Bird Droppings September 9, 2022
Ponderingerest is that even a word?
Coming up are some exciting days. One is an interesting and yet solemn day, a day marked by dark memories; twenty-one years ago, I started teaching again after a twenty-three-year layoff; thirty-three years ago, we brought a new baby home. So many memories are coming up this week. I sat down at my computer with a song lyric whispering through my thoughts. I sang out the lyric, and my wife commented it was on Tom Petty radio yesterday in a tribute to Bob Dylan. A simple line. It was perhaps triggered by two passing Facebook posts. One was a classmate from high school who had passed away, and the other was a reference to telling a woman you look your age. I am always pondering; granted, back and leg issues deflect a bit, but pondering is my way of life.
“Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats too noble to neglect. Deceived me into thinking I had something to protect. Good and bad, I define these terms quite clear, no doubt, somehow. Ah, but I was so much older than I’m younger than that now” Bob Dylan
I recall my first day of teaching twenty-one years ago, with much of spent in lockdown and confused about what was going on. Many days later, I thought about the day I returned to teaching. I just sent a note to one of my first students in that class, and I was locked in for several hours. Charles Beard was a historian and often controversial when he commented that Roosevelt brought the U.S. into World War II for economic recovery. Historically, that has been the case several times over as to why we 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 nighttime, and several times when out with youth and trying to ease fears of darkness, I have used stars as a focal point. It does have to be dark to see the stars.
“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.” Charles A. Beard
Often in life, we lose sight of the stars until trials and tribulations show in contrast, and we again can view our stars. Folk, they are there today with all that is going on in the 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 will be shining when we need to see them. I have been writing and thinking about this day for some time. A few years back, in response to my Bird dropping, I would like to share from a dear friend who I used to think from.
“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 the I Corps (Da Nang, 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 ArcLight 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 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 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 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 his old photos, images of the attack on Iwo Jima, where many thousands of American soldiers died and tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers perished, makes me wonder about war. Many of my friends from high school and college 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. Many of those same friends died in a country they never understood for reasons that have changed over time.
In a week or so, we will look at the 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. A great sigh of relief came when Osama Bin Laden was killed by Seal Team Six. At that moment, I was more concerned about my nephew-in-law serving in the teams than Bin Laden being killed. My thoughts today are rekindling many images from different people. Hope and fear both rise to the top of the barrel. We left a twenty-year war only a few days ago, and many people are upset. There is no easy end to war for either side.
“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 and thoughts for several years, 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 the revenge aspect of the equation and throw in staunch capitalism which a long time ago gave up on the Koinonia (community) of early Christianity in favor of greed and profit and ran roughshod 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 friends have commented to me about my choice of a political party and Representatives. I find it interesting that while they see it as wrong in many ways, they have no other than to say it will take care of itself if we eliminate 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 warmongering, border walls, capitalism, and the government’s handouts and healthcare problems. I grieve with and honor those who died in the heinous attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon eighteen years ago, but retaliation is never a solution. We have retaliated for eighteen years, nearly destroying our country’s soul.
“To see what is right, and not do it, is want of courage, or principle.” Confucius
I wonder, borrowing from Gandhi, “An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind,” how long we can continue and not lift and move ahead. I have worked with and taught numerous autistic children over the years. Dr. Temple Grandin is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on animal and livestock handling. 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 is also considered a world leader in autism, perhaps because Dr. Grandin is autistic.
“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 have been diagnosed as autistic. As I read the words that applied directly to herself as she grew up frustrated with a world that only heard her screaming and never her words, I thought of those often less fortunate than ourselves who have no voice. We tend to silence many people through political maneuvering and redrawing lines and forgetting to advertise the new laws of needing photo identification to vote. I watched several political debates and speeches this past week, and Dr. Temple Grantin’s words again hit me.
“People are always looking for a single magic bullet that will totally change everything. There is no single magic bullet. I was lucky to receive very well early intervention with excellent teachers, starting at age two and a half. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a good teacher. A good teacher is worth their weight in gold. Some teachers have a knack for working with autistic children. Other teachers do not have it. If you find a good teacher, hang on to them tight.” Dr. Temple Grandin
Yesterday or the day before, many days lately have run together; I had an issue with my upstairs air conditioning a few months back. The thermostat was stuck at eighty-five degrees. I poked at it and fiddled with it, but no change. At one point, they even said to call the air conditioning guy. But two nights ago, I walked upstairs with a screwdriver 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 fewer bacteria of the right kind. Granted, it was only an article, but how simple is that if a reality?
On a day of pondering, I wish we never had 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 never be silent again. A few years ago, we received an email that our board of education tabled a proposal by the superintendent to change high school schedules from four blocks to seven blocks in the name of rigor. Ask any teacher about this, and the answer is what?
A newspaper article contained erroneous information about testing and four blocks and how math scores would improve. Nothing was said about a ridiculous math curriculum, constant changes, and a test that failed fifty percent or more in trials. 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 be no electives for students. So, I sit back and ponder a moment more, and as I have asked for so many years, please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and your hearts and always give thanks, namaste.
My family and friends, I do not say this lightly,
(We are all related)