I would never call myself a Buddhist due to the centuries of baggage accrued. Buddhism now is a far cry from what it’s origin much the way most religions go. That said the fundamental idea behind Buddhism appeals to me. That is that reality is shaped by your perception of it. That your thoughts change the reality around you. That if you can improve your thought processes you can improve your reality. This appeals to me. Forget all that Buddhist monk stuff. Forget the life of vegetarian chastity. That’s not what Buddhism is meant to be about. It’s meant to be about sitting down and thinking yourself to a better you.
For example, the other night I was thinking about the phrase I just want to …. A simple phrase people use regularly. Think about the meaning behind it though. Think about what you are thinking when you think that. I just want to …. implies that you are currently in a situation where you can’t do the thing you want. If you are doing something fun and you are thinking I just want to have fun. You won’t enjoy yourself no matter how crazily fun whatever you are doing is. So I decided to better my life that thought is now stricken from the records. You may wonder what this has to do with thinking yourself better. Language is our means to express our perspective on reality. The way you talk and write goes hand in hand with your thought process.
I’ll keep on thinking myself better, ensuring that any thought process that brings me misfortune is removed. The opposite is true to. Those thought processes that make you happier should be repeated. You shape your reality so shape it to your liking.
It may seem odd to you that a question would bug me for so long. Perhaps it’s not so much that the question bugged me but that my answer at the time was so terrible. Yes, this is more about regret that I didn’t answer properly. So this blog entry is about trying to give the answer I should have given. The question was given at our grade twelve valedictory camp. At least I think it was a valedictory camp. It could have just been a camp. The question was What can we do to improve school spirit? At the time the question was a little offensive to me. I gave some smart arse joke answer instead of a real answer. At the time it had annoyed me because it was asked by a P.E. teacher so I assumed he was asking why aren’t people into sports day and swimming day?
The thing of it is that looking back my reaction was valid. School spirit is a very vague term. How can you measure school spirit? How do you know when you’re school has it or not? I guess you could do a survey. Perhaps that’s what they should have done. Found out what the whole population thinks instead of just the grade twelves. Looking back, it’s also a very important question. Not in terms of how can we get people more interested in sports days and so on. That’s not school spirit. It’s a result of it. What is school spirit? It really comes down to knowing you are going to a good school and being appreciative of the fact. It’s kind of similar to national pride. There are two types of national pride. The type where your government tells you how good your country is and the kind where you experience how good your country is. My school was like the first kind. We were always being told how great the school was but since none of us had anything to compare it to it didn’t really mean anything. If you want to boost school spirit or school pride it’s all about the experience the student has. Maybe you can’t make everyone happy but if the majority is you will get high school spirit.
We recently had our second child. Watching her and our first tells us that we made a couple of mistakes with our first child. Not major mistakes mind you. Just little ones. When our first was a little bubs we were incredibly attentive to her. We never let her cry out for particularly long. Always entertained her. Reflecting on it I’m starting to wonder how much attention is too much? When do you reach the point where you are just spoiling your child?
This winter holiday I spent a lot of time with my two daughters and noticed a few things. For one thing I noticed that when I am around my daughter wants my entire attention all the time. I don’t mind as my girl is a lot of fun to play with but it does make me think. Our early obsessive attentiveness to her needs have led to a few positives and negatives. We have a little girl who loves us dearly and loves a good laugh. Another bonus that I’m sure is derived from the way we treated her is that she is an excellent big sister. She gives our second one a lot of hugs and often wants to feed her or help us change her nappy. Since she is copying our behaviour this must reflect on how we treat her. The downside though is our little girl is very dependent on us. She isn’t good at playing by herself. When we are around she expects that same amount of attention we gave her when she was a baby. Due to this I am unable to give our second one much attention. Fortunately this seems to have had a very positive effect on our second little one. She plays on her own for an hour or two without grumbling and she doesn’t need many hugs. She definitely gets more mum time than dad time. The first is my little girl and the second is mummy’s little girl. In a strange way I feel like it’s a bit of a social experiment.
The thing that I have noticed most since having a child is that humans really are blank slates. We have no instinct whatsoever. This is so that we can adapt to any society that humanity makes. We could be living in the worst imaginable society and we would adapt to it and even justify its existence to others. That also means we could be living in the best possible society. Society is what we make it. It’s ridiculous that so much of our society is based on what has come before us. That we do things because that is the way it’s always been done. This is the worst excuse to do anything because it means we are doing it without thought or reason. People even talk about human instinct as if it exists. If we have an instinct it is to adapt to whatever society we are in. That’s all. Humans aren’t greedy we are born in a society that prizes greed so we become greedy. Whatever we teach our children, whatever our society teaches the next generation is what society becomes. With that in mind we can build a better society.
What we expect to happen and what does happen can often conflict especially when dealing with other people. We will often expect people to do or say certain things and then be annoyed or frustrated when those expectations aren’t met. The problem lies not in our expectations but whether or not we have communicated those expectations. If an expectation isn’t know then communication will break down. We should never assume that what we expect of someone is known. To draw on a classroom analogy it would be just like me yelling at a student for using a pencil without every specifying that I only wanted students to use pens. That students reaction would just be confusion and disgruntlement. Instead of acknowledging that they did the wrong thing they would challenge you for never saying that you expected that of them. There are some things that we can assume people know without us saying. If instead the student had not been doing the work and I yelled at them for that without ever specifying that I wanted them to do work in my class the student wouldn’t be confused about why they were in trouble and accept it. Thus we need to understand what we expect and which expectations are commonly known and which ones aren’t. Assumptions will just lead to miscommunication especially if we are assuming what other people know.
Some people say you should live life in the moment. It’s bad advice really because sometimes the moment sucks and if you are only in the moment then you can’t see any time when it isn’t sucking. Of course when those people say live life in the moment they usually mean to find whatever happiness there is in each moment and not worry about the future or the past. I am often living in the moment but sometimes the moment isn’t working out. Sometimes the moment drags on for a week and I wonder when the next moment is coming.
All this made me realise something though. Sometimes you get so caught up in the moment that it causes you more harm then any good. It’s good to get that bigger picture every now and then if not all the time. Being in the bigger picture is just as important as being in the moment. Look at the big picture and see where your life is heading, plan out the path you want to get that will lead you to your goals and then jump into the moment of living and enjoying your life. It’s important to be in the moment but out of the moment at the same time.
One of the hardest parts of my day is going to work. This isn’t because of work though. It’s the hardest part because I have to leave my daughter behind. Both my wife and I work meaning that at one point during the day we have to leave our daughter at day care. While this is a reasonable solution its not the best case scenario for my daughter. The best case scenario would be for both her parents to be with her full time. She loves us both and her happiest times are when she is with the two of us. This blog is about what society and the government should do for parents to create an optimum world.
My proposal is simple. When you are having a child you should be given two years paid parental care to look after your child full time without worrying about money or work. This may sound impossible but it’s not at all. The whole thing would need paper work of course to ensure that the child is getting the care the service is providing and not just paying a drunk or gambling addict a living in wage. There would need to be checks and measures the whole way through the process. Most importantly though there would need to be advance parental education and counseling throughout the process. During pregnancy or while awaiting the adoption papers future parent/s would sign up for the parental leave support network. They’d begin parental education and for the next two years be full time parent/s. After all we are already full time parents we should be recognised as such. This programme would need far more than the baby bonus or parental pay that is in use at the moment. Parent/s would need enough money so that feel comfortable but not enough to bring the government to its knees financially. This money would have to come from taxes but given what the tax is for I’m sure there wouldn’t be much to complaint about it.
Possible arguments against this policy; it would create professional parents; the sheer amount of money it would cost. it would destroy the day care industry; it would result in a population boom. Starting with the first argument I would say that this isn’t such a problem if they are good parents. After all, the reason for such a policy change would be to better educate and care for our children thus creating a better future. However, if this is really such an issue in getting this kind of policy through then it can be limited to the first two babies and everyone after that is on your own time and money. The second issue I have partly covered. Money can always be found. There are numerous ways enough money could be generated for this; have companies fund part of it; higher taxes; implement a mining tax, a fast food tax, commercial support, fundraising, funding cuts to the military, etc. The third issue with the policy isn’t really an issue. After all it is a small price to pay for a better world. People in those professions can still be utilised though. Parents would still need breaks. Day care would just turn into a few hours care. The need would still be there just the format would change. There would also need to be people to teach the parenting education modules so a new industry would arise. The final problem, that of the population boom. While it may create a temporary population boom the increase in focus on educating parents would eventually result in the population plateauing as educated people tend not to have so many children. People would want to do other things with their lives.
So that’s my proposal. A two year full time parental leave from work supported by the government and the people. It would improve our society in more ways than I can imagine.