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Three Life Lessons for the Next Generation

Today is the day. At 4 p.m., the birth begins. I consider Concurrent readers to be my colleagues, I hate the social term “followers”, and based on offline discussions and your comments I know that many of you are much smarter than myself. I know you all have a thing or two to teach me, but today is about teaching those who come next.

Here are three contradictory life lessons that I want to pass along to my daughter. Please feel free to add or comment on each as this is my first time doing the whole parenting thing, and I’ll be honest, I’m scared out of my mind.

Choose a Side but Don’t Sacrifice Sense of Self

I'm a proud Republican. I have been all my life, and though I feel the Party is moving away from behaviors I view becoming of civil engagement, I don’t foresee an instance outside of maybe going to work for government that would ever make me give up the allegiance to the GOP.

A few months ago, I wrote about the cartoon that Elon Musk tweeted showing both political parties moving to extremes, with the Left moving more toward the fringe than the Right, while the individual stays static. I pointed out this is called consistency bias - a phenomenon coined in 2003 that says people will overestimate their loyalty to their own principled views.

I have many flaws in thinking but consistency bias is not one of them. I understand that I have moved more conservative on some issues, and by today’s standards, more liberal on others. Political Parties move too. Changing with new information is okay, but changing your beliefs to fit in is not.

My sense of self overrides my need to virtue signal to the side I believe in. That can make for a more difficult road in relationship building, where blanket agreement is best, but this self-forged path is what I wish for my daughter as well, and one I’m determined to keep emulating until she is old enough to appreciate it.

Embrace Conflict But Choose It with Others as the Final Form of Confrontation

Similar to the above topic, sides need to be taken. Unity is not as lofty a goal as mutual respect. More types of conflict exist than that of people against one another. My favorite way to approach this is to make it as abstract as possible. Unfortunately, from recent election results to even more recent conversations I’ve had with others regarding our future mental health building, this leads to the least amount of mass appeal and most amount of confusion.

I’ve been asked why I’m against LifeStream or told that I’m anti-Baker Act facility by many people I respect, but who misrepresent my opinion. I’m anti-locking into a long term deal with an unproven entity until more information is known. I’m sure some people see this as just another delay to a critical project, whereas I see it as due diligence.

If I really wanted to be against the project, I would choose a single individual to be against and make it about him rather than the plan. As highly effective as this would be, it would also be choosing conflict with others as a primary form of confrontation, so instead I raise questions about an organization’s culture and reporting practices rather than with individuals.

I’m not a pacifist. War is necessary in certain circumstances and our law enforcement professionals understand the real person-to-person conflict that exists better than almost anyone. But we can minimize it in our public affairs to keep conflicts focused more on policy and less on people.

Believe in the Limitless Capacity of Bad Outcomes but Put Your Faith in Relentless Optimism

I saved the most important for last. I don’t know what Citrus County or America will look like as she comes of age. But I have pure, undeterred faith that it will be better.

The New York Times wrote a piece earlier this week I referenced in the last column that mentions of civil war have spiked 3000% in recent weeks. Every major research institution shows that we are not just more polarized, we actively believe the other side is a threat than in any other time in modern history, a trend that will undoubtedly get worse before it gets better. Our foreign enemies have never been more emboldened and our domestic challenges have never been steeper such as the highest national debt in the nation’s history.

We’ll figure it out. We’re American. And that still means something.

Welcome to the world, little loved one, my only hope is that I can teach you well.


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