Family Charter

I had K. read the NZ Green Party’s Charter as part of her schooling a few days ago.

It’s a concise document, but far-reaching in its concerns: ecological wisdom, social responsibility, appropriate decision making, and non-violence. It’s a great model for students to use in crafting personal charters.

Another one I like is Radio New Zealand’s charter, which includes the obligation to “contribute toward intellectual, scientific, cultural, spiritual, and ethical development, promote informed debate, and stimulate critical thought…”

Radio NZ fills our house (loudly, if I love what’s on, or softly, if K and I are discussing something) from the hours between 7am and around noon, because B. puts on Radio NZ Concert before he leaves in the mornings. While the t.v. schedule is all too often straight lineups of U.S. shows (how disappointing to come all the way here and find the U.S. cultural monopoly alive and well!), Radio NZ provides exactly what they set out to do.

Since a charter in this sense is an operating agreement that all members agree to follow, calling a personal statement of beliefs a charter may be stretching things a bit, but another application is a family charter. In our last family night (which is naturally evolving to be an extended conversation around the dinner table) we created the first draft of a family charter:

• Thoughtfulness: Think through all actions and their consequences. Be mindful of the world and how you change it and how you can change it.

• Kindness: Be tolerant and patient in actions and words. Speak politely; help each other; treat others like you’d like to be treated. Respect others’ decisions and beliefs.

• Nurturing: Help each other to grow. Leave room for others to become individuals. Pay attention to mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual development.

• Environmental Sensitivity: Work towards being green; make decisions that won’t harm the environment.

• Money: Be frugal and work towards being self-sustaining. Donate time and money to people in need and relief efforts worth supporting.

• Seek wisdom and improvement.

One of the great eddies of conversation revolved around the fact that sometimes, two or more of these tenets will conflict. For instance, we travel as part of seeking wisdom and nurturing, but it can only rarely be environmentally sensitive or frugal to travel.

C’est la vie, right?

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2 thoughts on “Family Charter

  1. This is a beautiful charter, and I hope you share with us as it evolves. I agree that it can be frustrating when certain parts of your charter or values seem to conflict with each other. It provides an opportunity to discuss priorities and justification. However, as I often point out to my kids, there is virtually never a time when “Kindness” or “Cheerfulness” comes into conflict with any other core value. So when in doubt, I always tell them, be Happy & Kind. (At which point they usually roll their eyes and wonder when Mom is going to move to a Free Love commune). 🙂

    • Thanks, Brooke. Your Buddhist sensibilities show through with Be Happy and Kind 🙂 . Your kids are absolutely wonderful, all of them individuals, and we’re lucky to know a family like yours. Good thing you actually won’t be moving to a commune anytime soon!

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