The best kind of parent you can be is to lead by example. — Drew Barrymore

Every parent is a teacher. When a parent is loving and affectionate in both word and deed, the child learns. When they provide guidance and nurture the child’s health, education, socialization and interests, he or she learns. When a parent contributes toward building a child’s confidence and a positive self-image, he learns. In an atmosphere of mutual respect, acknowledgement and praise, children learn. When parents engage their children in conversations about their feelings and experiences with other people to help them manage their self-image…


It’s a vaccine against lies, disinformation and conspiracy theories

In an era when untruths have been proliferating across platforms in the form of disinformation, misinformation, fake news, lies and conspiracy theories, it’s refreshing and hope-inducing to know that there’s a vaccine against the easy acceptance of what’s heard, seen or read. It’s called “critical thinking,” and it’s currently being taught in select schools, K through college.

I say “select” because some schools include it and many don’t. It’s a gap that’s decades-long, in part because “teaching to the test” took up so much of the curriculum there wasn’t time to…


Within every social and global tragedy, the light of love, compassion, goodwill and truth shines through the darkness. Acknowledging it and appreciating its appearance demonstrates that virtue lives in the hearts of many people. It gives us hope for the future and a reason to persist in right thinking and socially constructive behavior. Seeing others with the courage to do what’s right, to make the world a better place, is contagious. From this perspective, I offer a sampling of incidents from 2020 that demonstrated the best in us.

Health

When the Coronavirus struck and people heard there was a shortage…


Beyond taking pictures, make photographs that express and elicit emotion

Being house-bound, this is an excellent time to develop or exercise the creative “eye.” Modern cameras and smartphones in all price ranges have tremendous technological potential — but when I look around and on the internet, they’re mostly being used to produce images that capture or document what’s in front of them. Even professional and fine art photographers are mostly documenting what they see. I enjoy these images and appreciate what it takes to produce them, but my preference has always been to photograph expressively.

Expressionism

Artists in the late…


One of the primary ways we feed the soul

Philosophers since Plato have sought to define and describe the aesthetic experience. Among them there’s agreement that it’s a capacity unique to human beings, a contributor to well-being and different for each individual, but there’s no consensus on what it is in essence.

This is understandable because the word “aesthetic” is an abstraction that refers to something ineffable, a non-physical phenomenon like “beauty,” “truth” and “goodness.” We only know it through cognitive and emotional experience. …


The art of making someone happy and celebrating the relationship

This is our grandson, Ethan Miller. He was five-years-old. I choose this image because it represents the kind of joy we’d all like to see on someone’s face when they receive a gift from us. The subtitle indicates that there’s an art to gift-giving because done well it’s creative in several ways — conceiving of what to give; designing, creating or purchasing the item; wrapping and presenting it.

Gift-giving is one of the earliest traits of hominids. Holes were drilled into bones, animal teeth and stones to make necklaces and other adornments. Having appeal, they and other items were exchanged…


A parable

A businessman inherited his father’s farm. The land, farther than the eye could see in every direction, was cultivated in diverse crops, orchards and vinyards. The son was proud of what his family had built for generations, so he was eager to take over, assuring his family — and the hired hands who lived on the property — that he could increase their wealth.

The son’s enormous farm was also surrounded by smaller farms, some raising cattle, sheep and pigs as well as crops. In town, when the harvest of his first year was greater than ever, the…


Gratitude can turn it around in short order

Gratitude: From the Latin gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness depending on the context.

What It Does

Gratitude works in at least two ways. It shifts negative thoughts to positive thoughts by recognizing that something in life is good. And because the specific good we think about is external to us, it takes us out of ourselves. The trick to transforming the thought or feeling that “Things are really screwed up” into “All is well; it’ll get better” is to let your song gratitude for a specific good expand into a…

David L. Smith

Emertius professor of communication, Xavier University in Cincinnati. Film/television documentary producer, cultural anthropologist, contemplative photographer.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store