The Muzzled Voice

Posts Tagged ‘Angel Food Ministries

Politics aside…

So this morning I woke up to a snow covered existence outside, stretched, yawned, grabbed my robe and took a nice warm shower. Afterwards, I plopped myself at the computer and began working. I started getting hungry, since my last meal was at 5 PM last night. I didn’t want a big breakfast; I didn’t even want a slice of toast like I usually do. Instead, I wanted a bowl of dry cereal to have with my glass of milk. So I got up, waddled to the kitchen and opened the cabinet door. Out of all the boxes of cereal we had, I chose the Jewel brand of “Crunchy Corn Squares”, the generic version of Corn Chex. What I saw on the back of the box STUNNED me! I was utterly appalled!!

“Family UNPLUGGED” it read, in fun, retro letters. “Imagine all the things you could do instead of watching television! Unplug the tube and grab your family,” the box informed. So…what can you do if you turn off the TV and spend time with your family? Well, it went on:

“You could…volunteer your time at a soup kitchen. Work on a jigsaw puzzle. Try a new recipe. Go for a walk. Play catch. Arrange photos into a family scrapbook. Plan a day trip. Research your family tree. Play board games. Or…clean out your closets and hold a family yard sale. Ride bikes. Fly kites. Plant some flowers. Go for a drive. Play cards. Go on a picnic. Play charades. Catch fireflies. Go bowling. Roller blade. Ice skate.”

So I take the box out to the living room and scream, “Can you believe this?” to Jared and his mother. They both look at me, surprised by my outburst. And I read the box to them out loud. They look at me blankly. Jared’s not surprised, nor is he outraged. Timi, Jared’s mother, finally gets it after I explain what this box means.

The ideas on the box sound great, right? So why am I so outraged by this box? (First of all, let me first state, KUDOS to Jewel for putting something so brave and yet so ordinary on the back of their box.) I’m not upset with Jewel and the box, per say, what I’m angered about is the mere fact that ANYONE has to tell us–on a cereal box of all things–how to “be” a family! And who is the audience of the Back of the Box? It’s our children. It’s kids who don’t KNOW what a family is. It’s geared to teach CHILDREN what a family SHOULD be doing. But this is what we’ve become. Complacent. Lazy. Numb.

To me, all of these things listed on the Back of the Box were GIVENS! It just makes sense. And I wasn’t concerned that someone else was telling me how to be a family, because I already knew these things. I had already done these very things with Josh when he was growing up, and we still do some of these things! I plan on doing ALL of these things with Tavin and Jared. In fact, I can’t wait!!

What I don’t understand is a family who DOESN’T do these things. What I don’t get is the fact that a cereal company has to spell it out for 80% of society today. As I continued to hold the box up to Jared and Timi, ranting on and on about this injustice, I played a scenario out for them: “Hey dad, look at the Back of the Box. It says we should do…” And the dad literally pushes the child out of the view of the TV and says, “Not now, Bobby, I’m watching the game. We’ll do all those things some other time when daddy’s not so busy.”

Now Jared wasn’t outraged for one reason: When we see what we see out in the world today, and we encounter children and families out in public, we can literally SEE that the family unit is broken! We can see the children vying for their parents attention and affection. It’s everywhere. It’s overwhelming. It’s a shame! Granted we all see it, day in and day out, but the Back of the Box really confirmed my suspicions about what’s happening in the world.

The Back of the Box is politely and attractively telling us to get off our lazy butts and pay attention to our children! And what about the poor child who reads the Back of the Box and desperately wants to do these things with a parent who is unwilling to take the time to do them? What really disturbs me is that the child who sees this list and thinks, “This would be so much fun,” but has no idea what it truly means to be a family who does things together, or worse yet, realizes that even if he were to show the Back of the Box to his parents, it may not ever happen that way. 

Why does the outside world have to explain the very basics of life to us? Why isn’t it common sense anymore? Why are people having children in the first place, if they don’t take the time to BE a family? The world is breaking down because the family is broken. There’s no true sense of the word anymore.

I recently started volunteering at a food shelter called Angel Food Ministries (http://www.angelfoodministries.com/). It’s a nationwide, non-profit organization offering wide varieties of monthly food menus to low income families at a very low cost…but it’s also available to ANYONE! There are no limitations or requirements.

I got involved for one reason: to be an example to Tavin. To show him that in order to make a real difference in the world, you need to be the kind of person who is willing to do what it takes to actually make a difference. Talking about it isn’t enough. Explaining to our children that it’s important to help the needy, while walking away from a homeless person who is cold and hungry, isn’t setting the right example. But by DOING it–by caring with our actions–we are teaching our children the real values, the real ethics, of humanity and compassion.

Angel Food Ministries isn’t my only outlet. I’ve volunteered my name to become a board member for Angel Food Ministries and to further help the cause of the homeless. I’m also going to reorganize the Kenosha County Republican Women’s Group, and although it’s a political group, the example I will be setting for Tavin is to stand up for what he believes in, and take an active role to have his voice heard. He may not grow up to be a Republican, and that’ll be just fine with me. As long as he’s not just a Talker, but a real Doer, in what he believes as his core foundation…that’s all that will truly matter to me.

Being a parent does take time. But that’s something we should all realize before we even make the “choice” to BE a parent! No longer does your career/job take first place, nor does your spouse/significant other. That child is now your first and foremost priority in life! YOU need to be the example. YOU need to be the love–all the love in the world–that he/she needs. YOU need to be the person to teach them right and wrong, not the school system, not the church, and NOT the outside world, like the Back of the Box. It is up to YOU to BE the family your child so desperately needs to become a good person in this dark, cruel world–to help BE a light in the world. Show your children. Don’t just talk about it. Be a family. Be a strong family unit that the world just can’t touch!