Passion is a word reserved for those who have it!

Bird Droppings May 18, 2012

Passion is a word reserved for those who have it!


            I walked out for the second day in a row to calls from whippoorwills and a doe and her twin nearly grown fawns grazing within almost touching distance. I got up rather early for my last day of school with students for this school year. I have a planning period first today due to testing schedule and well could come in later but for some reason I slept all night woke up and was ready to roll. I sat down scrolled through my ipad and read a few blogs and two caught me. The first was one on Native American Spirituality that I participate in. Two young men were discussing racism towards Indians. Both had experienced negative racial slurs first hand and had been in conflict with comments if only for a paragraph or two. The second that grabbed my attentions was one again based on bigotry and ignorance. I must admit when I saw the movie for the first time I was fearful of mountain folk. I can almost tell you when I saw Deliverance for the first and only time.

As a writer of sorts it is through words we convey our ideas and definitions. If I were a great speaker like so many I have heard over the years I could stand in front of a crowd and through my delivery and dramatic effects sway an audience. Sadly it is this power of suggestion that drives so much of what we do and say in our society. The seeing and or borrowing of a perception from others has been mankind’s downfall for much of eternity. Why is it that we great homo-sapiens have the ability to think on our own but choose far too often that route that is easier and safer. That route of listening or reading the words of others and letting them tell us what to believe or accept a truth. Daily in political debates and discussions this occurs.

I have been involved directly with the Foxfire program and method of teaching for nearly forty years directly and indirectly. I use the word synchronicity quite a bit and it might have been a synchronous event that leads me to a Foxfire II book back in 1972 or so. I saw the movie and soon after found at a bookstore the Foxfire book. I had been taught and trained in education and in teaching to use experience as a base. Tell show test and check were engrained in my being. Reading about and reading the book Foxfire along with John Dewey only deepening my understanding of the power of experiential learning. It was after coming back to teaching I began to rekindled my fascination with Foxfire. In 2003 or so I had the privilege of attending Piedmont College. I was enrolled in the Master’s program and became friends with the then Assistant Dean of Education. Dr. Cummings invited me after my Master’s program and graduation to continue in a Specialist program of study which is where I became entrenched in Foxfire again. One, two, three maybe twenty courses later as a students and teacher the concept and practice of the Foxfire Approach to teaching has changed how I approach and understand learning.

I make a concerted effort to attend and help any way I can summer teacher courses up on the Foxfire property and last summer was no exception. However in my doctoral studies my dissertation was shifting to the Foxfire concept and I wanted to talk with and meet former students. I through Facebook and several phone calls gathered four former students to have dinner with the group of teachers who were doing graduate studies at Piedmont and staying up on Black Rock Mountain at the Foxfire property. A dear friend whom I had communicated with numerous times discussing various writing of my own and hers brought a friend along. Her fiend was also a former Foxfire student back in early nineteen seventies. As the story goes Barbara Woodall was in the process of writing and publishing her first book, It’s Not My Mountain Anymore. Barbara was amazing as she discussed and talked about life in the mountains over dinner. I was invited to her book signing and of course went had to get my copy autographed. It was in that way I met Barbara Woodall and started reading her writings.


“Most mountain folks have dueled with the negative impacts and scars left behind by the chief of hillbilly horror flicks, Deliverance.  Georgia Tourism promoters as well as our own Chamber of Commerce are excited to host a celebration in June commemorating the 40th anniversary of  “…the most degrading depiction of southern mountaineers ever put on film…”  The New Georgia Encyclopedia


I’ve heard no objections to celebrate the river; however many feel Deliverance should be left in the past.  Salt has been thrown into Hollywood’s deadly wound for the sake of money.   Hurtful memories surface of a bunch of strangers who invaded home turf, admired us like gorillas, spent some money, laughed, and left.  I have a problem with that.” Barbara Woodall, It’s not My Mountain Anymore, The Deliverance Stigma


            I am in my roundabout way working towards my main idea today but there was some history to clear up. It was in this hodge-podge of ideas and thoughts this morning that as I drove to school today found myself thinking race is not the issue. Evolutionarily and DNA wise modern humans are all identical. Whatever phenotypes that have made their way to the surface are more environmentally influenced than actually genetic differences. So point one we are all the same yet different. However as I thought it is culture our cultures that are differing. I would ask a Sunday school class back in the day is it morally wrong for a cannibal in New Guinea to consume a missionary. All would immediately jump at the repressible thought of cannibalism. Of course this was the most serious of sins. But in an indigenous culture where it was accepted and a fallen enemy was simply protein how can that be construed as morally wrong unless looking from another cultural view.  


“It takes dedicated genius years to build a great cathedral; any desperado can bomb it to obliteration in a second. Why shouldn’t hate, being so much easier, be so much more popular?” Sydney J. Harris from the article Love is complex Hate is simple


It has been some time since a student of mine was working on an essay about racism; he asked for help he had hit a brick wall. I found it interesting that he was having a difficult time writing reasons for why he was a racist other than that was what his family thought. I asked if he had ever taken a toilet tissue tube test and he had not so I proceeded to get my laboratory equipment out, a toilet tissue tube and I let him look through then tell me what he saw. Quickly he responded not very much and I said that is how racism works. I walked away and as I came back he had written several new lines explaining how he never realized others opinion are important too.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own world we do not see another person’s or anyone else’s view.


“All colors will agree in the dark.” Sir Francis Bacon


I once stated that if we were all blind there would be no prejudice, no racism, perhaps even no envy who knows.


“I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


I really did not intend to get into racism earlier but when looking at a comparison of love and hate in terms of the world it happens so easily where ever you look in the world. Many times racism is only a matter of tribal differences, cultural or religious differences. Mr. Harris in his essay from which I borrowed a quote eloquently discusses the complexity of love and simplicity of hate. It takes work to love and little or no effort to hate, which could be why we such a problem people are lazy in general.


“Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Very few people look for poetry based on hate. Very little art is based on hate. It is that “inaudible language of the heart”, a good line from Dr. King, that compromises and composes so often art and poetry that we know.


“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. “JohnF. Kennedy 


As I am compiling my past writings from years gone by I found for many days of my efforts my daily interlude was poetry, it was about writing poems to clear my mind. I have literally volumes of poems that I poured my soul into line after line some simple thoughts others complex. If I might borrow a word, there was passion in my efforts. When you are passionate in life you overcome obstacles you can see beyond mountains and valleys you can leap hurdles and see so much more clearly.


“Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark.” Henri Frederic Amiel


So often I take out and reread the book, “The passionate teacher” by Robert Fried. Passion doesn’t stop here just on teachers but encompasses passionate parents, passionate students, passionate friends, and passionate children as well. What a world we would have folks, if we were passionate about life.


“I don’t think I can play any other way but all out. I enjoy the game so much because I’m putting so much into it.” George Brett


I had the privilege over the past few years of attending and photographing our girl’s high school fast pitch softball team, they play with passion and a half. The coach and assistant coaches are passionate in how they responded to their team. The girls were passionate in their play and amazingly enough these teams have won consistently. It takes hard work and practice and of course teamwork but interesting as I took pictures very seldom were any girls sitting down they were into the game standing up cheering, yelling, encouraging each other, passion to borrow again that word.

George Brett was known for his passion for the game, illustrated in his words, “I enjoy the game because I am putting so much in”. As I go back to a starting statement by S. Harris and his article Love is complex and Hate simple, why do people write about love, paint pictures about love, write books and poetry about love? Could it be because by putting so much into it we enjoy it so much more much like George Brett? Love and hate both are powerful but love endures and hate is fleeting. Love endures because of passion, because we enjoy putting so much into it. A good question is it worth the effort? As I sit in the dark today maybe we all need to be a little more passionate about life. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and to always give thanks.  




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