Archive for the ‘Life lessons’ Category

The 2017-2018 school year has commenced at Villago Middle School in hot and sunny Casa Grande, Arizona. I love the sensation of butterflies tickling my insides as youthful chatter resurrects life on the campus of our summer ghost town. Like monsoon rain in the barren desert, the return of students is a welcome and refreshing sight.

The beautiful thing about this feeling is that I know I’m not alone. I can honestly, and in good conscience, proclaim that every Villago teacher and support staffer feels the same way.  Reflection exercises like the one I’m about to share with you get and keep us in touch with our “Why.” Inspired by the work of Simon Sinek and his book, “Start With Why”, Principal, Jeff Lavender, has challenged the staff of Villago Middle School to reacquaint themselves with their “Why” over the past three years.  To gear up for this new school year, Mr. Lavender unleashed a 13 question reflection exercise to laser our focus and engage the gears of our idling engines.  So, here you have it.  “13 Reasons Why” I Teach.

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I’m sharing my reflection because it is having a profound impact on me. I’m pretty self-motivated and pretty in touch with the reasons I do what I do. However, this reflection exercise struck a cord I forgot I could play. Sometimes we forget or take for granted the details of our lives that have molded and shaped who we have become or are striving to be. Reflecting and remembering can be such a useful and eye-opening fuel to spark the flames of passion and Villago A+ignite the enthusiasm that makes us truly effective. Perhaps it would be good for you to answer the questions and do a little self-reflection, as well.  What could it hurt? If you do, I sure would be interested to hear about your experience.  (c:]

 

Peace and Blessings…

~joe

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Start With Why Reflection

  1. What kind of student were you in elementary, middle, and high school?

Elementary School – In elementary school I was a model student. I wanted my parents and teachers to be proud of me and happy with my work and grades. As such, I was a rule follower and towed the line. I always received good grades and complimentary comments from teachers on my report cards.

Middle School – For the most part, I remained the same throughout middle school, although the curiosity of adolescence combined with a poor self-image began leading me down questionable paths. My drive to maintain good grades and a good reputation was no longer solely motivated by keeping my parents and teachers happy, but became partially motivated as a cover-up for some of my questionable choices and activities.

High School – In high school I was the classic case of “not measuring up to my potential.” I maintained passing grades but never applied myself to achieve my best. I became more concerned and motivated by what my friends thought and hung around friends who weren’t always the best influence. In high school, my low self-image made it more about fitting in and being accepted. What my parents thought became less important than what my friends thought. To get my way, I became a master manipulator and a chameleon…I was many things to many people but lost myself in the process.

2. What was your favorite subject in school?

I didn’t really have a favorite subject

3. What subject did you struggle with most in school?

Any math past algebra in high school

4. What special activities did you participate in?

Basketball – Jr. High and High School

Baseball – Jr. High School

5. What teacher impacted you the most in a positive way? How did that teacher impact you?

Mrs. Boyer/Kindergarten – Mrs. Boyer was the teacher that introduced me to my first formal education experience. She was stern but she was kind and caring. She introduced me and all my classmates to the Golden Rule which has guided me since 1968. (c:]

Coach Tanke/sophomore – I’ve told the story numerous times about missing four free-throws and losing a J.V. basketball game. Coach Tanke cared about his students and players and showed it by his attitude and actions towards them. On that fateful day, Coach uttered 14 words in 5 seconds of a 7 or 8 minute conversation that profoundly impacted the direction my life would take. Coach Doug Tanke’s words taught and reinforced the belief that my value is not a product of my performance but a product of my person and presence. Simply put, I am valuable because I am a human being and I am living.

6. Did you have any teachers impact you in a negative way? How did they impact you in a negative way?

Yes, all the teachers (there weren’t many) who placed my grades and performance as a pupil above knowing me as a person. They seemed to be the most rigid, least tolerant, and frequently disconnected from their students. In my mind, it was as though they thought good grades/performance fixes everything.

7. Think back to when you made the decision to be a teacher. What was the driving force in your making the decision?

I didn’t choose teaching, teaching chose me. You can choose your job but your calling chooses you. To be a teacher, as I am now, is the last thing I would have ever considered as a career choice. Rather than choose a career path, I chose a way of living…a guiding philosophy and way of being. I made the decision early in my life that I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, especially young people. I was 18 years old and a senior in high school at the time (1981). “What do you want to do with your life?” “Where do you want to go?” “Do you want to stay in Coolidge and take over the family business?” “Wherever you go, whatever you do, how can you be successful or happy making the same choices you are now?” These questions and others like them drove my search for meaning and purpose. As a senior in high school, I felt like I was on the clock and running out of time. The questions eventually led me to a life changing encounter with God at a small Assembly of God church in Coolidge, Arizona.  My first prayer after receiving salvation was, “Lord, use me to help other youth not make the same mistakes I have made.” I am happy to know and blessed to say that God is still spending my life answering that prayer. First in full-time ministry as a youth pastor for 28 years, and now as an integral team member of a highly successful middle school in the public education domain in Casa Grande, Arizona.

8. Was there a teacher (or teachers) who contributed to you making that decision to be a teacher? How did they contribute?

I couldn’t possibly name them all. I have been fortunate and blessed to be influenced by numerous people who have recognized and guided my skill set and abilities. From the ranks of ministry and church work to the ranks of public education, I have rubbed elbows with and been encouraged by some of the best in their respective fields.

I would also say that the teachers I referenced earlier who had positive and negative impacts on me have aided me by laying a foundation for what and what not to emulate as I have worked with youth in ministry and public education. One of my most effective and centering strategies is to reflect on how certain actions by teachers (and adults in general) impacted me as a youth and student. Times have changed but youth are largely the same. If a teacher’s actions or words impacted me a certain way back then, it stands to reason that similar actions and words will evoke the same or similar response from the young people I serve and work with today.

Jeff Lavender – Jeff Lavender is a “like-a-brother” friend, colleague, and supervisor/principal. Jeff ranks as one of the largest influences in my life and career as an educator. He had the vision and foresight to open the door and pave the way to my involvement in public education when I was still in full-time youth ministry. He was the first to instill in me the thought that I could be effective working in a public school environment. Without his influence, trust and support, and the opportunities he has labored to provide, I would not be where I am today.

Mario Tijerina – Mario Tijerina is also a “like-a-brother” friend, colleague, and confidant. He also ranks as one of the largest influences in my life and career as an educator. Mario provided me with my first opportunity and experience of formally speaking to students in the public school domain as a regular guest speaker and mentor for his non-profit organization, G.O.L.D. Scholars. Through this experience and through Mario’s encouragement and counsel I began to realize that I could be effective teaching in a public school setting. Mario has also been a continuous and ready resource for information and strategies which have aided in my growth as an educator.

Both Jeff and Mario helped me to shun the ecumenical (religious) ideology that public schooling is opposed to or at least resistant to the spiritual needs of students. These men valued, embraced, and welcomed the unique measure of spirituality I could bring to their respective students by way of character and “whole child” development. They were both instrumental in guiding me to strategies of blending the two genres of education in a way that was discreet and acceptable in a public school setting while allowing and encouraging me to continue being me. I am a better man and educator for having known Jeff and Mario. They are both visionaries and pioneers of the benefits and implementation of Social Emotional Learning as a featured strategy to obtain “whole child” instruction leading to superior academic outcomes for students in public education.

9. Was there an individual who was not a teacher that influenced you to become a teacher? How did they contribute?

My parents – My parents instilled in me the value for others, and for life in general, which led me to decide I wanted to make a difference in the world. Neither of my parents completed high school nor did they have any college education. However, their “old school” wisdom and common sense served them well while owning and operating two successful businesses in the small town of Coolidge, Arizona. They were my first living exposure to the effectiveness, benefits, and importance of “Emotional Intelligence” and, by default, social emotional learning. They were successful in business and in life, not as a result of academic prowess or college degrees, but as a result of their knowledge and mastery of treating others as they desired to be treated.  The Golden Rule. My dad use to tell me, “You can call someone every dirty name in the book and they’ll thank you for it if you do it right.”  This was not a regular practice of his, but his statement taught me the importance of vocabulary, articulation, and use of people skills which is the point he wanted to make. My parents also instilled in me the value of helping others. Especially, the less fortunate. When I was growing up, our doors were always open to those in need. As an owner of a grocery business in our small community, I observed numerous occasions when my dad gave boxes of groceries or extended a line of credit to help families in need. The alcoholic, addicted, and homeless in our town often sought him out for hand-outs to feed their addictions. Rather than give money, my dad would give them a job. Sometimes it was for a few hours, sometimes it might be a day or two.  He would then pay them with groceries or clothes. If they required money to purchase something legitimate, he would take them and purchase it for them. He believed this practice allowed them to achieve a measure of dignity and self-value even if it was just for a while. They never stopped coming around and always knew they would have to provide a day’s work for a day’s wage rather than beg for hand-outs. He always had a job for them to do and would pay them for their work. This practice of helping others is one that my wife and family have happily continued to honor and practice to this present day.

My Wife, Tina – I would absolutely not be the man I am today without Tina’s total support, encouragement, understanding, and unconditional love. We are both in our second marriage and I was already a youth pastor/teacher when we met and married. I was emotionally damaged as a result of a divorce and estrangement from my two daughters which followed the divorce. Tina endured much hardship in the early years of our marriage including hatefulness and mistreatment from my former spouse and two daughters.  My own mishandling of the aftermath of divorce only compounded matters for her. She painstakingly endured and lovingly (sometimes with brutal honesty) nurtured me back to emotional health. She employed strategies she had learned in rehabilitation (Social Emotional/Coping Skills) to model and demonstrate the need to become a more effective communicator for the sake of fostering and sustaining healthy relationships. I am a better everything (man, husband, dad, teacher, etc) because of her love, commitment, and dedication. To say that she saved my life may border on dramatic overstatement, however, it is not hyperbole to state that my life, as it is now, has been made possible by her unconditional love, relentless support, and unwavering patience.

10. What has been your most rewarding experience as a teacher?

For me, the most rewarding experience of teaching is when my love for students is reciprocated by the students I serve. Why? Because, then I know the relationship is such that I can teach them anything…especially about life. When students show their appreciation…no matter how small they may think their gesture is…it speaks volumes to me about why I do what I do and how well I am doing it. Their simple show of appreciation informs me, reminds me, and confirms to me, that I am doing what I was born to do. Equally rewarding is watching students’ faces light up when they grasp and understood a concept. Especially, a life skill. In middle school the profound growth I have the privilege of witnessing in students between their 6th and 8th grade years is truly an experience surpassed only by watching my own children and grandchildren grow and learn.

11. Half of all new teachers quit within their first three years of teaching. Why have you not quit, or plan to quit?

Because I’m still breathing, I have a healthy body, I have a good mind, and I have a heart to make a difference. I will continue to do what I do until I can no longer do it effectively! When my career ends, my calling will continue, and I will find a way to keep living it out.

12. If something tragically happened to you this year and your family asked me to give your eulogy, what would you think I should share about you as a teacher?

He was an excellent husband, dad, and grandfather. He loved kids. He made a difference. He proved that “Hugs make the world a better place.” He was a faithful, genuine friend and confidant. He learned from his mistakes and lived his love out loud. He was “salt to the earth and light to the world.”

13. In preparing your eulogy, I ask your students for ideas on what to share, what would you hope they would tell me?

That everything in my response to question 12 is accurate and true.

Review all of your answers to the above 13 questions. Based on your review, please give a 1-3 sentence statement “WHY” you are a teacher.

I am a teacher/youth worker because it’s what I was born to do. My “WHY” starts with my “WHO.” My prayer was to “help others not make the same mistakes I’ve made” That prayer request emanated from Who I am…who I was created to be. “WHO” I am, essentially and eventually, fueled my “WHY.” As cliché as it may sound, I teach and work with youth because I truly love and care about them. I hope to leave a footprint on planet earth by positively impacting the next and future generations.

Adversity is the reason we need Faith. It’s also the reason we have it. Faith that can’t be tested,  can’t be trusted. 

Don’t be the teacher kids have to respect. Be the one they want to.

There is nothing quite like working with middle school students to garner a profound awareness for the power of rumors.  Unlike political America, there is seldom any fact-checking on a middle school campus. Unfortunately, what “they” say happened or will happen or might happen is frequently received as truth without question. As many of you may know, middle school students are developmentally equipped with a highly developed “emotional brain” combined with an under-developed “reasoning brain.” Translation: Their emotional brain will short circuit their reasoning brain and lead them into poor decisions and actions before they have thought it all through. All too often the consequences of their choices are not even considered until they are happening.  Therein lies the power and danger of “They Say.”  Below is an offering which paints an example of how this dynamic can play out. It represents the responsibility we have as parents, educators, and youth workers, to “train them up in the way they should go.” Social and Emotional Learning is everyone’s responsibility.  If I may wax cliche, “It takes a village to raise a child.”  (c:]

~Food For Thought

~Peace and Blessings…

joe

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THEY SAY

She said he said that they say it’s true.

Armed with this knowledge, I know what to do.

I recognize the face of this newfound foe.

We once were good friends; now, I’ll throw the first blow.

How dare he say what they say he said.

It’s all the reason I need to go bust his head.

They say she said he said this or that.

The details are sketchy with real shady facts.

But it makes no difference ‘cuz they say it’s true.

So, I’ll blindly give in to what they think I should do.

How will I look if I don’t stand up for what’s right?

So, I’ll settle this beef with a schoolyard fight.

What? He’s denying the words they say that he spoke!

What a big, fat liar! This guy’s a real joke!

“C’mon you big loser! What’s your play?

                    Defend all these words that they said you say!”

“I never said nuthin’.  It’s all a big lie!

Better check your facts. You got the wrong guy!”

          “But that just can’t be ‘cuz they ALL say it’s true;

          So, put up your dukes, fool, so I can pound you!”

So, I beat him down good for his supposed infraction.

I never once thought he would end up in traction.

Three broken bones and wounds to the head;

All for the words they say that he said.

Everthing is possible … I dare to dream large,

My doubts and fears fade … my passion’s in charge.

We’re all connected … I embrace everyone,

Own my life on the hundred … till the job is all done.

If it’s good or it’s bad … I’ll take it in stride,

An attitude of gratitude will humble my pride.

I’m livin’ by givin’ … that’s the best way to be,

To leave a mark on this world and to truly be free.

My time is now … not tomorrow or after,

If you say I can’t … my response will be laughter.

Not to mock or belittle but to let it be known,

Your doubts don’t faze me … my resolve is like stone.

Yeah, I’m chasing my dreams … I have no regrets.

Nothing can stop me or my seven mindsets.

I can think of nothing in the entire world I would rather do with my life than work with and be surrounded by middle school students. I know, I know…some of you are gasping for breath with brows raised and eyes bugged.  With mouths agape you’re wondering “what coo-coo wagon did this nut job fall off of?” I get it. And, to be fair, it does help to be a little crazy to enjoy working with these young humans as they stumble through the matrix. But, for me, nothing could be more fun, more important, more meaningful, or more fulfilling.

Have you ever seen the movie The Perfect Storm? If you have then you understand the analogy as it applies to an adolescent. The tumultuous winds of puberty unleash tidal waves of hormones, emotions, self-awareness…and questions.  You remember the questions, right? “Where do I fit in?” “What if I don’t fit in?” “What if they don’t like me?” What if HE or SHE doesn’t like me the way I like HER or HIM?” “MY LIFE WILL BE OVER!” “Why are my feet so big…and when did they start smelling like this?” “I think I’m all out of Axe deodorant!” “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Why do I even feel this way?” “Why should I even care?” On and on the questions rage. Thoughts and worries never before entertained, barrels of hormones evoking emotional, physical, and social changes never before experienced, combine with an enhanced and insecure self-awareness.  This hodgepodge cauldron of hormones, changes, questions, and insecurities converges on this single period of their history on earth and, VOILA!  The Perfect Storm. Anyone squirming through flashbacks right about now?

In simple terms, the challenge of working with middle school students is that their emotional brain becomes super-developed due to the onslaught of pubescent hormonal surges. Their purpose? To compel them forth on a find-a-mate-to-keep-the-species-alive mission. While at the same time, their reasoning brain remains disproportionately under-developed.  ~Some of you are laughing right now.~  In other words, they are suddenly capable of feeling emotions they have never felt at an intensity they have never experienced. Their bodies are beginning to do and feel things they have never been able to do or feel. And this new-found emotional and physical prowess is misguided (or not guided at all) by a lack of reasoning ability or the skills required to manage their feelings or properly express them. It’s akin to being a passenger in a car careening out of control at full speed down a curvy mountain road. As

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Original art by Joe Martinez

you cower and convulse with fear in the back seat, you dare open your eyes just long enough to glimpse the sign that reads, “CAUTION: Bridge Out.” Oh yeah, and the car has no brakes.  Yup that’s it. That’s adolescence. All gas pedal and no brakes. The beautiful significance of the chaos that adolescence creates, though, is that within it lies the portal to unlimited and untapped potential for meaningful contributions to the world in which they live. They are adults-in-training.

Herein, lies the wisdom of integrating social-emotional learning programs as part of the culture of every school. Not just middle schools but all of them. Inasmuch as there are curriculum, strategies, and standards to bolster GPA’s and standardized test scores, there must also be equal efforts, methods, and “rigor” spent toward helping middle school students gain the skills to manage this crucial time in their development. Education in our country has become largely “Data Driven and Performance Oriented.” In and of itself, this is not necessarily a bad thing. However, when performance and data are stalked to the neglect of developing social-emotional skills, it is done so to the hurt of student wholeness and to the future of our society. I propose that a “Destiny Driven and Purpose Oriented” filter be used to guide us toward balance in the drive for performance and data. Social-Emotional Learning is the fulcrum upon which this balance can be achieved and maintained. If you don’t believe me, ask a middle school student of poverty, who wakes up at 5 am to make sure his little brother and sister are fed, dressed, and at the bus stop on time, all while doing the same for himself, because his single mom is working two part-time jobs…ask him how his improved test scores have changed all of that. Better yet, try to convince him that working harder at school and getting better grades will make things better at home…now. This is one student in one school. Our school of 870 is well above 50% on free or reduced lunch because their families are at or below the poverty line.

There is plenty of data available to support the reality that meeting students’ social-emotional needs and teaching them how to cope with the harsh realities of life does much to improve academic performance. Without citing scads of data to prove my point, let me ask you a simple and practical question. Have you ever not wanted to go to work but decided you should go anyway? What was the reason? Were you sick? Did you wake up late and on the wrong side of the bed? Maybe you had a fight with your spouse. Kid’s sick? Too many bills left at the end of your paycheck? Life happens to everyone, right? So when you got to work that day, did you operate at your peak performance level? Or, did you want everyone to know you were in a bad mood and to stay out of your way. Did you desire a little understanding and latitude about not being the best version of yourself? Did your co-workers and boss demand no slacking in your productivity or did they offer some understanding and concern? Which approach worked better?  Admittedly, I have done this before…and preferred understanding. Yet, kids can face life issues on a daily basis and we expect them to report and perform at optimum levels with seemingly little concern for why they are not when they don’t. One would hope that, as adults, we have obtained the critical social and emotional skills necessary to get through a day like this with few mishaps. The young people we deal with, on the other hand, have not had the opportunities or time needed to hone those skills. We have to make the time and provide the opportunities.

If every student in America achieves straight A’s before leaving high school but we’ve done little or nothing to prepare them for their social and emotional lives, we have failed them. What benefits do 4.0 GPA’s and off-the-charts test scores provide young adults who don’t have the life skills to maintain healthy relationships or keep a job? I argue that the well-being of our society is more endangered by social-emotional illiteracy than it is by academic illiteracy. You don’t need straight A’s to be a good person. There is absolutely a need to obtain literacy and balance in both areas of development.

There is no greater discovery than self-discovery and middle school students are crossing the threshold of finding themselves and their place in the world. What an amazing privilege to greet them at the gate and direct them on toward the rest of their lives! And if you are one of those gatekeepers who stands at the ready to calm their storms and lovingly nurture their self-discovery, I commend and applaud your bountiful love, passion, and sacrifice. Because what else could possibly keep you there? I am honored to be counted as one within your ranks. I have stood at that threshold for thirty years now. I know more now than I did when I started but I certainly don’t know it all…or enough.  There is always more to know. Times change. Kids change. Needs vary and so methods change. But though the methods may change, the message remains ever the same; every person who ever lived, is living, or ever will live has value. We all have purpose and something unique to add to life. Middle school students are at that time in their lives when they are ripe to begin realizing their great potential. What an absolute joy and sense of fulfillment to be a conduit for information and skills that will help them discover, develop, and deploy their innate super-power; that unique quality that only they can bring. Social-emotional learning provides the skill set they will need to properly and effectively share their lives with the communities they inhabit.

And what will happen if we continue to fall short in this endeavor? That’s simple. Just watch the news.

…Food For Thought

Peace and blessings…

~joe

As a youth growing up in a small Arizona town, I recall seeing a bumper sticker on a 1970 Chevy Vega that read, “Do unto others…then, split!”  Disabled by the under-developed frontal lobe common to adolescence, I chuckled at the word play of an age-old classic known as the “Golden Rule.” I gave it little more thought than to think it was funny and cool. My thirteen year old self was oblivious to the moral implications of this word play and to the prophetic prowess of a 70’s era meme.

The Golden Rule was taught to me and my peers when we started Kindergarten at West School and was reinforced for the duration of our primary and secondary education. It was the magnetic north to our moral compass and the unbiased guide for interaction with others within our little community. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Now, there’s a novel idea.  Simple in its statement yet profound in its standard; one of those “minute to learn, lifetime to master” things. Even if we willfully chose to violate the inherent tenets of right and wrong woven into its fabric, we at least knew what we did was wrong and, therefore, were ripe for redirection.  The reprimand was written into its code. “How would you like it if someone TREATED YOU THAT WAY?”  We understood…and we were sorry. Simply stated another way, if I thought it was wrong for someone to do to me then it was wrong for me to do to someone else.

My, how far we have come!

The beauty of this powerful guiding principle is that it transcends time, culture, race, gender, nationality, religious beliefs, or any other dividing force that can come between people. Whoever you are, wherever you come from, young or old, black or white or other, man or woman or other, straight or gay or other, Catholic or Protestant or other, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, pro-life or pro-choice…and on and on…I am going to first consider how I would like to be treated, then, treat you that way…regardless of how you treat me…regardless of how we are different. In this way, how I treat others is determined by a “higher ground” principle that is constant and unaltered by the actions or behavior of others. I’m in control. 

The power of the Golden Rule is that it is not a rule at all. In fact, the term “rule” is a misnomer. This Golden Precept from Holy Writ is more rightly a rudimentary maxim or axiom upon which a lifestyle is built…and, in turn, when everyone else lives by it, a society. In fact, it is a biblical principle founded on truth sufficient to guide one’s life toward good. It is as simple in its nature and profound in its wisdom as its Holy Author. It is a foundational building block for the culture which is the kingdom of God. The Golden Rule is a witness of heaven on earth. Consistently applied with fidelity, the Golden Rule possesses the power to change the world we live in.

Unfortunately, “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” has caved under the retaliatory weight of “do unto others as they have done unto you.” Instead of treating others the way we would like to be treated, the norm for many is to treat others the way they have been treated. Or, an even more base rendition which is subject to misinterpretation, “do unto others as you percieve they have done unto you.” The prophecy of a 1970’s bumper sticker has come to fruition; “Do unto others…then, split!” Get…before you get got. Strike first.

It seems, in today’s world, the way to treat others is too frequently prescribed by how others treat us, not the more forgiving  and absolute standard of how we would like to be treated.  The trouble with this is that it gives “others” all the power, and so, the blame game begins.  We are no longer accountable for our actions but our actions are “caused” by the actions of others. “They made me do it.” “They threw the first punch…hurled the first insult…said this or said that…violated my rights” This is all nothing more than knee-jerk justification for insensitive, inappropriate, uncouth, divisive, and even felonious behavior. My bad behavior is excusable because you behaved badly first.

Sadly, this mentality is kindling and fuel for the fires of social unrest we are experiencing in our great nation. Why is our society and culture in its current sad state?  That’s easy.  It’s their fault! In a society intoxicated and  driven by entitlement, many people are more inclined to react to violated rights than to strive for the reconciliation of fractured relationships. Its easier. And, if you happen not to know which violated rights warrant your equal and opposite reaction, a casual perusal of countless “one-sided” media outlets will offer plenty of options. Or, perhaps better stated, plenty of versions of a handful of hand-picked options…but seldom, every option. Apparently, all violated rights are not equal. Selfishness is driving the train off the tracks. “I demand my rights and I’m offended that you are offended that the demand for my rights is infringing upon yours!”  What a degradation to society when its people seek only to be understood with little or no effort to understand. And, this complicated all the more by the hail storm of violent complaints and demonstration littering the streets of our cities under the protected misuse of “Freedom of Speech.”  Burn any flags, lately? Do you loot much?

The fact of the matter is that, regardless of which side of which line you are standing, nobody is entirely right or entirely wrong on either side of the line. In the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

All the more reason to Golden Rule the hell out of our differences don’t you think? How different things could be if only we all practiced this simple Golden Rule. But I know how it goes. You’ll start living by it when everyone else does, right? And so…

…here we are.

Time to split!

~ Food for Thought

~ Peace and blessings…

joe