It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

A Few Thoughts on Courage and Patriotism (Dr. James Sutton)

Since John McCain passed away last Saturday, I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts of my respect for him, but really couldn’t put them into words. I’m still struggling with it, I suppose.

Especially as a Vietnam vet, I was always moved by what he and the other POWs went through during their captivity in Hanoi for all those years. But it took on new meaning to me when Bobbie and I became friends with retired Navy Captain Jerry Coffee. We met as members of the National Speakers Association.

Jerry was a POW in the Hanoi Hilton for seven years and nine days. His book on that experience (“Beyond Survival,” published by Putnam), and what he learned from it, was a real eye-opener. Jerry has shared his story from the platform, but, more than that, his message always became personal to everyone in the audience. As he shared many, many times, “We all face adversity at some point; how we handle it matters.”

While in prison in North Vietnam, the POWs followed the chain of command. This was strongly against prison rules, so the senior officers had to be discrete while setting policy and issuing orders. Because of their seniority, these men were set aside for additional punishment.

One of them was Brigadier General Robbie Risner, the most senior POW at the Hanoi Hilton. He was a celebrated hero and top ace in Korea; he had been featured on the cover of Time magazine. That bought him a lot of pain and misery in prison, including ten months of solitary confinement in complete and total darkness. (He later said he held on to his sanity by exercising.)

The highest ranking naval officer was Vice Admiral James Stockdale. He and his wife, Sybil, wrote a book about their experiences at the time, “In Love and War.” It was made into a movie; James Woods played Stockdale.

Stockdale set a model for resistance. On one occasion, when told he would be interviewed by a film crew the next morning, he beat his face with a wooden stool until he was so disfigured he could not be used for that propaganda film. In defiance of the severe and sometimes fatal torture POWs were receiving, he inflicted a near-mortal wound on himself. He was revived by the enemy before he bled to death, but he had made his point. Things weren’t exactly easy for POWs after that, but the treatment of prisoners did improve. Stockdale ultimately was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Gerald Ford. Fitting.

I realize that, in all his years of service, McCain’s five and a half years in captivity were but a small part of what he stood for and accomplished. But I do believe experiences like those five and a half years can serve to help us discern who we are and guide us to a purpose that can live long after we are gone.

August 28, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Communication, Compassion, courage, family, Human Interest, Inspirational, patriotism, Resilience, Self-esteem, veterans | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helping Teens Build Character, Part Two (Guest: Barbara A. Lewis)

Radio-style Interview, The Changing Behavior NetworkCharacter does count. In this second of a two-part interview from our archives, former educator and skilled author, Barbara Lewis, helps us gain more insight into ways to help teens identify and strengthen traits of character.

………………………………………….

Barbara A. Lewis, Helping Teens Buuild CharacterSome character traits are optional. For instance, we can choose to be thrifty, punctual or curious. But other traits, like honesty and a respect for life, are absolutely necessary for a society to survive and thrive. It’s that important.

So if character counts, we would do our children a great service by teaching them early how much it does count, wouldn’t we? As teens begin to grow into adults, it’s especially important they develop positive traits of character and practice them regularly in the real world.

What Do You Stand For?, Barbara LewisAuthor, educator, and guest on this program, Barbara A. Lewis, believes strongly that young people need to know not only what they stand for, but how they should put it into action. In fact, that’s the title of Barbara’s book for and about teens, What Do You Stand For? A Guide for Building Character. In this second of a two-part program, Barbara will share her insights on character development and how to share it with teens.

Barbara has won many honors and awards as both an author and an educator. She and her work have been featured often in print and broadcast media, including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Family Circle, “CBS This Morning,” “CBS World News,” and CNN. (24:29)

http://www.BarbaraALewis.com

TO LISTEN, left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

January 29, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Anxiety and Depression, Compassion, courage, Educators, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress, Success Strategies | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helping Teens Build Character, Part One (Guest: Barbara A. Lewis)

Radio-style Interview, The Changing Behavior NetworkCharacter does count. In this two-part interview from our archives, former educator and skilled author, Barbara Lewis, helps us gain more insight into ways to help teens identify and strengthen traits of character.

………………………………………….

Barbara A. LewisSome character traits are optional. For instance, we can choose to be thrifty, punctual or curious. But other traits, like honesty and a respect for life, are absolutely necessary for a society to survive and thrive. It’s that important.

So if character counts, we would do our children a great service by teaching them early how much it does count, wouldn’t we? As teens begin to grow into adults, it’s especially important they develop positive traits of character and practice them regularly in the real world.

What Do You Stand For?, Barbara LewisAuthor, educator, and guest on this program, Barbara A. Lewis, believes strongly that young people need to know not only what they stand for, but how they should put it into action. In fact, that’s the title of Barbara’s book for and about teens, What Do You Stand For? A Guide for Building Character. In this two-part program, Barbara will share her insights on character development and how to share it with teens.

Barbara has won many honors and awards as both an author and an educator. She and her work have been featured often in print and broadcast media, including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Family Circle, “CBS This Morning,” “CBS World News,” and CNN. (20:16)

http://www.BarbaraALewis.com

TO LISTEN, left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

January 20, 2018 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Healthy living, Inspirational, Integrity, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teaching Virtue in an Election Year (Dr. Daniel Trussell)

Dr. Daniel Trussell, How Families FlourishNo matter which candidate you support, there is no better time than a presidential election year to teach older children and adolescents about civic responsibility, critical thinking, and integrity. These activities all characterize people who live the good life, those who report the highest level of life satisfaction and happiness. Therefore, teaching virtue in an election year is very much worth the effort.

A “Themed” Family Meeting
If you’ve read my articles in the past, you know I am a strong advocate for regularly scheduled family meetings. Family meetings are a time to celebrate successes, compliment achievements, problem solve challenges and explore individualized family values. You might consider a family meeting themed around the presidential election.

One way to approach the discussion is to ask your child what they observe about each candidate’s performance during debates, forums, news bites and advertisements related to character traits the candidates’ exhibit rather than on their political platforms.
While this may seem a daunting task, here are some tips to help you guide the conversation.

Six Societal Virtues
Seligman and Peterson identified six virtues that can be found in virtually all societies. These include:

WISDOM- acquiring and using knowledge
COURAGE – accomplishing goals in the face of opposition
JUSTICE – building community
HUMANITY –befriending and tending to others
TEMPERANCE – protecting against excess
TRANSCENDENCE – connecting to the larger universe

Each virtue is demonstrated through consistent character strengths of an individual. Let’s look at those strengths.

How Families Flourish, Dr. Daniel Trussell, Daniel Trussell, PhDFor WISDOM, the strengths are a love of learning, discernment, curiosity, originality (approaching problems in new ways) and perspective.

COURAGE includes integrity, persistence, bravery and vitality.

JUSTICE involves teamwork, fairness and leadership.

HUMANITY manifests through generosity, loving and being loved, and social/emotional intelligence.

TEMPERANCE embodies forgiveness and mercy, humility, self-control and prudence/discretion.

TRANSCENDENCE encompasses appreciation of beauty in all things, gratitude, hope, spirituality and humor.

While no person exemplifies all the strengths mentioned above, it is helpful to identify the top and bottom strengths of an individual. For your family meeting conversation, you might want to look at the top three and bottom three strengths of each candidate from both parties.

A Few Ground Rules
If your family is not skilled at family meetings, some ground rules are worth mentioning. Family meetings need a rigid start and stop time where all family members are present. Once the meeting time is set, it can’t be changed unless there is a life or death emergency, so plan accordingly. No personal devices are to be used during this or any other family meeting (turn off TV or music, don’t answer phones etc.)

Each member gets an opportunity to identify the strengths of each candidate, without interruption, comment or judgment from the other family members. After everyone has had a chance to talk, a more general discussion can begin.

The time factor in family meetings is very important. There is much less resistance to family meetings when they start and stop promptly. If time runs out before everyone has finished, it is better to schedule an additional family meeting (same time, next week) than to extend the meeting.

A Nice Surprise
You might be surprised to learn how your kids are reacting to and absorbing the campaign information they are exposed to. The purpose of this family meeting is not to persuade anyone to come to your way of thinking but to learn about each individual’s personal reaction to this exciting electoral process. It only happens once every four years so let’s grasp the opportunity!

 

Daniel Trussell, Ph.D., MBA, LPC, NCC, CPCS is author of The How Families Flourish Workbook and How Families Flourish. He is a certified Professional Counselor supervisor and conducts training for both professionals and families in incorporating the findings from positive psychology into daily life. He can be reached at drdanieltrussell@gmail.com. [website]

 

May 19, 2016 Posted by | family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Calmness of Courage

It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when we have lost our way.

Dr. Rollo May (1909-2004)

Dr. May shares some interesting wisdom here. According to Dr. May’s work, there are positive aspects to human potential and the will of individuals is toward self-fulfillment … unless they allow fear and confusion to overide their will.

If there seems to be a spiritual component to Dr. May’s existential philosophy, perhaps it’s because he was once a Congregationalist minister.

If we run faster when we have lost our way, then it seems that calmness is an attribute of courage … the courage NOT to run when every fiber in our being is saying, “RUN, NOW!”

I’ve heard of a calmness that can come over a person when they are about to die, when death is unavoidable and imminent. James Bradley, in his book, Flyboys, talks of an aviator who was shot down during WWII, was captured by the Japanese, then sentenced to be executed.

As the officer raised his sword to cut off his head, the aviator had not doubt at all that these seconds were his last. Yet he was calm, he later shared. He was spared, of course, or we would not have known the story.

Do we “collect” calmness in times of greatest stress. Is is a spiritual gift, a preparing of the soul when the body is about to expire?

If so, can we encourage our children, in times of dire need, to be still and call on the calm instead of running faster?

James D. Sutton, Psychologist  www.docspeak.com

February 23, 2008 Posted by | adversity, Educators, family, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments