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Dear Mrs. Web,

There was a terrible crime in our community last year and it is now coming to trial. I cannot believe that people can treat each other so inhumanly. It seems as though more people, especially young and troubled kids, are lashing out against anyone or anything they can catch at a disadvantage: children or animals, religious icons or racial differences. Why are these kids doing this?

I have always had a theory that the mentally and morally troubled are the canaries of a culture. They are cultural indicators. They act out the desires of the zeitgeist, especially the hidden or not so hidden hatreds and fears. Right on the edge, they are the first to go when the guardrails are removed. Many of the safety features normally in a culture to protect they young have been eliminated.

Children are obedient; they do exactly what they are told. Look around you today to discover exactly what we are telling them to do. Television, video games, magazines, commercials, and hobbled schools give children. teens and adults hedonistic, violent messages. Unprotected children and teens as well as troubled adults exposed to these messages will comply, to the great grief of the community and the nation.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I had a polite disagreement with an older relative. She believes that the Social Security program is a worthwhile, compassionate, almost paternalistic, government benefits program for seniors. I disagreed. 

I argued several details of the plan that I think are a poor buy. I feel the system is just a way for the government to obtain cheap, long-term financing from the taxpayers. I have I told her, as far as I was concerned, the 3% rate of return on SS was unsatisfactory. I told her that the same 7.65% of her paycheck if invested into her own IRA or 401k, would make her wealthy at retirement. 

I almost seemed to offend her. Was I wrong? Do you think that my logic and reasoning were wrong?

Your logic is not wrong, and your reasoning is not wrong.  What you were discussing with your Aunt was politics. Whose money is spent, what way, for what purpose?  Many people disagree about politics, because oneís politics is one way to develop and express the philosophy of oneís worldview (how one apprehends the world). Religion is another way to develop and express oneís worldview.

Your Aunt probably was offended by your stand. Your logic and reasoning had nothing to do with it. Logic and reasoning often have little to do with how or what most people think. This is why polite people do not discuss politics and religion publicly. There cannot be a real meeting of the minds; just statements of worldviews and arguments based on the different worldviews, which is, in most cases, fruitless.

When someone states his religious or political beliefs, one can listen politely, agree, or say; "I donít quite see it that way." Then change the subject. It is not useful to go any further. Minds are not changed in political arguments. Talk about the weather.



Dear Mrs. Web,

I work part-time and have two children, both under five. We live in a small community and I feel terrible because I just donít have the energy to volunteer at church or on any of the committees that are available. I often say no but I do read to the preschoolers once a month at the library. I see other mothers who have just as busy schedules doing many other things too.

Your family is your priority. Pace your life so you can fulfill your obligations to them completely. Careful and loving child raising is an inestimable contribution to your community and to the larger world. The library, the playground committee, and the town committees will all be there in five or ten years and at that time you will be able to give your experience and full attention to them.

Dear Mrs. Web,

My parents have both died and my brother and I are responsible for our mentally retarded older brother, Johnny. He always lived with our parents. He has a sheltered job and can keep himself clean and do some chores. My brother wants to put Johnny in a special program with the state where he can have his own apartment and care workers would check on him three times a week. My brother wants Johnny to have his independence. I donít think this is a good idea.

Mentally retarded people who hold sheltered jobs need them to be sheltered because they are unable to function in a normal job setting. I believe in protecting the mentally retarded from the lesser elements in our society, which tend to prey on them. They also at times need the guidance and judgment of their guardians.

Independence is hard enough for those of us who are more or less mentally intact. If he were my brother, I would choose to care for him, rather than having a government worker visiting (when available) three times a week. Letís not shelter ourselves from our responsibilities.

Dear Mrs. Web,

I have a very dear friend who has a father in his 80's. Lately, I have noticed that her Dad is becoming more and more "forgetful". I am worried because he still has a driver's license and drives every day. I am very afraid that he will either get lost or cause a terrible accident. When I mentioned this to her she became upset with me and said that her Dad is very "independent" and is just fine. I'd hate to see anything bad happen. Can you suggest a way I can help her see that perhaps her Dad shouldn't be driving alone any more?

Many people have a hard time realizing that Mom or Dad is getting old. They still see them through child-eyes. In many states one can anonymously call in a person's name and your concerns to Department of Motor Vehicles and the person will be called in for an evaluation. It's worth a try

Dear Mrs. Web,

Our good friend of a number of years dated briefly then married a dangerous and mentally ill man. Our friend has changed over the past six months and is angry with us all for not embracing the man or the marriage. This man is inappropriate and scary and we have been at a loss on how to manage our friendship with her. We would want to be a lifeline when she comes to her senses. How can we have her in our lives but not him? When we told her he was not welcome in our home she was hurt and angry. Ideally we would like her to separate from him and be in a safer place.

Sometimes people we think we know and care about turn out to have an unacceptable part that we cannot be around. A woman who marries a dangerous mentally ill man has a substantial lack of judgment. This woman is hurt and angry because her friends are not accepting the poor choices she has made.

You can always reach out to her. Going out to lunch with her once in a while may be a way to keep in touch with her without bringing him into the picture. That said, I will say that one has little influence these days upon family members and even less upon friends.

Friendship requires things in common and respect and affection. Commitment can make it last longer. If you are committed to give this woman a lifeline through occasional lunches you may be able to keep the crazy husband out of your life. From here I can't tell how safe that would be. You need to evaluate the safety of continuing your relationship with her.




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