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Tag Archives: social justice

Take a Knee

I begin this post with two points. First, I am not American. I spend time in the US and enjoy my time there. One thing I enjoy, and I shared with my students, is the way Americans respond to their National Anthem. Second, Canada, where I live, has social and historical skeletons in the closet i.e. residential schools.

My aim is not to pass judgment, but to cast a different light on what it means to take a knee. In a world that is increasingly secular, perhaps I lose my way in what it means to live in a spiritual way and it can mean many things to different people.

The image that comes to mind when I think of is people kneeling and standing at the foot of the cross of the crucified Jesus. We were not there, but we are told his friends, family members, and followers knelt and stood. It seems there was no one right way.

When Colin Kaepernick first took a knee, I thought of it as praying. The etymology of prayer is to ask earnestly, to beg, and to entreat. Prayer is asking someone i.e. God or something bigger i.e. Universe or a nation than I am to intercede in a concern to me.

To genuflect is to kneel, usually with one knee. It is an act of worship and respect. Parker Palmer wrote about fidelity as something other than mere loyalty. It is loyalty to an obligation, cause, and idea one holds dear.

Who or what one asks depends on one’s spiritual and religious background. What I understand is that there are no fixed answers when I take a knee and pray. I have to listen. Part of praying is silence, listening to what Parker Palmer calls my inner voice. It is only in moments of silence, whether kneeling, standing, or walking, that I hear that inner voice.

I pray in various ways and have since I was a child. When I enter a church, I find holy water, bow to the cross, and complete the sign of the cross. I stand. As I enter a pew I genuflect, taking a knee. I do so with two surgically repaired knees. At times before, during, and after service, I kneel, I pray, and I listen to what my heart says. Other times, I stand. During the Lord’s prayer, I stand and join hands with others asking God to intercede on each of our behalf. As I receive communion, I walk slowly and quietly, bowing my head as I accept the host.

For me, kneeling, standing, and walking quietly show my fidelity to a cause and purpose larger than me. In this case, it is plight of people and our shared humanity. I make a point of being quiet, because it is a time of thoughtful meditation and mindfulness of how the world and I are broken. I beseech someone or something larger than me to intercede and, as Parker Palmer says, to make whole the broken.

 

 

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Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born this day in 1904. Teachers, librarians, and parents use his books in children’s literacy, but I found children and adults never really out grow Dr. Seuss.

Several years ago, I read an article about Dr. Seuss. He created cartoons as a critical response to Hitler and Mussolini. He deplored racism and his books were a means of introducing children to diversity. Even though we think of his books as essential to children’s literacy, they are as important to social justice and equity.

It was not just his characters, but what they ate or did not eat that were part of the diversity.

Do you like green eggs and ham?

I do not like them, Sam-I-am.
I do not like green eggs and ham!

Would you like them here or there?

I would not like them here or there.
I would not like them anywhere.

I do so like green eggs and ham!
Thank you! Thank you,
Sam-I-am!

 

Langston Hughes

As far back as I can remember, I have adored poetry. I’m especially drawn to the works of poets who courageously dive deeply into their stories… their journeys through life. These are m…

Source: Langston Hughes

Similar to Gina, I enjoy poetry. I wrote poetry in junior high school. When I began teaching Language Arts, I taught poetry. During difficult times in my teaching career, I returned to writing poetry.

I loved Langston Hughes‘ poems and used them each year. His poems were short and students discerned their themes, such as holding fast to one’s dreams, social justice, and life’s challenges, and relate to them fairly easily.

Langston Hughes wrote poetry that reflected both his experiences and the culture of the African-American community. This reflected both the celebrations and suffering that people experienced, which are often intertwined with each other.

* My Words for 2017

It will be a time of change. Life is unfolding along an unexpected and uneasy path, with so much outside of our control. When moving into the unknown, it is helpful to sit and pause and listen to o…

Source: * My Words for 2017

Be ready to be fierce.

Be ready to be kind.

Those words sound paradoxical, but to be kind one has to be fierce in our kindness to others. We must want to be kind in the way others have set an example for us.

It is like being radical, which takes us back to our roots. In French, roots is racine and it connected to being radical. If our roots are strong and give us strength to act and speak out against the wrongs others do to the world and people, we can stand and shelter those who need it.

Temple of My Familiar (An Excerpt)

Alice Walker included this poem in her novel Temple of My Familiar. She speaks to the challenge we face when we wait for others to do what needs to be done. They, in turn, wait for us to what needs to be done. It is a vicious, not virtuous circle.

In living and leading, the and others call each of us to be mindful and attentive to the world and people. My first language is French. I am not very fluent as an adult, but how the language is used seems imprinted on me. Being mindful and attentive is living and leading in proper relationships.

I recall my mother saying “ce n’est pas propre.” It is not proper and not right (vrai) or correct (correcte). Proper is a way of comporting one’s self and is an ethical position. When I hear politicians and pseudo-politicans say they followed the letter of the law, that is about being right and correct, not proper.

Aristotle spoke about praxis as an ethical practice in living one’s life. Goodness in this sense was the goal of living without knowing what that meant. When I wait for another to do the proper thing, I am not doing the proper thing.

To the extent that it is possible,

You must live in the world today

As you wish everyone to live

In the world to come.

That can be your contribution.

Otherwise, the world you want

Will never be formed. Why?

Because you’re waiting for others to do

What you’re not doing;

And they are waiting for you,

And so on.

Logos

Mary Oliver is a poet I turn to when I am searching. Since the American election I have searched and am trying to make meaning of the outcomes. I am not American so it is easy to think my vote and voice do not matter, but they do.

I have never voted for a conservative politician or message, but I am as conservative as I am a progressive, perhaps more so. John Dewey wrote we create sects around progressivism and conservativism as if they are cleaved off from each other.

The essential element is to preserve/converse what we value and what gives us life , discarding what is harmful to people and the world. Hans-Georg Gadamer suggested more tradition remains than is replaced and much it is taken-for-granted.

What is often taken-for-granted helps us navigate our personal worlds in the form of “legitimate prejudices.” When we encounter some one and some things that are different, Gadamer argued it opens us up to dialogue and eloquent questions that have no fixed answers.

What I am certain of is in the dialogue and eloquent questions there is no room for misogyny, racism, and xenophobia that further divide us. Logos is how we use words and reason as an ethical response to others who appear in our lives for some reason, which was the underlying message in Rumi’s The Guest House.

Mary Oliver offers a message about civil discourse that includes love we express through our words and the reasons we share those words with others. It is a message that comes to us from Jesus who gave his life as an act of unconditional love. When we say the right (in French it is proper which has to do with comportment) words, the wine expands.

Why worry about the loaves and fishes?
If you say the right words, the wine expands.
If you say them with love
and the felt ferocity of that love
and the felt necessity of that love,
the fish explode into many.
Imagine him, speaking,
and don’t worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

Dreams To Reality Take Determination

Source: Dreams To Reality Take Determination

The Jesse Owens movie that is coming out is a reminder of the importance of dreams and a person’s determination to follow those dreams. We often forget his story and how he helped break down race barriers in a quiet way with his dreams and determination.

He attended Ohio State University without a scholarship, working several jobs, married, and found time to practice and compete. All this in an era when it would have been unusual and challenging for an African-American to attend an NCAA school like Ohio State.

Kathy worked with one of his grandchildren who told her that Jessie Owens was a quiet and humble man. He worked as a playground supervisor giving back to children and providing a positive role model for young people to follow. Jimmy Carter suggested Jessie Owens did more to break down racial barriers through his determination and his efforts were “a prelude to helping others.”

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