Being human

Bird Droppings September 25, 2020
Being human

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” Mother Teresa

Such a simple opportunity for us as humans and we have been given that with recent events be it floods, earthquakes, mining disasters, poverty, and so many more events worldwide that impact feeding people. We live in a time when we have plenty often so much more than we need so evident with the greed that has permeated most of our society and extravagances that seem to be on nearly every channel reality shows. I have been watching news stories where entertainers and businesspeople offer a million dollars here and there, I am sure Mother Theresa would smile at that. But I am also sure that those of us who only have a dollar would garner just as big of smile from this great humanitarian in her time if we gave our only dollar.

“Abandon wrongdoing. It can be done. If there were no likelihood, I would not ask you to do it. But since it is possible and since it brings blessing and happiness, I do ask of you: abandon wrongdoing. Cultivate doing good. It can be done. If it brought deprivation and sorrow, I would not ask you to do it. But since it brings blessing and happiness, I do ask of you: cultivate doing good.” Anguttara Nikaya

I was going through my files when I found some photos from several years ago. I was taking photos of new construction at my old school and as I walked out noticed a plowed spot that had been simply a barren piece of ground it was being cultivated and of course a few more photos. It made me think back in my own life years ago when we moved to a piece of land where over many years’ nature had reduced the land to patches of cultivatable land between kudzu and overgrowth. We spent the better part of two years clearing debris and scrub. So that where there were a few acres of cleared land we then had pasture and trees growing. I did allow hedge rows and areas for quail and wildlife however after consulting with my extension agent it was not a clear-cut operation. However, the old cars and tractors and old buildings covered in kudzu were removed. As humans we need to cultivate our own lives as well through reading and thinking.

“Self-discipline motivated by concern for others: this has been the standard of conduct which I have attempted to reach.” Roger Barnes

Looking at this short statement it is a simple thought yet very deep. So often we focus solely on self and forget there are many others we meet each day.

“So, I vowed to keep myself alive, but only if I would never use me again for just me — each one of us is born of two, and we really belong to each other. I vowed to do my own thinking, instead of trying to accommodate everyone else’ opinion, credo’s, and theories. I vowed to apply my inventory of experiences to the solving of problems that affect everyone aboard planet Earth.” Buckminster Fuller

This is a big IF ONLY what if each of us adhered to Buckminster Fuller’s adage and tried to solve the world’s problems and not simply our own.

“The charities that soothe and heal and bless are scattered at the feet of man like flowers.” William Wordsworth

Often, I have used the illustration of translation and perception with a simple word from The New Testament, Agape. In Greek agape translates as a supreme love, a love of Gods. All with agape, Eros and philos are each aspects and definitions of love. When translating the word in the early days of the Church of England the word was translated as charity in the King James translation. As I read Wordsworth it struck me is not our highest form of love that which we can show towards another at no desire for return a totally one way love a giving.

“Man is harder than rock and more fragile than an egg.” Yugoslav Proverb

“That in man which cannot be domesticated is not his evil but his goodness.” Antonio Porchia

“Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.” Albert Camus

Is it who we are? Is it what we are? Is it why we are that causes the difficulties? I have watched the most callous person cry and adorable little girl veer into a banshee wail at the drop of a hat. I have observed humankind in its depravity and in its charity. One day that has stuck with me was walking through the prison ward of a mental hospital. Bold yellow lines separated us from them, but the stares went to the marrow of our bones. These were men who had killed raped and pillaged society and were deemed too sick mentally to stand trial and or were sentenced to this place. At one point in their lives each started as a fragile baby, each at one time was innocent.

“A human being: an ingenious assembly of portable plumbing.” Christopher Morley

“The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours.” Bertrand Russell

“Ocean: A body of water occupying two-thirds of a world made for man – who has no gills.” Ambrose Bierce

“Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone and more fragile than a rose.” Turkish Proverb

Pieces of a puzzle thrown in a box jumbled mixed up swished around and then scattered about that is the summation of life. We search and search and slowly unravel and discover each piece each facet and as we slowly regain understanding. We find we are little more than when we started if at all if we are looking for the destination. If we are looking at the journey than each piece each nuance has significance and reason and purpose.

“Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, and then steps in it.” John Steinbeck

We are the varmint and the trap and the bait which is interesting. Can we change this can we escape this inevitable circular motion that is self-perpetuating?

“In nature a repulsive caterpillar turns into a lovely butterfly. But with humans it is the other way around: a lovely butterfly turns into a repulsive caterpillar.” Anton Chekhov

As I sit here having pondered and wandered this day and ending on a riddle of sorts, I do believe we do escape even though rarely. We can regain that butterfly. We can make are way back and not fall victim to our own bait and trap. We can answer the questions and solve the mysteries. We can walk unimpeded midst the yellow lines and stare back. We can if we choose to and if we choose to feed that one instead of waiting to feed a hundred and never feeding any. If we choose to keep in our thoughts those who need our understanding and giving and if we choose to look beyond the caterpillar and see the butterfly in others, we can make a difference. But most of all we do have a choice. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Can we listen through our heart?

Bird Droppings September 24, 2020

Can we listen through our heart?

It has been several years since I found on my many excursions to Barnes and Nobles a small book that I would like to share some passages from. I found many of the thoughts and passages to be of significance and for me sharing words of wisdom with others is part of who I am. I have several students in advisement who are interested in going into nursing and many thoughts in this little book relate to health and spiritual care as being one and the same. The little book, Listening with Your Heart, is written by Dr. Wayne Peale MD, a medical doctor, and Iroquois on his mother’s side.

“As a medical student I was being trained to hear hearts with my stethoscope, but found I was missing a great deal by not listening with my heart” Dr. Wayne Peale

Several years ago, I was proctoring an End of Course Test during the afternoon.  One of the questions was from a poem or passage about a colt that was not winter-broke. I liked that term winter-broke. For those of us in the south perhaps it has little meaning and perhaps a culturally difficult passage. The term winter-broke is about being used to the winter, snowflakes, cold, steam from your breath and other idiosyncrasies of the cold. Today in Georgia many of those shy of snow in our area are visible. A baby horse new to the world would be spooked with a new snow fall. Maybe chasing snowflakes or running from them as in the case of the story.

However, as the question was answered for one of the answers was the author empathetic to the plight of the colt. Other answers used words such as was the colt afraid and words similar. One of my students asked me quietly what is empathetic. Being a language arts test and such I could not impart or tell the definition of an answer. I saw my little book on the table when I returned to my room and pondered as to why it was so hard not to say the answer because I too lived by empathy.

“The white man talks about the mind and body and spirit as if they are separate. For us    they are one. Our whole life is spiritual, from the time we get up until we go to bed.” Yakima healer

It has been nearly twenty years that I agonized about a situation and a student who is on the verge of being expelled and much if it from my own fault. The student was refusing to do a required program. In refusing to do the assignment he was getting irate and argumentative often to a point of school disruption. When you carefully look at the student’s disability each aspect of it is in responses that are given, lack of control, obsessive behavior, emotional issues, anger management issues and authority issues. A slight change and the problem could be solved. Why not do the same work in a different manner? Of course, it is not in the confines of “program” which would upset administration. Should empathy for the student stand up to, trying to stay in the box? As Dr. Peale learned and points out sometimes you need to teach from the heart as well.

One day perhaps I will study linguistics and language. As I looked through Dr. Peale’s book a Navajo word caught my attention.

“Hozho (HO-zo) – A complex Navajo philosophical, religious, and aesthetic concept roughly translated as “beauty”. Hozho also means seeking and incorporating aesthetic qualities into life, it means inner peace and harmony, and making the most of all that surrounds us. It refers to a positive beautiful, harmonious, happy environment that must be constantly created by thought and deed. Hozho encourages us to go in beauty and to enjoy the gifts of life and nature and health.” Listening with your heart

In a recent writing seminar, the lead teacher offered that reading a passage can aid in eliciting descriptive phrases and sentences, and to encourage students to illiterate and expound on ideas more so. Here is a word that has so many meanings. A simple word is hozho, yet so much meaning. I end each of my daily writings with a Hindustani word and have several times offered the translation when people ask. Within its own language there are different meanings for different people. For some it is a salutation a simple hello or goodbye. If you go a bit further south in India you would only use namaste with reverence and literally bow your head pressing your hands together honoring the person you are speaking with, with your simple salutation.

It has been a few months since I wrote about making a rope strand by strand. A dear friend from up north wrote back thanking me and later in the day responded with this note.

“Thank you for sharing them with me.  I sent this one on to my husband, my sister and     sister-in-law and my best friend.  Thru this most difficult year losing my beloved son, they have been constants in my life united we stand thru this valley of darkness. Without their love and support, my grief would be unbearable.  Peace my friend.”

Empathy is assisted healing from the heart.

“…healing is a partnership with others – family members, community. A Native     American healer once paraphrased Abraham Lincoln to me: ‘you can heal some things all of the time,’ the healer said, ‘and you can heal all things some of the time, but you       can’t heal everything all the time alone.’ Everyone needs a coach, a family a community.” Dr. Wayne Peale MD

Sometimes when I receive a note from the heart it is difficult to answer immediately. I have to sit sometimes even sleep on it. My dear friend lost a son. Many the times since hearing of her plight I have wondered what it would be like to lose a son, a daughter or anyone close to me. Empathy is a difficult word at times like these. It is a much bigger word than most would imagine.

Our house is such that our two of our bedroom’s rooms are upstairs and two are downstairs they literally go from one end of the house to the other. Being that my writing and reading time do not always correspond with normal sleep patterns the family when home will be asleep when I am about to write or read. Listening to the sounds of my family asleep is a peaceful and wonderful feeling. Knowing they are safe and here at home. Then the so many what ifs have crossed my mind as I walk through the house early in the morning thinking about what if the rooms were empty such as today when even my wife is away for the week.

Lost in a moment of melancholy I come back to teaching in my thinking. Teaching is about healing, it is about community, and it is about family and most of all it is about empathy. It is about seeking and engaging constants in our lives so we can move forward and or change directions if need be. Teaching is always about learning. Sometimes as I came to realize yesterday and have so many times before our nice boxes we are supposed to teach from are not always the right ones. Sadly, far too many teachers do not use heart as a teaching tool. Far too many parents do not or cannot use heart as a parenting tool. As I look at the title of Dr. Peale’s book, listening with your heart, what a powerful message.

I am doing an exercise using a black and white picture of a bridge most will simply see a picture, while others have created fantasy worlds of trolls and fairies. Some simply explain their perception and how we each are different in what we see and hear. Often, I will play the devil’s advocate and argue both sides. It is just a bridge to elicit responses or what if it was a work of art created by an immigrant iron worker as a tribute to his or her new freedom. Thinking back to, Hozho, my new word I should take pause.

“Every action should be taken with thoughts of its effects on children seven generations from now.” Cherokee saying

If only we would deal with kids with life that way. What if people in general looked at life that way? Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts. It is about being in your heart. It is about speaking from your heart. But most of all it is listening with your heart and always giving thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Answers are on the opposite end of questions

September 23, 2020
Answers are on the opposite end of questions

“In the beginning of all things, wisdom and knowledge were with the animals, for Tarawa, the One Above, did not speak directly to man. He sent certain animals to tell men that he showed himself through the beast and that from them, and from the stars and the sun and moon should man learn…” Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee

I find myself often looking at Native American thought for insight and ideas. Perhaps it is that indigenous peoples were more oriented around the land and survival then we civilized folks are. An interesting thought earlier today that indigenous people resonate at the same frequency as the land. They are in sync with the surroundings as we modern folk have shifted away and lost track of nature and the land. These lessons in life often revolve around learning from nature and the world around us rather than from school or some one person’s ideas. The lessons are often handed down in story form from father and mother to children, they are not printed in a holy book or text that so often lends itself to translation and interpretation. Many the night we as children fell asleep to stories of old that my father would tell us, and I have told my sons and now will tell my grandchildren these same stories.

“All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two, good and evil. With our eyes we see two things, things that are fair and things that are ugly…. We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and we have the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way; the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two.” Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee

Dr. Michael Garrett, writer, teacher, and counselor discusses a theory of opposites numerous times in his writings within Native American thought. For each entity there is an opposite. As I ponder the concept of soul is there soulless aspect within humanity? Working with adolescents in all honesty I would say I have never met a soulless person, I have come close, however. Conduct Disordered children have no concept of right or wrong and essentially focus totally on self. The world revolves around them and anything else is insignificant. A good friend Dr. James Sutton considers and discusses in his writing CDD children as, “more dangerous, deficient in social understanding, and poorer skills in general.” I recall my first meeting with James and how I was informed as a high teacher there was nothing I could do for these kids. He went on to state most about ninety nine percent would end up dead, in jail, used car salesmen, politicians and or evangelists. If this would hold true could be a reason, we have so much difficulty in Washington, no one really cares.

“Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.” Mourning Dove Salish, 1888-1936

There are times I find it difficult to say there is a purpose for some of the people I have met but as I think about this possibility of opposites and all things have purpose if not only to give contrast to the good. I was interviewed by a student earlier in the day and a question was asked have I ever intentionally hurt an animal. All I could think of was feeding mice and rats to snakes it was intentional to provide nourishment to the reptiles. But it would a matter of perception as to whether a squeaking rat being constricted was hurting as it dies being suffocated by the snake. I do feed mostly frozen thawed rats and mice, however. But it made me think to other issues and how some people see them. So many are concerned about health care reform and yet even prior to legislation nearly four years ago my premiums went up and all I use it for is medicines since I seldom go to the doctor and my visits are often free. I am sitting here thinking that having a wife in health care does have its advantages at times. So we have differing perceptions and some of the people out there could be without soul so how do we continue as a society?

“Soul, the word rebounded to me, and I wondered, as I often had, what it was exactly. People talked about it all the time, but did anybody actually know? Sometimes I’d pictured it like a pilot light burning inside a person–a drop of fire from the invisible inferno people called God. Or a squashy substance, like a piece of clay or dental mold, which collected the sum of a person’s experiences–a million indentations of happiness, desperation, fear, all the small piercings of beauty we’ve ever known.” Sue Monk Kidd, The Mermaid Chair

“I simply believe that some part of the human Self or Soul is not subject to the laws of space and time.” Carl Jung

Whenever I get into individualism and creativity, I find myself discussing soul and I always sort of end up with it truly is a definitive aspect of which we are and how we see ourselves. Should soul be or not be an entity or thing and it is far more and less. Soul is a paradox and perhaps like Jung I do see it as not subject to laws of space and time. So, with perhaps not a final answer, I should call a friend maybe I will close today with the usual 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

Seeing all is connected and intertwined

Bird Droppings September 22, 2020
Seeing all is connected and intertwined

As I thought about the Sydney J. Harris passage below and walked out to my car I thought of my quiet spot on my back porch where I meditate, and something hit me. I generally sit facing east towards the rising sun, daily the gossamer threads of life interconnect with everything. Spiders busy the night before spin threads of silk across the terrain. They are always iridescent and softly moving with the wind. Occasionally one thread would disconnect and float effortlessly upwards sparkling and dancing as it goes ever so slow into the clouds. Each twig, each plant and leave seemed to be connected. Each rock and branch a tiny thread weaving through the entire visage before me.

Most people would read this and scoff yet in the early morning as the sun rises and begins to move across the skies spiders have been at work all night moving between plants and rocks trees and leaves leaving threads of silk. If you were standing in the midst of them, they would be invisible yet with the sun behind sparkling in the light a beautiful scene. As I sat pondering as to an old man sitting looking towards the east in the early morning many years ago and coming in to tell his grandchildren as I started the passage. On the back of my t-shirt it reads all things are connected and rightly so by a thin gossamer strand of silk.

“Our task is to make our children into disciples of the good life, by our own actions toward them and toward other people. This is the only effective discipline in the         long run. But it is more arduous, and takes longer, than simply “laying down the law.” Before a child (or a nation) can accept the law, it has to learn why the law has been created for its own welfare.” Sydney J. Harris

Today I am faced with dealing with how to accomplish all that needs to be finished by Friday. Several job applications and chapter one and two of my dissertation. I was reading and discussing how procrastination is a form of anxiety. My nephew is a clinical psychologist and he and I were comparing notes on autism and then discussed anxiety.  I would have never considered myself anxious but as I researched perhaps I am and then manifest through procrastination.

“What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.” Aristotle

“Self-command is the main discipline.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Many years ago, I spent six months involved in counseling on a psychiatric unit in a state mental facility. There was never a question about why something happened being that they were considered combative psychotic adolescents which was the term used to describe the unit. When someone got upset it was solitary confinement and rather large doses of drugs and a few strait jackets were employed. Little was occurring to change the behavior and or rationalize those behaviors and or find why that behavior even occurred simply deal with the moment.

“Anybody who gets away with something will come back to get away with a little bit more.” Harold Schoenberg

“Better to be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.” John Trapp

Often as I find a quote the person behind those words has more to offer as if the situation with Schoenberg who is a scholar of music. He is also a very prolific writer about great musicians and their music. John Trapp was a bible scholar with several biblical commentaries to his credit both men were writers who themselves were very self-disciplined.

“THE STUDY OF WORDS is useless unless it leads to the study of the ideas that the words stand for. When I am concerned about the proper use of words it is not           because of snobbism or superiority, but because their improper use leads to poor        ways of thinking. Take the word ‘discipline’ that we hear so much about nowadays        in connection with the rearing of children. If know something about word derivations, you know that ‘discipline’ and ‘disciple’ come from the same Latin root discipulus, which means ‘to learn, to follow.’” Sydney J. Harris, Strictly speaking

Sitting here looking up references and quotes related to behavior and ending up with the example, to learn and to follow this is semantics as we go. In order to operate a public school, we have to have standards to operate by, so we have rules. Looking at this from a behaviorist standpoint it is easy to say ABC, Antecedent, Behavior and Consequence. First you have an antecedent that stimulus is what causes the behavior. Then you have the behavior which is the event or action that we see, feel, or hear about. Finally, we have consequence which can be what we do in response or what the students or person issuing the behavior receives for eliciting that behavior.

“What is the appropriate behavior for a man or a woman in the midst of this world, where each person is clinging to his piece of debris? What’s the proper salutation between people as they pass each other in this flood?” Leonard Cohen

“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.” George W. Crane

“To know what people really think, pay regard to what they do, rather than what they say.” Rene Descartes

It is always about what we do. Over the past few days, I have with several teachers and friends been discussing perception that is how we see events and happenings. One of the categories in writing a behavioral plan for a student is planned to ignore that is often simply tuning out a behavior. Often with no stimulus to keep it going a behavior will disappear. So often it is getting attention that is the desired consequence.

“People don’t change their behavior unless it makes a difference for them to do so.” Fran Tarkenton

“Physics does not change the nature of the world it studies, and no science of        behavior can change the essential nature of man, even though both sciences yield technologies with a vast power to manipulate the subject matters.” B. F. Skinner

These lines from a football hall of fame quarterback and the father of behaviorism are intriguing as these two men from distinctly different arenas yet have come to remarkably similar conclusions in their thoughts. Tarkenton has built an internationally known management consulting firm based on his thought. It must make a difference to the person for them to change. Skinner sees we can manipulate the subject matters we as we can offer alternative consequences to hopefully change the behaviors to ones we can accept. A Sydney J. Harris line caught my attention this morning as I started on discipline as I prepare for several IEP’s later this week some related to behavior.

“…by our own actions toward them and toward other people.” Sydney J. Harris

So often it is not the consequences that deter or change a behavior but our actions towards the person and those around them. It is the example we set and not what we say that matters. Please today as we venture out 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

The confines or infinity of a circle

Bird Droppings September 21, 2020
The confines or infinity of a circle

As I am sitting here this afternoon wondering does a circle have a beginning and or an end? As learning begins often with a question so today a start and a beginning to my writing and thinking with a question. Many of the philosophies of life use comparisons to circles as a visual tool to simplify what is being said. Within Native American thought and philosophy truth is often found centered and focused on a circle. When I taught summer school or resource Biology, I use Disney’s Lion King as a base for the circle of life. The movie even has a theme song to that name. Many years ago, the great holy man Black Elk told his visions to a biographer who wrote down the words and from that a book was written, Black Elk Speaks.

“Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves.” Black Elk, Sioux Holy man

I started another book recently again for the tenth time at least, “The Tao of teaching” based on the eastern philosophy of the Tao, which is itself a circle essentially. I bought the book nearly ten years ago and have returned to it numerous times for thoughts. As I stood talking with students in the hallways yesterday just before school let out I was watching the circle move. Something that most of the thinking leaves out is that a circle is fluid there is movement. While described within a confined space of a circle as Black Elk speaks of seasons changing in a circular motion, people move in a pattern, a circle in life perhaps confined yet fluid always moving, continuing, changing, yet staying the same.

“It seemed that each time we would become proficient at a given task there would be a change made for no apparent reason. It sometimes appeared that changes were made simply because sufficient time had elapsed since the last change. And then our efforts would begin again from the beginning.” General Adalphos

In learning is it change or simply movement, the fluidness of life as we step from a basic knowledge to a complex thinking beyond instead of within is that a circular motion which then raises another question. I do think it is funny; recently it is the questions that provide the learning as we ask a question we generate more, in sort of a Socratian method. Just as the great teacher and philosopher used questions, we in our answers produce questions from the original question.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin

“We must become the change we want to see.” Mahatma Gandhi

It is the seeking of answers that is learning and that is the change that occurs in man. That which raises us up and provides what we need to be more than we were yesterday is how we can knowledge. I sat and discussed Ansell Adams with a student and watched as I do responses among other students one or two had a clue what was going on some were not aware a discussion was taking place and one was yawning bored. As I watched and observed even in the context of a discussion the child who was bored was not bored from knowing about what was being said but because they did not even hear or try to hear what was being said. They had set limits themselves on their world boundaries had been put them in place to avoid change or to lessen the chance a question will or could be asked shy of can I go to the bathroom?

“Life has got a habit of not standing hitched. You got to ride it like you find it. You got       to change with it. If a day goes by that don’t change some of your old notions for new ones that are just about like trying to milk a dead cow.” Woody Guthrie

In a recent seminar on teaching the comparison to trying to ride a dead horse was used. Trying to milk a dead cow I like better. You can actually sit on a dead horse at least for a while till it falls over, but no matter how hard you try a dead cow won’t give milk. For those of you who are folk music buffs, Woody Guthrie is considered one of the founding fathers of folk music in the US. He traveled the country hobo style writing songs of the depression and dust bowl looking for answers and asking questions.

“There is a certain relief in change, even though it be  from bad to worse! As I have often found in traveling in a stagecoach, that; it is often a comfort to shift one’s position, and be bruised in a new place.” Washington Irving

Look for questions in your answers as we start into a new week and for me a new day and only four days of school left till fall break. In reading the news this morning it seems little is positive in this crazy world. So as I have for quite a few years now please 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

Why would anyone be unworthy of concern?

Bird Droppings September 20, 2020

Why would anyone be unworthy of concern?  

“I think the most important issue we have as a people is what we started, and that is to begin to trust our own thinking again and believe in ourselves enough to think that we can articulate our own vision of the future and then work to make sure that that vision becomes a reality.” Chief Wilma Mankiller

Wilma Mankiller was the first woman elected chief of the Oklahoma Cherokee Tribe and she became a national speaker on the rights of Indians. I found a small book several years back written by Wilma Mankiller, Gloria Steinem, and Vine Deloria. The book’s title Every day is Good Day, is a effort to portray in perspective the thoughts of the indigenous women who provided the thoughts and articles for the book.  The book encompasses women from across the America’s. 

The quote I started with today was directed at Indians as a whole and the Cherokee tribe who were uprooted from their ancestral homes in the southeastern US by Andrew Jackson in the infamous Trail of Tears and moved to the Indian Territories of Oklahoma. As I read this quote again it hit me this could apply to almost anyone as so many have fallen in the trap of societal follow the leader. That charismatic voice screaming loud garners listening even when often fictitious in nature. Surprisingly, many follow often even knowing the words are wrong or misleading.  As a country we often are told what to do not in the manner of a dictatorship but more subtlety as legislators convene and pass laws providing us with guidance and parameters. Along this line I was thinking back to Indian reservations where humans were forced to submit to cultural extermination and the Indian schools like Carlisle in Pennsylvania where Indian children were taken and stripped of their heritage

“I’d like to talk about free markets. Information in the computer age is the last genuine free market left on earth except those free markets where indigenous people are still surviving. And that’s basically becoming limited.” Russell Means

“In the government schools, which are referred to as public schools, Indian policy has been instituted there, and it’s a policy where they do not encourage, in fact, discourage, critical thinking and the creation of ideas and public education.”  Russell Means

One of the American Indian Movement founders and its first leader the late Russell Means name might be more familiar to fans of Daniel Day Lewis and The Last of the Mohicans in which Means stars as Chief Kingachcook, the last of the Mohicans. Means was born on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. Russell Means was actively working for Indian efforts for nearly fifty years and often was a very outspoken figure as various legislation and agendas are thrown at reservations and tribes.

“I don’t want to talk about the environment and the American Indian viewpoint; I hate the word Native American. It’s a government term, which was created in the year 1970 in the Department of the Interior, a generic term that describes all the prisoners of the United States of America.” Russell Means

“The one thing I’ve always maintained is that I’m an American Indian. I am not politically correct. Everyone who is born in the Western Hemisphere is a Native American. We are all Native Americans” Russell Means

I find interesting his viewpoint that anyone born in the Western Hemisphere is a Native American.  

“So, I’d much rather get across the concept of freedom. It’s what’s important to Indian children. The only way you can be free is to know is that you are worthwhile as a distinct human being. Otherwise you become what the colonizers have designed, and that is a lemming. Get in line, punch all the right keys, and die.” Russell Means

Watching Fox news and listening to some of the conservative commentators I can envision the masses of lemmings running off the cliff following right along. It seems so few think for themselves any more. Even in education we have gone with standards for what is to be taught and then test kids based on standards. Effectively we have been eliminating the development of critical thinking and imagination. In Texas by chance they were trying to pass laws for schools to eliminate the teaching of critical thinking. It was entitled Lemming Law 101 (I am being sarcastic). One writer commented in a blog that while they thought a certain politician who was no longer running was not knowledgeable about being president, they liked her and so would write in a vote for her for that reason. She stands for what I stand for. Many of these same politicians stand for what makes the most money for them at that time. Current contenders have changed their minds significantly on immigration and others have gone from pro-health care reform to repeal health care reform.

“It does not require many words to speak the truth.” Chief Joseph, Nez Perce

Sadly, most will never use a few words but embellish and go far beyond the truth. A week is reaching the middle and again I ask please 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

Being where you need to be

Bird Droppings September 18, 2020
Being where you 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 experiences. I was addressing prior experiences with several teachers earlier and how we 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 as I am co-teaching in a class with a first year teacher and not having co-taught before I am looking at things somewhat different. I am watching kids who have never read a book other than in school try and get involved in a discussion on Romeo and Juliet or Edgar Allan Poe. I got a bit carried away the other day on some Poe stories 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 have not 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 considerably 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 believe is my purpose in life why was I 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

It took a multitude of events to bring me to my senses and to get me back n track. Each one could have been enough but in a series, I was often under pressure just to make it through the day. 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 in a school building was destined to be more than a normal day as 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 could not remember the day I started other than it was a Tuesday a week or so after Labor Day. Now nearly ten 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 Borders 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 have 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 running a bit behind in my posting but various meetings and such have slowed me down. My music is playing softly and relaxing and I am nearing the end of my discourse.

“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 has 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 namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

Why did they call him a founding father?

Bird Droppings September 16, 2020

Why did they call him a founding father?

“Constitutions should consist only of general provisions; the reason is that they must necessarily be permanent, and that they cannot calculate for the possible change of things.” Alexander Hamilton

As I looked through the news this morning many of the situations go back to ideas and thoughts begun by Alexander Hamilton so many years ago. As the first Secretary of the Treasury he set about working with a huge national debt from the Revolutionary War and established many policies and laws that govern us now. But as he states he knew times would change, technologies change, and people change and what was needed was a general framework to guide the country not a set-in concrete list. Interesting so often folks refer to the Ten Commandments as the law of the land, yet almost immediately over six hundred and eighty addendums to the original ten were enshrined in history. Thou shall not kill, unless….

“In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed, and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” Alexander Hamilton

While believing in a strong federal government Hamilton also believed in honesty and fairness.

“In the general course of human nature, a power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will.” Alexander Hamilton

While written long before welfare and government subsidies I was reading this morning about cuts in many federal programs to try and cut deficits and bailout economy. While an indirect lobbying method imagine the effect of telling a group of people, we are cutting your medical care or your bank is going to collapse. I wonder how they will vote in an election year and or do they even have a voice which has been the focus of both sides in this election year.

“It is the advertiser who provides the paper for the subscriber. It is not to be disputed, that the publisher of a newspaper in this country, without a very exhaustive advertising support, would receive less reward for his labor than the humblest mechanic.” Alexander Hamilton

It is sad that we live in a time when politicians, legislation and news is bought and sold much like any other commodity as are public and popular opinion.

 
“Man is reasoning rather than a reasonable animal.” Alexander Hamilton

Cunning might even be a better word as I read Hamilton’s thoughts this morning. As I look at even Hamilton’s life ending in a duel with the then vice president Aaron Burr. As I am listening to news and current political pundits who shout differing opinions from day to day as they try and pull a vote here or there or for shock value pull a potential president out of the woodwork I wonder and am amazed at how Hamilton knew all along even three hundred years ago how the ongoing human mind worked. 

“Men often oppose a thing merely because they have had no agency in planning it, or because it may have been planned by those whom they dislike.” Alexander Hamilton

I see this every day in education, in student life, in a high school, in families and worse in those who supposedly govern us in this country an attitude of self-centeredness, they are almost like spoiled children. Why would a congressman from Texas want so adamantly to drill in Alaska and or Senators from non-coastal states so vehemently want to drill in coastal states who oppose drilling off of their shores? I recall walking over a pipeline on the St. Augustine beach and looking out on what once were pristine waters to see oil rigs only a few yards from shore. I wonder about such things.

“Real firmness is good for anything; strut is good for nothing.” Alexander Hamilton

Over the years of watching humanity you do see those little bantam-like fools who strut around flashing and smiling and oh yeah “I am the man” sort of fellows. But is it real? Hamilton saw through the strut to what he calls real firmness, an interesting set of words.

“The people are turbulent and changing; they seldom judge or determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct permanent share in the government… Can a democratic assembly who annually revolve in the mass of the people be supposed steadily to pursue the public good?” Alexander Hamilton

Perhaps this is where I disagree with Hamilton. Yet within our structure of government we do have a class system, wealthy attorneys, industrialists, and professionals who in effect run our government often becoming indirectly wealthier. It seems very few elected official leave offices in less shape than when they go in. A good example is the former Vice President Cheney. His former company from before his vice president days is reaping far greater profits than ever before and with contracts in the billions be it in Iraq or from Katrina or Around the world and often still at no-bid status. I wonder if all of our soldiers will ever come home.

“Those who do not industrialize become hewers of wood and haulers of water.” Alexander Hamilton

A prophecy from three hundred years ago and still true to this day although I wonder who is the better person? When you look at third world countries wood goes first then the economy unless that country industrializes. Yet in the losing of forest and jungles often so much more is lost.

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” Alexander Hamilton

Perhaps it is in our indifference that we lose. Perhaps it is in our voting in such low turn outs that we lose. If we believed in this country and in what it stands for, would vote and participate in having a voice. I found an old newsletter from a student organization four years ago entitled, “The Voice” silenced by an administration who did not want students having any say so. In 1804 Hamilton offended the Vice President and a duel was arranged. Aaron Burr and Hamilton met in a meadow in New Jersey one morning. Hamilton shot his pistol in the air. Burr shot Hamilton in the stomach and he died the next day. The Vice President had to escape, charges for murder were pressed. Over the years Hamilton’s ideas and thoughts have blossomed. The US Coast Guard, US Navy, many treasury processes and concepts go back directly to Hamilton. But as I finish up this morning this last quote is so significant for us today.

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.” Alexander Hamilton

We have to take a stand otherwise we will simply fall by the wayside. I Have friends in Pennsylvania fighting for the rights for exceptional children with a state government trying to cut education to special needs children. Please 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

Solitude is within one’s soul and heart

Bird Droppings September 15, 2020
Solitude is within one’s soul and heart

“No person, standing before this mystery, has the wisdom or the knowledge to see across the curtain. But for those who stand before their dead with aching hearts and tear-filled eyes, one affirmation endures… one truth remains…and one light shines clear. Where there has been love, there has been Life. Its birthplace was the human heart where, for thousands and thousands of years, with all peoples in all cultures, it has brought joy…built hope…been the mother of beauty…overcome fear and given a richness and significance to the living of days that otherwise would have been absent.” William Edelen

I have just read through several of William Edelen’s sermons or Sunday symposiums as he called them. He passed on in 2015 but this extremely free thinker wrote about politics, religion and in this instance love. It has been a few years since my wife went to visit her grandmother’s grave site in South Central Georgia. My wife, her mother and her sisters all journeyed together and walked about the small church’s grave yard with their mother narrating and explaining who was who and relationships to them.

Whenever I get a chance I walk out behind my brother’s house and walk to my father, mother’s and younger brother’s grave site which is situated on a hill overlooking a soccer field where children play nearly every day. It just hit me how appropriate for their resting spot. Perhaps it was the recent funerals of two friends and such that made me think in this manner. Why do we wait for death to impart to our loved ones our inner most feelings? Why do we so often find the time to go to grave yards to honor and muse about what we should have done when they were with us?

Solitude is within us,

An inadvertent meandering through life.
I wander as I journey.
Glimpsing pieces of my life’s puzzle.
Pondering each more intricate than the last.
Sadly I grow weary from so many missteps
Along the boulder strewn pathway.
Every day older my physical capabilities diminish
And my mental aptitude slows.
Names come more slowly
And memories often either exaggerated or forgotten
Guide my thoughts.
What few seem to come too me
All linking me past, present and future
Pondering reality midst the travels.

Frank Bird III, 2010

It has been sometime since I rode on a bus in Washington DC from the hotel to the Wall. I was riding with a bus load of high school kids all giggling, laughing, singing and yelling and I was sitting brooding wondering how I would react. I measured each block as we drove closer. I soon saw nothing but The Wall, a black ribbon wandering what seemed forever through the park. Students were given a token flower to place at the Wall. I walked over to a large bound volume which was on a table. The book contained the list of names on the wall and guide to find where those fallen were to be found on numerous panels. Carefully on my hand I wrote names of friends from High school who perished in Viet Nam. I never did get to say good bye to any of them, I was living in Georgia before most went to war or had been too busy at school or work to realize they were gone. Seems when I left high school I had not really kept tabs with anyone. Perhaps it was assuming I would see these guys at reunions and such. It might have been my ever-zealous desire to not be in high school anymore.

“Absolutely speaking, do unto others as you would that they should do unto you is by no means a golden rule, but the best of current silver. An honest man would have but little occasion for it. It is golden not to have any rule at all in such a case.” Henry David Thoreau

After several minutes of paging through the large book I found a name and it hit me. It had been nearly twenty-five years since I had seen this guy, and in my mind, he had been very much alive. His name was on the wall about waist height carved into the black face of an enormously large piece of rock. At that moment the Wall stretched for miles in my mind and I had to walk away.

“The whole circle of consciousness is an added fact to that of movement. For this reason, we cannot speak of thought as occupying space or having exact locality.” Dr. James Mark Baldwin, Professor of Logic and Metaphysics, University of Toronto, 1890

Several minutes nearly an hour later my son found me sitting atop a hill on a bench looking down at the Wall. A squirrel had been running back and forth trying to get my attention probably wanting a peanut or popcorn of which I had neither. “Dad it is time to go” was my pull back to reality and I walked with my son to the buses.

“Where there has been love, there has been Life.” William Edelen

Looking back and wondering, even pondering today do we need to take the time to realize what it is that gives us life. Do we need to recognize more deeply and openly how we feel now while we can? Or should we wait to eulogize and postulate as we close the lid and bury our friends and families. Or should we wait twenty-five years and stand at a Wall or monument or memorial to fallen heroes and loved ones only to lay a flower on cold marble or hand it now to warm hands. I think I will stop at the store on the way home today after school so peace my dear friends and 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

Just an observation

Bird Droppings September 14, 2020
Just an observation

I am that I am. I read that somewhere many years ago a simple definition of one’s self. As I look at its simplicity are we not all who we are? I grew up in a middle-class family first in Pennsylvania and now Georgia. In the old days I would take to the woods often for many days wandering trails through the north Georgia Mountains. Many of the places I would go today I see on a regular basis in Rabun County. It was in my younger days and I learned about animals and plants my affinity for nature grew. I no longer look for the great picture but for the interconnections of the plants and animals. I see things I never knew existed in my younger days. On a recent morning I walked out a possum greeted me as I went to the car. On any other day no big deal but in that day with power out at our house from a blown transformer an interesting start to the morning. Within minutes a large buck locked eye with me and so the day went.

“I do not write from mythology when I reflect upon Native American spirituality in this book. In my own opinion, mythology leads to superstition; and superstition has proved fatally destruction to many millions down through time. It is ironic, then that Dominant Society accuses Native practices of being based on myth.” Ed McGaa, Eagle Man

My wanderings are the expanse of several days of traveling and thinking and observing mankind. Just a few nights ago my son and I heard outside a choir of coyotes just a few yards away deep in the pines. It was literally an opera of coyotes howls and yells. While only a few minutes the sounds were an eerie reminder that even in a civilized world nature was only a few feet away in its wildest. I was walking Sunday morning and being away from my quiet spot near my home in Between Georgia in a small town in middle Georgia sitting on a porch of an old mill house the quiet was over powering along with the gentle breeze and sunshine. Around me birds would occasionally fly into and out of the trees but most of the time without a sound. I was essentially alone sitting listening while everyone else was inside. Only a few hours earlier I had a wonderful experience watching by my own house as the sun came up and starting this particular book Nature’s Way.


Ed McGaa is a Lakota Sioux and an attorney by education. He chooses his words wisely and does not simple offer a book to fill a spot on a shelf. He points to observations as a basis for our spiritual views rather than heresy or simply taking the word of another. This past weekend as we drove home from a quick trip to see my son and his wife and our grandbabies we noticed nearly fifty red tailed hawks sitting on the wires watching as we drove by. If you have ever seen a hawk hunting observation is a key. Every detail is seen as they look for a food item crawling or scurrying along the ground.

Clearly, we are meant to think, analyze, and deliberate. And yet humans seem to have some sort of fear (or is it plain ignorance?) of exercising the simple freedom to think. Why are we so prone to let others do our thinking for us – to lead astray and control us?” Ed McGaa, Eagle Man

Only a few years back we have been through one of the most biased and perhaps most sheep lead to slaughter election campaigns I have ever experienced in my life. The negative ads were the vast majority of all from either side. Issues were simply something that would be dealt with after the election and even then, that was questionable. Here in Atlanta several of the mega churches are going through serious upheavals with pastors who after years of preaching and blasting various human characteristics and or issues are coming out themselves and in turn being who they preached against for twenty years and built empires against. One of the themes I have seen in politics and religion so blatant in the past year is the “letting of others do our thinking for us”. I received a copy of a book in the mail from a friend in New York after he published. I had known the title for months prior but seeing it and beginning my initial reading the title hit me. “Hustlers and the idiot swarm”, how appropriate is that to our society today.
Opening up Reverend Manny’s book and turning to the very first page there is a quote and thought that permeates our society if even unknowingly.

“For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all experts’ liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.” Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, vol. I, Ch. X

It was within a day or two of first setting foot in Washington that a newly elected Congressman who ran on a ticket of repealing the newly legislated Health Care bill was upset that his government health care insurance did not start immediately and he had to wait twenty-eight days and made a scene in his first official meeting. During the course of the past year lies about the health care bill made headlines more so than points that were significantly important to many families. I grew up in a family with a severely disabled brother who would never have been insurable under most standard insurance due to preexisting conditions. Even more significant is my son was still in nursing school and over twenty-five but was covered with new health care law on my insurance. If not for that not sure where we would be after his accident in May of 2014 with over three hundred fifty thousand in medical bills that were covered.

I really did not want to get into the idea of politics since reality is not an issue there sadly. I started my thoughts the past few days thinking about how we find our own center and understanding of the world around us.

“The Sioux believe that lies, deceit, greed, and harm to innocent others will never be erased, and neither will good deeds of generosity and caring. Dominant society on the other hand, leans towards “forgiveness” theory which claims that bad deeds can be purged.” Ed McGaa, Eagle Man, Nature’s Way

As I started getting into this idea of each of us formulating and ratifying our own understandings of all that is about us it became clear this will be more than a quick note. I walked out of the house earlier and had on R. Carlos Nakai on my ear phones and rather loud. The CD is one of Nakai who is a seven-note cedar flute master playing with a symphony his various melodies and it was almost haunting as the visage of a clear sky and quiet surrounding the trees. I had to stop listen to the music and see this quiet still image before me. The two interplayed as I got ready to leave the house. As I turned from observing I noticed a flat tire on my son’s truck which brought me back to reality and the moment.


To close this quick dropping and getting on with the day I remind everyone to please keep all in harm’s way on their minds and in their hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird