Trying to tie a knot with only one end

Bird Droppings November 30, 2011

Trying to tie a knot with only one end

 

“Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitudes toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.” Charles Swindoll

 

It is the responses that the world sees this is how we are judged and how we are thought of. Each day I see hundreds of people coming through my room at the high school and their attitude about their life is perhaps the one thing that can make or break them in any given day. How we respond to what people see is what drives all things around us. If we bring an attitude for example a poor attitude to a given place and respond to seemingly inconsequential stimulus in an overt way because of that inherent bad attitude we will be perceived as being that which we possible really are not nor do we choose to be. Unfortunately our attitude at the moment drives the reality of others in their perceiving of us.

 

“The more unintelligent a man is, the less mysterious existence seems to him.” Arthur Schopenhauer

 

I think intelligence provides color and shades of gray to a black and white world. However it can be manipulated both positively and negatively. Look at a color blind test for example, a swirl of colors and yet some can see and others not. Intelligence has nothing to do with it other than creating the test that is being seen. Conversely, perception, how we see that image is then how we interpret that image and or do not interpret it.

 

“Change is certain. Peace is followed by disturbances; departure of evil men by their return. Such recurrences should not constitute occasions for sadness but realities for awareness, so that one may be happy in the interim.” Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

Several issues at hand, first it is how we respond to a given event. Secondly how we perceive a given event and then determine that in fact that the event is happening. I have always enjoyed reading Shelly’s work and yet very seldom have I used a piece in my daily wanderings. Today was a day that had minor delays and changes in routine offering an imbalance to a morning. I am a creature of habit and change is difficult for me taking a week off from teaching due to a fall break last week and my mother being in the hospital alter the flow of the day. As we read Shelly’s line we know change is inevitable. If we plan and think and strategize change can be less significant and in effect can become more evolution than really a change. Is it a development of sorts, a gradually shifting from point A to point B and on to point C.

I was observing several students a few days back and change is what affects them more so than any other aspect of school. Offering choice can totally bewilder them. I have worked with several autistic teenagers and often choice is a difficult venue. Should I go to the rest room and or the bus since the bell rang. An either or situation and it is seemingly a difficult one for this one fellow as he stood in my door asking me what he should do. While afterwards it was humorous at the time it was a life altering event until he remembered he was on third load and had plenty of time. Still for each of us we live in a society of choice. Years ago I had a student who could not choose. He literally needed to be told what to wear by his mother and what to do during the day by his teachers. On his own he would always get into trouble by responding inappropriately to stimuli. Eventually he ended in jail serving three life sentences when all external restrictions were gone after his mother passed away.

I watch students who have similar tendencies and wonder what happens when we take away answering questions and offering help. What happens when a world designed by people who enjoy control and power chose to make you the scape goat. I once read a headline about enormous profits of oil companies and I look at price of gas. Any fool can see if you charge twice as much for an item profits will go up. Costs go up as fuel prices rise and I recall in a speech one of our previous national leaders stated it is ok for oil companies to reap record profits on high gas costs, because it is market driven. Interesting as I sit and think about those comments and whose side was he on. I now understand why we are having such difficult times with educational policies and other issues on a national level. If you can make a profit it is ok, it is market driven. Much of our educational policy is profit driven and market oriented in items like standardized tests and textbooks. Literally there are hundreds of billions of dollars in sales of educational materials.

Certain industries are at record levels while former main stays of our economy have been driven overseas. I seriously wonder how we did it, pushing jobs toChinaor where ever. I wonder, if I was an oilman or drug company president or oil construction company owner I think would be a happy camper right now. I got into a discussion with two former military now teachers earlier in the week. We were discussing World War II and current warfare. Literally thousands died in battles in World War II and today with our highly mechanized military handfuls die. But what was interesting was that in days gone by industry boomed during war time. We are in wars where for the first time during a major war we are hurting in jobs and in financial areas. We have no industry left it is all in other countries. We have to buy hardware and military equipment from heavy industries in other countries. Even in a one of last presidential campaign speech’s a politician bragged about saving billions on a fuel tanker airplane in a contract bid. The part left out was that instead of manufacturing in theUSit would be built inFranceand 6000 jobs would be in another country. How much was that worth? 

 

“All is focused on a bell shaped curve. Approximately twelve point five percent know something is fishy, twelve point five percent are being left behind and seventy five percent do not care because the response they see is feasible at the time and that is all that matters.” High School teacher, Frank Bird in regards to standardized testing

 

Looking back on the Iraq war sort of ok there are no weapons of mass destruction, but when we made the choice we were sure there were. It is ok to pay twice what we should for gas because others are and therefore it is market driven. What if we as consumers could determine the price of gas and profitability of those companies? What if medications were within reach of people instead of pricing to a point where lifesaving and threatening medications were unattainable for some? The new drug plans are so cumbersome most cannot use or holes in plans leave some stranded. What if we could have a utopia and everything was perfect and a bell shaped curve was now a flat line? Funny thing is you would be called a socialist. Most of the recent political jargon would say that is socialism. Ever wonder why when you are dead monitors show a flat line, it seems there are some who want people to flat line and eliminate the curve. Some who want to get everyone on the same wave length equal and no complaints at all?  In education it is a big one is the legislation of No Child Left Behind, NCLB, where all children are the same by law at least they will be in 2014. When I see that I nearly laugh having worked always in special education.  

 

“If we were not all so interested in ourselves, life would be so uninteresting that none of us would be able to endure it.” Arthur Schopenhauer

 

As I sat and thought about all of this it is sort of like trying to tie a knot with only one end. Does it really do any good to have a knot if the other end is somewhere else? Well as I keep wondering I could use that knot in the end of a rope to knock some of the politicians in the head. It has been a chilly, windy, and supposedly snowy fall morning and I am still trying to gather up plants needing to come in for the warmth. It will be a good day and one filled with conversation and communication. I look forward to more. Please my dear friends keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks.

namaste

bird

Listening to a philosopher

Bird Droppings November 29, 2011
Listening to a philosopher

A beautiful sky this morning as I walked out and actually rather warm which is surprising as the sky while filled with clouds was clear and most of my students were hoping for snow although hit is still showing up on weather maps further west of us. A moon reflecting would have added so much to the sky with the clouds as they were against the stars. Even so the stars and white billowing clouds presented a surreal picture for me as I walked the dog this morning and went to Quick Trip earlier than normal to fill up my wife’s car. Before I left the house I was reading in National Geographic an article on possible life somewhere out in the universe and all of the possibilities that continue to pop up. It has not been long since I fancied myself a philosopher of sorts maybe since yesterday. Perhaps it was my graduate work that got me truly entrenched in philosophical meandering that led to this conclusion or trying a million times to formulate a philosophy of teaching while it evolved before me. Actually I think it is because I enjoy pondering too much. Wondering and thinking about all that is around me as I journey through life.

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” Frank Bird and Ray Clark as they were walking daily five or six miles each morning back in the day

“How people keep correcting us when we are young! There is always some bad habit or other they tell us we ought to get over. Yet most bad habits are tools to help us through life.” Friedrich Nietzsche

As I looked for a starting place for my daily journal I was interrupted to take dog out again so I could get back to my writing. As I went up and down the stairs and walked out into a sky as wonderful as it is this morning I recalled a period in my life when I would get up every morning early and walk several miles discussing philosophy, theology and other relevant issues with a very good friend of mine. It was an interesting time and actually many concepts that I hold now came to fruition during those walks. Over the years as I look back and truly most things considered that I consider “bad habits” I had given up in the days past however they do provide tools for pondering ideas further and pushing thoughts beyond where they were. I have found however many people simply get mired in that bad habit or two and it becomes part of their life not merely a stepping stone or tool but a crutch and support. Perhaps even a cast of sorts locking them into that point in time.

“Life affords no greater responsibility, no greater privilege, than the raising of the next generation.” C. Everett Koop

Most folks won’t even recognize the name of Dr. Koop former Surgeon General of the United States and former head of pediatric surgery at the Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. As I thought of Nietzsche’s quotes and while not taking a walk today I did go and walk dogs twice outside so my wife and son would not have to get up as the holiday is officially over and we all are back at work today. I started writing a bit later today then I thought I would. Nietzsche as you read his work is often self-focused and negative and perhaps in some ways I like looking to his thoughts for contrast for adding a back drop to a brighter thought. Somewhere I started writing about Dr. Koop.
Dr. C. Everett Koop was instrumental in the anti-cigarette laws and anti-tobacco laws. On a personal note he was the surgeon for my younger brother many years ago when we lived in Pennsylvania. My father used to tell a story of Dr. Koop, his staff and my father all gathered together around John, my brother who was born with cerebral palsy and later developed encephalitis’s who approaching surgery. Dad would say having been in the Navy medical corp. and around death in WWII so much the aura around Koop was different, he exuded life he thrived on life and when he asked all to join hands and pray around John he made my father’s day.
But one thing that has stuck with me from dads conversation with Dr. Koop was a quote very seldom seen, “Having worked with terminally ill children and seriously ill children for many years in all of those years I have never seen a parent of one of these children who did not pray”. As I think back and remember bits and pieces, Dr. Koop’s comment and discussions with my father he wasn’t referring to religion as much as to faith. Faith also parallels trust and it was in that trust in Dr. Koop and or trust in the hospital that parents would have faith and hope. Dr. Koop was a man of hope, of future, and of faith.

“Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.” Saint Thomas Aquinas

“Our faith comes in moments… yet there is a depth in those brief moments which constrains us to ascribe more reality to them than to all other experiences.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am ending with a simple idea for another day or actually several ideas to ponder and mull over as we ascend the plateau to view the vista. In another day a new month ahead my friends have a glorious day today, build for tomorrow and keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your thoughts and always give thanks.
namaste
bird

Learn by doing!

Bird Droppings November 28, 2011
Learning by doing!

“We take in information through our senses, but we ultimately learn by doing. First, we watch and listen to others. Then we try doing things on our own. This sparks our interest and generates our motivation to self-discover.” Marcia L. Conner, Learning through Experience

So often in life it takes experience for us to truly learn, to ultimately understand an idea or topic or process. Earlier today I had a request through email for a nonreligious inspiration, an interesting question. More often than not inspirational books are religious in nature. I recommended a favorite of mine, while Kent Nerburn has a degree in theology and some might consider him a theologian he does not inspire so much in a religious way. His writing entails you to experience, to look to see, to listen, and to hear what is around you. There is inspiration here and now. This could be his other calling which is art. For many years now I have been a fan of Kent Nerburn’s writing and with each new book am more impressed.
The past week out of school for a holiday was about spending time with family, friends and such, I observed as always. I sat several times thinking back just to enjoy remembering my father talking to his grand children or to perfect strangers. He would always have with him a vast assortment of rocks and minerals and would trade with his great grandchildren and friends. He wanted to share bits and pieces of his life as they came to him and as he talked. My mother every Easter has an egg hunt; it has grown over the years to include grandchildren, great grand children and all those who married in to a point of forty or so children from 18 months to 33 years of age, searching for prizes and eggs across the pastures and soccer fields.
I remember sitting and observing my mother and father sharing joy and love with all of these kids and families it made me think. Being in perpetually in graduate school and often theorizing about learning styles and learning techniques and a big fan of John Dewey for some reason I always come back to experience. Often a crucial aspect is where and how that experience occurs. Family is always a good starting point. I have several times in the past few days related to how crucial family is in our world. It is with family where we learn respect, love, community and numerous other critical aspects of human life. We are toilet trained, we learn to speak, we learn to walk and crawl, we learn to drive cars, we learn to yell obscenities, we learn to hit and fight, for it is within family where both good and bad attributes are learned.
For the entire time of my teaching life in public, residential, and private schools I have watched problem children, literally all have come from dysfunctional families. They have learned to have problems. They have learned to be negative or to respond in a negative way. They have learned helplessness many times which would surprise some. I was thinking back to an Easter egg several years ago. I was thinking about my family at that long ago Easter egg hunt, in full view and listening it was interesting. Those who were family were the control group and those who were friends and married in as the experimental group. It seemed they responded differently to stimuli. Family members embraced each little gimmick my mother had out, friends only wanted the prize. Family members spent time talking to my mother and father while friends got their stuff and went back to their minions.
So I wondered why so much difference. I had noticed a new husband to a niece who spent many moments talking with my father, asking for his advice on selecting a piece of garnet from the collection being offered. We learn from example and as I thought deeper and reflected on all I knew my mother and father had a good time, and that was number one. My children all had a great time with dodging rain drops and lightening on that day. The first egg hunt in 24 years to have rain. Funny as I think back seems I recall memories based on food many times and I had a good time devouring several plates of delicious picnic contrivances on that day so long ago.
But as I think back today maybe some of the friends the non family members while they were on a different scale maybe they had an experience that they could learn from. There was no yelling, no fighting, no obscenities, no spanking of children, no hollering to shut up, just a family together enjoying a moment of peace and love. Maybe just maybe as they went home some will rub off and maybe just maybe, all the negative I observed could be salvaged. Interesting we learn by doing, perhaps one of the greatest learning styles available. I wonder if as a nation we could learn by doing. Perhaps we could start seeking peace worldwide, I wonder often if we ever will. But for today after another great feast and family gathering please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and remember to always give thanks if only for the smallest thing.
namaste
bird

Observation and observing

Bird Droppings November 27, 2011
Observation and Observing

“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. Last night my I walked out to 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 is only a few feet away in its wildest. I was walking this morning and out to my quiet spot near my home in Between Georgia and thinking back a year to a walking on a foreign beach alone in the panhandle of Florida and how the quiet was over powering along with the lulling movement of wind and water as I walk on the beach. Around me birds dove occasionally into the shallows after fish most of the time without a sound. I was alone walking with the sand making its way into my open sandals. It was a wonderful experience being there as the sun came up and starting this particular book Nature’s Way which I had taken with me.
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. As I drove home from a quick trip into Warner Robins Georgia for Thanksgiving the other day I 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. Yesterday morning I walked out into our back yard and a great hawk sat in the dead black walnut tree over my head.

“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

We are building to and will be in soon perhaps one of the most biased and perhaps most sheep lead to slaughter election campaigns I have ever experienced in my life. The negative ads will be the vast majority of all from either side. Issues were simply something that would be dealt with after the election and even then that will be 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 new book in the mail literally a year ago today from a friend in New York. I have known the title for months 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 two years lies about the health care bill made headlines more so than points that were significantly important to many families. Having grown up in a family with a severely disabled brother who would never have been insurable under most standard insurance due to preexisting conditions and having a son in graduate school who is over twenty five without health insurance coverage I was reading fine print of health care and asking questions of my insurer almost immediately.
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 before me was one of morning near sunrise and a few shrouds of mist surrounding the trees. The visibility was less than a hundred feet still in darkness. I had to stop listen to the music and see this image before me. The two interplayed as I got ready to leave the house. As I turned from observing I noticed it is still not too cold 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 to always give thanks.
namaste
bird

A tapestry woven and each thread interconnects

Bird Droppings November 26, 2011
A tapestry woven as each thread interconnects

“For certain fortunate people there is something that transcends all classifications of behavior, and that is awareness, something which rises from the programming of the past, and that is spontaneity; and something that is more rewarding than games and that is intimacy. But all of these may be frightening and even perilous to the unprepared. Perhaps they are better off as they are, seeking their solutions in popular techniques of social action, such as ‘togetherness.’ This may mean that there is no hope for the human race, but there is hope for individual members of it.” Dr. Eric Berne, Games People Play, 1964

The title intrigued me as I was sitting here 6:00 AM wondering which direction to go in this morning’s writing I was thinking about students, parents and teachers and how so often the intertwining of personalities produce the fabric of the day. I recall in a graduate class a professor friend used the term or representation of weaving. Our lives are a tapestry being woven each day as we go.

“Each person designs his own life, freedom gives him the power to carry out his own designs, and power gives the freedom to interfere with the designs of others.“ Dr. Eric Berne

For many years I was directly involved in the sheep industry with raising, breeding, and of course shearing the sheep and selling the wool. I traveled nationwide photographing and talking to producers and writing about the sheep and wool industry. I met many hand spinners and weavers as I traveled. Some were artisans spinning yarn as fine as silk and weaving literally pieces of art work. Back in the day we had a ewe a Hampshire cross ewe that was “black” and when she was shorn, her fleece was chinchilla gray. For a number of years a dear friend would get that fleece each year for her spinning and weaving. Somewhere in a box is a small ball of yarn my oldest son spun one afternoon when he was six with that fleece with my friend showing and helping him.
Life as Dr. Andrews, professor and chairperson of Special education department at Piedmont College commented in class is a weaving it is an intertwining of events and people.

“A man is the sum of his actions, of what he has done, of what he can do, nothing else. “ Mahatma Gandhi

One of Gandhi’s methodologies of protest was to spin and weave his own cloth rather than rely on industrial produced material. Many other intricate thoughts were woven in as well; spinning is for many a form of meditation. The process of weaving, creating and designing a piece is literally a painting of a picture with thread and yarn.

“A man’s action is only a picture book of his creed.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

So as we weave our cloth in life we are seen by the fabric, the pattern, and the methods we use to make that piece of cloth.

“When power leads man towards arrogance, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. “ John F. Kennedy

With each progress report we call students parents or guardians to discuss issues and grades. I spoke with several over the phone back a week or so ago. I walked through my room after school that day reading a poster that has been hanging around now on my wall where ever I take up for 30 years, Children Learn what they live. While one weaves silk while another weaves burlap. Silk has many great attributes as does burlap and the applications and uses vary. To spin hemp into twine and weave the burlap is as much a skill as the artisans who weave the silk threads into cloth. The weaving and material made is not the issue but it is that weaving that is occurring. For it is that effort that is being made to produce a life that is so important.

“Understand clearly that when a great need appears a great use appears also; when there is small need there is small use; it is obvious, then, that full use is made of all things at all times according to the necessity thereof.” Dogen Kenji, Zen master

Recently I used the word direction and drew criticism from a teacher trying to explain that choosing a direction in a journey and not truly having a destination is sometimes a meaningless effort. For some just going is the norm. I always speak of the journey being more important versus the destination but there is a point to head towards. When building a house first you build walls you determine where doors and windows are needed and add them as you go. A really good builder knows ahead and plans for doors and windows and designed properly a house can have huge windows and great doors and movement in and out occurs continually.

“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” Chief Seattle, 1854

Many years ago I was sitting alongside a fence in a field far away from houses and people and I watched a spider spin a web. We see webs all around I was told there are thousands of spiders per acre in any field. Many of the spiders are minute and nearly microscopic. Anyhow the spider climbed to a point and dropped leaving a strand of silk climbed and dropped and so forth building a base for her web. Next came the cross lines and soon a web was built over an hour or so in the process. We see webs and easily sweep them away but the design and care in making is engrained in the spider. Life is a weaving a spinning a web of sorts and yes so often is simply swept away. Occasionally someone will stand back in awe of the artistry if only we would take note every time. Please as we have already partaken of a day of thanksgiving continue giving thanks and keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts.
namaste
bird

Spirituality an uncertain certainty?

Bird Droppings November 25, 2011
Spirituality an uncertain certainty?

“When you examine the lives of the most influential people who have ever walked among us, you discover one thread that winds through them all. They have been aligned first with their spiritual nature and only then with their physical selves.” Albert Einstein

What has always intrigued me is Einstein is so often reputed to be an atheist. Yet within his writings the aspects of a spiritual nature are intertwined. Perhaps it is his Judaism and heritage that allowed some to criticize and chastise. Perhaps he would never clarify his stance other than his own heritage yet intermingled with his scientific ideas is a under lying awareness of a spiritual aspect to humanity.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.” Albert Einstein

“Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.” Albert Einstein (Sign hanging in Einstein’s office at Princeton)

It has been a few days since I have thought about another author I enjoy William Edelen. It has been some time since I first read, Toward the Mystery. It was in around about way I found this book. The book was named as the book of the year for the United Methodist women groups and distributed at their national conference. Back in the day roughly mid 1990’s or so it was a very controversial book. Edelen refers to his own search and path to spirituality as a search for the mystery. The book is a series of essays by Edelen looking at religion and the founding fathers their aspects of faith and spiritual views. He emphasizes in his look at eastern thought and Native American thinking where his own direction has gone. In Indian thought is where Edelen borrowed the idea of “the mystery”. Often in Native American ideology the mystery is all that is and where we fit.

“You have noticed that everything as Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round….. The Sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours…. 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 Oglala Sioux Holy Man, 1863-1950

In 1931 Black Elk revealed his vision from his childhood to author John G. Neihardt who recorded the words in the book, Black Elk Speaks. In Native American thought the circle was considered sacred and throughout literature and philosophy the circle continues.
For example you can see in curios and in eastern thought the black and white fish swimming in a bowl symbol of yin and yang, which make a circle. Many tribes considered their spiritual direction to be, Wakan-Tanka, or the Great Mystery. In movies and books Wakan-Tanka is used in reference to God when referring to Native Americans, yet the word is not even defined it is a mystery. In ancient Hebrew philosophy you could not say the name of God and even in biblical writing, “I am that I am” is God defining God to Moses. Perhaps it is in our own insecurities we need definitions and clearly defined parameters for spiritual matters.
We build monuments and write affirmations and liturgies to glorify and personify. Edelen uses the term anthropomorphize we want everything to be clear and to be like us. “Toward the mystery” “The great mystery” Daily I work with students who have are literally vacuums in terms of faith in anything which also translates to not trusting anything or anyone. Over the years I have found that faith and trust are synonymous and without one you do not have the other. While many will say they believe this or that and or deny just as easily it is the lacking the hole that offers the issue. For if you cannot trust dealing with each other let alone spiritual issues is difficult. Earlier as I went outside for my morning meditation the trees were blowing rustling is a better word slightly that thankfully subsided a few minutes while I sat out or I would have frozen in the thirty five degree chill. The quiet of the heavy air subduing humanities encroachment I was looking deeper today perhaps than normal searching myself for the mystery. So often I wonder why it is so many simply except and stagnant not allowing daily interactions to come onto play not allowing the pathway to fork off or change. But then again sometimes I ponder to much today let us all please keep all in harm’s way on our minds and in our hearts and always give thanks.
namaste
bird

Trying to understand giving thanks, war and teaching

Bird Droppings November 24, 2011
Trying to understand giving thanks, war and teaching

I had a difficult time sleeping due to some sinus issues I have concerning the dry heat from our gas furnace. When I got up and started to walk around and downed a large mug of mate and black tea my head started to clear a bit and I began to wonder about this day we declare thank you for all about us. So many times as in days before I open news articles and look through emails before writing or even thinking about what I will be writing that given day. I made a few comments on several thoughts and proceeded to ponder today’s thought and ideas. As I looked through several posts and will be listening to family members argue the cons of the current administration this email with this thought struck me this morning.

“Thanksgiving Day, Americans across the country will sit down together, count our blessings, and give thanks for our families and our loved ones. American families reflect the diversity of this great nation. No two are exactly alike, but there is a common thread they each share. Our families are bound together through times of joy and times of grief. They shape us, support us, instill the values that guide us as individuals, and make possible all that we achieve. I’ll be giving thanks for my family for all the wisdom, support, and love they have brought into my life.

Today is also a day to remember those who cannot sit down to break bread with those they love; the soldier overseas holding down a lonely post and missing his kids, the sailor who left her home to serve a higher calling, the folks who must spend tomorrow apart from their families to work a second job, so they can keep food on the table or send a child to school.

We are grateful beyond words for the service and hard work of so many Americans who make our country great through their sacrifice. And this year, we know that far too many face a daily struggle that puts the comfort and security we all deserve painfully out of reach. So when we gather, let us also use the occasion to renew our commitment to building a more peaceful and prosperous future that every American family can enjoy.” President Barack Obama, 11/24/09

Words are simply words and how we hear and or read them again is then perception which is a learned and acquired factor. Somewhere along the way we developed and took into an account varying stimuli that led us to how we see the world. As I read again this short note of thanks from our current president good or bad, democrat or republican, black or white they struck a chord. There is so much we have in this world to give thanks for. Myself thankful I can at least breathe a breath of air through clogged passages for some today I am sure there is pain and sorrow. Dr. Michael T. Garrett in his writings discusses the theory of opposites. We need to have a balance in life which provides then definitive points for the other. Perhaps my growing up in Quaker Pennsylvania influenced my own thinking of pacifism and philosophical view of believing we do not need war. Yet around us worldwide strife is ongoing Thanksgiving day or not. It is inside of us we need to seek answers for our own understandings and acceptances of what we perceive within this world. Perceptions do change albeit not easily. But they can they are not engrained at birth but a learned and acquired commodity.

“Internal peace is an essential first step to achieving peace in the world. How do you cultivate it? It’s very simple. In the first place by realizing clearly that all mankind is one, that human beings in every country are members of one and the same family.” His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Within the passage is perhaps a key to humanities survival on this planet. It will never be done simply by who is most powerful, or who has the biggest guns and missiles. We must at some point accept others and understand others. As I read each morning and bits and pieces hit me my slant tends to be towards education and learning and I do see that there is a tremendous responsibility lying in the laps of teachers. Throughout the world teachers have daily more input into students lives than any other human being. As I finished a paper on technologies nearly a year or so ago I saw how impact on youth, actual human contact is dwindling daily.

“Preserve the fires in our hearts… Our world needs teachers whose fire can resist those forces that would render us less just, less humane, and less alive.” Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner, editors Teaching with Fire

I found this book several years ago on a Borders trip. The two editors have taken poetry that means something to teachers and with explanations from those teachers as to why this poem means so much created a book, Teaching with Fire. Over the years I have had similar questions asked. It has been only a few days since another a teacher asked me, had I ever hit my own children, and I said no. I was looked at funny, “you have never hit your children?” I in all honesty could not remember ever hitting my own children. Perhaps I have blocked out the dark side of my personality. Several weeks ago I was asked similar, your kids never hit you or your wife or did this or that, and again “no” was my answer then as well. “Well I guess you just are not normal” was the answer both times.

“Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from.” Jodie Foster

As I wonder at how others see the world like Jodie Fosters thought. Several weeks ago when first asked about my children hitting me I asked my son on the way home what he thought about it and his response was “normal is what you are used too”. I thought back to a graduate school discussion of philosophy about Foucault and how he defines normal after he finishes defining abnormal.

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” Albert Einstein

It is up to us somewhere and somehow we as teachers and parents must set an example to the children. Looking at various books such as, Teaching with fire, The Passionate Teacher, The language and thoughts of a child, and I see that surround me as I write, maybe answers are here. The answers are right among us, we are the answer. It is not some big secret. Several times over the past few years I have shared Dr. Nolte’s 1970’s idea of “Children Learn what they live”. I tried to use that with the discussion trying to explain to the teacher asking me about hitting my kids, and that teacher had a difficult time seeing the point.

“The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs. Self-conceit often regards it as a sign of weakness to admit that a belief to which we have once committed ourselves is wrong. We get so identified with an idea that it is literally a “pet” notion and we rise to its defense and stop our eyes and ears to anything different.” John Dewey

Looking back historically, Gandhi had a difficult time selling nonviolence, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had a difficult time selling nonviolence and both were killed for it.

“Man is not logical and his intellectual history is a record of mental reserves and compromises. He hangs on to what he can in his old beliefs even when he is compelled to surrender their logical basis.” John Dewey

As a teacher, the position I am in each day is one of being on a pedestal being watched seen by hundreds of students each day. As a parent seen by my children each day or when they are home from college or work. Each of us is seen and understood in context of perceptions and understandings of that moment. Over the past week while out of school and about I have seen several students wearing t-shirts that are banned in dress code rules, because of racial over tones. When you ask students why they wear t-shirts that are illegal, answers are always vague and noncommittal never because of race. One of my favorite is always “only shirt I had” so you will get kicked out of school for your shirt because it is the only one you had is my general response.
Two events several days ago made my day. The first a simple one, I made the comment I was pissed off at a student for something, another student said “Mr. Bird I never heard you cuss before”. Actually I do not swear and did not consider pissed off as swearing either, however in that person’s context it was. But the remark they never heard me swear is what caught my attention, I had been setting an example and did not even know it. The other comment came as an email. A remark as to my wisdom, I wrote back that wisdom is fleeting and only momentary, as you teach wisdom is transferred and soon you must learn more to be wiser.

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

“When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. The time is always right to do what is right.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We are the pathway and the direction and the example for others to see. Never should anyone question hitting another person and try to justify it. Never should a person even in a small way feel doing harm to another in any way is justifiable. As a teacher, parent, or friend go out and show in your life what is, normal. Running parallel through religions worldwide is a rule, a guide, a talisman for some just a thought, treat others as you wish to be treated. It is about Teaching with Fire, teaching with example. Learning what we live and trying to live it and see what impact can be made. Today as we all sit down please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts. Harm is a large word and covers so many be it the passing or illness of a loved one, a friend overseas fighting a war for freedom, a relationship that is abusive, a child too hungry to raise their head, let us be thankful today and try and ease the harm in the world if only one kind act at a time.
namaste
bird