I don’t want to be composing this blog, but I am. If I was born in Utah, I'd probably be a Republican, a Mormon, and a Romney supporter. Thank you, Mr. Silverman. "Makers" please admit you were fortunate.
In response to a friend's request, I just read the New York Times Article, "Big Study Links Good Teachers to Lasting Gain." http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/06/education/big-study-links-good-teachers-to-lasting-gain.html?_r=1 The article summarizes a scientific investigation which concluded that kids who have had the luck to be taught by "good" teachers, have increased earning capacity, more college degrees and a lessened chance for teenage pregnancy.
Since I worked as a teacher in public schools for 20 years, and I brazenly consider myself a "good" teacher, this article made a great read. You ask, how do I know I was a good teacher? Well, parents, administrators and lots of students have said I was, and I immodestly have decided to concur. Note: Accolades will be sent on request.
Though, this article made me puff up a bit, obviously, I know that there is a lot more to becoming a successful, good human being than having a good 7th grade science teacher. Where you are born, who your parents are, your DNA, every life experience molds us into who we become.
If you were fortunate to have had the right genes, lived in the US and had a basketball coach for a dad, you might be Michael Jordan. If you had had George Romney for a dad, you'd most likely be a Mormon and a Republican. Personally, I'd prefer to be Michael than Willard (aka Mitt).
I don't want to get into a discussion of self-determinism and free will, but since, I have no choice, I strongly concur with B.F. Skinner's words as follows:
"In the traditional view, a person is free. He is autonomous in the sense that his behavior is uncaused. He can therefore be held responsible for what he does and justly punished if he offends. That view, together with its associated practices, must be re-examined when a scientific analysis reveals unsuspected controlling relations between behavior and environment"
I thank and blame my life experiences for making me who I am. Thanks Mom and Dad. Likewise, a bit of the good stuff about me is due to my 7th grade science teacher. Thank you, Mr. Silverman.
Apparently, many in this country sincerely believe that each person decides who he/she is and what he/sh will become. They believe that individuals are solely responsible for their success or failure. If you are a billionaire, it is because you earned it. If you are a panhandler on the mean streets of Dubuque, you earned that too. Take the credit! You did it or you blew it.
It is the belief of this writer that if we are affixed to an immutable concept of self-determinism, we lose our empathy, our compassion and the impetus to help the less-fortunate. Note; the word "fortunate" itself conflicts with the concept of self-determinism.
Recently, a well written comment was posted on Facebook in reference to my last blog, The-Makers-Takers-and-Fakers. It read,
"We see Obama supporting equal outcomes and not equal opportunity. That is a loser for everyone in the long run."
To this I respond as follows: Opportunity is not opportunity unless people have had events and people in their lives to enable them to take advantage of opportunity. Open doors are not enough to assure social mobility. We gotta do more.
Interactions between humans affect humans. I wish there was a Mr. Silverman out there to help the "makers" of our society look into their being and credit all the people and events which enabled them to be "successful" and then see what they can do to enable others to a good life, or perhaps they just want to live in gated enclaves.
Posted By Matt 1/14/2012
Our relative and friend, a middle school teacher invited us to meet with students in her Problem Solving Class and to speak with them about our lives, and our experience living in the former Soviet Union.
We were a little nervous, but soon relaxed and enjoyed the interaction with her 6th grade kids.
We talked to them about the repressive regime and times when people disappeared or were sent to Siberian concentration camps. I could see that it was hard for these kids to comprehend how it is possible to be accused and put away without a trial and without legal representation.
In a world with so much suffering and injustice, it was wonderful to meet these kids who grew up in a free society. It is hard for them to understand how it can be any other way. How fortunate these young people were to be born in a free country. And at the same time, how vulnerable these kids are.
They did not grow up in a dictatorship and logically take their freedom, their life in a free society as a given. They do not realize that democracy and freedom cannot be taken for granted. Our freedom was won by millions of people sacrificing their lives for this wonderful idea – Democracy and Freedom for All.
And the struggle continues. And we, The People, have to be vigilant because democracy by its nature is dynamic and always in flux. It is easy to get complacent and allow that democracy to slip away.
The word Freedom these days is overused. It is used as a slogan in mindless politics and in election campaigns. But this word “Freedom” has real meaning. It should and must not be minimized by the political hypocrisy and popular slogans.
I look at these students, free of fear, free to ask questions, free to doubt and free to disagree with the authorities. I am very happy for all these young people. But that joy has a tinge of bittersweet. I have a heaviness in my heart and I worry about their future, the future of this Democracy, a democracy threatened by reactionary forces in our country.
How I want to believe that this new generation, our kids and grandkids, are wiser, more tolerant and free of old dogmas. I want to believe that they are not as judgmental as we are, and are accepting of other cultures. I hope that our kids, our future, will not be arrogant and condescending toward other countries and peoples.
My wife and I, we think that our relative, the teacher, is doing what needs to be done to help assure that kids know and appreciate the meaning behind these wonderful words: Freedom and Democracy.
I want to believe that evolution is working and for humanity's sake our kids will succeed where we are failing.
I want to believe.
I just watched the documentary “Waiting for Superman”, and "Sixty Minutes" about inner city schools and our homeless citizens.I tried to analyze my feelings during and after watching this documentary and the "60 Minutes."
I basically felt sadness and shame...sadness for the people falling on hard times and shame that this is happening here in America - the richest and the most powerful country in the world.Some of my readers claim I am too emotional and not analytical enough. They say that I need to tone it down and be less emotional when I write about issues and people - use more facts, less feelings.
But there are times that I do not want to be calm, logical, and polite. I feel shame, sadness and anger.Anyone who has seen the "Waiting for Superman" and the segment on "60 Minutes" should listen to their feelings, attend to their emotions - they should feel something.
People are motivated to take action and to work toward change, not by logic or rational thought, but by their guts, their emotional reactions, their feelings.
We should all feel shame and anger when good, decent people become homeless; that innocent children, American children, do not have a chance in this country, cannot go to a decent school because their number isn't picked in a lottery.
Reaction to Sixty Minutes: "People just can't believe it would happen here, in this country. But it is happening. And one of the children that Scott spoke with said, and this I'm sure you deal with a lot, she said she kind of feels like it's her fault that her parents are going through this and the family is struggling with it."
Yes it is happenning in our country.
We are playing lottery with our childrens lives.
A lottery decides if a child shall have a future and or not.
A lottery decides who will be able to succeed in American society and who is destined to fail.
A lottery decides the fate of these children.
A lottery decides the fate of the American future.
I try to imagine how these kids feel when their number is not picked.
What do these kids feel toward a country that treats them as a prize in a raffle?
What did they do wrong?
I could see tears in their eyes when their numbers were not called.
It was as if the door opened and, for a brief second, they could glance at a different world, a happier and brighter world .
And then the door slams shut!
And the light is gone.
And the hope is gone.
And the hope for our country is gone.
A country that shuts the door of hope on its children does not have a future.
Some thoughts about current affairs:
- We as a country are falling behind in every way.
- Healthcare- are we healthy as a nation?
- Wealth – we live on borrowed money
- Military – cannot have strong military without money, health and education.
- A little bit more about military: there is no use for conventional military with tanks, fighter jets and bombers against new enemy. That is unless you want to occupy every country that hides terrorists.
How did it happen that from liberators we became occupiers and world’s policeman? Because that is how we are perceived in occupied countries and in the rest of the world.
So, what are we doing in Iraq and Afghanistan? Are we protecting our interests? What interests? Oil? We all know that oil is the past, not the future.
Are we protecting freedom? Whose freedom? Do we have more freedom since we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan? Financial freedom? Freedom to be happy? According to statistics, we are not much happier then people of Sudan.
Also, if history teaches us something, occupiers never win.
A little bit about militant Islam.
Just like western doctors, we fight with symptoms, not the cause of militant Islam. We are supporting the oppressive regimes around the globe, which are “friendly” to us. Why we are supporting these regimes? That support creates the impression that America is the oppressor, so the local population becomes radicalized and hates their own rulers and their supporter – the US.
If we would know the natural laws that govern development of the society, we would be able to use these laws to our advantage, instead of installing “democracies” western style in tribal societies.
Some thoughts about our President.
President Obama is too pragmatic and too practical to be a great president, he did not have the courage to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because he added troops in Afghanistan, it is his war now.
The fall of the Empire.
If you studied the history of the Roman Empire, you would see the similarities between the last years of the Roman Empire and the current situation in US.
Is the end inevitable? I do not know.
There is a crisis growing in our country. The conflict between the progressive forces trying to advance the country and the reactionaries trying to hold us back, to keep us in old and comfortable for them society.
Many people are not comfortable, unhappy, in this fast changing dynamic society. They long for “good old” simpler, happier times.
New skills are needed to succeed in today’s advanced technological civilization. And the majority does not have those skills. The reactionaries are using these anxieties to advance their own agenda.
Their public agenda – back to good old simpler times. The real agenda – they are just puppets of multinational corporations. And also, I suspect that many of their followers are just confused and scared to death of this new world.
Another note – during the crises extreme elements are more visible, more vocal. It is like you steer standing water, all the crap comes up to the surface. So, if not Limbaugh, Cheney, Hennity some other crap would flow there.
In light of what is going on right now.
We are at a very dangerous crossroads. The rise of mediocrity and cheap populism in these troubling times is similar to the times of the rise of the Third Reich.
This situation brings the opportunists that use uninformed and confused populous to their advantage.
I would argue that whether we like the President and the Democrats is not as important right now. We have to realize that the alternative is much worse:
- the rise of storm troupers
- the rise of mediocrity
- the suspicion towards intellectuals
- the threat of violence
We know it happened before. Please do not let it happen again.
Please don't be the “silent majority” While you are still a majority.
Speck up. The tea baggers are the loud minority.
History tends to repeat itself if people don't know history.
Do not let mediocrity win in this great country.