Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Answer: The Sun, the Moon and the Truth

Question: What are ‘things that can be hidden, but not for long’?

You know, on this Election Day, I am tempted to climb on my soapbox again. Actually, the temptation part of it is in the rear view mirror. I will climb on my soapbox.

Sure, I considered posting an art update or a comical anecdote resulting from the crazies that I live with. I mean, it sure takes away the fun when your 9th grader gets all upset and "offended" (her words) when you play this sound effect while helping her with her Algebra.

But of course, I’m veering off topic. Back to the soapbox. 

Political strife has always existed. The difference between the arguments we have with each other with political strife today verses arguments in a historical context are the sources of the information received and how often. The information of yore was also slower to travel. We had to wait until a newspaper was on our front stoop or until the 6 o’clock news for us to form our opinions on the new information. Sure, misinformation and bias also came with these sources, but it was still slower and further limited.

But now? Information comes at us from all directions and all hours of the day. And consistent with history, some of the sources are factual. Some of the sources contain some facts, but are slanted. Some of them are outright lies but painted to appear true. And yes, many of us fall for the misinformation. (A particular news network comes to mind, but I’m trying my best to keep this post politically neutral.)

Not only are we flooded with information, but these days we’re also able to instantly comment and share our thoughts with others. Just as quick as the information itself can spread exponentially in an upward trajectory, so can our thoughts and opinions on the source information itself. 

We live in a wonderful age where we won’t be kept in the dark for long (unless we choose to be by just watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians or Snooki and Jwoww…there’s no helping those people).

But with these modern perks of 24/7 Information also comes the downside. This is also a way for misinformation to spread just as rapidly. And when our opinions are being shared, it’s a crazy game of “telephone”. Who knows what facts remain from the original story after your sister’s cousin’s nail tech’s astrologer received the information and opinions that come with it!

One particular example hit this week pertaining to a speech President Obama gave at Rhode Island College in Providence.  Apparently, an article pertaining to this speech went viral with the headline: 

If you already don’t like the President and/or you’re a Stay At Home Mom or you’re supportive of those who choose to be SAHMs, wouldn’t that headline generate a little, um, ire?

Yeah, that’s what happened. 

My Facebook news-feed had five different examples (last I counted) of those who are SAHMs (or supportive of those who are) who already don’t like the President that linked the above article with added comments of discontent. Some claimed to be just plain sick over the words that the President said in his speech.

Now many around here in this part of the country and in my faith do not like President Obama. That is not front page news. However, where I get all worked up into a tizzy is when the reason someone has a position on a candidate (no matter the party) or issue happens to be based on a lie. This even applies for those who have positive opinions on a candidate, constituent or issue.  Did you vote in that direction based on truth or what someone wanted you to believe? Did you do your homework? 

I include myself with those questions.

With President Obama, if someone doesn’t like him because of how he voted on a policy, fine. Fair enough. If they don’t like him because they disagree with his politics in general, fine.
What crawls under my skin is when it’s when words or an issue (or event…take your pick) is slanted a certain way to cater to those that already have a problem with him in order to rile up his critics and cynics even further.

That’s precisely what happened here.

I love the remarks from blogger Alice Carey on this very issue. She makes the point better than I have, and it is true that I’ve already rambled enough.

Take it, Alice:
A short video clip of President Obama has recently gone viral. In it, he states, “And sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result.  And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.”

Those sharing this video, many of whom are members of the LDS church, have used it to claim that President Obama is “attacking” stay-at-home mothers. As a stay-at-home mother myself, I decided that I should investigate. After all, the choice to stay home and care for my children is a significant part of my identity, and I truly believe it is the best thing for my family at this time. Furthermore, we’ve been counseled by our church leaders that “The most important of the Lord’s work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes” (Harold B. Lee, Stand Ye in Holy Places, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1974, p. 255). And that “Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, Salt Lake City, 1995).

I’d like to share with you what I found.

I began my investigation by reading the full text of the speech in question. It can be found here if you’re interested: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/10/31/remarks-president-women-and-economy-providence-ri

In case you don’t have time to read that speech, let me summarize and clarify some points for you. While the words in the video do come from the mouth of our President, they come at the end of this paragraph: “And too often, parents have no choice but to put their kids in cheaper daycare that maybe doesn’t have the kinds of programming that makes a big difference in a child’s development.  And sometimes there may just not be any slots, or the best programs may be too far away.  And sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result.  And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.” 

What our President is saying is that he does not want American families to be forced to choose to have a stay-at-home parent because they have no other options. This is a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree! 

Not all women want to or are able to be stay-at-home mothers, which, incidentally, is acknowledged and respected by the LDS Church. 

Here’s Elder M. Russell Ballard on the subject:
"There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children. The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part-or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work. What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else."  (“Daughters of God,” Ensign, May 2008, 108–10)

Personally, I have been a mom who works full-time outside of the home, a mom who works from home, a mom who works part-time outside of the home, and, most recently, a full-time stay-at-home mom. I’m blessed and grateful that I have had the option to make all of these choices about balancing my family and my career based on my circumstances. Not all Americans are able to make these choices.

President Obama would like to help parents living in every part of the country go to work if they so choose by improving policies on family leave, maternity leave, quality early childhood education, and pay for women. All of these were points that he made in the same speech where he supposedly attacked stay-at-home parents. That alleged attack was not the point of the speech, and it should not be the take-away.

In order to better understand President Obama’s perspective on this issue, let’s look at some information about stay-at-home moms.  As of 2012, 68% of stay-at-home mothers fit into the “traditional” picture of a married woman with a working husband. 20% of stay-at-home mothers are single parents, 5% are cohabiting, and 7% are married to husbands who are also not working. It stands to reason that some of these mothers are not actively choosing to stay at home, rather than working outside the home. In fact, while 85% of married stay-at-home mothers with working husbands say that caring for their family is their primary reason for not working outside the home, only 41% of single stay-at-home mothers and 64% of cohabiting stay-at-home mothers said the same. [1] Perhaps they would be working outside the home if they had access to quality childcare or could be paid for time off to care for a newborn or sick child.

Additionally, our President is correct when he states that a woman’s wages are affected by the choice to take time off to stay home.  According to research, mothers are subject to a “motherhood penalty” in the form of earning lower salaries than their childless counterparts, especially if their employment is interrupted by time off caring for their families, leading to fewer years of experience. [2] If paid leave was offered and quality childcare was available, women who choose to work outside the home may not need to take this time off, so they may not face as large a decrease in pay.

As members of the LDS church, many of us choose to stay home and care for our families. President Obama does not want to take this away from us, but we who make this choice are in the minority. 80% of American children are being raised by parents who work outside the home, and President Obama would like to use policy to strengthen our communities by alleviating parents of the choice between working and doing what’s best for their children. For that, I commend him.

Thank you, Alice! 

Those may criticize me (and Alice) because the source of her words came from a “Liberal Mormon”. Fine. Fair enough. For some, “Liberal” is a bad word. I feel that’s an unfortunate way to look at that particular L-word, but it is their right to feel that way.

Sure, I’m more left leaning than most of the Western United States LDS Demographic. But my own political identity doesn’t change the facts of the President's actual speech in Rhode Island verses the position the slanted article attempted to accomplish with its choice of words and video snippet. 

As one of my more conservative friends said after I tried to clear up the misconceptions made in the slanted version that was posted, I really feel that the reason we are all so defensive about the initial article that the media put up is because there is such an attack on the family. I know you would agree. I am not a fan of Obama but I do feel it unfair for the media to portray his message the way they did.”

I agree. It is unfair. But it’s unfortunately the reality of the media and whatever agenda that particular news agency or reporter has when they put out a story. And if my blog is any indication, any bozo can publish something on the internet. It’s up to us to investigate and find the actual truth (or do the best we can to discover the truth. Sometimes the truth is buried under layers of twists, slants and plain lies) before we make up our mind.

The bottom line is, it would certainly be nice that if people aren't going to like something, it should be for a truthful reason. I know, keep your laughter to yourself. It would also be nice if teachers were paid fairly and stress burned calories too, right? I know.

This is especially true with how my LDS faith is attacked. If you (general you) do not like my faith, I hope it's because you don't believe what I believe and/or disagree with doctrinal aspects of my faith. That makes sense. What drives me batty is when my faith is attacked with slanted information (with some sprinkles of truth to add to the confusion) and those are the lies that are believed and further perpetuated by the aggressors.

And to end with an attempt at the actual truth, the below quote is also credited to Confucius. I do not know who actually said it, but I love the message expressed in those words. I certainly find them true.

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