Searching for integrity midst the fogginess of reality

Bird Droppings September 30, 2019
Searching for integrity midst the fogginess of reality

 

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

 

I watch the news and pundits lauding their integrity and truthfulness as they command hundred thousand dollar speaking fees and first-class accommodations. Then I think to a Hindu holy man who sat for twenty-seven years with his arm up stretched in honor of Vishnu, one of his Gods. We in America say it’s the American way and many will pay to see that star struck speaker who has little or nothing of any significance. I look back at that crazy holy man who after all those years of piety can no longer use his arm and a bird nests in his hand and a faint smile comes to his face as he has been of use. Who do I respect there in all honest y should not even be a question.
Over two thousand years ago another holy man walked about and taught that we were to forgive our brothers. He as their faith goes died for all others sins so no one else would need to die. He was to be a blood sacrifice for all of mankind according to the writings that followed of this faith. A man who distained wealth, war, injustice and greed and yet in today’s times it is those very things that are driving forces within the faith that bears his name. How can we bastardize to the extent we have those founding concepts that were so far from where they have come?

 

“Character is higher than intellect.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Prior knowledge and or experiences John Dewey refers to as a basis for education that is to be. We build off of that base and add to it almost as if prior understandings are a foundation for the construction of all further understanding. So, I argue what if someone lives with criticism will they be able to learn tolerance. If a child lives with hostility will they ever be able to understand peace. If a child lives with ridicule will they ever be able to understand or know praise. It is possible for a child who lives with shame to ever know forgiveness. I am loosely borrowing from Dr. Laura Nolte’s “Children Learn what they live” poem from 1971. As I ponder that aspect of prior understanding and look towards some of the politics of our current society I do wonder how people learn to be so self-centered and greedy. In his past speech to the UN Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said capitalism is in its death throes as we build a class of ultra-wealthy on the carcasses of everyone else. I look at Wall Street which has always amazed me and how fortunes are made owning nothing but paper and someone else’s desire to own that paper.
Many people talk about and write about how our society is going downhill. As I watch and read it is so often those who I feel are sociopathic and mentally ill who are the driving forces in that rhetoric and those people who reap fortunes on gossip and innuendo. Our local paper has a spin meter and sorts through each day the political spin that follows each politician and each piece of legislation. We talk of repealing healthcare and I wonder how many parents of severely ill children will want that now that insurance companies cannot dump them or exclude for preexisting conditions. I wonder how many breast cancer survivors will encourage their legislators to promote this plan as preventive medicine is given and free mammograms are a part of the provisions. It all comes down to those with do not want to give up anything and see everyone else as a parasite. Sadly, we have come from an understanding world view to one of self-centeredness and sadly it appears we hold aloft editions of that.

 

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

 

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

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

 

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

Bird Droppings September 29, 2019

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Man is what he believes.” Anton Chekhov

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

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

Is wisdom contagious?

Bird Droppings September 26, 2019
Is wisdom contagious?

 

I was reading in a friend’s blog about the Harry Potter series. She was addressing religious beliefs in her blog and how so many adhere verbatim to holy texts. As I read her blog which is rather good the ending was rather interesting.

 

“That doesn’t mean I’m waiting for my letter from Hogwarts to arrive by owl post any time soon… well, not really… looks out window for owl.” bluecollarmamma.wordpress.com

 

How we delineate which texts become holy is often a human contrivance. It might be that Harry Potter books in another thousand years will be considered gospel. I added a comment to her note on Facebook after I read her blog. Something to the effect that as we pulled out from our house yesterday morning a red-tailed hawk was sitting on the power line nearby watching me leave. As we left it flew away. On my wall is a red-tailed hawk feather that I found nearly twenty years ago. I often wonder as to how we formulate and postulate our understandings of our surroundings. In Native American thought the great mystery is often referred to as Wakan-Taka and is that aspect we cannot clearly define.

 

“The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.” Pierre Abelard

 

“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Taka (the Great Spirit), and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals and the third is that which is made between two nations. But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace, which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.” Black Elk – Oglala Sioux

 

“He that never changes his opinions, never corrects his mistakes, and will never be wiser on the morrow than he is today.” Tryon Edwards

 

I think there is a bit of wisdom in all of us yet we often tend to put aside for ease of thinking. We follow others unquestioning and do as they do because it is so easy to not think. I watch the news of another mega church pastor who is being sued in civil court over some possible indiscretions. This is a man who lives in opulence all built on his twenty-five-thousand-member church preaching the word. We fall in line sadly in a world behind politicians who speak the best or offer the biggest possibility of promises that of course will be never kept.

 

“To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things. The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed, there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential. But on the other hand, knowledge of an apparently trivial detail quite often makes it possible to see into the depth of things. And so the wise man will seek to acquire the best possible knowledge about events, but always without becoming dependent upon this knowledge. To recognize the significant in the factual is wisdom.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 

I wonder if some of these wealthy pastors would continue their preaching in a manner consistent with Bonhoeffer, one of the few Christians to die in Germany’s concentration camps. He died doing what he believed preaching against the Nazi regime and protecting Jews as the Nazi came looking for them. He is considered a great theologian and philosopher and he lived as he preached. As I read this passage how easy we get swept up in knowledge and perhaps lose the significance.

 

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” Plato

 

“You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” Naguib Mahfouz

 

“We learn wisdom from failure much more than from success. We often discover what will do, by finding out what will not do; and probably he who never made a mistake never made a discovery.” Samuel Smiles

 

Far too often we garble the message with too many words. Plato had it right there are many who talk simply to hear themselves talk. I often talk about how questions from four-year old’s are some of the best because they have not been subjected yet to others opinions and scrutiny. Children are silenced when we tell them they are wrong before they even ask the question. It does take failure to learn and to gain wisdom. Smiles points out what Edison would allude to in his quest for a light bulb in that he found ten thousand bulbs that did not work and one that did. I have not read as much of Gibran as I wish I had and am working on that.

 

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.” Kahlil Gibran

 

“A prudent question is one half of wisdom.” Francis Bacon

 

“Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, and is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a polluted mind, suffering will follow you, as the wheels of the oxcart follow the footsteps of the ox. Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, and is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a pure mind, happiness will follow you, as a shadow clings to a form.” Buddha

 

There is clarity in youth that muddles as we grow older. I see little children as containing wisdom only to lose it through interaction in society and then to slowly regain as they grow older and go through the process of being human. Some may retain pieces of that wisdom and not take as long to return back too that childlikeness. It is a circle much like the circle of life.

“I was standing on the highest mountain of them all, and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy…but anywhere is the center of the world.” Black Elk – Oglala Sioux

 

I have been reading and seeking to understand Black Elk for over forty years and each year I am able to know and understand more. Perhaps it is wisdom or errors along the way that led me back to the understanding of his words. Black Elk was a holy man who worked into his eighties in or around the reservation harvesting crops for farmers in the area. He was not gaudy or opulent in his life but humble with the power and understanding that he had. He was respected for his knowledge and wisdom and perhaps is a good point to stop today. I hope one day I will not have to end as I have for so long now. Please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,
Mitakuye Oyasin
(We are all related)
bird

 

Finishing up about soul

September 24, 2019
Finishing up about soul

 

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

 

I find myself often looking at Native American thought for insight and ideas. Perhaps it is that indigenous peoples were more oriented around the land and survival then we civilized folks are. Many of my lessons learned revolve around learning from nature and the world around us rather than from someone person’s ideas. The lessons are often handed down in story form from father to son not printed in a holy book or text that so often lends itself to translation and interpretation. Many the night we as children fell asleep to stories of old that my father would tell us and I have told my sons.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Men possessing small souls are generally the authors of great evil.” William Scott Downey, Proverbs

 

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

 

Rushing to finish and sort of finalize this look at soul and I always sort of end up with it truly is a definitive aspect of who we are and how we see ourselves. Should is not an entity or thing it is far more and less. Soul is a paradox and perhaps like Jung I do see it as not subject to laws of space and time. So with perhaps not a final answer, I should call a friend maybe I will close today and please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts namaste.

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

 

 

Now my studies are making sense

Bird Droppings September 23, 2019
Now my studies are making sense

My head feels like a sponge from the change in air pressure during the night. It could be the radical differences between cool weather at night and extremely unseasonably hot days. I was sitting thinking back to a day we were not paid as it was one of our furlough days imposed by our governor and students were not in school. It was a teacher’s workday to finalize grades for mid-semester and for training. I did not sit idle but used time to work on research and papers for my graduate school studies.

I am sitting here this morning trying to sort through piles of what needs to go first. School work, getting ready to review for a test on cellular transport and transition period a review time for biology overall. Teaching high school again after a bit of retirement is always interesting, juggling due dates and names and folders. Maybe that is why my head hurts this morning. In less than a month I will be seventy and that thought has passed through my pondering lately more than once and who knows maybe my brain is getting old and tired.

“The more sand that has escaped the hourglass of life, the clearer we should see through it.” Jean Paul Sartre

As I was looking for thoughts and ideas to start I actually was going a different direction when by accident or should I say coincidence found this quote? As we get older we have experienced more and if we have learned from our experiences the hour glass does clear. However, if those grains have been abrasive and scoured the glass as they went through the glass will be scratched and foggy. It is life’s lessons that determine through previous experiences how we have responded and or would respond.

“Many go fishing all their lives without knowing it’s not the fish they are after.” W. Whitman

I am not a big fan of fishing as a sport and often draw strange looks when my students hear me say I do not fish. I enjoy the solitude and quiet but not the sitting and waiting. Although once or twice I do have fish stories I could pull out both by chance with my cousin from Florida. One took place in Wisconsin when my father took my cousin and me fishing for Muskie and one in Florida with my family when we came upon a group of mating sharks. But they are food for thought another time and writing.

“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings” W. Blake

“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.” Albert Einstein

“Only that day dawns to which we are awake” Thoreau

Choosing to look, to see, to listen and to hear these are all choices we make as we go through life. It is far easier to take ideas and thoughts from others to be subjugated by others. It is so much easier to be what another wants us to be. It is only in hearing and seeing for ourselves we can as Thoreau says wake up to the dawn. We must be awake. As I was reading last night this thought came up and it intrigued me since I started in about using your own eyes and ears.

“An anthropologist asked a Hopi Indian why so many of his native songs seemed to be about the subject of rain… he replied: ‘because rain is scarce in our land… is that the reason so many of your songs are about love?’” from a Hopi elder

As I thought is that the problem in our society so easily recognized by a Hopi Indian in New Mexico who had never really been to a big city or “civilized” area of the United States, could it be a lack of love? In many of my readings for graduate school we are looking at whose eyes and whose voice perceives what is occurring in life. So much of history has been interpreted by a limited number of people and in a very select and often biased view. So often it is only the winner’s view of the world we see from history.

“Mankind often stumbles upon the truth…. but usually picks itself up & goes along.” Winston Churchill

We so often know the answer and choose not to listen or simply disregard due to politics or popular opinion or majority rules sort of thing. Much of history has been written this way. Many indigenous peoples have been eradicated and literally been the bad guys in history. Their land was taken away and we make them the bad guys. Listening to politicians and power brokers today this is still evident. Calling such endeavors such as bilingual education not in a nice way and or even one of my favorites “voting ghetto” this adds to a couple of the most ignorant statements of recent political gibberish.

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Albert Einstein

The more I read of his ideas and philosophy the more I like his thoughts. I think it is funny how what we remember him for is more military oriented work on the atomic bomb than his philosophy of life which was pacifistic and antiwar. He loathed the fact that he was instrumental in developing weapons of mass destruction and even at one point said he would give up all if he could take that back. So where am I going today perhaps the following thought will offer some aid.

“Passive acceptance of the teacher’s wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no effort of independent thought, and seems rational because the teacher knows more than his pupils; it is moreover the way to win the favor of the teacher unless he is a very exceptional man. Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It causes men to seek a leader, and to accept as a leader whoever is established in that position… It will be said that the joy of mental adventure must be rare, that there are few who can appreciate it, and that ordinary education can take no account of so aristocratic a good. I do not believe this. The joy of mental adventure is far commoner in the young than in grown men and women. Among children it is very common, and grows naturally out of the period of make-believe and fancy. It is rare in later life because everything is done to kill it during education… The wish to preserve the past rather than the hope of creating the future dominates the minds of those who control the teaching of the young. Education should not aim at passive awareness of dead facts, but at an activity directed towards the world that our affords are to create.” Bertrand Russell

The sad thing is so often we fall victim to 19th century thought and this while applying to education is very much prevalent through all ideas among the “normal” folks.

“Our schools have been scientifically designed to prevent over-education from happening…The average American should be content with their humble role in life, because they’re not tempted to think about any other role.” William Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education, 1889

It is so sad to think that we actually allowed this type of mentality to lead our nation at one time. There are many times I wonder if anything has changed as you read headlines and newspaper clippings. We do not want to over educate children they might think for themselves then what do we do. The paradox is that in schools the kids who are allowed to think for themselves excel and often are the pride of the schools. Yet all through their education an effort has been made to suppress them. We cannot seem to understand that the ten-year trend of standardized testing has done nothing to improve teacher quality and or student’s abilities other than to take tests.I saw this quote from the late John Holt yesterday in passing on another person’s Facebook page and it made me think.
“The most important thing any teacher has to learn, not to be learned in any school of education I ever heard of, can be expressed in seven words: Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.” John Holt
Holt and I disagree on many points I am sure as he was one of the first major advocates for home schooling however it was not based on religion but on learning. I agree with him that traditional schooling is ineffective. I try and function within and try to provide a slight as much as I can alternative to traditional teaching. I have been a fan of John Dewey and experienced based learning for some time and schools using his philosophy in many ways are not schools but learning environments. I watch current “reformers” trying to even more cubby hole and categorize and traumatize teaching and in theory learning. I am sorry teaching to a test is not anything but rote memory practice.

A concerted effort is being made by corporate America to strip away individuality, soul from our youth and make a profit at it.I have used this example before but since it is a good one I will again. My son in eighth grade was told his methodology in a math problem was wrong and he had to do it right, the teacher’s way. Later in high school during his second semester of calculus he found his methodology was absolutely right and more so interesting what was wrong in eighth grade is so correct in twelfth grade and again in four calculus courses at Georgia Tech. His math teacher in eighth grade did not understand calculus and therefore could not respond other than to say he was wrong. Sometimes we force children to our terms and we are the ones who are wrong. We need to listen to the children learn from them and before I go too far a last quote to end this Monday morning meanderings. This is from ancient Israel.

“A child’s wisdom is also wisdom” Jewish Proverb

Well I got a bit carried away but several ideas to mull over ponder and reflect on so be safe this glorious week ahead with projected rain and all, and keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your hearts and always give thanks namaste.

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird

 

Thinking about my brother

Bird Droppings
September 22, 2019
Thinking about my brother

Scrolling through memories a photo of my brother John popped up. My nephew posted several years back. Years ago my mother would follow on Facebook and we all posted photos and such where she could see them. One day she stopped checking her laptop and looking. John passed away over twenty years ago, my mother passed six months back. Perhaps seeing John’s picture got me thinking. I was volunteering at John’s school when Eastern College decided my GPA was not high enough to become a senior. I went to work at John’s school. About 1970 or so. Summer of 1972 my family moved to Georgia on a promise from city of Macon John had a school to go to. John was severely brain injured at birth and at two contracted encephalitis. He was never verbal and or potty trained. His entire life he was anti seizure drugs. Once dads business moved mom followed the school would not accept John. So John was at home. Mom was relentless and found a program on the other side of the river in Macon Lucky Duck Nursery. Ms. Rawls did not bat an eye John was in a program. Interesting fact in Macon at that time white folks were leaving public schools in droves for all the trendy private schools in and around. “Christian” schools many were prefaced. John Mark Bird was the sole minority at Lucky Duck. I decided around the Thanksgiving holiday to move to Georgia and over Christmas break headed south. My father pulled some strings perhaps to make up for my brother lack of acceptance I got into Mercer University. One of my reasons for moving was to also help get a program for John started. Ms. Rawls had several more severely impaired students and her staff were fantastic. But in 1973 Macon prior to IDEA there were many unserved kids. We started looking and through a local unique at that time program Church for the Exceptional we found nearly 300 unserved children and adults of all races, colors and creeds. Dr. Cliff Wallace directed the church program and eventually allowed our fledgling program space to work. We began to write a grant which upon acceptance required Macon to integrate services for special education. This was into 1974. I finished at Mercer and went on to Emory grad school. My father’s company changed direction and he founded his own company moving to Atlanta area in Gwinnett County. Mom found an excellent program and John prospered. As the company grew the family made a move to Walton county and again a new program. I recall as John got older and was “working” in a sheltered workshop he received his first pay check. My mom was in tears. It was only a few cents. He was paid on amount of bird seed placed in container. John wasn’t there for the work as much as interaction and simply moving and using his hands etc. it was I think January 1996 or so I received a call at work. John has passed during the night. He has a seizure and stopped breathing. He was buried out on Bluesprings Farm on a hill which now overlooks soccer fields. For several years mom wrote her conversations with John down in poem form. Synchronicity, I never knew the word in 1970 yet looking back it has woven my life shaped and molded the warps. Each piece leading to the next. I left out pieces and people along the way to keep this story shorter. I had a student tell me my stories are boring. She immediately got back to texting on her phone. I wonder sometimes if cell phones strip the synchronistic opportunities away. No need to pay attention to reality when instantaneously you have a screen and stuff in front of you. I love technology it allows us to share or become self centered it is a matter of choice my friends. May peace be with you all this glorious day.

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Solitude is within one’s soul and heart

Bird Droppings September 20, 2019
Solitude is within one’s soul and heart

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Solitude is within us,

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

Frank Bird III, 2010

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

My family and friends I do not say this lightly,

Mitakuye Oyasin

(We are all related)

bird