Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mothers of Today

There has been a lot of drama on the Bloggernacle (collection of LDS blogs) lately concerning Sister Beck's talk for Mothers. Initially it was about the subject matter of the talk, then it increased when some women combined and wrote what is best described as a rebuttal letter to her talk.

There are lots of things I would like to detail out about the situation like how it is inappropriate to create or endorse such a public letter (even though it is not always wrong to disagree with something said in a conference talk), or how the letter not only condemns Sister Beck but also the Book of Mormon, or how it condemns things she never said in her talk as if she did say or imply them (such as men must also nurture the children).

What I would like to get down in "ink" is related to something Marisa and I read about motherhood in general and where we stand as a body of the church on it. Some background before I venture out into the waters of easily inflicted offensiveness. I was a latch-key child growing up with a working mother, but my mother came home soon after I did each day. She sacrificed sleep (many nights 4 hours and even less) to make sure that she could be home when we were and at work while we were asleep or at school. So I have "been there", but not totally "done that" because of her sacrifices.

So, the main point of the article was that we as Mormon's believe that, "No success can compensate for failure in the home." If we believe that refers to our responsibility with children (which is how I see it, especially after remembering the quote: "The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of your own home" by Harold B. Lee) then one could rephrase that statement as the following, "No success can compensate for failing to raise our children as the spiritually strong, moral adults of tomorrow and eternity." That, coupled with the emphasis on being with the children often as stated in our LDS commercials, "Isn't it about time?" could therefore allow a further alteration to say the following, "No success can compensate for failing to spend enough quality and quantity time with our children to raise them as the spiritually strong, moral adults of tomorrow and eternity."

That would bring you to the next logical observation that in the traditional family the mother would spend, I don't know, but how about 75% of the parental time with the children and the father 25%. So if mothers are contributing 75% of the effort to the most important work we can do as mortals, are they not the most important people? I know that this is the other side of the "separate but equal coin," but I think there is something there. Of course you can't have a family without someone providing for you to eat and have shelter. The point though, is that if this really is so important why don't we more often say it is, act like it is and encourage each other to live like it is?

Now to the really offensive stuff...I'll give some examples of how this doesn't occur in the families that would agree with the creeds set forth in the above paragraphs. First off, I'll start with my family. If we had to choose what would happen for the next 20 years between A) have a dirty house and few well cooked meals, but spend a lot of quality time with the children teaching them the gospel and reading, writing, math, etc. versus B) have a perfectly clean house, great tasting healthy meals all the time, lots of personal achievement/satisfaction time for the parents, but put the kids off with a movie or toys...we would obviously choose A. There is a happy medium between the two, but for the sake of argument we choose B too often over A in the short term. As with everything else in life, the more immediate tasks usually take priority over the less immediate tasks, even if they are less important.

Some watch too much tv, some read too much, some clean too much, some work too much, some don't do any of these things too much, but they stress too much about some of them and that takes them emotionally away from this #1 important task. As I alluded to earlier, we obviously have to have some personal time, clean our home and cook good meals. There has to be a happy medium between example B and the perfect ideal that we as imperfect mortal beings will not achieve in this life. I fear that we too often (my family included, and thus the we) convince ourselves that less than the happy medium is "our happy medium." Like the prophets' counsel that there are only a minority of cases where women should work and not be full time mothers, we draw a bigger circle than is necessary to fit ourselves into the minority.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I've wanted to comment on this for a while, but being a touchy subject I shied away from it. This morning while driving to work I heard a story on NPR that struck a chord with me in that it said young blacks, whites and Hispanics do not consider race a limiting factor as much as one's economic situation.

My history: I have always considered myself "color blind." Growing up I believed that racism was kind of a thing of the past. I know, many will say that is because I grew up in the bubble of Utah, even if that is true its good. Nevertheless, my wife grew up in Seattle which is fairly diverse and felt the same way. My best friend growing up was half Japanese, one of my best friends in high school was in his own words, "a wetback" and I had a couple African American friends as well. I lived in Baltimore (especially my first apartment) where I definitely was a minority.

My experience in Baltimore gave me as much of an insider's view as possible. Living by, working with, working on and associating for four years with inner city African Americans enabled me to see some rise above their situation when they tried. Most didn't because of cultural influence to the contrary. I'm not saying that the ability of a black person and a white person to live the American dream is equal, because in some instances it is not. I do think that the inner city culture is a much bigger source of inspirational inhibition. I don't want to get into the source or origins of that negative culture because to a certain extent it is irrelevant. What matters is that it changes.

To keep this short and sweet, my point is two fold. First, one's ability to live the American Dream depends more on their SES level than their race. Second, this is a sign of positive change in the rising generations that didn't live in a time when racism was so prevalent. Listen to the short clip on NPR and see if you agree.