Friday, February 25, 2011


Grief is like a nightmare you can't wake up from. On Wednesday my step-son, Louie, died at the age of 27 of complications from the muscular dystrophy he struggled with all his life. Nevertheless, it was unexpected. My dear husband has been his devoted and sole caretaker all of his life. I lived with him for almost 15 years. If you ever want to donate to a cause help the Muscular Dystrophy Association help find a cure for this horrible disease. And please stop back here in a week or two when I am able to write again.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Coexist XXXI - Coexisting in Political Viewpoints

Absolute justice is achieved by the suppression of all contradiction;therefore it destroys freedom.
Albert Camus
writer, philospher, Nobel laureate

My previous post and all the furor that is surrounding the states that are proposing eliminating collective bargaining for public employees has made me think a lot about the divisiveness of differing viewpoints. I am disturbed that I cannot express my point of view on this or many subjects to some people because of volitile reactions. In the past I have believed I could calmly discuss anything, but on this particular issue I am unsure whether I could be reasonable and open-minded. Why? Because it effects me in multiple areas of my life and my future - or what I had planned for my future.

I found some comfort in the Camus quote. If I understand him correctly, his brief statement tells me that justice can never be achieved in everyone's eyes. Everyone has a differing life experiences and reasons for their beliefs and viewpoints based on those experiences. If one group achieves their justice, another group loses theirs.

My own convictions have slowly changed over the past 20 years, not due to someone's influence, but due to the particular circumstances I live in every day and the people I have dealt with. Technically I work in a suburban school, but it is an "inner ring" school, which means it is more urban, with a low socio-economic population. Children growing up in poverty and often neglect, but American children deserving of a good life and education nonetheless. These twenty years have opened my eyes to much more than the middle class upbringing I enjoyed.

Maybe I have not paid enough attention in the past, but it seems to me the divisiveness of our country is growing stronger - and as a result will make us weaker. Another quote:

The more we let each voice sing out with its own true tone, the richer the diversity of the chant in unison.
Angelus Silesius

How can we, as human beings, see things so differently? How can what's fair, good and right seem so wrong and injust to someone else? Why can we not accept that someone else has a different life experience and allow for that - even accept it as the other person's truth? When will we stop and LISTEN to the other side instead of using sarcasm and name-calling? We are all Americans and we have enjoyed a good life as Americans. We each have the freedom to make our lives successful or not.

On this currect issue I feel like what I worked for, what has made my life successful, what supported my children and gave me a certain amount of security will now be taken from me and those who desire to be teachers, (or other public employees) in the future. Does anyone hear that - or do you just hear the loud shouting of a political party?

A house divided against itself will fall.
Luke 11:17

Come now, let us reason together.
Isaiah 1:18

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Bad First Impression

If I was a newly elected public official I think I would try to impart a good first impression to the people who gave me the job. As you know I believe in coexisting, and when it comes to politics I am willing to give anyone a chance, regardless of the political party he or she aligns with. My idealistic hope is that our elected officials truly have the best interests of the people in mind, and are acutely aware that they work for us. Sadly, some appear to be giddy with power and control the moment they are sworn in.

John Kasich is Ohio's new governor, and it seems to me in his first two months he has managed to offend and alienate many of his constituents. His agenda appears to be one of taking away rather than helping. The first thing he did was try to ban the public and media from his inauguration. What??? The public that gave him the job in the first place? Next, he managed to appoint an all white cabinet. This is the first time in over 50 years that anyone has done that. After public outcry he managed to find one qualified African-American to appoint. Did this seem like a clueless move to you?

Now he is trying to oust a highly qualified member of the State Board of Education in favor of someone he prefers. The woman happens to be African-American. Smooth move, John.

But all of those are trivial compared to his support of Senate Bill 5 which will eliminate the rights to collective bargaining and seniority for all public union workers. This includes public school teachers, police officers, firefighters,prison guards and some nurses, among others. This would include changes to teacher contracts, benefits, bargaining timelines, layoff procedures and binding arbitration rules for police and firefighters. All issues that have been negotiated, worked for and sacrificed for over many years.

Senate Bill 5 would likely lower wages and benefits of all public employees who risk their lives for us daily. State workers' salaries schedules and step increases would be eliminated and based on merit(something no one has found an equitable way to do).

SB5 may weaken Ohio's entire middle class rather than creating the jobs we need. This legislation will hurt local communities by holding back job growth.

If this leaves you with a bad impression and you live in Ohio please contact your representatives and senators. It may be voted on as soon as next week. Personally, as a veteran teacher I have a retirement plan based on my present negotiated contract and with the belief that it will remain that way. I have worked hard for over 30 years to attain that plan. Taking away what people have worked for is not the solution to improving the lives of Ohioans - or anyone. I thought that's what our public officials are sworn to do - maybe not.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Do You Pray?

When troubled times and tragedy come everyone says they are praying for you, for your family, for relief. A recent event in our family brought about many messages of prayers being said for us. It made me think.

Are they really praying, I wondered? What are they praying for? Is a prayer to them a passing good wish or real connection with God? (One person who claims to be an atheist offered a prayer - but to whom?)

After 40+ year of sincere praying for myself and many hundreds of others, this is what I have come to understand.

I believe prayer is true communication with our Creator and it enhances our relationship with Him - helps keep us in touch, if you will. I do not, however, believe that prayer alters the laws of science, or the random nature of the world. There seems to be occasional miracles but maybe they are miracles because we want them to be.

If an abundance of prayer cured cancer, then several of my close women friends would not have died in their 40's, 50's, 60's. Prayer did not heal the cancer that the earth gave them. This is what I believe prayer DID do for them. Gave them comfort, brought a sense of peace, took away fear and brought them close to the God they were moving out of this world to be closer to.

I think prayer works internally in the human spirit. It doesn't change circumstances, but it can change people. It doesn't erase heartache, but helps us through it. It gently guides us through life if we allow it to. It heals broken hearts if not broken bodies - the laws of nature God has already put in place will do that or not.

Prayer speaks to our souls and brings peace no matter what situation the planet has randomly placed us. It doesn't control us - it frees us.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Beautiful Words

I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant; and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful for these teachers.
Khalil Gibran
mystic, poet artist

When your words came I ate them, they were my joy and my heart's delight.
Jeremiah 15:16

What you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.

Gospel of Thomas