Meditations from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

One of my New Year’s Resolutions, this year, was to attend a Buddhist Temple to learn more about Buddhism, which I did today.
Here is my second selection from the 14th Dalai Lama, entitled, “Compassion.”

COMPASSION

Usually, our concept

of compassion or love refers

to the feeling of closeness we have with our friends and

loved ones. Sometimes

compassion also carries a sense of pity.

This is wrong,

any love or compassion which entails looking down on the other

is not genuine compassion.

To be genuine, compassion must

be based on respect for the other,

and on the realization that others

have the right to be happy and

overcome suffering, just

as much as you. On this basis,

since you can see that others are

suffering, you develop a genuine

sense of concern for them.

H.H. The XIVth Dalai Lama

(Also, this weekend I saw an Italian film by Roberto Rossellini with Ingrid Bergman which depicts through film what is in this writing. I did not realize until seeing the film what a mind/spirit Rossellini had. The film is “Europa ’51,” which has a similar theme as the Argentine film, “Man Facing Southwest.”)

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Today, Sunday, I was reading some of the words of the Dalai Lama, which I wanted share here. The selection is entitled, “The Paradox of Our Age.”

THE PARADOX OF OUR AGE

We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time;

We have more degrees, but less sense;

more knowledge, but less judgement;

more experts, but more problems;

more medicines, but less healthiness;

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,

but have trouble crossing the street to meet

the new neighbour.

We built more computers to hold more

information to produce more copies than ever,

but have less communication;

We have become long on quantity,

but short on quality.

These are times of fast foods

but slow digestion;

Tall man but short character;

Steep profits but shallow relationships.

It’s a time when there is much in the window,

but nothing in the room.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

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Becoming Earthlings

My thoughts regarding the future of the Earth’s population changes related to widespread immigration were posted today on Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist and blogger Jay Bookman’s blog.  (Link: http://jaybookman.blog.ajc.com/2015/08/21/john-boehner-draped-this-albatross-around-the-gops-neck/  )

Here are my thoughts below:

“An excellent question was asked earlier as to what is the connection between the migration of north African immigrants to European nations to the migration of Mexican and Central American immigrants to America.

Here is my thinking on it: I believe that the world is in the process of getting smaller as technology and communication become global and as commerce becomes more global and as nations work together to build peace through dialogue on the planet.

As a result of these tangible changes, world consciousness is also changing to perceive of ourselves on Earth as a world community rather than simply citizens of various nations.  I will go further to predict that we are heading toward perceiving of human beings as “Earthlings” rather than as Americans or Africans or Europeans, or Iranians, or Mexicans, etc.  We know that economic success or failure is often worldwide and certainly climate change is a worldwide concern for all on the planet.  As we travel the Universe, we will begin to identify as Earthlings in comparison with the human beings who become part of the future colonies established on the Moon or on Mars. Without being fully aware of this growing world consciousness, I believe the immigrants to various parts of the world, described above, are helping this worldwide movement to have roots and validity into the future. These immigrants throughout the world are the rudimentary pioneers of the global human dynamic change.

I believe that the tenets established by America’s Founding Fathers for liberty and egalitarianism for all will prevail throughout the world even when the perceptions of various nations, including the United States of America, begin to recede into the background of our minds and the perception of a world community arises in our minds as the future unfolds.

These perceptions are not ‘Utopian,’ from my perspective.  From my perspective, what I described is simply the way the planet will unfold in terms of lack of national identity in the future.  That is why I used the word ‘organic’ to describe the process I see happening in its rudimentary stages.

That is what connects the immigration similarity between the present day immigrants coming into Europe and the immigrants coming into America, legal or not. We are moving beyond border mentality, in other words, similar to how America’s Native Indians perceived the land but beyond their perception of it, in the future, in that territorial claims will not be as pronounced.  Humanitarian outreach will be more the norm, I believe.

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Another poster:  “The Videla (sic) onion growers and the Ga. chicken processors don`t want the border sealed.  Seal the borders and the onions go unpicked. Remember Georgia`s new illegals crackdown a few years back. The illegals did not come and the onions rotted in the ground.”

MaryElizabethSings:  “I agree.”

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How to Solve America’s Educational Problems

The below is an excerpt from a thread on Atlanta Journal and Constitution columnist and blogger Maureen Downey’s blog, “Get Schooled.  I shared with another poster my thoughts on how to get to the root cause of America’s present educational problems and what it will take to solve these problems:   (Link:  http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2015/08/19/opinion-gov-deals-opportunity-school-district-offers-opportunity-but-not-for-students/)

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Another poster:

“Lots of criticism of teachers but I don’t hear a lot of solutions that have been PROVEN to work in other high-performing states/countries.  For a view of what Ohio has done in terms of charter schools/funding/test results, check out this article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/07/20/what-ohio-gov-john-kasich-is-doing-to-public-education-in-his-state/

SCARY (but not surprising, given the corruption and complete lack of ethics in Georgia politics) to think we are heading blithely down the same primrose path!!”

MaryElizabethSings:

“The problems in education are caused by some basic problems in the American society, as a whole.  Those include a lack of compassion for victims in society, a narrowing one’s vision only to what is best for me and for mine, a failing to see the interconnectedness of all people in this state and in this nation (and in this world, as history moves onward).

When we as a society stop allowing ourselves to deny these truths and start addressing society’s problems, as well as our own personal demons (instead of pointing our fingers at others), which include subduing anger, hatred, racism, violence (both emotional and physical) and, then, believing that love, not power, is our solution to problems, we will have grown in consciousness enough to address the education problems in our state and nation through first addressing these overriding and root societal problems, which I have named.”

MaryElizabethSings to the other poster:

“Thank you for this excellent information.  We must all see into the privatization politics that are going on throughout our nation and work together to save and make better our traditional public schools which are not based on profit.”

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America’s Exceptional Founding Fathers

Today, August 5, 2015, I posted the following remarks regarding our Founding Fathers on Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist, Maureen Downey’s blog, “Get Schooled.”

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Not only “can” we make changes to our Constitution, but our Founding Fathers expected us to make those changes, and they desired for us to make those changes, over time.  Jefferson advocated for the abolition of slavery as a young man even while writing the Declaration of Independence and he advocated for public education for all of America’s children so that this nation might have an educated populace that could be inclusively self-governing.  One of the reasons President Jefferson purchased the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon was so that those Americans without land could move into the western territories and become landowners. Washington freed his slaves in his Will in order to show the nation the direction it should move over time. Alexander Hamilton wished for America to have an economic system of power which would be the envy of the world and would allow for social mobility from the lower classes upward.  Jefferson, on the other hand, contended that Hamilton’s banking and financial network vision for America would create an elite, ruling class in America similar to what the American colonists were trying to remove themselves from, in the Old World’s aristocratic class structure.  We can see that Jefferson’s vision seems very apt today regarding the dangers inherent within Hamilton’s vision, almost 2 1/2 centuries since he walked on this earth.

Our Founding Fathers, each, expected us to make social and economic changes because they were not only “of” their times, but they also were “beyond” their times in how they visualized that America would eventually become that “more perfect union” to which they had committed their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor,” as they stated in the Declaration of Independence.

Presently, I am reading historian John Ferling’s book entitled, “Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry that Forged a Nation,” in which the two opposing visions for America’s future by Hamilton and Jefferson caused Jefferson to resign as Washington’s Secretary of State in that Washington supported Hamilton’s economic vision which would enhance a more centralized federal government, primarily, although Washington saw the merit of Jefferson’s egalitarian and self-governing vision, also, and had wanted both men to stay on board in his administration.  These men were looking not simply decades ahead, but centuries ahead. We are still debating their two different visions for America today, with each vision having morphed, of course, over time.  Yes, they were exceptional men and they were human beings with flaws like every other human being who will ever live.

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On August 6, 2015, AJC columnist and blogger Maureen Downey shared these comments by Thomas Jefferson on her blog, “Get Schooled”:

“Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people.”

and

“Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to, convinced that on their good sense we may rely with the most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty.”

and

“I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue and advancing the happiness of man.”

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Understanding “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee

I wrote the following words July 31, 2015, on Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Maureen Downey’s “Get Schooled” blog, regarding Southern writer Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” in comparison with her earlier work, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

My post follows:

I just completed reading Harper Lee’s recently published book, “Go Set a Watchman.”  She actually had written the book before she wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“To Kill a Mockingbird” was set in the 1930s South and “Go Set a Watchman” was set in the 1950s South.  We see Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck’s character in the movie “To Kill a Mockingbird”) in his early 50s in “Mockingbird” and in his early 70s in “Go Set a Watchman.”

Atticus Finch was based on Harper Lee’s father, a widower.  The “facts” about Atticus’ character are seemingly different in the two books, and there has been some recent literary/social controversy about that.

However, it seems to me that it is up to the reader to put the “two” Atticuses in his or her mind without a problem. I had no difficulty in seeing Atticus Finch – in full.  By that I mean, through the eyes of his 7 year old daughter, “Scout,” in the 1930s South and, also, through the eyes of “Scout” at age 26, home to Alabama from NYC for a vacation with her father, his brother and his sister.

I believe that Americans needed to have read “To Kill A Mockingbird” when it first appeared on the American landscape in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a vital part of the evolution of our nation’s racial healing.  I, also, believe that “Go Set a Watchman” is needed to be read by people of all races, today, after they have read Lee’s first book, in order that they might understand those multi-layered dimensions in human beings, and in events, extant in the evolution of a nation, with greater depth and breadth.

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Educational Analogy

On July 30 and July 31, 2015, I had an exchange with a poster by the name of “jarvis1975” on Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Maureen Downey’s blog.  Link: http://getschooled.blog.ajc.com/2015/07/29/if-we-valued-teachers-as-much-as-athletes-it-would-look-like-this/

Please read our exchange to understand why, even though teachers are paid much less, individually, than are professional athletes, that their value to the nation’s future is infinitely greater.  I will post our exchange verbatim, below:

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jarvis1975

There are about 3.1 million public school teachers in the U.S.

Comparing that to elite athletes is like comparing apples to oranges.

Steel is infinitely more useful than gold, but gold prices are still around $1,100 /  oz. while steel prices are comparatively so low that they are measured in metric tons.

Gold is rare, and with that it is desirable and people like to look at it.

Steel is used in almost every industrial process on earth. It’s a tool that makes society function. It’s much more important than gold, but it just isn’t that hard to get.

Scarcity is one of the basic laws of Economics.

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MaryElizabethSings: 

@jarvis1975

“Steel is used in almost every industrial process on earth. It’s a tool that makes society function.”

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Well said.  Loved your analogy.  I would spell it out just a little more for some readers.  Teachers, like steel, are the deliverers of education (tools) that make society function.  Thomas Jefferson well knew this and wrote of it often.

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Another Poster:

@MaryElizabethSings

So, to sum up: Steel is a ‘deliverer’ of education and teachers are tools.

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MaryElizabethSings

@Another Poster

Your analogy lacks symmetry, cohesion, and clarity.

In Jarvis’ analogy, steel is compared with teachers; gold is compared with super athletes.  The first part – steel with gold – is consistent with both being non-human elements; the second part – teachers with super athletes – is consistent with their both being humans (as well as their vastly differing numbers in society – just as there is more steel than gold in society, but more important to its functioning well).

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MaryElizabethSings:

@jarvis1975

Jarvis, I like your analogy so well that I would like to post it on my personal blog, calling it:  “Educational Analogy.”  Would it be ok with you if I do this and give you credit as author, of course, as “jarvis1975”?

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jarvis1975:  

@MaryElizabethSings

Haha. That’s fine.
Let me know if you want my real name.

My wife and sister are elementary school teachers, and my mom and grandmother were both retired school teachers. I’m an economist of sorts by trade, so I try to have perspective on this sort of thing.

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MaryElizabethSings: 

@jarvis1975

I’m from a long line of teachers on my dad’s side, also!

I thought your analogy was exceptionally informative in explaining why, although teachers as individuals are paid much less than super athletes, their vast numbers, in working with all of the students this nation who will be the nation’s future, are more vital toward keeping the nation functioning well than are the more highly paid, but far fewer, super athletes in our nation.

I would prefer simply to use your pseudonym identification of “Jarvis1975” from Maureen Downey’s blog (with link given to her thread) at the AJC on my blog because I wish to protect your privacy, as well as my own.  My blog’s name is “MaryElizabethSings” and “Sings” is not my surname!  ;-)

Thank you, Jarvis.  Others, I feel certain, will read your analogy and understand better the value that education and teachers have to our nation’s future.   Best to you!

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A Schoolwide Plan for Educating Boys

The concept that female teachers may inadvertently teach more to the learning styles of girls than of boys was very much discussed in the mid-1970s by the former Associate Superintendent of Schools who became my principal. His multi-aged groupings of students in reading and math levels based on mastery learning and varied rates of learning (instead of strict grade level curriculum) in his model school well accommodated the learning style of boys.  The elementary/middle school’s building design had been built to incorporate open walls among 5 classrooms, with 5 teachers in one large pod – housing either 1, 2, 3 grade students together, or another pod housing 2, 3, 4th grade students together, or 4, 5, 6th together or 5, 6, 7th grades together.  The model children were the oldest in each pod.  They became the leaders within their pod.

Boys, as well as girls, became leaders and there was much movement between areas of the pod, which accommodates the energy level of boys and the need they have for periodic movement.  This outstanding principal often held workshops with his teaching staff to inform them of how that model was efficacious for boys, who often were required to sit still for too long a period of time under some female teachers.  This was in 1975 – 1983.  The pods were open in space for movement between levels as different students advanced at their own rates and could easily find another instruction grouping, if necessary, in the same multi-aged pod, if they were faster or slower than their assigned groups of about 7 or 8 children. My principal was way ahead of his time regarding instruction.  I was blessed that he promoted me to be his ILT for I learned much working with him.  He had studied the educational theories and works of Dr. John Goodlad, who was still working into the 21st century.

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