Parents, quit caring more about the White House than your own house

The opinions of our nation’s new commander in chief are as varied as DNA. News of President Donald Trump’s every move can be discovered 24/7. Somewhere between the celebratory blowing of horns and warning sirens, it is easy to get caught up in what’s happening at the White House instead of in our own home.

Right now in America our greatest strength and weakness is the family unit. What happens in the American cornerstone, our house, will be the foremost factor that determines our nation’s ascent or decline.

Divorce rates hover around 50 percent. The United States pornography industry brings in more money than the NFL, NBA and MLB combined and has infiltrated the institution of marriage, morality and adolescent minds. Children raised in single-parent homes are on the rise. Many of our inner cities are becoming the dens of crime due to lack of discipline and leadership from parents. Absentee fathers are the norm. Disregard for law and public servants is not only commonplace but also celebrated. Racism, on both sides of the fence, has become rampant. The murder of churchgoers, police officers, law-abiding civilians, people of color and children at school is so common it is no longer shocking.

Further, vitriolic rhetoric toward others because their opinion or convictions stemming from a different faith, culture, orientation or religion fills our vocabulary and false characterizations such as labeling rioters as protesters, terrorists as militants, looters as activists or all Christians as bigots and all Muslims as extremists misconstrue truth.

The taproots of these destructive mores are the breakdown of the family, and their cure lies not in the White House but in our own house. It is time we first begin sweeping around our own front door before trying to sweep around the one in D.C. Looking outward is always easier than looking inward and assessing blame is always easier than accepting it. Does Washington need an overhaul and should we work to facilitate it? Yes. However, we have the ability and first responsibility to start that change in our own four walls. It is time to take the first, long hard look at the man in the mirror.

I’m not up to par with White House decorum, but I can think of a few taught behaviors we would all do well to initiate in our own house.

Start with respect. We need to re-learn the art of honoring others’ opinions when they don’t align with our own. Sometimes this requires us to esteem someone’s authoritative position even when it is difficult to embrace his or her reasoning. One of the reasons for the proliferation of cyber bulling among teens – which often leads to suicide – is younger generations have never been taught how and why to respect others. If we taught this lost art in our homes, we could do away with the majority of racial, gender, political and social injustice we want the government to cure.

Reinforce the concept of listening. Listening is much more than hearing. It is to give attention, to act upon and to intently make a positive effort to take notice of someone’s words. For too long we as Americans have been so busy thinking of a response or rebuttal that we fail to hear the legitimacy of others’ thoughts. How much of the conflict between races, political parties and public servants in their communities could be solved if both sides would amicably sit down across from one another and compassionately hear the other’s concerns?

Demonstrate the skill of communication. As Americans we are good at talking but not communicating. Communication requires respect, empathy and humility. In today’s society, we do much of this through non face-to-face contact via text, social media and e-mail. Much is lost in translation. The struggle of today’s teenager to resolve conflict is in large part due to their lack of this skill to effectively communicate. When our homes are filled with respectful dialogue, we are then ready to be heard in the public square.

Be a place of love. Love is the greatest gift one can receive or give. It is not based on performance, commonality or reciprocity. It embraces everyone regardless of appearance, persuasions, gender, sexuality, religion or race. In a time when our televisions and social media accounts are filled with anger, violence and hate, we must ensure that the prevailing characteristic of our home – the only component that makes life worth living – is love.

I will continue to vote; I will not be silent. I will strive for reform, and I will pray for whoever is president regardless of whether or not he or she received my vote. But, I will spend less time pontificating about leaders that are far away and spend more time developing the leaders who sit at my own table. And above all, I will not forget the greatest ability I posses to influence this great nation lies not in the White House but my own house.