Echo from 1979

The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and the political fabric of America. The confidence that we have always had as a people is not simply some romantic dream or a proverb in a dusty book that we read just on the Fourth of July. It is the idea which founded our nation and has guided our development as a people. Confidence in the future has supported everything else. We've always believed in something called "progress." We've always had a faith that the days of our children will be better than our own. Our people are losing that faith. For the first time in the history of our country a majority of our people believe that the next five years will be worse than the past five years. We were taught that our armies were always invincible, and our causes were always just, only to suffer the agony of Vietnam. We respected the presidency as a place of honor until the shock of Watergate. We've got to stop crying and start sweating. Stop talking and start walking. Stop cursing and start praying. The strength we need will not come from the White House, but from every house in America.

We know the strength of America. We are strong. We can regain our unity. We can regain our confidence. We are the heirs of generations who survived threats much more powerful and awesome than those that challenge us now. Our fathers and mothers were strong men and women who shaped a new society during the Great Depression, who fought world wars, and who carved out a new charter of peace for the world.

Working together with our common faith, we cannot fail.
~ Jimmy Carter, July 15, 1979

I came across this speech while doing some research for school. I can't say Jimmy Carter is someone who has ever really entered my conscious thought before. After all, this speech was given when I was about 4 months old. How it resonates, though, with the current crisis we face as a nation. I found myself hopeful as I listened to his rather monotonous, yet convicted, delivery of this speech.

Most of all, this speech compels me as mother, leader of these little children. Around my feet and tugging at my pant legs at any given moment of every day...four little ones who will grow up and perhaps change the course of history. I am one person. I can't do much to change the world. But I can direct the development of four more minds, and that, perhaps, will change the world we live in. With that in mind, I found these six rules in Nightlight for Parents, a book I never really like while I am reading it, but return to again and again. These six guidelines capture the spirit of how I hope to mother, and have aided me many times as I muddle through what to expect of my children and how to teach them so:

1. Define the boundaries clearly and in advance. If you haven't spelled them out, don't try to enforce them!
2. Once a child understands what is expected, hold him accountable. This may lead to a contest of wills - be sure to win those confrontations when they occur.
3. Distinguish between willful defiance and childish irresponsibility. Forgetting, losing, and spilling things are not challenges to adult leadership.
4. Reassure and teach as soon as a time of confrontation is over. By all means, hold your child close and explain lovingly what has just occurred.
5. Avoid impossible demands. Be sure that your child is capable of delivering what you require.
6. Let love be your guide! You will make mistakes with your child, but a relationship characterized by affection and grounded in God's love is certain to be healthy and successful.

Kind of like thinking about earth rather than thinking about heaven, isn't it? If I focus only on myself, I've limited my resources to one life span. But if I direct my energy outward, to others - my children included - I have exponentially increased the impact my life has. Think global. Think eternal. I want to do something that matters each and every day - and that probably doesn't mean "looking out for number 1"!

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)