Sunday, November 27, 2011

I Am America - I Will Not Fall

A friend on Facebook said I am down on America. He suggested that I post positive facts about our country, and was sure I could find many. In the past two months, I've essentially been called unpatriotic, been cyberbullied both on Facebook and in text messages on my phone, and called a terrorist for supporting OWS. Here is my reply:

I wonder where we'd be if our founders had only written and spoken about all the wonderful things about their country, England?

"Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things." - Winston Churchill

I am not down on America. It is because I have a deep love for my country and its Constitution and Bill of Rights, that I don't believe in turning a blind eye to its foibles. How can we improve if we don't truly see ourselves? We all already know the many great things about our country, and I teach these things to my students. However, as an adult American, outside of my classroom, I have a duty to my country to be a responsible, active citizen. I am an educator who is looking to improve what we do in our country. We can learn from and work with each other. As an educator, I can tell you that teachers have been scapegoated and demonized by politicians and journalists as the cause of the ills of our country. I do not accept this mantle. I will not give up on my country by glossing over the things we need to improve, nor will I, as an American and an educator, accept the status quo that allows 1 in 4 American children to live in poverty.

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." - Albert Einstein

"It is an affront to treat falsehood with complaisance." - Thomas Paine

We may not agree on everything. We may not share each other's vision. Yet we remain one country...America. In this, I find hope that we will learn to work together for the sake of our country, our freedom, and our future.

"Gutta cavat lapidem; non vi, sed saepe cadendo."

"A water drop hollows a stone; not by force, but by falling often."

(Main phrase is from Ovid, Epistulae ex Ponto IV, 10, 5.[12]; expanded in the Middle Ages)

The first two YouTube videos are by Krista Branch, and the third is by Miley Cyrus. I do not own the rights to these videos and intend no copyright violation.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Get Involved! Do SOMEthing!!!

Like the leaves on my tree, the American people are falling fast. Get involved! If you're apathetic, you are the weakest link. The weakest link ALLOWS OTHERS to determine the course of our nation. If you think sitting back and letting others run the show for you has been working, take a really good look around you. One in four American children now live in poverty, on your watch. Unions, the last bastion of worker's rights and middle class salaries are being busted to make way for the repeal of minimum wage and child labor laws, on your watch. Yes, this is true - these new laws are already submitted to multiple state houses. Keep on doing nothing, and this will all continue to worsen. WE NEED YOU! NOW!!!

...and if the powers that be really did care about it all, they wouldn't have created the seriously regressive tax structure and economic environment that have created our enormous income inequality and the resulting high child poverty rate. This is all purposeful. Deregulation and policy and law changes have to be created. These things don't just "happen."

As for "reform," education reform, just as has been the case in tort reform and health care reform, is not about the actual reform of education. It's simply a well-tested focus group piece of propaganda the far right is using to pull the wool over people's eyes so they don't look at the real purpose behind these "reforms." The doublespeak à la George Orwell's 1984 is alive and well.

The reformers never bring up the number one reason for the academic success of students: parental involvement. Nor do they mention the importance of relationships behind a successful academic career or recognize the plethora of broken families in America. They don't want to address child poverty (and along with it, lack of adequate health care and nutrition), which does have a huge adverse impact on education. They don't acknowledge any of this because the real reform they're foisting on Americans is really all about union-busting, privatization, repeal of minimum wage and child labor laws, and the creation of an uneducated workforce that won't be capable of questioning them. Then, they'll no longer have to reduce their profits to export low-paying serf-style jobs and can look like heroes bringing those jobs back into the USA. Aren't they so patriotic? So, they ridicule, scapegoat and demonize teachers as the cause of all the ills of society. Deflection is so convenient for them, isn't it? 

Ridicule, scapegoating, demonization, then dehumanization are also the steps to violence against others. The Ministry of "Love" is our Department of "Homeland Security" that now "works with" our local police forces who show up to peaceful demonstrations in riot gear and, on one occasion, with a tank. They use military grade weapons such as pepper spray, tear gas, stun grenades, while they also wield batons to inflict harm. They send peaceful, law-abiding American citizens who are simply exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and assembly to the hospital...some in critical condition. The peaceful people they've harmed and/or arrested includes veterans, a former police chief, a 94-year-old woman, an entire group of seated and unarmed UC Davis students, and an expectant mother. So much for the sanctity of life. 

Our Fourth Estate no longer exists, as predominantly all media outlets are now owned by 3-5 major corporations, all spouting the same corporate propaganda. Our Fourth Estate is now our Ministry of "Truth." The police have detained, arrested, and destroyed and/or erased data off of the cameras of many of the few remaining unbiased journalists in order to destroy evidence and suppress the true facts, so that the Ministry of Truth can disseminate lies. The brain-washing arm of the Ministry of Truth is a powerful core group of Hollywood elite with major corporate money behind their green-lighted propaganda movie projects and star-filled personal appearances.

If you think these are the actions of a democratic government, think again. We are currently in a non-violent struggle (on our side) for the return to democracy. We want the power and money of multi-national corporations (can you say non-American, then?) out of our government. It's about the American people, our freedom, our national security, and the survival of our way of life. We're down to brass tacks and need everybody on this. We need YOU!

Friday, November 25, 2011

How Can You Change America for the Better?

How can you change America for the better? That change must simply begin with you...and me. Income inequality and desperation breeds violence and unrest. However, the choice to not participate in the insanity is yours. The path and the power to create positive, non-violent change lies within each and every one of us. We have only to stand up, be it, and live it to create the change. Then, what those in power want or do will no longer matter. The joining of the power of our very lives will create the change.

Vote, get involved in politics to change it for the better, choose where you spend wisely, choose what you watch and do buy wisely, choose for the direction you want our country and our people to take. Whatever you do, please don't be apathetic and let this current course continue. The weakest link in the process of change helps to determine the strength and permanence of the outcome. Please choose non-violence as your method of expressing your thoughts, beliefs and actions. The only way those in power could try stop it would be to kill each and every last one of us. Then, they'd have nobody left to do their bidding and they'd be forced to become one of us to survive, and then we'd still have created the change. The path of compassion, love and non-violence will prevail.

This is a journey, and my own path has been rather circuitous. I have shut off my television. In doing so, I have reduced the amount of advertisements to which I am subjected by at least a hundred-fold. I have reduced my exposure to the purposeful propaganda of the 3 major corporate owners of most of the thousands of media outlets  in America (tv, radio, newspapers - ever wonder why they're all saying pretty much the same thing?). I don't buy all the "look at how wonderful and rich I am" celebrity magazines that fuel consumerism, greed, and the grass is greener on the rich side of America. This past year of no television has been a positive, interesting journey; so positive that I will not be watching it next year, either.

I avoid shopping, and if I do shop, I avoid buying anything except food. Yes, I get tempted. Most of the time, these days, my common sense wins. I find creative ways to delay, and then avoid, actually buying something I want but don't need. When I shop for clothes, I usually go to thrift stores before any other, to avoid buying new. At the same time, those in need also benefit. I am thankful for everything and everyone in my life. I don't need any things, except for food, water, shelter, and clothes (could get a little cold out there).

Ultimately, the path to peace varies for each traveller. I wish you all the best of luck on your path. Namaste.

Buy! Buy! Buy Your Way Into Oppression!

We the people are driving this bus of consumer frenzy for cheap products, which demands minimum wage jobs, creates time away from family, decreases our rights and economic and political power. If you don't like the direction this bus has taken, then get out of the driver's seat! If you truly believe that family and friends are more important than things, then don't participate in Black Friday. Instead, enjoy the day doing things with each other. Get out and hike, play some games, sing, dance, and talk with each other. Have a block party. Build relationships and community, not power and profits for the 1%.

Monday, November 21, 2011

GOP Privatization of the USA

The GOP wants to privatize schools, privatize prisons, privatize, privatize, privatize. Now that Mitt Romney is pulling yet another reversal, this time on his trial balloon for the partial privatization of veteran's health care, I thought...

Oh, for heaven's sake! Why don't we just get it all over with and let them privatize everything. Let's allow for-profit bottom-lines and shareholder profits be the sail we set as we glide through the waters of our country's economy, allowing the winds of a free market to steer the course of all citizens' jobs, health care, education, retirement, etc. Let's disband our democratic republic and let the corporations run it, no longer having to hide their contributions and control over our elections and government. We may as well just let them do what they're already doing behind the scenes. We can even change our name and call ourselves UniMart, with our new national motto, "In Capitalism We Trust," and our shiny new flag colored the green and white of money with a golden cash register in the center. Finally, let's watch as the richest 1% sail away on their yachts, leaving their serfs (all of the RFID chip implanted 99% - the economically challenged men, women and children) to work and pay for all the taxes until they drop, without decent wages, working conditions, education, health care, or retirement. Don't forget to bow to the 1% as they blithely sail by shouting at you to "Go get a job!" or "Take a bath!", or you'll end up in jail or dead.

Respect, Social Justice and Non-Violence

There are many paths to choose in life, and even those who choose the same path may follow it using a different form of transportation. I choose the path of social justice using non-violence as my mode of transportation. If we want social justice to prevail, let's embody it. Let's not demean or demonize those with whom we disagree. Let's be non-violent in our approach with them, using facts, figures, history, and principles of ethics/morality in our own communication with others. It is so much easier to put down, laugh at, demonize, share cartoons and curses, show disrespect, dehumanize, and be outraged or angry. It takes conscious thought to be ethical, to show respect for those with whom one disagrees. I have been guilty of some of the former, while I strive for the latter. I am human and am trying to live from a higher level of consciousness in all areas of my life.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Social Justice, Respect, and "Entitlement" Spending

Americans do not need to cut "entitlement" spending when there are so many of us that are homeless and hungry. The most recent census puts 1 in 3 Americans in poverty or near poverty. Which ones would you be willing to look in the eye and say, "No help for you, or you, or you. You can starve and sleep on the street for all I care, because it's more important to me to pass a balanced budget than make certain my fellow humans are treated with compassion and given a helping hand."

If we took all of the money we spend on the military-industrial complex and spent it, instead, on our own people, we would live in a more just society. The extraordinary income inequality, lack of education, health care, housing, and a proper diet are inexcusable in these times. Many of us live in relative abundance, and can provide help for others who are down. We are our brother's and sister's keeper. When our brother or sister is down, we don't stomp on them and tell them, "Go get a job!" when there is only 1 job for every 4 unemployed people. We certainly don't turn our back on them and ignore their pain and suffering.

My mother used to say, "There but for the grace of God go I." Many people work hard, not just the rich and middle class. Why is it so easy for people to dehumanize and castigate others who are less fortunate? Why is it so easy to dismiss them by saying they are lazy good-for-nothings? Are we really so superior and entitled to our own position in life? All it takes is one bad medical illness to bankrupt someone and send them and their family onto the street. One illness!

As for the possibility of giving someone a hand, who one may believe does not deserve it, I say don't judge. One doesn't know another's soul. One doesn't know the pain and suffering of another. Would Jesus have turned anyone away? Doesn't the Church preach compassion and tell its people not to cast stones?

Perhaps the great minds of our time can come up with a more humane form of American capitalism, rather than the current one that breeds greed and spreads inequality and poverty. Rather than judge others, perhaps we might give each other a helping hand, out of love and respect for our common humanity.

The Best Anti-Bullying Strategy Is Within You

"Don't Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won't be the victim of needless suffering.” - Don Miguel Ruiz

Isn't that the truth? If we all truly learned this well, others might try to bully us, but they would have no effect on us. Then, we could have compassion for them and ask that their minds and spirits be healed.

Thanksgiving Day Message

Inspired by the non-results of the Super Committee, I got an idea. Let's all give Congress a break from having to announce their failure to lead and govern our country, for failing to abide by their oath to serve we the people, and for failing to work together to build consensus. No, we don't have the ability to exercise a no confidence vote. Yes, we can vote them all out of office. Instead, let us demand they resign from office if they continue to choose not to govern. We could line the streets in silent protest of their failure. Go outside and just stand there, representing the result of their work...nothing. It's peaceful. We the people don't get hurt, pepper sprayed, tear gassed, bones broken by batons, or arrested.

Let's pick a day and and time to show solidarity with and thanks for each other, and send a silent message to Congress. How about Thanksgiving Day at 2pm? Wherever you are, stop what you are doing, go outside and stand in silence for 5 minutes. Together, we are powerful and empowering; divided we are weak and will fall.

Someone wondered if another day rather than Thanksgiving Day would be better. What better day than Thanksgiving Day? On Thanksgiving Day, we celebrate communion (we commune together) with each other by coming together and breaking bread. We share our lives, our thoughts, our souls, our food, our beliefs, our company. We celebrate the history of sharing and social justice when Native Americans saved the Pilgrims from starving over the winter. This is part of the foundation of the United States of America.

We share the land on which, and the country in which, we all live together. As one people, we can share together in sending a message of our own. We want our leaders to lead with what is best for us, the people. We want leaders who lead by positive example, by coming together to lift us all up, rather than only lift up the few, as they push the rest of us down. Thanksgiving Day is a time for sharing, so why not share our hope for a better, more socially just and ethical America? Why not share in sending our leaders a message that Americans want them to lead with respect for each other and for us? Why not share in sending our leaders a message that Americans want them to lead effectively?

Why not have Thanksgiving Day be a living symbol of empowering each other to share and lead ourselves and our country to a higher level of social justice, rather than just a symbolic day in history? What better day than Thanksgiving Day to celebrate and give thanks for the freedom we have to share and send a message of hope for more socially just and inspired leadership?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Why Occupy? An American Autumn

Occupy is definitely about more than just Wall Street. It's a protesting against the 1% creating, essentially, a feudal system in which the 99% will no longer have the economic or political clout with which they can stop the 1%. They've been privatizing government (control over power), education (to create an uneducated populace that will no longer be capable of questioning them), prisons (for slave labor), etc. They've pushed legislation to repeal minimum wage, child labor and collective bargaining laws. They've reduced the wages, pensions and benefits of non-union labor and are trying to break the remaining unions so they can do the same to those workers. They're trying to reduce, eliminate or privatize Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid so the social safety net is shredded and they can control our money. They've used "tort reform" to reduce the people's access to the courts, just as they're going to use "education reform" to ultimately reduce our children's access to education. They've bought SCOTUS and used them to pass Citizens United so they control elections. They've gotten deregulation and policy changes put in place to benefit their corporations at the expense of the environment and our health. They've spent millions in a propaganda campaign to create doubt in people's minds about climate science and global warming in order to maintain their hold on fossil fuel industries to the detriment of the environment and mankind. They purposefully deregulated the financial industry and created mortgage fraud to enable them to steal the wealth of the 99% via the largest transfer of securities, property and "bailout" monies in history. There's more, but I won't go on. This whole thing has been a well-conceived chess game that they're currently winning. Now that the 99% have finally awakened from their apathy and are protesting, they're going to do whatever is necessary to protect their own position of power.