Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category

Agape – and Values for Going Forward

Loving kindness and compassion – agape – isn’t as easy as it first appears. Each day I find myself reviewing situations where I could have responded in a better manner. I am becoming hopeful that enough individuals around the country and the world will want to bring about peaceful change. The following was in my inbox email a week ago from the Obama Foundation, and I share the bulk of it here with you as we attempt to move toward a peaceful, equitable society and world.

“A little over a year ago today, President Obama walked out of the White House for the last time as President and stepped out onto the street as a citizen.

Since then, working alongside tens of thousands of people like you, we’ve been building something new — an organization that bears the Obamas’ name, but belongs to all of us. An experiment in what it means to be an active citizen in the 21st century….

As we head into this new year together, our work will continue to be guided by your input, and by our values — the pillars that hold this organization up. Our values are what we stand for — what we all have in common….

So I wanted to share those values with you directly. They’re what drive my work each day — and I hope they serve as a source of inspiration for you, too:

Teamwork. We’re building a global community that will work together and support one another. We’re invested in the success of others, we treat each other with respect and kindness, and we will work diligently to lift each other up.

Humility. We share a passion for impacting the lives of those around us. Sometimes that means speaking up and other times that means stepping aside to create space for other voices….

Integrity…How we do our work and how we collaborate with others is just as important as what we’re seeking to accomplish.

Inclusivity. We value each other’s contributions and hold the conviction that only from diverse backgrounds and divergent points of view can we find the best solutions.

Stewardship. We roll up our sleeves, work hard, and focus on what we’re giving back to our communities — rather than what we are gaining ourselves….

Fearlessness. We have a fearless mindset. We’re not afraid of taking risks, sharing a new idea, meeting new people, or admitting when we just don’t know the answer. Something great might come out of it.

Imagination. We strive to be novel thinkers. Unconventional ideas and new perspectives are why we’re here. We’re willing to make big bets on ideas that haven’t been tried before as we aim to solve the hardest problems of our times. Be yourself, and be bold.”

David Simas, for The Obama Fountation

The Events in Tucson, Part 4

We made it through the week, but not without a lot of extra angst. We planned on Thursday what we would do to keep the kids save if the WBC protested outside out school. It is not easy trying to convince teenagers that doing nothing is the best course of action.

I got to school on Friday at 6:45 AM to find several police cars already in front of the school. That was a comforting sight. Those of us volunteering met in front of the school, only to hear that the WBC members hadn’t gotten on the plane to leave Kansas, so good news for us. The police wanted us to stay through the next half hour to help students enter in case others decided to show and protest.

When we went back out, the Angels were across the street. This is a group of people who show to protect groups from the WBC protests. They do this around the country, and specifically in Tucson to keep the families of shooting victims from having to see the hate.

I got tears in my eyes. It was a beautiful site, these people who don’t know us who came to protect our students from these hate-filled people. The kids thought they were the “bad guys,” and so we were explaining to them this whole situation. A lot of students were convinced they were the KKK, so yet again we had interesting discussions in class, rather than doing a lot of math.

Everyone was tired, and it was certainly difficult maintaining the usual classroom decorum, but as I’ve said, sometimes systems of equations take a backseat to life. I’m still feeling very raw about everything, but I’ve been getting good feedback for the Art from the Heart project. I spent a few hours today working on my piece, and I should be able to finish it up tomorrow. It is raw, like my emotions, but I think it conveys a powerful message. I’ll have more on that tomorrow.

The Events in Tucson, Part 3

Being a teacher is hard work at the best of times, but this week is definitely one for the books. Dealing with your own emotions in a time like this is hard, but trying to help teenagers understand the ramifications of their own actions as well as trying to understand the motivations of groups like the Westboro Baptist Church – well, it’s a supreme challenge.

At 7:30  this morning is news that the WBC will be picketing my high school on Friday to protest our ethnic studies programs. Oh, good. How do you explain to young people whose brains are not yet fully developed to make good choices that they will be confronted with hateful messages and they shouldn’t respond? In my classes, after managing to get some math accomplished, the questions just kept coming. Why are these people coming to our school? Do they hate us? Why do they say that God is glad little Christina is dead? Can we protest? Why do these people hate Mexicans? Are they really Christians?

Wow. Makes finding the equation of a line using only two points pretty insignificant. How do you get kids this age to understand the wackos who spew hatred deliberately to inflame and sue and collect damages, regardless of whom they hurt. My high school has amazing students within such incredible diversity: we have a support group for homosexual students, we have strong ethnic studies classes that help students understand their own diverse cultural backgrounds, we have fine arts programs to rival small colleges, and we have students who are organizing to present a calm, peaceful face to these protestors.

But we also have kids for whom violence is a fact of life. Too many students here have lost loved ones through acts of violence. You tell them someone wants to cancel their classes because they’re a minority, and they want to lash out. It is so difficult – and so needed – to get the kids to listen to your message that what these people want is to have you react, to mess with you, to get you upset, and that the best way to cope and make a statement is to stay silent. They lose when you don’t respond.

So they leave my class after 30 minutes of intense discussion and historical background, and you wonder how much made sense, how many would reflect on this evil that will take over our sidewalks on Friday, and how much more can you as their teacher take? This has been a very hard week. So many questions, so few answers, so much hate.

I’m going to sit and watch the President. I need this.

Getting Started Again –


I am trying very hard to keep the depression at bay. Went to the movies today, saw the Golden Compass and really enjoyed it. The indictment on the church and its involvement in society is quite timely. And as I continue to watch the political scene, I get more and more concerned about the role of religion in our society.

Speaking of politics, Dean game me Tom Brokaw’s new book for Christmas, Boom. It is excellent, all about the sixties. Very interesting to see what is going on with names from the 60s and what they are doing today. The Vietnam War stuff is fascinating. I was 20, and I remember thinking that the year couldn’t get any worse, and then it did. in December of 1967 during our disciplinary term at Hartwick College, I studied game theory, and my paper was on the coming 1968 election. I had done a complete analysis of the political scene as of December 1967, and I had a complex matrix developed with the possibilities for the next election. I wish I could find the paper now. Under Bobby Kennedy, I had him taking the election, assuming nothing happened to him personally. Little did I know….at that time I had the current administration losing out to Kennedy, but who knew about King and Kennedy and riots, and everything else.

I am on the Obama bandwagon- I love the excitement, the spirit of change – so many things that I saw with Bobby and with the first Clinton. I have a signed letter of congratulations from Bobby Kennedy when I received my Regents’ scholarship when I graduated from high school in New York.

One day closer to summer vacation……

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