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Look carefully...at the seemingly small moments...in the constant shaping of souls.- Neal A.Maxwell

The human side of reason
     Monday, Tuesday and Friday are my usual days to teach early morning seminary.  This week I had Tuesday off.  My internal clock went off at 5am, somehow it did not get the memo that I wasn't teaching.  I debated getting up and starting my day but opted to go back to sleep.  That was a mistake.  I got a call asking if I could give my friend a ride to the courthouse, leaving as soon as possible.  I changed into jeans and put a jacket on over my pj shirt.  My second mistake.  When we arrived at the courthouse my friend asked if I would go in with her.  Friendship outweighs embarassment so I agreed. unshowered and all.  Once in I placed my purse and keys on the security conveyer belt and started through the security check point.  I was stopped and asked to take off my jacket.  I looked at the large armed officer at the checkpoint and debated what to do.  I went to the lady behind the counter and whispered, "I have my pajamas on - I really don't want to be seen with my jacket off."  The lady looked at me for a moment then asked if I would unzip my jacket for her.  When she saw my pj's she smiled and told me I could go through keeping my jacket on.
     I enjoy Christmas letters from friends and family.  One in particular stood out to me this year.  My friend closed with:
     "Although I have done a pretty good job showing our family's good sides in this letter and on our photo card, we have our share of dysfunction and disappointment.  The beauty in life can be found when we work each day to become more like the Savior by loving and serving our fellow man.  We wish all of you a peaceful holiday season, filled with the spirit of Christ."

     We received a really difficult 750 piece puzzle for Christmas.  12-year wondered if there was an age recommendation listed.  16-year old said, "Generally puzzles say, 'Not suitable under the age of 3, may pose choking hazard.'  He added, "By your age they figure you can safely suck on the pieces."  That really struck my funny bone.


     Tonight 12-year old and I were working on the puzzle.  He wanted me to tell him stories about when I was younger.  It's interesting what comes to mind when trying to come up with something new.  I told him about a girl that lived in my neighborhood for 3 or 4 years.  We laughed a lot together at things that weren't really that funny, except when we were together.  When we were 9 or 10 I made a wall-hanging of of salt dough figure standing on her hands as a Christmas gift for my friend.  She was Jehovah's Witness and said that she could not accept a Christmas gift.  I asked if she could accept the wall hanging just from a friend.  Her mom said that would be okay.  The next time we played at her house I noticed the wall-hanging hanging upside down on my friend's bedroom wall.  I said, "That's upside down - she's supposed to be standing on her hands."  My friend said, "No - she's jumping up and down cheering."  I said, "I made it - I think I would know if she were standing on her hands."  She said, "It's hanging in my room - I think I should decide which direction it hangs."  I paused there in the story.  12-year old asked what happened next.  I told him that I wasn't quite sure, I think I went home mad.  I told him that I regret that argument.  It was nice of her to accept the gift and nice of her to hang it on the wall.  I told him I would respond differently if I could have a do over.  12-year old said, "Well you were only 10."  Then he sighed and said, "There are a lot of things I would do differently if I could have a do over."  I asked for examples.  Well...when he was three he accidentally broke a punching bag hanging in his friend's garage AND he called his friend's grandma "grandma" instead of Mrs. T... Sweet, innocent regrets.  I sure am grateful for that 12-year old.
The temporarily forgotten obvious
      I attended our High School play recently.  I was surprised at the crude humor and violent content - especially because the play had been billed as "entertainment for the whole family".  The next day I sent an e-mail to the principal and the performance arts director:

     "For years my family and I have enjoyed attending [high school] performances.  We attended ...[the current play] with high expectations.  We were disappointed to find that such good talent went into, what we consider, an extremely poorly chosen production.  Rather than uplifting entertainment we were presented with crude humor (“butt”, “rectum” and “std” jokes as well as songs with the lyrics “This summer’s sure to be a bucket full of suck” and “Pull my finger, I’ve got to fart…..Did you hear me say fart? I said fart!”).  Even more disturbing were the very violent lyrics of “Let’s crush some skulls, let’s break some bones, let’s mutilate some zombies…I’ll use an axe.  Me? A chain-saw.  We’ll dismember their bodies…..”  “My dad hates me but I don’t care I just pretend like it’s him right there and it’s Crash, Bam, Boom, Wow, Slam, Smash, Take that pow.  Pound in their face with the heel of my gun, Soul Crusher is so much fun.”
      "There is much we support and appreciate about [the high school] and the performing arts program.  We do however feel a responsibility to speak out when a performance resorts to base humor and glorifies violence.


"D and C "

     The e-mail I received in reply essentially said that the play simply reflected current society even if it is a reality I don't have in my home.  I set up an appointment to speak with the art director and the principal in person.  I e-mailed a friend for advice.  Her reply was one simple question, "What are you going to do make them change their minds?"  She always knows exactly what to say to help me.  Obviously the play was deemed appropriate for production by every person involved in the production.  
Obviously I am not going to say or do anything to change anyone's mind.  The question I needed to ask myself was, "What end result are you looking for?"
     The meeting went well.  I requested that all future productions have content disclosure so families could make informed decisions of whether or not to attend.  My request was deemed reasonable.  The art director said the disclosure will be published before auditions so the students will know in advance exactly what they are auditioning for.   

     An excellent book I read years ago, "Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when the stakes are high", points out that even with differences of opinion common ground can be found.  The principal, the art director and I all care about kids and our community and - although I don't think we will ever agree on what is and is not appropriate content for a school play - knowing that we had a basic common goal eased emotions and provided direction. 



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