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Your Kindness Will Never Be Forgotten

The past couple of weeks for us have been, how should I say this, hectic. Bonny and I are safely back home in Maine, and for that we are grateful. The passing of Bonny’s mom and uncle in the same week was somewhat surprising, but in all likelihood, we realize that other families go through similar, if not worse situations on a daily basis. It is a common experience that we all share.  In any event, these last several days have allowed for many hours of reflection.

As we all age, we realize that things like hope, kindness and good cheer do not smooth out the wrinkles, but can keep the heart refreshed. Honored age gives one the authority to ignore authority. You learn to forego your age or at least not dwell on it, to be happy to just be alive to have earned that privilege. If not years to your life, why not life to your years? Our human spirit is remarkably sturdy and resilient, allowing us to get past the hardships as long as we differentiate the little from the big, and find a way to smile through it all. Sometimes when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated. This is not necessarily the way that it has to be, as to lose a dearly loved one is also an opportunity for us to learn.

You learn that you cannot step twice into in the same river and expect things to be the same, for the waters behind you continue to flow. There is no time for stagnation as the flow of change goes on. So, let the past drift away with the flowing waters, but never forget the laughter, the sounds, the joys and the loving memories that you shared with loved ones. Extract the most from those memories. As sadness and pain creep in, realize that sadness and gladness succeed each other, both of which will be followed by spring.

So when the time comes, whether in a storm or calm, let down the sails and join quietly the waves.

On behalf of Bonny and I, we thank all of you for the outpouring of empathy, sympathy and inspiration that you have showered upon us and our family during these difficult times. Your kindness will never be forgotten.

 

By: raemd95, richardaevansmd.com, July 22, 2016

July 21, 2016 Posted by | Family Values, Marriage, Seniors | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Serial Husbands”: A Trump-Gingrich Ticket Would Make A Mockery Of Family Values

If, as some pundits are speculating, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald John Trump picks Newton Leroy Gingrich as his running mate, the two will go down in history as a presidential ticket unrivaled in its mockery of this country’s most traditional and honored symbol of commitment: holy matrimony. Trump and Gingrich, two standard-bearers of family values, are serial husbands. Between them, the two have had six wives.

Let us count the ways.

Fifty-four years ago, at age 19, Gingrich married his 26-year-old former high school geometry teacher. He left her in the spring of 1980. However, he did return to see her. Gingrich dropped by the hospital where she was getting treatment for cancer to discuss divorce terms. Formally divorced in 1981, Gingrich got married six months later.

That marriage lasted until 2000. By his own admission, Gingrich started an affair with a woman 23 years his junior during his second marriage. Incidentally, it was around the time Gingrich was taking Bill Clinton to task over Monica Lewinsky.

Gingrich’s second marriage ended in 2000, and he married his then-girlfriend, the current Mrs. Gingrich, the same year.

Trump had to play catch-up to Gingrich.

The real estate mogul didn’t land his first wife until 1977. A few years later, however, 40-year-old Trump started dating a 23-year-old beauty pageant winner. That little affair on the side apparently went swimmingly until girlfriend and wife No. 1 ran into each other on the ski slopes in Aspen. That didn’t go so well.

The angry wife filed for divorce, which reportedly was quite messy. Trump married girlfriend, and went on to run up boodles of debt. By 1999 and with hard work, however, Trump wiped out his financial misfortune, and shed his second wife.

He continued dating the woman he was seeing while married to wife No. 2. In 2005, Trump made that girlfriend wife No. 3, about five years after Gingrich married for the third time.

Both men are now tied for the lead.

And, if a Trump-Gingrich ticket is successful in November, could we witness a tiebreaker and fourth nuptial in the White House?

What, in the name of the nuclear family and a moral society, will Donald Trump do next?

Afraid to ask.

 

By: Colbert I. King, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, July 1, 2016

July 2, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Family Values, Newt Gingrich | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Way We Never Were”: Decades On, Advocates Of ‘Family Values’ Still Miss The Point

A quarter-century ago, amid a political environment obsessed with the decline of “family values,” a book was published that methodically blew holes in the myth-making at the heart of this outlook.

The title summed it up: “The Way We Never Were: American Families and the Nostalgia Trap.” Stephanie Coontz’s 1992 book was a work of first-rate history, and it undermined a slew of common misperceptions of family life in America, but it was also a plea to take off the rose-colored glasses that cause us to get so many political issues wrong.

Fittingly, Coontz’s publisher, Basic Books, has released a revised edition just as the moralizing we’ve come to expect from presidential campaigns kicks into overdrive.

You’ll recognize the common conceits: that families must have two parents at all cost; that some people thrive while others fail based on their self-reliance; that private enterprise is the sole engine of economic growth.

Coontz, a professor at Evergreen State College in Washington, is research director at the Council on Contemporary Families, which highlights her work and that of similar scholars. It’s always enlightening.

Here’s the problem she consistently highlights, one that is endemic to politics: Twist the past and base current public policy on these misperceptions, and you will end up with a destructive effort that exacerbates the problems of inequality.

You can’t make America great “again,” a la Donald Trump, if you are clueless to what work life really looked like for most of the 20th century.

You can’t restore traditional family values, a la Ted Cruz, if you start with an interpretation of family that never existed in America.

And you certainly won’t resonate as a ceiling crasher for women, a la Hillary Clinton, if you continue to encourage policies and business structures that promote inequality between men and women and high- and low-wage workers.

Yet it is from this stewpot of historical illiteracy that many politicians ladle out their rhetoric, and voters gobble it up.

When the book was first published in the 1990s, experts of the day were wringing their hands over a range of issues: increasing rates of out-of-wedlock childbirth, numbers of single mothers, women in the workforce and welfare dependency. So many of the studies seemed to focus on women and the imagined threats from their changing roles in society — especially the threats they posed to children.

Yet what Coontz discovered back then would still be news to many: “I found that the male breadwinner family of the 1950s was a very recent, short-lived invention and that during its heyday, rates of poverty, child abuse, marital unhappiness and domestic violence were actually higher than in the more diverse 1990s.”

Here’s another tidbit: Almost a quarter of 1950s brides were pregnant on their wedding day. Keep that in mind the next time you hear a politician alluding mistily to the chaste and virtuous past.

So often we hear that unwed motherhood is a primary cause of poverty and economic insecurity. But Coontz cites current studies showing that income inequality is four times more important than family structure in explaining the growth in poverty.

Getting the story on poverty right is hugely important. It would force any honest politician to focus on things more likely to affect families: quality educational opportunities, access to childcare and family leave policies.

And those advantages are where America, in comparison to other industrialized countries, has really fallen down in recent decades.

Finally, there is what Coontz terms the myth of self-reliance. This one trips up Republicans and Democrats alike. It starts with a revisionist understanding of the role government has long played in aiding businesses, mortgage holders, farmers and college students, as well as the poor in various benefit and tax-credit programs.

Yet only some people are singled out as “takers”: minorities, single mothers and the like. The point is to make slashing their benefits seem like an act of fairness. After all, it is reasoned, it’s important to make people self-sufficient as well to balance state budgets.

“Legislators remain wedded to the historically disproven notion that subsidies to banks and corporations create jobs while subsidies to families create only laziness,” Coontz writes. The data say otherwise.

Remember that the next time a politician starts talking about his family’s humble beginnings and claims “we always stood on our own two feet.”

Media, it must be said, often echo these false narratives — perhaps because it’s so easy. What Coontz’s invaluable research shows us, though, is that to help families we must first understand them. Many of our politicians aren’t really trying.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion-page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, April 8, 2016

April 9, 2016 Posted by | Economic Inequality, Family Values, Politicians | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Human Society Has Begun To Work Against Itself”: If Republicans Cared About Families, They’d Stop Blocking Paid Leave

Several participants at the Republican debate last week spoke fervently about putting Rosa Parks’ image on the $10 bill. They also spoke fervently in support of a decision by Congress to defund Planned Parenthood—an organization that counted Rosa Parks among the members of its national board.

The contradiction would have been obvious and painful to Ms. Parks. Like many of us, she’d have been bewildered by the priorities of candidates who have held vote after vote on shutting down vital health services for women, but won’t even schedule a hearing on the FAMILY Act, a bill to provide affordable family and medical leave. It’s impossible to care about families and leave communities bereft of services for contraception, mammograms and other cancer screenings, and dozens more critical health services for women. It’s also impossible to call yourself “pro-life” and oppose a badly-needed, common sense program to make family and medical leave affordable to care for a new child or a seriously ill family member.

In 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act passed Congress with bipartisan support. The FMLA provided up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for care of a new child or a serious personal illness or that of a child, spouse or parent. Republicans as well as Democrats saw that valuing family meant making sure people could care for family members without losing their jobs or health insurance. Many of the state and local campaigns within Family Values @ Work’s national network have leaders from both parties—including the numerous Republicans leading the charge for the Family Care Act in Georgia.

So what’s the problem in the nation’s capital today?

The FMLA is now 22 years old. While it constituted a major breakthrough and established the principle that having a family shouldn’t cost you your job, the leave remains out of reach for millions—some because they’re not covered by its protections (two-fifths of the nation’s workforce), and many who are eligible because they cannot afford to take unpaid leave. According to a study done for the Department of Labor (DOL), nearly one in four employed mothers who are pregnant go back to work within two weeks of giving birth—with disastrous results for maternal and infant health. Others who take the time they need to heal and bond with a child often face financial hardship.

A new report from the DOL highlights the high cost of doing nothing—lost family income, lower earnings and weaker job security for women, more stress and worse health, worse outcomes for children and seniors, and fewer men taking leave. Businesses also sustain losses in replacing experienced and skilled staff. Our nation suffers in comparison to all our economic competitors.

The lack of paid leave adds to the growing inequality in our nation. A mere 5 percent of low-wage and part-time workers have any pay during leave. And, as the report points out, there are costs harder to calculate: “We are compromising the needs of our children and our parents. We are sacrificing the fundamental value of spending time with one’s family.”

Pope Francis called the family “a great test bench” for how we organize work. “When the organization of work holds it hostage or, in fact, places obstacles in its way, then we are certain that the human society has begun to work against itself!”

If elected officials are serious about promoting family values, they need to stop wasting time on frivolous bills that are a detriment to women and their families and pass the FAMILY Act, a bill that actually helps families everywhere.

 

By: Ellen Bravo, Director of Family Values @ Work; The New Republic, September 24, 2015

September 25, 2015 Posted by | Family and Medical Leave Act, Family Values, Planned Parenthood, Women's Health | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“What I Learned From Beau Biden”: Our Politics Of Recrimination Does A Profound Disservice To How Much All Of Us Care About Family

Between now and the 2016 election, we need to have a searching national debate over family values.

It will not be about whether we as a country are for them. We are. What’s required is a grounded and candid discussion about what those words actually mean.

Note that I did not follow the convention of putting quotation marks around family values. That punctuation is appropriate only when the phrase is defined in a narrow, partisan way, aimed at claiming that some large number of Americans don’t believe in family responsibility or love.

I will be haunted for a long time by last Saturday’s funeral for Beau Biden, the vice president’s son, who died of cancer at the age of 46. I suspect anyone who watched or listened to the eulogies feels this way, and I hope especially that staunch social conservatives give some of their attention to hearing the tributes. Beau Biden’s sister, Ashley, and his brother, Hunter, spoke with a power and an authenticity about love, devotion, and connection that said more about how irreplaceable family solidarity is than a thousand speeches or sermons.

And President Obama captured rather precisely what family is about when he described what he called “the Biden family rule.” Its components: “If you have to ask for help, it’s too late. It meant you were never alone; you don’t even have to ask, because someone is always there for you when you need them.”

I certainly don’t pretend that social conservatives who experience these eulogies will suddenly convert to liberalism or be transformed into supporters of Obama or Joe Biden. What the Biden funeral brought home is that the feelings and convictions that very nearly all of us — left, right, center, and apolitical — have about the bonds between parents and children, brothers and sisters, truly transcend our day-to-day arguments. We so often wage political war around the family that we forget how broadly shared our reverence for it is.

This helps explain the paradox of the gay marriage issue: Our opinions on it have changed in large part because of ties of family and friendship. A Pew survey released this week found that now 57 percent of Americans favor allowing same-sex marriage, while 39 percent oppose it. Just five years ago, only 42 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage, while 48 percent opposed it.

The key to this long-term shift is deeply personal. The number of Americans who know that someone they care about is gay or lesbian has skyrocketed over the decades, and risen a lot even in recent years. Pew found that the proportion of Americans who know someone who is homosexual has gone to 88 percent, from 61 percent in 1993. Among those who know many people who are gay or lesbian, 73 percent support same-sex marriage. Among those who know no gays or lesbians, 59 percent are opposed.

These numbers underscore again that so many of the issues related to family are more complicated (and less about ideology) than the angry, direct-mail style of discourse we are accustomed to on these matters would suggest.

Yet you don’t have to be right wing to worry that the family in the United States faces severe stresses and challenges. It would be genuinely useful if the 2016 campaign focused on practical measures that would help parents do their jobs.

Discussions of how policies on taxes, child care, family leave, wages, and criminal justice affect the family’s well-being (and specific proposals in each area) would be so much more constructive than polemics that cast one part of our population as immoral enemies of family life and the other as narrow-minded bigots. A politics of recrimination does a profound disservice to how much all of us care about family.

In 2007, after a Democratic presidential debate, I was approached in the spin room by Beau Biden, then Delaware’s attorney general. He wanted to talk about how well his dad performed, and his father had, indeed, done very well that night on the stage. But Beau Biden was most animated (and spoke at much greater length) when he turned to describing what an extraordinary father Joe Biden had been.

This fact about a politician certainly didn’t require anyone to vote for him. But it always helped explain to me why I feel as I do about Joe Biden and also why our discussions of family life need to recognize that love and commitment go way beyond politics. Family is too precious to let it divide us.

 

By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 10, 2015

June 11, 2015 Posted by | Beau Biden, Family Values, Politics | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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