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Family’s “human value” clipped by “whatever” election Family's "human value" clipped by "whatever" election

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Apr 10, 2013 No Comments ›› Dan Bodine

Kareli at home in the study warming up for her orchestra’s 8th grade concert last week. How could she anger her father by taking on a fake email identity? Read on.

 

(Earlier version posted at Desert Mountain Times)

 

 

By Dan Bodine

Alright, get over it. My side won the Election! I’m tardy in saying it, yes. Sorry. Along with apologies for a dearth in blogging posts, too. Health problems, computer problems, backyard work projects, et al.  In addition to the continued delight of raising a daughter, I need to add. That latter is the foremost.

The G.O.P. and its giddy-up Angry White Man’s message was for Americans to accumulate personal wealth at whatever costs, as a means to helping the economy – even minimalizing traditional social values with those less fortunate, if that’s what it took.

Very proud I am for Democrats. For that Republican message couldn’t keep evangelicals in the fold any more as a block vote, and they crossed over. True religion (and Democracy) thus survives. For another round.

Whatever it takes to win, a popular and catchy commercial advertising phrase, was spun out by radical capitalism to sell everything from pickups to running sneakers. It’s irresponsible for long-term economic health as well as social relationships, too. It’s no wonder the radical right’s use of it thru unlimited political advertising money backfired.

But not the long-term ramifications of the example, however. Not yet. And that’s what bothers me. On a personal level.

Whatever‘ — it’s shallowness — not only is bad economic policy but also it’s terrible for building long-term, meaningful, individual or family values, too.

This is the home connection part of this story. How do we throw out this crappy bathwater and not risk throwing out our precious babies who’ve been tainted by it also?

Some kids, for example, feel they’ve been minimalized these days — and thus need to reach for whatever to counter it — long before they even get out of the chute of Life. High school! Social media has done it.

And they’ve borrowed the GOP whatever fight song. They’ll clobber you, yes. This is what sparked a few angry words between Kareli and I.

It’s almost as if our New Age has brought us new cowboys — Image is everything. And this truth behind myopically driving human lives off on some offbeat trail toward accumulated recognition and wealth (as the only standards for success) hits home harder, when it’s personal.

Don’t you do it to my daughter! the cry becomes. As part Bodeen, I’ll punch your lights out!

But first, let me say I’m aware of another side to this and am admitting here and now I could be wrong on this. Don’t think I am, but I may be. In fairness, I’ll put that statement out as a warning.

In my coming of age church years I learned to say an answer. Rather than the answer. So there are other explanations out there, yes.

In ‘The Rebirth of Stoicism,’ for instance, it’s argued people are using this lame-brain whatever model we hear so much now much as Americans used stoicism to get through World War II–perhaps just as a coping technique to survive the time’s painful, emotional turmoil.

Don’t want to head-butt on that, no; only to say that personal incidents (which I’m using) can still stand on their own merit. Viewed honestly. Raw feelings are good witnesses. Thus I’m proceeding.

Here’s the deal: On election eve I became another angry white man. And I feel bad about it. In a moment there, yes, I almost lost it with Kareli.  Was it justified? Let’s see.

My side: As parents, are we in such a rush over building financial support for our children, we can’t stop to help build a few emotional support pillars along the way, too? To teach the wrongness in something? That’s not passé is it?

Once it was helping to build moral character, no? Putting up some extra padding around our windows, say–the way people see us–in case of wind storms later in life, when a person really needs help holding onto moral resolve?

In an earlier America, this tendency to share responsibilities for nurturing the young (those tender growth years where various experiences yield wisdom), was as common in defining community as cotton candy was to county fairs.

What’s my beef? My daughter’s recent whatever attempt to increase her popularity in school by changing her on-line name. From Bodine, she became a De Leon, no less. …Ouch!

Making it worse, it scabbed open an identity sore already there–involving her first name she goes by. Here’s some background.

Years back, when I realized at her school one day she’d chosen to go by her first name, Maiya, outside the home (with friends and school mates), instead of the middle name, Kareli, which her mom and I had always called her, it created one of those wounds of hurt pride between us.

Noemi and I both go by middle names; we’d wanted the same for her. I’d gone into her class to get her early one afternoon only to be told by the teacher, “We don’t have a Kareli Bodine in here!”

When she saw who I had turned to stare at then, the confusion on my face, she added: “Oh, you mean Maiya Bodine!”

Whatever she answers to!” I quickly said, simmering. “I’ll talk to her about it at home.”

Rejection of my wish; a pronouncement of her’s, it was. Clear and simple.

Was she old enough for that? I thought at the time.

So this new incident on election night simply threw salt onto it.

More so, though, it’s another small example of the whatever impulse kids are learning today. I truly believe.

In Roulette Wheel Success, it seems, someone’s personal relevancy (on a temporal sliding scale between inclusiveness and exclusiveness) is determined by whatever combination it takes to score a high, be it drugs or wealth.

When it glows, you’ve found it! is the new mantra. You win!

That doesn’t you, dear reader?

In her case, at her age, probably it would be gaining more internet social followers, yes. But later? (Or, again, am I an old fogey for looking at it this way? I don’t think so!!)

I’d discovered this ‘name change’ simply by accident, admittedly. But discovered it, I did.

A worrisome habit that needs to be corrected, was my immediate thought. So I did it. Too harshly?

Occasionally, as Kareli and I  both work at our computers in the study, she’ll send over some homework assignment by email for me to print before going to bed. My computer is the jefe, of course, meaning the printer is connected to it.

With the Google g-mails, it’s easy for anyone to open a free account. Thousands of parents I’d imagine are allowing their children to use it to send things back and forth–even sometimes to schools. To avoid real mailbox clutter, for one.

But kids have found they can up the ante on their worth in social media with it, too. In recent weeks, for instance, when I would go to my inbox to look for her assignments, I’d notice there was no ‘Maiya Bodine’ in the “From” column.  Instead, a ‘Maiya de Leon.’

The significance never really hit hard – ‘til the night before the election. Prime time, it was. Yes or No vote on the GOP’s bold grab at determining who, as individuals, were collateralized today. And into how many tomorrows?

And I knew exactly who I, as a personality, didn’t want to be, branded as such. And knew who I didn’t want my daughter to be. Was keenly aware of it, say.

Thus when she sent the homework this night, I noticed it. It leaped out boldly: Another name!

“Who the hell is Maiya de Leon?!” I asked.

“Oh, that’s me! I changed my email name, the one I send to my friends!”

“And who told you that you could do that!?”

Was that me? The words may have briefly taken Kareli aback slightly. But not much longer than a few seconds. This kid has seen anger in her life come in nine shades of pink, red, and purple. Intuitively, she knew how to handle me.

“Lighten up, dad. It’s only for emails. I like it much better than …”

She had thought to say “Bodine,” but pulled off quickly.

“…It just sounds better. When I’m making new friends, you know. Here in El Paso.”

El Paso? With 75% Hispanics? But maybe not Hong Kong? Or Moscow?

Yes, my election firearms were cocked and loaded. And who’d stepped into the line of fire, but my own daughter?!

People heavily steeped in religious dependency when young — such as me, yes — often tend to develop a quick defense mechanism called ‘wounded pride.’ It lies coiled like a cobra directly beneath their skin.

Her words struck mine.

Knock that shit off!” I countered. “I NEVER want to see a Maiya de Leon over here again! ‘Ya hear?!

“Ok! Allright! It’s only a name, dad! An email name!”

Slowly, the situation came back into focus; I looked at a real victim.

“No, a person’s name is more than ‘only a name,’” I answered. “Your name is who you are, not who you want to be. It’s the name of your family….”

Yeah, I can wax and wane on this topic. Social minimalism was staring at me like a beat-up, old Native American alcoholic standing in a soup line somewhere. But was this an occasion to go into it?

Kareli was already getting up then. Anger had flared on her. I knew to wrap it up.

“…Life isn’t a me-job! It’s a WE-job!” is how I think I finally ended it.

Alright already!” she answered.

And then stormed out. To her room. I heard the door slam behind her.

So…Yeah, I’d unloaded on her, alright. On a tense night before the election. Like some bellowing cow in a rain storm. I’m important, too!

Anything come from it? Besides hurt feelings?

She’s back to Maiya Bodine, Kareli is.

For now, anyway.

— 30 —

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