Oppression and Hope

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

    “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost

Although the Civil Rights Movement began in the 1950s, the reasons for its importance to people of color still exist for many. The excuses run the gamut for not hiring: lack of skills, poor literacy, meager education, lackadaisical work habits. Those, and others, still prevent individuals from rising above poverty level income or minimum wage jobs – if job opportunities exist for them.

A cultural awareness that discrimination still exists and is quite healthy abounds in some places. The specter of cradle to grave bondage looms. There are two paths, to the school or to the jail. The myths of having a particular skin color is tantamount to indicating a person has violent propensities is taken as gospel for some. Explosions of emotional outrage from lack of communication skills and pent-up rage at locked doors and low expectations only serve to perpetuate the myths. And the myths continue to exist because the go unexamined.

Racial profiling is urged these days. The rationale is predicated on illegal immigration from the south and foreign terrorism from the Middle East. Our educational standards have dropped. Our global standing in quality education is now taking a back seat to China and Scandinavia. Yet, those areas also have their issues with ethnic inequities and poverty.

We need to consider the causes of the deficits domestically compared with those abroad. Perhaps one of the foundations is the fact that the underpinnings go deep into the psychology of the late 18th Century when there was no bright horizon for some save being released from this existence into a spiritual existence on another plane.

The new math of the 1950s endures. You have to be three times better in order to be considered half as good. Reduce that result by one-half if you’re a woman and another one-third if you’re a woman of color – any color.

Watching the documentary Raising Bertie (aired August 29 on PBS) should cause discomfort and motivate its audience to rise up, to advocate for positive change. It should drive the desire for more equality, not digging more ditches one generation after another. While there is dignity in being skilled in any particular endeavor, it should not be the chain that binds an entire race to be limited to only one or two choices and then no more. “Raising Bertie” represents how one segment of our population is viewed. It shows us the crossroads that challenge us and threaten to drag us into the dark days of our past or finally realize the wealth that population could be contributing to the wholeness of our country. We need to help make that happen. Those in this country deserve to have viable options.

Quality education that opens the doors not only for the individual but for the community (no matter how broad) should be available for all. Delivering quality education begins with insistence on excellence. It’s perpetuated with engendering curiosity that gets fed with the broadening of awareness. Quality education is evidenced by use of critical thinking skills that aid in problem solving instead of resorting to insults, bullying, harassment, and violence (warfare).

Quality education is not evidenced by very nice, flattering letter grades. It is evidenced by the ability to use the knowledge that was conveyed. That knowledge should be delivered through the textbooks, of course, and through exercises that provide practice in the discipline. Thus, execution of the proficiency is accomplished with dispatch in the real world, no matter what the setting.

Instructors provide guidance and interpretation of the subject and the content in the textbook. The books should challenge the student’s comprehension not pad their reading list. Therefore, tests of the student’s knowledge (evaluation of how well they have learned the subject), should not be a measure of how much and how well they learned compared with their fellow classmates. Instead, tests should reflect how much of the discipline was learned based on a measurable scale, not a bell curve. The grades are not to boost the student’s self esteem (and bury them in a false sense of accomplishment). The grades are not intended to embellish the instructor’s standing and continued tenure in their position. If they have not taught the subject, it is the instructor who needs the remedial work.

It is critical that we bring an end to our national oppression. It rides on the back of scrawny education. It emaciates our nation. And our nation becomes emaciated because the hunger for knowledge is not being satisfied.

The road away from all forms of slavery and to hope is paved with making our leaders at every level accountable for recognizing and respecting human rights to freedom.

Resources:

Sponsored Links:

Advertisements

Reactions to Harm

Words of hate that are actually expressions of anxiety and stress.

Sprouts of new life

Sprouts of new life

Day after day we’re bombarded by the narcissism of #45 because he doesn’t feel he’s receiving as much attention and adoration as he feels he deserves. His tenure from Day 2 is more about campaigning for a second term when he still hasn’t figured out how to be a leader with the best interests of the country in mind. So we get home-based terrorism coming from the White House.

Compounding that is people buying into the negative behavior and vitriol and following the example. They resort to calling names, using labels, hurtling to unfounded conclusions, and condemning others for even attempting to conduct their lives and affairs in responsible ways.

It’s truly more than a bit much to take. We all face our own personal storms. Some are so intense that they make us ill but we do not mention them. We put on a face of either stoicism, or joy, or practical level-headedness. But inside, ah, but inside, we must remain alert and at the ready in spite of the increasing and crippling ailments that assualt us from far and near, sometimes on a daily basis – if not more frequently.

Although Harvey is horrendous and not everyone is able to make a donation, does that mean they must stop trying to earn a living in order to show their sympathy? Should those not in the area stop paying their bills in order to share the misfortune with Texas, and now Louisiana? I think not.

It is far better that we strive, in our individual ways, to be responsible, respectful citizens. We can do our part by offering joy and comfort. We aren’t ignoring the harm, just creating a positive frame of mind so that we all can get through today, and then tomorrow, and the next.

We don’t need to be castigated for making a contribution that doesn’t fit someone else’s frame of mind. And we definitely don’t need to be bullied nor show obeisance to someone who brays harshness because they need to feel in the right.

I send you flowers of hope, America. I send you love. I send you peace and comfort.

Recommended Resources

Sponsored Links:

Truth and the Freedom Series

Both “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation” considered the proposition that Russia was involved in hacking in the American election and also involved in rigging the election in order to make Trump the winner of the election.

During the last third of his campaign, Trump repeatedly and publicly alleged that the election was rigged. If he lost the election, Trump trumpeted, it would be proof that the election was rigged.

We reacted when the election results came in. A recount of the votes in three states was endeavored. Trump objected to the recount efforts. It’s been said in other places that his objections to the recounts make no sense. Having the votes recounted would confirm his victory in those states. So why is he objecting to the recounts?

The issue of a rigged election, interference by Russians in the American election process, was also part of the discussion. Trump’s persistent bellowing of interference and rigging continued all the way up to election day. But now his campaign team objects to being called on those allegations. They scream foul and claim the allegations are sour grapes.

candleflame - In search of the truth

In search of the truth

Actually, we’re now looking more closely at the claims and accusations that were pronounced by the candidate for President, Donald Trump. How can it be unfair to ask (again) for proof of the claims of election tampering?

On “Face the Nation,” Kellyanne Conway was asked a question about these campaign allegations. Instead of answering the question, she deflected it by turning to another aspect of the campaign and how unfair some of the DNC tactics were.

Some questions that need to be answered are whether there was in fact election tampering, whether there was hacking of the political parties (DNC as well as RNC), the veracity of the election results, and whether our President-elect can be trusted to help those who are in this country realize the Roosevelt promises of freedom of speech and worship as well as freedom from hunger and fear.

Observation: Time after time and with each passing day, we seem to be gifted with real, public scrutiny examples of the tools of an abuser.

Restriction from

Restriction from

In various times of allowing a dictatorship to overtake a country, things took hold because there were those who chose to do nothing for various reasons. Some chose inaction because they felt they did not have the power nor the tools nor the importance to resist or be an effective member of a resistance. Some remained inert because of fear based on many things that were relevant to their healthy existence. (It’s ironic that a dictatorship and tyranny lead to a very unhealthy existence.)

There were those who chose to act. Their numbers were small in regard to public presence. But there were also those who chose to act while staying in the background.

At some point in the near future, the many proofs of the campaign accusations and inflammatory rhetoric will emerge. Then we will be an informed public.

Meanwhile, we continue to create a new national culture that is no longer based on trust but fear. One of the healthy outcomes of this 2016 election is the motivation to become more educated about many aspects of our nation and the systems that caused it to be part of the Rockwell vision of “Freedom From.”

Sign and share the petition Evaluate Trump for Fitness to Serve

Resources:

Sponsored Links:

Lessons in History – Conflicts of Interest

Recent headlines, similar to one from today’s Guardian, keep making me reflect on 20th Century events in politics and business. The make me wonder how things will actually play out (if allowed) in comparison to the Teapot Dome and Watergate situations.

Symbols of Government Ethics

Symbols of Government Ethics

The recent appointees in the developing Trump Administration have interesting, interwoven and strategic situations and alliances. They’re quite similar to the ones of the Teapot Dome flavor.

The Teapot Dome story is also documented on Wikipedia. The Brookings Institute provided more chronicling of the incident.

Enter Watergate

And then there’s Watergate and the lessons it taught us about being neglectful and too trusting in decisions made by government leaders. Reference.com summarizes that point in history while also available is the Front Line documentary history of the administration that gave rise to Watergate.

A Look at Bribery as Causation

A recent article that appeared in Corporate Counsel considered the impact of bribery on fraudulent practices in government and its influence on conflicts of interest. Some of the statistics are broken out for the reader. One of particular note is:

The United States ranked 20th. It still falls within the top 20 countries that TRACE considers “low risk.” The riskiest area for bribery in the U.S. is “business interactions with government.”

Also earning breakout attention:

• Syria suffered a considerable setback in its bribery environment, followed by Belize, with their overall risk scores rising. Syria is now one of the eight riskiest countries in the world for bribery.
• The seven other riskiest countries in order are Nigeria (199th out of 199 countries), Angola, Yemen, Guinea, Cambodia, Myanmar and South Sudan.

With regard to graft driving contracts approvals in foreign governments, one reader noted that in “. . . Italy, it’s simply accepted that many dealings with businesses or government bodies require a little grease on the wheels. So much so, that base salaries for some civil servants are less relevant than what can be made on top.” That reader recommends the book The Dark Heart of Italy for more edification. It should be noted that similar practices are heavily used in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) as revealed in a recent study conducted through Fuller Seminary. According to that study, the non-Muslim population was/is being subjected to extreme conditions of discrimination that keeps them in conditions of economic distress unless they agree to act as government-sponsored spies against family members.

Ethics Lessons

Should we be learning from history or is it our fate to close our ears and minds and simply allow ourselves to be repeatedly crushed under the Wheel of Time as it rotates? Perhaps it’s time to not only remember the lessons of the past but also become proactive about not reliving them.

When it comes to “conflicts of interest“, the layman can look to Wikipedia for its various definitions and examples or to other books that provide guidance.

Additional Reading:

Consider signing and sharing a petition to evaluate the fitness to serve before confirmation of the President-elect.

Sponsored Links:

Challenges of Development

PBS is airing a program called Edge of E18teen that examines the lives of several 17-year-olds and the challenges they face as they mature.

Image of young businessman opening door with lights

Image of young businessman opening door with lights

Their circumstances are diverse. One young man was sent to military school. His grades were slipping; he needed more discipline; he needed to learn about taking on responsibility.

A young Cambodian girl is living with her father. Her mother left the family. There was much divisiveness in the home. The parents had vicious arguments. The mother was having an affair. The girl punishes her mother by not responding to her text messages and refusing to communicate or see her at all.

Another boy is about to graduate from high school. He is a devoted Christian and wants to address the student body at his graduation by telling them about Christ. When that idea is rejected by his school, he proposes to have a graduation party for his entire class (400+) and use that as a platform for telling them about Christ. His mother rejects the idea.

All but one say their relationship with their parents is difficult, that they don’t understand.

Our youth face so many challenges as they mature. Are we doing enough to prepare them for what Life and our societies have in store for them? Preparation also comes down to doing things that involve some degree of training and explanation. Small dollops of autonomy grow into taking on full responsibility for various projects, accompanied by nurturing support to catch them if they fall.

But with parents being challenged with low wages that sometimes require two or more jobs to support a family, and constantly increasing costs of living, we are starting to lose the time necessary to provide the building of responsible, independent lives that are ready for adult life challenges at the age of 21 or 18.

How do we successfully prioritize the overwhelming amounts of responsibilities that face us as we create a worthwhile future for our offspring, our progeny, our future?

How can we leap to the heights of doing the things that are necessary to do even a merely adequate job of nurturing the future generations when there are still so many things we ourselves still need to learn and master. There are so many times when I feel inadequate and regret the lessons that are missing.

It would be so good to have the right answers – or at least clues to which are the more important for the path we endeavor to follow or make. Perhaps that is the clue. Determine what the path is: one to be followed or one to be made. The next step is to find the right mentors to offer guidance while we learn by trying and failing and then trying again in order to succeed while the mentor explains what went wrong if we do not examine the broken pieces on the floor to see where the weak spot was.

And therein may lie some of the answers to nurturing our youth.

Sponsored Links:

The Talk

This morning’s news featured an interview of a very attractive and articulate young (30s) professional Black woman and her male complement. They talked about this week’s tensions. They talked about having “the talk” with their children. They noted that the conversation needs to happen as early as possible and in age appropriate vocabulary and concepts.

The talk in these times is not the one about dating and sex. Today the talk in Black families and families that are comprised of individuals who can be considered part of the African Diaspora, is about how to handle yourself when in the presence of peace officers or in public places outside of a Black ghetto. I’ve not been involved in these types of conversations but it doesn’t take a lot to intuit what it covers. As the years have passed since the Civil Rights Era, experiences have grown and awareness was spat in my face. There are some people who will hate you simply because they have been conditioned to do so over the years. It has nothing to do with you, personally, as much as it has to do with the color of your skin and the stereotypes associated with having that form of identity.

But Life is full. There are many things that pull at your attention that are of a higher priority than a genetic adaptation that has absolutely nothing to do with the character of the person within the shell that carries them. Nevertheless, there are far too many times when that adaptation along with the stereotypes that were created because of historic exclusion and denial make attention to one’s physical presence the priority. It should not be that way.

How do you tell a child that it isn’t okay to go to the playground without a parent or adult present? It takes a lot of explaining about why one child may play with a red clear plastic water gun while romping in their yard or in a park while another child will be mistaken as a potential shooter. It takes even more explanation about why a police officer is justified in shooting a ten-year-old child in the back several times merely because of a plastic toy. Oh, now I understand. Certain children are not allowed to play and have toys. Certain children are not allowed to enjoy Life. We are told, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration of Independence does not function for them.

Colored Entrance

Have we returned to the pre-Civil Rights America?

How do you tell a child that because of the color of their skin, someone will decide that they are dangerous and anything they do will be construed as a threat to the general public? It should not be part of a child’s education about them or their history that they are inherently not intelligent and therefore unqualified for anything except the most menial. They should not learn that it is acceptable for their creations, their ideas, their work to be claimed by others and their input given no acknowledgement whatsoever. To teach them that is the same as teaching them that they were destroyed at the instant they took their first breath. It’s the same as telling them they are value-less. I have to wonder where society would be were it not for those “value-less” contributions to so many industries by those unqualified dangerous ones.

Why should it be necessary to have that type of conversation with any child? The simple response is it should not be necessary. In fact, there should be no reason to have these types of conversations. It should not be necessary to teach a child that what they wear will determine whether or not they are dangerous. If the owner and found of Facebook can wear a hoodie with impunity, anyone should have the same choice.

To be certain, it is very important to have a conversation about grooming and appropriate dress for certain venues.

However, the talk needs to veer toward the important things in Life and leading a productive one. The talk needs to be about staying focused on what is most important for accomplishing the task, reaching the goal, making a point in conversation so that one’s positive abilities are accentuated. Those abilities include being responsible, having solid emotional intelligence, knowing how to make good choices based on good research and asking the right questions of the right people.

References:

Sponsored Links: