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

What’s it take, for that light bulb to go on?

Bird Droppings September 10, 2020

What’s it take, for that light bulb to go on?

It has been nearly fourteen years since my doctorial cohort ended and we began the journey on our own. Most of us will have had a few classes or two together here and there and are into and are beginning and or finishing our dissertations in our own ways. I recall many months back we met for an advanced seminar and one of the readings was an Aldus Huxley book, Doors of our perception, which while not that many pages was a major part of the discussion. I am always intrigued when pieces of my time in existence seem just for me as several ideas within the book were significant as I look back.

However, our professor ended the session pointing at himself and mentioned how he has pursued intellectualism. Reading and expanding his own knowledge has been his pursuit and he mentioned several times how great it is to be a professor you get paid to read. I was thinking to high school students who we try and get to read and many college students as well. So often when you ask, what is your favorite book a response will be I do not read? Instilling that passion for knowledge should be our task rather than just testing for specific pieces of information.

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allen

I have been thinking on this passage many days. I firmly believe even as we plan and set goals and agendas we are where we need to be at this moment. Is it so simple as we travel the pathways presented to us each day thinking we have choice and actually could be setting the direction? It has been a few years since I first looked at life as a journey. Since that first day however it has become a truly memorable one for me. Now I try to view each moment as I pass try and keep up with all the surroundings and trying to understand each piece of the puzzle as it falls in place. “Life is about the journey”, I have used many times in my writings.

“Thinking more than others about our own thoughts is not self-centeredness. It means that if asked what’s on our mind, we are less likely to mention being aware of the world around us, and more likely to mention our inner reflections. But we are less likely to mention thinking about other people.” Elaine N. Aron, Clinical Psychologist

I just took Dr. Aron’s quiz to see if I am a HSP highly sensitive person or not rather interesting. Website – http://www.hsperson.com/index.html, I tend to argue several issues within her test. I thrive on the interactions and emotions while the tests seem have this as a negative response.

“You live with your thoughts — so be careful what they are.” Eva Arrington

“If everybody thought before they spoke, the silence would be deafening.” George Barzan

Each day I spend a large portion of time trying to assist students in thinking. A simple thought yet rather difficult. Trying to encourage thought processes can be interesting as one student told me. “Mr. Bird why do we have to think it hurts my brain.” Sadly, I hear that several times a day.

“There are lots of people who cannot think seriously without injuring their minds.” John Jay Chapman

I keep a box of Band-Aids handy and have pulled them out occasionally for serious brain injury and surprise students with the offer when their brains hurt.

“No matter how hard you work for success if your thought is saturated with the fear of failure, it will kill your efforts, neutralize your endeavors and make success impossible.” Baudjuin

“A thought which does not result in an action is nothing much, and an action which does not proceed from a thought is nothing at all.” Georges Bernanos

Thought processes are often bewildering. I was sitting here typing and thinking and went to type, Ge, and was thinking and spelling and got to Geo and couldn’t hit the “o” key I wanted to hit “r” but thought process and fingers got caught. I was looking at “o” and wanted to type “r”, actually paused for a second to rationalize.

“We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.” Buddha

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make our world.” Buddha

Interesting as I look at these two remarks from several thousand years ago. Today psychologists will say the same thing. I say the same thing without quoting Buddha every day. But so many people do not really think about where there are.

“Man is what he believes.” Anton Chekhov

It is so difficult to explain this to students really to anyone. Yet great coaches around the country have been proving this for years. My youngest son is an avid sport trivia fan while still not on par with the great trivia authority and good friend Jimmy Hughes, my son is pretty good. He will ask many times who do I think is the greatest of all time NCAA coaches, usually though the question is “dad don’t you think Spurrier is the greatest of all time NCAA coaches”. I like it when he leaves me an out, he didn’t mention a sport and I can throw out John Wooden or Dan Gable or even more recent Paul Hewitt and really get him going. “Well what about Coach K then”, thinking though is the goal and that he does.

“The problem with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than their minds.” Walter Durant

“It is astonishing what an effort it seems to be for many people to put their brains definitely and systematically to work.” Thomas A. Edison

I recall my middle son’s senior year. He was near the top in his class and always an excellent student. Due to scheduling he was unable to take the honors English course he wanted to and had to take regular senior English with the rest of humanity. He has a slug sitting next to him who every day would ask to copy his homework. My son got to where his responses were classic, one that stuck with me went something like this “We all make mistakes and in all honesty I truly believe this is all correct. But what if I am wrong and I allow you to copy and then you receive a failing grade and your life is ruined I will not be able to live with that. So no, I can not allow you to copy. If you fail I want it to be you who fail not me helping you too”.

“Humans have the ability to shift perspective. We can experience the world through our senses. Or we can remove ourselves from our senses and experience the world even less directly. We can think about our life, rather than thinking in our life. We can think about what we think about our life, and we can think about what we think about that. We can shift perceptual positions many times over.” John J. Emerick

Each moment is unique and each uniquely different. As we are wandering the pathways of life they can tire you. You might stop to sip a cup of water midst the turmoil of the day and to move on past the strife. Each day we have choices to make we have opportunity and we have disaster waiting. It is that light bulb going off like in the old cartons over our heads that makes the difference. Sitting in my sanctuary of writing room upstairs in the darkness of morning thinking and pondering as I say that makes the difference. As my moments draw down and it becomes time for stage two of today please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

“The real difficulty, the difficulty which has baffled the sages of all times, is rather this: how can we make our teaching so potent in the emotional life of man, that its influence should withstand the pressure of the elemental psychic forces in the individual?” Albert Einstein

Searching for integrity midst the fogginess of reality

Bird Droppings September 9, 2020

Searching for integrity midst the fogginess of reality

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.” Buddha

I watch the news and pundits lauding their integrity and truthfulness as they command a hundred thousand dollar speaking fees and first-class accommodations. Then I think to a Hindu holy man who sat for twenty-seven years with his arm upstretched in honor of Vishnu, one of his Gods. In America, we say it is the American way, and many will pay to see that star-struck speaker who has little or nothing of any significance. I look back at that crazy holy man who, after all those years of piety, can no longer use his arm and a bird nests in his hand and a faint smile comes to his face as he has been of use. Who do I respect there, in all honesty should not even be a question?

 Over two thousand years ago, another holy man walked about and taught us that we were to forgive our brothers. As their faith goes, he dies for all other’s sins so no one else would need to die. According to the writings that followed this faith, he was to be a blood sacrifice for all of humanity. A man who disdained wealth, war, injustice, and greed, and yet in today’s times, it is those very things that are driving forces within the faith that bears his name. How can we bastardize to the extent we have those founding concepts that were so far from where they have come?

“Character is higher than intellect.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“If we are ever in doubt about what to do, it is a good rule to ask ourselves what we shall wish on the morrow that we had done.” John Lubbock

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” James D. Miles

I have noticed things as I hurry out to drive away from the house the past two mornings. A partial moon greets me and glowing away as I drive down the dark roads. Yesterday an Opossum scurried across the road, tail held high in defiance as she or he dashed across the road. Little known tidbit an opossum will consume 5000 ticks a season. A few yards further and an eastern box turtle was sitting near the edge of the road just looking. It was an odd time for a turtle to be out, especially on the highway, as I pulled to the stop sign. Looking behind as I went to stop, someone else saw the turtle and moved it to the grass. As it turns out, it was someone on a little tiny Vespa scooter, and coincidently, we both ended up at the corner store. So, I wonder at these synchronistic events looking back each only a brief second of my days, but each has stuck with me. Were there meaning and significance, or were these only events that would have happened even if I had not witnessed them?

A few summers ago, as I drove to a graduate class yesterday earlier in the morning, I stopped or planned to stop at a specific store. This store is unique as its parking lot edge goes then across a field into the mountains. It was designed, or I would like to think of taking pictures of sunrises. As it would have, a glorious sunrise was coming up as I pulled in. It was a fantastic sight in the five or six minutes, and nearly as quickly as it appeared, clouds and rain rolled in. I got in the car and headed again toward class only to have a rainbow across my pathway. A massive rainbow in front and sunrise behind me, and I thought a minute or two different, and I would have missed both.

“I thank thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.” Matthew Henry

“My country is the world, and my religion is to do good.” Thomas Paine

“Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what’s right.” Isaac Asimov

Prior knowledge and or experiences, John Dewey refers to as a basis for education that is to be. We build off that base and add to it almost as if prior understandings are a foundation for further understanding. So, I argue what if someone lives with criticism will they be able to learn tolerance. If a child lives with hostility, will they ever be able to understand peace? If a child lives with ridicule, will they ever be able to understand or know praise? It is possible for a child who lives with shame ever to know forgiveness. I am loosely borrowing from Dr. Laura Nolte’s “Children Learn what they live” poem from 1971. As I ponder that aspect of prior understanding and look towards some of our current society’s politics, I do wonder how people learn to be so self-centered and greedy. In his last speech to the UN, Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said capitalism is in its death throes as we build a class of ultra-wealthy on everyone else’s carcasses. I look at Wall Street, which has always amazed me and how fortunes are made owning nothing but paper and someone else’s desire to own that paper.

 Many people talk about and write about how our society is going downhill. As I watch and read, I often feel sociopathic and mentally ill are the driving forces in that rhetoric and those who reap fortunes on gossip and innuendo. Our local paper has a spin meter and sorts each day the political spin that follows each politician and each piece of legislation. We talk of repealing healthcare, and I wonder how many parents of severely ill children will want that now that insurance companies cannot dump them or exclude for preexisting conditions. I wonder how many breast cancer survivors will encourage their legislators to promote this plan as preventive medicine is given, and free mammograms are a part of the provisions. It all comes down to those with do not want to give up anything and see everyone else as a parasite. Sadly, we have come from an understanding world view to one of self-centeredness, and unfortunately, it appears we hold editions of that aloft.

“Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.” Aristotle

It has taken a long time to honor men and women who have shown bravery in combat. I recall some of the first Congressional Medal of Honor Winners awarded from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I wonder why many times we hold off on such events. I wonder why I see what I see, and others see nothing. I ponder daily why I can relate better to a Hindu holy man holding his arm aloft than to politician or former politician getting paid a small fortune to chatter on about a version of reality that only they see. It leaves me with my daily credo, 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