The Events in Tucson, Part 2

This has been a long, hard day at school. My high school made the New York Times this weekend about our ethnic studies program being in violation of state guidelines, according to our state attorney general. He has  been after the high school for what he calls subversive teaching, that the Hispanic studies program encourages students to question the actions of our government, and the program also builds unnecessary ethnic pride.

I am trying to be as unbiased as possible here and just state the facts. This specific action is targeting only our Raza Studies, not Native American programs or African American programs. Well, let’s face it, if any groups should question the actions of our government throughout history, it should be these two groups. With the presence of the national media in Tucson this week, I am sure they will descend on the high school for more information.

Our staff meeting this morning dealt with registration issues, as well as with the moment of silence. I was ready for the moment of silence, but there was so much laughing and snickering about being quiet. I wanted to get so angry, but too often laughter is a response to events that make you uncomfortable. The kids in all my classes had questions, from “what happened this weekend that’s got everyone so upset?” “what’s bigotry?” “who’s Gabrielle Giffords?” and “he should get the death penalty,” just to name a few. Rumors abounded, many from news stations outside of Tucson, as well as off MySpace and Twitter. The adults were somber, but the students pretty much accepted it as just another act of violence from so many they have already witnessed or been exposed to. That’s also a very sad commentary on what our inner city students have to deal with on a daily basis.

I’m still stunned, and last night I just felt I had to do some kind of positive action. I had been sewing a piece during the day to represent all the vitriol I see around us. This has morphed into plans for a website to host artwork that carries a message of peace. I plan to unveil the website on Monday, January 17, the anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr. There will be more to follow in the next days.

This involvement with peace goes back to college days, advocating against the Vietnam war, and World Peace Day, an activity sponsored by the high school chapter of the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council of the high school I taught in on Maui. Students wanted to do some type of activity to promote peace in 1972, and that morphed into a student-run day-long look at peace activities. This was an eye-opener for me, as I was followed, called a Communist, and questioned constantly on the purpose of this day-long activity.

What is it about peace that is so controversial? What is it about nonviolence that is so controversial? Through this art website, with Art from the Heart: Healing Hatred in America, I am hoping we can shed some light on these issues through personal stories and artwork.

If you need to express yourself about the tragedy here in Tucson, about the need for rationale discourse in this country, or about the need for peace, start thinking about how you would express yourself in art.

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6 Responses to “The Events in Tucson, Part 2”

  • Linda:

    I am all for peace, Linda, as are almost 100% of our country, but I have one question. How are you going to get your ideas of peace through to the islamic radicals? These people will not stop their war until all the world is converted to islam or conquered and forced into islam! They will use and are using the most violent means to change the whole world and it doesn’t matter how long it takes…100 years is ok by them, just so that each one has had a part in this war.
    and the worst part is that they live amongst us….NOW!!!
    Let me know if you are ever successful in changing an islamic radical or radical islamic!

  • Respectfully, I think we need to take care of the divisiveness in our country first and lead the way to peaceful solutions here at home. We need to start somewhere, and on an individual basis perhaps we can bring about positive change. Perhaps once we have done that, we can look outside our borders. Naive, absolutely, but I think it’s time for some naivete, for the belief that we as individuals can make a difference. There is violence around us, and there will always be violence. We can worry about “Islamic fanatics,” but we need to also worry about the fanatics within our own borders, right or left, regardless of political or religious leanings.

  • Linda:

    Linda, they (the radical islamists) DO LIVE amongst us….yes, WITHIN our borders and we MUST confront their violence too! Sharia law? They are pushing for that and have even adopted it in their little USA communities…where by the way, local police officials cannot even tread!! I am sure you’ve read about the so-called (what THEY call) honor-killings! How many HAVE occurred in OUR country? Numerous ones! There was even one here just up the road from us in N. Italy at the base of the Pre-Alps…Dolomites! Go figure! They are infiltrating everywhere and yes, we must ALL confront all violence, but please include this too.
    I am not sure how you define “divisiveness”, but right now the country IS fighting for what is right according to OUR CONSTITUTION! IF we denigrate it, we are ALL doomed..and there is indeed a movement to “fix” the constitution….it does NOT need fixing….just being adhered to…as they are NOW finally doing in our congress!

  • Melinda:

    My definition of divisivness: when we use the term “they” separated from “we”.

    Linda, what a wonderful vision you are creating!

    I firmly believe if we touch one person we’ve done something, you though are amazing for all you’ve touched, as a teacher, an artist and a general lover of life!

  • Thank you for the wonderfully kind comment. I was not sure how to respond to this comment, and you did it for me. “We” and “they” have to stop. One thing this event has done for me is cause me to look at my own thoughts and speech as I react, and more times than I care to admit, I have not taken the high road. It is a struggle, and this past week showed me that; when you try and get young people to see an issue as objectively as possible, then you realize just how carefully you have to think through and choose words. Right now words are a very common currency, and we tend to go for cheap rather than meaningful. (Hmmm, that’s an interesting metaphor to pursue…). Thank you again!

  • […] on, and how to respond in a nonviolent manner to a group like WBC. You can read about it here, here, here, and […]

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