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  1.    #1  
    The more I read here (and elsewhere), the more I think about what I want to teach my little girls. There are many diverse opinions (which I encourage) but there are equally diverse abilities to present those opinions. Likewise, the paths chosen to arrive at these opinions have varying degrees of stability.

    I'm sure we'd all like our children to have their own opinions (probably not too unlike our own) and we'd expect our children to be able to express them well. What I'd like to do is ask for your input on creating a solid framework for teaching how (not what) to think and discuss.

    I believe in establishing a strong, logical, well-thought-out foundation of understanding of a topic and then get passionate about it. I find it utterly frustrating when folks (me included, from time to time) try to reason out their passion. The example I've shown above involved items of faith, but this framework should apply to all controversial topics: politics, science, sports, psychology...

    I'll write my ideas as they come to me. I thank you for your contributions.

    We gather information in four main ways:
    1. Things we read
    2. Things that our told to us
    3. Our personal experiences
    4. Experiences of those close to us
    5. (this one is based on my faith, take it or leave it Through the Holy Spirit

    We should apply caution to the above as follows:
    1. The author controls all of the words which were designed to influence you. Try to understand the author's motivation and perspective. Read sources that have varying viewpoints to help shape a complete picture.
    2. Many people are more interested in hearing themselves speak and to get others to think like them than in trying to increase your general knowledge. Again, try to determine the speaker's motivation and background. Lots of us speak about things that we've only read about or were told by others. Sometimes personal experience holds more weight.
    3. Your own experience is unique to you. It is not always applicable to others. It might be able to help relate to someone, but you can't use it to completely understand another's story.
    4. Those who share a common history tend to share many traits. If you can learn from another's experiences because you know much about them AND what's happened to them, you might be able to bypass the pain of hard lessons.
    Last edited by AlaskanDad; 07/15/2005 at 10:29 AM.
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  2.    #2  
    Be polite: don't let your words make a reasonable man take a swing at you!
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  3.    #3  
    You can't begin to understand another's argument until you are able to re-iterate that argument, in the other's own words, to their satisfaction. They have to be able to say, "Yes, that's exactly what I think."

    Use their words even if you don't believe them. Once someone is convinced you're listening to them, they can begin listening to you.
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  4.    #4  
    Argue the issues, not the person. We're all flawed. You don't want someone missing your message since you're not perfect. Don't point out imperfections in others.
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  5. #5  
    When conveying your thoughts, especially in a debate, think about HOW your words will affect someone else. Just look in yourself. If something you're about to say would hurt your own feelings, then it's personal and keep it to yourself.

    I've long lived by the rule of not saying things in haste. I was always taught that "saying things in haste" is when you make statements you don't mean - either as a threat, a stab to knock someone down, or, while in a relationship, "testing" someone's feelings for you.

    Then I realized that, unfortunately, quite a few people say what they mean at that EXACT moment, which doesn't fall under the guidelines of haste.

    Thus, before saying something aloud, I ask myself not only if I truly mean what I'm about to say, but if I'm 100% positive I will feel the same way tomorrow. Because if I'm not, it's in haste at that point, and I'm better off to keep my mouth shut in that respect.

    And live by the rule many don't realize is true - while you can apologize and others can forgive, it won't change the fact that someone's feelings were hurt, and forgiveness does not mean they will no longer hurt as a result of what you said or did. Hurt can linger forever.

    As for thinking, you have to be open-minded enough to look at both sides. And this definitely rings true in your teachings of God to your children. A true Christian will not curse non-followers, but pray for them. I never understood why many Christains I know said the terrorists in the planes on 9/11 deserved to die - I instead recall WACO and realized that if someone grew up having specific beliefs and traits instilled in them, they may not necessarily know what they're doing is "wrong." It's very easy to get sidetracked when you have no direction, so while someone's actions may be against your God, keep in mind that they might have never been taught any differently.

    Using my treo 650 for business:
  6.    #6  
    Avoid using "lazy man"-logic phrases such as "Those who support _____ are the same people who oppose _____".

    Just from a practical standpoint, it's difficult to find the same people (in a cohesive group) who do the same thing. It would be accurate to say that those in the Supreme Court who voted on the Ten Commandments in courtrooms were the same people who voted on the 2000 election re-counts. We know that those nine individuals were party to both votes. However, it was not the same nine who were involved in Roe v. Wade.

    Those who support legalization of marijuana are not the same people who attend Phish concerts. There may be overlap but you can't tell something about one group while using attributes of another.

    Trying to prove a point by lumping a group of people with another, more despicable group of people just makes you look sloppy and ignorant. (Please don't read anything into my previous example. I may be part of one of those groups, both, or neither.)
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  7.    #7  
    Here is a list of thirteen principles from one of my heroes, Colin Powell. Boy, do these hit the nail on the head or what?

    I think Alma Powell will go down in history as one of the strongest women in politics. She asked her husband not to continue in public office and he is respecting her wishes. Sure would love to have a Ranger in the White House (moment of respect for those boys who are REALLY hating life right now in the woods, mountains, swamps, and desert)!

    Powell's Rules

    It ain't as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.

    Get mad, then get over it.

    Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.

    It can be done!

    Be careful what you choose. You may get it.

    Don't let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.

    You can't make someone else's choices. You shouldn't let someone else make yours.

    Check small things.

    Share credit.

    Remain calm. Be kind.

    Have a vision. Be demanding.

    Don't take counsel of your fears or naysayers.

    Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
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