Is not friendship a rather simple concept?

Bird Droppings September 22, 2014
Is not friendship a rather simple concept?

Recently I had the mother of three former students tell me how much her sons and daughter thought of me while I was coming into my favorite store, Kroger. So here I am sitting upstairs in my writing hovel pondering in the stillness of early morning, we all need ego stroking at one time or another. I recalled back to when I had those particular students in class and how difficult a time it was and yet so often when we pay attention to a student or too we do not realize how much we are truly affecting that person. Many times it is years later as is the case with this parent commenting to me a few nights ago as I walked in the store.

“I reach down and touch the delicate leaf of a plant. My friend’s words rise up in my heart. ‘Everything lives, everything dies, and everything leans to the light.’ If I only knew this it would be enough.” Kent Nerburn, Small Graces

When we show a bit of light to an individual they turn just as the plant will slowly turn to face the light; in many ways that person will as well. I recall a few years ago one of my students requested to be in my resource class all day, I really did not want them all day, but he responded how I did things made sense to him. Friendship so often is like sunlight. I started replacing my overhead lights a few years ago with grow lights. Actually the color is so much easier to deal with and colors of things are more real than the sickening yellow of standard fluorescent bulbs. I never told anyone that maybe that’s why they liked my room.

“Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.” St. Thomas Aquinas

How do we support students, friends and throw sunlight their way, maybe simple things, quiet things, a touch, a smile, an email?

“Friendship is one of the most tangible things in a world which offers fewer and fewer supports.” Kenneth Branagh

“I value the friend who for me finds time on his calendar, but I cherish the friend who for me does not consult his calendar.” Robert Brault

Yesterday I printed out several pictures but two were of owls that were in effect clay turned jug owls made by a folk potter from north Georgia. I met Grace Nell Hewell who was the matriarch of a family of potters in Gillsville Georgia. She is a sixth generation potter from a family at that location turning pots for a living. I dropped them off in my friend’s room, no reason really just for being a friend, she teaches art and talks about potters in her sculpture class; sometimes we just do simple things.

“Old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. An old day passes, a new day arrives. The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend — or a meaningful day.” Dalai Lama

“I do then with my friends as I do with my books. I would have them where I can find them, but I seldom use them.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I am speaking of friends often I will say I really do not have that many friends one or two and usually a name or two will scroll through my head. Yet when I am walking about in life there are few who I do not truly consider friends. I sit back in my chair upstairs typing away at my computer a row of books put together recently when a friend of my sons took interest in an area of thought I have been following for several years. Behind me shelves of books, theology, education, psychology, literature and poetry surround the walls and directly in front of me a quote.

“A very powerful axe in a master’s hand accomplishes much, that same in the hands of a child nothing.” Edited by A.J. Russell, from Gods Calling

Emerson would have to be one of my heroes and I always seem to have something from him at my fingertips often paraphrased a bit; friends are like books, you have them there on a shelf sort of waiting for the need or specific instance that you will have. I ran into a friend from school as I went shopping at the grocery store, she said she hates to go grocery shopping and will try and go once a month. I go daily, to see my friends I never know who I might meet, coincidences. Yesterday I went for a few items and a student who was absent was there riding his skate board we talked, another inside, a friend whom I have known for years was also shopping. So often my wife warns me as I walk in don’t stop and talk to all of your friends you will be all day.

“Give me work to do, Give me health, Give me joy in simple things, Give me an eye for beauty, A tongue for truth, A heart that loves, A mind that reasons, A sympathy that understands. Give me neither malice nor envy, But a true kindness and a noble common sense. At the close of each day give me a book and a friend with whom I can be silent.” S. M. Frazier

How do we as friends support each other midst the turmoil of life and tribulations of simply walking the face of the earth, how do we support each other as we struggle to cross the stream with the rocks slippery and wet.

“Friendship needs no words…” Dag Hammarskjold

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine.” Thomas Jefferson

A seldom heard phrase, a seldom whispered thought, and a seldom thought idea is only seldom responded too, so then do it, as NIKE says and or be a friend.

“The real test of friendship is: Can you literally do nothing with the other person? Can you enjoy together those moments of life that are utterly simple? They are the moment’s people look back on at the end of life and number as their most sacred experiences.” Eugene Kennedy

As I finish up this morning and in the course of the last hour or so thoughts of friends not just one or two that I would attest to but ever so many that I see and talk too every day each moment and email. Some are in college and I will see once a year or two maybe some I have not seen in several years and simple correspond daily in email. Still others share my home and some I see each day as I walk the halls at school or sit in the hall way observing and listening as folks go by. Friendship is a cement to build a life on as we travel from here to there, friends are everywhere. Sitting back that sort of sounds like Dr. Seuss, so today justice to all and keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

We all know the slogan just do it, but I add when?

Bird Droppings September 19, 2014
We all know the slogan just do it, but I add when?

I shared a story of The White Buffalo Calf Woman on my Facebook page a few days past. Today while at home I went to read again on my iPad and it was restricted. I tried another story of the Eight Prophecies of the Anishnabek, and it too was restricted. I typed in seven prophecies and got all sorts of Christian prophecies including bizarre Edgar Cace writings. I was upset first assuming I Had a religious filter on my iPad from school. So I typed white buffalo calf and thousands of hits and sites. That led me to type woman and it was restricted. I tried Congress woman it too was restricted. Now the great control factor I typed in man and no problem. I typed Congress man and White Buffalo Man no problem. With the issue of women’s rights in political forefront of nearly every election and several other civil right issues as well I borrow from two very famous and wise women in history to start today. I often wonder why sexism never came up when these two powerful and very involved women’s names come up.

“I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” Helen Keller

“There are two kinds of people: those who do the work, and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there.” Indira Gandhi

As I read this morning these two statements stood out I doubt from what I have read if some of the current various political pundits around the country would recognize the names out of history. These two great people were tremendously influential in their time. Helen Keller was blind and deaf yet addressed world leaders and lectured throughout the world. Indira Gandhi daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru and the first woman prime minister of a leading world country. I will try and simplify their remarks, “don’t just sit there do something”. So often people sit and wait many times for someone else to do whatever needs to be done.

“Don’t wait for someone to take you under their wing. Find a good wing and climb up underneath it.” Frank C. Buraro

“Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” Benjamin Franklin

Each day I see teachers and students hesitate myself included, “I can get it done tomorrow” or “I can’t do it”. In the end so often what gets done is only adequate and could have been so much better, we hesitate, we procrastinate, we accept partial over a whole, and we will take a seventy percent on a paper “its passing”. I see red when I hear that and yet I remember when I too would accept that grade and walk away happy with less work and less studying.
“Do you know what happens when you give a procrastinator a good idea? Nothing!” Donald Gardner

“There is nothing so fatal to character as half finished tasks.” David Lloyd George

Every day it takes effort to try and explain that it only takes a bit more effort a bit more energy for an A over a C. Is it human nature to seek the easy path in life I am starting to believe and really think it is becoming worse in our society?

“Don’t wait; the time will never be just right.” Napoleon Hill
“Putting off an easy thing makes it hard, and putting off a hard one makes it impossible.” George H. Lonmer

I had a student explain why it took so long for him to finish projects. He wanted to be sure it was right. I told him it was because he didn’t work at it he assured me it was seeking perfection that was his down fall. I am all about keeping data, the key to many choices in life. Yesterday my perfectionist unknowingly was observed for ten minutes. In each half of ten minutes anytime someone mention anything he would get up and walk over to see what it was or come over to me to see what I was doing. So in perfecting his work nearly two thirds of his time was getting out of doing it. I made a comment to him, “if you put that hard work from the three or four minutes out of ten you actually worked into all ten minutes you would be done in time and have plenty of time to spare”.

“How soon not now, becomes never.” Martin Luther

“Don’t wait for extraordinary circumstance to do good; try to use ordinary situations.” Charles Richter

We wait, we pause, and we hesitate, I wonder at what point in our evolutionary makeup pausing came in. I am sure it was not when running from the huge cave bears of bygone days or saber tooth tigers. Maybe with the advent of remote controls borrowing from the movie blink where Adam Sandler could stop everything else and get things done. I would think if you paused when a saber toothed tiger was chasing you it would only be once; there it had to be when remote controls came around.

“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” Haile Selassie

“During a very busy life I have often been asked, “How did you manage to do it all?” The answer is very simple. It is because I did everything promptly.” Richard Tangye

When it is time? When it is time to rather than putting off and often doing only a partial job to know when to the job and when not to do the job? When is it not wasting time either? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have back those ten minutes here and there?

“The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started.” Dawson Troutman

“The best labor saving device is doing it tomorrow” Source unknown

Each of us will have excuses for waiting but in the need perhaps we should put aside excuses and get the job done. Today keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Can we see a gray world in color?

Bird Droppings September 17, 2014
Can we see a gray world in color?

“Stress is the body and mind’s response to any pressure that disrupts its normal balance. It occurs when our perceptions of events don’t meet our expectations and we don’t manage our reaction to the disappointment. As a response, stress expresses itself as resistance, tension, strain or frustration that throws off our physiological and psychological equilibrium, keeping us out-of-sync.” Doc Childre and Howard Martin, The HeartMath Solution

By chance I got into a discussion on perception yesterday amazing how we all seem to see the same world differently. Sometimes it amazes me what my years of experience and learning see and what fifteen year olds limited years and even another person of my own age see can be so vastly different. Each of us has been different places, seen different things, and learned different methods and strategies that provide us with a means to view the world. We are constantly applying these perceptions almost without thinking to our each waking moment and every step we take. I recall listening back a number of years ago to an interview with the great athlete Lance Armstrong before he became not great.

“Cancer is my secret because none of my rivals has been that close to death and it makes you look at the world in a different light and that is a huge advantage.” Lance Armstrong

I remember waiting to hear after my father was wheeled into surgery for stomach cancer the prognosis. We had been given the grim reality of his possible future by the surgeon just minutes before and were waiting as a family for news after. Amazing how death offers a new perspective to life, it seems each second becomes precious.
“Do not say,” it is morning,” and dismiss it with a name of yesterday. See it for the first time as a newborn child that has no name.” Rabindranath Tagore
When the surgeon walked out and said this was the smallest tumor he had ever removed from a patient’s stomach and still paraphrased with but, it was a relief. Life though had been redefined. Meaning to each moment had been altered.

“What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.” C. S. Lewis

Our experiences and understandings and believes do have input and effect our perception of each instant in our lives. This is sort of the filters we see and hear through and conversely understand through. I have a student who is extremely conservative and views everything as being altered to be politically correct. My student sees each item in their life as having been spun. Many of us do as we watch news biased by opinion of the news broadcaster but I am amazed as I see one thing and my student’s view is nearly opposite.

“The solution to stress management lies in how we perceive the stresses in our lives. It’s not really the events taking place in our lives that cause stress. Stress depends entirely on how we perceive the events that happen to us. The good news is that since stress is a response—not the event that triggers the response—we can control it. Once we shift our perception of a situation and see it with more clarity, the stressful reaction can be reduced or released.” Doc Childre and Howard Martin, The HeartMath Solution

The difficult aspect however is in changing your perception, it has taken time and effort to come to the world view that we have.

“You can complain because roses have thorns, or you can rejoice because thorns have roses.” Ziggy

“You have to ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The appearance of things changes according to the emotions and thus we see magic and beauty in them, while the magic and beauty are really in ourselves.” Kahlil Gibran

A cartoon character, a philosopher and a mystic poet would see a world differently perhaps yet there is an understanding among these three that the world has varying and differing views. Is the glass half full or half empty even though the amount of water is the same?

“All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien

“It does no harm just once in a while to acknowledge that the whole country isn’t in flames, that there are people in the country besides politicians, entertainers, and criminals.” Charles Kuralt

Amazing how a linguist and newscaster see so similar, though one is famous for realism and one for fantasy. Kuralt is known for his to the point clarity in news casting and Tolkien for his brilliance in creating a world where fantasy and magic are real.

“We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.” Anais Nin

“No life is so hard that you can’t make it easier by the way you take it.” Ellen Glasgow

“The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend” Henri Bergson

I often wonder as I go about each day as to how people see and hear what they do. What biases and prejudices make their world appear as it does? So many people allow hatred and negativity into their lives through their perception of existence. I sat with a young man last week helping him calm down; he was stressed by the actions of another student. He was stressed to a point of wringing his hands till there were red. The other student walked away I am sure laughing how he had pushed this other fellow to near the breaking point, “all in fun”. He was a big man on campus and it was part of his image.

“The greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not our circumstances.” Martha Washington

“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the view which they take of them.” Epictetus

One student sees humor another sees ridicule and shame, one walks away laughing and another sits in severe pain.

“Miracles seem to rest, not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from far off, but upon our perceptions being made finer so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear that which is about us always.” Willa Cather

It is so difficult to pass judgment when perception is involved, yet life should be about doing no harm and doing no harm means not finding humor in another’s pain. When someone asks to stop, whether you do not see the issue stopping is the only alternative. We have to learn our perception is not the sole perception in this reality. I have seen to many tears this week walking through the halls and at home. I have seen far too many clenched fists. Yet four three ago while officiating at a wedding there were tears were of joy.

“Only in quiet waters do things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world.” Hans Margolius

So often emotion tints the glass of our vision and anger allows us to see color only in grays and not in the true vivid color that is actually there. I left the house unable to think clearly this morning. My little granddaughter has been living away from our house for several weeks. She came down stairs crying from wetting the bed and my wife swooped her up and wiped tears and cleaned her up. She was not really awake yet sort of half asleep. She still wanted her Minnie Mouse night shoes on and went back to sleep.

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

“Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world.” George Bernard Shaw

If only we could provide free Windex to all people imagine what a world we would have. It is such a simple concept using Windex to clean the perceptions of the world, to help clear the grime off so many windows. I really do not want everybody seeing the world alike that would be boring but somehow leveling the playing field perhaps as I drove home a few years back from dropping my son at college an idea hit me I called it the sacred spirit of man. Maybe just providing corrective lenses to others so they can see my way, and I am legally color blind. If only? Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

I often wonder, why do I write what I write?

Bird Droppings September 17, 2014
I often wonder, why do I write what I write?

There have been times when weather, water, various electrical issues and who knows what other gremlins have impacted my broadband service at our home out in Between Georgia. It could be that we are out in the country and only a handful have broadband service or could be the duct tape from repairs of bygone days has worn thin. I recall a day recently as I sent out a message late in the evening one I had done earlier in the day yet for whatever reason my wonderful broadband service was in one of those moments where it does not like my Outlook Express and or Gmail which is where I had been keeping my contacts. As I checked emails today I noticed that over the past few weeks a celebration of stories of remembering of recalling all the days and years gone by. I found myself actually remembering stories I had long since forgotten as my mother would tell me each day of new finds as she unboxed treasured belongings or as she heard from friends of my father who were paying respects. Last night I woke up around one in the morning and by chance checked my various blogs and emails. A former neighbor and friend had posted an old photo, really old photo from when we were kids in Pennsylvania.

Looking back many times these bits and pieces are simple stories ones of joy and or sadness but as the days went on and I checked my email each time what I read was just what I needed. Coincidently over the years so often when I send out a daily bird dropping I will get responses that are about what I had written was just what that person needed. One said did you know my son died, or my new job is just now falling in place or my mother has finally decided to move, each person was appreciative for the words I wrote seemingly oblivious at the time to their thoughts. I wish I had been the author and not just the relay or conduit which is and of itself a part of the story as well. Someone sent me the story and someone had sent her the story, each a piece of the puzzle as it forms. But in life timing is so much the part, saying the right word or emailing the right word at just the right time.

“Synchronicity is a word created by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung to describe the alignment of “universal forces” with the life experiences of an individual. Jung believed that many experiences perceived as coincidences were not merely due to chance, but instead reflected the creation of an event or circumstance by the “co-inciting” or alignment of such forces. The process of becoming intuitively aware and acting in harmony with these forces is what Jung labeled “individuation.” Jung said that an individuated person would actually shape events around them through the communication of their consciousness with the collective unconscious.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

It has been several years since I first saw the word synchronicity and what is so funny when I studied Jung in college the word never really stuck with me. It was many experiences later and many years later that those aspects of learning seemed to kick in. Intuitiveness according to Jung is the key. I see often in the reading of people, seeing bits and pieces I seriously wish we could bottle intuition.

“Although not scientifically provable in the classical sense, a scientific basis for the phenomenon of synchronicity may be found in the principle of correlation, in so far as a more precise scientific term for Jung’s expression a-causal connecting principle’ is correlation. It is a well-known scientific principle that correlation does not imply causation. Yet, correlation may in fact be a physical property shared by events without there being a classical cause-effect relationship, as shown in quantum physics, where widely separated events can be correlated without being linked by a direct physical cause-effect” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In 1979 a Harvard graduate Gary Zukav wrote a book the Dancing Wu Li Masters: An overview of the new physics, trying to put Quantum Physics in the words of the laity, the math and science illiterate. The book became a best seller and with subsequent books he has written on the subject they have sold over six million copies. Zukav tied science and the soul together which becomes an interesting mix.

“In Synchronicity, Science and Soul-Making, Victor Mansfield, a professor of physics and astronomy at Colgate University, offers up a “new age” amalgamation of Jungian psychology and quantum mechanics. Mansfield provides some inkling of his background and motivation for writing the book in chapter 2, where he states that at one point he dropped out of graduate school in physics because his interests were too broad to be confined to one narrow discipline. He took a job in the experimental ward of a mental hospital, where, he says, “my possession of the keys to the ward doors was …” The Journal of Parapsychology; 3/1/1997; Stokes, Douglas M.

As I was researching the why’s and where’s I ended up after quite a few search’s and hunts through the internet at this quote. As I was reading I thought back in my own life to starting as a Biology education major at West Chester State College. To subsequently failings in academics in the midst of the Viet Nam war and failing my draft physical due to a child hood diagnosed condition of epilepsy. I then went to school in Texas where I studied human development from two of the world’s leaders in that field, Dr. Glenn Doman and Dr. Karl Delacato, which by chance their methods and research are still controversial, however so often their theories and ideas do work.

When I returned to Pennsylvania I studied Special Education and History at Eastern College. With a slight cumulative average issue and not matriculating as a senior at Eastern due to being still on academic probation I ended up out of school and working for a year teaching disabled children and adults. My family had moved to Georgia in 1971 and I followed in 1972 and started back in college at Mercer University in psychology basically since I would not need another math class and refused to take a foreign language. It was as a psych major I first visited Central State Hospital and walked through wards while at Mercer.

I graduated in 1974 and attended seminary at Emory University where as a group we went to again to Central State Hospital to do a chaplaincy. I had several disagreements with professors and the group and left seminary but stayed for six months as a volunteer chaplain at Central State Hospital in a psychotic adolescent female ward. With all that verbiage however there is a point. I mentioned in a discussion yesterday with friends how while at Central State I had a key on a lanyard much like so many teachers do now except the key at the hospital was for every door and the elevator and quiet room (isolation room) and freedom. As I pondered deeper about how and why in my own journey that key came into my possession.

So often I use the concept of the pieces falling in place. With each moment, each day we experience new and sometimes we even re-experience things. These experiences make up whom and what we are and these become driving forces for us as we go through our days.

“Trust your hunches. They’re usually based on facts filed away just below the conscious level.” Dr. Joyce Brothers

“If the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

We talk about intuition as real, yet so often it is missed but is it not a significant aspect of the human effort? As I look at my own teaching I rely on intuition often when dealing with students who cannot or will not offer other explanations of behavior and or attitudes. I addressed this directly in my writing yesterday.

“Often you have to rely on intuition.” Bill Gates

Interesting the wealthiest man in the world by only a few billion dollars would even consider intuition

“The struggle of the male to learn to listen to and respect his own intuitive, inner prompting is the greatest challenge of all. His conditioning has been so powerful that it has all but destroyed his ability to be self-aware.” Herb Goldberg

In today’s technological society we avoid talk of synchronicity and intuition as neither uses a remote nor a cable modem. But these simple ideas are a driving force if we let them be utilized and here is the key. We need to be aware and willing to consider this as plausibility. James Redfield, new age guru made fortune writing about this in his book The Celestine Prophecy. He could not explain what he was feeling and seeing happen so he developed a fictional book to explain and in doing so literally a cult following. I am always amazed at how we respond.

His words were not new, Jung was thinking such in 1916 and many philosophers and mothers have known since primeval days. Goldberg’s statement is so true, men in particular have all but forgotten how to listen or how to be self-aware. So as another school week draws to an end in Georgia please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

How capable do we need to be?

Bird Droppings September 16, 2013
How capable do we need to be?

What a contrast to only a few weeks ago as I went out in the wee hours with what feels like a constant haze of clouds. There was a gentle wind blowing, wind chimes ringing peacefully and fog between the pines and oak trees. I had to stand in the chill and just imagine there were stars and a moon and listen to our chimes from the back yard for a moment as I walked outside to get a few photos. Life is a wonderful thing and what we make of it is literally up to us. Today I will try and get some sunrise photos a bit later in the morning clouds permitting. It is still a few weeks till day light savings kicks in and the sun does not come up till I am on my planning period.

I stopped at my favorite spot for getting sunrise photos Sunday and nothing I was a bit too late so I headed into the school to write and take care of a few errands. As I was looking out of my rear view mirror a sunrise was exploding across the sky. I did a quick U-turn heading to my spot a gray sky again. So I began to think and ponder from my wonderful start to that day. As I thought back to Sunday and missing a Sunrise or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time had I not been in such a hurry I would have caught another beautiful sunrise. I addressed moments yesterday and here I am not listening to my own words two more minutes sitting and I would have witnessed a beautiful sunrise. I chose to go for the bigger picture and ignore the moment. So I am one for three this week on sunrises. This does not make me a very capable sunrise chaser.

As always random ideas get me pondering. When applying for a job and that could be any job, does not capability come into play. When discussing this I am assuming that capability is the ability to do that particular job. Several events have taken place over the past few days and one from several months back. It has been some time since I received a sheet of paper with six questions, a voluntary questionnaire on diversification. I answered honestly and do feel diversification does not get the best person for the job. Are we effectively teaching about cultures when we mandate diversification?

It is interesting in that my own lineage of Pennsylvania Dutch and welsh miners diversity has never come up. Nor has it with my great grand-mothers tribe the Leni Lenape, part of the Delaware Nation. Perhaps they are not significant enough although a very unique culture they may be. So I am with mixed emotions on one hand listening to a student teacher who feels social studies is the place to combat racism in high school and then my own conviction that I still consider rednecks an ethnic group provides for great discussion . How do we challenge racism? My wife came home and said she had a patient who said she would only go to American, (meaning white) doctors. So this morning before I ran over to the school as I sat on my porch the breeze was cool blowing through the trees, I thought wondering, what is it that drives us? I read a Facebook blog recently indicating racism is genetic. I would argue that point strongly it is learned period.

“One day our descendants will think it incredible that we paid so much attention to things like the amount of melanin in our skin or the shape of our eyes or our gender instead of the unique identities of each of us as complex human beings.” Franklin Thomas

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality…. I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

I answered my questionnaire and even wrote on the back until we begin hiring the best person, go to the best health care provider, and stop thinking, as this statement so clearly states stop looking, at the amount of melanin in our skin or not. Are we not all homo sapiens? We are not different species.

“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it.” Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

“To live anywhere in the world today and be against equality because of race or color is like living in Alaska and being against snow.” William Faulkner, Essays, Speeches and Public Letters

Over the years I have read numerous books and articles on Native American culture and one in particular has hit deep, the book Neither wolf nor dog, by Kent Nerburn. Nerburn edits the words of an old Lakota Sioux who feels compelled to express the differences between the Native Americans and whites, hence the title neither wolf nor dog.

“Laundry is the only thing that should be separated by color.” Author Unknown

“Racial superiority is a mere pigment of the imagination.” Author Unknown

How do we entangled out realities to a point where we become so embroiled in differences and how is it we forget to treat each man as a brother. Where do we get this hatred? Many consider racism a learned behavior and to date I have not read anything in research that ascribe racism to a genetic code and or DNA. Therefore it is learned and if so can be unlearned and modified.

“I am working for the time when unqualified blacks, browns, and women join the unqualified men in running our government.” Cissy Farenthold

“Be nice to whites, they need you to rediscover their humanity.” Desmond Tutu

Arch Bishop Tutu meeting with The Dalai Lama happened several years ago and that is something I really would enjoy to hear and see. These two great human beings at one place and one time speaking and discussing. I missed an opportunity to hear Desmond Tutu when he was in Atlanta as a quest lecturer at Emory University several years back. Having had ties business wise to South Africa for nearly forty years we often had inside information on the happenings there. I recall my father coming home and relating happenings at a check point between Zimbabwe and South Africa and how he was coached as to what to say when rebels stuck automatic weapons in the car windows. I recall reading an article recently about the rise of aids in South Africa and a comment my brother made after a recent trip. He said he was told that left as it currently is the aids epidemic will wipe out blacks in South Africa in ten years. Sort of makes you wonder about conspiracy theories however in the days since foundations from around the world have turned the tide on Aids and while still a serious threat slowly getting some control.

“Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.” Abraham Joshua Heschel

In 1968 I was in Texas going to college and at that time in that place racial hatred was not against blacks but Native Americans. I saw it rampant as comments were made and people responded. It was a carryover from the old west and the Indian wars. Even as recently as 1992 when traveling in Oklahoma I witnessed firsthand the racism against those who were here first.

“Preconceived notions are the locks on the door to wisdom.” Merry Browne – “The test of courage comes when we are in the minority. The test of tolerance comes when we are in the majority.” Ralph W. Sockman

Listening to comments from a student teacher recently about how we need to do this and that and show this and that and then thinking to my reading of this questionnaire on diversity. You learn racism if that is a given then you also learn tolerance. You also learn to accept others, I recall from years gone by a story of a man injured on his journey.

“A certain man went down from Lawrenceville to Atlanta, and fell among car jackers, which stripped him of his clothes, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain preacher that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Lawyer, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain man of another color, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring on peroxide and gave him some drink, and set him in his own car, and brought him to an emergency room, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two hundred dollars, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said the teacher unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.” Borrowing from my seminary days a slight paraphrase, Frank Bird III Ed.S. D.D.

A bit of paraphrase a bit of whimsy but not really how many times have headlines shown people standing by as someone is mugged or even murdered. We are all neighbors, we are all brothers, we are all equal in this life and as the sign as you leave the Ocmulgee National Park in Macon Georgia states that we are all connected. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and to always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

Looking for the right words in a new morning

Bird Droppings September 15, 2014
Looking for the right words in a new morning

“The place to improve the world is first in one’s own heart and head and hands.” Robert M. Pirsig, American author

Whether it is trying to offer a few words of condolence to friends whose loved one has passed away or trying to sort out the disaster somewhere in the world and today here near home in Georgia, we all need to look within first. When I read this line from Pirisig earlier this morning I immediately thought to my 4H days and the pledge of 4H and the 4H clover.

“The 4-H Clover symbolizes four actions which 4-H members try to accomplish. The four H s’ stand for Head, Hands, Heart, Health, as it is in the pledge. I Pledge My Head to clearer thinking, My Heart to greater loyalty, My Hands to lager service and My Health to better living for my Club my Community my Country and my World” Taos County 4H site

I wish we could get each citizen of our country truly engaged in that pledge whether it is as a 4H member or just because it is a good practice. Imagine what would happen, disasters would be resolved and often averted, we would each be “more better” as citizens, and friends all over a simple admonition. As I look clearer thinking, greater loyalty, larger service and better living these are all very powerful as well as interesting thoughts. There are days when I wish more kids were able to be exposed to 4H.

Sitting here having read the news earlier it is disheartening to try and determine what course of action each of us can take to help if we can at all. Not sure there is unbiased news left in the world sort of like history which is rewritten to meet the need of politics being impacted. A flag covered story of a young man killed by Muslim terrorists not being covered by news caught my attention so I researched. In the past weekend or so in New Jersey four or more teenagers died in car accidents, one was killed by a dog, one teenager was killed by a train, at least six were killed by gunshots assuming them to be Christians since no religion is mentioned that fired the guns, one was killed by a Muslim serial killer who was being sought for four other murders in Washington State. The insane Muslim gets National news coverage on some news channels. I find it very sad that when you google teenagers killed in New Jersey the rest are there as well. News can be biased I wonder if in New Jersey teenagers killed in Atlanta are plastered behind flags as untold news. Sorry for ranting but key point is we are so jaded to all killings and violence. People were supporting pro-football player who beat woman in elevator and we say that’s just how it is. It doesn’t have to be.

Over the announcements at the high school last week I listened to what various groups and clubs are doing at our school. The kids in our high school have raised several thousands of dollars through various activities over the years. Much of that in bits and pieces of lunch money dropped in buckets and or fund raisers such as washing cars. I recall dunking a coach or two in one of the efforts. We had a tug of war. I wish we could do more but each effort each dime or nickel is a little more. I wish we could all summon the courage to do more.

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” Ambrose Redmoon

I thought I would end with this line, courage is a word used often with little thought. I really understand the tying of the word to fear that is an interesting definition. Stating that courage is simply realizing there are more important things in life than being afraid or cautious is a powerful thought. I recall when my wife and I went to South Carolina over a weekend to visit our middle son and his fiancée at that time. It was our first chance to see the church where they were getting married and her horses at their family farm out in the South Carolina countryside. We spent Saturday evening at a wedding shower and Sunday visiting all over the beautiful South Carolina farm country discussing horses, plants, always Georgia Tech, experiences and who knows what else. How much do we learn about a person in a few moments depends on the ability of each person to be honest and trusting. It was a great afternoon joking and laughing and picking on each other. As always we called when we got home that night telling everyone we were safely home in Georgia and my tiny granddaughter not even a year old at the time was mad at me when we got home. Even the John Deere T-shirt and soft plush puppy did not make a dent. Although after her grandma held her for a minute she decided she wasn’t mad anymore and gave me a great big good night hug. Sometimes I miss that feeling. For today please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

I am where I need to be

Bird Droppings September 11, 2014
I am where I need to be

“A society in which vocation and job are separated for most people gradually creates an economy that is often devoid of spirit, one that frequently fills our pocketbooks at the cost of emptying our souls.” Dr. Sam Keenre

Many the day and time I have said I am where I need to be at this moment as I teach special education in a high school in Georgia. My entire life has been getting to this point and to this degree of understanding of my life experiences. I was addressing prior experiences with several teachers earlier in the week and how we unconsciously expect kids to have the same experiences coming into a class as we do or I should say many teachers see students that way. It sort of hit me hard one semester when I was co-teaching in a class with a former special education teacher who mentioned being of the old school in terms of his style of teaching and is looking at things somewhat different. I was watching kids who have never read a book other than in school try and get involved in a discussion on physics. I got a bit carried away the other day on some topic and was amazed at how all the kids not only were listening but asking questions. We take far too much for granted in our interactions. Maybe today’s youth know more about electronics and computers but when discussing philosophy or theology most haven’t a clue. Most kids have never taken a moment to ponder outside of school.

“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” George Bernard Shaw

I taught so many years ago and loved teaching but economic reasons took me into my second love graphic arts. I was paid considerable more to design flyers and transparencies and doing dark room work than teaching would ever have hoped to pay. I often wondered in those twenty three years away from teaching which I do believe is my purpose in life why I was not back where I wanted to be.

“A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.” Viktor Frankl

“Our minds are finite, and yet even in these circumstances of finitude we are surrounded by possibilities that are infinite, and the purpose of life is to grasp as much as we can out of that infinitude” Alfred North Whitehead

Often I recall how it took a multitude of events to bring me to my senses and to get me back on track. Each one could have been enough but in a series I was often under pressure just to make it through the day. It was through the course of my daily journaling that I found my way indirectly back to education.

“All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.” James Thurber

My first day back officially in a school building was destined to be more than a normal day as a bit later into the morning September 11, 2001 our school went into lock down. Muslim friends of my sons were picked up by their parents and the grimness of events that transpired eventually sunk in. I actually could not remember the day I started other than it was a Tuesday a week or so after Labor Day. Now nearly twelve years later I am sitting in the school after a long meeting with a parent about a child. I am no longer confused as I sit and write searching for answers. My searches now go deeper and longer trying to unravel this purpose and rationale for why we are here and why we do what we do.

“To have passion, to have a dream, to have a purpose in life; and there are three components to that purpose, one is to find out who you really are, the second is to serve other human beings, because we are here to do that and the third is to express your unique talents and when you are expressing your unique talents you lose track of time.” Deepak Chopra

Truly I have lost track of time as each moment seems to flow into the next and each day into the weeks and months. I enjoy what I do and find solace in the sanctuary of my room at school and in the students I work with.

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Thoughts are things! And powerful things at that, when mixed with definiteness of purpose, and burning desire, can be translated into riches.” Napoleon Hill

“To actually feel like you’ve done something good with your life and you’re useful to others is what I was always wanting, and was always looking for.” Angelina Jolie

“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Helen Keller

I recall some of my first readings on Carl Jung and synchronicity and how this seemed to be an evident power in my life each step leading to the next. I remember the day a consultant told me to close my business and find another line of work and then proceeded to suggest a book for me to read. A new age book James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy. One day by chance I was hit in the head at a bookstore with a book as it fell off the shelf and by chance it was Redfield’ s book. As I look back in my life to each event leaving my home state of Pennsylvania to come to Georgia and each piece of my life’s puzzle I now know there was more than random chance events. I know there was purpose guiding direction in what I learned and what I understood. I often wonder if my parents drew out a diagram of where they wanted me to be as an adult back when I was a tiny baby and then set about sending me on my way. In 1954 a family counselor wrote a poem and put it out to friends. Soon that poem took on a life of its own and millions were scattered around the globe. In 1972 or so the author saw a copy on a refrigerator of a friend and went about copywriting the poem.

“Perhaps you’ve never heard of Dorothy Law Nolte, but you’ve likely seen her most famous, in fact, her only famous work. It might even be hanging on your fridge as it has for decades in millions of family kitchens around the world. Titled “Children Learn What They Live,” the poem begins: If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.” May 6, 2005, Bettijane Levine, Times Staff Writer

So I have gone through the day and am occasionally felt a bit behind with various meetings and such that have slowed me down. The music in my classroom is always playing softly and relaxing and I look forward to another day.

“All programming for prosperity should be built on spiritual foundations. The first step is to enter the spiritual dimension, the alpha level, and determine what your purpose in life is. Find out what you are here for, what you are supposed to do with your life.” Jose Silva

In my studies of Native American philosophies this idea of inner search is the basis for many of the journeys and sources of self-understanding. Perhaps some of my own moments sitting in my quiet place at home sheltered by pecan trees and pines listening to crickets and tree frogs have helped ease me along. I wonder each day as I rise and greet the morning. Reading the news today it seems we are in for a difficult few weeks in politics and as I have for so long now closed each day please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird