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:

QUESTION AUTHORITY!

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 AfterEllen.com

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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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Musings for a Sunday

I am thinking about my life these days. A blog post I read the other day about a young person who is comfortable with his gender identity AND his gender expression. He is just entering his teen years. He has a wonderful outlook on himself and appears comfortable being non-conforming to the outdated concepts of gender identity of our history.

I am duly impressed with this young person’s grasp of himself at what I now consider his young age. This started me thinking about myself at his age.

As I look back at my life, I see that I was given some freedom to express myself as I wanted to at home but not in many public settings. This was not so much because of my parents but society’s norms of the time. I am a product of a multigenerational household. Not that my grandparents lived with us but because my parents were older when I was born.

My father was in his 50s and my mother in her early 40s. They had no other children and had been married for 22 years. They opened their home to other friends (men) who paid $35/week for room and board. This was my “normal” as a child until I was eight. We lived on the south side of Chicago.

Again, my “normal” was different from many of my peers but I had no idea about that at the time. It was my life. Being born toward the end of the baby boom era, gave me a sense of optimism and freedom that subsequent generations may not have had. My parents encouraged me to do almost anything I wanted.

My mother was not thrilled that I didn’t like to do “girly” things but she didn’t stop me either. My father taught me to fix things and said I was going to college. Neither of them had gotten past high school. But they were intelligent, hardworking and instilled a sense of “family” in me. I put family in quotes because our family was not just blood related, it was an entire group of people who my family associated with. Mostly of Scandinavian descent but those from our neighborhood as well.

It was a happy childhood. I never seemed to want for anything. (I was spoiled.) My parents and others did instill in me the idea that everyone had worth. We were working class people. During that time, it meant we had a decent home, decent wages and lived in a decent neighborhood.

I didn’t realize any different until I was in college.

To be continued…….

Representation?

I study history. I read history. I teach history. I also teach students understand and navigate how to “do” college. This is my occupation, my job. But it is also my passion. I love teaching. I love engaging students in the beginning of our republic. I love trying to get time to examine and question the decisions of history. To understand who these people were and try to understand “why” they made the decisions they did within the eras these decisions were made.

My institution is beginning the process of searching for a new president to lead us further into the 21st century. A pivotal time for our college, a pivotal time for the community as well. The college is sixty-one years young. Very young compared to other educational institutions in the country and the world.

I have just finished teaching Reconstruction to my U.S. history students. The impeachment of Andrew Johnson and the passage of the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

I am a believer in democracy, well actually, I tend to be more liberal than that. But I believe that all people have the need and the right to govern themselves. That they MUST have a voice in how they are treated by society, government and especially where they work. For their safety, including physical, social and intellectual. WE ALL DESERVE A VOICE.

Our Selection Committee, selected by our Board of Trustees, has little representation of the members of the college community. It has broad representation of the community, which I have no issue with.

It has broad representation of the Trustees themselves. But it has little representation of the staff, administrators, and faculty of college itself. I have an issue with this.

I look through a historical lens for almost everything. When people’s voices, ideas and opinions are repressed, the community becomes stagnant. Stagnant communities will die. I do not want our community to die. I want to see it grow, thrive and be vibrant.

The more you include your classroom, workplace, community in the decisions that affect it, the stronger, more inclusive, and enjoyable it will be.

What is the meaning of you?

Every semester, I ask my first-year students the same question, “WHY?”

Every semester they look back at me with confusion in their eyes or blank stares.

I ask again, “Why?” Some will speak up at this point, “Why what?”

I respond, “Why are you here?”

Some then respond, “It’s a required class.”

I am not asking about why they are taking the class or even why they are in college. I am asking them the fundamental question that every philosopher has asked for millennia, “Why are you here?”

What is our purpose here on this tiny little planet? Philosophy and religions have tried to determine our purpose since we could form thoughts and speak them to each other. Are we just a random group of atoms and molecules that got together to form human beings? Are we just an accident or a mistake? Did we come from alien DNA that mixed in our primordial soup as the planet was cooling? Did a “creator” mix together things that formed us into human beings? Are we the random throw of the cosmic dice?

I have very few answers to any of the above questions.

Teri Carter’s post about “What is the meaning of you?” prompted this post.

It’s Time for Brave Spaces


An Invitation to Brave Space

A Congressman trying to appease the President by “not” breaking into the closed-door hearings this past week in Congress said what’s being done there is “not fair.”

Really? That’s what you think? Really?! Have you read the rules and regulations that govern Congress? I bet you got a copy when you were elected. If not, have one of your staffers get one for you. Read it or have them read it to you, if you are too busy. (I hope your constituents, don’t know you haven’t read the employee manual for the job they elected you to do.) I think most people learned to do their jobs within the first six months but I will cut you some slack, that required fund-raising part takes a lot of time.

Now, let’s talk about what’s fair?!

Here are some things I consider to be NOT FAIR.

We are the richest industrialized country in the world. Yet we have people who are homeless, who suffer from food insecurities (this means they don’t have enough to eat during any given week), have to work two or more jobs to be able to support themselves and their dependents. There are people who cannot afford medications and must choose between food or medication.

We complain about the state of our educational systems in this country but do not provide educators with necessary salaries, textbooks, adequate buildings, needed technologies to provide the necessary basics so our children can learn to think, make decisions and move into our workforce with the needed skills to prosper and survive. (and if you say, you did that for your children, thank you)

If you believe that everyone needs to “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps” I hope they all have boots to start with. We do not start on a level playing field. But if you believe in a Creator and follow one of the three major religions (Judiaism, Christianity or Islam), then maybe you should read your religious texts again. These three religions all trace their roots back to Abraham, Abram, Ibrahim, you know. One of the main tenets of these is to be kind to the “other” or the stranger. To take in those from other countries and offer them solace and a safe haven. To take care of the poor, the unfortunate and the ill or infirm. (not for a cost or to make a profit)

The podcast I have attached to this blog talks about Brave Spaces. Lennon Flowers and Jennifer Bailey talk about peoples’ supper initiatives and bringing together groups of people. Empathy is being PRESENT for each other. Not to totally understand but to accept each other as they are.

I DO NOT HATE ANYONE. I may disagree with them and argue with them and I respect them and their ideologies, however much I do not understand them. We talk about “safe spaces” which, of course, are very important. But when we encounter people, we must meet them in a mutual space that may NOT be safe for each party involved. This is a Brave Space. Not a neutral space, not always a safe space but a place where we can RESPECT each other as human beings with a right and desire to exist. Not “less than,” not “entitled,” and not even equal.

I know many may not understand why we can’t be equal. Well, on a human plane, none of us are equal to each other. Hear me out. I look at each individual I meet as just that, an individual, a uniquely created entity that has potential, intelligence and a special place in our world. This is the way I try to look at everyone. I do not always succeed in this view but I continue to try.

The term “Brave Spaces” resonated with me when I heard it. I read Brené Brown’s Braving the Wilderness after the 2016 election. We were entering into the unknown then. For me, we seem to be wandering in the wilderness now. In order to survive, we need to step out of our egotism and ourselves a little bit more.

We have all moved into our respective corners either to heal or plot the downfall of “those” people out there who do not agree with us. We struggle with understanding those who are different and cannot understand why in many respects. We have people in our world who truly wish to divide us further and keep us fighting with each other. They magnify our differences and each side blames each other for a multitude of sins. Our glass is alway half-empty. Pessimism reigns. Optimism has no place in our world to them.

Many of those wishing to keep us apart from each other see change as scary and believe that change will be their downfall. Change happens, it normal, natural and usually needed. We cannot stop change only delay it. Then it becomes like a beaver dam on a stream. It can withstand only so much pressure before it inevitably breaks. I believe we are at this point.

We cannot turn back the clock. We can choose to go forward with hope or hate. I am an optimist. Optimists are seen as ill-informed, Pollyannas, and just plain crazy. I am one of those optimists most of the time.

I am choosing hope. I am choosing to believe we are stronger together than apart. That we can be united in our love for our country, the people who live in it AND the people who desperately want to be part of it. (Because we ALL have descendants who had that “American Dream” consciously or not. I know that some did not come here by choice and that was unfair and terrible. That does need to be accepted and dealt with. But we cannot undo what’s been done. We must recognize the inequity and the “sins” of our founders/ancestors. But we cannot do that unless we begin to step into “Brave Spaces” where we agree to honor and respect each other as unique individuals with equal worth, intellect and integrity.

It is long past time for this. Let’s begin to move forward, heal ourselves and others. Let’s work toward being our “better angels” and show the world that the United States is a great nation among other great nations. That we have the capacity to grow, learn from our mistakes, AND create a better world for all its inhabitants.

Are you with me?

18 years later……..

It was a beautiful morning. Not a cloud in the sky. Sun shining down as she drove down the interstate. It was an hour drive to get to work but driving was always relaxing for her, time to think through the upcoming day, plotting everything out and then singing with the radio. She was going against the traffic flow, driving south through the Florida sunshine on a gorgeous day to a new job with a new group of people. Sunroof open, windows down. What could be better?

She made good time and got to campus early. Good thing, there were a hundred things to do to make sure this campus pep rally came off without a hitch! It was the first time for a pep rally at this regional campus and she had helped bring it altogether as one of her first duties in this new position. She had students coming from across the two counties the campus served. children from YMCA, Boy/Girls Clubs, and the local elementary schools. She was decked out in green and gold, school colors, even her socks! She had never been one of those “rah-rah” types but she was jazzed about this.

Members of the football team, the coach, the athletic director and the marching band were traveling from the main campus to participate. The campus Board of Trustees would be there. The campus president, the local mayor and city council members were all confirmed. If this came off without a hitch, what a feather in her cap! Her boss was excited about this making a name in the community for this regional campus. Pulling this off would definitely prove to the boss, she had picked the right person. “I got this!” she said to the rearview mirror before she exited the car.

What you read above is how I wanted to remember 9/11. How I felt before the world changed. But that wasn’t what was going on in my head. I was nervous. I was worried I wouldn’t be good enough for the plans. That I had faked my way into a position I had no business in. That I would not make it through my probationary period in this new position. My apprehension about the pep rally was palpable, really. About the only totally true part of the above paragraphs was the fact I loved (and still do) to drive and I do love my alma mater.

I walked in and disappeared into my office, making some phone calls about the buses that would ferry the school kids to and from the campus. Made sure all the “university swag” was ready to go for that afternoon. We had planned the pep rally to start around 4 PM, because we were a commuter campus and most of our students attended in the evening. I was browsing something on my computer when I heard a series of gasps from our “bullpen” area. I wandered out front to see what was happening. My colleagues looked shellshocked. One was pulling out a little television and connecting it to the cable in the ceiling. The picture appeared and we watched the plane hit the second tower. We all looked at each other. No words from any of us. Our financial aid director came out of his office, just staring, mumbling. We waited, someone on the TV was talking about a national emergency and that the FAA had grounded all flights in the entire country. Then the towers collapsed.

Our campus was directly across from the city’s international airport. The financial aid director and I walked outside. It seemed so quiet, it was unsettling. I realized how I had learned to ignore the sound of planes taking off and landing. It was so surreal. We sat outside, each in wrapped up in our own thoughts and fears. Then out of nowhere we heard a plane taking off. We looked around for cover and then looked to the sky. I was thinking who would defy a no-fly order? Were we under attack in southwest Florida? Why? Then we figured it out. Overhead, we saw the bottom of plane as it flew over the campus and gained altitude. It was Air Force One. President Bush had been in town, visiting an elementary school in the area.

To this day, I cannot remember what we said to each other. But he and I bonded that day and all the days afterward, along with most of the rest of our colleagues. We talked about so many things that day. Tried to make sense of everything without results. We were a family after that day. Despite our differences, we loved each other and all of humanity after that day. Even now, we remember.

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