I am reminded of a quote by Frank Zappa, basically saying that no one changes anyone’s mind.

Still, many people, including myself, look around and try to bring some new truth or perspective to old problems.

The prevailing thought in the Republican Party is that their ways of doing business for the country would lead to a new era of sweetness and light. All people who work will be rewarded, taxes should never be collected, as they are inherently evil, and the values espoused by the likes of Pat Robertson and Jerry (The Ayatollah) Falwell are the same ones that were put forth by Christ in the New Testament.

Well, excuse me, but I have not seen anything that looks like the Beatitudes coming from any of those people, or on their websites.

On the other hand, a perspective from an author on the Christian Science Monitor tells of comparisons in which the land of Canada, our democratically ruled neighbor (I don’t think anyone disputes that), brings much more meaning to the ideas of family values than anything I’ve seen in my lifetime.

Just a smidgeon –

Did you spend time with your family on Feb. 15? Canadians did. For many of our northern neighbors, this Monday wasn’t Presidents Day but Family Day, an official paid holiday created in several provinces for the sole purpose of promoting quality time for families.

Canada’s Family Day is the capstone in a long tradition of family-friendly policies that support and strengthen the family unit. Although America has a deep-seated philosophy that strong families are key to a strong country, our state and national policies simply don’t measure up.

Despite our fears that socialism is an unwanted and perhaps contagious disease, in these tough economic times, most Americans would welcome the kind of public benefits provided to Canadian families. New parents can take up to 50 weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave, at up to 55 percent salary. They are also guaranteed a comparable job when they return to work at the end of the time off.

The author later admits that the cost, which every good Republican would tell us is way too high, is already being paid in our system, in other, less easily accounted ways.

What if the United States chose to follow Canada’s lead and funded families as a high national priority? Critics say we could never pull off something so radical because of sheer cost. What we don’t realize is that we are already paying.

When we say we can’t afford to invest in new moms, dads, and their babies, we pay in other ways – with attachment disorders, compromised mental and physical health, and stressed and absent parents during the critical formative years when research and instinct tell us our children need us most.

For all our fears about the cost of universal healthcare, the US already spends much more on healthcare than Canada does. Canadians seem to have found a way to focus on wellness, preventive care, and lifestyle changes. The US seems to operate in perpetual crisis mode, with high-cost, uncontrollable healthcare usage that has emergency rooms bursting.

A healthy country depends on healthy families. Yet rather than unite to push for needed reforms, Americans have politicized family values. The “pro-family” distinction has been hijacked in America by right-wing politics. We discuss gay marriage endlessly, but have yet to begin to talk seriously about practical ways to help the parents who raise our newest citizens, and who live and work in our communities.

It is true that American families are under attack, but for reasons that transcend the current, unhelpful conservative-liberal debate. In the past decade, as Canadians have doubled the length of standard parental leave, and secured Family Day for additional provinces, Americans have divided along partisan lines, watching lobbyists fight tooth and nail to see whose definition of family will sway federal policy. The debate has distracted us from the difference we might make if we just focused on those things that are good for all families.

The article is a quick read, and though you might think it a waste of your time – do yourself a favor and take a moment to read it. You may not change your mind, but at least you’ll have better insight to what the other side thinks. It may prove useful either way.


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