Do we really need a government?

Picture of statue of liberty.

ANARCHY: the absence of any form of political authority, resulting in a society of individuals without government, who claim total freedom for themselves.

GREEK philosopher Aristotle called all forms of human government inherently unstable and transitional.

He claimed, according to one writer, that “the stability of all regimes is corrupted by the corrosive power of time.”

In view of such conditions, it is not surprising that some people have advocated having no government at all, or at least as little government as possible.

But advocating ‘no government’ is in reality calling for anarchy, a term taken from a Greek word meaning “having no ruler.”

The word “anarchy” was used in 1840, exactly 150 years ago, by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, a French political writer.

But the philosophy of anarchism was clearly outlined 200 years earlier by Englishman Gerrard Winstanley.

But does not experience teach us that every group needs a framework within which to operate?

“From earliest times,” notes The World Book Encyclopedia, “some kind of government has been a vital part of every society.”

It explains:

every group of people—from a family to a nation—has rules of conduct to govern the lives of its members.”

How else could it accomplish its purposes for the benefit of all its members?

Most people will therefore readily accept the notion that certain institutions have a legitimate right to exercise authority and to make decisions for the common good.

With no government to make decisions for the community, every individual would be left to follow the dictates of his own conscience, as Winstanley suggested.

Would this promote unity?

Or is it not more likely that each individual would tend to pursue his own interests, often to the detriment of the equally legitimate rights of others?

Experiments in anarchy have failed to improve the lot of mankind.

Efforts of 20th-century terrorists to destabilize society, to destroy what they perceive to be destroying them, have fared no better.

Simply stated, having ‘no government’ invites chaos.

The question is therefore not ‘government or no government?’ but, rather, ‘what kind of government for the best results?

The purpose of government

Lincoln memorial Washington DC.

From this inauspicious beginning, governments have taken many forms.

Whether they are very simple or extremely complex, all of them have certain similarities.

Here are a few:

Governments care for the needs of their subjects.

A government that fails to do this loses its legitimacy.

Governments set out a code of conduct,

which if not adhered to by their subjects, results in punishment.

This code is composed of rules and laws, as well as of traditions developed over the centuries.

Citizens for the most part obey the code of conduct either because they discern the benefits derived from doing so, because they feel ‘it is the thing to do,’ because they are subjected to peer pressure, or simply because they will be punished if they do not.

Governments perform legislative, executive, and judicial services by means of some type of organizational setup.

Laws are made, justice is administered, and policies are implemented.

Governments maintain strong economic ties to the world of commerce.

Governments also often ally themselves with some form of religion, some more closely than others.

They do this to grant their rule a certain legitimacy—‘the blessing of heaven’—that it otherwise would not have.

Sometimes governments are classified in terms of their key institutions (parliamentarism, cabinet government), according to their basic principles of political authority (traditional, charismatic), according to their economic structure, or in terms of their use or abuse of power.

“Although none is comprehensive,” notes this reference work, “each of these principles of analysis has some validity.”

But regardless of how we classify them, the vital thing to remember is that the various forms of human rule have their merits and demerits.

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Understanding the root causes and effects of childhood depression

A picture of a depressed child in the wilderness.

Depression in kids

According to the book Growing Up Sad, some time ago doctors thought there was no such thing as childhood depression.

But time and experience have proved otherwise.

Today, the authors assert, childhood depression is recognized and not at all uncommon.

Among its main causes are rejection and mistreatment by parents.

The authors explain:

In some cases the parent has subjected the child to a constant barrage of criticism and humiliation. In other cases there is simply a void in the parent-child relationship: the parent’s love for the child is never expressed. . . . The result is particularly tragic for the children of such parents because to a child—or to a grown-up, for that matter—love is like sunshine and water to a plant.”

Childhood anxiety

A girl who is afraid of the her mother.

“You stupid slowpoke!”

A woman in Japan remembers those words all too well—they were flung at her frequently when she was a small child.

By whom? Schoolchildren? Siblings? No. By her parents.

She recalls: “I used to get depressed because the name-calling cut me deeply.”

A man in the United States remembers that as a child, he felt fearful and anxious whenever his father came home.

He recalls

To this day I can still hear the sound of the tires on the driveway and it goes through me like a chill. My little sister would hide. My father was a perfectionist and constantly browbeat us for not doing a good enough job on all the chores we had to do.”

This man’s sister adds:

I don’t remember either of my parents ever hugging us, kissing us, or saying anything like ‘I love you’ or ‘I’m proud of you.’ And to a child, never hearing ‘I love you’ feels the same as hearing ‘I hate you’—every day of his life.”

Effects of child depression

A child affected by childhood depression.

Some might say that the distress these people suffered as children was minor.

Certainly it is not unusual for children to be on the receiving end of harsh, unkind words and mean treatment.

This is not the stuff of lurid newspaper headlines and sensational tabloid TV shows.

The damage is not visible.

But if parents mistreat their children in such ways day after day, the effects may be devastating nonetheless—and last for a lifetime.

One study examined the parenting practices used on a group of five-year-old children.

Researchers managed to track down many of these children, now in mid-life, to gain insight into the long-term effects of their upbringing.

The study concluded that the children who ended up having the hardest time in life, who lacked emotional well-being, and who had a hard time in marriage, friendships, and even at work, were not necessarily the children of poor parents nor of rich parents nor even of obviously troubled parents.

They were children whose parents were distant and cold and showed little or no affection.

Question and answers about child depression

How prevalent is this problem?

A picture of a young child who is depressed.

A recent study of a thousand children found that by the age of nine, some 10 percent of the children had already experienced a depressive episode.

The impression is that 10 to 15 percent of schoolchildren have mood disorders.

A smaller number suffer from severe depression.

How can you tell if children are severely depressed?

A depressed child who does not want to play with a toy.

One of the key symptoms is that they find no pleasure in anything.

They don’t want to go out and play or be with their friends.

They’re not interested in the family.

You see loss of concentration; they can’t keep their mind even on television programs, much less their homework.

You see a feeling of worthlessness, a personal sense of guilt.

They’ll go around saying they think they’re no good or nobody likes them.

Either they can’t sleep or they oversleep; they lose their appetite or they overeat.

Plus you hear suicidal ideas such as, “I wish I weren’t alive.”

If you see a conglomeration of these symptoms, and it’s lasted for a week or two, then you’re talking about a seriously depressed child.

What are the key triggers of childhood depression?

A child sad about the death of a parent.

When you get down to the specific factors in any given child’s life, the major thing is probably a loss.

While this usually means a parental loss, it could include friends, close relatives, or even a pet.

Second to losses I would put depreciation and rejection.

There are children who are maligned and made to feel they’re small or insignificant by their parents.

At times a child is made a scapegoat.

He is blamed for anything that goes wrong in the family whether he is at fault or not.

Hence, he feels unworthy.

Another factor is a mood disorder in a parent.

Some children who are depressed engage in drug and alcohol abuse or even delinquent behavior.

Why is this?

They’re trying to hide the depression, even from themselves.

Their way of dealing with it often is to stay busy with other things, like stealing cars, taking dope, or drinking.

These are ways of disguising how badly they feel.

In fact, trying to hide their depression is one of the clearest ways that children differ from adults.

How can you tell when it is depression and not a child just misbehaving?

Picture of a misbehaving child.

By talking with these children, getting them to open up, you will often find the depression.

And if the depression is properly treated, their behavior improves.

Though something else was showing up on the surface, the depression was still there underneath all the time.

How can you get a depressed child to open up?

A father talking to his child.

First of all, choose a quiet time and place.

Then ask specific questions like, ‘Is something bothering you?’ ‘Have you been feeling sad or blue?’ ‘Are you upset?’ If there has been a loss, you could ask, depending on the circumstances, ‘Do you miss Grandma as much as I do?’

Give the child a chance to ventilate his feelings.

What can severely depressed children to do?

A father comforting his child.

Tell their parents about it.

This business of detection is a serious one because generally only the children know they’re depressed.

Parents and teachers usually don’t see it.

Adolescents who have gone to their parents and said, “I am depressed, I need help,”  have usually gotten it.

What if severely depression persists in a child?

A depressed child walking on railway tracks as parents look on.

If the depression seems to be debilitating, then it’s not something to be handled at home, any more than is pneumonia.

A debilitating depression must be taken to a professional because there may be a need for medication.

If it’s not a debilitating illness, what can a parent do?

Take an honest look at yourself and your family.

Has there been some serious loss that needs to be talked about and dealt with?

When losses occur, don’t belittle a child’s sadness.

Allow him the freedom to work through his grief.

Give a depressed child special amounts of attention, praise, and emotional support.

Spend extra time with him alone.

Your warm involvement is the best form of treatment.

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Answers to step family problems

A picture of a step family.

Why is it so tough being a stepparent?

Often a stepparent starts with a mythical black eye and goes on to earn the real one.

Most stepparents hope to get the recognition a biological parent gets.

Generally, they will not.

Consciously or unconsciously, they nearly always try to prove themselves.

Often the stepchildren reject all this parenting because of feeling disloyal to their departed parent.

The biological parent has a hallowed place.

In the beginning the stepparent will take a battering.

It doesn’t always follow, ‘If you love me, you’ll love my children.’

Why are stepchildren often hostile?

It is real tough on a child to go through a divorce.

The child feels bad that Mommy has left or Daddy is not around paying enough attention.

Often the children will transfer these bad feelings onto the stepparent.

This is called displacement.

So stepparents are easily made scapegoats for all these bad feelings.

All of a sudden, the child is just being awful to you.

How can you help a child cope with these “bad” feelings?

First, both the parent and the children need to recognize that such feelings are a normal part of the dynamics, or pattern of behavior, of a stepfamily.

If you blame the child or blame the stepparent instead of the dynamics, you could be in deep trouble.

The children need to understand that at the beginning it is normal to be upset and to feel anger and frustration.

Often, just helping the child to recognize why he feels that way and empathizing with him is a big help.

The biological parent should reassure the child that he will always have a special position and therefore has no reason to fear the stepparent as a usurper of ‘position and turf.’

Can a stepparent really discipline a stepchild?

Yes, by setting down ‘house rules’ from the start.

Love means you will give the children boundaries and not let them run wild.

Discipline and love need to be balanced, in or out of step.

But living in step, the love is often hard to feel.

The blood and the history are missing, so a stepparent may overreact, or a stepchild may resent discipline from a “stranger.” 

A stepfather should establish his authority by leading rather than by commanding.

What causes serious problems with punishment?

When the father and the mother disagree in front of the children.

For a child to have the two adult figures in his life disagreeing is the worst thing.

A child then has nowhere to turn.

If the step-family has no ‘company policy,’ it is devastating.

It is very important that the parents discuss privately, and agree on, what the standards of the home are and the consequences if these are violated.

They must then make this clear to the child.

One stepfather put it this way:

It’s a beautiful thing when the mother says, ‘This is my husband, your stepfather. Together we are bringing you up.’”

How important is the relationship of the couple?

This is the primary relationship, and it has to be strong; otherwise the rest won’t work.

You need to build what we call the couple strength.

This creates a cohesive family.

Without it, not only will you give the children mixed messages but they will drive a wedge between the two of you.

Go out as a couple.

Enjoy the children as a couple, not burdening just one parent.

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How to overcome fear of public speaking?

Overcoming fear of public speech.

Mark humorously recalls his first attempt at speaking before a large group.“Shortly into my speech,”he says, “I collapsed!”

Though extreme, Marks experience illustrates the aversion many have to public speaking.

Some view it as a fate worse than death!

This was revealed in a poll asking, “What do you fear most?”

As expected, “heights,” “financial problems,” “flying,” “serious illness,” and “death” were high on the list.

But topping them all—the number one fear—was “speaking before a group”!

The same can be true of you.

Public speaking is a latent capability that anyone can develop.

You can overcome fear of speaking in public by following these suggestions:

1. Don’t label yourself

A very shy girl.

“I’m too shy.” “I’m too young.” “I’m too old.” “I’m too self-conscious.”

These are examples of self-imposed labels.

They hinder you from reaching goals that are quite attainable.

Labels often become self-fulfilling prophecies.

For example, the person who labels himself “shy” will keep closing the door on opportunities that challenge shyness.

This behavior, in turn, convinces him that he really is shy.

Thus a cycle is created in which he acts out and reinforces his self-imposed label.

One psychologist notes:

“If you believe that you can’t do something, . . . you will act that way, and even be that way.”

Dr. Lynne Kelly of the University of Hartford (U.S.A.) claims that shyness can be a learned response. What we learn, we can unlearn.

The same can be true of self-consciousness, stage fright, and other hindrances to public speaking.

2. Make Nervousness Work for You

A nervous actor use it to his advantage.

A longtime actor was once asked if after years of experience he still got nervous before a performance.“Sure,”he said. “I still get butterflies before every performance. But over the years, I’ve managed to teach them to fly in formation.”

The objective, then, is to control nervousness, not to eliminate it altogether. Why?

Because not all nervousness is bad.

There are two types of nervousness.

One stems from lack of preparation.

But the other is a more positive anxiety.

This type of nervousness is good for you because it will prompt you to do your best.

This nervousness simply proves that you care.

To keep nervousness to a minimum, try the following:

(a) Think of your talk as a conversation rather than a speech.

“It’s just plain talking,”says veteran Charles Osgood, “and you talk all the time.”

Collectively, the audience is the person you are conversing with.

At times it may be appropriate to relax and smile.

The more conversational your approach, the more relaxed you will be.

There are times, however, when the material and the occasion may call for a more formal, serious, and even dynamic tone.

(b) Remember that the audience is on your side!

Even when nervousness shows, most audiences are empathetic.

So view the audience as your friend. They want you to succeed!

Think of them as your guests, and yourself as the host.

Rather than thinking that the audience should make you comfortable, tell yourself that as the host you will make them comfortable.

Turning the tables this way will help to allay your nervousness.

(c) Concentrate on your message, not on yourself.

Think of yourself as a messenger who is simply delivering a telegram.

The messenger gets little attention; it is the telegram that the receiver wants.

The same is true when you are delivering a message to an audience.

The spotlight is primarily on the message, not on you.

The more enthused you are about the message, the less anxious you will be about yourself.

(d) Do not overeat beforehand.

One professional speaker remembers eating a hearty meal before giving a two-hour lecture.

Of his talk, he recalls:

The blood that ought to have been in my brain was down in my stomach wrestling with steak and potatoes.”

A big dinner can be your worst enemy when you go before an audience.

Watch what you drink as well.

Caffeine may make you jumpy. Alcohol will dull your senses.

You may always experience a surge of nervousness when you begin speaking before an audience.

But with experience, you will find that this initial nervousness is nothing more than that—initial nervousness, which vanishes shortly after you begin speaking.

3. Prepare!

Picture on speech preparation.

Dale Carnegie once said:

A speech is a voyage with a purpose, and it must be charted. The person who starts nowhere, generally gets there.”

To get somewhere, you must be well prepared.

The gift of gab is no gift to your audience.

So how can you go about preparing?

Research and sift.

Never skimp on research. “The only way to be comfortable in front of an audience is to know what you’re talking about,” says communications expert John Wolfe.

Become an expert on your subject.

Collect much more information than you can possibly use.

Then sift through your material, separating the “chaff” from the “wheat.”

Even the “chaff” will not be wasted—it will give you added confidence in the information that you do use.

Think. ‘Eat, sleep, and breathe’ your subject.

Turn it over in your mind during all odd moments of the day.

Think over it for seven days; dream over it for seven nights,” said Dale Carnegie.
Ponder until the importance and urgency of your message overrides your nervousness.

Consider your audience.

Wear your most presentable clothing.

Also, your research material must be made to fit your audience.

So consider their thinking: What are their beliefs?

What do they already know about your subject?

How does your material fit their daily life?

The more you address these questions, the more intensely the audience will listen, viewing your information as tailored to their specific needs.

4. Best Foot Forward

A speaking give his best attempt on the speech.

Today’s world contains every means of instant communication imaginable.

Yet “in most situations,” notes the book Get to the Point,

the most effective means of communication is human being to human being.”

The above suggestions should help you master such communication.

Rather than holding back with needless fear, you will find that you can speak before an audience!

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