By JOANNA KING
10:59 AM EST, February 2, 2012
I’m no fan of Newt Gingrich. He is a buffoon and a blowhard, and I should know because I share some of these very traits. But I’m not running for president. Like most Americans, I couldn’t even afford the bumper stickers required to make a bid for the job.
But the one thing that might recommend Newt to me is the very thing that will keep him out of office, if current thinking prevails.
The man has a past.
We don’t want that in a president.
I found a sociology textbook printed in the 1950s at a college book sale years ago when I¿was studying the subject as an undergrad. Some of the precepts were, of course, quaintly outdated, but others are still taught today.
Part of the format was to include essays and offer discussion topics on the essays without really sanctioning the opinion in any real way. It was more about developing critical thinking and learning to develop a sociological perspective.
One of the essays stuck with me. As a parent, I’ve pulled this essay out as needed to add value to my childrens’ experiences when everything in me screamed for me to find a way to spare them any pain and suffering.
The essay was a dark prediction of the dire consequences of “Raising Conflict-Free Children.”
Among its revelations are these:
n Because many “modern” parents suffered lack of attention and abuse and unfair treatment as children, they made a commitment to spare their own children from that fate.
n A generation of children were being raised by well-intentioned parents who anticipated all wants or needs and met them before the child even experienced that want or need, or certainly any discomfort.
n In an attempt to heal past insults and injuries, parents were creating a false safe environment that left kids unprepared for threats.
n Never having faced any conflicts or hardships robs the child of learning to cope and solve problems.
n The first time the child hits conflict hard, the child will break.
n Even the struggles of filling out college admission forms and negotiating class schedules, not to mention running into bullies and competition and the general reality that life is hard might destroy kids.
The author predicted a fallout of quitters. Of substance abuse, anti-social behavior, self-mutilation and even suicide.
There was a lot of truth in the warnings for a generation. I know that, given my druthers, and even after reading this essay, my children started out never wanting for anything. I would have died to keep them from facing the hardships they eventually did face when conflict hit our family hard.
I also believe with complete conviction that experiencing, and surviving, conflict will be the strong stuff my kids call on when life shows up unannounced and ugly.
They have skills I would have spared them. Freaking mad skills.
Do we want a president who is without a past? Some plastic “Ken” doll?
Do we really want our president to be a man who has never gotten back on a horse or learned from a bad decision, or walked out when he should have stayed, or stayed when he should have walked out?
This is simply odd when we take this same dictate and apply it to pretty much any other job.
Do you want your pilot to have the first test to his training when you are on that flight? Do you want a surgeon who has never been challenged to be on call if it’s your parent going under the knife? Or the lifeguard swimming out to help your struggling child to have never been in over her head?
I’m not talking about someone with not only a pattern of bad decisions but also the lack of self-awareness and humility required to learn from mistakes. I’m not talking about someone who is secretive and covers up creepiness.
I’m just asking, as an exercise in critical thinking, do we really need a man without life skills —¿freaking mad skills — holding such an important job?
Maybe the future of the nation would be better in the hands of someone with a past?
While we are at the game of challenging our thinking, maybe the best man for the country’s future is a woman with a past?
Now, that would make a heck of a bumper sticker.
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