by michael on January 22, 2011

It was a beautiful evening in southern Denver area. By the time I arrived at the Tattered Cover Book Store in Highlands Ranch, stars glittered in a cloudless black sky.

Prior to my talk I met my friend, author and consultant Richard Oppenheim,, and his lovely wife, Elizabeth, for coffee and pastries in the coffee shop section of the book store. I welcomed a collegial pep talk and some refreshment before the rigors of speaking to strangers about my book.

My presentation on The Good, The Bad and The Difference seemed to be received well. I described how surviving open heart surgery motivated me to write the book as a repayment of a cosmic debt. I felt grateful for the brilliant treatment I received and my gratefulness has not lost its luster in the slightest during the past two decades.

Emphasis was given to a few key themes:

a. Parents are competing against the world for moral authority with their children; to establish credibility and to hold their children’s attention. If parents are to compete, they must offer a good product. They must be moral leaders. They must not only show they are in charge; they must demonstrate they deserved to be in charge
b. Good and bad can be measured, contrasted and evaluated. The measurement of good and bad is done using the Moral Measures described in the book.
c. When good is identified and measured, children will be motivated to do good more often and to reject not doing good.
d. Parents are, as a general rule, the best and most credible disseminators of morality and ethics to their children.
e. Doing good is not easy. It does not come naturally. Teaching children that doing good is easy weakens children. When times get tough, children of that belief will quit and give up on attaining what is good.
f. Any parent or adult can acquire the skills to be proficient and entertaining in teaching ethics and moral reasoning to children. If I can do it, you can do it.
g. Spending time with your children talking about ethics and other serious matters can be a soul-churning joy.

I shared the beautiful quotation crafted by my friend, Alice Abrams, whose husband, Dr. Fred Abrams, wrote a wonderful testimonial which appears in the beginning of my book.

“In life, as in dance, grace glides on blistered feet.”

I can tell the audience paid attention based on the questions they ask. One participant asked how she should advise her child about standing up for the victim by sharing an event experienced by her son when he was in high school. A classmate did not answer a question well and was rudely berated by the teacher. After class, the woman’s son opined to the teacher that he thought the teacher was rough and unfair with the under performing student.

According to the mother, the teacher punished her son through the remainder of the school year, insulting him and awarding grades less than the son and his mother though the son deserved.

Should she, the mom inquired, advise and support the behavior of her son standing up for someone he thought was wronged when the price he paid seemed steep?

There are no right and wrong answers, sometimes. The son was heroic, and the mom was justly proud. Yet she felt hesitant to encourage future actions that would have such expensive consequences.

The subtext to the story is, of course, the vileness of the teacher and its ability to abuse power. But that’s life, and it’s all around us. Abuse of power is inherent in the species and will never change.

The lesson to be learned resides in the ability to engage in high level moral reasoning so that one can measure costs and benefits and then make the most moral decision in the context of that analysis.

In this day and age, the son can make his grievances known to the world. FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, among other formats, give the son a world wide platform. The platform is available also the aggrieved student also.

Of course, the mother’s analysis is based on the assumption that the son acted reasonably and that the teacher acted unreasonably. I have no insight into these matters.

Another participant asked that I write another book, this one for grandparents. I begged her to give me some time. I’m not ready to write another book. I suggested my book gives adequate guidance to grandparents also.

Books are now available at all Tattered Cover Book Stores.

More later.

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