Monthly Archives: March, 2011

Unfair Competition

March 29th, 2011 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Occasionally, discretion really is the best part of valor. The endearing heavyweight boxing champion, George Foreman, won over 90% of his matches. He is slightly bigger and has a four inch longer reach than one other heavyweight champion, David Haye, who has also won about 90% of his matches. Nonetheless, George would be well advised to stick to marketing his cooking grills. There is only one reason I discourage a ring engagement with Hayes. George Foreman is 63 years-old and David Hayes is 30 years-old. The way that the world really works, 63 year-old boxers do not beat 30 year-olds.

Here is another competition to avoid. Someone in your own age group and athletic league challenges you, “Let’s see who can complete a marathon more quickly.” You accept because you’re easily up to the twenty-six mile challenge but your friend goes on to explain, “Just to make it more interesting, I’ll be running the Tri-Cities marathon in Richland, Washington, while you do the Pikes Peak marathon near Colorado Springs, Colorado.” While it is true that both races are of equal length, the former is a smooth, flat course, while as the name suggests, those running the Pikes Peak marathon have to climb over a mile of elevation during the first half of the race. The way that the world really works, runners do not run Pikes Peak nearly as quickly as they can run Tri-Cities.

For my final example, I present one more contest. Team A has to demolish a multi-story office building while team B must erect a similar structure. Team A wins because, as we all know, the way that the world really works is that it takes years to build a skyscraper and only minutes to destroy it.

You see, there are many contests that appear to be fair but in fact, contain features that utterly distort them. The reason I told you all that is in order to tell you this:

Debates about God and Faith are intrinsically biased in favor of the atheist because they contain features that distort the fairness. I recommend you remain out of the ring.

The rules and restraints of Bible-based faith that confine and channel the instincts and appetites of humans are an amazingly complex structure that has been at the root of all of western civilization to which folks still aspire by voting with their feet.

These institutional structures that Faith built are far easier to knock down than they are to develop and put in place. In the same way that a contest between a builder and a breaker is biased in favor of the breaker, a debate between a supporter of Bible faith and a shatterer of that faith is intrinsically biased. When atheism debates faith, the major part of its arsenal is the rhetoric of ridicule which can be quickly deployed and as devastatingly destructive as dynamite.

Happy is the individual who does not walk among the counsels of the wicked,

and who doesn’t stand in the path of the sinners,

and who doesn’t sit in the gatherings of those who ridicule.

(Psalms 1:1)

King David is describing destructiveness in ascending order. Occasional wickedness is bad but not as bad as habitual sinning. Both however, are not nearly as destructive as ridicule. What is worse, it is the most tempting. I might be tempted to walk past the wicked to catch a word or a phrase of their destructive chatter. I could quite possibly be tempted to stop walking and remain standing among the sinners so I can be titillated by what they are up to. But the ridiculers are so inviting that I could easily be persuaded to sit down. They are funny and engaging and while I sit in their gatherings, whether in real life or by watching entertainment that ridicules faith, they erode my soul.

In most competitions of life and love and of money and marriage, mouths are our main advantage. There are ways we can harm and hinder our capacity to communicate and there are powerful ways to enhance it. Learn to give yourself a competitive step up in my audio CD The Perils of Profanity: You Are What You Speak.

I Do It

March 29th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 2 comments

Kathrene Pinkerton was a prolific, 20th century writer of both fiction and non-fiction books. In Three’s a Crew she tells her own story, including how she and her husband managed during the Depression years. She speaks of organizing an artisan’s co-op and how, by banding together, the participants generated more income than they were able to rustle up on their own. Her frustration jumps off the page as she writes of the co-op’s demise as government assistance became available. The co-op participants’ motivation for working hard eroded as they, perhaps even sub-consciously, felt less dependent on their own actions.

I re-read Three’s a Crew while spending time with my two year old granddaughter recently, and like many toddlers her favorite expression is, “I do it.” Whether the task is one she can accomplish, like getting into her chair by herself, or whether it is beyond her capabilities, such as getting herself one hundred percent dressed, her first instinct is to be self-sufficient.

I can scoop her up and carry her up the stairs in a quarter of the time it takes for her to get upstairs herself. (On the other hand, by sliding on her stomach like an otter, she gets downstairs in half the time it takes me).  I can put her shoes on the correct feet the first time and when she helps unload the dishwasher it becomes a prolonged activity rather than a quickly accomplished task.

Children seem to be born with industrious souls. If we could harness the accumulated energy of infants and toddlers, there would be no energy crisis. Unfortunately, we often treat that energy as a nuisance and tamp it down. Wouldn’t it be smarter to encourage children’s spirited attitude? Unfortunately, the required environment actually runs counter to current culture.  It is difficult to find non-electronic or battery operated toys which promote imagination; it is a struggle to provide unhurried, unscheduled hours with time for children to learn skills and participate in family tasks.

Admittedly, it is a stretch to draw an analogy from Kathrene Peterson’s Depression year experiences to interacting with children. Nevertheless, I do think it worthwhile to remember how easy it is to extinguish a ‘can do’ spirit and how the human soul intrinsically values being productive, capable and independent. 

History Matters – originally published December 4, 2008

March 27th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 1 comment

I love living in the Pacific Northwest. The myriad shades of green, white snow capped mountains and sparkling blue waters (well, when the sun is out) are a balm to the soul. The pace of life is gentle and soothing to one who grew up in New York City. But, aside from Indian annals, there isn’t a lot of American history in the area. The Pig War, so named in memory of the lone casualty, just doesn’t loom large. 

So, it is always a thrill to be on the east coast, particularly in the South. Driving from Baltimore to Roanoke, VA, as we did last week for Thanksgiving, we passed signs for Harper’s Ferry, Antietam, and numerous other Civil War sites. A day earlier we were at a wedding in New York close to a cemetery filled with the graves of Revolutionary War veterans. 

In my previous life as a Homeschooling mom, history was one core of our curriculum. Reading, writing and ‘rithmetic certainly had their place, but an idea I tried hard to convey is that language and numbers are tools to be used for living. Proficiency with them was vital but not the goal. The goal was raising the next generations with values and morals so that they would use the skills they acquired to live in a way that would bring honor to God, their family and their nation. 

For that purpose, history is invaluable. Recognizing the gigantic mistakes to which we humans are prone and the acts of greatness to which we can rise, forces one to evaluate ideas and actions. An educated, brilliant person who is evil is capable of doing more harm than an ignorant, evil person of average competency. Advanced degrees are no assurance of being good or even of being wise. 

Walking in the footsteps of history reminds us of those men who gave their lives and the families who sacrificed their men for the formation and continuation of this country. Too many history books are dull and inaccurate. A few weeks ago I was privileged to hear American historian, David Barton. His words were disturbing as he decried the many random mistakes and deliberate revisionist history built into to the newly opened visitor center at the nation’s Capitol. The over six hundred million taxpayer dollars spent were too often used to convey an agenda and bias rather than historical fact. 

So, while I always leave the Northwest with some regret, occasional visits to the east coast serve as a reminder that America’s prosperity and greatness were not random events. They were the results of faith, conviction, courage and sacrifice and if we wish for this country to continue on a successful path, we need to be willing to learn about and inculcate in ourselves those same ideas.

Butcher, Baker and Candlestick Maker

March 22nd, 2011 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

When asked what the “Gerber” brand means, most moms would say ‘baby food.’ This is partly why Gerber’s foray into selling Buster Brown clothing, strollers, and insurance was doomed. Gerber lost sight of its specialty. It was not the only famous brand to forget its identity.

Contributing to Sears’ demise was confusion about its specialty. By the 80s, Sears was selling not only Craftsman tools, clothing, and home appliances; it was also selling insurance, commercial real estate, stocks and computers. Would you go to an eye doctor who repaired lawn mowers in the back room?

Early Americans were influenced by Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, published in 1776. The book explains the importance of specialization. It is easy to see how specialization increases production and hence wealth. Six cobblers working independently will never make as many shoes as they would make collaborating with one another. If one makes only soles while another makes uppers while a third stitches them together and so on, productivity will soar as each specialist discovers better and faster ways to accomplish his own task. As a result, each person will take home far greater pay than he would have working alone. Then he can use his wages to buy clothes and food from other specialists.

It is easy to spot the trend toward specialization as societies evolve and develop increasingly sophisticated ways for humans to diminish the drudgery necessary to earn a living. Department stores give way to niche retailers, the corner garage offering full care for your car yields to Jiffy Lube and brand-specific repair centers.

This is exactly how the good Lord planned life for His children. He created a world in which His children would connect with one another and become preoccupied with one another’s needs. How better to accomplish this than to reward us with greater income provided we replace the model of working alone by the ideal of collaboration? God placed us in a world in which many people cooperating with one another within a mutually agreed-upon moral framework will vastly outperform those same people trying to make a living in isolation.

Why did the world’s Bible-based societies lead the march toward specialization by innovating the corporation and the industrial revolution? Perhaps because Scripture reveals how the founding of the people of Israel was rooted in specialization.

Jacob, or Israel, became the father of the ‘children of Israel.’ At the end of Genesis, Jacob assigned a specialized role to each son. Levi was to take care of temple worship, Zebulon was to develop expertise in shipping and trade, Issachar was to provide the scholars and educators, and so on. As each brother and his descendants specialized, thus becoming dependent upon all the others, the nation emerged.

Later, at the end of Deuteronomy, Moses reaffirmed the concept of specialization for each of Israel’s tribes. While individuals had different talents and strengths, the idea was being set in place for all time that specialization linked with mutual dependence and cooperation produces a strong nation.

One person completely on his own will not live as well as he would as a member of a family. A nuclear family lacks the power of an extended family. A tribe is greater than a family, but a nation made up of large numbers of interdependent people with a common set of expectations and obligations will achieve vastly more. A frequently ignored and invisible network of connectivity and cooperation makes possible so much of what we often take for granted. Moreover, we need to know that this vast enterprise of millions of people cooperating needs more than a legal system to sustain it. Laws reflect moral and ethical beliefs; they don’t form them. Jacob and Moses’ blessings instilled in the Jewish people the idea of specialization under an umbrella of widely accepted core beliefs.

My book, Thou Shall Prosper: The Ten Commandments for Making Money teaches you how to deploy this strategy, along with many others, to survive and thrive under widely disparate circumstances. For a limited time we are making this book, which has transformed the financial realities of so many families, available (web orders only) at the lowest price we have ever offered.

He, Me and We?

March 22nd, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 1 comment

Last week my husband asked me to pick up some yogurt for him. While this news will leave most of you unmoved, I expect that our children and close friends are gasping in astonishment. To put it mildly, my husband is not a yogurt person. Not only does he not eat it; he recoils at the idea of eating it. Until last week, that is.

His newly acquired food tastes are part of a scary phenomenon that has been taking place in our home lately. We have been partners in many ventures since our marriage, but we each had our distinct areas of expertise. While we shared educational philosophies regarding our children, the bulk of day to day homeschooling fell in my domain. While we shared the mission of providing access to Torah knowledge, my husband assumed the majority of the teaching. Sharing a longing for Shabbat tables filled with guests, I planned and executed the cooking while he accepted responsibility for planning and guiding the table conversation. This distribution of tasks worked well for us over a prolonged period.

When we started our publishing enterprise a few years ago, we became full-fledged business partners as well. Our skills complemented one another’s. My spouse had grand ideas and vision; I was detail and reality oriented. He barreled through obstacles; I preferred to bypass them. He viewed deadlines as suggestions; I saw them as cast in stone. As our venture grew we both came to see that each of our ways was needed at different times. Accompanying that understanding was a flexibility and recognition of the value of the other’s proclivities. At this point, we sometimes find ourselves arguing for each other’s position rather for than our own instinctive one.

This collaboration of minds is leading to some weird experiences.  Once, during a family boating adventure, we found ourselves in a small, coastal village. As a special treat that evening, we attended the local movie theater’s showing of the movie Freaky Friday. In it, a mother and daughter switch bodies while retaining their individual personalities, completely befuddling those around them (as well as terrifying themselves). At the time, the premise of the movie seemed fanciful.  After the yogurt episode I expect our children will be wondering if, rather than being a fictional plot, that old movie was instead a peek into the future. 

 

 

Who’s the Puritan Now? – originally posted March 5, 2009

March 20th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

One delight of Pacific Northwest living is the sheer pleasure that a sunny day provides. Shortly after we moved here, a guest at our Shabbat meal told of a meeting that took place around his company’s conference table, overlooking Puget Sound. A representative of top management, flown in from the east coast for the occasion, was sitting with his back to the window informing those present that their office branch was being shut down. To his amazement, as he delivered this devastating news, those sitting opposite him broke out in huge smiles. When he expressed his bewilderment at their reaction, he found out that his news had been eclipsed by the appearance of sunshine breaking out over the Sound. 

And so it was a few week’s ago, on an unseasonably warm and sunny day, that my husband and I and our daughter, Tamara, celebrated by going out for ice cream. After all, a cheery day might not appear again for months. We had not patronized this ice cream parlor since the previous summer, and so it was a bit of a shock to find that renovations had taken place. The tables and chairs were the same, but alongside the name of each ice cream flavor was a new and unwelcome addition –the calorie count. 

Now I am perfectly aware that going out for ice cream is neither good for my budget nor my waistline. At the supermarket, I can get a half gallon container that will serve eight for less than it costs the three of us to get one scoop apiece at the ice cream parlor. And it comes as no revelation to me that despite the claims I made when I was pregnant that ice cream was vital for the calcium it supplies, I actually am cognizant that there are more efficient and less caloric ways to get the same amount of required minerals. 

When we go out for ice cream it isn’t to assuage hunger pangs or to check off a box on the food pyramid. We do it as a treat, and just as it would detract from our pleasure if the chain trumpeted how highly priced their ice cream is, it detracted from our delight to have the calorie count thrust at us. Instead of enjoying making a choice between flavors, Tamara and I found ourselves asking if the one we really wanted was worth 40 more calories than our second choice. Instead of taking pleasure in savoring the ice cream, I found myself figuring out how many minutes of exercise would be necessary to counteract the activity. All in all, Tamara and I had less fun than we anticipated (truthfully, I don’t think my husband even noticed that the calorie counts were posted). 

I frequently find that the media label as old-fashioned and reactionary those who hold views similar to mine about sexual matters, family issues, art and language. They metaphorically pat on the back those whose thoughts are opposite mine, calling them progressive and realistic. Yet, I am convinced that the Puritanical streak is universally thriving. The food police support my view. For each of us, certain things are simply beyond the pale. As for me, while I agree that good physical health is important, I can’t help thinking that most traditional sins pose an even greater threat to society than obesity.

Ties that Bind

March 15th, 2011 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

Recently, I received exactly the same answer from two separate people to whom I had asked two separate questions. I asked the first about marriage and the second about business.

The first person told me that his daughter was engaged to a ‘gem’ of a man. I challenged him on how he knew that his daughter’s beau was indeed a ‘gem’.

His response: I know several men with whom he served in the army.

The second question I asked of a client who had consulted me on succession issues in his company. I asked him why he had bypassed the procedures we had set up by abruptly finalizing the hire of one particular candidate.

His response: I know several men with whom he served in the navy.

Other responses which could generate similar confidence might be (i) We’ve served together on the board of our synagogue for years; (ii) All the folks in his Rotary Club have known him for ages and think the world of him.

What factor contributed to the sense of trust about the person being discussed? The individual was a respected part of a respected group.

Examine your own life to ensure that you are adequately connected to worthwhile and identifiable groups. Being isolated damages your income producing potential and being a loner harms your capacity to find love and lasting happiness.

While building and maintaining relationships within groups it is important to recognize the restraints that such affiliations place upon us. Serving in the United States military is a privilege but it also restricts one from criticizing the president. Being part of a family bestows benefits but it also carries responsibilities and restraints.

About 2,500 years ago, Persian Jews faced genocide. The plot was launched when the Jewish community leader, Mordechai, refused to bow to Haman. See the following verses from Esther, chapter 3.

After these events, King Ahasuerus promoted Haman…and elevated him, setting his position above all the aristocrats…

All the king’s servants in the king’s gate bowed and prostrated before Haman for so had the king commanded… However Mordechai did not bow and did not prostrate himself.

Then the king’s servants…said to Mordechai, Why do you violate the king’s commandment?

As they repeatedly spoke to him daily and he did not listen to them, they told Haman in order to discover whether Mordechai’s words would stand; for he had told them that he was a Jew.

When Haman saw that Mordechai neither bowed nor prostrated himself, he was filled with fury.

He scorned the idea of attacking only Mordechai because they had told him Mordechai’s people and Haman resolved to destroy all the Jews in the entire kingdom of Ahasuerus, the people of Mordechai.

The giant question is why Mordechai didn’t bow just as everyone else did? After all, bowing was (and still is) a very common way to express humility and respect.

Many in Scripture bowed for this reason: Abraham to three travellers (Genesis 18:2); Abraham to the Hittites (Genesis 23:7, 12); Jacob to Esau (Genesis 33:3); Jacob’s sons to the ruler of Egypt (Genesis 43:28); Moses to his father-in-law (Exodus 18:7). There are many other similar instances.

In most cases, Mordechai would have been quite comfortable showing respect and humility. But Haman was known as a notorious anti-Semite. As a leading member of the Jewish people Mordechai knew he was representing his people, not only himself. Bowing would have diminished the Jewish people as a whole conceding power over the Jews to a human being rather than to God. The group affiliation circumscribed his behavior.

This coming Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of Esther, Purim. Purim is way more than the celebration of a historical event. Esther’s adventures long ago in faraway Persia are part of a chain which formed the DNA for today’s headlines about Iran, Islam and Israel. The deceptively simple Book of Esther contains hints to recent events and to those yet to happen. Travel through history with me in my audio CD set Clash of Destiny: Decoding the Secrets of Israel and Islam, only $19 through Purim.

Evil Never Fades

March 15th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings 4 comments

Despite the horrifying pictures and videos, it is difficult to imagine the vast devastation which struck Japan a few days ago. But, if we step back a minute we’ll see something else which is quite incredible. Americans are moved by the suffering of the Japanese, donating money for the victims, sending volunteers to help and praying for them. This would have been almost impossible to imagine, say, sixty-seven years ago.

There are still American soldiers alive who were captured by the Japanese in World War II. It may not be politically correct to remember this while Japan deals with its current tragedy, but the Japanese behaved towards their prisoners in unimaginably barbaric ways. The war wasn’t limited to soldiers. Women and children were prepared to attack Americans who fell into their hands. Rather than ignoring past history, we should celebrate the friendship between citizens of the two nations because it provides a rare ray of hope for civilization.  

Over the same weekend as the tsunami struck, terrorists invaded a home in Israel and carried out nightmarishly barbaric murders. Their ability to intentionally and ruthlessly cut the throat of an infant along with slaying her brothers and parents signals total commitment to an ideological view. That view is at odds not only with Israel but with the entire civilized world. Like Nazism, a view with which Japan allied itself in the mid-twentieth century, it cannot coexist with decency and reverence for all human life.

Can we imagine a world sixty-seven years from now in which all people will live peaceably with those currently committed to violent, hate-filled extremist beliefs held by many in the Moslem world today? If Japan is a model, the answer is yes. However, that vision can only come to fruition if those beliefs are utterly obliterated. Just as in the past, one side has to win for both sides to eventually be winners.  If the side of evil wins, both sides, and all humanity loses.

Our war against Japan and Germany in World War II does not precisely resemble our war against Islamic terror. There is no equivalent to an emperor or a Fuhrer in the Moslem world today. There has been no clear-cut declaration of war. Nonetheless, it is not a question of whether people will die as these two competing views of civilization clash. Many died before the Japanese relinquished their ideology. In today’s struggle, many have already died and unless the Messiah arrives immediately, more will die. Good people cannot provide instant peace. We can, however, prolong the battle and increase the death toll by pandering and accommodating to an evil doctrine instead of defeating it.

May God avenge the blood of Udi, Ruth, Yoav, Elad and Hadas Fogel.

This clip is worth seeing

 

Who’s the Puritan Now – originally posted March 5, 2009

March 13th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

   
One delight of Pacific Northwest living is the sheer pleasure that a sunny day provides. Shortly after we moved here, a guest at our Shabbat meal told of a meeting that took place around his company’s conference table, which overlooked Puget Sound. A representative of top management, flown in from the east coast for the occasion, was sitting with his back to the window informing those present that their office branch was being shut down. To his amazement, as he delivered this devastating news, those sitting opposite him broke out in huge smiles. When he expressed his bewilderment at their reaction, he found out that his news had been eclipsed by the appearance of sunshine breaking out over the Sound.

And so it was a few week’s ago, on an unseasonably warm and sunny day, that my husband and I and our daughter, Tamara, celebrated by going out for ice cream. After all, a cheery day might not appear again for months. We had not patronized this ice cream parlor since the previous summer, and so it was a bit of a shock to find that renovations had taken place. The tables and chairs were the same, but alongside the name of each ice cream flavor was a new and unwelcome addition –the calorie count,

Now I am perfectly aware that going out for ice cream is neither good for my budget nor my waistline. At the supermarket, I can get a half gallon container that will serve eight for less than it costs the three of us to get one scoop apiece at the ice cream parlor. And it comes as no revelation to me that despite the claims I made when I was pregnant that ice cream was vital for the calcium it supplies, I actually am cognizant that there are more efficient and less caloric ways to get the same amount of required minerals.

When we go out for ice cream it isn’t to assuage hunger pangs or to check off a box on the food pyramid. We do it as a treat, and just as it would detract from our pleasure if the chain trumpeted how highly priced their ice cream is, it detracted from our delight to have the calorie count thrust at us. Instead of enjoying making a choice between flavors, Tamara and I found ourselves asking if the one we really wanted was worth 40 more calories than our second choice. Instead of taking pleasure in savoring the ice cream, I found myself figuring out how many minutes of exercise would be necessary to counteract the activity. All in all, Tamara and I had less fun than we anticipated (truthfully, I don’t think my husband even noticed that the calorie counts were posted).

I frequently find that the media label as old-fashioned and reactionary those who hold views similar to mine about sexual matters, family issues, art and language. They metaphorically pat on the back those whose thoughts are opposite mine, calling them progressive and realistic. Yet, I am convinced that the Puritanical streak is universally thriving. The food police support my view. For each of us, certain things are simply beyond the pale. As for me, while I agree that good physical health is important, I can’t help thinking that most traditional sins pose an even greater threat to society than obesity.

Glamour Girls – originally published on February 24, 2010

March 13th, 2011 Posted by Susan's Musings No Comment yet

The Purim holiday, as described in the Book of Esther, is only a few days away. A truly joyous day, Purim festivities include a strong tradition of dressing up in costumes. For very young girls Purim has routinely been the day when they can glop on lipstick, blush and eye shadow, don their mother’s discarded dresses and totter in Mommy’s high heels (until they actually need to move around). A crown on the head, preferably bejeweled, completes the sartorial splendor and the miniature Queen Esthers are ready for the day’s activities. 

This masquerade is based on an essential message of the day – things are not as they seem on the surface. The elegant Queen Esther is really the Jewish girl Hadassah; the man who saves King Achashverosh from a plot against his life is Hadassah’s relative Mordechai; a day prepared for the slaughter of the Jewish people turns into a day of victory. It is not a coincidence that the name Esther means hidden while the Hebrew name for Scroll, Megila, means reveal.  Thus the real name for the Book of Esther or The Scroll of Esther is “Revealing the Hidden.” 

Something that is uniquely hidden in this scroll is mention of God.  Esther is the only book in the Jewish Bible or Tanach which contains no overt mention of God.  His name and His presence are hidden, though easily discerned by those who look. 

But, I admit that as a little girl, I was less interested in the theological implications and more enamored with the parentally authorized make-up. While teens and adults dress up as well, sometimes in incredibly clever concoctions, the allure of pretending to be grown-up and gorgeous presents an irresistible tug for the just post-toddler set.

Which is why I was distressed to read that some shoe manufacturers are marketing shoes with heels aimed at the early elementary crowd. While Matthew Dairman, a spokesman for the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, sees heels on five year old feet as a physical problem — which it certainly is — surely there is a less visible issue as well. Purim masquerades are only fun because they are masquerades –limited to a finite time and place and easily recognized as a caricature. 

Little girls see Queen Esther through a haze of fantasy; a sort of Cinderella. As they grow and mature they realize that the orphaned Esther was forcibly taken from her home and community, married to a man who didn’t by any means measure up to Prince Charming standards and saved her people only through a sacrifice of her own chances for a fulfilling and happy life. Not quite the “happily ever after” fairy tale. But internal growth and maturity can be stunted if external growth and maturity is accelerated. If our society moves in the direction where heels and cosmetics become a standard part of six-year-olds’ repertoire (even for “only special occasions”), I can’t help thinking that the chances of producing authentic heroines like Queen Esther unfortunately diminish.