Kiev : A Little Over a Week Later

Wasn’t it just a little over a week ago that people were dancing in Kiev’s Independence Square ecstatic that they had the ability to change their stars?

Didn’t they laugh and sing and enjoy being “Happy”?

Kiev Happy

Isn’t it amazing what has followed? Is amazing the right word?? More like astonishing or unbelievable or terrifying…

I keep wondering about the varying storylines. Who is really pulling the strings?

No…Conspiracy theories help no one.

What I get caught in is the politics of intimidation and watching the most powerful political leaders of the world dance. One is leading, one is following, and then they reverse rolls.

During different points of the week you could see where Russia was gathering up the Ukraine and pulling her around the floor. Then the next day the United States would have the Ukraine bound for the other side of the dance floor. This constant back and forth following one then the other all over the dance floor…all the while the audience of watched.

The audience changed depending on who was leading. When it was Putin you could hear the echoes of the people in Crimea chanting their allegiance to a Russia few of us recognize. When Kerry finally took the lead you could hear the people who believe in the possibility of a free Ukraine.

I’ve been watching this incredible event escalate and diminish. I’m just dumfounded by the insanity.

Ukraine is a country. A democratic nation that could and should be free from the trappings of a parent nation. Ukraine does not need to be a state of Russia…or anyone.

What do you need when building a successful nation?

I think it is the same as what you need to build a successful future for a business. You need to know why you want the changes that you do and you need to stand by them. Write out a vision of what you need and want. Live by that vision. There is also a reason for beliefs in tolerance and understanding and an intrinsic openness and transparency.

Maybe this is more about building a nation that will last in this age, the age of Wikileaks and NSA Surveillance. The people that want to ask you to dance are going to know everything about you already, so you may as well be honest about it.

If Putin had simply acknowledged and validated the changes that occurred in the Ukraine instead of having violently restrained outbursts about the changes that will happen, none of these problems would exist.

For a summary of the days events please visit Human Rights Watch for the storify timeline.  http://www.hrw.org/the-day-in-human-rights

I had and still have high hopes that Ukraine is able to become the country that it wants to be. I hope that the Russian government and more pointedly Vladimir Putin realize that times have changed. I hope that “The Western” nations that are helping Ukraine set up for the future do not trap her in the methods and practices that won’t lead to success.

It’s been a week, I said last week that the fight was just beginning, but this is not the fight I had in mind.

candles

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Kiev : Get Happy!

Tonight on Fast Company I watched the video of Ukrainian revolutionaries dancing in their encampments at Independence Square to Pharrell’s Happy. I watched a bunch of people my age and younger celebrate the idealism that so many people hold dear.

We believe the world can be better if you just give us the opportunity to show you what you taught us before life and scarcity got to you.

We know that the world is a good place. We also know that power breeds corruption, so we know we have to be careful if we are given the chance.

No we don’t have all the answers, but we think we can fix what is broken.

Even if we can’t fix it we can replace it with something entirely different.

We want freedom.

I don’t know how closely you have been following the events in Kiev or if you have scrolled past them in an attempt to keep your blinders on, but something amazing and perhaps scary just happened.

The revolutionaries in Kiev won.

The dictator who was in charge was removed from office by the parliament and there is an opportunity for a new, freer society setting up in Ukraine.

To me this is amazing because we get the opportunity to see what they do with it.

However it is also terrifying because they must be careful how they proceed. Do you want to be like Egypt and have three new governments in almost as many years (They resigned today.) or do you want to form a new land of peace and freedom and show others how a revolution is done.

This is the problem with revolutions. Some people do it for the power. It remains to be seen if there are many in this group who are only in it for the power, but wouldn’t it be a testament to the revolution if this remained about freedom and liberty and less about a transfer of power from one party to another?

To highlight the key element in most elections from one side to another is that it’s the same ideals just with a new face, a new label, a new rhetoric, but the same end game. Power.

The end of the video shows that all Kiev wants is to be happy, but will they be?

I applaud and encourage you all to keep the correct goal in mind.

You’ve done the easy part and that is get the power, the hard part starts now…what will you do with that power??

Be happy, Kiev, you’ve earned it.

"What is happiness for you?"

“What is happiness for you?”

Education and Public Policy Series : Community

Before I begin this series I need to tell you all that this series is in conjunction with an announcement.

I decided several weeks ago, but haven’t written it on this blog, that I am running for the Texas State Board of Education, District 7.  In the last weeks since this became my reality I have been asked, well, why? Why would you do this? Why open up your life and your sanity to such scrutiny?

To be completely honest – I am on paper probably the least “qualified” of the people running. I am not – however – afraid of this difference.

I think we need to reframe who we think should be in charge and try to change things up.

Because I require a little support and guidance I have asked to run as the Libertarian party candidate for this position. I see so little difference between the Republicans and Democrats these days that I am…to say the least…disappointed in their behavior. I don’t think any one party has the right answer. The only way to make this work is to work together and vote my conscience, not because someone tells me to vote with my party. I think I should get to know the educators I will be representing and I hope that in the next 11 months I can meet all of them. As for the public scrutiny?? Dude! I write a blog and anything you ever wanted to know I have written myself in a very public platform. I have not lived perfectly, I have lived on the edge quite a bit and I am a rule breaker. I admit it…I am a ruler breaker…so lets see what we can do.

Do you consider education to be one of the foundations of a community?

We are, each of us, in a community. Whether we have neighbors near or far we each have a group to share social experiences with…and if you don’t you are probably not reading this. My previous post defined community as people within an area, people with a common background, nations with common histories, or the other beings with whom you interact over the internet. Each of us has a community.

What is the foundation of any of these?

The ability to communicate. In one form or another you are in constant communication with the other people around you.

Every gesture, every behavior, certainly every word.

We begin learning these behaviors at birth. “I’m hungry!” Cry. “I’m tired!” Cry louder. “I’m happy!” Giggle, smile, and sometimes this eventually leads to crying. As the child grows older their methods of communication evolve, they sign, they speak, they go into the kitchen and get themselves a snack.

All behaviors that they have had to learn.

All communication is education on display.

The foundational knowledge that you build from infancy is called your working memory. Breath, think, eat, walk, run, process. The things we do automatically without even thinking about them, we learned to do.  If you have 10 minutes please watch this short TED talk from Peter Doolittle and see if you can remember the five words he gives about 3 minutes into the speech.

Click here –> For the record – tree, highway, Saturn, and Electrode are all I remember 2.5 hours later.

Education is the most natural of concepts for us to understand. We are born to it. We perhaps learn more in those first few years than during any other period of our lives. Because we know without acknowledging it that by learning more we can do more ourselves. We have a natural independence and curiosity that no amount of being told no can change.

Toddlers practice the scientific method every day and they don’t even know it! They are told not to do something because we as adults know the result, but they want to do it anyway and that is how they learn.

We've all seen this before - I think the original was in Parents or Parenting Magazine several years ago.

We’ve all seen this before – I think the original was in Parents or Parenting Magazine several years ago.

There is a very interesting playlist from TED of some of the leaders in brain science. The video lengths vary, but are all so interesting and link to more information and it’s hard to get it all into one easy to read post. I hope you will find the time to view this list…and the others.

We are amazing creatures and our brains are capable of doing anything we set our minds to do. This does make me wonder why is it then that our educational system doesn’t lend itself toward this natural energy, this curiosity? Why it is that children who should be up and running around and learning through play and experimentation are forced to sit at a desk and learn the skills to pass a standardized test?

Shouldn’t the very nature of childhood dictate that our communities should at their foundation encourage creativity, trial and error, and support?

Innovation is dismissed because some individuals don’t understand what it is that people who haven’t had their natural curiosity trained out of them think. The people who suggest better ideas and methods have to work twice as hard as the people who want to keep with the status quo. Not because they aren’t doing it right, but because they have to do it the old-fashioned way and develop the case for WHY their idea would make things better. As a community we should embrace our innovators!

I asked a friend of mine (easily one of the most well-read people I have ever spoken to)  if he considered education to be one of the foundations of community and with a resounding yes he stated the following.  “Education allows for you to rest in the shoes of the other…empathy for an individual is gained through education instead of through an unforgiving existence of learning your way up.”

Meaning that you don’t always have to be the toddler who has to feel the fire to know that you will get burned, by learning from your community and through education you can know what will work and what won’t.

Collective knowledge keeps us from having to reinvent the wheel with every generation.

He also said that “To learn to write is to learn to live, [because] it offers you the ability to articulate your point vividly and pointedly and gives you the strength to carry your ideas into the marketplace. To learn Chemistry, Physics and Biology (Hard sciences) must be liberally smoothed by the soft sciences, Sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc. in order to come up with creative linkages between one or more of the hard and soft sciences. The reason for the linkages is to be offered the knowledge of the disciplines and know what draws them together…example Mathematics. Neuroscience requires mathematics as well as psychology and scientific understand of the physiological requirements to make changes.”

My friend also stated that an education “Offers you a smoother, more complete route to understanding your vocation in life.”

“If I came into this world and knew nothing. How would I want the world to be set and governed?” John Rawls.

Later that same day I spoke with an educator in Houston, Bon Crowder, she is a Math teacher and Education innovator, Bon writes Math is a Four Letter Word. A website full of practical ways for parents to teach their children solid math skills. Her response to my question was surprising. She said “No! Education as we know it is no longer a part of the community. It should be, but it is not.”

Bon went on to state that as it is the Texas Educational system now is purely based on the standardized test scores and in order to ensure that all the requirements are met teachers are forced to teach little else. All that counts at the end of the year is the grades received by the classes on statewide testing. There is no room for critical thinking or creativity, no place for the scientific method to be put into practice. Math is now a series of memorization tables and practical exercises that won’t teach the child to think.

I think that both Bon and Mark are correct. Here in lies the problem, and it is one that is not unfamiliar to hiring managers everywhere. We are teaching our children to memorize numbers, but not to use them. We are teaching them that A+B=C but what if A is a theory on thought and B is a theory on progress, however are they ever going to find C? Children have lost the ability to critically think. There is no formula to memorize, no prescribed thought pattern to follow.

How does this relate to community?

Well, we no longer question. We follow the rules and do as we are told and don’t stray from the line because if you stray from the line there is no turning back. We call the thinkers black sheep for daring to do something different and then we tell everyone to treat them differently because if you want to be different you HAVE to do it alone. This is a shocking error in judgement. We have to dare to be different if we are ever going to make the community known as the world reach its maximum potential.

How do we solve the problems of hatred, pollution, disease, or education unless we have those thinkers who are willing to put themselves out there for the good of the whole?

I leave you with this to contemplate. A caption from Sagan, from an interview that I saw on Upworthy.

Education and Public Policy Series : Definitions

education-phonetic

Below are some definitions that will be helpful in my upcoming series on education. I don’t think I’ve ever written in-depth on this blog about what I think and how I feel about our educational system as a whole. Hopefully, by the end of the series you will understand what has gotten me pointed in this direction. I encourage you to share your thoughts with me as this series progresses. I promise you these will be discussed throughout the course of the next year. Your insights are very important to me. They are important for the future of the nation and the world.

While you are considering education I want to think about a few things.

What do you consider to be the foundations we build our community?

What impact does society and culture have on education?

What impact should religion have on education?

When should we allow public opinion to impact science?

How has the system changed between your time in public school and your child’s time in public school?

What is prompting so many people to return to homeschooling their children?

If you could do one thing, change one thing about public school, what would it be?

Education

Definition:  1. Educating: the imparting and inquiring of knowledge through teaching and learning, especially at a school or similar institution. “After all, what is education but a process by which a person begins to learn how to learn?” ~Peter Ustinov, Dear Me  2. Knowledge: the knowledge or abilities gained through being educated.   3. Instruction:  Training and instruction in a particular subject, e.g. health matters.  4. Learning Experience:  an informative experience  5. Study of teaching: the study of the theories and practices of teaching.  6. System for educating people: The system of educating people in a community or society.

Community

Definition:  1. People in area:  A group of people who live in the same are, or the area in which they live.  2. People with common background:  a group of people with common background or with shared interests within society.  3. Nations with common history:  A group of nations with a common history or political interests.  4. Society:  The public or society in general.  5. Interacting plants and animals:  all the plants and animals that live in the same area and interact with one another.  6. Same as virtual community:  People sharing cyberspace connection: a group of people communicating with each other via the Internet.

Society

Definition:  1. Relationships among groups:  The sum of social relationships among groups of humans or animals.  2. Structured community of people:  A structured community of people bound together by similar traditions, institutions, or nationality.  3. Customs of a community:  The customs of a community and the way it is organized, e.g. its class structure.  4. Subset of Community: A particular section of a community that is distinguished by particular qualities.  5. Prominent People:  The prominent or fashionable people in a community, or their social life.  6. Companionship: the state of being with other people.  7. Group sharing interests:  an organized group of people who share an interest, aim, or profession.

Culture

Definition:  1. Arts collectively:  Art, music, literature, and related intellectual activities, considered collectively. Culture is necessary for a healthy society. Popular Culture.  2. Knowledge and sophistication: enlightenment and sophistication acquired through education and exposure to the arts. They are people of culture.  3. Shared beliefs and values of group:  The belief, customs, practices, and social behavior of a particular nation or people. Southeast Asian Culture.  4. People with shared beliefs and practices:  A group of people whose shared beliefs and practices identify the particular place, class, or time to which they belong.  5. Shared attitudes:  A particular set of attitudes that characterizes a group of people. The company tries hard to avoid a blame culture.  (And then there are all the medical definitions, but we don’t need these for our purposes.)

Politics

Definition: 1. Activities associated with government: The theory and practice of government, especially the activities associated with governing, with obtaining legislative or executive power, or with forming and running organizations connected with government. 2. Political Life: Political activity as a profession.  3. Power relationships in specific field: the interrelationships between the people, groups, or organizations in a particular area of life especially insofar as they involve power and influence or conflict. The politics of education.  4. Calculated Advancement: The use of tactics and strategy to gain power in a group or organization.  5. Same as political science: The study of political organizations and institutions, especially governments

All definitions from the Encarta Dictionary: English (North America), Microsoft 2011

Why don’t you run for office?

In 1982, there was a film called, The Verdict, I had never heard of it until today. However, thanks to John Cusack’s Twitter feed, I saw the Courtroom summation scene.

This speech really sums up how many American’s feel this week.

The quiet desperation in Paul Newman’s voice, the hopeful ending, and the knowledge that the Jury was the law. They had legal books for guidance, but the jury really was the law. The people are the law.

America is at an impasse. Our democratic government is broken and there is only one way to fix it. We must remember that we are the government. The top only functions as well as the rest. The people are the law.

What is a democracy?

 A democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally – either directly or through elected representatives – in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic, and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.

This means that our government is us…we elect people. We create the machine. We can now recreate the machine. The people are the law and the people are the law makers.

What are the requirements to becoming an elected official?

Depending on the office you have to be 21 to 30 years of age, a U.S. citizen, and a resident of the location you will represent. Also depending on state and location you must have lived there a certain number of years.

That is it. You do not need a fancy degree. You don’t need any degree. You don’t need to belong to some secret society. You just need to raise enough votes for the office you seek.

How do you get those votes?

You go door to door if you have to, but you also hold rallies, make public appearances, you get to know the people you are going to represent.

Better yet, be one of the people you represent.

I posed the question to my Facebook friends yesterday on what they think should be the requirements of getting elected.

The replies:

1)      Be from a lower income. – If you have never been poor you have no idea how hard it is and you can’t vote from that perspective. No amount of empathy can make you understand poverty. Why? We each have our own version of poverty. Some people see it as a single mom living in a slum, others see it as the people in foreign countries on Unicef commercials. If you are going to represent the people you should be part of the 99%.

2)      They don’t want to run for office. – People who crave power are a troublesome bunch. They could be anyone and they are everywhere. People who crave power should not be public servants. The key that politicians seem to keep forgetting is that they are in service to their districts, states, and country. If you crave power go do something else.

3)      They should never have held the office that they are seeking in the previous ten years. – As a resident of Texas whose politicians rarely change I agree with this thought wholeheartedly. It keeps the law from stagnation.

4)      They cannot have been employed by any organization that lobbies the position that they are seeking. – This one is harder to do because some people work in Oil and Gas for the pay check, but are quite against it just the same. It’s a hypocritical part of life, but it does happen.

5)      They should have been in Military Service – If you haven’t worn the uniform you shouldn’t be able to dictate to the uniform. These men and women are willing to selflessly die every day for our selfish society if you want to give them orders to walk into battle you better have tested yourself on the battlefield.

I would add that they need to be younger, they should advocate for our Constitutional Rights, believe in a truly free state, and not be scared to stand up for the Truth.

My candidate would also have made bad choices, but learned from the mistakes. If you never mess up you have never lived and I wouldn’t want that for the person that represents me. I mess up. Life is a messy, dirty, glorious event. My candidate would need to be anything but squeaky clean.

As a people we get tired of the posturing that happens daily in each political body in our nation. We resign our fate to the hands of the ruling class. We either neglect or forget that each November we have the ability to make a revolution. We just have to get to the polls to vote. You not only need to register, but you need to show up to vote. In the last national election less than a third of the population voted, but I know at least two-thirds have complained about the decisions made ever since.

This week there have been a lot of opinions floating around the web, but I think this is clear – We have had it and we are angry.

Register to Vote at: Our Time

This from Upworthy via Our Time is amazing and says more than I could say about Americans and voting.

http://www.upworthy.com/theres-something-that-all-americans-could-do-to-make-their-lives-better-that-so-many-forget

Courtesy of Google Images - If it's yours - Let me know!

Courtesy of Google Images – If it’s yours – Let me know!

“Being In Service to Something Larger Than Yourself”

Every day we are told to do what is best for our own self-interests.

Do whatever you need to do to give yourself the best life possible, who cares what happens to everyone else. They are not your problem.

I can’t get over how wrong I think this idea of life is…I am not the only one.

I personally think that nature is the best teacher for this and it’s in nature that you can see how interdependent we are meant to be.  We are not meant to be islands unto ourselves. It may be a dog eat dog world, but it wasn’t supposed to be.

I envision a world where we are each dependent upon each other. No one has to go without because there is plenty to go around. I don’t think it’s socialist to change and equate the systems. There is no reason for poverty and homelessness. There is no reason for greed and persecution. There should be no place for these things in our world.

Yet they are everywhere.

What do you suppose would happen if we chose to live a different way?

What do you suppose would happen if you reached out and helped those around you?

Watch this video. I am not the only one who has a new vision for our planet.

We are not individuals. We are all one. We have to grow beyond that thinking.

 

“Bow into service.”

Become “the more beautiful world your heart knows is possible.”blog

Time is Finite, Peace is Infinite

There is only one thing finite in your life.

Time

Time is the ruler of all things.

It makes people stress, it makes mountains wither.

It makes me question our motives.

Several years ago we were told that in 2014 the wars would be over and our brave soldiers would be coming home. But war is a money machine. Without a war the need for a standing army 2.2 million people strong dwindles. Enlisted men and women who want to do their service for the nation are furloughed and asked to go back to their civilian life. Educated officers and lifelong members of a special league of people who are willing to take a bullet for you, me, and an idea are, in a sense, let go. They have been downsized because without war they are no longer needed.

We owe our soldiers our sincerest gratitude. Thank you for your service. We know your future is uncertain, but we, who are not in charge, salute you.

It is time that has determined that the war is over, no matter what life will become for the citizens of the countries we occupy we cannot stay forever. They wouldn’t want us to stay forever.

Time is finite.

If we do not teach our children peace, someone else will teach them violence. –Colman McCarthy

I teach my children peace. How they may think play fighting is fun, but really they need to not fight. They need to not hit each other in abrupt human responses and behave according to the golden rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Admittedly it doesn’t always work, some days it doesn’t work at all, but the ideal is impressed upon them that they are the one determining their future by their response. If your goal is peace, you will undoubtedly have some hardship, but in your reaction there will be at peace.

Knowing that you are in charge of yourself is empowering. Even to a toddler.

I am an American. I am a peaceful person. I live a very quiet life in a suburb of Houston. I work with a team trying to house so many of the veterans that are forgotten after war. The men and women left to their own devises that may or may not have someone to lean on in a crisis. I show my gratitude in service to them.

My time is finite.

My perspective isn’t shared by my whole community and I fear that my work is infinite, but the people willing to help are finite.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. –J.R.R. Tolkien

We decide what to do with our minutes, hours, days, months and lives.

We decide to become power-hungry politicians or peaceful-giving private citizens. Some people give their lives in service to their church, some to the military, and some to their families.

It is my opinion that many people become politicians so that they can live in service to something greater than themselves. They believe in the ideals and the histories of the nation and they feel in their soul that they must be a part of it. Then they are elected to office.

They begin to feel the power of their actions.

They know their time is finite.

They have two, maybe four, years to really make a difference in their communities and then they move on. Some seek reelection, but once they see how much they can change their small community they want to change something larger. Their vision grows; people start to notice what they can and cannot do. They begin to compromise their vision for their lobby. They begin to barter political clout for rich rewards in their home life.

Their vision joined time and became finite.

In our infinite universe the political structure is not built to expand except through more red tape and to constrict through compromise.

A visionary politician becomes the pragmatic scapegoat of politics.

No decision is made by an individual. We can believe what we want, but it is true. No decision made in our political structure is made by a single individual. It hasn’t in a long time. Every leader has people they depend on for counsel and support. Every choice, good or bad, is made by the group.

This week we are commemorating the 1963 March on Washington that helped change the tide of the civil rights movement. We are listening to Martin Luther King, Jr’s recitation and Congressman John Lewis’ passionate words. We are remembering that we once stood up to the scapegoats of Washington with facts and fortitude. We are remembering that we can incite change.

Also this week President Obama is in talks to justify bombing a nation of citizens (both public and private), starting a war, picking a fight just as we are ending our occupation of another country.

Why?

I have read and reread the statements provided to the news, but it doesn’t make sense!

There are few people outside of the political structure that think war is a necessary function. As a planet we have witnessed how peaceful protests and positive disruption have changed more than any fight picking and calls to arms.

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present. –Jim Rohn

If we are the creators of our futures and the dreamers of our dreams than why do we not hold the political structures in place accountable to us? We should not say,“Oh someday…” we should yell, “Now! Now is the time to change. Now it is time to give peace.”

Time is finite. Peace is infinite.

We are wasting the gifts we have been given in an indeterminable future.

All quotes and this photo were borrowed from the Charter for Compassion's Facebook page.

All quotes and this photo were borrowed from the Charter for Compassion’s Facebook page.

The Cusp of Homelessness

Do you remember in History class learning about the troubles of the Great Depression?

How the stock market crashed and the population who had once only been poor grew destitute?

Do you remember reading The Grapes of Wrath in English class?

What about the old Life magazine photos?

One of the most popular photos of the Great Depression.

One of the most popular photos of the Great Depression.

The soup kitchen lines and the trail of dust behind the model T as it took off across the plains?

These images and stories are sealed into our minds because we think of how bad they had it and how far our country has come. We have the resources to create the best future imaginable for humanity – as a whole.

Why don’t you metaphorically close your eyes with me for a moment?

(I’m going to write a story.)

Meet Anna

Meet Anna

Monday morning Anna awoke. She knew she should go to work, but in her mind she had been reeling from the stress of having to hold it all together. She knows that everything will work out as it should, but there is still this shrill voice of consciousness. The voice that keeps her from sleeping properly or from stepping out on a limb because if things change in life her house of cards could come tumbling down.

So, Anna stayed home. She hugged her children tight. She made oatmeal for breakfast. She turned on the television to find the cable disconnected. Oops, she thought, I guess I need to call them. It was the first time she had been that late on a bill since he left. Oh well, it would work out.

After breakfast she wondered outside to check the mail. Pink and Yellow and Red notices abound. Anna takes all the mail inside and puts it with the rest of the collection. She opens the utility bills and plans her conquest. They will be paid but how will they eat?

The job that Anna stayed home from is by all accounts a great job. She has a good opportunity to make an impact and learn. Monetarily it is enough, but only just. When Anna’s friends talk about vacations and home remodeling she smiles sweetly and looks away before anyone catches the flash of sadness in her eyes. Enough does not equal enough for a new t-shirt much less a vacation. Though in her dreams she is transported to many exotic places and has lovely adventures. Some day she will make those dreams a reality, until then it is enough.

This particular Monday Anna calls her friend Janie who is in a worse situation. She works long hours for a pittance. Janie struggles to make the ends meet every month and she makes it, but only because she goes without so often. Janie asked if she would like to go to the food bank. Hesitant Anna says, “Yes.”

There is stuff in the fridge, but not enough to make a whole meal. Anna hadn’t been to the food bank in years. The last time she had gone was during a period of unemployment and struggle to sustain that lasted a few months. She had lost her job due to downsizing, but was still expected to maintain life. After going through savings and the support available Anna found a job paying just enough to keep her in her home.

Actual line for a food bank in Galveston County. The lines of cars have doubled in less then two years.

Actual line for a food bank in Galveston County. The lines of cars have doubled in less then two years.

Monday morning they arrived at the food bank to find over 100 people already in line, after an hour there were 100 more. The cars went for a mile on both sides of the road and the occupants stood patiently outside trying to stay cool in 100 degree heat. Anna and Janie eventually wove their way through the line. They received just enough for a week of meals; most people could come every week.

Looking around Anna saw many types of people. Some looked as tentative as Anna felt, this was perhaps their first time in the line to accept whatever is given to them. Others looked upset about having to ask for help. Parents with concerned looks on their face watched their children…perhaps they were pondering their own utility bills and stress.

Anna noticed the children smiling and playing and making new “stranger friends” as one child put it. They didn’t know that this was the line of last resort. They didn’t know that their parents had been turned down for assistance program after assistance program, because their parents make too much, but not enough. The voice in Anna’s head that had been shouting at her all morning calms as returns to her car. She will be able to get through with just enough.

She drops Janie off then heads home to load her fridge. She hopes that someday the stars will align and she will get to experience a life of excess. She prays to God thanking him for his blessing. Moments later her children run in with smiles and laughter. Anna knows loving them is enough. Whatever else may happen, if she can love she will make it through.

Now open your eyes and look around you.

How many of you have experienced hardship?

How many of you have witnessed the struggle that is emerging in our nation?

How many of you know that this story is a story repeated in every neighborhood in the nation?

We can work to hide the problem, we can look the other way, but it is there staring us in the face. It is a problem that needs to be corrected. We have the tools to fix it – so why is the problem increasing instead of diminishing?

As I have worked with charities and accepted endless donations “to the cause” as I call it. I see so many people who work hard. They work every day to make their ends meet and yet they still come up short. These are the good people who feel their responsibilities and try to make life work with what they’ve worked to earn.

They feel the failure when they have to accept help.

They are the working poor.

By all accounts I am well paid compared to someone who works for retailers or restaurants. I work 40 hours a week 8 to 5 and pay my bills. I make just enough to squeak by. I am blessed and I don’t know how the millions upon millions of people who make less than I do every month make it work.

The last few months I have been working on a program to provide homes to homeless men and women across the city of Houston. I am one of the charity’s involved social media person, sharing the latest on the projects and giving personal stories of those affected. This is an important task as we move into the future, giving homes to people who need them from buildings that stand vacant.

This, however, is not the solution.

In Anna’s story she could be homeless if she ever lost her job. She is on the cusp of homelessness.

I believe many crimes, societal problems, and mainly, homelessness are preventable.

What would happen if Anna lost her job? What if the motor or transmission went out on her car and she couldn’t get to work? What would happen if Anna’s children got sick? Her house of cards would fall.

I hope this is just a prompt to start a conversation.

Please comment – positive or negative on my belief of prevention.

Next time you have the opportunity to donate time (not money or goods, but time) I think you should spend some time helping the poor.

Learn from them. Grow from them.

Become a link to opportunity for them.

I've always loved the perspective of Anne Frank, she may have been very young when she died, but she was wise beyond her years.

I’ve always loved the perspective of Anne Frank, she may have been very young when she died, but she was wise beyond her years.

Edit: I referenced the Great Depression because a lot of things are happening in the world similar to what happened before the fall of the economy. I got lost somewhere along the way as I have been known to do…oh well. 🙂

Governed through Consent

You and I are governed through consent.

This is a given in a world of question marks that I don’t have all the answers, but a world in which I try to exist. What happens when you no longer agree with how you are governed? Who is it that will inevitably control your consent?

Last Friday, The Guardian published an article on PRISM. An NSA program targeting all of the data processed on every cell phone number Verizon provided. When we say all of the data, we mean all.

Every tweet.

Every status update.

Every nonsensical thought.

They want to predetermine subversives and terrorists.

They want to know all of this information to prevent mass bombings and solve criminal behavior.

Why do we use the term “They”?

“They” are the organizations that prevent the behavior?

It’s my theory that “They” are not middle income government employees, but let’s not go there. That is dangerous territory in this day and age.

I am often asked, “What is my political affiliation?”

For many reasons I am pretty conservative in my actions. For many more I am liberal in my views.

Basically I feel we each have the right to private property, life built on our own terms and the ability to express ourselves without recourse.

It was pointed out to me yesterday that I am Libertarian.

Now, I have looked that up and largely agree with their views, but I don’t believe that I am.

Then in that same conversation I was asked if I am an anarchist.

This led me down a train of thought that you can only imagine.

While I am not happy with how we are governed I do believe we need to be governed. I believe there needs to be systems and processes in place to provide the infrastructure we have come to enjoy.

Without an entity worrying about the details we would not have reached the diversity in thought and availability of information.

We would not have moved beyond the Industrial age to the Information age.

We would have halted our theoretical evolution.

OR perhaps not, but we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Many of the arguments I have read refer to our Founding Fathers. They contain great quotes by great men who were themselves subjected to a tyrant. Benjamin Franklin is HUGE right now.

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”

That is the one that circulates and recirculates until your head spins. But what was his context?

I haven’t actually had time to read the entire book I found involving this, so we will just have to believe that he was referring to the standard practices of the British who ran the Colonies at the time.

Franklin also believed that in order for the republic that would be formed the peoples had to be virtuous for it to survive.

His parents were pious Puritans. Puritan values include devotion to egalitarianism, education, industry, thrift, honesty, temperance, charity, and community spirit.

These values have become so integrated with the American spirit that you can feel Franklin’s impact daily.

Franklin also believed in the “Divine Providence” of this endeavor. This nation built on freedom and self-reliant responsibility. He felt God was in command of our every action.

To me he was correct.

God’s divine providence created a whole new world of governmental possibilities.

However, Franklin also believed that in order for the Republic to survive it had to be run by good, virtuous men.

Nearly 100 years later Lord Acton provided a memorable thought.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

What the Founding Fathers built and believed in was a system of small federal government that kept the states in control of their destinies. No, not all the representatives agreed to that ideology, but their history proved that only the local governments could understand the needs of the local population.

The foundation was set for freedom and liberty and due process.

(Due Process 2013 style is another post entirely)

Now nearly 250 years from the Continental Congress we are met with a growing dissidence to the actions of the government that has constantly been handed more and more power.

We give them power for our safety.

We write the rules of social responsibility with the government providing the keys to the piggy bank that will provide prosperity to the nation.

We provide our consent to security beyond anything our forefathers ever imagined.

I can remember when I was a child we had some freedom to explore. We could wander within a range of our home and experience the liberty of our own choices. Nothing was more liberating than walking to the corner store with a dollar and buying a candy bar and then eating it in the woods with my friends.

I was 8 years old and felt like I had some control of my existence.

Today, my son is 7 years old and when I think of letting him walk to the building next door to our apartment to buy a candy bar alone I cringe.

Why is that?

Because our world is incredibly different.

We live in a world where it seems the majority of the population has forgotten that to be a part of a free society they have to have a certain level of virtue and decorum. The unwritten rules of life and propriety that are scoffed at in the modern world are the precise rules that let us be free.

So when we are faced with the choice to put up surveillance cameras to monitor the actions of others to place blame when something bad happens, we let them.

We allow the monitoring of ourselves to protect ourselves from thieves, murderers, vagrants, and child abusers.

We trade our privacy to protect. We began doing this while I was a child.

Monitors in that store where I bought the candy bar would blink and the VHS tapes would record and if something bad were to every have happened to me there I would have been seen.

When my mother and grandmother were children they had the ability to have that same freedom I felt, but the monitoring of their actions didn’t exist. That was when community meant something. That was when if you miss behaved your mother received a phone call from the store clerk telling her that you had pinched a piece of chocolate and she could pay for it next time she was there.

We have replaced this line of thinking.

We now do what we want and leave it to a prosecutor to catch us. We have allowed the disintegration of the community that the founding fathers had wanted to create.

We now have “Big Brother.”

Where your actual blood brothers should be we have a video camera, a satellite link and digital relations watching out for us.

As technology has developed during my lifetime, I’ve watched the preventative measures to unseen dangers develop as well.

For every milestone made in technology there is a milestone in government bureaucracy. We give more power and the government willingly and joyously accepts.

All in the name of security and jobs.

I think back to Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

I think back to Ben Franklin’s belief that for the republic to prosper we need virtuous leaders.

I’m of the opinion that the bureaucratic power we have provided the government lends itself to absolute corruption. If we are governed by consent we have given the powers in charge the ability to do whatever where ever they want.

My freedoms dwindle while they remain unchecked.

But

There is another piece to this puzzle.

Education

We were given an education that caused us to think for ourselves, grasp theories and explore possibilities, write our own opinions and develop the tools to think for ourselves.

Whether we were introverted or extroverted we were taught to develop ideals that would have a positive impact on the world.

I don’t know if this was everywhere, but I know this is what I was taught by the leadership in my school.

Think for myself.

Share your theory and have an open discussion.

Build the idea alone and then put it into action as a community.

Whether that community was a few students or a whole organization.

It is with this line of thinking that we have developed the tools that allow for the wealth of human knowledge and history to be available at a moment’s notice. By developing a theory alone and putting it into practice within a group humanity has developed the internet, the computer, the personal computer, cell phones, GPS, and on and on.

We embraced all of these technologies that we have built because of the knowledge that exists within them.

Humans are curious. Humans crave connection. Humans crave community.

So here we are. 2013.

Our curiosity, our connection, our community exists online and through the internet. We share knowledge, opinions, news, and need to innovate.

We share one with another in hopes of creating breakthroughs in our own human, temporary, existence so that all of society can improve.

Our education provided the tools to make this possible.

I graduated high school in 1999, having completed courses in Physics and Calculus, advanced placement in History and Government. I don’t know if we were an exceptional class, or the norm for the country of the time, but I was normal for my peer set.

I look back with interest as I discuss education today with my peers who have become teachers.

Nothing is taught in the same light as before.

Where once teachers shared their idealism and need to get the children to think for themselves. There is now a need to conform and teach to the prescribed curriculum.

A curriculum that has been dumbed down.

In a world whose lifeblood is knowledge we are hindering our children who attend public schools.

We are teaching to the base line instead of setting our expectations higher.

Why?

Through my research I have found several reasons…none of them are good.

First, it is not easy to control someone who has the ability to think for themselves.

Second, we are a resource based planet. We can never create more of any of our finite resources and it has been suggested that more educated people require higher incomes and therefore will consume more resources with these higher incomes. So it’s actually a threat to our sustainability.

Finally, those in power like to feel superior to the norm. If you price education out of their range and remove the tools to assist in the payment of that education; and then tax and fee the student to death they will never meet their potential. By never meeting their potential that makes room for those with the money, no matter their common sense and reasoning, to become the societal elite.

My children are being raised at a time when math isn’t thought to be of much importance. Reading words and comprehension are vastly different topics. Science isn’t really about innovation, but about repetition. Recycle, reduce, reuse the same theories until they learn more at home than in the school that is supposed to be teaching them the keys to the world.

The state that I live in, love and pay taxes to has rewritten our public school curriculum to their political affiliation, rewriting history and adopting books that change the very foundation of knowledge.

I could go on and on about the travesty that is our educational system, but really what does this have to do with the problem at hand?

By being taught to only do as the authority tells you and to be punished for thinking otherwise we are predisposing our kids to a life of surveillance. By not educating them to think for themselves they will never cause dissidence or create polarizing arguments.

They will never feel the passion of knowing something isn’t right at the very core of their being.

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Right now we are at an impasse.

Society, government, virtue, and education are all being forced to reexamine themselves.

I have more questions now than when I began my research for this topic.

Questions that go to the very core of who we are as Americans, who we are as Humans, and who we want to become.

Do we want to continue down this path of centralized, political subservience?

Do we need to reboot the system?

Do we know who is dependable enough to not seek selfish gains to correct the problems?

Is it possible to create the world we want while hurting no one?

The undercurrents of society are not sure about the last one, but I feel as others feel that in order to change the future you have to do it differently than in the past.

War in any form is not an option because it would take from the very premise of the changes needed to improve society.

So, to you dear reader, how can we make this country, a country we can be proud of once again?

Why is this even an issue!? (Scout’s dropping ban on preference)

I am a cub scouts mom and a new person to the realm of being a scout. I was never into scouting as a child. Girl Scout cookie sales just didn’t appeal to me.

Boy Scouts though has always sounded cool. Camping, canoeing, going on adventures!

If only I had been born a boy. I would have loved it and participated for endless years.

But I wasn’t.

So I couldn’t.

NOW though – I have boys! Two of my very own to do these adventures with all the time!

Boy Scout Motto "Be Prepared"

Boy Scout Motto “Be Prepared”

Let me tell you what a blessing being a scout has been! We’ve been camping, made lots of wonderful friends, and participate in some awesome charity work.

Do you want to know what has never come up – not once!?

Sexual preference.

I don’t care whose going home to whom and come to think of it I don’t think anyone else does either. Like most things in life we are there to broaden our children’s’ horizons, not to change ours.

I read this article (well parts of it), and I can’t help but be intolerant of some of the disgraceful bias presented by religious leaders of my own Christian Sect!

As an Ally I tend to think more progressive and hope for human rights for all. I am regularly befuddled by prejudice in people that I know and love.

I am a Christian and there is only one hard and fast rule “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12)

Then again the Golden Rule is always appropriate.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

Basically I think the Almighty would agree with my view-point in tolerance and humility before chastising a populace based on a personal preference or birth fact without regard for their humanity.

We are all humans. We are all part of the human experience.

Why is this even an issue? Why are people so bent on intolerance that they can’t see past their prejudice and sectism?

I hope the Scouts do drop their ban. I hope that Scout parents nationwide understand that teaching your child about bias and hate is against everything that the Scouts stand for.

Boy Scout Oath

   Boy Scout Oath