Empowerment through Language...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Adults Ought to Be Ashamed

This summer, I have witnessed the most offensive, appalling behavior by adults in the face of the political climate. I am ashamed of the behaviors of adults evident in the news media. The modeling of screaming in a public forum or on a panel on a commentary of the daily news, of mocking and taunting those with opposing views, of lying and chastising to support one's own belief system, of unadulterated hatred and small-mindedness, all of these behaviors have been highly broadcast over the airwaves of America's media.

There have been a multitude of bullying activities in which some citizens have accused other citizens of being "unAmerican." There have been frightening correlations of our President to heinous leaders from the past who have exterminated human beings in unfathomable numbers. There have been firearms carried to public gatherings where our democratically elected President was going to speak. If this had happened at any other time in our history, I firmly believe these individuals would have been immediately arrested as threats to the President and our national security.

In our schools, there are comprehensive programs to combat bullying in the schoolyard, in the classroom, on the school bus, and in the neighborhood. But what is the point if we see political pundits and politicians bullying citizens, other colleagues, and our President? Last night, in a shameful act, an elected member of the House of Representatives disrupted the President's speech to scream the accusation that our President was lying. WHAT?! And he was permitted to remain in the room. Would we allow a student in any assembly in any school in our country to stay in the auditorium if he or she screamed at a principal as that administrator addressed the school population?! I would posit the answer is NO!

Another offensive behavior that no one stops is the habit members of both houses of Congress have developed of playing with their Blackberries and I-Phones while the President of the United States of America is addressing them about critical issues of our nation. In our schools, we are seeing a challenge for teachers and hall monitors in curtailing the use of cell phones, I-Pods, and other media during the school day. How are we to enforce such rules when any student can cite that Senator So-and-So or Representative Who-Gives-a-Shit was sitting in the most significant meeting space in our nation beyond the White House, tweeting their own views to the world rather than affording the attention that anyone who holds the elected office of President should be able to command?

Why is it not a rule that the phones and PDAs must be silenced and left in the offices of our elected officials when they are being addressed by our President? We make it a supposed rule that students must pay attention and be respectful of teachers and administrators, of their elders, but are their elders doing the same and modeling respectful behavior? Where is the model for thoughtful citizenship in the media for our youth?! Where is the truth of freedom of speech as one person is broadcast taunting another for an opposing view?Where are we modeling an environment of safety for personal opinion? And where are our youth seeing images of respectful behavior in public discourse?

Our President has been the foremost in modeling openness, tolerance, willingness to listen to all sides, even in receiving insulting heckling from an elected official who should be offering respect to the office that President Obama holds by a majority of the American electorate. Thank you, Mr. Obama, for your temperance while under attack. You, more than any in the glaze of media lights, show our youth how to comport oneself with self respect and to treat others in a respectful manner. I hope they pay more attention to you than to the many boors who jam our airwaves and public conversation.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

One of my most ardent followers admonished me back channel because I had not posted in a month. I guess this is more than a place to think in language, there is a certain responsibility to it. The lesson of discipline is one of the ones I am most incorporating at this time. And a responsibility to my readers.

I am learning more about my attention inconsistencies and my compulsive nature, how to make these aspects of myself tools, learning how to make them work for me rather than act as barriers and speed bumps.

This was the first summer I have had to myself to do pretty much what I want in 30 years or so. I started my first job 39 years ago this past summer. Most summers since then, I have had to work in some form. This summer I had the ability:
  • to sort out a lot on the interior world,
  • to notice the world with patient consciousness,
  • to start the serious organization of all of the chaos and clutter around me,
  • to journal regularly,
  • to laugh,
  • to walk,
  • to read for pleasure,
  • to listen to the cicada and watch the birds at the feeders for hours,
  • to pull weeds,
  • to sniff as the Stargazer lilies beg for attention...
...all this and more. I realized that, in my life as a poet and human, this is my work now. There was a moment in which I recognized that I finally understand the premise of being in the moment. I pray that I never lose this awareness. It is where I find my peace.

The past year has been one of the most significant and growthful years of my life. I reconnected with who I truly am. I examined my intention in all things, and I did a critical review of my work as a teaching artist. I rested and reflected on my year past and now I am readying for the upcoming school year. I will return to classrooms with teachers whom I admire and with whom I love working. I will meet new teachers and students. I will see students I know who have had a year's worth of development since last school year. I look forward to how much I will grow again this year.
And next summer, I will do it again. This is the cycle of my life now. I am so grateful. I am so blessed.