How capable do we need to be?

Bird Droppings September 19, 2013
How capable do we need to be?

What a contrast to only a few weeks ago as the sun was shining and the moon is full as I went out in the wee hours with a crystal clear sky. There was a gentle wind blowing, wind chimes ringing peacefully and a beautiful harvest moon gazing at me between the pines and oak trees. I had to stand in the chill and just look at the stars and moon and listen to our chimes from the back yard for a moment as I took our dog out. Life is a wonderful thing and what we make of it is literally up to us. Today I will try and get some sunrise photos a bit later in the morning. It is still a few weeks till day light savings kicks in and the sun does not come up till I am on bus duty at school.
I stopped at my favorite spot for getting sunrise photos Sunday and nothing I was a bit too late so I headed into the school to write and take care of a few errands. As I was looking out of my rear view mirror a sunrise was exploding across the sky. I did a quick U-turn heading to my spot a gray sky again. So I began to think and ponder from my wonderful start to that day. As I thought back to Sunday and missing a Sunrise or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time had I not been in such a hurry I would have caught another beautiful sunrise. I addressed moments yesterday and here I am not listening to my own words two more minutes sitting and I would have witnessed a beautiful sunrise. I chose to go for the bigger picture and ignore the moment. So I am one for three this week on sunrises. This does not make me a very capable sunrise chaser.
As always random ideas get me pondering. When applying for a job and that could be any job, does not capability come into play. When discussing this I am assuming that capability is the ability to do that particular job. Several events have taken place over the past few days and one from several months back. It has been some time since I received a sheet of paper with six questions, a voluntary questionnaire on diversification. I answered honestly and do feel diversification does not get the best person for the job. Are we effectively teaching about cultures when we mandate diversification?
It is interesting in that my own lineage of Pennsylvania Dutch and welsh miners diversity has never come up. Nor has it with my great grandmothers tribe the Leni Lenape, part of the Delaware Nation. Perhaps they are not significant enough although very unique cultures though they may be. So I am with mixed emotions on one hand listening to a student teacher who feels social studies is the place to combat racism in high school and then my own conviction that I still consider rednecks an ethnic group provides for great discussion . How do we challenge racism? My wife came home and said she had a patient who said she would only go to American, (meaning white) doctors. So this morning before I ran over to the school as I sat on my porch the breeze was cool blowing through the trees, I thought wondering what is it that drives us. I read a Facebook blog recently indicating racism is genetic. I would argue that point strongly it is learned period.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

Hunting for the right words

Bird Droppings September 18, 2013
Hunting for the right words

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

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

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

I wish we could get each citizen of our country truly engaged in that pledge whether it is as a 4H member or just because it is a good practice. Imagine what would happen, disasters would be resolved and often averted, we would each be “more better” as citizens, and friends all over a simple admonition. As I look clearer thinking, greater loyalty, larger service and better living these are all very powerful as well as interesting thoughts. There are days when I wish more kids were able to be exposed to 4H.
Sitting here having read the news earlier it is disheartening to try and determine what course of action each of us can take to help if we can at all. Over the announcements at the high school earlier this afternoon I listened to what various groups and clubs are doing at our school. The kids in our high school have raised several thousands of dollars through various activities over the years. Much of that in bits and pieces of lunch money dropped in buckets and or fund raisers such as washing cars. I recall dunking a coach or two in one of the efforts. We had a tug of war. I wish we could do more but each effort each dime or nickel is a little more. I wish we could all summon the courage to do more.

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

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

For all my relations
Wa de (skee)
bird

I am where I need to be

Bird Droppings September 17, 2013
I am where I need to be
“A society in which vocation and job are separated for most people gradually creates an economy that is often devoid of spirit, one that frequently fills our pocketbooks at the cost of emptying our souls.” Dr. Sam Keenre
Many the day and time I have said I am where I need to be at this moment as I teach special education in a high school in Georgia. My entire life has been getting to this point and to this degree of understanding of experiences. I was addressing prior experiences with several teachers earlier and how we unconsciously expect kids to have the same experiences coming into a class as we do or I should say many teachers see students that way. It sort of hit me hard as I am co-teaching in a class with former special education teacher who mentioned being of the old school in terms of his style of teaching and is looking at things somewhat different. I am watching kids who have never read a book other than in school try and get involved in a discussion on physics. I got a bit carried away the other day on some topic and was amazed at how all the kids not only were listening but asking questions. We take far too much for granted in our interactions. Maybe today’s youth know more about electronics and computers but when discussing philosophy or theology most haven’t a clue. Most kids have never taken a moment to ponder outside of school.
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.” George Bernard Shaw
I taught so many years ago and loved teaching but economic reasons took me into my second love graphic arts. I was paid considerable more to design flyers and transparencies and doing dark room work than teaching would ever have hoped to pay. I often wondered in those twenty three years away from teaching which I do believe is my purpose in life why I was not back where I wanted to be.
“A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the “why” for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any “how.” Viktor Frankl
“Our minds are finite, and yet even in these circumstances of finitude we are surrounded by possibilities that are infinite, and the purpose of life is to grasp as much as we can out of that infinitude” Alfred North Whitehead
Often I recall how it took a multitude of events to bring me to my senses and to get me back on track. Each one could have been enough but in a series I was often under pressure just to make it through the day. It was through the course of my daily journaling that I found my way indirectly back to education.
“All men should strive to learn before they die, what they are running from, and to, and why.” James Thurber
My first day back officially in a school building was destined to be more than a normal day as a bit later into the morning September 11, 2001 our school went into lock down. Muslim friends of my sons were picked up by their parents and the grimness of events that transpired eventually sunk in. I actually could not remember the day I started other than it was a Tuesday a week or so after Labor Day. Now nearly twelve years later I am sitting in the school after a long meeting with a parent about a child. I am no longer confused as I sit and write searching for answers. My searches now go deeper and longer trying to unravel this purpose and rationale for why we are here and why we do what we do.
“To have passion, to have a dream, to have a purpose in life. And there are three components to that purpose, one is to find out who you really are, the second is to serve other human beings, because we are here to do that and the third is to express your unique talents and when you are expressing your unique talents you lose track of time.” Deepak Chopra
Truly I have lost track of time as each moment seems to flow into the next and each day into the weeks and months. I enjoy what I do and find solace in the sanctuary of my room at school and in the students I work with.
“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. Thoughts are things! And powerful things at that, when mixed with definiteness of purpose, and burning desire, can be translated into riches.” Napoleon Hill
“To actually feel like you’ve done something good with your life and you’re useful to others is what I was always wanting, and was always looking for.” Angelina Jolie
“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Helen Keller
I recall some of my first readings on Carl Jung and synchronicity and how this seemed to be an evident power in my life each step leading to the next. I remember the day a consultant told me to close my business and find another line of work and then proceeded to suggest a book for me to read. A new age book James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophecy. One day by chance I was hit in the head at a bookstore with a book as it fell off the shelf and by chance it was Redfield’ s book. As I look back in my life to each event leaving my home state of Pennsylvania to come to Georgia and each piece of my life’s puzzle I now know there was more than random chance events. I know there was purpose guiding direction in what I learned and what I understood. I often wonder if my parents drew out a diagram of where they wanted me to be as an adult back when I was a tiny baby and then set about sending me on my way. In 1954 a family counselor wrote a poem and put it out to friends. Soon that poem took on a life of its own and millions were scattered around the globe. In 1972 or so the author saw a copy on a refrigerator of a friend and went about copywriting the poem.
“Perhaps you’ve never heard of Dorothy Law Nolte, but you’ve likely seen her most famous, in fact, her only famous work. It might even be hanging on your fridge as it has for decades in millions of family kitchens around the world. Titled “Children Learn What They Live,” the poem begins: If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn. If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.” May 6, 2005, Bettijane Levine, Times Staff Writer
So I have gone through the day and am occasionally felt a bit behind with various meetings and such that have slowed me down. The music in my classroom is always playing softly and relaxing and I look forward to another day.
“All programming for prosperity should be built on spiritual foundations. The first step is to enter the spiritual dimension, the alpha level, and determine what your purpose in life is. Find out what you are here for, what you are supposed to do with your life.” Jose Silva
In my studies of Native American philosophies this idea of inner search is the basis for many of the journeys and sources of self-understanding. Perhaps some of my own moments sitting in my quiet place at home sheltered by pecan trees and pines listening to crickets and tree frogs 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 and always give thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

Can we more carefully define soul

Bird Droppings September 16, 2013
Can we more carefully define soul

Over the years I have written about the idea of or concept of soul many times to the point of considering using the word at one point in my dissertation title. The word has differing meanings as you discuss with various religious groups and or psychologists. It is quite a big jump from psychology to religion and back and forth. Dr. Carl Jung famous for his understanding of dreams referenced soul numerous times in his writings as did his student James Hillman and his student Thomas Moore both who wrote several books out currently on the soul and its impact on us as humans. The Care of the Soul is one of the first of Moore’s books that I read several years back and his view is rather interesting as he separates from religion this idea of soul. Today as I was updating my status using a quote from a Carl Jung student on Facebook a news article came up about how atheists and agnostics know more about religion than do believers.

“A new survey of Americans’ knowledge of religion found that atheists, agnostics, Jews and Mormons outperformed Protestants and Roman Catholics in answering questions about major religions, while many respondents could not correctly give the most basic tenets of their own faiths. Forty-five percent of Roman Catholics who participated in the study didn’t know that, according to church teaching, the bread and wine used in Holy Communion is not just a symbol, but becomes the body and blood of Christ. More than half of Protestants could not identify Martin Luther as the person who inspired the Protestant Reformation. And about four in 10 Jews did not know that Maimonides, one of the greatest rabbis and intellectuals in history, was Jewish.” Rachel Zoll, AP Religion Writer Rachel Zoll, AP Religion Writer, Sept. 28, 2010

I recall growing up being told in church that Catholics were cannibals because they ate the body and blood of Christ. Something I heard in school and not at home. Back in the day many Catholic students went to parochial schools in the community and transferred to the public high school since the parochial high school was a longer commute. I never did quite understand the cannibal thing till the concept of transubstantiation came up. What a great vocabulary word, transubstantiation, or the changing of the wine and bread to the body and blood of Christ in the Sunday service. While studying to be an Anglican priest issues with communion came up and this was one. Later in a seminary class various rules and guidelines for accidental spills of blessed wine were in the lecture. Where am I going I am not one to down play beliefs of others and will not here but in looking at religion as a whole? Far too often followers are just that simply followers of someone who is a good talker and has a good line. Churches split and separate and new churches form as one idea surpasses another. It becomes more of a follow the leader than having staunch believes in a philosophy or creed.

“The dream is the small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens to that primeval cosmic night that was soul long before there was conscious ego and will be soul far beyond what a conscious ego could ever reach.” Carl Jung, The Meaning of Psychology for Modern Man

“For one man the world was full of beauty, for the other it was a place of sin and ugliness to be endured until he went to another world, there to become a creature of wings, half-man and half-bird. Forever one man directed his Mystery to change the world. He had made; forever this man pleaded with Him to chastise his wicked ones; and forever he implored his God to send His light to earth. Small wonder this man could not understand the other.” Chief Luther Standing Bear

Perhaps it was this distinction in life views that separated and continues to separate indigenous thought from the invaders. When your goal is eternal life versus being one with your environment you are really not too concerned about the existing realm. Far too many people do not see the beauty of our world. They never take the time from seeking their profits and gathering to themselves of all they can to see the pieces of life’s puzzle.

“Say not, ‘I have found the truth,’ but rather, ‘I have found a truth.’ Say not, ‘I have found the path of the soul.’ Say rather, ‘I have met the soul walking upon my path.’ For the soul walks upon all paths. The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed. The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals. “ Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923

“But the old Lakota was wise. He knew that a man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans, too. So he kept his children close to nature’s softening influence.” Chief Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux

When we crawl away from life we tend to lose touch with all about us. As Standing Bear states we lose respect for humans as we lose respect for our world. As I read stories of Native Americans one fact I found it was customary to sit on the ground to be closer to mother earth than to sit in a chair or bench. There was a connectedness in the way of life that was instrumental in their thinking. We have lost that and replaced with greed and self-centeredness.
In the early 1900’s Freud and Jung worked together and it was Jung’s desire and understanding of the nature of man that led to their separating and to many new ideas for Jung. Jung saw a man as various shades between black and white and Freud saw only the contrast. Dreams became a focus for Jung and those interconnections that seem to continually pop up.

“You see, when weaving a blanket, an Indian woman leaves a flaw in the weaving of that blanket to let the soul out.” Martha Graham

“Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy, the bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope and expectation.” Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind

“Art is a microscope which the artist fixes on the secrets of his soul and shows to people these secrets which are common to all.” Leo Tolstoy, Diary

Most cultures have some reference to soul in their teaching and stories. Philosophers use the term loosely as they play with our understanding. Within art it is the soul of the artist that is laid bare but what is this that is defined as soul.

“Loss means losing what was; we want to change but we don’t want to lose. Without time for loss, we don’t have time for soul.” James Hillman

“We’re an air bag society that wants guarantees on everything that we buy. We want to be able to take everything back and get another one. We want a 401-k plan and Social Security.” James Hillman

Strong souls
Live like fire-hearted suns to spend their strength
In farthest striving action; breathe more free
In mighty anguish than in trivial ease.
George Eliot, The Spanish Gypsy

Sitting here at my writing desk at home this morning thinking and pondering I might have bitten off more than a day’s effort in writing and might need to return again tomorrow. So with a heavy heart and incomplete task here in front of me I wish everyone would please keep all in harm’s way on your minds and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

All my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

Finding a way to forgive

Bird Droppings September 16, 2013
Finding a way to forgive

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi

I spent the morning on a field tip of sorts for a graduate school class. We visited the MLK Jr. Memorial Center on Auburn Street in Atlanta. 1968 seems so far away as I think back. I was in school at West Chester State college now University. A black man was shot by a white man in Memphis Tn. In the days ahead mourning, sadness, riots, laughter from some, pain, heart ache, jokes, and the range of emotions has continued. As you walk from the parking lot to the King Center a statue is in front of you. Yesterday as I stood taking a few pictures of a statue of a man who was shot in 1949 and was modeled in later years by the man shot in 1968 a fellow started talking to his wife. “I think this was the guy who invented those sandals that are so comfortable.” I wondered how we as a society have survived to this point.

“He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As I thought about the inscription on Gandhi’s statue I wondered why we do not teach more about this man in schools. “Nonviolence to be a potent force (I found myself as I went from photo to paper writing weapon) must begin with the mind.” Even I and I have studied Gandhi evidently not enough used the term weapon thinking about a man who abhorred violence. A single man who died violently because he believed in peace to the marrow of his bones, and through his actions changed a nation. Watching our society today this line hit me hard.

“Many people are afraid to forgive because they feel they must remember the wrong or they will not learn from it. The opposite is true. Through forgiveness, the wrong is released from its emotional stranglehold on us so that we can learn from it. Through the power and intelligence of the heart, the release of forgiveness brings expanded intelligence to work with the situation more effectively.” David McArthur & Bruce McArthur

When I started early this morning I was going in one direction and as events transpire I end up shifting gears heading another direction. Forgiveness is psychologically sound as a remedy for traumas that befall mankind and yet so often we aggravate and sustain the issue through thoughts of or actual revenge. The McArthur’s hit on a key point as they address the emotional stranglehold we so often fall into when an event comes upon us that we deem wrong or evil in some cases. Starting this topic of forgiveness today came from a number of situations and occurrences that have played out over the past weeks. But the culmination was in the visiting of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center and Museum yesterday morning.

“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive. Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note–torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.” Henry Ward Beecher

“Never does the human soul appear so strong as when it foregoes revenge, and dares forgive an injury.” E. H. Chapin

“We are all on a life long journey and the core of its meaning, the terrible demand of its centrality is forgiving and being forgiven.” Martha Kilpatrick

There are many differing views of forgiveness and this concept of varying aspects has always struck me as being somewhat interesting. From a religious standpoint Christianity uses forgiveness as a base for its religious activities yet over the years has somewhat confused the issue with such famous theological terms as once saved always saved which eludes to an initial salvation sealing forever your ability to do wrong and get away with it. However a famous biblical line from a stoning outside the city gates of Jerusalem back in the day when the leaders had convicted a woman of adultery and were getting ready to stone the woman. A young man was questioned about the act. He knew it was a political trap. He drew a bit in the sand a few words in ancient Aramaic and turned to the group and asked, “Who among you is without sin should cast the first stone. “ Slowly the group dissipated and the woman came to him asking what she should do and his response was “go and sin no more”. Too many people seem to forget that part of the biblical scriptures.

“When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, and we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it.” Louis B. Smedes

“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” Louis B. Smedes

“Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past, by old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business. Not to forgive is to yield oneself to another’s control… to be locked into a sequence of act and response, of outrage and revenge, tit for tat, escalating always. The present is endlessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past. Forgiveness frees the forgiver. It extracts the forgiver from someone else’s nightmare.” Lance Morrow

I have watched all the gangster movies on TV and in every one the evil, murderous, and always scandalous leader on his death bed asks for forgiveness from the priest. I have always wanted to see the priest say sorry not good enough or tough beans and who knows what else. Forgiveness is an aspect of living not death. It is who we are and why we are on a daily basis. I sit today listening to words from a great man who gave his life for what he believed the introduction to Dr. Kings Nobel Peace prize written by Mahatma Gandhi read by Dr. King.

“We are all on a life long journey and the core of its meaning, the terrible demand of its centrality is forgiving and being forgiven.” Martha Kilpatrick

“Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life.” George MacDonald

As I read earlier today forgiveness was discussed as an aspect of love. Forgiveness is the highest form of love both to be forgiven and to forgive. That is a hard idea to understand in our world of greed and corruption. It is hard to understand when everyone seems to be diametrically focused on them.

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.” Robert Quillen

“Forgiveness is the final form of love.” Reinhold Niebuhr

“One forgives to the degree that one loves.” Francois de La Rochefoucauld

“The most tender part of love, each other to forgive.” John Sheffield

I have always been a fan of Reinhold Niebuhr and his Serenity Prayer. This great theologian of the late 1950’s was on the far edge of theology in his time. He had a firm belief that faith had to visible as well as a matter of inner peace. Your life needed to reflect what you claimed in your heart. This concept has been controversial since the Middle Ages when some would simply do good works occasionally to gain forgiveness. Niebuhr was about setting the example showing that you could live as you said. While walking around the King Center I saw Niebuhr’s name as someone Dr. King studied.

“Forgiveness is the answer to the child’s dream of a miracle by which what is broken is made whole again, what is soiled is made clean again.” Dag Hammarskjold

“Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first skill of self-giving love.” Mahatma Gandhi

“We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck . . . But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness.” Ellen Goodman

So a day of pondering and wondering about various views of forgiveness and one last quote for today. I am sure I will ponder more with a new book on my Ipad and computer to read, Way of Wakan: Reflections on Lakota Spirituality and Grief by David J. Mathieu Ed.D.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Louis B. Smedes

A long day and a week ahead and to end as always please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

All my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

So much difference in the perceptions of mankind

Bird Droppings September 13, 2013
So much difference in the perceptions of mankind

Friday the thirteenth for some a day of foreboding and others it is simply another sunrise and sunset. European culture brought the foreboding element of this day to the Americas. Some argue it has metaphysical properties and is not just the day a Pope issued a plunder and kill order against the Templar Knights. I have looked in other traditions and eventually all goes back to the church turning on its own for money and land. In the middles ages and into our early history it was the European concept of land that caused many lasting issues.

“The delineation of the difference between modern (secular) society and traditional (Sacred) societies and their competing views of land and nature helps to explain the persistence of severe conflict between such societies. Unlike secular societies – where land signifies property, property signifies capital, and capital signifies wealth, status, and power – land in sacred societies signifies connection to family, tribe, and ancestors. Land is furthermore thought of in connection to sacred sites, burial grounds and medicinal plants.” Sandy Grande, Red Pedagogy

Sometime during each semester I get out the toilet tissue tubes and go about demonstrating how perception changes in how we look at things. I once did a poster actually took a picture through a toilet tissue tube and then the same picture with a wide angle lens. It was amazing to see the difference. We each come into the world with previous experiences and understandings. These tend to provide us with the information that we form our perceptions with. Sadly many are very limited in their views. I often wonder how some people walk around seeing so little of the world.
Having grown up in the secular society and spending most of my life following along the pathway that is so narrow within this point of view it is often hard to step off the trail and to see that even another perspective is out there. It has been many years since I walked along trails in North Georgia alone and listened to nothing but the sounds of nature. Today as I left my home this morning and walked to my car the silence was amazing as most air conditioners and other human contrivances were quiet. We had a cool night and above my head looking to the east was the constellation Orion. I listened for several minutes before running a few errands and driving to school. Crickets and tree frogs and an occasional coyote howl kept me company.
Commuting from home earlier this semester essentially has me planning twice. I go into my room at school early to get ready for students arriving and then have a planning period after my first block getting ready for third and fourth blocks. By evening after being awake for nearly eighteen hours I am weary. Earlier this morning I released a small ground scorpion that had been captured in the school a few days ago. I took it to a safe place and let the little critter scamper into the rocks.

“Western civilization, unfortunately, does not link knowledge and morality but rather; it connects knowledge and power and makes them equivalent.” Vine Deloria Jr.

I wondered as I first read this statement by author Vine Deloria Jr. Looking back in history it has always been those in the know who held the control literally till the dawn of the printing press. As more information and understanding became available more people were able to ponder the wonders of reality. In my readings of various indigenous peoples a man of knowledge is always held in high regard and honor. In our society as we merge knowledge and power men of knowledge are often construed as bad men. Far too often those who unravel the wonders of the world get greedy and use their knowledge to their own gain rather than of mankind’s.

“Who will find peace with the lands? The future of humankind lies waiting for those who will come to understand their lives and take up their responsibilities to all living things. Who will listen to the trees, the animals and birds, the voices of the places of the land? As the long forgotten peoples of the respective continents rise and begin to reclaim their ancient heritage, they will discover the meaning of the lands of their ancestors. That is when the invaders of the North American continent will finally discover that for this land, God is red.” Vine Deloria, Jr

So often we get tangled in the day to day and lose track of and perhaps sight of where and how we are in the world. As I sit listening to the sounds of running water and cedar flute music sometimes it is easy to drift away in thought. Being tired from being up long before most normal folks even consider getting out of bed to try and get ready for the day. Although today perhaps it was a bit too much to stand and look at the sky above me in the darkness lit with stars. I was listening to the quiet of a cool morning. Crickets and tree frogs like it a bit warmer although a few secluded sounds could be heard. Each day I wonder have I done what I could to better this world.

“But the old Lakota was wise. He knew that a man’s heart, away from nature, becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans, too. So he kept his children close to nature’s softening influence.” Chief Luther Standing Bear, Oglala Sioux

I listen to each student as they talk and ask questions. I try and am civil rather than look down upon often childish questions. I try to hold the words of the young ones as they seek to know. How simple is life if we allow the natural flow of all to travel through us and with us. A little friend of mine just came by to check on the animals. She goes around my room talking to each of the animals and checking if everybody is ok and right now talking to a rug made from the pelt of a timber wolf my father gave me many years ago. I always am amazed at how close small children are to nature. They have not grown weary of listening and ask questions unhesitating one after another until somewhere an adult forces them to stop. Then what was an open zeal for learning becomes in some cases a hatred of school and even reading. Today is a sunny day a cooler day than it has been and most of all a first day to walk a new road if I choose. For over ten years I have closed with please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

For my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

Checking the toes for mittens

Bird Droppings September 12, 2013
Checking the toes for mittens

It has been some time since one of my granddaughters was showing off her new hat and mittens. It was quite a sight clad in a t-shirt, diaper, mittens and ski cap that looked like a penguin she was showing off for us. Finally she realized crawling was a bit harder in mittens and did her best to get them off. Last weekend we spent a little time cleaning the garage and my eldest son found an old CD, Harry Chapin’s greatest hits. Jokingly he said it would end up in my CD changer in the car and sure enough it wasn’t twenty minutes till I had an excuse to listen to it. Harry Chapin has been gone for many years now but the lyrics of his songs live on.

“You can travel ten thousand miles and never leave where you are.” Harry Chapin

I was pondering this as I came into school today. I went out to sit and think late in the day yesterday and several Facebook posts later recalled another incident. About two years ago a tenth grader at the high school had been killed in a four wheeler accident. Within minutes Facebook was popping with notes of condolence and thoughts for the little girl and family as well as for another tenth grader severely injured in the accident. Just above my head is a photo from several years ago of a teenager who died in a car crash right after graduation. She and I had been good friends with her coming to my room to talk about her problems on many occasions. The night of graduation she led me around taking pictures with various friends. Each one specific and after fifty or so we parted ways for the festivities. I hugged her after the ceremony and did not see her again till a text while in graduate school in South Georgia caught me by surprise. She had died in a car accident and the funeral was two days away. Death seems to never take time off.
After last period yesterday a student whom I have never really had, walked in and I asked what was going on. He was complaining about a substitute teacher and how she did not get along with the class. She wanted them in assigned seats and took roll and wanted quiet. It got me thinking to perception and how in a recent observation by an Assistant Principal was so different than several we have had over the years. I do change how I do things quite often always looking for the best way. As I read through my evaluation from the AP’s observation I was very happy and what amused was how he saw so differently than did last year’s AP who was observing the same situations. One saw six kids each working on differing assignments as great and one saw nonconformity. All in all it was a great day even though my shoulder is killing me form some neck problem I am told.
I had several visits from teachers and staff that had never been in my room each was amazed and almost in wonderment sort of wide eyed as they walked around even had one person said they were coming back for an official tour. Some how many former students and often former student’s buddies’ end up coming by my sanctuary to talk often about nothing in particular. That was the case here a former student from four years ago and this fellow stopped by later in the day yesterday as well. It was a busy day. Currently my room was set up for a biology lab and is closer to my room of several years ago

“The ultimate test of a man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.” Gaylord Nelson

As the day ended yesterday students cleared the halls I headed over to chat with some friends. I stopped at several points that I normally do and a substitute teacher finds me and asks about a particular student that was very disrespectful to her and by chance the room where we meet is coincidental as it is that teacher has this student as well and similar thoughts. He is a very negative student, belligerent and very disrespectful to authority. I think back to how different my observations were from two different people and how different these two saw this student I see so different.

“To me every hour of the day and night is an unspeakable perfect miracle.” Walt Whitman

Perhaps a seemingly random thought as I look at this morning so far. I was cleaning up my email inbox and as I went various quotes and stories sent from friends and associates I was copying and pasting to a word document. So this is a random quote simply pulled from the thin air, or for whatever reason not deleted many days ago, or is it coincidence that each quote and story today really is applicable. As I look back at the teacher and substitute teacher and student, are they looking at life as Whitman suggests? Why is this student reacting the way that he is? My good friend Dr. James Sutton a psychologist in Texas addresses many of these types of teacher-student issues in his books. I just had a great idea for Dr. Sutton he could have for teachers a 900 number to call for help with difficult students.
But in reality there is a Mindset with the teacher and student often from day one. Something is there with that student that is blocking or keeping him at a distance. The result is turmoil between teacher and student. Every day I have other teachers come by can you do this for me? I emailed a friend, I need to put a sign out by my room you need testing, advice, short essays, whatever stop in. Then it dawned on me, many of these students will not do anything for some teachers. In order to fairly evaluate, try and get that essay written in an unbiased place with someone who is not fighting with or in a tension with that student. Actually that’s not a bad idea for today. I wish I thought of it I need to email that teacher or two or three and commend them.

“Never think that I believe I should set out a “system of teaching” to help people understand the way. Never cherish such a thought. What I proclaim is the truth as I have discovered it and “a system of teaching” has no meaning because the truth can’t be cut up into pieces and arranged in a system.” Diamond Sutra

Not a good rationale for curriculum, but I do think in terms of life and relationships this very definitely applies. Far too often we tend to look at life as it is this way period. If I go over here it is the same. If I go over here it is still the same. I remember a teaching job in Macon I took on substituting. I was expecting little nice 12 year olds and when I got there the average age was 15 and in those days EBD wasn’t sorted out they were just all in that class. I survived day one to plan for day two and all went well. It is so difficult to try and treat everything in education as neat and clean. Trying to understand a student that is different in terms of the “nice” perfect kids is not going to work. So what truths do we set down what principles can guide us in dealing with a kid who is disrespectful.

“If there is any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow human being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.” William Penn

Sitting on my desk is a four inch by four inch board, one of those art projects decoupage on a board and with cute burnt edges is this quote from William Penn. It was given to me over thirty five years ago in Macon Georgia by a student from that first class of hooligans. We have all heard the saying about do not complain till you have walked a mile in my shoes. Howard Eubanks a teacher in North Georgia emailed me this story almost eight years ago.

“Did you hear about the Texas teacher who was helping one of her kindergarten students put on his cowboy boots? He asked for help and she could see why. Even with her pulling and him pushing, the little boots still didn’t want to go on. Finally, when the second boot was on, she had worked up a sweat. She almost cried when the little boy said, ‘Teacher, they’re on the wrong feet.’ She looked and sure enough, they were. It wasn’t any easier pulling the boots off than it was putting them on. She managed to keep her cool as together they worked to get the boots back on, this time on the right feet. He then announced, ‘These aren’t my boots.’ She bit her tongue rather than get right in his face and scream, “Why didn’t you say so?” like she wanted to, and once again she struggled to help him pull the ill-fitting boots off his little feet. No sooner than they got the boots off he said, ‘They’re my brother’s boots. My Mom made me wear ’em.’ Now she didn’t know if she should laugh or cry, but she mustered up the grace and courage she had left to wrestle the boots on his feet again. Helping him into his coat, she asked, ‘Now, where are your mittens?’ He said, ‘I stuffed ’em in the toes of my boots’”

How many times each day with students do we forget to check the toes for mittens? We want everything just so perfect little darlings all in rows and little cute name tags and all in cute little outfits and quiet and neat handwriting and so forth. We really are trying to pull boots on every day and every class with mittens in the toes.
In a high school class it is hard to walk in and poof all is well. It is hard for many teachers to check all the cowboy boots for mittens. When you think there is a problem try and build fail safes, have a core group of teachers you can check with. Maybe there is an issue with that kid maybe his mittens are really stuck in there deep. So many teachers would much more rather write a referral and teach by referral. If all my students are in, In School Suspension I will have a really great day. I will have to admit there are students when I see they are out I cheer but I do it under my breath and to myself. But I am finding many teachers just do not want that chance, they do not want to look for mittens they may soil their hands. School custodians will always provide paper towels I have found and for the squeamish use the gloves in your first aid kit. I am being literal in a symbolic thought. Thank goodness it is Friday, although when I woke up I thought it was Thursday, wait it is still Thursday. Many years ago a friend sent this email note.

“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, Champagne in one hand – strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO – What a Ride! ” not sure where or who said this but a slight alteration – “Teaching should NOT be a journey to the end of the day with the intention of arriving safely with perfect attendance and all A students all in order and lesson plans in an attractive and well preserved lesson plan book, but rather to skid in sideways, Ideas in one hand – Creativity in the other, energy thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming WOO HOO – What a Day! ”

I bumped into another teacher after school yesterday and they asked how was my day and I said “I had a blast” I really should have said I think I found about a dozen pairs of mittens. So I sit pondering a day after another almost over great week of remembering so many pieces along the way. Please my friends keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

Ponderingerest is that even a word?

Bird Droppings September 11, 2013
Ponderingerest is that even a word?

Today is an interesting and yet solemn day; a day marked by memories, twelve years ago I started teaching again after a twenty three year layoff, eight years ago today I started as a part – time Instructor for Piedmont College. Twenty five years ago we brought a new baby home. So many memories on this day.

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” Charles A. Beard

I do recall that my first day of teaching twelve years ago with much of spent in lock down and confused as to what was really going on. It was many days later I really thought about that day I came back to teaching. I just sent a note to one of my first students in that class I was locked in with for several hours. Charles Beard was a historian and often a controversial one at that it is said he commented that Roosevelt brought the US into World War II for economic recovery. Interesting historically that has been the case several times over as to why we really go to war. When I first looked at his quote I was thinking about little children especially my grandkids being afraid of the dark and night time and several times when out with youth and trying to ease fears of darkness I have used stars as a focal point. It really does have to be dark to see the stars.
So often in life we lose sight of the stars until trials and tribulations show in contrast and we again can view our own stars. Folk’s they are there today with all that is going on news about Syria and another potential war, it is often hard to see and remember the shining stars but rest assured they are there and they will be shining when we need to see them. I have been writing and thinking about this day for some time. Yesterday in a response to my Bird dropping I would like to share from a dear friend who I used a thought from just a day or so ago.

“You know, Frank, Viet Nam doesn’t seem that long ago, but it was. I’m a Viet Nam combat vet; was Navy, but served for two temporary assignments with the First Radio Battalion, Third Marine Amphibious Force in I Corps (DaNang, the northern part). I was essentially a marine. It continues to be amazing to me how an experience of war is interpreted differently by different folks. I was running a security communications operation and was calling in the Arc Light Raids, precision bombing (for then) with the B-52s. I guess you could say I never saw the ones I was killing … I do believe my work saved the lives of many of our own troops. (They gave me a medal for it; can you believe that?) What’s right, and what’s wrong? When you lose a friend, you want to kill them all. Even today, the flag-folding at a casket just tears me up. All of this to say that, from the standpoint of being veterans who can still function a little, the Viet Nam guys are “old” vets now. I just want the world to know they’re NOT all drunks and drug addicts. You jarred some memories, my friend. A different place … a different time.” Jim, Dr. James D. Sutton, Clinical Psychologist and National recognized speaker and authority on Conduct Disorders

I was writing yesterday about my hatred of war and its destruction. As I grew up listening to my father’s stories of WWII and today looking at old photos he had, images of the attack on Iwo Jima where many thousands of American soldiers died and tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers perished as well makes me wonder about war. Many of my friends from high school are Viet Nam vets and often in communications comments are made and I have the utmost regard for these men and women who served in a time so many have forgotten.
Today however we look at a twelve year anniversary of an attack on our country. Does this change my perception of war and revenge not at all there is still nothing solved in retaliation. True a great sigh of relief came when Osama Bin Laden was killed by Seal Team Six. I was at that moment more concerned about my nephew in law who serves in the teams than the fact Bin Laden was killed. Today rekindles many images from different people. Hope and fear both rise to the top of the barrel.

“The trouble with justifying your violence, your hate, your profitable destruction through your subjective sense of victimization is a)the chain of violence can go on forever b)everyone, since no one has a monopoly on suffering, can use victimization to then justify practically anything for an indefinite amount of time and violence and c)as vengeance only retaliates never returns, there will never be an end to the justification of your violence, and as such your violence itself.” Manny Jalonschi, Publisher at American Ex Pat Books

I have known and been reading Manny’s blogs for several years now and this one caught me in my pondering state. I posted the following response.

“When raised in Judeo-Christian understanding of an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth it is hard to separate out the revenge aspect of the equation and throw in staunch capitalism which a long time ago gave up on the Koionia (community) of early Christianity in favor of greed and profit and ran rough shod over indigenous peoples worldwide. Seriously what is to be expected? Sadly how many kids are raised today without a neutral historical understanding of where they came from?” Frank Bird III, Ed. S. D.D.

Over the past few days several teachers have made comments to me about my choice of political party and or Represenitives. I find it interesting as while in many ways what they see as wrong they have no way other than saying it will take care of itself if we get rid of this or this program.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

I pondered most of the week listening to the rhetoric of war mongering, capitalism and the problems with government’s handouts and healthcare. I grief with and honor those who died in the heinous attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon ten years ago but I also say retaliation is never a solution. We have retaliated for twelve years and nearly destroyed our country.

“To see what is right, and not do it, is want of courage, or of principle.” Confucius

I honestly wonder borrowing from Gandhi “An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind”, how long we can continue and not lift up and move ahead.
I have worked with and taught numerous autistic children over the years. Dr. Temple Grandin is considered to be one of the leading authorities on animal and livestock handling in the world. She has designed and engineered seventy five percent of the commercial livestock handling facilities for commercial packers in the United States. She has been recognized by animal rights groups for her ethical treatment in design and development and has written college texts on animal science. She also is considered a world leader in autism, perhaps because Dr. Grandin is autistic herself.

“I can remember the frustration of not being able to talk. I knew what I wanted to say, but I could not get the words out, so I would just scream. I can remember this very clearly.” Dr. Temple Grandin

In recent years more and more children are being diagnosed as autistic. As I read her words which applied directly to herself as she grew up frustrated with a world that only heard her screaming and never her words I thought too of those often less fortunate than ourselves who have no voice. Through political maneuvering and redrawing lines and forgetting to advertise the new laws of needing a photo identification to vote we tend to silence many people. I watched several political debates and speeches this past week and Dr. Temple Grantin’s words again hit me.

“People are always looking for the single magic bullet that will totally change everything. There is no single magic bullet. I was very lucky to receive very good early intervention with very good teachers, starting at age two and a half years. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good teacher. A good teacher is worth his or her weight in gold. Some teachers just have a knack for working with autistic children. Other teachers do not have it. If you find a good teacher, hang on to him or her tight.” Dr. Temple Grandin

Yesterday or the day before many days lately have run together I had an issue with my upstairs air conditioning. The thermostat was stuck at eighty five degrees. I poked at it, fiddled with it, no change. At one point even said call the air conditioning guy. But two nights ago I walked upstairs with a screw driver and popped the cover off and low and behold batteries. Two new Duracell triple A’s and the air is working again. On that same note an article on bacteria in the gut and autism caught my attention yesterday. How simple is that. Autistic children often have dietary issues and a study showed significantly different bacteria in the gut of autistic children actually less bacteria of a good kind. Granted it was only an article but how simple is that if a reality.
On a day of remembering I wish we never have to go through this again. I offer as a solution that if we keep our eyes and ears open we can find open minded great teachers, we can resolve issues before going to war, and all children can have the opportunity to succeed and learn and in learning never be silent again. Last night we received as staff an email that our board of education tabled a proposed by superintendent change to high schools scheduling going from four block to seven block all in the name of rigor. Ask any teacher about this and the answer is what? A newspaper article ran erroneous information about testing and four block and how math scores would improve. Nothing was said about ridiculous math curriculum and constant changes and a test that in trials fifty percent or more failed. But changing our schedules would cure it. No one mentioned fifteen to twenty percent of high school teachers would be let go and there would literally no electives for students. So I sit back ponder a moment more and as I have for so many years now asked please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

I am just sitting, pondering and thinking wiping away a tear or two

Bird Droppings September 10, 2013
I am just sitting, pondering and thinking wiping away a tear or two

I was outside very early today as a great horned owl was irritating my dog keeping her up. It seems it was more than one as around me several were calling back and forth in an eerie chorus. The hooting had my dog going perhaps it was just the echoing of the owls through the trees which altered direction and location and crickets and tree frogs added in made quite a combination. I often joke about my monastic ways. It seems I am alone more than in a group and enjoy that. Perhaps trying to mingle is not in my nature yet I do enjoy joking around and even at times trying to be the focus or center of attention. Perhaps we all do seek attention each in our own way.

“Time is a jet plane, it moves too fast. Oh, but what a shame if all we’ve shared can’t last. I can change, I swear, oh, oh, see what you can do. I can make it through, you can make it too.” Bob Dylan, Blood on the Tracks

Every morning when I come into to school including Saturdays and many Sundays I religiously check my emails and as I sat down today reading emails a note I had received in Xanga (is that even a word anymore) a good while back came to mind. My son had posted a note in which he related that he read the lyrics to a song by Joni Mitchell. Many youngsters will not even know the name Joni Mitchell, one of the great folk singers of the antiwar movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s back in my day, the Viet Nam era. Literally daily I receive emails from friends or readers of my blog and I am end up getting to the word synchronicity and how words may be for this person or that and they may be just what was needed for this person now. It has been a few days since I wrote about morality and an email came back about a ninth grade class where the discussion went into the morality of gene therapy and the students were unsure of the concept of morality. They had to discuss morality first.
I am sitting in Georgia writing to friends around the country and a few overseas thinking about all that happened yesterday pondering on what will happen today and thinking about why my son was drawn to this song so many years ago. I use words from songs quite often in correspondence and in counseling and working with teenagers. Words can be so powerful and so moving and conversely words can destroy and conquer. I share these words today a simple plea from a folk singer with a quiet powerful voice, Joni Mitchell.

The fiddle and the Drum
By Joni Mitchell

And so once again
My dear Johnny my dear friend
And so once again you are fightin’ us all
And when I ask you why
You raise your sticks and cry, and I fall
Oh, my friend
How did you come?
To trade the fiddle for the drum
You say I have turned
Like the enemies you’ve earned
But I can remember
All the good things you are
And so I ask you please
Can I help you find the peace and the star?
Oh, my friend
What time is this?
To trade the handshake for the fist
And so once again
Oh, America my friend
And so once again
You are fighting us all
And when we ask you why
You raise your sticks and cry and we fall
Oh, my friend
How did you come?
To trade the fiddle for the drum
You say we have turned
Like the enemies you’ve earned
But we can remember
All the good things you are
And so we ask you please
Can we help you find the peace and the star?
Oh my friend
We have all come
To fear the beating of your drum
© 1969 Siquomb Publishing Corp. (BMI)

As I listened to the words I was reminded of a dear friend in Pennsylvania that I have known for many years and with whom I correspond regularly through email, the words reminded of his writings. He had been researching a drummer boy from West Chester Pa. He was the youngest person killed in the Union forces during the Civil War. My friend in his own way was obsessed with the story and actually is writing a book about his findings. After many years of searching he found the grave of the drummer boy. He had been to that spot numerous times as the drummer boy’s parents were buried there. A poplar tree marked the grave between the parents. A tree planted as a living memorial to their son who died in war.
One of my student friends at school came by upset her brother had just joined the Marines. She comes from an extended family eleven kids in several marriages and step dads and moms. It is great at Christmas time and bad at times like this. How do you explain to a teenager war? The little drummer boy in Pa. was twelve when he died in battle. Recently I ran into a former teacher who had joined the National Guard he was rejected after going through training and suffering a stress fracture. When it came up he had been treated for depression he was upset he could not go and fight. Sadly this story went on and ended harshly several years later. I recall a good friend in high school we would play ice hockey at GO Carlson’s pond in the winter pick-up games and he and I would talk often as we waited for others to show up. He did not even live in our neighborhood but would come to play. He played the bassoon in the High School band and was on the soccer team. He and I both flunked out of the same college our freshmen and were drafted within days of each other. I am epileptic and though I have not had a seizure since childhood I received a 4Y permanent deferment. He went to Viet Nam. Many years later thinking I would see him at a reunion as I drove to my tenth I found out he had been killed in Viet Nam.
It took several moments to sink in and immediately I thought this wasn’t possible and I sat back and wondered while more names were read. Each moment as I sat another name was mentioned another life had passed away in a war soon to be not a war soon to be merely history. Only a few years ago I went with my son to Washington DC riding the bus along the way we are told how to find names of relatives and friends in the index books located at the ends of the Viet Nam memorial. I walked down the walkway reluctantly at best to find a name then two and three and four and I can no longer look up names as I write where on the wall they are located on my hand in black ink. A recent email from a friend who lost her husband he had come back from Viet Nam and so many thoughts. I walked down the line found the spot and the name emotions tears welled up I walked hurriedly away as far as I could get and sat on a bench looking down across the wall. A squirrel wandered through my field of vision. It was an hour or so and my son found me “dad the bus is leaving we need to go”. I do not remember thinking just staring at that wall and that squirrel that wandered back and forth interrupting my thoughts. There have been few moments in my life where I have been unable to control my emotions and sitting here thinking back tears wander across my cheek again perhaps for another reason time will tell.
So many thoughts as I think back as we continue to fight another war and another war I in all the talk of freedom and patriotism and macho soldier talk I still have a difficult time with the concept of war. Joni Mitchell states so eloquently, “But we can remember all the good things you are and so we ask you please can we help you find the peace and the star oh my friend we have all come to fear the beating of your drum.” Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

For all my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird

Our perceptions vary greatly about life

Bird Droppings September 9, 2013
Our perceptions vary greatly about life

“Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it.” Irving Berlin

It was twelve years ago I was waiting to go teach again after having spent nearly twenty three years in the publishing business. I was anxious to say the least. I had gone by the school and signed a few forms and talked with the principal for an hour or so. Then the next day came and within hours I was immersed in a day I will not forget. It was my first day back teaching. While I spent most of the day locked in a room in a school lock down because of the 9-11 bombing I still introduced myself to my charges and we did get to know each other.

“To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Each moment, is for each of us different and as I use the word over and over our perceptions vary greatly about life. Emerson so eloquently states “the same world is a hell and a heaven” depending on how you take it. How we live life and our reactions can be construed much the same way.

“It’s how you deal with failure that determines how you achieve success.” David Feherty

We live in a world of contrast black, white and a swirling of gray then somewhere there is a dividing line to separate the differences. Our adaptation and manipulation of crossing the line between the variations is our dealing with life.

“Nothing in life is so hard that you can’t make it easier by the way you take it.” Ellen Glasgow

“What happens is not as important as how you react to what happens.” Thaddeus Golas

Many years ago I recall a story from Hindu lore of a water bearer who each morning would go to the stream and fill two great jugs with water. One was new and held every drop all the way from the river to the house. The other jug had a crack in it and a steady stream of water leaked out all the way from the river to the house. Often when arriving at the house the cracked jug would be literally empty. One day the new jug most boastful said to the cracked jug how can you be so happy you never complete your task each day all your water leaks out and you come home empty. The cracked jug said smiling and never once upset, “have you noticed the flowers all along the way from the stream lining the path where I water them each day.

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” Lou Holtz

I find this so true in high school among students; some who are so capable simple choose to just pass. “I have a seventy I am passing that’s all I need”. Others who struggle to achieve try for an A and work each aspect of their endeavor. Every difficult sentence a chore but they persist and succeed. I got to know a young lady who took the science portion of the Graduation test five times each time she would be closer gaining points as she went, finally she passed by two points. I have read how the school board has again passed or stated they will uphold the graduation walking policy. Sadly within that are the girls and guys who do try and may take five tries to succeed not because of attitude but because of ability. Yet they are in jeopardy of not walking at graduation.
I have read numerous times how we need to uphold that standard but it is a faulty one there are exceptions and another young lady is one and her mother and she were ones that fought last year to walk. She received her fourth test score weeks before graduation and was one point off. She took testing classes studied hard and had been a good student all twelve years, she was an honor student. She wasn’t a person, who did not deserve to walk she tried more than many that did walk, but our view is of a failure and we punished her at graduation time. She quit school the last week and went on to get a GED.

“Two men look out the same prison bars; one sees mud and the other stars.” Fredrick Langbridge

Sometimes it is only a matter of looking up versus looking down and perception is radically different.

“We would accomplish many more things if we did not think of them as impossible.” Chrétien Malesherbes

So often we limit ourselves we set up the road blocks and stop dead in our tracks all possibility of success.

“Attitudes are more important than facts.” Karl A. Menninger

“Our attitude toward life determines life’s attitude towards us.” Earl Nightingale

“We have unprecedented conditions to deal with and novel adjustments to make; there can be no doubt of that. We also have a great stock of scientific knowledge unknown to our grandfathers with which to operate. So novel are the conditions, so copious the knowledge, that we must undertake the arduous task of reconsidering a great part of the opinions about man and his relations to his fellow men which have been handed down to us by previous generations who lived in far other conditions and possessed far less information about the world and themselves. We have, however, first to create an unprecedented attitude of mind to cope with unprecedented conditions, and to utilize unprecedented knowledge.” James H. Robinson

It was only a few years ago in the history of man that TV became a reality. Last week as I was helping someone do a paper a question was asked “when did racism start was it during the civil war”. Racism and slavery are not new to man, some anthropologists look back even to Neanderthal man at signs of racism with Cro-Magnon man. But each generation has more to work with more information more knowledge more data to compile and their response is what had been looked at one way has become different.

“There are times when you just get down, you feel like nobody likes you. We’re in high school forever. It’s just what we do with it.” Rene Russo

Rene Russo is one of my favorite actresses and someone who was famous as a model and actually then made it bigger as an actress. She at one point as her modeling career started to dwindle thought all was over but interestingly enough now she models perhaps more now that she is famous as an actress.

“Don’t be against things so much as for things.” Col. Harland Sanders

Most of us have had Kentucky fried chicken at some point in life Col. Sanders literally changed fast food along with Ray Kroc of McDonald’s fame and it was their attitude that did it. Both men took already used and tested ideas and with attitude made them work.

“Nothing will work unless you do.” John Wooden

“Luck is a dividend of sweat. The more you sweat, the luckier you get.” Ray Kroc

Every day I hear a student blame a teacher for being a sorry teacher I have never yet heard a student say they were a sorry student. But I have heard many students except simply a seventy percent and be happy “its passing” and so where does the blame lie if in effect blame is appropriate. We choose and we choose to fail or succeed. We are the culprits not a teacher, not the book and not the class we choose. Please keep all in harm’s way in your thoughts and on your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

For my relations
Wa de (Skee)
bird