should be allowed to keep all of it. Instead, he wants to take it and give it to certain other people."
I immediately catch myself, not wanting to specify which people exactly he wants to give our money to. No answer I can give will sound politically correct if repeated by our children at some other time and place.
So, instead of bringing up the realities of class warfare, racial discrimination, and Socialism vs. Capitalism, I try to put a positive spin on it, as I see Beautiful Eema's alarmed expression from across the table. I take her cue and try to spin being robbed by the President as some well-meaning charitable philosophy.
“The President wants to help out less fortunate people by giving them some money so they'll have it for their families,” I say.
“Why don't they work and make money like you and Eema do?” the Sweet Sweetheart chimes in. She knows that my wife is among the few moms of her class who work.
I tell her that some people aren't able to work, because they're not well enough or they need to care for very young children.
“How about those who can work? Will they also get our money from Obama?”
I sigh... Well, there it is. They're getting to the heart of the matter. Truths that cannot be discussed with young children. Racial, social, financial, and political matters are minefields, as they can be misinterpreted if not repeated verbatim with all the sophisticated nuances that are required to be politically correct.
Telling the children the truth about certain topics requires an amazingly delicate balance. In part, because there is no absolute truth, only a subjective one formed by one's own life experiences.
To some extent, I want to convey to my children the so-called wisdom I've acquired in my life. I want to teach them what I consider to be the truth, so they will be protected from danger and better prepared to make their own judgments. But on the other hand, I want my children to have the benefit of creating their own truth based on their own observations. So I tread lightly when it comes to these topics.
In the end, I tell my children that some people can't find jobs because the economy is bad, and I remain silent about the other half of the truth. Sooner or later they will learn all the facts and form their own opinions, which may or may not necessarily match my own version of "the truth."
About Double Triangle
Double Triangle is my personal blog and is mostly about family life in the Los Angeles area. It also serves to record some of my thoughts in a format that can be easily accessed by my family and friends, as well as by anyone else who cares to read it.
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