Comic In Chief

POTUS is becoming our #ComicInChief He wants the crowd reaction the applause, the adoration. Some are beginning to think about what his words actually mean. He leads by criticism, disdain and belittlement. He has little capacity for learning, feeling he knows enough. He feels no compassion for others, even those who voted for him.
Are you proud to be a U.S. citizen? Are you okay with us losing our status in the world? Remember we have fought wars for our freedom and to be an example to others, that even WITH our shortcomings and failures, we continue to strive for a better country, more equality and above all, freedom. Those of you who profess these ideals but turn and say, “you can’t come here, what we have here is not for you,” might want to research your own “family tree” to see how many of them would not be here today with what this administration wants to enact as law. How many of your ancestors would pass the vetting process today? And would you have even been born if they hadn’t? And if you are saying you are “better” than they are, then you have chutzpah.

POTUS is portraying himself as the “best, brightest, and toughest” president we have ever had. Comparing himself as greater than any president before him. Really? Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Lincoln, Wilson, T. Roosevelt, FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, Obama……. Even those we considered failures during their time in office….. None of them had the audacity to belittle and demean their predecessors AND the American people the way the current POTUS does. WE ARE ALL CITIZENS OF THIS NATION! We deserve and demand respect, truth and above all dignity.

I know many of you agree with the policies that are being enacted by this current administration. I can agree to disagree with your policies. I cannot condone this debasement of our government and our citizens.
That is all.

 img_0232

Racism Part Two -1st draft

I finished reading Brene Brown’s latest book, Braving the Wilderness, The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone.  Here is a quote that got to me:

True belonging is the spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are. (40)

She calls this the Quest and the Paradox.  It sounds crazy.  She explains that paradox has its origins in Greek and Latin. The Greek combines two words, para – meaning contrary to – and – token – opinion.  The Latin word, paradox, means, “seemingly absurd but really true.”  Doesn’t that seem like most of our lives when we think about them?

How many of us show the world our authentic selves? We learn or we are taught not to do that.  We will get hurt, emotionally or physically.  People won’t like us.  They will take advantage of us.

Since 2009, people in the United States have been “sorting ourselves” into tribal factions, political, social, gender, and other orientations.  By 2016, we had become polarized into our respective camps.  

At the same time sorting is on the rise, so is loneliness.” (51)

On the outside looking in – you are in a group of people but still feel lonely.  As social beings, we want to belong, but when we don’t, we go into self-preservation mode.” (54). We go into protective custody of ourselves.  We became fearful of being vulnerable, getting hurt, being disconnected, criticism, failing, conflict, not measuring up to others’ standards or even our own.  Fear of not knowing what was happening or why it was happening. We also felt we couldn’t speak to our fear or of our fear.  

Our biggest issues are racism, sexism and classism.  We have never faced our racism, our gender inequality, or our neglect of our poor people.  

We now have a leader who is a bullshitter.  A bullshitter ignores the concept of truth. He pays it no heed. It is not an issue for him because it doesn’t apply to him. This makes him more dangerous than a liar or a truth-teller.
“. . .lying as a defiance of the truth and bullshitting as a wholesale dismissal of the truth.” Harry G. Frankfurt defines this in his book, Bullshit.  This leader is more dangerous than someone who lies.  I watch how we are numbed to outrageous acts, to farce, and to the lack of compassion and decency.

I am also reading up on my teaching.  I am looking at dealing with controversial issues.  Working with students to develop critical thinking skills.  Let’s define critical thinking:  “a dedicated search for meaning and understanding.” “In the public domain, to consider and evaluate the arguments made on controversial issues.” ( Teaching Controversial Issues, Nel Noddings & Laurie Brooks, p. 1).  Is an argument based on BS, really an argument?  Let’s think about that.

We must have a moral commitment to our society, to our community and for the common good.  Well, we have to define all these terms.  Our society – where we live, who we are and what we believe.  Our community – those we choose to associate with, to live with and care about.  The common good – this one is harder, isn’t it?  What is best for our society, community and our nation.  We must have a moral commitment to what we have in common.  In the United States, WHAT DO WE HAVE IN COMMON?  Good question.  We were founded by a group of white men that had the financial ability to devote themselves to government. They had common influence in their lives.  They were influences by their classical education.  A connection between character and reason.  A person innately knows what is good and will act in a moral fashion because of this knowledge and understanding.  Most religions rely on this type of understanding.  The Puritans believed that.  Knowledge and virtue.

“True knowledge is virtue, and perfect knowledge describes the mind of God.” (Noddings, p. 6). Reason, moral decision making, development of character.  Socrates, Plato.  An examined life.  Started with having a ruling class, monarchies, lords, and others.  Those who worked for money were not part of these groups.  Our country was founded during this age.  That is why we have a republic, that was to be run by our “best and brightest,” those who could devote time and energy to governing for the common good.  Those that would put “the welfare of the republic and its citizens above their own private concerns.” (Noddings, p.7). Do we have that today?  Do we want that today?

This is a rambling piece now…  but it all ties together eventually.  I see our country as looking for its authentic self.  I see the people wandering in their wildernesses.  I see our leaders struggling with their roles.  I pray for guidance, for clarity, for understanding.

I am taking on this journey if you wish to travel with me.

I hope that you will.

 

Racism, Part One

It’s funny.  I am white, very white, a pale woman of Swedish descent.  I am proud of my heritage.  Almost three years ago, I moved from Tampa, Florida to Bowie, Maryland.  I now teach at Prince George’s Community College.  Prince George’s county is a majority minority county, the most affluent one in the United States.  Quite a change from Tampa.  I had lived in Florida all my adult life prior to my move to Maryland. I took the job because I wanted a change.  The racial makeup of the county and the college did not even factor into my decision.  It sounded like the ideal position for me.  I could teach full-time at a community college.  I admit to being a little naive about the whole thing.  I had worked with African-Americans in Florida, in fact, my previous supervisor had been African-American.  I have friends who are African-American, Latino/a and Asian.

I did notice the difference on my first day teaching and it has continued.  There are many times that I am the only white person in my classrooms.  I did not think about it at all.  I figured I had a lot in common with these students.  I am a first generation in college student, the daughter of an immigrant to the United States.  But my students did not see that in me.  They saw a white woman.  Being white means having privilege.  I understood the concept of privilege but I believed that being from a working class background would negate the privilege.

I was incorrect.  Even being working class, the white part gave me privilege over people of color.  My childhood was different and not only because I grew up in the 1960s.  My parents moved out of the south side of Chicago in 1963 because “those people” moved onto our block.  I did not understand who those people were until I was in high school.  I was a kid.  Race was not on my radar at that point.  Later, it would.  I made friends with different kinds of kids.  They just had to be willing to play with the rest of us.  Usually with the boys.  I was a tomboy.  I still am, in some ways.  That was the second thing that I thought would negate the privilege thing.  I identify as lesbian.  But again, the privilege was still there.

I did not walk into an obvious battlefield.  At least it did not appear as one.  The faculty was a mix of people.  The students were also a mix.  Most of them are first-generation in college students.  Many of them are non-traditional age students.  Most of them are at the community college to learn a group of skills for entering the workforce.  Some of them are planning to transfer to four-year institutions for a baccalaureate degree.  Some of them are like me, not sure of what they want to do yet.

Most of the students were accepting of my differences.  They questioned my decision to move FROM Florida to Maryland.  To them, the norm was the opposite.

TO BE CONTINUED……

img_0246

It’s time for a change

From the opening paragraphs of bell hooks’ Understanding Patriarchy: Patriarchy is the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation. Yet most men do not use the word “patriarchy” in everyday life. Most men never think about patriarchy—what it means, how it is created and sustained. Many men in […]

via It is a Word I Use Daily — Radical Discipleship

WHY ARE WE SO TRIBAL?

On the Media – from WNYC Radio today!!  FACE THE RACIST NATION 

I would like you to listen to this podcast in its entirety. But I want you to then look at Nell Irvin Painter’s book, The History of White People, here’s a review from the NY Times.   After you have absorbed the podcast and the book review, then look at Jody M. Roy’s book Love to Hate, America’s Obsession with Hatred and Violence. I couldn’t find a decent review of this book but Roy looks at how hatred is prevalent and idolized in our society.  It was published in 2002.

I would love if everyone would read the books but I understand that’s not realistic for some of you.

Then think about what has been happening in our society for the past 18-20 years. Please respond if you like. I would like each of you to be honest in your viewpoints, and if you choose to respond to each other, I would like you to be civil and measured in your responses. Think of it as a looking at information for a research paper (I know, it sounds like work!). BUT this research paper will hopefully add to your body of knowledge about how you view the world. It’s important. Vitally important.

 

International pic

 

 

 

Daily Prompt: Present

via Daily Prompt: Present

All of us lead complicated lives.  We juggle multiple priorities everyday.  Even in our “down” time, we are constantly pulled into what we have done, what we should be doing and what we will be doing in the future.  I know I am guilty of it.

We hear the platitudes, “it’s called the present for a reason. We only get it once and it’s gone.”  For some, this causes anxiety, for others, total shutdown.  Some see so much too be done and others are overwhelmed at trying to find the “great” thing to do.

We live in the present but do not think about that very often.  We are too busy to notice the present.  The present is 86,400 seconds. (yes, I looked that up.)  We are told to “live in the present” which is a tall order.  And I bet we don’t even know what it means.

I’ve thought about it. A lot lately.  I love history, just so you know.  I constantly read everything.  I even try to get into the heads of those discussed in the books I read.  What were they thinking?  Why were they thinking that?  Didn’t they know better?  Or are we on the inappropriate track now?  Intellectually, I understand that if you weren’t there, it’s hard to understand why certain decisions were made but I believe we have to try so we can “live in the present.”

It is hard to slow your thinking when you are in the present.  As a teacher, I try to be “in the present” with my students.  To listen, to hear, to understand where they are and how to reach them.  Sometimes it works, sometimes its doesn’t.  I keep trying.

Since I teach the same thing to all my classes (15 of them by the end of a semester), I have a tendency to get bored with the curriculum.  So I constantly look for different ways to present it.  The students do not always understand that part of my teaching.  But I try to keep things relevant and interesting.

It’s all I can do.  BE PRESENT for everyone I encounter.

Still a work in progress.

I must go now and grade stuff.

Thanks for reading this!!The Long Climb

Inner Reality

The power of inner life.

We have create a world of external realities.  We worship them and neglect our inner lights.

We can change this reality of our outer world by projecting our true inner reality outward.  We have allowed our institutions to become rigid because we fear change and the unknown.  We have become slaves to victory above all els.  Our institutions disregard humans’ well being because something in us is heartless.

We choose what we project to the world and through these choices the world grows from us.  We must be conscious of what we form, deform and reform within our world, internal and external.

“Our complicity in world making is a source of awesome and sometimes painful responsibility – and a source of profound hope for change.  It is the ground of our common call to leadership, the truth that makes leaders of us all.”  – Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak, Leading from Within. 

New Education?

via Daily Prompt: Educate

 

Educate.  It’s what I do.  It’s part of who I am.  It is what I believe in.  I am an educator.  to educate is my life and my passion.

It’s not an easy profession.  Some feel it is a calling.  I believe it is a passion.  To educate is to create a welcoming place for change.  We all know that life changes.  We can fear it or we can embrace it.  We only move forward.  (unless someone has a working TARDIS that I’m unaware of.)

Do we look forward with anxiety?  Of course, everyone does.  It’s the unknown.  It’s scary.  Ignoring it won’t make it go away.  Fear is understandable.  It keeps us alive.  But fearing the inevitable is futile.  You can slow change but not stop it.

It’s time.  It’s now.  I move forward to educate.

 

I AM THE TEACHER.

Data is just Data……or is it?

Blind Faith in Big Data

Data is just numbers….. it’s how we ask the questions of it and how we design what we are looking for and at. So since humans are fallible and have biases, data is usually skewed to maintain the status quo long after the quo has lost its status. Change continues to occur.

Looking at data is a good thing.  However, we need to remember who collected the data, where in society was the data gathered, how did they create the algorithms to aggregate the data and what questions are being asked of the data.

Think about it, this process takes time but our society does not stand still.  Quantitative information has its place but it is NOT unbiased or neutral.  Howard Zinn stated that you cannot be neutral on a moving train.  Data cannot be neutral either.  The train is our world…  it keeps moving forward even as we look back.

Everything is “data driven” today.  Schooling, shopping, politics, living and even dying.  We look at trends, averages, means, medians.  What do they mean?  What can they tell us?  Well, they can tell us where we have been, and show where we MIGHT be going.  And most of us would like that because we do not like not knowing.  We are afraid of the unknown.  It’s not a bad thing but nothing remains static.  And usually change happens even if we dig in our heels and stomp our feet.

But all of this is what most people do.  NOT EVERYONE.  Relying on data, trends, averages, means and medians negates the outliers.  And the outliers are where most of our change occurs.  Inventions happen because someone didn’t stay in their lanes, color inside the lines or sat in their boxes.  Innovation occurs when someone looks at a process and decides there’s a different way of doing the same thing.

This is why we continue to look back at history.  We discover new ways of looking at our world.  We find out new information about the people who came before us.  And we figure out that NONE OF THEM WERE PERFECT.  All of them had flaws.  They made mistakes.  This does not diminish our history or our heritage.  It creates a deeper understanding of both.  Our culture changes because it has to.  Time only goes one way.  As Mary Chapin Carpenter sang, it can go fast, slow and stall sometimes but there is no reverse.

Moving forward is our only choice.  Or you can stop, but that would be to stop living.  And I do not believe any of us want to do that until we absolutely have to.  I’m not ready to stop yet.  I have more life to live and so much more to learn!!!

 

469d5d0b-d4b3-4646-8e3f-f984cd1a56f7

Imagination rules!

From adrienne maree brown‘s brilliant new book Emergent Strategy (2017): It is so important that we fight for the future, get into the game, get dirty, get experimental. How do we create and proliferate a compelling vision of economies and ecologies that center humans and the natural world over the accumulation of material? We embody. […]

via Imagination — Radical Discipleship

How do I teach about diversity now?

I have been developing a project on cultural diversity for my students . My initial questions to them are: “What does it mean to be treated “respectfully and equally?” “Will achieving this respect and equality lead the U.S. to become a “more perfect Union?”
 
I have been watching, listening and shaking my head over Charlottesville and its aftermath. I grieve for Heather Heyer, who had to lose her life for hate.
 
In this frame, my questions become paramount.
 
My Dad was an immigrant. He came here in the 1930s. My Mother’s parents came in the 1900s. I am proud to be a U.S. citizen but today it is hard. It is hard because our current president does not understand the importance of the office he holds. We are not a “new” nation that is trying to find its way. We believe in freedom but not at the expense of others. I can’t say I don’t understand how people can be so narrow-minded in the 21st century because change is scary for everyone. It is how we deal with it that determines who we are.
 
Our country has been dealing with slavery and its aftermath since it began. Our original politicians pushed the issue 20 years into the future to get agreement on the Constitution. I understand that compromise. But we postponed the inevitable until 1860. Many have ancestors who fought and/or died in that brutal conflict which had to do with power and control, both over people and government. Again, one side won. Slavery was finally abolished and the federal government became more powerful than the state governments. Some people have never gotten over this.
 
Even those in Congress who purport to support a smaller federal governmental role, really do nothing to make it a reality because it would diminish their power and control.
 
Be honest about your bias.
 
This is what I tell my students. We all have bias because we have all been raised by human beings, in human society and we are not perfect. We want to feel good about ourselves and some will do that at the expense of the “other.” It’s not correct or appropriate but it’s true.
 
Be honest with yourself.
 
For those who espouse Nazi tenets, I am what Hitler wanted. Both my parents’ families were from Sweden. I can trace my heritage back in Sweden over 7 generations.
I do not denounce my heritage but I denounce your perversion of it. I am ashamed of you, your lack of ethics, your hatred and your attempt to desecrate my heritage with your vitriol. STOP IT NOW.
 
Be honest to yourself.
 
Do you truly believe we would be a “better” country without diversity? Because if you do believe that I bet that none of you would be here. WE ARE ALL IMMIGRANTS!
 
Be honest.
 
Our illustrious President believes that if we remove the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, that the next logical step is to erase Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, and Madison from our history as well. It’s as if there is a limit to how much history the United States can have. REALLY?
 
I admire Washington, Jefferson, Monroe, Madison and Lee and Jackson, Lincoln, Grant and Sherman.I don’t admire war but sometimes there is no other way. I understand that we want short, simple facts that are binary in choice. Life doesn’t work that way. Life is complicated. Life is hard. Life is tough. Life isn’t always fair.
 
Really LOOK into our history. Study it. Read conflicting accounts.
 
You might wonder how I can admire all those persons above. Washington, Jefferson, Lee, Jackson, Madison & Monroe, all owned slaves. Yes, they did. And some of them did not question whether that was appropriate or not. Some of them did. Lincoln spoke on both sides of the issue. Lee believed Africans were inferior to Europeans. But they ALL struggled over slavery. Millions of people died during the Civil War, and the majority of them, on both sides, did not own slaves.
 
It’s hard when your culture changes around you. It upsets what you believe, how you act and who you are. But railing against it will not stop the change from coming. Educating yourself about what you do not know is the only way to proceed.
 
We are always afraid of what we do not know or understand.
 
Howard Zinn said, “you can’t be neutral on a moving train.” It’s time for ALL of us in this country to look back at our history. To look critically and own up to our shortcomings, our failures AND our successes.
 
It is long past time to face our demons. We have pushed off our discussion, argument, fight over discrimination in this country. It is a weight we can NO LONGER BEAR.
 
It is time for our country to move out of its adolescence and into maturity. We need to grow up and deal with the “icky, yucky” stuff we have avoided for over 200 years.
 
How do I talk to students about the uniqueness of our country BECAUSE of its diversity if our country cannot deal with it? I can because I believe that we want to be our “better angels.” Because I try to see my biases and try to overcome them. Because I want them to have a better place as they mature. Because I love them. I love life. I love people. And I believe we all want to be better people.
 
We have fought wars over this. Now it’s time to learn to be at peace with it. We cannot become a “more perfect Union” if we continue to try to be neutral on a moving train.
 
That’s all I got!
 
 
 
 469d5d0b-d4b3-4646-8e3f-f984cd1a56f7