REMEMBERING AMERICAN VALUES
Volume (4) |Episode (41)
August 13, 2018
Host: Sheryl Glick R.M.T.
Special Guest: Michelle Deen
Welcome to “Healing From Within.” Your host Sheryl Glick author of The Living Spirit which shares stories of spiritual awakenings, spiritual communication, healing energy and miracles and is a guide to your soul awareness is delighted to welcome Michelle Deen author of Saving America’s Grace who like her and many conscious citizens of America and the world are focused on improved living conditions for all while observing a massive corruption of basic goodness and the values of our American traditions and culture. Perhaps we must challenge conventional assumptions about moral values and explain why the culture war or the rules of engagement for our society hasn’t worked to create a more moral and cooperative society.
Sheryl tells Michelle that when she first saw the title of her book Saving America’s Grace it was something that personally spoke to her as Sheryl works tirelessly to help families create a dialogue of truth about who we are and the higher values of a physical life which allows our spirit or soul life to evolve through the challenges and opportunities offered as both physical and energetic beings. With so much changing in our political cultural and family structures it becomes imperative to reassess and rethink what is truly important to share and create and to help the children follow inner soul needs empathy and love of life rather than be held back in old beliefs and behaviors…. so future generations can move past archaic limiting thinking. By offering a greater view of Universal Energy Laws we begin a journey of self-investigation and self-mastery of emotions and hopefully discover who we really are and what this life is about once we acknowledge both our spiritual essence and our ego-based materialistic physical human life needs.
In today’s episode of “Healing From Within” Michelle Deen who is an expert in human development and family relations will discuss Rethinking Family Values, Moral Politics and the Culture War… along with the breakdown of character which has been festering in politics and our culture for a long time now. If our goal is to create a better America as we must at this time when major shifts are happening within and in the outer world, we can not only survive, but must learn to truly thrive in a world beset with challenges that are now coming to a head nationally and internationally. We must expect our families and leaders to remember review and implement good character to guide each of us, our citizens, our society, and help parents who are molding their children and through them…. our future.
Michelle begins to tell Sheryl that her father was a man of character and worked often without being paid to help others and as a result she has always known that it is the right way to move through life enjoying what we have and improving relationships and being true to our inner soul need to develop greater empathy. Michelle goes on to tell us what sparked her idea for this book Saving America’s Grace Rethinking Family values, Moral Politics and the Culture War. Michelle wrote, “This is a critical time in our country that calls for all of us to reconnect as a nation with what really matters. When everything else is stripped away—money, materialism, ego, vanity, and thirst for power—what is left is our humanity, our care and feeling for the plight and well-being of each other our grace. Certain things in life change us in profound ways, making us acutely aware of what really matters. For me, becoming a mother and grappling with a life-threatening illness were catalysts. With motherhood, it became impossible to not feel the preciousness of children everywhere, and the absolute, indescribable, excruciating anguish of any parent having to witness their child suffering through a war—let alone maimed or killed in one. With my illness, I realized that life is short and that, when you have the capacity to do something you believe in, you must do it because that chance may not be there tomorrow. Immediately.” Like Michelle Sheryl was not really too interested in politics until 9/11. That tragic event brought together for many of us a harsh truth: we were headed in the wrong direction both nationally and internationally. Politics as usual was not working and the ethics that had been instilled in many of us were not being applied by our lawmakers and those who held an enormous amount of personal and professional responsibility…So what had gone wrong?
Sheryl says that like many Americans the 2016 election was very painful filled with name calling and unfulfilled promises by those who valued power over privilege and responsibility to be good, do good in their aspirations and to see the bigger picture. We were not able to merge the differences between old and new thinking…Republican and Democratic ideals…some of which can be salvaged and some of which have to be discarded… Like Michelle Sheryl believes in The Golden Rule and Universal Laws of Energy, but our government is not inclined or aligned to spiritual pursuits. The words and actions often suggest less than evolved thinking by many and a rush to judgment blame and name calling. The prerequisite as perceived by many today is that politicians have agendas to serve their interests and in these hostile times seem to perhaps unknowingly chant a mantra “MY way is the only way,” and some may agree that the constant rhetoric of resistance is not part of “The Golden Rule for Humanity” nor truly tolerant of the needs of so many diverse groups of people in our country. Offend some and you may soon offend all.
What Michelle Deen has learned from her decades of practice is this: How a family looks on the surface (i.e. traditional or not, religious or not, heterosexual or not) has very little to do with the health and wholesomeness of family life. Thankfully, many families never reach the extreme levels of chaos and darkness I’ve seen. But I use this to highlight a very important point: We base our notions about what it means to be “a good family” on inaccurate assumptions and sentimental ideals. And worse, we’re led to believe that if we honor these cultural myths sold as “traditional family values,” we’re on our merry way to living happily ever after. In order to cope, most of us shift into autopilot, from human being to human doing. From relating to partners lovingly, to relating logistically. From mindfully raising children “in the moment” with emotional presence, to mindlessly administering children’s practical needs and their hectic schedules. With no down time to breathe and just be, or focus on emotional and spiritual fulfillment, the stage is set for a desperately strained and intimacy bereft home life–the unfortunate norm for nuclear families today. The family values rhetoric we’re fed doesn’t address what family life really entails, or what goes into making a family healthy and strong. All we’re told is that “traditional family values” is the path to the promised land of family health and happiness. Sounds good. Who wouldn’t want a simple ideal to solve all our woes? Too bad it doesn’t.
While “traditional family values” are painted as the ideal, the facts point to a different reality:
Families that cherish traditional family values are folding like a house of cards, with the highest rate of divorce taking place in the bible belt states where “traditional family values” thump away the loudest. Families with best intentions to “do everything right” are dissolving right before our eyes, and the tear-drenched eyes of their kids. People who would do anything to protect their children from pain or harm, can’t seem to make their family life work.And then we have many families that fit the ideological mold, but are turning out troubled kids and teens. Drug and alcohol abuse. Eating disorders. Depression. Suicide. Anxiety. Impulsivity. Delinquency. Promiscuity. The list goes on…affecting all ends of all spectrums, from white collar to collar-less, from conservative to liberal, religious to atheist, urban to suburban to rural. How can this be? How can something that starts out so right, turn out so wrong? How can well-intentioned couples create a family that falls apart? And, how can “good” parents raise a “troubled child?” It’s time to start asking these questions because the old saw solution, a “return to traditional family values,” obviously isn’t working. We have more than four decades of failed efforts and futile “culture wars” to prove it. It’s time to stop the ideological war dressed in righteous conviction. It’s time to stop blaming gays, secularism and a “permissive” society for the breakdown of the family.
To create happy homes, healthy souls, and well adjusted children in America? It’s Time To Turn The Problem Inside Out
Maybe families are breaking down for a more basic reason. Maybe traditional assumptions about families—what it takes to have a “good” marriage, or raise well-adjusted children are off-kilter. Maybe traditional family values (code for biblical, patriarchal values) are fundamentally flawed, compromising the core of family life. “Could it be that ‘traditional family values’–emphasizing form over function, roles over the quality of relationships, and dogmatic obedience over personal and spiritual development–are shallow values creating a hole in the soul of families?” Typically, the “breakdown of the family” is blamed on the fact that strict patriarchal mores holding marriage and the family in place have loosened considerably. Take, for example…
* Marriage is no longer a societal duty, but is based on love and personal life enhancement.
* Contraception has given women greater freedom to choose children and family life.
* Women are no longer financially dependent upon “the man of the house.”
* Women can finally stand up to, walk away from, and prosecute husbands for abuse or rape.
* “No-Fault” divorce is now legal.
* Children can no-longer be ‘whipped into shape’ with a well-used rod
The list goes on…affecting all ends of all spectrums, from white collar to collar-less, from conservative to liberal, religious to atheist, urban to suburban to rural. How can this be? How can something that starts out so right, turn out so wrong? How can well-intentioned couples create a family that falls apart? And, how can “good” parents raise a “troubled child?” It’s time to start asking these questions because the old saw solution, a “return to traditional family values,” obviously isn’t working. We have more than four decades of failed efforts and futile “culture wars” to prove it. It’s time to stop the ideological war dressed in righteous conviction. It’s time to stop blaming gays, secularism and a “permissive” society for the “breakdown of the family.” It’s important to see that the evolution of these democratic rights and freedoms is not the problem (and indeed, are critical for a functioning democracy.) Families that are internally strong remain standing, cultural buttresses or not; and healthy marriages stay together in spite of society’s “permission” to divorce…or gays who want to marry.
Contrary to what “family values advocates” proclaim, the solution to “the breakdown of the family” does not lie in reinforcing biblical laws and repressive cultural norms (i.e. making divorce illegal, taking away women’s rights, banning gays from marrying, using corporal punishment and shame-based parenting models). Rather the solution lies in strengthening children and families from the inside-out, building an inner integrity that can withstand and resolve the sometimes raw, and always complex, emotional elements of family, life, and relationships. Yes. I’m talking emotions. The emotional quality of relationships has a profound impact on the strength and wellness of marriages, as well as on the positive or negative developmental effects of parent-child relationships, including moral development. The fact is, homosexuals and heterosexuals, the religious and non-religious, traditional or alternative, are equally well-equipped to develop an ideal family and raise good kids…or not.
The Solution: Embracing Family Values of Real Value I propose we begin to embrace what I call “family values of real value,” functional family values based not on ideology and nostalgic myth-making, but on the actual purpose of family life today–to provide for the optimal development of its members. Using principles of human development and family relations, we can define a gold standard that actually makes sense, and come to understand why “traditional family values”—those patriarchal values seeded over two thousand years ago—are antithetical to sound family functioning in an evolved democracy. Sheryl might say idealistically retain the best of our heritage and modify thinking that served a less industrialized which is now a globalized world population. Change, adapt, modify and renew our love of what is inherently good in all of us— but remember to honor our founding fathers and their integrity good character and the blueprint for government that is by and for the people.
Michelle suggests a new moral focus for American politics is crucial. There is not a better time for progressive millennials to step onto their moral platform in a big, bold way, replacing conservative’s questionable mores and regressive patriarchal family values with their own principled vision. While Republicans have played the moral values card to their advantage—framing the debate, claiming the issues, and positioning themselves as morally superior to their liberal opponents—Democrats have shied away from addressing moral and spiritual issues, neither repudiating Republicans’ purported moral authority, nor articulating their own. Silence has not served them well.
Sheryl says that over the past few years she has watched the violence in the Middle East and here at home escalate and observed the primitive behavior of men and governments worldwide using dysfunctional political systems to abuse and control and dishonor women and children. While never politically motivated in the past as a teacher in the inner city of New York Sheryl saw a declining morality in all aspects of family life society and the world…Language has deteriorated…Negativity and self serving attitudes widely prevail, and it seems many people think they can do whatever they want. Look at incidents recently on airlines, violence at protests, demands by college students and professors bringing their political agendas into the classroom, silencing of first amendment rights, and lack of regard for our flag, our democracy and the extreme vitriol and anger between the Democrats and Republicans who should be spending their time working cooperatively to make laws that are ultimately more in line with decent living and respect for all the people of our country: not radical far left or radical far right ideologies. Moderation in all things is a better way to success in life and to honor and protect our democracy. Being told by any administration that to be politically correct we must assume “Their” way of doing things and be bullied into submissive by what has appeared to many to be a moving towards a totalitarian way of governing and a loss of our amendment rights. It is obvious that the leadership of the Democratic Party has been unable to accept the problems created in their party and in their policies. Rather than work to rebuild, find new leadership, and prepare for other elections, many have chosen to obstruct, protest, and create violence in hindering the present Administration. This is not American behavior, but third world behavior, and it is creating a divide in their party and in our nation. It must stop if we are to deal with the real problems here and worldwide.
In Sheryl’s new book New Life Awaits she address the need to change our lives and behaviors here and now if we are going to create our best afterlife only possible by living consciously in this life. Sheryl wrote, “This article my husband David an attorney, nonchalantly handed me from the New York Times newspaper on May 14, 2015 entitled “Public Defender Beats Partner on Happiness Scale for Lawyers states that the rewards associated with becoming a lawyer—wealth, status, and stimulating work, day to day happiness has never been high on the list, and further suggests that lawyers and law students may be focusing on the wrong rewards. This article merely served to reinforce my own intuitive feelings that perhaps the values and dreams from earlier times, cultures, and societies have been reinvented with less moral intent just like the political, economic, and social structures being addressed in the 2016 presidential election. The American people are ardently demanding changes to present corrupt, political elitist ruling class practices, that do not allow simple, kind, good values to be honored. As we question what we want in life and what may be truly the criteria for success, we are discovering that people embroiled in only a materialistic approach to life, either forgetting, or never having considered their equally important spiritual needs for love, compassion, to be of service to others and to be free from greed have become disconnected and dissatisfied sometimes violent and destructive. The quote by Shakespeare’s Polonius, “To thine own self be true And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou cannot then be false to any man” is still the only way to approach and remember our deepest personal needs as well as the reason we incarnated into this life. “ I has observed people who are not only happy and fulfilled, but often courageous, dynamic, and bold leaders much needed in today’s world of conflict and confusion. Their general mindset reflects virtues including empathy, the acceptance of others with genuine regard for their differences, and respect for what we all can contribute to the world.”
We can and must return to a higher standard where moral politics and family values are firmly founded on good character and doing the right thing to care for others with empathy kindness and goodness. WE truly must remember we are all souls. Perfection which many strive for is not possible, and as fragile beings we must see that those we blame or criticize have the same soul energy and needs and desires to live a successful life as do we but struggle under the challenges of human existence often makes them forget the divine resources within their divine soul essence. So it seems prudent and wise to allow accept and surrender to a bigger plan…be slow to worry fear and judgment and let everyone walk their own path even if it doesn’t coincide with our views..
Like me Michelle who woke up as a result of the monstrous events of 9/11 wrote, ” I consider myself an accidental activist. Not that long ago my world of concern was fairly small: my family, my friends, my community, my clients, and my practice as a marriage and family therapist. I wasn’t political. I didn’t even vote. I had always been drawn to the more personal, intimate aspects of life, and had no use for the impersonal nature of government and big bureaucracies. Then 9/11 hit. I woke up, literally and figuratively, when my husband walked into our bedroom at six o’clock in the morning and said, “We’ve been attacked.” Saving America’s Grace is especially timely in that it provides an in-depth scrutiny of issues that deeply concern Democrats and Republicans alike in the 2016 presidential election.
Michelle stresses the fact that this merger of political and religious forces breached the boundary between church and state established by our Constitution, precipitating an “authoritarian crusade to impose laws based on religious beliefs, which is another blatant disregard of America’s founding principles.” Conservative leaders unabashedly continue to misuse the expression “traditional family values” to indoctrinate citizens with a set of beliefs, attitudes, and standards that are, in fact, diametrically opposed to authentic ethical principles based on humanism and the Golden Rule. As the author points out, the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,”) is a core moral principle “that lies not in religious dogma, but inside the soul, a quality of being no amount of legislation can instill, nurture or enforce.” Sheryl says that both parties are not relating to the spiritual evolution at hand, a revolution of our Higher Selves encouraging people to seek the important values “within” which will render many old beliefs and practices no longer relevant to our soul needs.
In her analysis of the nuclear family, Michelle points out ways to rectify a culture gone awry and a world in a downward spiral by stressing significant differences between families where the members attempt to live by the Golden Rule and those based on the authoritarian model of obedience, patriarchy, and control. This level of analysis is crucial because it can uncover the deeper forces at work within the family, which if unexamined, cloud our awareness of and insight into faulty child-rearing practices in families that may need our help. In The Ethics of Interpersonal Relationships (2009) we (Robert Firestone and Joyce Catlett) emphasized the importance of this type of analysis: “An examination of the ethics of family life is vital because children are our heritage, the legacy we leave behind, and our hope for the future…This type of inquiry would lead to a painstaking examination of our priorities in relation to traditional family values.” Authoritarian patriarchal families, as distinguished from more democratic authoritative families, tend to be characterized by flawed child-rearing practices that cannot be considered “ethical” in any sense of the word, because they fail to promote children’s psychological and spiritual growth. In these families, “parents believe that to be properly socialized, children must be made to submit to parental authority ‘for their own good.’ … They tend to equate discipline with punishment and feel justified in using harsh, forceful measures to enforce ‘good’ behavior” (Firestone & Catlett, 2009) Recent politicians and administrations have acted in this unconscious way thinking they know what is best for the public and undermining our electoral process.
Michelle and Sheryl discuss how many people focus on personal happiness as the main goal for themselves and their children and what may be missing from that interpretation of happiness. Sheryl in her book The Living Spirit addressed the concept of happiness which most people seek and wrote ,” Many people have asked me, How can I find peace and happiness in my life? This is the answer I give them: Before there can be peace and happiness in a person’s life and in the world every person must be responsible to do their own work about acknowledging what needs to change within their attitudes or actions so that they may better relate to the outer world. Finding true happiness and joy is the natural outcome of self-investigation. There are no shortcuts. No one can make you happy or unhappy unless you give them the power to do that by surrendering or giving your own power away.”
So what we must hold onto is our own alignment to the higher values of Universal Energy Laws and spirit: respond from our heart or soul based instincts and intuition and release many of the unrealistic societal views of what is right for us. We must have faith in a bigger reality than this physical life and our own materialistic needs. In other words it is almost impossible to have higher values if you succumb to the needs of your physical life disregarding you soul essence…If you don’t know “You are a spiritual being having a physical life” it is hard to conquer fear and childhood often… dysfunctional patterns.
Michelle would like readers of Saving America’s Grace to begin to bring into their thoughts and actions an understanding of the changing needs of our political and family beliefs and for that to happen in the future Michelle wrote,” No longer will progressives have to defend themselves from the righteous indignation of conservative pundits who derisively accuse liberals of being amoral, or in their more generous moments, “morally relativistic”—a loosey-goosey bunch guided by hedonistic whims and base impulses. This is a story for people who crave a voice rooted in sound moral reasoning that rises above the fray of family values rhetoric. For people who care about their families and family life in general. For families who fit the conventional mold, and for those that don’t. It’s a story about family values that go deeper than superficial structure and traditional roles. For families whose greatest desire is to teach their children to be good, decent people whose very presence strengthens society and enhances humankind. This is a story about morals that go deeper than literal interpretations of holy books written thousands of years ago by the fallible hand of man, undergoing numerous translations hence. It’s a story for those who know they are good, moral people yet do not subscribe to fundamentalist dogma—religious progressives of any and all beliefs, as well as agnostics, atheists, secularists, humanists, or whatever label you choose. It’s a story about democratic principles that are the foundation of America, a country whose truest tradition is the belief in the moral rightness of individual freedom derived from a humanistic faith in the inherent goodness of individuals—their unlimited potential, capacity for self-governance and commitment to the common good.”
In summarizing today’s episode of Healing From Within Michelle Deen in a very thoughtful way has pointed out the need for change in all aspects of life at this tipping point in both American and world history…Sheryl believes in a bigger Universal Plan that guides us all and feels the 2016 election went the way it was supposed to…to awaken more people like Michelle and myself who were already on a spiritual quest to know ourselves more intuitively and accurately work towards improving life —with an energy of effort consistency trust, faith and hope to do good in the world..to awaken many to know the reason for a soul to have a physical life in the first place…through challenge and adversity to find our way to greater love and compassion.
Michelle’s story is a story about a moral absolute that is nothing more and nothing less than the secularly sympathetic and doctrinally ubiquitous “Golden Rule,” a moral coordinate that lies not in religious dogma, but inside the soul, a quality of being that no amount of legislation can instill, nurture or enforce. It’s a story about empathy and compassion, the unifying transcendent traits of the human heart that usher in grace, allowing a healing force in our society to emerge.
Michelle and Sheryl would have you remember you are not really a republican, democrat, progressive or any other member of a group that limits you to one set of rules and behaviors. You are beyond the ego and personality of societies thinking. You are a soul of divine light energy love and courage. Once you know that you will no longer allow yourself to be assigned a label. You will follow the Golden Rule and more happiness and success will be emitted into the world benefitting All.