Honesty as Policy

Bird droppings August 5, 2011
Honesty as Policy

I walked out to a very still and quiet morning around two thirty this morning. Being my official first day back to school (work) I looked for a smiling moon sort of a good luck charm to no avail. I would use this reference to a moon from back in the day “a smiling moon” a good friend who would read my notes would always respond explaining how the sun and earth and moon would be in certain positions and create this effect. But what about back in the day before astronomy and telescopes and science when man simply took what was presented and formulated a rational which at that time would many times be the explanation.

“A fortress earns greatness by enabling courageous defenders to gloriously defeat the enemy at the battle’s very onset. Whatever excellent qualities a fortress may possess, it will be of no avail without men of excellent action.” Tirukkural

I have written numerous times about the interactions of students, teachers, principals, parents and community and as in this ancient verse from nearly 3000 years ago each aspect is important, crucial to success of the whole. It takes students to make a school great as well as teachers, principal and staff. It takes the support of those through the parents and community. Asking for signatures on progress reports or various documents is a minimum of support and so often students take that away by signing their own.
Several years ago it dawned on me that one of my students who always turned in her paper work ahead of time had not been home yet.

“Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise.” Sigmund Freud

“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true.” Nathaniel Hawthorne

Eventually As I learned there was no way my favorite student went home between first and third periods I questioned the validity of the signatures yet still was assured they were real. I do require turning in the next day now at least to maintain a safety net of some level of trust.

“There is one way to find out if a man is honest; ask him! If he says yes you know he’s crooked.” Groucho Marx

I raised the question about politicians last night in a discussion and why would anyone choose to be a politician because you are immediately suspect. Something else I have seen with politicians is that they eventually are gone, friends are still there.

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person’s in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate now knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” Henri Nouwen

Oh it is so much easier to not be at the doorway when a friend comes by with a problem to be too busy talking or working at a task. However time and time again people come to the doorway that need a friend and it is honesty that brings them not deceit. Violent demonstrations break out at a peace rally has been almost a news mantra for decades now. Arguments over a statue of the Ten Commandments or teaching of evolution versus creation, issues, politics and opinions.

“The honest man must be a perpetual renegade, the life of an honest man a perpetual infidelity. For the man who wishes to remain faithful must take himself perpetually unfaithful to all the continual, successive, indefatigable, renascent errors.” Charles Peguy

We live in a society so immersed in dishonesty it is like my student who turned in her paperwork third period and I believed her about parent signatures. We watch advertisements and listen to politicians who manipulate data. Even religion is biased for and against ideas and topics depending on the atmosphere at hand and political view. Historically churches have changed theology dependant on public view or royal edict. It is interesting and even silly looking back from a historical view. I made a statement about George Washington and his refusal to have clergy at his death bed and several people could not believe the founding father refused to have a pastor at bedside when he was dying.

“Honesty is for the most par less profitable than dishonesty.” Plato

It is sad that even thousands of years ago man knew mankind and the great philosopher Plato would make that statement. That unfortunately still holds true. It is always about money. Be it national politics, local politics, religious politics, and or school politics eventually it is money. Gas prices have gone higher than anytime recently not because of a shortage but an energy bill is pending that benefits oil coal and gas companies not consumers. Many months ago legislation was defeated in a Democratic house to not drill in wilderness areas in Alaska the black out on the East Coast has been actually at one point been declared a terrorist act and in other speaking an energy issue.
Generally by looking who will make money you will find the culprit. Ages ago in the first crusade a group of knights took Jerusalem from the Muslims during the first crusade and subsequently The Knights Templar a group of warrior monks ruled Jerusalem for many years till they lost favor and literally were destroyed from within and their lands and wealth confiscated. Interestingly enough Jerusalem fell and was not taken again for over a thousand years. One of the most difficult of tasks is teaching children to be honest in a world that thrives on dishonesty and deceit.

“To make your children capable of honesty is the beginning of education.” John Ruskin

But we start with children imposing our standards immediately and in a few short years teach children to be dishonest. Language acquisition and honesty run hand and foot on a developmental scale interestingly enough.

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

Several years ago I was sitting in a class and a good friend made the statement that a child with conduct disorders will eventually at adulthood will be a sociopath that is someone who cannot tell right from wrong and or does not want too, an example might be Jeffery Daimler or so many other serial killers. Conduct disorder children ninety nine percent of the time will either eventually end in jail dead be used car salesmen, politicians or evangelists. His comment was not one of scorn for religion or politics but for a society that allows this to occur, which reminds me I have a book to review of Dr. Sutton’s. We essentially will support the worse possible person in an important job many times knowing this if we benefit in some way or think we will. Amazing this world we live in and to end today which may be the hottest of the year in Georgia so far, keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart. Always as a last thought check the door next time you hear a knock you may have a friend in need.

Graduates desire is the key

Bird Droppings May 21, 2011
Graduates desire is the key

Four years ago Friday I had the privilege to hear my niece give the salutatorian speech at her graduation from Metter High School in Metter Ga. Metter is still has primarily an agrarian economy and driving from my in-laws to the school we passed by freshly dug onion fields. My Vidalia onions in the garden at home are still just getting started. This area of Georgia is famous for its sweet onions. Bags of onions were sitting in rows waiting to be picked up. I listened and watched as high school students gave speeches turned their tassels and threw their caps in the air. That graduation in Metter was a practice run for my youngest son’s graduation four years ago this coming Friday. My son claimed how often is it that you have two of your cousins as salutatorians in one year. Another niece was salutatorian at our high school.
So often as I sit down I am unsure of what will be my next writing looking about at familiar materials gathered on my desk over the past weeks. I am sort of a pack rat as my room at school will attest to and as does my office area at home. Looking about a quick run down of what is before me, to my left two plaques, both are quotes I have used several times behind them a list of Standards for Curriculum that I am supposed to use as I do lesson plans. Near by two book markers, one the quote from Reinhold Neibuhur the other a quote from my mother and a copy of my book I am working on editing.
Sometimes my writing can be so cryptic that I need to put clues about so I can follow them and remember the direction I was headed. I so often throw out the word empathy when discussing teaching. It is also crucial to human existence. I have a friend who I pick to get married next fall. My friend can not figure out how I know so much. I listen and hear pieces and bits and empathy also a bit of inside information about her dress maybe by coincidence.
Several nights back I watched a movie that while directed by a man who is known for using twists and turns and has done some really bizarre movies in this one is a plot that happens daily in our lives. The movie is “Insomnia” with Al Pacino and Robin Williams. The plot line was the famous investigator Al Pacino who accidentally shoots his partner in the fog coincidently the partner was going to talk to Internal Affairs about him. How is this about our daily undertakings? The beginning of the murder plot takes place while investigating a murder and the witness is the murderer. A long story short Al Pacino’s character has to lie and in the plot line the lies build as his sleeplessness builds to a point of hallucinating.

“Truth does not become more true by virtue of the fact the entire world agrees with it; nor less so even if the whole world disagrees with it” Maimodes

My point is watching the movie reminded me literally of in life a little simple fabrication can build, as we tell a friend or family an untruth something small at first and soon it mushrooms. So often at school or around town I hear someone tell another person what I know is an untruth and the story begins and grows and rumors have a way of enveloping us eventually. I often joke about starting rumors with students and faculty. But as I sit here this morning my point is borrowing from an old quote “If you tell the truth you do not have to remember the story”.
As I sat down this morning and pulled up my quotes for the day I was overwhelmed with ideas and looking around well an interesting day ahead. Our own high school graduated its largest class ever last night. Sitting here today recalling the speeches last night and having listened to our graduating students tell of their ideas and ideals at a graduation my mind shifted to pondering the realities of our society.

“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” Aldous Huxley

Many years ago in tenth grade 1965 I had an English teacher who had us read a book by Aldous Huxley “Brave New World” as I think back she was a new teacher in her first year right out of college. She was fired for her reading selections it seems Huxley, Rahn, and Orwell were a bit too controversial for the school board in that time. But we learned and her classes were lively and interesting. Sadly the book 1984 in 1965 was to controversial. 1984 is now standard reading in most high schools and required in many.
As I look back and think today we still censor learning as we try and limit learning. School boards across the nation vote on issues such as the concept of intelligent design or allowing Harry Potter as a library book and this is going on literally daily. My favorite was a local school board attaching a label to science books, a disclaimer for the theory of evolution.

“The deeper a sand-well is dug the freer is its flow of water. Even so, the deeper a man’s learning the greater is his wisdom.” Tirukkural

The more we learn the greater the wisdom that is if we are learning, but it takes initiative to learn and I have found you have to want to learn have the desire to learn in order for real learning to occur.

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is and in great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” Vince Lombardi

As I was trying to pull all of this together today Saturday has flown by and I have much to do. I took over one thousand four hundred photos last night. It will be Monday and a new week ahead teacher workdays and the end of this year. With my only a few days of work this week full weekend of activities with family ahead, a quote from the great Vince Lombardi. Coach Lombardi had a passion for football and for winning. He coached the Green Bay Packers to the first Super bowl in 1965 coincidently. My father has used Lombardisms numerous times in his own writings and lectures. Lombardi did not like losing but the quotes are not about losing as he says “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is”.
Desire is the key, a desire to succeed to win to have A’s to be someone that is the key. Looking back to the quote from Tirukkural on digging a sand well, the deeper we dig through desire, the more knowledge we will have. Huxley’s quote it is up to us to make the effort the change to have the desire no one else can do that for us. So this week sit down and think of how can you get the desire and then accomplish your goals. I would like to congratulate all of the graduates and may you find peace and tranquility in your daily walk. I read President Obama’s words this morning which reminded me of former President Jimmy Carter as he sought to bring peace to the Middle East. The words have been used by each of the last five presidents in differing arrangement but still the same context. The ridicule from the Presidents detractors is interesting. I talked only yesterday about perception with several teachers and it is amazing how perceptions alter our realities. Currently I am planning on writing again tomorrow not to take anything away from some who might be pondering some other course of action. Please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.