“There comes a time, when we heed a certain call, when the world must come together as one,” are the opening lyrics to the song “We Are the World,” by Michael Jackson & Lionel Richie and sung by USA for AFRICA. Think about your call to make the world ‘come together as one’ as you think about what Voltaire once said, “Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.”
It’s a New Year and again, we have an opportunity to make history. How can we do that? How can we stamp out the world’s problems that have invaded our neighborhoods, our schools, our politics, and our families? Well if you think you are going to get answers today from this column, you may as well throw this paper away and start chasing moonbeams. I don’t have answers to issues I don’t know about. I’m not even only aware of my issues, which creates unintentional chaos as I try to develop a plan to solve them. So how am I going to do that? One day at a time. One moment at a time…and one issue at a time.
Men generally tend to look toward the future. We focus ahead, on resolving issues that won’t impact on our lives for years. In the process of being so focused, men often forget the moment in front of them. Ever looked for something so intently, you didn’t see it? Glasses on the top of one’s head; keys in one’s pocket; keys in one’s car door; and letters in your hand, are just a few examples of things we overlook. In the process of wondering what can make life better, our tunnel vision too often causes us to overlook the one sitting across from us. Lighten up, take the blinders off and enjoy life. So you’re unable to resolve the ecological devastation of our country, the issue of global warning, or college tuition right now. Will you die this instance? No?! Then step back dad and let others help. And the best place to lighten up first is at home.
This year I’m planning on using this column to share experiences I’ve had that have helped lighten the load of a dad trying to raise pre-pubescent future dads. I’m trying to make sure both boys are responsible enough to understand the value of marriage, the value of friends, the value of family and the value of having fun.
Recently the boys and I played marathons of monopoly. It was an effort and took courage for me to not cheat to win. Yeah, I admit it. I’ve cheated at board game. I love to win. But by putting ‘winning’ aside, and trying to get my sons focused on playing for the fun of it, dad began to do the same thing. We improvised rules as first, we renamed the money pot [generally reserved for free parking] ‘For Charity.’ As opposed to paying the exact amount, we owed each other, we’d round to the nearest 5, 10, or 20, and encouraged each other to put the extra they received in charity.
Another variation was building on someone’s property who couldn’t afford it, and ask for a couple of free stops. This happened on Boardwalk, and since Myles initially couldn’t afford to build, I built a house there for him. When I first landed there, I was allowed to reside free. When Myles built his own house on the square and I inevitably landed on it again, rather then ‘freeload’, I insisted on paying the additional rent.
We had fun, as we strove to be generous to each other, focusing on ‘having fun’ not just on winning. And when Jeremy, through the luck of the ‘quick deal’ got all the red, yellow, and green cards, Jeremy was cajoled as he finally agreed to accept a less expensive monopoly from Myles, in order to keep me in the game.
Staying in the game is what we want to focus on this year. Sometimes it may mean we might have to modify the rules for our house. We might have to excuse the shortcoming of others, even our own, in order to survive in the world we love so much. We might just have to laugh a bit more.
“We are the world…” And it’s left up to us to make a better world as we teach our kids “to lend a helping hand….” and “understand that change only comes when we stand together as one.” So this year, let’s play more monopoly games. Let’s focus less on winning. Let’s remember most of all, we are all on the same side, so when one wins, we all win.
Happy New Year, and hug the first member of your family you see after you read this.