Tag Archives: love

And So This Is Christmas…

24 Dec

And what have we done?

Congress has still not brought our troops home from the longest war in America’s history…over 12 years and counting and can anyone tell me what we are there fighting for today? The war in Afghanistan has eclipsed our second longest war by almost 3 years but that’s only because it started almost 3 years before that one did. Can you name our 2nd longest war?

It’s the war in North-West Pakistan, which I did not even know we were engaged in. Did you?

Our Veteran’s now face sky rocketing suicide rates, leukemia from exposure to radioactive ammunition and return home with severe physical and mental disorders…excuse me…I mean simply, Post Traumatic Stress.

Meanwhile, at home our Congress voted this year to cut food stamps to 50 million Americans, most of whom are women and children, that we have managed to vilify for being so vulnerable and hungry…I’m sorry…they are now known as the “food insecure”.

Congress is also trying to decide if they should extend unemployment compensation into the new year for those who have reached their limit in benefits. After all says, Rand Paul, the best way to end unemployment is for the unemployed to “go get a job”. The unemployed are now the “chronically lazy.”

Congress has also sat idly by while housing shortages and the homeless population in our country continue to rise…

…As does our prison population. It’s the largest in the world by number and percentage…but at least our prisoners do have a home, so to speak, even if it does cost around 40 thousand dollars each, per year,  just to keep them there. Money well spent would you say?

And One year after the tragedy at Sandy Hook, Congress has still passed no significant legislation to help better regulate guns in our country…but clearly to many members of our most august legislative body it was the victims own fault for going to work and school every day in a “gun free” zone. They should have known better….and apparently, we have more of a mental health problem in our country than a gun problem. We have one of our most beloved presidents to thank for that but don’t mention it. We love him just the same…and it saved us money…so there is that.

And most sadly,  if a child were born to a poor couple in Bethlehem today he would still have twice the chance to live to celebrate his second birthday than if he were born in the United States…and that’s according to the CIA World Factbook.

All in all I’d say that’s a pretty dismal record for a country that fancies itself the greatest “Christian” country in the history of mankind…wouldn’t you?

So my question this “holiday” season is: What does it avail a man or woman to keep the Christ in Christmas if he or she is not going to keep the “Christ” in his or her country all year long?

We may have come a long way Baby, but Jesus, not near enough.

So a very Merry Little Christmas to all.

I hope we all can do better, by god,  in 2014.

Shall we?

 

 

The End of the World As We Know It…

21 Dec

Tonight they say is the end of the world as we know it!

So tomorrow, when you wake up in the morning, do something nice for yourself and for someone else too.

Because at the end of the day, or perhaps sometime before that…it just might be the end of the world…

as we know it.

When will we ever learn?

19 Dec

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral,
begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy.
Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it.
Through violence you may murder the liar,
but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth.
Through violence you may murder the hater,
but you do not murder hate.
In fact, violence merely increases hate.
So it goes.
Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
      -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When will we ever learn that this is the only lesson that matters and that everything else in this world will fall into place once we finally get this lesson into our heads.

Violence and hate are not only the wrong answers they are not answers at all. They are reactions and instincts from our distant past and primitive brains. To declare ourselves to be truly enlightened, emotionally evolved and intelligent people we must learn to answer all questions with love and light, compassion and kindness. That is why we bring children into this world: To live and learn and do better than we did…and that is what we must teach them first and foremost and above all other things.

  “Think you can. Work hard. Get smart. Be kind. And have fun!”                                           – Sandy Hook Elementary school motto

Isn’t that what we all want?

Violence and hate will never secure that for us or our children or our families or our communities or our countries or our cultures or our religions, not in any place, nor at any date nor in any time.

Teach it now. Teach it everywhere. Teach it always.

 

Where your Treasure Is There Is Your Heart Also

14 Dec

In school, Students are always falling in and out of love, always grappling with and agonizing over the question, “Does he/she love me?” or the age old exclamations:

I thought she loved me

Why did he say that?

How could she treat me that way?

It’s just not fair!

This is my advice for those who want to know what love is.

And I believe it to be the truest of tests.

And if you ask yourself and answer this question honestly,

HONESTLY,

It will never fail.

And ask this question both of yourself and your lover, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, significant other, life partner, parent, child or whomever…and ask it just as it is stated and in the proper order.

“Where is your treasure? What do you treasure? What does your partner treasure?” Now answer it honestly for that is where your/her/his heart is and what you/they love.

Then you must accept the answers.

Does your boyfriend, lover, etc. treasure you? Are you what’s important to them? Then they love you. Their heart is with YOU.

If they treasure something else (i.e.: that something else comes first in their lives) like work, money, car, sport, hobby, mother, father, whatever, then their heart is there and that is who or what they love the most, above all else.

It’s nothing to get angry about. It’s the truth and must be accepted. You can’t change it and it won’t be changed through wishing or begging or imagining or promising or by people saying it is or isn’t so. If you can honestly say that you are the one treasured, the one who comes first, then you are truly loved. And consequently if you can say that about someone else then you are in love. And if two people can say that about each other then they are in love and they have found true love, and it will last. But you must ask and answer the question honestly within yourself. Do not let others answer for you and do not rely on others to answer honestly to you for they will always respond with an answer that they will think you want to hear.

You must discern the answers through your own honest and heartfelt observations. If you do, then the answer cannot be disputed. Don’t sugar coat it, don’t compromise it and don’t rationalize it, if it is not the answer that you were hoping for.

Life is truth and truth is neither good nor bad. It is simply truth… and it is only confusing when we endeavor to confuse it.

A Teacher’s Guide to Marriage and Love

10 Dec

 

           We all know that public school isn’t just about learning. Mostly it’s about love isn’t it? It’s mostly learning until about the 5th grade and then middle school and puberty strikes in all its glory with its boobs and behinds and tight jeans, and your brain has little room any more for concentration on the moot and mundane, and your quest for sex, romance and the finding of that one person who will always love you (and who is not your mother) begins.

            For the middle and high school teacher this is a sickening process to watch. Boy meets girl. Boy meets another girl. Cat fight! Did you know that the word catfight actually means a fight between two girls and not a fight between two cats? But I digress…

Once a boy came running into my class completely out of breath and with a big grin on his face. “I just saw two girls fighting in the hall! He said. Man, they were really going at it! They fought so hard they actually fought right out of their clothes!” and he summed it all up with, “Today was the greatest day of my life!” We all looked at him in disbelief and just sighed, wishing we’d all been there to see it too…but I digress again…

            Ahhh love…but ask any student and they’ll always say, “Yes, someday I do plan on getting married. And predictably, most do. And then just as predictably they mostly always undo.

            So here, after 33 years of observation in the wild, is my foolproof guide to choosing the correct mate…or at least one who, for you, will last.

            When you think that you have found the right girl or boy, woman or man, don’t just date them, date their parents! Yes, that’s right. Go out with their parents. Visit their home and stay there, with them, for a while. If, after a few days you find yourself saying, “Hey, I like these folks. They’re nice. I could live here.” Then you’ve found the right man/woman for you. But if you find yourself saying, “Holy mother of god! These people are crazy! They fight all the time. I’m nervous here. I’m anxious here. I have no idea why they put their cat in the dishwasher! I want to go home…and then if you turn to your BF/GF and he/she looks at you and says, “Don’t worry; those are just my parents, not me!” THEN RUN! RUN INTO THE NIGHT AND DON’T LOOK BACK BECAUSE, that’s the kind of home you’re gonna get. You have just seen the future and you WILL be that family someday, so RUN! (By the way, the same can be said about you. You will try your best to re-create your family experience too)

            Of course no life advice is fool proof, but just in case you ignore the warning signs and stay in your relationship anyway and your new family life turns out just as I have predicted… Always remember: Protect the head! Put your helmets on!

Compassion

23 Aug

Those of us who work with children on a daily basis and who work with people who are less fortunate than ourselves get to see problems on an up close and personal level. All of us have problems. I think we can all agree on that. And all of us are children when you really think about it. We are all someone’s child aren’t we? Aren’t we always? Don’t you feel that child inside you when you think about your parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles no matter how old you are?

Teachers and nurses, social workers and psychologists and therapists and police officers and firemen and anyone who comes in contact with people in need or distress meet that child everyday, whether or not that person is an actual child or a grown-up who is having a particularly traumatic day. Life is about children and when you see the child in need on a daily basis you can’t help but feel the need to help. You can’t help but experience the enormity of the need that is out there and you realize that it is on this level, the personal level, where things need to get done, where help and medicine and love need to be dispensed. This is where the effort needs to be redoubled and applied and expanded.

The further one moves away from this personal level, from being in the trenches, if I may use a familiar expression, the more difficult it is to comprehend what needs to get done, the harder it is to discern the problem at all. As we move from the realm of the worker who toils on the social level through to the realms of the administrators and politicians and members of society who live further and further away from these children in need, the conditions in those trenches seem trivial and remote and inconsequential…and from that distance, that safe distance, it’s so easy to say, “That’s not my problem. That’s their problem. What am I supposed to do? Let them take care of themselves over there, the way I take care of myself over here.” But it’s always those distant generals who are the ones empowered with the responsibility and who wield the resources necessary to make the decisions and find the solutions for those ever more distant sufferers. And because these policy setters and solution makers are so far removed from the blemished, acned situations of real life, they don’t see the blemishes or feel the urgencies or sense the simple humanity of the problems many people face. And as a result their compassion waxes and wanes, if it is ever moved to grow at all. And so the solutions begin to lose clarity and vanish as their field of vision grows ever more distant and the problems become ever more confusing and confounding until Poof! The problem is so far away that it has seemingly disappeared.

Distance destroys compassion. That’s why problems, especially where children are concerned, must be solved by the people most closely associated with the children. In the trenches one can see the solutions quite clearly. JUST GET ME OUT OF HERE! That’s what those of us who work on the social level see everyday. They see the need to get people to safety before anything else. Once out of the trench anything is better.

But is our society ready for this? Is this a lesson that we, the people, can finally acknowledge needs to be learned? It’s a simple lesson and here it is…

The trench is poverty and we’ve been waging war on it for 50 years yet still the trench grows and swallows up more and more of us each year and ironically our response as a society continues to be, “Money’s not the answer to poverty!” “Don’t give poor people money. Don’t spread the wealth and fill in those trenches. Don’t create a larger social network with greater social programs that will draw us all closer to one another and hence closer to the problems that we can then focus on together and solve. No! Run for the hills! Cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans and let them build ever larger mountains of money for us, the ever growing more unfortunate masses, to climb and clamber upon and fight over, until we have put enough distance between us and ourselves, our compassionate hearts and our greedy souls, our one nation and we the people, to notice that a society, just like the single human face, can only see itself in its own reflection. Life is all about being up close and personal. We all have to live up close and personal if we are ever going to see what needs to be done. Because if you want to see what’s in that mirror you need to move closer not farther away, don’t you?

So please, the first thing you need to do to help the public schools in our country is to move closer to them and closer to your children not further away. We need to work together to admit our failings and to solve our problems. America is no longer a melting pot of nationalities. When waves of immigrants came here from places like Ireland and Italy and Poland and other mostly European countries, they all had white faces and could blend in and melt into a nice white mayonnaise or Elmer’s glue but today in America for the first time in its history there is no clear cut majority. The white Europeans who first sailed the ocean blue to find this land for me and you, (remember singing that?) no longer account for over 50% of our country’s population. We are now more like a spicy stew or gazpacho with chunks of ethnic meats and savory multi-colored vegetables.

We’ve changed for sure but we need to remember that looks don’t make diversity, ideas do. And America has always been a nation of diversity and its founding ideas were supposed to be based on equality, to be governed by a republic as one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

In public schools all over America we, the students, administrators and teachers, pledge every day to be in this thing together, one nation under god, and the only way we’ll be able to do it is if everyone outside of our schools pledges along with us! that’s the only way that we’ll be able to do it. But we will never be able to do it under a vengeful and vindictive god where some of us help and some of us don’t… perhaps though, under an empathic, loving and compassionate one, where we all pitch in together, we just might…but will we be able to teach our children and with them learn and reinforce the lesson of compassion? Once upon a time learning this lesson wasn’t a problem…so why should it be any more of a problem now?

Joanna Funk

piano accompanist and teacher

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