TIME society

Watch a Guy Kiss a Beer Instead of His Girlfriend on the Kiss Cam

Tensions brewing?

Today we highlight a random Kiss Cam video because a) everyone gets a kick out of Kiss Cam fails and b) it’s Friday, and you look like you could use a break.

In this clip, a guy kisses a beer instead of the woman next to him at a NHL game between the Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks last month. Don’t worry, he does give her that smooch, but not before enjoying the attention of the audience.

While it may look like the ultimate bro snub, the two are likely hamming up it for the cameras.

Read next: Watch What This Woman Did When a Guy Wouldn’t Kiss her on the Kiss Cam

(h/t Kansas City Star)

TIME society

This Is the Most Outrageous Bar Mitzvah Video Invitation You’ll Ever See

He dances while dressed like a rabbi and waves around challah bread in a parody of "Blurred Lines"

Before becoming a man, you become a meme. At least that’s the way of thinking in 2015. Case in point: this bar mitzvah invitation of biblical proportions.

In a YouTube video produced by Xpress Video Productions and written by Patrick De Nicola, Brody Criz parodies pop hits like Pharrell’s “Happy,” Lorde’s “Royals” and “Let It Go” from Frozen. The whole family is in on it, too.

Fair warning, at the 2:46 mark, when he spoofs Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” he starts dancing. And stripping down. Dressed like a rabbi. Stick with it, and you’ll see him mug for the camera with a pug.

If this video is just the invite, then imagine what the reception will be like.

Mazel tov on going viral.

(h/t BuzzFeed)

Read next: A Jewish Girl’s Love Letter to Loehmann’s

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME society

Genius Woman Uses Tinder to Get Guys to Dig Her Car

But does she dig them after they dig out her car?

Apparently there is hope for Tinder users who feel like they have not gotten anything out of the dating app.

Journalist Susan Zalkind wrote an article for Boston magazine about how she found men on Tinder who were willing to shovel her car out of snow during a winter season that saw her city inch toward an all-time record for snowfall. To give you a glimpse of her success rate, at one point, after 74 right swipes, she got 35 matches, and 11 offers to shovel.

The first guy was a 38 year old who got the job done in 45 minutes in the middle of blabbing about his ex. The second guy was a 29 year old in an open relationship with his wife, so while he was not dating material, at least he shoveled the snow off of the car.

Read next: Inside Tinder: Meet the Guys Who Turned Dating Into an Addiction

TIME society

13 Secrets to Living Longer From the World’s Oldest People

Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman poses for a photo with her great-grandchild Himaki and grandchild Takako Okawa on her 117th birthday celebration at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 4, 2015 in Osaka, Japan.
Buddhika Weerasinghe—Getty Images Misao Okawa, the world's oldest Japanese woman poses for a photo with her great-grandchild Himaki and grandchild Takako Okawa on her 117th birthday celebration at Kurenai Nursing Home on March 4, 2015 in Osaka, Japan.

Everything from olive oil foot massages to adding whiskey to your morning coffee

Misao Okawa, the world’s oldest person, celebrated her birthday with family at her Osaka, Japan, nursing home on Wednesday, a day before she officially turns 117. In the past, when asked to share her secret to long life, she has cited sushi and getting a good night’s sleep. This year, she simply said, “I wonder about that too.”

Here are other secrets to longevity that centenarians and super-centenarians have revealed in recent years:

“Believe in the Lord,” the third-oldest American Susannah Mushatt Jones, 115, shared with TIME during a visit to her Brooklyn home.

Pork, the second-oldest American, Jeralean Talley, 115, told TIME in 2013. Her signature dish is hog’s head cheese (pigs’ ears and feet in a jelly stock)

“Kindness,” the oldest American, Gertrude Weaver of Camden, Arkansas, revealed to TIME shortly after her 116th birthday.

• At 111 years old, Bernando LaPallo of Mesa, Ariz., massages his feet in olive oil.

• A Scottish 109-year-old Jessie Gallan advised “staying away from men” and eating porridge.

• Duranord Veillard, a 108-year-old from Spring Valley, N.Y., who has been married to his wife Jeanne for 82 years, gets up at 5:00 a.m. every day and does five to seven push-ups.

• Alexander Imich of New York City, formerly known as the world’s oldest man, said he didn’t drink alcohol.

• On his 115th birthday, the former oldest man in Japan, Jiroemon Kimura, attributed his longevity to sun-bathing.

Eating raw eggs, said 115-year-old Emma Morano-Martinuzzi of Verbania, Italy.

• Alfred Date, a 109-year-old Australian man, said knitting, is “a good way of getting along in life.” Recently, he knitted sweaters for injured penguins.

• During her 107th birthday celebrations, Downing Jett Kay of Baltimore said drinking lots of coffee was a big part of her long life.

• Richard Overton, who has been called the oldest living veteran, adds whiskey to his morning coffee and smokes up to 12 cigars a day, he claimed around his 107th birthday.

• When Adelina Domingues of San Diego was 114, she told U-T San Diego, “I’ve never been to a beauty shop and I’ve never been vain.

Read next: The New Age of Much Older Age

 

TIME society

When Homework Is a Matter of Life and Death

Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

My parents fled Iran because they were forbidden from getting an education there. I've spent over one-third of my life on a university campus

The first hint of sunlight glows off the horizon as I rush toward Stanford Hospital from the parking garage, white coat in hand, stethoscope bouncing against my chest. Every few steps, the diaphragm of my stethoscope ricochets off the silver pendant my mother gave me—a nine-pointed star etched with a symbol of my Bahá’í faith. My mother escaped Iran at age 17 as the country was on the cusp of revolution—a revolution that would create a society where, to this day, Bahá’ís like myself are barred from obtaining a university education. But here, in the United States, I’ve spent more than a third of my life on a university campus.

The Bahá’í faith was founded in 19th-century Persia, and is now the largest non-Islamic minority religion in Iran. Persecution of our religion has helped it expand around the world—my own family’s escape to the United States in 1979 guaranteed that I would be born to the freedom and opportunities denied to Bahá’ís back home.

Back in Iran, the state bans Bahá’ís from studying at universities as just one of many different forms of persecution, which has included desecration of cemeteries, confiscation of property, and wrongful imprisonment. However, because education is such a fundamental principal of our faith, Bahá’í students there have to learn in secret—usually through the Bahá’í Institute of Higher Education (BIHE), whose volunteers quietly teach classes in homes or via online portals. The threat of arrest is constant; the government recently imprisoned both BIHE students and professors, some at the notorious Evin Prison, which has held many prisoners of conscience. I, on the other hand, had the freedom to receive a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering from Rice University and am now in an M.D.-Ph.D. program at Stanford University, filling my brain with pathophysiology and methods of statistical analysis, which I hope to use to serve the community.

Sometimes I find the sheer volume of learning to be overwhelming, but then I take a deep breath and remind myself how fortunate I am to be able to acquire knowledge freely. Inside the hospital, it’s all bustle. I’m greeted by beeping pagers, an antiquity forgotten by the rest of the outside world, as I make my way to my morning clinic. As soon as I arrive, I glue myself to the computer and begin mentally dissecting patient charts. My first appointment of the day is a lovely woman with Type 2 diabetes who is just beginning to get her blood sugar under control. Between patients, I pore over the medical literature, making sure I understand each patient’s problems.

In my afternoon clinic, one of the residents excitedly approaches me. “You speak Farsi, right?” I nod. “I have a patient who would be really happy to meet you.” She gives me the room number, and I walk gingerly toward the room, already feeling self-conscious about my accent. I walk in and greet Mrs. H. in Farsi; her face instantly glows with a smile. I ask about the course of her cancer, how she’s feeling, and if she has any questions. She tells me she’s doing well and that the therapy has put her in remission. Then, she asks me where my parents live (Dallas), whether I’m married (I have been for three years, to a fellow Bahá’í I met at Stanford), and if I cook Persian food (I wish). At the end, she tells me how proud she is to see a young Iranian woman becoming a physician.

That evening, as I enter my house, I’m surprised to hear voices coming from my living room. But then I remember that my husband, a volunteer BIHE professor of engineering, was scheduled to give a lecture. I peek into the living room, where he is lecturing into his laptop on how circuits work. The information is over my head, but the students halfway around the world are excitedly asking questions. They are huddled on a beautiful scarlet-colored Persian carpet and are dressed like typical American college students—jeans and comfortable sweaters.

I quietly walk in, take off my stethoscope, and sit on the couch across from my husband. I close my eyes and touch the pendant around my neck, trying to imagine, just for a moment, what it would feel like to be on the other side. When I open my eyes, I feel an overwhelming mix of feelings. I’m incensed that rulers anywhere would deprive individuals eager to learn a chance to contribute to society, and deprive a society their contribution. And yet I can’t help but feel hope for a generation of Iranian Bahá’ís who are so motivated that not even the threat of arrest can extinguish their passion for knowledge.

And, with a feeling of gratefulness, I crack open my 500-page textbook on internal medicine and pour over medications for treating Type 2 diabetes.

Roxana Daneshjou is an M.D.-Ph.D. candidate at the Stanford School of Medicine and a recipient of a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. She wrote this for What It Means to Be American, a national conversation hosted by the Smithsonian and Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME society

This Instagram Feed of Hot Men Drinking Coffee Is Your New Morning Pick-Me-Up

The account @menandcoffee is exactly what it sounds like

Recently, NewsFeed told you about the “Hot Dudes Reading” Instagram feed, which is exactly what it sounds like — photos of attractive men reading books on the New York City subway. Now, “Men and Coffee” (@menandcoffee), an account with a similar mission, has been picking up steam since it launched a few months ago.

Started by Alex Tooby, a social media strategist from Vancouver, British Columbia, the feed aggregates photos of men either drinking or holding cups of coffee that have been plucked from the Internet or submitted by users via the hashtag #menandcoffee. Last month, Tooby started @womenandcoffee, too.

Examples from @menandcoffee:

Men, coffee, and puppies.. Happy Sunday! #menandcoffee

A photo posted by M E N & C O F F E E (@menandcoffee) on

#menandcoffee photo by @ablebrewing!

A photo posted by M E N & C O F F E E (@menandcoffee) on

Men, coffee, and beards? #menandcoffee

A photo posted by M E N & C O F F E E (@menandcoffee) on

Deep in thought #menandcoffee

A photo posted by M E N & C O F F E E (@menandcoffee) on

This has to be one of our favorite #menandcoffee pics to date! Thanks to @nma.g for the amazing photo!

A photo posted by M E N & C O F F E E (@menandcoffee) on

Happy Friday!! 👏 thanks for another great week. 💕

A photo posted by M E N & C O F F E E (@menandcoffee) on

And from @womenandcoffee:

Lovely shot by @jjroyalsupremecoffee #womenandcoffee

A photo posted by W O M E N & C O F F E E (@womenandcoffee) on

Photo by @thehalffullmug #womenandcoffee

A photo posted by W O M E N & C O F F E E (@womenandcoffee) on

This photo reminds me of summer.. By @flowergirl_syd! #womenandcoffee

A photo posted by W O M E N & C O F F E E (@womenandcoffee) on

Coffee is liquid happiness. Photo by @vervecoffee #womenandcoffee

A photo posted by W O M E N & C O F F E E (@womenandcoffee) on

Everything about this photo is perfect! By @alfredcoffee #womenandcoffee

A photo posted by W O M E N & C O F F E E (@womenandcoffee) on

Read next: Why You Should Order a Latte Instead of Coffee

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME society

Spanish Bar Only Hires People Over 50

To protest age discrimination in the job market

A bar in Barcelona, Spain, is specifically hiring people over 50, The Guardian reports.

As Kim Díaz, owner of the bar Entrepanes Díaz, explained the rationale to The Guardian, “I was looking for waiters who are over 50 because I knew they’d be fantastic and because society has unjustly pushed them out of the job market.”

More and more, businesses are doing the same, Money reports. As “age-discrimination charges have fallen for six consecutive years,” companies such as Barclay’s, McKinsey, PwC, and MetLife are doing the same through programs that either seek out or retain older workers.

 

TIME Family

My Father Transitioned When I Was a Kid and It Was Nothing Like Transparent

xoJane.com is where women go to be their unabashed selves, and where their unabashed selves are applauded

When I was four years old, my father transitioned. I wish I could’ve watched a TV show show about a family like mine

xojane

Suddenly, my childhood is trendy. My childhood won a Golden Globe Award. ABC Family is making a reality show about it. But I really knew that my time had come when the Kardashians got in on the action.

Back when it was still indie, back when prejudice was cooler than tolerance, back when the term “cis gender” didn’t even exist, I had a transgender parent. That gives me street cred in the alternative family scene. I can roll my eyes at the fictional, entitled, awful hipsters on Transparent and tell them that freaking out because your father is transitioning in 2015, when you’re adults, is pathetic.

My father transitioned when I was just four years old. I have a few vague, half-formed images of a man with a beard, but no real recollections of the person my mother thought she married, a person who, according to current gender theory, never really existed. That man was just a façade.

I remember that one day my mother told me that my father liked to play dress up, just like I did and that she had started wearing women’s clothes. It made sense to me. Dressing up was fun and boys were yucky, so of course my dad would rather be a girl. The fairytales we read to little girls are stories of transformation: a prince who is trapped in a frog’s body, a pumpkin that turns into a coach. A man becoming a woman struck me as far more plausible.

Eventually, she moved out and my parents got divorced. That was it. There were no family therapy sessions or dramatic confrontations. My mother has always prided herself on being progressive and open-minded. I think she felt that if she allowed herself to express any anger or sadness at the end of her marriage, she would be a bigot. So she took the attitude that it was no big deal. I took my cues from her.

In retrospect, she was too busy trying to pay the bills to dwell on her emotional state. For non-celebrities, transitioning has economic consequences. My father was starting out in academia, which today is one of the most transgender friendly workplaces, but back then, it was career suicide. All of her research appeared to be written by somebody else.

My mother had been out of the workforce since I was born, and had difficulty finding work. We fell out of the middle class temporarily. She hustled multiple part-time jobs until she finally found a full-time position in her field right before I started high school.

There was no vocabulary in existence to describe my relationship with my father. I called her by her first name, which sidestepped the issue of exactly who she was to me. In my mind, she was my father and she was a woman, and those two facts were in no way contradictory.

Other than her gender, she was like a lot of my friends’ fathers in that she was someone who I occasionally saw on the weekends and gave my mother a small check every month. I didn’t particularly enjoy her company, which had little to do with her being trans and a lot to do with her having a lousy personality. She was cold, intellectual, and humorless. She was one of life’s little annoyances, like having to wear complicated orthodontic appliances.

But as I grew older, I transformed from a happy, overachieving kid to a mopey, insecure, overachieving teen. I began to feel self-conscious about my family. I thought I was the only person on earth with a transgender parent. It was about five minutes before the Internet went mainstream, and with a couple of keystrokes, you could discover a subreddit full of people who shared the very thing you thought made you unique.

On the rare occasions that gay people were on TV, they were either dying tragically of AIDS in a very special episode or on daytime talk shows where they were pitted against evangelical Christians who thought they were going to burn in hell. Transgender people were considered outright freaks, if their existence was even acknowledged. I realized that, in the eyes of most of society, I was a freak too.

I felt terrible about the fact that it bothered me, because I didn’t want to be prejudiced. I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. I was certain my loving but pragmatic and unemotional mother would consider it yet another case of me being a melodramatic drama queen.

In fact, when, as an adult, I told her that I thought maybe my relationship with my father had some sort of lasting psychological impact on me, she was genuinely perplexed. She said, “Why? It was a little weird, but it wasn’t like anyone hit you.”

If I could have watched a reality show about the sort of pretty, vapid, mean girls that I outwardly despised but secretly envied who had a transgender father, it would have made me feel so much better.

I wish I could say that eventually I forged a close relationship with my father. The opposite is true. After I graduated high school and was accepted into the fancy schmancy east coast college of my dreams, we had lunch. She told me that she had deliberately kept her distance from me as a child because she didn’t feel comfortable around children, but now that I was older and smart enough to get into a prestigious school, she wanted to get to know me better.

I was less than excited about the prospect.

In my freshman year, she wrote me a letter berating me for not sending her a thank you note for the $20 she sent me for my birthday. She informed me that since she was paying a portion of my tuition, I owed her regular reports on my life.

She was right. I was a thoughtless, self-absorbed college student. But I had decided that college was the time to reinvent myself. I was going to give up both red meat and my father. I wrote an angry letter back telling her to get out of my life. Half the people I know had similar fights with their families in college and made up a couple months later, but this one stuck.

We never contacted each other again, other than a bizarre incident years later when she wrote a letter to my boss requesting she send her, a complete stranger, an essay about my life. That solidified my belief that severing ties with her was the right decision. But I felt a lot of guilt and shame that maybe I wouldn’t have cut off a cis-gendered relative for inappropriate behavior that impacted my career.

Whenever the subject of my father came up, I just said that my parents were divorced and my mother raised me on my own.

The world has changed so much so fast. The president acknowledged transgender people in his State of the Union address. When he was running for president, he didn’t even support gay marriage. Laverne Cox is a fashion icon. Beneath the sensationalist headlines, most of the coverage of Bruce Jenner’s possible transition has been respectful.

And then there’s Transparent. I could write a separate essay about what a mindfuck it was to watch that show. Suffice it to say that it’s brilliant and that there are eerie superficial similarities between my family and the Pfeffermans. However, the show’s conceit that the children of a transgender woman all have their own gender and sexual issues is so far from my experience that it inspired me to share my story to provide a counterpoint.

Having a transgender parent made me aware at a very early age that there is a wide variety of sexual and gender identities. I knew that I wouldn’t be disowned no matter what mine turned out to be. As it turned out, I could not be more boring.

I am straight and cis gender. I am downright girly. I love getting manicures. I’d dress like Taylor Swift leaving the gym all the time if I had the money. I don’t even have any fetishes. I have never had a moment of doubt about my sexual orientation, nor do I think that my fondness for lipstick and high heels is in any way a reaction to having a transgender parent.

Sometimes I wonder if the reason why I haven’t had many longterm relationships is because of some deep-seated childhood issues. It’s possible. It’s equally likely that I’m single because the dating scene is horrible in L.A.

I do credit my father for a lot of my positive traits. She gave me the gifts of resilience and self-reliance. She taught me not to make assumptions about people based on their outward appearance. Most importantly, she taught me that I could transform myself into whoever I wanted to be. That gave me the courage to conquer my shyness and pursue my most grandiose dreams.

Writing this has been scary. I’m worried that my friends will think I’m a liar and a coward for hiding this aspect of my life for so long. I’m worried that I’ll be branded transphobic by the Internet for saying that my individual experience with my specific parent was not as wonderful as a basket of puppies sitting under a rainbow, or that I’ll be accused of mis-pronouning for using the phrase “my father.”

I’m concerned that potential dates will google me and be scared off. Based on past experience, the quickest way to get rid of a guy is to tell him. My theory is that it touches on every man’s fear of something happening to his penis.

But I hate the idea that a deliberately awful fictional family is going to be the image that most Americans have of the children of trans parents. I also realize that my fears are largely irrational and that keeping this one part of my life secret has, in a very Oprah way, kept me from being my authentic self.

Sara Bibel wrote this article for xoJane.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Parenting

6 Things You Should Know About Young Girls in School

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One day your child feels like part of the gang; the next she’s been elbowed out of the lunch table or left off the invitation list for a birthday party. Here’s what you need to know to get her through the clique years—and endless exclusive photo tagging—with fewer scars.

1. Cliquishness is ingrained—and it starts early. “We come from a hunter-gatherer society,” says Julie Paquette MacEvoy, an assistant professor of psychology at Boston College who studies children’s social and emotional development. “There was a greater chance of survival if you were part of a group. The urge to form cliques is evolutionarily ingrained.” By toddlerhood, this behavior starts to show up. A 2014 study published in Psychological Science showed that children as young as two will mimic their behavior to match that of their peers so they don’t stand out from the crowd. And not long after toddlerhood, we’re able to pinpoint the person in our group with whom we’re closest. “I don’t think we ever stop using that label [best friend],” says Rosalind Wiseman, a parenting educator and the author of Queen Bees and Wannabes ($10, amazon.com). Why are we so attached to it? “We need to have the sense that we matter. If we have a best friend, that means we count to someone.” And though children today certainly won’t perish if they don’t have a core group of buddies, there are benefits, like a boost to self-esteem and a sense of belonging, says Wiseman. Also, it just feels good to be included. That’s why it’s so painful to be left out.

2. There are two types of dominant personalities. They typically emerge during middle school: one is positive and fun to be around, and the other is influential but also manipulative, says Brett Laursen, a professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University. If your child hangs out with a manipulative leader, she may feel demeaned fairly frequently. What helps: emphasizing the importance of thinking for herself and being her own person, not merely the sidekick of a bossy pal. “Have conversations about when it’s OK to give in and when it’s not,” says MacEvoy. For example, it’s fine to let the group’s leader decide which movie to watch if you don’t care, but it’s not OK for the queen bee to determine on her own who’s invited to go to the movie. If you happen to have a child who’s the leader of her clique, you can help her cultivate empathy by regularly asking her how her friends are feeling and doing.

3. Cliques can be physically painful. Research shows that exclusion triggers activity in the same part of the brain that controls physical pain, says Judith V. Jordan, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. For some kids, ejection from a friend group can be more painful than being rejected by a crush because that pain involves only one person. “When you’re pushed out of a clique, that’s an entire group of people who don’t value you, care about you, or want to hang out with you,” says MacEvoy.

4. Your child’s pain is easy to downplay—but don’t. Yes, you know clique trouble is a universal experience and we pretty much all survive. But it’s important to take your child’s grief seriously. If the situation seems to demand it, ask teachers for help in making sure the exclusion isn’t overt or cruel. (Have them keep an eye out for bullying and name calling.) At home, listen to your child’s daily recaps (if she’s willing to share) and empathize, says MacEvoy. Tell her you understand why she’s so upset and that you would be, too. But don’t go that extra step of disparaging or belittling other kids. As much as it may feel good to both of you in the moment, it sets the wrong example and could make reconciliation difficult for your child later.

5. Role play at home will make school easier. To help make the days ahead feel surmountable, ask your child if she would like to talk through hypothetical social scenarios. What should your child do if she has to eat lunch by herself? (Maybe she can read a book while she eats, or you two can talk about who else she could approach.) What should she do if one of the girls says something mean to her? (Walk away.) For younger kids (up to around age 11 or 12), this exercise tends to feel empowering, says MacEvoy. Teenagers may find it cheesy; offer them an ear instead. If there’s potential for your child to patch things up or make amends, discuss the reasons for the exclusion in the first place. “Often it involves a member of the opposite sex—especially in adolescence—or just sheer jealousy,” says MacEvoy. If your child offended just one member of her clique (and the rest of the girls are excluding her as an act of solidarity), encourage your kid to talk to the person with whom there’s a real problem. If they can make up, it may be possible for the whole group to get back together, albeit with a bit of tension in the ranks.

6. Sometimes you just have to find new friends. When a group has truly caused pain—or formally ousted your child—she may have no choice but to leave it behind and seek out new friends. If she’s feeling intimidated (and who wouldn’t be?), talk about trying to make just one new friend rather than entering a whole new clique. Think about it: There’s a world of difference between eating lunch alone and eating lunch across from someone else. Having additional friends is great, too, but children are much less lonely when they have even one supportive friend, says Steven R. Asher, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina. It’s ultimately up to your child to find this new buddy (or buddies), but you can lay the groundwork. Nudge her toward a club, a sport, a volunteer activity, or even an after-school job where she can meet peers with similar interests. And take heart in the knowledge that this lonely state isn’t forever. Faris and his colleagues conducted an eight-week study in which they asked kids in the 8th through 12th grades to name their best friends every few weeks. “We found a shocking amount of turnover,” he says. In other words: Your child may feel excluded on Friday, but that doesn’t mean she’ll still be on the outs come Monday morning.

For more informed and practical parenting advice, sign up here for Time for Parents, Time’s free weekly newsletter.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

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TIME society

We’re in a Golden Age of Loyalty

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Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

Today, there is no compelling anti-American ideology or movement with broad appeal seducing our citizens into dividing their loyalties

When I was hired last year by Arizona State University, I faced the customary blizzard of new employee paperwork. You know the drill – forms that ask you to select your health insurance plan, seek the details on where to deposit your paycheck, and invite you to “solemnly” swear to support the Constitution of the United States and of the state, bear them “true faith and allegiance” and defend them against enemies, foreign and domestic.

OK, so the loyalty oath was a new one for me.

I signed it with gusto, even though –just between us – I am not sure what is in the Arizona constitution. But I don’t have any reservations about swearing an oath of loyalty; it’s an honor to work for a public institution. And lest you think this is a red state quirk, public employees in neighboring California, and many other states, must take similar loyalty oaths.

But the exercise does seem, happily, anachronistic and unnecessary. We’re living in what has to be the nation’s golden age of loyalty.

Today, there is no truly compelling cross-border anti-American ideology or movement with broad appeal seducing our residents or citizens into dividing their loyalties. Despite the disturbing tales of a few troubled Americans picking up and joining Al Qaeda, ISIS, or other terrorist groups, we’re currently in a bear market for global ideologies that transcend nationalism.

A time of such undivided loyalty is a rare luxury in American history. Our nation’s birth, after all, was a searing act of disloyalty against the former sovereign.

And those who did fight for independence had radically different ideas of what their new nation was to stand for, a confusion that would take the Civil War to resolve.

And for all America’s success as a melting pot, the strains of massive immigration and religious diversity once challenged national unity in a way they no longer do. Anti-Catholic prejudice in the mid-19th century, for instance, contributed to mass defections among Irish immigrants during the Mexican-American War, when the notorious St. Patrick’s Brigade switched sides and joined their fellow Catholics in the Mexican Army. During World War I, the political power of Irish and German immigrants arguably kept the country in the neutral column far longer than would have otherwise been the case.

Once the country went to war, concerns about the loyalty of German-Americans proved unwarranted. Indeed, official reaction to perceived disloyalty has usually been far more damaging than any real disloyalty. The Palmer raids toward the end of World War I and thereafter, triggered by fear of anarchists and the new Bolshevik menace; the internment of loyal Japanese-Americans during World War II; and the McCarthyite witch hunts of the early Cold War years all amounted to cases of self-destructive paranoia.

Communism was surely the most powerful cross-border temptress undermining national allegiances in modern times. Educated elites in democratic Western societies were disproportionately drawn to the internationalist communist cause. Last year’s nonfiction thriller, A Spy Among Us by Ben MacIntyre, depicting the treachery of Kim Philby, the urbane English spy who ultimately fled to Moscow, captured the degree to which Communism seduced Philby and his generation of Cambridge-educated elite (and some of their American counterparts). Disloyalty then was sufficiently in vogue to merit this cavalier observation from the famous novelist Graham Greene in a foreword to the memoirs Philby’s wrote in Moscow: “‘He betrayed his country’ – yes, perhaps he did, but who among us has not committed treason to someone more important than a country.”

There are no such temptations for ideological adultery today, which is another reason we are nostalgic for, the Cold War. That showdown between rational superpowers stands in stark contrast to today’s frustrating wars against failed states and amorphous terrorist groups. But we also miss the less tangible contest of ideas and ideologies tailored to Western, modern audiences, and the ensuing double-crossing and conflicted allegiances it provoked. This nostalgia is why TV shows like The Americans are culturally significant.

For now, the whole notion of betrayal as a threat to the nation is so devalued that it was humorous fodder at the Oscars, as host Neil Patrick Harris joked that “for some treason” Edward Snowden couldn’t be in the audience to celebrate the documentary about him. Subsequently, this spy who fled to Moscow chimed in that he found Harris’ joke funny.

We’ve come a long ways from the days when divided loyalties were no laughing matter.

Andrés Martinez is editorial director of Zocalo Public Square, for which he writes the Trade Winds column. He is also a professor of journalism at Arizona State University.

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