Re: teaching appropriate values to the young

From: Amara Graps (
Date: Tue Feb 22 2000 - 00:48:58 MST

>My grandfather told me the two very most important skills for
>any young man to have are: auto mechanics and self defense.
>OK. One has been marginally useful, mostly as a hobby,
>the other totally useless.

Dear Spike,

I don't think these are at all useless, in both the smaller
picture and the larger picture.

In the smaller picture, taking _literally_ what your grandfather
said, if you learn the details of your mode of transportation and
if you learn how to protect yourself, the world is open to you
to explore, and you can explore with an added confidence that
you are equipped to handle many situations.

In my early 20s (I'm 38 now), I took apart my bicycle because
I thought that it needed an overhaul, and that was the start of
thousands of miles of travelling in the next 15 years on my
bicycle, visiting new places. And I don't even think that I'm
a very mechanical person either (my mountain bicycle now with
it's various sealed components are still a mystery to me).
The process of putting my bicycle together from its pieces and
then being totally dependent on it and myself, in strange foreign
places did more (and still does) for my confidence than anything

Similarly, the self defense skills, and the learning process
for that, I consider very important, not only because you
learn to rely on yourself, but because the skills (can) teach
you methods for interacting with the rest of the world. The
Aikido that I learned some years ago taught me ways to
"be present" that I still find valuable every day. The other
self-defense courses I took in my 20s showed me simple ways
to be aware of my environment and some ways to take care of
myself, if I find myself in a bad situation. (I also owned
a gun and learned how to use that, until my old repetitive
strain injury stopped my ability to practice regularly, and
so I sold it.)

I think that your gradfather was right on target too, if you
take a step back and see a larger picture for what you learn with
auto mechanics and self-defense: learning self-reliance
and self-responsibility. Whatever activities a parent can
find for encouraging and supporting these traits in their
kids will have long-lasting effects. I'm not a parent now, but
I'm still a kid at heart, and I remember quite vividly the
activities that my parents supported that put me out in the world
in good ways, being responsible for my actions (making lots of
mistakes, of course), and relying on myself.

Finally, if I wish to add one thing to the 1) self-reliance and
2) self-responsibility ideas to try to teach to one's kids:
don't be afraid to be alone. There will be times in ones life when
one's own convictions and choices and values puts one apart
from those others around you. So don't be afraid and trust yourself.


Amara Graps email:
Computational Physics vita: finger
Multiplex Answers
"If you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into
you." - -Nietzsche

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