Are We a democracy, a republic, a democratic republic, or a republican democracy?

<a href="http://<iframe frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="130" width="100%" src="">Against Democracy – from this week’s On The Media.

I remember my AVC class from my senior year in HS with Mr. Gallagher. One of the best classes I had in HS. Mr. Gallagher was a city council member in our town. He forced us to think. Oh, wait….AVC – Americanism v. Communism. I’m old. It was a required course throughout most of the country. Different school districts/states called it different things, Problems of American Democracy (PAD). You would probably equate it to an simple intro to political science.

It compared different forms of government around the world. We learned how our federalist system was set up and how we had changed it over time through constitutional amendments and changes in our societal norms.

This segment of On The Media woke me up this morning. It shows how a minority group, Republicans, view our system of government and how they are changing it. Please listen to it. It’s important and helps you understand why they are doing what they are doing. The current Republicans (probably similar to the Republican Party of the late 18th century) are moving us away from democracy. They fear being the minority party. They like the power they have amassed and are attempting to exploit our system. Maybe they fear that they will be treated the way they have treated Democrats.
Those who disagree are no longer the opposition, THEY ARE THE ENEMY. And THEY must be VANQUISHED, not just beaten.

They have set up systems in many states that disenfranchise US citizens, on purpose. The rules seem benign. They’re not that extreme, are they? That you need an ID to vote, this shouldn’t be difficult, should it? My Dad never had a driver’s license. He didn’t drive. As far as I could find after he died, he did not have a picture ID of any sort. So if he was still alive, he would not be able to vote in many states now. But I bet if he showed up at his polling place, they would let him without any hassle. (think about think about post-Civil War through the 1960s.).

The changes Republicans are making to voting, our governmental systems, they believe will keep them a dominant power, even as a minority party. Our President agrees with this. The upper economic classes are okay with it. (most of them, anyway).

To our current Republican Party leaders, THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS. How we get there is not important, just that we get there. This is what sparked my memories of Mr. Gallagher’s AVC class!

You see, this was how U.S. CITIZENS WERE TAUGHT ABOUT THE UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLIC (USSR). The former name of the current Russia.

Now, many of you (who make it this far in my lengthy post) will say, NO, NO, THAT’S NOT TRUE. This has been niggling my thoughts for since 9/11. I have watched as we have allowed our civil liberties and civil rights be eroded away in the name of security, safety and traditionalism.

This has empowered groups like the former Michigan Militia (Wolverine Watchmen), The Proud Boys and countless other groups. Our President calls to them to “stand back and stand by.” We have an authorized military, the U.S. Armer Forces, the National Guard, Federal police, State police, sheriffs and local police. Why do we need an outside force to “stand back and stand by?”

I don’t care who you vote for. I want you to vote. Examine all the sources of information you can find, especially those you disagree with. I do. I watch ALL the cable news networks from OAN to VICE. I watch C-SPAN, PBS, local news and read Breitbart, National Review, Washington Post, NY Times and just about anything else I can find. (I know, I’m a nerd!).

You don’t have to go this far but broaden yourself. NO ONE GROUP HAS ALL THE ANSWERS. This is why we need to preserve the “democracy” part of our government. So that we can become more equal. We are more alike than we are different regardless of what our current leaders are trying to get us to believe.

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I grieve for our country, I hope for our future.

Some people are saying they will withhold judgement until all the facts have been presented.

That would be good. However, we have been told that many times before.

African-American communities have told for centuries to “wait” until the facts come out in a court of law. They have been told to be patient since the Civil War, that changing generations of “normal” takes time and patience.

How long are we as a nation supposed to condone violent acts against our fellow citizens? How many more have to die because we haven’t changed how the system works. We have perpetuated the system that began in antebellum America. That the color of our skin partly determines our “lot in life.”

Our economic system was already skewed. Poor white people in antebellum America were already indoctrinated by how black people were portrayed in the media of the time. So that even after the war, that “first” impression was already a “fact” in American life by many.
Many black people have also bought into this ingrained idea. That they must as more like white people to be taken seriously, to be successful in life.

We, white people, are proud of our heritages, aren’t we? Where our ancestors came from, what their customs were?

Think about this, what if your ancestors were torn from their homeland, their families, thrown onto strange ships, suffered on a trip across an ocean, then dumped and SOLD to a bunch of light skinned people for labor?

I know it was over 300 years ago. But those people that bought other people, helped to create our systems, all of them. Those that wrote our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution warred within themselves about the concept of freedom and citizenship. If they didn’t, then there would have been no 3/5 clause when it came to representation.

And those who thought slavery should be abolished decided to compromise and hope the future would allow our new fledging country to deal with the issue when we were had a firmer foundation. They had ideals they wanted all citizens to aspire to, not ignore or run away from. They felt they would be able to find a way to purge our country of this “original sin.”
Why do you think wages in the South were always lower? Certain types of labor were considered less important but necessary.

We have found out , in this time of pandemic, that those jobs we pay lower wages to, have become “essential” to the continuation of our society. That we NEED the people who do these jobs. Parents have found out that being a teacher is not as easy as they thought it was. Our society is learning that we need to reevaluate our labor and economic systems. That every person is “essential” and vital to our continued success as a country. That everyone should be able to earn a living whatever level of employment, education or socioeconomic station.

It is time to face what our founders did not. It is time to understand that everyone in our country has been affected by our “original sin.” ARE WE READY TO TRULY UNDERSTAND AND CHANGE OUR COUNTRY SO THAT EVERYONE THRIVES AND PROSPERS?

We have reached a low point in our country now. How will we respond? Let us rise up, face our fears of change, and look forward with hope to create a new future in the United States. A future where we all live well. Abraham Lincoln fought to reunite our union. FDR proposed a Second Bill of Rights in his last inaugural address during WWII on January 11, 1944.

Every American Is Entitled To:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

Are you up for the challenges? Are you ready?

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Make it; then fake it

I have always been the opposite type of “fake it until you make it.” The less planning I put into something the better it seemed to happen. School was like that until I got to college. Singing was like that, playing the sax as well. In fact, sometimes the more I practiced a piece the worse it seemed to get. That got into my psyche so bad that I stopped doing a whole lot of stuff. I could skate by on the first attempts. Almost the opposite of “fake it til you make it.”

I struggle with this daily. But I have found that I can do more now. I am more patient and more methodical. Maybe I can go back to writing then. Now that I know, it doesn’t have be perfect the first time I do it. That I can make mistakes and people will understand. And maybe some of them will still love me. (that’s only partly joking!)

So for those of you who happen upon this blog post and might like to encourage me, please do so. If you would like to give me comments, criticisms, please do that also.

I’m learning to be human again.


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Alan Dershowitz and Flawed Logic

I haven’t read a lot of law books. I don’t always like studying philosophy. I have read books by Alan Dershowitz. I particularly enjoyed his book, The Genesis of Justice, where he argues about Talmudic law. I listened to him yesterday about the logic about whether any President should decide to investigate the member of an opposing party running for president. This is flawed logic.

Premise: Presidents do things that are in the public interest. The president does things that he believes are in the public interest. Therefore, if he believes that investigating a political opponent, he has a right to have it investigated in any way he sees fit.

Sounds totally logical, doesn’t it? It’s a little like the simple logic we all learned in school. Remember: Socrates is a man. All men are mortal. Therefore, Socrates is mortal. I use this when I teach about thinking. But this is the second thing I posit: Nothing is better than cheesecake (you can substitute any dessert you like). Breadcrumbs are better than nothing. Therefore, breadcrumbs are better than cheesecake.

Think about it. We all understand simple logic. However, when you change the situation by using subjective information, you skew the understanding. We believe that our governmental leaders do things that are in the BEST interest of the people. Well, we want to believe that, don’t we? It’s those people on the other side that don’t think about that. We all WANT to believe the things we believe are correct and appropriate.

Peter Parker’s uncle told him, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” I know it’s a comic book thing. But that doesn’t mean it’s not true and real. We also know that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Simplified here but still important.

I know I’m spouting a bunch of slogans, truisms, etc. here. The truth here is that WE, as citizens of the United States, WANT to believe our leaders are acting in our best interests as a country. Don’t we? I know I do.

Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” Blindly trusting our leaders is never a good thing. I was a teenager in the 1970s and I had a bunch of stuff about many things strewn across my teenage bedroom. But the one I carry with me until this day is this:


I am not saying don’t believe it but I am saying, do your own research about it. Look for circular logic, fallacies, and things that don’t just add up. BE SKEPTICAL!

I can tell you that my asking questions used to drive my mother absolutely crazy. Even as a teen, I was asking why, how, what….. I still do that today, because I am a college professor and I get to annoy my students, by trying to get them to THINK!

So, those of you who read this…… I’m doing the same to you! QUESTION, REVIEW, RESEARCH, VERIFY AND THINK when someone tells you something is perfectly normal and always true.

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The Fall of the United States?

We have been listening for the past three years to our current President’s diatribes against people he disagrees with through his Twitter account. This morning on NPR’s Morning Edition. As Summer Heated Up, Trump’s Tweets About Non-White Democrats Intensified. This segment sparked my mind to remember what he said yesterday about the Kurds and WWII. Many in the media and others took this as another gaffe or “misspeak” of President Trump due to his apparent ignorance of history.

Then I remember a comment he made a few days ago that “he chooses his words very carefully.” What if we choose to believe him on this comment? If so, then you can link the above segments and see something frighteningly manipulative and destructive to our current form of government.

Many of our citizens are not well-versed in any type of history except what they may remember from their K-12 social studies classes. (I am a former high school social studies teacher myself.) The history taught at these levels is a “sanitized” version of history. meant to show the United States in a positive light. Because it is how we build tradition and pride in our country. I am not saying that I agree or disagree with this, but that it is what happens for the most part.

Our President has weaponized this weak understanding of U.S. history to his advantage. His tweets to his followers about non-white Democrats are meant to dehumanize them. His comments about the Kurds and WWII are meant to reassert a time when the “white” United States had to rescue the “rest of the world” from tyranny and destruction. A time when the United States was strong and apparently invincible. And also a time when “white” Americans were in control at home. Before “those” people were in positions of power.

I know I am being very blunt here. I mean to be. You see, the vile evil who cause World War II and his henchmen did the SAME THING during the 1930s in Germany. They dehumanized Jews by equating them to vermin, Gypsies were shown as evil, gays and lesbian were deviant and subhuman. Our President plays the buffoon well to those who dare to question him. That is also a ploy, I bet. If we do not take his words seriously, then we allow him to continue his subversive tactics with those who follow him almost blindly.

We must continue to call him out on his vile diatribes, his mischaracterizations but not give him any passes about being ill-informed or ignorant. I believe he knows exactly what he is doing. And it terrifies me.

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Gender Neutral?

Dyke is Not a Gender-Neutral Word. That’s Why It’s Powerful.*

I remember the first time I was called dyke. It shocked me. I was afraid of the word. It was meant to hurt me.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was meant as a derogatory term and to make me “less than.”  Well, for me that just wouldn’t do.  Even before I knew I was one, I knew I was different, not like many of the other girls, I knew. 

I decided at way back then that it was okay with me if I was different.  (and it was a number of things not just my orientation) I decided I would be unique.  I would be me as much as I could.

That’s not to say I didn’t struggle with my orientation.  I did. I was naivé about sexual orientation as we call it today. I just knew I loved who I loved with my whole heart. 

When I finally figured it out, in my late 20s, I was amazed that there were other women like me. 

And then someone called me a dyke.

There were no protections then. I could be fired, I almost was. I could be attacked, I have been. But I had found people like me. I was home.  So if anyone wants to call me a dyke these days, I try to remember to say Thank You, for recognizing my individuality.  (there is still that visceral reaction of WHAT??!! but I move past that.) 

Some may not like the term. Many have used it in a derogatory fashion. It’s a label.

But you know, I’m okay with the label. There was a time when I wasn’t.

But I support women of all orientations.

I love women in any shape or form. I admire women be they bold or shy. I listen to women who speak. I listen to women who are quiet. All women are a force to be reckoned with. Conservative women, liberal women, independent women. Whether they admit to it or not, they break barriers, disrupt the status quo, invade and violate society’s norms and push the envelope. That is their superpower.

I know men are saying, “wait, what about us?” Well, I love men as well, but not in a sexual or romantic sense, most of the time. As with many of us, I tried that route. I like men, but I don’t what to take one home with me. I can honestly say the men I loved, I loved the same way I love everything. I jump in with BOTH feet. But with men, it was only about to my waist. When I romantically and/or physically love a woman, I jump in with BOTH feet all the way up to my spiky hair.

Apparently, I am passionate about stuff.

*Claire Heuchanon July 24, 2019 on

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Debate – Healthy or Harmful

One of my high school friends posted something I did not agree with. So I responded to his post.

Obama did not condone violence in Ferguson. Trevon proves a different issue altogether. The guns issue was an FBI operation and they are not ALL approved by the President.

The current PRESIDENT condones violence of the masses against those they disagree with. He says police shouldn’t “be so nice” to those ACCUSED of crimes (not convicted yet).

Another 4 years of TRUMP, well, if that’s what the people decide then I’ll deal with it. But Congress is the body that makes the laws, not the President, who only enforces them. As you can see now, that’s working so well, isn’t it?

What’s with the anger? According to you, we are just where you want us to be as a country. Why aren’t you happy? Because some people disagree with you? That is one of those constitutional rights we have here in the US, freedom of speech. To disagree is not to hate this country or it’s leaders. It’s part of life. If we all agreed we would be a communist country, or a authoritarian regime or even an oligarchy. But as of today, we haven’t taken any of those steps yet.
Have we lost some freedom? Yes, we have. But as of now, we are still a republic that believes in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (as individually defined).

I am resigned to our current occupant of the WH. I accept that he won the electoral college vote. I will also exercise my rights and responsibilities as a citizen to disagree with him and others because my beliefs are just as important to me as yours are to you.

I enjoy a healthy debate. I always have.

It’s sometimes hard to have them these days with people you disagree with because of the anger and vitriol stirred up on all sides. I am not a binary choice person. Sometimes, my anger gets the better of me during a discussion, online or in-person. I am a passionate believer of many things. However, I am usually open to listening to any well-founded argument from any side.

I do not always follow the above adage. It takes time to process information and form opinions. Hard to do on the fly! I try to provoke discussion (as a history teacher, it’s my job!) and encourage others to think about everything. I do not always follow my own teachings. I sometimes believe that everyone should just “know” that I’m correct most of the time. (this is a joke!)

The world has become a place where we take ourselves too seriously. Everything is a crisis. A drama to be played out with everyone watching. A catastrophe of epic proportions. The end of times. The WORST that could happen. (Humming the Four Seasons in my head, here!). We have become MEAN and ANGRY people.

Maybe it’s time we stopped being so serious all the time? What happened to hope? Where is the optimism? How did we lose our “can-do” attitude? When did we start taking ourselves so damned seriously?

You can’t take life too seriously….. Bugs Bunny (my favorite philosopher)

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Lesbians are everywhere and powerful.

Lesbians Won The Women’s World Cup

Lesbian athletes Ashlyn Harris, Megan Rapinoe, and Ali Krieger of the USA following their team’s victory in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France final match between the US and the Netherlands at Stade de Lyon.
Alex Grimm/Getty Images

When I first came out, I, jokingly, said I was now going to assume everyone was LGBTQ until they told me they weren’t. It was a “flip the script” moment for me. My “normal” is lesbian. So when we talk about “normal, common sense” and other norming terms, I ask “whose?”
Many are struggling with the “era of inclusion” that seems to be upon us. It’s scary, unnerving and makes people think. We, humans, don’t like to think. It hurts our heads. As athletes will tell you, muscle memory is hard to change. Your brain functions the same way. You learn a particular way to do something, think about something, and then something else comes along that takes you out of your comfort zone. Asks you to question things that you took for granted.
It’s hard. But it’s here and now. We cannot go back. We will not go back. We can only move forward, fast, slow or stalled for a while. But eventually, we will move forward.
The question then becomes, are. you coming with or are you another rock eroding in the stream of life?

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Is History Irrelevant?

We have tried to regulate history as not important in the 21st century. Books published at the beginning of the century talked about the end of history. Thomas Friedman said the world was now flat. 

History is not about the past. It’s about how we adapt to change. 
Everything we have ever done causes us to react in ways that affect our future.  
We are an amalgamation of our experiences, both personally and collectively. How we raise our children, what our priorities are, are all based on our individual histories. 

Our society has evolved from how our ancestors dealt with everything. Whether we perpetuated positive or negative policies, expanded or contracted government, how our laws work or not. Our entire legal system is based on precedents (that’s history). 

History is complicated, nuanced and always changing. Partly because of historians. Good historical research constantly looks for new information to deepen and enrich our understanding of the past. These things encourage others to relook at how that past affects our current world. We can see the ramifications of decisions. We can evaluate what worked, what did not, and what was not tried. 

Isn’t this what life is all about?

Looking at ourselves, collectively and individually, figuring out what moved us forward and what did not. Then continuing along the path that allows us to deal with our screwups, celebrate our successes and move forward to change what needs to be changed to make this planet a better, safer place for ALL the people who live on it. 

Or did I miss a memo, again?

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Apparently, it’s Lesbian Visibility Day.

So a lot of stuff on FB is asking what being a lesbian means to those of us who identify as lesbians. So here’s what I came up with…..

Being a lesbian is about being the true me. It’s understanding my uniqueness in the world. Coming out was like being able to finally breath and understand myself. Like all the pieces fell into place. I made sense to myself.

The world finally made sense. I was different. At peace with me. Maybe not with the world but me was okay with the lesbian thing. I realized that there were more of “me” in the world, I wasn’t the only one. I had “people.” I had a group to identify with. And that was a good thing.

So, I am visible. I am a lesbian. And it’s my day. But everyday is my lesbian visibility day. Everyday since I came out. (and maybe those before?!). Those who see me may not realize it but they are viewing a proud, happy lesbian. I hope they can get on board with that.

If they cannot, then that’s on them. I cannot hide who I am. I don’t want to. I love my life (most of the time) and I try to show everyone that side of me. Do I have issues? Of course, I am still a human being (I think?).

I have people who love me, who like me and family who accepts me. I have rainbows, triangles, lots of music, tons of books and research that supports me being me.

I love my life, every lesbian minute of it. Oh, and for all those people who haven’t met me yet, you need to know something about my viewpoint of the world. I decided when I came out I would “flip the script” on life. I now assume everyone I meet is LGBTQI or A until they tell me they’re not! Just keeping those true heterosexuals on their toes!

I hope you all have had a great Lesbian Visibility Day! I look forward to this annual event! (Now if we can only get everyone on board to the concept that women are innately superior to men, my life will be complete!)

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Our Republic – if we can keep it!

People are saying that the LGBTQ+ visible boycott of Chick-Fil-A is another example of “trolling” and leftist activism. I disagree.

There have been boycotts before, many of them, by a variety of constituencies and for a variety of reasons. Farm workers against low wages & inhuman working conditions, blacks against segregation, many of this country against businesses for continuing to work with South Africa as it practiced apartheid. It is a peaceful way to express one’s disagreement with something a company is doing.

I have refused to eat at Chick-Fil-A off and on for the past 10 years because of their support of groups that discriminate against me. I refuse to shop at Walmart for similar reasons or eat at Cracker Barrel. Yes, the people have the complete right to support whatever group they like. I know that my little personal boycott won’t cause them to change.

I do agree that the wedding cake case was a little out there. My reasoning is that why on what should be one of the happiest celebrations of love, would you want a bakery, church, or other entity who feels you are an abomination, are going to hell or think you should be jailed, put into therapy or even killed, because you choose to love differently than they do. I understand about making a statement but you cannot “force” people to accept things they disagree with. We, as a people, have been trying to do that for years. We need to prod through our government, yes, but not only that. We need to change minds and hearts. Ellen DeGeneres has made more in-roads toward acceptance and equality through being true to herself and an example. I remember reading a book where it said if all LGBTQ+ people were “lavender” for a day the straight population would be amazed at how connected we all are.

I believe we need to talk to each other instead of yelling/fighting/or running to our respetive “corners” and sticking our tongues out at each other then turning our backs. For those who knew me when I was a confused teenager, that confusion lasted until I was 30. Then I figured it out. As the perpetual student I am, I did my research and found that there were other people “like me.” I also knew that I had been “this way” since I was a kid. So, unlike many of my friends, I believed that I “came” this way. That to me meant that God was okay with it. My mother was supportive but confused. She never disowned me, stopped talking to me or denied my existence. She said she loved me and that was it. That is really all everyone wants, it’s it? If we can move back to a place of respect for everyone but agree to disagree, I’m all for it. But RESPECT is the key.

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Is Historical Thinking Yesterday’s News?

I have just finished reading Eric Alterman’s article in the New Yorker, The Decline of Historical Thinking. He talks about how our colleges and universities are seeing declines in those majoring in history.

I have read articles like this in the past. I was told when I was majoring both in history and history education that I would never find a job because no one wanted to learn about history anymore. When I was working on my masters, the same thing. With the dawning of our current century, books came out saying it was the end of history for a number of different reasons. In fact I have a few of them. Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat comes to mind. The uptick in history majors at elite institutions shows that those seeking privilege or wishing to remain privileged understand that studying history in important. For them, it is to retain their advantage. Smaller schools with more first gen students are now seen as modern day factories for workers in many ways. Listen to the way administrators talk at these schools. This is way politicians are so adamant about being involved in education at all levels. It’s a means to maintain the status quo.

But Alterman does not end on a dismal note. He mentions Bruce Springsteen’s awakening to learning about history through A Pocket History of the United States. Many people have come to similar realizations upon finding something interesting in historical tomes. I, myself, have renewed my love of history in reading Jill Lepore’s These Truths, a new study of United States history. It is a thick book but it is readable and full of different stories regarding the American continents. Most people only think history is about “dates and dead people.” My first high school students told me this when I began teaching in the 1980s. I asked how did they know they were “dead.”

As a student of history, I know now that history isn’t dead, it’s not even past many times. And as Alterman says, our current President in NOT a student of history. If fact, he rewrites it every chance he gets. He is assuming that U.S. citizens were just as bored in their school history classes as he was. I work everyday to make sure he is incorrect. History is vibrant, exciting and very relevant to our country. And I will be damned if I allow it to be repeated.

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Of the people, by the people, and for the people.

I was listening to NPR this morning, as I usually do. However, since today is a “snow” day for me, I didn’t have to get up and get ready for work. I stayed in bed, listening to the different stories of the day. The federal government is still “partially” shutdown, many employees are furloughed or having to work without pay, in Los Angeles, teachers are going on strike over the issues of their school system. These situations are intertwined.

Our nation seems to have forgotten the above quote. Local and state governments across the country continue to de-fund or underfund school systems, public and states colleges/universities. In the name of fiscal responsibility. However, these same governmental entities will offer tax incentives and breaks to multinational corporations to move their businesses into their areas, in the name of creating more opportunities for their constituents.

What about the country’s future? What about concerning ourselves with what our country will look like 30, 50, or 100 years from now? What will be this generation’s legacy to the future? We saw the excesses of the 1920s and its resultant plunge into the Great Depression of the 1930s. We created a safety net for citizens then to prevent another human disaster like that from happening again. We learned ways to mitigate the disaster from affecting the upper classes and some of the middles classes in the future. Remember when financial downturns occurred in the 18th & 19th centuries, they were termed “panics.” The Great Depression changed how we looked at them. Our safety net worked for a while. Then we became numb to issues in the country. We were told that those who used welfare, food stamps, unemployment were people who were scamming the system. They didn’t want to work. They wanted to get away with not contributing to society and country.

REALLY?! Are there some that do that? Of course there are. But they are at all levels of our society, rich, middle class and poor. The rich take advantage of their ability to influence public policies and laws to skew them in their favor. The middle class take advantage of tax breaks that they can. The poor have fewer choices.

When I was a kid, gambling was considered evil and vile. Now we have government sanctioned lotteries across the country, casinos in every state and many businesses constantly have promotions that make people think they can get something for almost nothing. Most people believe that working for a living is a good thing. It gives you a sense of accomplishment, a sense of worth, a sense of being.

Now, many seem to think that we cannot expand our economy, our culture, our nation and our democracy to accommodate newcomers again. They are incorrect. It is our diversity that strengthens us. Our differences that bind us together. Our belief in an ideal that causes us to unite into one nation. Our strengths come from our common goals – freedom, the pursuit of happiness and equality.

Those in positions of power and those with wealth believe that they can continue to keep us divided by exposing our weaknesses and pitting us against each other. That is one way they continue to exploit the system.

Remember what this “American Experiment” aspires to be – a better place for those who are willing to believe in a better life.

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Learning as a Political Act

“First, education is a political act, whether at the university, high school, primary school or adult literacy classroom.  Why?  Because the very nature of education has the inherent qualities to be political, as indeed politics has educational aspects.  In other words, an educational act has a political nature and a political act has an educational nature.  . . . Education worldwide is political by nature.”

– Paulo Freire, The Politics of Education


What is Freire saying here?

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Thoughts on a Book – Caren Werlinger’s In This Small Spot.

I just finished reading Caren J. Werlinger’s In This Small Spot. It is not a new book, in fact, its original publication was in 2007 with a reprint in 2013.

Not many things can make me cry. Music is usually the only thing. This book, In This Small Spot, has done this as well. The depth of emotions in this tome pull you into the story. The strength of Werlinger’s writing creates a world that few ever experience. And the few that do ever talk about.

This is the first book in a very, long time that I have read over only 48 hours.

The depth and breadth of Werlinger’s research is apparent even if I hadn’t read the acknowledgments. She draws you into to the monastic life of a postulant and eventually a nun. The struggles of leaving one life to create another.

She shows through flashbacks, how people are shaped by their experiences. How joy can grow from sorrow. How to live a life to its fullest. I believe it is a perfect book for our turbulent times in many ways.

Using her characters’ reflection and introspection, you may find yourself examining your priorities as you read. It is not the easiest read but it is worth it. I found it led me to ask questions about many things. I think you might as well.

Thank you, Caren Werlinger, for this wonderful book.

Who are the people in the Republican Party today?

The Republican Party grew from the Whig party back in the 19th century. They were the progressive party than understood that the United States could no longer exist as a divided country, half slave and half not. (I deliberately did not say “free.”)

From Abraham Lincoln’s election and into the 20th century, they were a party encompassed both liberals and conservatives but not radicals. Theodore Roosevelt was a Republican until he wasn’t. Under TR, we created a national park system to preserve nature, He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his successful negotiation to end the Russo-Japanese War. He was a progressive conservative. His successor, William Howard Taft, was more conservative. This schism within the party gave rise to the Bull Moose party which essentially “gave” the election to the Democratic Party and Woodrow Wilson.

The Democratic Party was the party of the antebellum South. It was the party of slavery. It wielded enough power in Congress to perpetuate slavery as the United States expanded. Until it didn’t.

After the Civil War and Reconstruction, white Southerners were Democrats, all of them. The Republican Party was the party of former slaves and Abraham Lincoln. Republicans were a minority party in the former Confederate states for over a century. Until they weren’t.

Mid-20th century, the Democratic Party began to crack into factions. The conservatives and the progressives. Southern Democrats became more conservative and got the name, “Dixiecrats.” These were people who were conservative, mostly supported segregation and supported Jim Crow laws. People like Robert Byrd, who served West Virginia as both a U.S. Representative and influential Senator. He had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. These were conservative Democrats. Later in the 20th century, those conservative, southern Democrats began to desert the Party and changed their affiliation from Democrat to Republican.

This brings us to 2021. Again, another schism has formed, this time back in the Republican Party. The split seems eerily familiar if you are acquainted with United States political history.

Just thought I’d voice some of what I remember. Yes, there are many other reasons why the changes took place. And maybe we can look at that as well. But for those who believe the current Republican Party is evil, they are US.

Where do we go from now?

Where did we lose our optimism?

Lose our idea that the future would be better?

Lose that idea that JFK put into words?

Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?

The idea that we can go to the moon and beyond.

That we move forward.

That love is more powerful than hate.

That people are more important than “stuff.”

That we learn everyday from everything that happens

Everything is a lesson.

Life is transient.

We will all die some day.

This scares us.

We don’t WANT to die.

Wealth has become our goal in life.


We can’t take it with us.

A loaf of bread that cost 25 cents years ago now costs 3 dollars.

Today’s bread is not better than yesterday’s bread.

We need to TALK to each other.

Where are we going?

What do we want?

How can we live with our mistakes?

How do we move past our errors?

How do we get “there” from “here?”

We need to change.

Our world needs to be revisited and revised.

There is no such thing as scarcity but there are those who amass wealth.

But having wealth is like sitting on a mountain of sand.

Wealth is fleeting.

The more you grab for wealth

The more you can lose your soul.

The only constant in our world is change.

Every day is something different.

Every thought is fleeting.

Every footstep disappears into the wind.

We will NOT get out of this world alive.

No matter how long you live,

You will die.

This is not morbid,

It is a fact.

We cannot outrun it, push it away, hide from it.

Sunrise, sunset,

Beginnings, endings

These are inevitable.

We fear the unknown.

We fear what fear what we don’t know

We are terrified of what we don’t understand.

We fear what is different from what we know

We fear those are different from us.

We have been taught to fear.

Instead of seeing difference as opportunity,

As a chance to learn,

To expand our thoughts,

To feel new feelings,

To embrace more people.

Society has taught us to be be terrified.

I must have missed that day.

I am rarely terrified.

I look at the new as opportunity, not pain.

I wander, I learn, I grow.


Where were they?

I have a question for my friends. I have seen/heard that our President, his son, and Rudy Guiliani were saying “we’re” coming to get you during Wednesday unlawful assault on our nation’s Capitol.

Did I miss something? Where were they? I didn’t notice them on site. Oh, that’s correct, they were under a tent on the White House lawn. Having a party and watching on TV. Drinking, eating, laughing. Having, what looked like, a really fun time.

While those who feel aggrieved by what these people have told them were breaking the law and rioting through OUR Capitol, they were celebrating what they had begun. Not by participating and supporting their followers but by soliciting and taking money from them and partying. Was this the equivalent of “fiddling while Rome burned?” Sounds like it.

I am hoping that those who have grievances understand that there are peaceful ways to address them. Vote, get involved in your local, state and federal governments, form peaceful groups that can petition the governments you feel have aggrieved you. Work peacefully to change the system where you see inequities. But remember there are more viewpoints and opinions than just yours. You must understand that there are many sides to every situation and story. Our country, flawed as it is, was born through compromise. Compromise which has set up some of our inequities because they have never been confronted and dealt with.

Equality of its citizenry, its genders, it’s multiple ethnicities, it’s social statuses, the economic inequalities. These things have NEVER truly been confronted and dealt with. They have been given short term patches, ignored, and allowed to grow and fester.

This is why learning and understanding our history as a nation is so important. Not the sanitized history that you learned in grade and high school. That’s a lot of propaganda. I know, I have taught it.

We need to own up to our failures as well and laud our successes. This is how we become the “city on the hill” that others can look to in the future. But we have to acknowledge our shortcomings, our failures before we can trumpet our successes.

I have been ready to do this for a number of years. My friends, students and colleagues can attest to that. I am still very proud to be a United States citizen. But I am saddened and embarrassed by the behavior of my fellow citizens. I am reaching out to everyone to come together rationally and peacefully to figure out how we move forward.

Trust me, I am as passionate as you are. But I will fight to the death for you to be able to PEACEABLY voice your opinions and ideas, will you do the same for people like me?

Happy Holidays to one and all.

It’s the time of year where we celebrate! We reflect on the past year, gather our loved ones together, and resolve for the next year to be better.

This year has seemed so much longer than “just” a year. It started with promise for some, trepidation for others but it morphed into anger, fear, hate, violence and inanity for almost everyone. Myself included.

I am a “cockeyed optimist.” I have always believed that humankind is innately “good.” This past year has sorely tested my beliefs.

I am a member of the “baby-boom” generation. We grew up believing there was nothing that we could not do. (at least some of us who were white) I was never told I couldn’t do anything but I did learn that hard truth as a teen. I remained optimistic most of the time.

This is the time of year I look to holy books, philosophies and ponder what could be.

Most religious texts talk of many things. Struggles, rules, regulations, trials, professions of fealty and faith. But as far as I can tell, they all speak of acceptance, inclusion and welcoming all who come into your world. They also speak of helping those less fortunate than ourselves, caring for the infirm, elderly, children and taking in those who need help in any way.

“It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter heaven.”

The Sermon on the Mount is something you don’t hear about these days. I’ve wondered why. So I went back and reread it in a few different versions/translations. Here’s what I read:

When we’re in a bad place is when we can open ourselves to look beyond “you” and find a truer purpose. Where we learn to accept others as they are without judging them.

When you’ve lost what you love most is when you can look outside yourself for solace and guidance.

When you accept who you are and can be content with “you,” is when you become less about “stuff” and more about happiness and contentment. We can then see how others have struggled as well and delight in their successes without malice or animosity.

This is when you begin to look beyond our material world and try to find the meaning of your life and what you want your legacy to be.

You begin to care about others. Others will care about you. You can now freely give yourself to those around you without the need for acceptance or praise.

When you accept yourself as you are, not how the world wants you to be, then you begin to see others as they are and learn that we are all unique in our own ways. And that is what makes our world so wonderful and fantastic.

When you try to bring about cooperation not division, you accept yourself and see how you and everyone fits into the world. Everyone has a purpose.

Once you have accomplished the above, and can follow it, then you stick to your beliefs despite the disapproval and hatred of others. Your persistence will bring you more love and more peace.

When you remain true to these things even when you are ridiculed by others – –

This is when you are blessed!

It is said a rising tide lifts all boats but that’s not true. If some boats are too low, they will sink. We need to think about how our policies and economies affect all of those around us. If all of us are prosperous is when our society and the world improves.

How do we want to be remembered and judged?

Did you help those less fortunate? Give them food, shelter, nourishment, clothing? Provide adequate healthcare, visit them in whatever situation/illness imprisoned them?

If you failed to do this in any situation, as individuals or as a nation, then you have reneged on your promise and devotion to your God, Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, other sacred group and even most philosophers.

WE do not know why we are here on this minuscule planet.

I refuse to think it is for NO purpose. I believe we are here to learn, help others and love each other as we are. That we should care for each other unconditionally. That we MUST accept each other or we will never persist to the next level of existence.

I still choose to be optimistic in this world. It might be because I just like being contrary. But I hope there are others who will read this and think again about the history we are currently writing.

I wish everyone a joyous season, a fruitful, safe and peaceful New Year. I wish everyone the ability and strength to look inward and find your “eternal optimist” again.

Above all, I love each and everyone of you.

Sometimes, I wonder……

Learning is by nature curiosity… prying into everything, reluctant to leave anything, material or immaterial, unexplained. – Philo of Alexandria

Actually, I wonder all the time.

A few years ago, the College of Education at the University of South Florida, where I worked at the time, was trying to boost enrollment. You see, undergraduate students were not choosing to go into teaching. It was when teachers were being blamed for all the ills in our society. Politicians, pundits and others believed teachers had undue influence over children and young adults in school. They taught “radical” ideas.

I came up with this to use to recruit more into the teaching profession: BE AN ACTIVIST. BE A TEACHER ———CHANGE THE WORLD. My boss looked at me with eyebrows raised. — “Really, that’s what you want to say?” I said of course, if people believe we have so much influence, we need to own it!

Those who know me, know I am passionate about being a teacher. I am also passionate about being a learner. I read, listen, watch and try to learn everyday of my life. This is a good radical education.

A good radical education is:

  • Loving people first.
  • Wanting for them what you want for yourself.
  • Respecting other people’s abilities to learn and act and shape their own lives.
  • Valuing their experiences as you do your own.

This is what I believe with my heart and soul. This came across my FB feed a few days back:

Isn’t this what we are supposed to do in life?

This is what the College of Education looked like when I was a student. It was one of the best in the country.

These are some of my advisees. They are great teachers. I hope I passed on some advice they can use as they move forward. The university is beginning to end it’s undergraduate education program. Times change. People change. But learning should never go out of style.

Indoctrination or Learning More about Our History…

I have so much to say about this. Patriotic Education?

First, Trump has NO idea what is taught in K-12 schools. But apparently, he wasn’t a stellar student.
I was a classroom teacher, certified to teach the social sciences, which includes history in 6-12 classrooms. I did that for 5 years. I think I was pretty good at it, maybe some of my former students think differently. But I tried.
In some ways, teaching U.S. history in K12 schools is indoctrination. Remember, we are a diverse population. We have a variety of cultures, religions, and histories. So, schools are charged with teaching about how we became a nation. And part of that is teaching about our founding.
It’s a complicated history. Yes, many of our original leaders owned people. And many did not. I believe that American slavery, which started when Europeans got here, before 1619. Remember that fella, Columbus, he enslaved the indigenous people he found. Then the Spanish worked to convert them to the Catholic faith.
The English from Jamestown traded goods to Portuguese slave traders who needed food/water after being thrown off course. They only had the slaves to trade. BOOM! American slavery was born in the English Colonies.
Slaves provided cheap labor to work on farms and later plantations in the southern states. The northern states benefited from this in the textile mills in MA, CT, RI and other colonies. So, those of you in the North were also complicit. Those of you who came later benefited from the original sin due to our economic makeup.
Our public school system does not teach much about this in any of the states. It’s a complex problem. Our founders benefited from slavery. Many owned other people. Jefferson may have written “All men are created equal” but his concepts of “man” did not include people of color, any color. He was a product of his times.
Should we tear down our nation because he was a flawed human being? Well, didn’t some guy say, “those without sin, cast the first stone.” Should we “whitewash” our history and not say anything about his flaws? NO!
Part of what makes this country so great is that despite the flaws of EVERYONE who has lead us, including the current President, have skeletons in their closets. You, me, your parents, people you love, people you hate. We are all human. And our country gives you a second chance, or we try to… I know that’s an issue as well.
It’s the fact that even with their flaws, they looked forward to try to build something better than they knew.
Are we a perfect nation, no, most days we are far from it. It’s the fact that we realize that and we try to be better. To leave this country a better place than we found it.
But that doesn’t mean we try to recreate the past. That does’t work. We can’t go back. There’s no TARDIS or time machine. We are stuck here. As Mary Chapin Carpenter sang, There’s fast, slow and stall, no reverse.
I believe we are in a “stall” time. Change happens. We can’t stop it, we can try but it doesn’t work that way. Our current President believes most of us only worry about the economy. I believe we are more complex than that.
I believe we can delve into the our past, discover more truths without hiding from the ‘icky, yucky” parts. It’s complex, it requires critical thinking skills, a lot of angst and pain and healing. Healing together as the flawed, complex country that we are.
We already fought a war to end slavery. I don’t want to fight another. But we need to heal together. That means, unlike many of our current politicians, we need to find common ground, realize we don’t ALL get EVERYTHING we want. We move forward together. We will be stronger together, even as we are broken and healed again. Like muscles, we get strong when we are stressed and torn, for when we heal we become a more perfect union.
But as I say all the time, “what do I know, I’m ‘just’ a teacher!”

Political Convention or TV showcase?

I am going to be cynical in this post. (Warning)

I watched as much of both made-for-TV conventions as I could.

Both were professionally polished. Both had a variety of people speaking. Both were designed to showcase ideas.

Honestly, I enjoyed the DemocratIC convention more than the Republican. Anyone who had read my posts or knows me personally will understand that.

I do try to listen to as many sides of situations as I can find. However, I don’t respond well when someone “yells” at me. Even if I agree with what is being said. But I understand being passionate about something. Some believe I am angry when I am being passionate about topics. Over the years, I have tried to temper my “passion.” I am not always successful.

Back, to the conventions. (Sorry, for the above explanations!)

This morning, I listened to On The Media as I normally do on Saturday mornings. The segment Bizarro World caught my ear. I started thinking. (It’s a dangerous thing!) I encourage you to listen to it.

Here’s the cynical part.

The Republican convention seemed to either ignore the pandemic, or talk about it like it was over.

I have noticed that the administration has been pushing us to go back to normal. (Now at this point, we have over 5 million infected, and over 180,000 dead from it.) The cynical me is asking why??

Blatantly ignoring something does not make it go away. Talking about it in the past tense (Larry Kudlow) does not mean it’s really over.

But those who listen and believe what is being said will go out and return to normal. And since the pandemic is not over, some will die. Some will survive but with debilitating issues. Some will be fine. It’s a crapshoot, isn’t it?

So, what those who want normal again hope, is that the aftermath will be acceptable to the population. The United States population is small but we account for 25% of the deaths from the coronavirus. Interesting statistic.

The current administration seems to be willing to accept these realities. We have lost more people in this country than we have from world wars, 9/11 and the previous pandemic from 1918!

They seem to believe this is acceptable. Why? Well, for one thing, not many of them see to be personally affected. They have access to testing and more than adequate healthcare. And they can access it early and often. Some of the rest of us cannot.

So, basically, what I’m trying to say is very cynical. They are fine with the current statistics and the number of people who have died from this virus.

Since we don’t have a vaccine that is viable, more will die. More will suffer if they survive. Families will mourn. Our country will lose what these people could have contributed if they had not contracted the virus.

Maybe cures for deadly diseases such as cancer, MS and ALS will be delayed. Maybe a transition away from fossil fuels will happen too late to save our environment. Maybe world peace will be delayed.

Maybe, that’s what our current resident in the White House wants.

I have noticed he thrives on adversity and contentiousness. If he loses this, what will drive him? How can he drive wedges between segments of our population if everything is going well? He cannot point to groups or people if we are ALL doing well. He will have no groups to pit against each other.

He will not be able to point out the differences between us. He will not be able to push the anger and pain that some feel and need to have someone to “blame” for it.

Is our country perfect? No, it isn’t. We have far to go to even see perfect in the distance.

However, we can handle the truth. We can rise to deal with adversity. We can come together to solve any issues we are confronted with.

But we have to acknowledge them and we have to come together to confront and conquer them. We cannot ignore them, stick our heads into the sand or turn away from each other. We are the UNITED States. We fought a war over being united. We decided we were stronger together than apart.

We have forgotten that. It’s time to live up to our ideals, no matter how flawed the composers of them. Because they knew they fell short but that they still felt it important to say them. Because if you have NO aspirational goals, what is living for?

Again, as usual, just my two cents!

Be safe, be curious, think critically, wear your masks to protect others, wash your hands to protect yourself and be compassionate to everyone and in everything you do.

What does “All Lives Matter” really mean?

I just finished reading an article in the Washington Post about a 17 year old black man. He lives in Marion, VA. His family moved there when he was 10. As with much of the country, he was moved to action after George Floyd’s murder. He led a Black Lives Matter march in his town.

That was three weeks prior. He and his family received threats. A cross was burned in their front yard. He lost his job at Hardee’s “because of his protests.” His little sister faced angry people. But still he moved forward with the upcoming protest. He received threats, blatant and veiled, on FB. Some HS friends told him to stop. Some threatened him. Still he moved forward. He decided another protest was needed.

The morning of the protest march, the police chief told him, counter-protestors were massing around the route. Fifty bikers with confederate flags on their bikes, guns at their sides gunned their engines as they rode into downtown Marion. Two hundred other counter protestors gathered at the protest march location, a confederate memorial at the courthouse.

Police and sheriff’s officers were there to keep the peace. They did their jobs, no arrests, no physical violence. The police arrested someone for the cross burning. It was a neighbor of this young black man who had helped them find their house and helped them move into the neighborhood. When the marchers began to chant “We Love You” to the counter protestors, it stunned them to silence.

This intro brings me to the title of this blog. (Sorry for the long intro.)

When the marcher began to chant, “Black Lives Matter,” the counter protestors countered with “All Lives Matter.” I started thinking about these phrases.

Black Lives Matter. All Lives Matter.

I believe both. I believe Women’s Lives Matter, Latinx Lives Matter, Asian Lives Matter, Native American Lives Matter, LGBTQQAIA Lives Matter. Yes, All Lives Matter.

Then why is it used as a counter to the march’s Black Lives Matter?

If you ask those saying it, they will tell you that’s what they believe. That they are “not racist.” I believe that they believe that. But is it true?

I cannot say it is or it is not. But I can say that those who say it may be feeling “oppressed” for the first time in their lives. They are being asked to examine what they have always believed to be true. And that’s scary for them.

Because of the racism that is “baked” into our country’s national psyche. It was there at the beginning and accepted by many people. It was supported and spread by the white, male planter class to separate the poorer whites from the black slaves. It was perpetuated after Reconstruction to “restore” white males to power. It bled into our everyday lives slowly but pervasively. Many of us didn’t even see it.

It became “normal.”

Those who continue to say “All Lives Matter” as a counter to “Black Lives Matter,” this is what you are really saying – Black Lives Matter BUT white lives matter more.

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