Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lucia Michael Laws on Morality

An interesting piece from Michael Laws today.  He's reflecting on what type of world his children will inherit and how he can teach them to do the right things.  He sees that his generation can't hold onto relationships, but I'm not sure he sees that as a bad thing, it's just how he became a father at an older age.
Except that I am part of the greatest social revolution in the history of humankind. I am part of a new society that partners and re-partners and re-partners and does not regard mating for life as an imperative.

So it is that I have a young family and have learnt to be a father. Sorry, I am learning to be a father – each day another mystery is solved but a new one presents itself. One of my most significant discoveries – no, my most significant – is that I am not at the centre of the universe.
He's learning to live for his children rather than for himself and realises his own mortality.
That my innate selfishness has been utterly undermined by the concept of service to my children. That they are the centre of the universe and I am but an orbiting if influential sphere.

And that I will die. That mortality is proximate. At best, I have lived longer than I have left.

At such times, most smart New Zealanders are considering the next 10 years and how they might reasonably plan for their retirement. As an older dad, I am of that new tribe that sees the next 10 years as the critical years for my children's development. The foundation for their later opportunity and success. Retirement is not an option.
He's looking at our more free society that seems to have become more unstable as the traditional has fallen away.

Which makes me think thoughts that I would rather not. And about their immediate environment – the life that I might provide them.

I do so against a general instability in our society. The old traditions have fallen, the older principles have been battered and compromised. The certain if sometimes suffocating social structures of the 20th century have fallen away.

And realises that morality doesn't change, what we consider to be moral and not moral does change over time, maybe to be discovered again at a later date.  Here Michael gives us his reduced list of moral requirements that he needs to pass on to his children.

Or have they? Because I am discovering – as a parent – that when I'm trying to teach my children what is right, what is wrong, and what their place in humanity is, I keep coming back to the bedrock of an established morality.

Don't lie or steal; do work hard; do accept that you have a duty to help those not as talented as you. And give thanks that you are OK – that your body and your mind, your physical and intellectual attributes will gift you opportunities that are going to be denied to so many.
He thinks his children will do ok because of the country they live in and the people they have around them.
My younger children are aged 7, 5 and 3. Already their personalities are obvious and their potential clear. And despite me being their father, they have drawn most of life's winning numbers.

They are born in a relatively settled country. It might be on the economic wane compared to its OECD colleagues, but there's always Australia on the doorstep.

They have a mum and dad who love them. They are a part of a wider whanau, who are way more settled and successful than Daddy, in case I have an accident or aneurism.
But aren't Michael and his wife separated?  How are the children going to learn to keep a relationship going if they don't see it modelled to them?  That's what really stands out in all of this rumination for me.
But – and it's the big but – how to instil into these kids the principles, the morality, the values that will see them lead not only a successful life, but also a good life? I surmise that they will pick most of this up from osmosis and observation. But being the frustrated preacher I am, I can see some future dinner discussions getting preachy.
Show them, that's how you do it.  They will do what you do, not what you say.  Boys learn how to treat women from the way that their father treats their mother and girls learn how they are to be treated in the same way.  Actions speak louder than words.

Anyway, there's a bit more to what he said, but I'll leave that for you to read in the link below.

Related link: Old ways the bedrock for children's future ~ Michael Laws, Stuff, Sunday Star Times

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