Sunday, August 22, 2010

Really? A Mosque at Ground Zero?

When I think of both the Statue of Liberty, and the Twin Towers that once stood tall above New York Harbor, they remind me of what happened on 9/11. Many men and women, who could have remained safe and alive by staying outside, rushed into burning buildings to rescue ALL of the people inside, regardless of citizenship, race or religion. Their message of selflessness, generosity and love for all of humanity in their final act will have been in vain, unless we continue to defend the rights of ALL citizens under our Constitution and Bill of Rights, so that we may all remain free. If we forget that for one moment, we too will be lost.

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” ~Abraham Lincoln

All the lies being spread about President Obama’s non-citizenship, his being a member of the Muslim faith, as well as the building of a “Mosque at Ground Zero” are all about the fires of xenophobia, bigotry and hate projected and burned onto others. Remember when Hitler began requiring Jews to carry identity cards, then he made them wear yellow stars, then he had them captured, put in concentration camps, tattood with numbers, and eventually killed? All because they were different and made to be the scapegoats for the political and economic situation of the time. Good and bad things, both, begin with the first small steps. We consciously choose which path to take.

Irrational beliefs and denial of reality are a part of fanaticism. Fear-mongering and irresponsible “journalism” are stoking both these fires and their underlying fanaticism. The facts are that President Obama is a US citizen, is a Christian, and some people, who also happen to be Muslim, want to build a community center 2 blocks AWAY FROM Ground Zero, from which it can't even be seen.

Read our Constitution and Bill of Rights. They apply to ALL citizens, not just the select few who look, believe and act like “us.”

United States Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article VI – …This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Bill of Rights, Amendment I – Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I wonder how people would feel if we substituted just two words, Christian Church, for Islamic Mosque? Extremists were responsible for the horrific events on 9/11, not all members of the Islamic faith.

Addendum on 7/23/11. The horrific attacks in Norway were allegedly perpetrated by an extremist who was an avowed Fundamentalist Christian. Should the Norwegian people now prohibit the building of any Christian churches or Christian community centers anywhere near the sites of those attacks on the grounds that Christians were behind the attacks?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Response to “What Is It About 20-Somethings?”

Response to the August 18, 2010 NY Times Magazine article “What Is It About 20-Somethings?” by Robin Marantz Henig (link below).

Boomerang kids and failure to launch are trends that have been around long before we were “graced” by The Great Recession. Emerging adult is not a stage, but a trend resulting from a different parenting style than that used in the past. As an educator, I’ve seen the "failure to launch" roots sprouting even in grades 1, 2, 3 and 4. Little Jane and Johnny are allowed to blame others for situations of their own creation. Some parents excuse their own and their child's responsibility in many things, and would rather place it anywhere but themselves.

Teach and develop focus, leadership and responsibility, or get aimless wandering and dependence. There are some children and adults who may truly need extra nurturing, and their parents should provide for those needs. If society needs to change to accommodate improved parenting, then let’s advocate for that, rather than play the blame game.

I truly don’t believe that emerging adult is a viable stage. The structure of our brains hasn’t changed much in the past 50 years, yet society has changed tremendously. Although we’re rapidly learning more information about our brains and metacognition, these new findings may not necessarily mean anything is really new in how we’ve been thinking and developing physiologically.

Perhaps the emerging adult trend is a “Western” phenomenon because it’s partly driven by the luxury of a higher than average life expectancy (approximately 75-81 years, compared to 35-50 in other countries). You have more time, therefore you feel you have the luxury of more time to waste. This trend is also impacted by a larger percentage of people achieving higher levels of educational attainment than their parents and grandparents. While in the global village of 100 people, only 1 has a college education. Perhaps when higher life expectancy, education, increased access to quality health care, and attainment of adequate economic power become a part of the lives of all humans, this will truly be considered a stage in the life process of a human.

Then, there’s the question of nurturing, also known as (hopefully) parenting. Years ago, only winners received trophies. Children learned that you had to work hard, and even then, you don't always "win." Both luck and opportunities have been a part of the winning mix as well. Now, everybody gets a trophy to increase their self-esteem. What children really learn is that they are entitled to get things they haven’t earned. Then, they grow up to be the adults who run our corporations, governments and society.

Children learn what they live, and childhood is the best time in which to practice living and making mistakes that won’t always negatively impact their adult life with a high, long-term cost (arrest records, D’s and F’s on report cards, losing a game, rebelling against authority, etc.). Make similar mistakes as an adult, however…

There comes a time when enabling a now young adult Jane or Johnny to cool their heels, rather than encouraging and empowering them to take up the reigns, responsibility and leadership of their own life and ride out on their own, is counterproductive and, actually, hurtful both to them and to society. Maybe we simply need to exhibit more tough love and do more real parenting, rather than walking around on the eggshells of our child’s life trying to be his or her friend. It’s all in the balance of things, and the pendulum is late in its return swing back towards the center. That is when we will see less of the sociological trend of emerging adults and an improvement in education, because a child’s first, and most important teachers, are his or her parents.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

In the Light of Human Rights

I recently read a letter by Sharon Underwood describing her son's and her family's experience of discriminatory and cruel treatment by others. Wow! This letter is powerful, beautiful and heartfelt. Although I am not a member of the LGBT community, I believe in the intrinsic worth and rights of all human beings. As such, the type of thinking and actions that this mother, her son and many others have to deal with is unconscionable and inexcusable. The idea that one group doesn't have rights, while another does, is the heart of discrimination, bullying, hatred, greed, trafficking, slavery, violence, and genocide. The next step is for people to blame others for their own inadequacies or failures, and we have a repeat of Hitler's Germany or countless other instances of genocide and crimes against humanity. Responsibility for one's own actions and outcomes, as well respect for oneself and others, are the foundations of a peaceful and equitable society. In what kind of world do people really want to live?

Here's a link to Sharon Underwood's letter...