Spared by Courage

Kathleen

When my mom was teaching high school in Nashville in the 1970s a kid in one of her classes brought a gun to school. He was planning to shoot another student.

A girl in class told her what was going on and my mom, in her fierceness, walked right up to the boy and demanded the gun. He yielded and handed it to her.

Later she said that was the craziest thing she had ever done as teacher. She realized she could have been shot, but in that moment she did not hesitate or doubt what needed to happen.

I wonder where the girl who told, and those two boys are today. What became of them? What of their families?

How fortunate they were to be spared that day some forty years ago.

Refugees: Defining moments

Appreciative of all those posting about refugees over the past few days and particularly those focused on the responsibility of Christianity.

I was moved to tears last April when I heard Patrick Kearon’s speech.

Hearing portions of it again, with the addition of images, music, and stories, brings those feelings back. I agree with his sentiments:

“This moment [of being a refugee] will not define them, but our response will help define us.”

Personal experience with refugees, right off the plane, and with those working to rebuild their lives, having escaped war and the horrors that come with it, has shaped my outlook on life.

There is some Mormon specific terminology in his speech but otherwise, it is simple Christianity. A Christianity I think even an atheist can appreciate.

Recreational Criticism and the Shelter of Anonymity

We live in an era of recreational criticism. For many, being critical of nearly everything and everyone has become an acceptable form of entertainment. This is nothing new for government officials and others in the public eye. They have long been targets of criticism. Rightly so, in many cases, yet the rush to find and magnify less developed or unrefined areas within organizations and individuals typically serves no purpose.

What is troubling is the tendency among critics to continue to criticize long after the events of their angst have passed without looking back, evaluating the current situation, and determining if their criticism is still valid. As if the critic reserves the right to dictate who can change and progress and who cannot.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than among those who post comments online anonymously. The temptation to throw rocks from behind the shelter of anonymity is intoxicating. The thrill and vanity of being a faceless voice in the public square keeps the critic from recognizing that the gift anonymity has become a cloak of hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy never looks back at its own shadow. It has no rearview mirrors. It expects but never offers apology. What power is there in an anonymous apology? The shelter of anonymity eliminates the need for the critic to account for anything.

In a day of increasing transparency, perhaps it’s time for the critic to reevaluate the point of aimless words and find a more constructive hobby.

There is no shame in admitting the present is not the past. Everyone has the right to change. Even the critic.

The Great Questions We Carry

A defective four leaf clover.

Each year at Christmas my grandfather gives everyone in the family a small hand held puzzle. Often these puzzles are clear cubes containing metal balls and rings that must be aligned to complete a design. Most of the time I can see what I think the outcome should be, yet the challenge is finding the solution before I lose interest.

The wisdom in these little puzzles is clear. They parallel the individual and collective questions we all carry. Some are trivial and amusing, easily put down and picked up again. Others are larger and require more time and effort to solve. After a little fiddling these larger puzzles are often shelved in hopes that “some day” we’ll have time to spread out all the pieces and restore order to the chaos.

We seem to reserve a special place for the truly great questions and we keep them within constant reach. These are the questions of life that won’t let go. They demand our attention.

At times I’ve attempted to force pieces together that don’t belong. Particularly the beautiful pieces that seem so good together. Fabricating solutions in ignorance or accepting answers that are comfortable, but not accurate.

While there are clearly right and wrong choices, there is a wide spectrum of individual solutions within those bounds. Yet the constants, the rules that apply across that spectrum, can be difficult to identify independently. Many of life’s variables are in constant flux. We rarely get a bird’s eye view of the labyrinth, and few of life’s puzzles are cut as evenly as factory made cardboard and plastic.

Fortunately, when we find solutions we share them. Small and simple things can be the greatest gifts. Answers to long sought questions can be the key to gaining mountain top perspective on the dark valley of our lives. Sometimes answers come like a flood and other times in painfully slow drips.

The key is having a desire to search for solutions. To believe the answer exists and to keep working to discover answers that are equal to the questions.

What does this have to do with education and training? Everything.

Why we know less than ever about the world

I watched a brief yet revealing TED talk this morning by Public Radio International CEO, Alisa Miller, titled “Why we know less than ever about the world.” Sadly, American news media spends most of their resources focusing on myopic issues, like personal tragedies in the lives of pop stars, while ignoring the rest of the world. Watch this four minute and twenty nine second clip to see the statistics and hear Alisa Miller in her own words.


Note to news media: Next time you’re tempted to report on something relatively trivial, like an athlete turned actor running from police in his white Ford Bronco, chances are high that something of true importance, like the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, is happening at the same time. If you don’t tell us, how will we know?

Myanmar, China, and Charity.

Burmese

The stories of Myanmar and China will soon leave the media. Unfortunately we cannot rely on popular news outlets to keep us informed. Our media culture is suffering from cronic, industry wide, ADHD. Like hungry fish they are easy lured away, biting at anything shiny or new in a senseless game of catch and release.


Myanmar officials have raised the death toll to 78,000. The number will be higher tomorrow. If we are enabled to extend our hands to those who are suffering, what kind of creatures are we if we choose to stay our hands and sit on our wallets?


Here are two simple ways you can help those in need; make a donation to CARE International or to LDS Philanthropies.


CARE International accepts donations of $50.00 or more and 90% of your donations are allocated to community development and emergency relief worldwide.


LDS Philanthropies accepts donations of one dollar or more and 100% of your donation will be directed to emergency relief for either Myanmar or China. You can designate where you want the funds allocated.


Administrative costs are funded through other means allowing 100% of donor contributions to be directed to those in need. Although LDS Philanthropies is associated with a church, no proselyting is involved. Humanitarian relief is distributed to those in need without regard to race, gender, religion, political, or social affiliation.


Here is a link to an article explaining how both organizations have partnered with the UPS Foundation to deliver supplies to Myanmar.


Sometimes the suffering of the innocent can bring about a unity of heart. Now is the time to let the suffering of those in Myanmar and China bring greater unity to us all.


Folktales Vs. Fairy tales

Fairy tale

Is there a difference between a folktale and fairy tale? In the following paragraphs Arthur Henry King (1910 -2000) reveals the strength of a folktale and the emptiness of fairy tale.

Matters like these should occupy the minds of parents and educators rather than the pleasantries of sedation and distraction that are constantly in view.

We need to acquaint children with folktales, which are the classics of their own tradition. And we need to recognize that there is a great difference between a folktale and a fairy tale. A fairy tale is a make-over of a folktale. A fairy tale tries to make the world more pleasant than the folktale represents it, pleasanter than it really is. Under the impression that the world will be bad enough for children when they come to it. The fairy tale represents life as something restricted and magically protected. The fairy tale does not help children at all.


If you turn to the original Grimm’s folktales, you will find that the folk have profoundly understood over thousands of years that children must face up to nightmares and horror and cruelty. And since children have to face up to those things, the best place for them to do so for the first time is on a parent’s lap, where they have a sense of security. If children are not “terrified” on their parent’s laps, they will be terrified in their dreams when their parents aren’t there. We know enough about children from a very early age to know that they have their nightmares and their horrors and their darkness. If we don’t give them those kinds of experiences, they still have them.


By becoming acquainted with folk literature, children may be educated. By that means, they may grow up facing reality. And if they grow up facing reality, there will be no crisis of confidence between them and society.

Arthur Henry King – Arm the Children, BYU Studies 1998, page 243-244.