Why do we oblige children to say please and thank you? Is it not that we are asking them to be submissive and we call it being polite. Is this what we want our kids to be? And aren't we just preparing them for a life of submission to bosses, the law, tax authorities and society in general?

There is an element of conditioning here, and a lot of stuff that goes to help the worshipful masters who dominate society. How do we bring up our children, however, on the one hand, to be polite and respectful of others and on the other take their full place in society, have points of view, be independent and not just depend on others?

One is to teach them to be informed and to inform themselves, to maintain an objective and critical view of the world, while still able to form friendships, be sociable, interact with others and not be complete recluses. Where is that fine line then, between the desires of the individual, the laws of society and adhesion to unwritten social rules?

The best place for this balance is in discussion and debate, in the exchange of ideas, the honest confrontation of different points of view and the democratic process. Here in blog-land, on forums, in internet exchange groups, is an excellent example of that kind of exchange, since the individual has a real opportunity for expression.

The quality of debate, however, is dependent on the level of information and how informed the individual can be. A person can only see the world from his point of view. An analysis of points of view can teach us about how informed individuals are and help us to reflect on the interactions between people and the media.

It also raises the question of how to manage the explosion of information to which we, and our kids, are exposed. We need to arm them with the necessary critical tools to determine what is truth and what is fiction in a world where the boundaries between advertising and fact are more and more entangled.