Teaching History In Proper Perspective

The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” (George Orwell)

 

Ms. Gloria, as a recently hired teacher at Lovelawn High School savored her first opportunity to make American History truthful and relevant to the struggling lives of her South Side Chicago students. So when she got the message at the beginning of the school year from the school principal that she needed to introduce a new Social Studies teaching curriculum for her 11th grade classes, understandably she became quite concerned. For this idealistic instructor would now be required to follow an executive order from the President of the United States that strict adherence to his “Make America Great Again” message should now be the primary emphasis of teaching pedagogy for all s social studies teachers in U.S. primary and secondary schools As a result, she would be advised to modify her yearly curriculum to “spin” more positive views of past American conflicts of race, ethnicity, gender, and religion.

So Ms. Gloria wondered at first about how to modify her lesson plans accordingly. But how could she teach her upcoming Civil War unit without including the damaging effects of the southern slave culture in 1861-1865? Or when it became time to present American involvement in other controversial events of interest, what sense would it have made to downplay the human tragedies experienced at the Cherokee Trail of Tears, Hiroshima nuclear bomb blast or the Vietnam Mai Lai massacre?

In addition, Ms. Gloria fearfully pondered the prospect that such radical alterations to her history curriculum would most likely lead to classroom management chaos in the classroom. What could she do to pacify those students who wanted her to present relevant material about African slavery as a result of the “Black Lives Matter” protests in their neighborhoods? How might they react when their music videos and social media postings could now be censored in the classroom? To what extent as well could she ignore teaching alleged white racist incidents of the past when the President’s angry personality escalated such interpersonal tensions daily? How physically and emotionally capable would she be to stop multiracial melees inside her classroom when she sold out her curriculum” to the “white establishment” world?

So as the year progressed, Ms. Gloria would find great difficulty in compromising her teaching methods for the sake of this false masquerade of Presidential propaganda. It would therefore be no surprise that she would begin receiving daily reminders on the intercom from her principal to shape up and teach American History more as ordered in the “Great America” way. So as her self-respect as a teacher thus gradually began to wane, she would begin thinking of resignation in order to find a more positive line of work.

One spring day as afternoon classes ended, a shooting took place on school grounds. Ms. Gloria soon heard that one of her best students, Ramon, had been been seriously injured by a stray bullet after mistakingly walking into the crossfire of a white vs. black gang fight. As her anger about this racially fueled incident grew, while Ramon was fighting for his life in a local hospital, Ms. Gloria would now make a logical decision to move forward in pursuing a career change in the immediate future. For she would realize the futility of continuing to teach in an educational system that “sugarcoated” past events in history to falsely depict life as easier than it really was.

Ms. Gloria’s resignation from teaching at the end of the school year consequently could only be expected. Her passion for providing relevant and truthful solutions to her students lives as a history teacher would now benefit her greatly as she worked “double time” on her own to develop a popular podcast titled “Gloria’s Good Old Glory”. As the marketing appeal of her podcast audience exploded within a year, she would follow this accomplishment with a successful, “grass roots” run for State Representative in the U.S. Congress. Living her life now without past regret, Gloria’s luck had finally improved in her own way.

Musical Reawakening

Hi readers. As part of my decision to experiment with new ways to present my blog, I have decided to delve into the writing of reality based fiction. My first story below thus attempts to revive some interest in live music as a positive therapy to deal with our current isolation amid the current Corona pandemic.

Another day of wishing your life away does not seem to be an appealing option to Jason as he slumps lazily in his easy chair watching vicarious thrills of cable TV. For our musical genius misses the spontaneous thrill of playing live music now as the lingering medical crisis worsens While humans debate the controversy of whether or not to wear a mask, he most of all suffers in silence indoors with his awkward inability to play the trombone on stage for others anymore.

Sadly, our former virtuoso musician can no longer bellow out those high notes or pedal tones that he once played with ease. Instead he lets the oxidation of time take its course as the once shiny bell of his instrument now rusts badly in its case these days. Even if Jason could play again, he simply lacks the physical stamina now to practice hard enough at his accustomed standard of musical performance.

Yet it makes no sense for him to sulk like a spoiled juvenile who can never “get his way.” For this frustrated artist must realize that there are so many other talented musicians that are currently grounded from playing live shows now. In today’s “lockdown” times, these artists would have a better chance of making money from harvesting a field of healthy sassafras than booking a concert “gig” right now.

Face it. We are all merely mortal and must endure a runny nose, sprained ankle, or upset stomach once in awhile. Some of my teachers once told me to eat an apple every day and everything will turn out okay. The question remains whether Jason will choose to see a ripe apple or rotten apple in his current state of musical crisis. Maybe I would be wise to do the same. Wait a minute! What’s that beautiful carnival of sounds coming from beyond my patio now? I feel like I need to dance, Ruth. Can you twirl around with me a little? 

Flaneuring Not Hurrying


Flaneur – “Someone who walks around not doing anything in particular but watching people and society” (Cambridge Dictionary)

Many of us now grow weary of the enduring idleness at home because of the Corona pandemic lockdown. So let us “turn the tables” and imagine that today represents the first time since this self quarantine began that you felt safely willing and able to venture outdoors for a refreshing walk around your neighborhood. Since you are already in slowdown mode from being cooped up inside, it suddenly feels more natural to stroll casually rather than “ramp up your hiking pace today. Although there are familiar surroundings that you will obviously observe in your neighborhood then then, you may also notice unexpected images which you have never seemed to recognize before: perhaps the colors of a blossoming tree, the shape of a street sign, the smell of a rain gutter, the touch of a fallen leaf, or the sound of a flag flapping in the breeze.

As you continue on your path to such unexpected encounters, you begin to romanticize innocent memories of your youthful past. It begins to rain but you seemingly don’t care today about getting wet. Only the refreshing cool of the falling drops on your body enters your mind now. Your walk then quietly ends as you take a seat on a lonely park bench feeling a calm appreciation for the beautifully fresh greenness that surrounds you now.

Welcome to “Flaneuring” or the intentional act of aimless wandering, as outlined in Erica Owen’s novel , “The Art Of Flaneuring – How to Wander With Intention and Discover a Better Life.” So many of us today thrive on time driven, task deadlines to move from point A to point B. Yet Owen teaches us the personal value of finding slower times during our day to be outside simply for the sake of being outside. He accordingly recommends that we must maximize use of all of our human senses as we venture out to discover self- revelations of the unexpected moment encountered during such aimless wanderings.

So let’s practice our “Flaneuring” skill potential in more of an urban-like setting. Imagine you are traveling to Paris, France on your first post-pandemic vacation. As you feel relieved to be on the outside again, you’ve reasoned it best to take your time on a leisurely walk around the city. Now observe any thoughts/emotions that arise as you conduct this imagined walk via one or several of the places presented in the video below. I recommend as well that you stop and restart the tape as needed to give yourself additional time to jot down brief notes about such mental images observed for any particular photo of interest. Perhaps you will be surprised then by a strong sense of a certain color, taste, smell, sound, or even the warmth or coldness of touch. For a further challenge, you might try meditating in silence for a few minutes about a particular photo and visualize how this setting provides a positive impact to your current emotional state now. Stay safe and healthy this summer. Namaste .

Road Trip Resilience Tested

“It takes a great deal of courage to see the world in all its tainted glory, and still to love it.” (Oscar Wilde)

When Ruth and I returned from India at the beginning of March, we seriously wondered if we had placed our health in jeopardy on this vacation by being exposed to the spread of the Corona Virus. After all, we had flown back from Kochi to Miami on two long flights filled with primarily Asian passengers. So although we in fact remained healthily free of the virus, fear of exposure and resultant home quarantine became our daily norm.

Almost three months later, any thoughts of cruising or plane travel in the near future are quickly dismissed as out of the question now with social distancing firmly embedded in our mind. Yet our enduring isolation has created a powerful need to explore open spaces of the great outdoors again. So these two former teachers will resume our latest road trip adventure from Fort Lauderdale west in June/July with a counterclockwise, loop itinerary as shown in the map photo above.

So tell me fine readers why are two restless wanderers willing to “roll the dice” and get on the road again amidst life’s health uncertainties now? Is it simply too soon? Yet if you settle into the lyrics of this iconic “Traveling Wilburys” song below, I suppose you will hear strongly our answer. “Well it’s alright.”

“Well it’s alright. Even if you’re old and gray.”

The nostalgic spirit of youthful curiosity will never grow old for us along Route 66 and other historic roads “off the beaten track.”

“Well it’s alright. Even if the sun don’t shine.”

Rock and Roll, Indians/Browns sports and a tranquil walk along Lake Erie are always a happy combination to visit in any kind of weather for this Cleveland bred man.

“Well it’s alright. As long as you lend a hand.”

The environmental movement reigns strong in the Pacific Northwest and we are often willing to lend a “go-green” hand there to preserve and protect the fragile natural environment.

“Well it’s alright. Sometimes you gotta stay strong.”

Anticipating those challenging road trip hikes like the deceptively steep gullies at Utah’s Goblin State Park provides plenty of motivation for us to be more mindful of staying physically fit as “baby boomers” throughout the year.

“Well it’s alright. Riding around in the breeze.”

Experiencing the vast expanse of wide open spaces as we traverse the dry deserts of the American West provides an exhilarating feeling of personal solitude and freedom.

“Well it’s alright. If you live the life you please.”

To stand in awe amidst the towering vortexes of Sedona, Arizona radiates the positive energy of peaceful contentment of a life well served.

“Well it’s alright. As long as you got somewhere to lay.”

Breathe in the fresh air of a free flowing, mountainside river that lulls you to sit awhile in lonely solitude. Now that’s the sort of social distancing that I can live with well.

“Well it’s alright. We’re going to the end of the line.”

Traveling over 3,000 miles from Atlantic to Pacific shores by car typically manifests for us as an arduously long marathon. At the end of our journey, you might expect then we would find this spectacular view over a “Big Sur” cliffside to be the ideal spot to bask in the success of what we have accomplished.

“Well it’s alright. Remember to live to let live.”

You might wonder why I would hug this California Redwood tree. Very simply, both of our species are united as living earth companions who share an enduring will to survive.

“Well it’s alright. If you got someone to love.”

Any thoughts of experiencing Corona pandemic loneliness as we travel along the road are banished as so many of our friends welcome us into their lives again in person.

“Well it’s alright. The best you can do is forgive.”

History teaches me to never forget that the lessons of the past often repeat in the present. I thus stand solemnly on our road trips by such important historical monuments as this Gettysburg Address Memorial hoping to find time tested ways toward becoming a uniter rather than a divider of both friend and foe.

A Timely Seclusion

“There is a charm in solitude that cheers.
A feeling that the world knows nothing of.
A green delight the wounded mind endears.
After the hustling world is broken off…”(John Clare)

Let’s face it. Covid -19 has required an immense personal sacrifice for over two months now. As each day’s routine now seemingly feels the same, I’ve thus dutifully followed the recommended plan to stay wisely at home, stop non-essential travel, trust shopping online, and make use of “virtual” mediums to avoid direct human contact. Yet in spite of these safeguards, increasingly it seems that I feel trapped like a prisoner in my own home. How about you? 

So many puzzling questions thus quickly arise about easing the strain of my semi-quarantine status. How can my wife and I avoid infringing on each other’s personal space to conduct our own private lives? By what means can I effectively deal with my “cabin fever” which festers negative mind distractions that are psychologically harmful? What steps can I take to avoid eating out of idle time boredom ? How can I energize my daily routine to avoid sitting in sedentary laziness on my living room couch?

So with social distancing firmly in place now and for the unforeseeable future, I’m determined to shift my awareness to finding more productive opportunities outside. Picture me then taking up bike riding again as I often did as a restless teenager seeking new adventures growing up in South Florida. Yet a spirited ride for me as I continue to endure this health crisis rut will serve as a much needed escape from home to new places of solitude/silence. I’ve thus thankfully discovered that the visually stimulating grounds of nearby Nova Southeastern University serves as an ideal destination for my daily biking endeavors. For here I can pleasantly “soak in” the subtropical natural beauty of South Florida as spring time emerges as well as reviving my “happy day” passions of my youthful college past. So join me in my quest for serenity as I pedal quietly around NSU’s main campus on a gorgeously sunny weekday morning in the following photograph display.

The NSU Taft and Rosenthal University Centers normally bustle in daytime with campus life. But as I passed by these impressive looking landmarks, the soothing presence of flowing water from a “Shark” mascot fountain seemed to take center stage” in my attention today.

This statue of famed South Florida entrepreneur Wayne Huizenga sitting under a pleasantly shaded tree tempted me to sit contentedly next to him for awhile on this shaded bench.

In the late 1980s, I taught freshman college classes as an adjunct English professor in the Parker Building below. Being no longer “caught up” in the time driven dash to and from class from those days, I discovered a freshly new outlook of these environs by conducting a pleasant walk along these lush vegetative corridors.

The current Miami Dolphins training facility prominently stands out along the northerly perimeter grounds of NSU. Yet the eerie silence emanating from these locked facilities provided a stark reminder that spectator sports might soon become for me a much more solitary hobby.

The diverse ecosystem of tropical flora at NSU’s Medicinal Healing Garden nearby the Parker Building provided a secluded place for me to quietly unwind from Corona’s life challenges. Good idea that I brought my insect repellent here today.

Self meditation also provided an inspiring activity at the NSU Healing Garden as I found the perfect flower to focus my full attention on.

I often stopped to read at benches set along a picturesque loop path overlooking Gold Circle Lake near the NSU Administration Building and Law School complex.

Plenty of hungry reptile and aviary life also congregated at Gold Circle Lake to keep me company. I never realized that iguanas love bananas.

This inviting park bench area outside the NSU bookstore provided positive memories of my youthful energy to embrace the act of serious textbook study sitting outside as a graduate student in the past at NSU. Incidentally, the need to find Wi-Fi access was not a big issue back then.

Does this open green at NSU look like a nice place to unwind from a stressful day in class? Does anyone feel like throwing me a frisbee?

 

Quarantine Art Therapy

“There’s no place like home.” (Dorothy, The Wizard of Oz)

“Every person is different, every home is different, every item is different, and we all have to decide how best to approach the clutter in our lives and homes based on our own values, sentiments, circumstances, and priorities.” (Taylor Haskins)

Ok let’s face it. Since Ruth and I have been “cooped up” in our home because of the Corona Pandemic, we now spend considerably more time familiarizing ourselves more deeply with our room interiors. Witness my wife’s practical attitude that the current slowdown the Corona slowdown provides an excellent time to diligently rearrange the location of furniture or remove/add objects from tables/desks in our condo at least once a week. I, however, find a more “inner” connection to the current isolation I face in my home’s physical surroundings. For in such semi- quarantined living conditions now, I’ve become inspired by a Getty Art Museum Challenge to test my artistic talents as I express my current mental state in these matching photographs that follow.

To gain more personal benefit from this blog, I recommend you create your own home version of this Getty Museum Challenge. To get started, click on the You Tube link below

The downtrodden pose of this elderly man reminds me that there are so many victims of the pandemic’s wrath who desperately need more government help now. Everyone deserves a safe cocoon from the airborne spread of Covid -19 now.

With shades of Mahatma Gandhi in mind as I face the extended “downtime” pandemic, I look forward to these simpler times of quiet reflection and extended silent reading.

I struggle now to replace the soothing slowness of a Major League Baseball Game with a worthy replacement activity at night to equally occupy my attention.

Where is Francisco Lindor’s infectious smile and brilliance as a baseball hero these days when I need him?

The loss of human touch seeps sadly in to my mind in this era of social distancing. So a quick squirt of sanitizer on my hand and I can imagine a world of such closeness again.

When “cabin fever” sets in, I pedal outside to feel the fresh air caress my face and embrace the passing glory of wild nature.

I’m saddened by the teenager depicted in this picture who will likely face  the loss of peer social interaction with imminent school closures. Yet the slowdown seems to be an ideal time for him/her to reach out to others by volunteering.

I wonder about fulfilling the challenge of using my breathing mask and maintaining a social distance wherever I travel in the future?

 

Source: Getty Museum Art Challenge

http://www.mymodernmet.com/recreate-art-history-challenge/

 

Will The Marlin Soar?

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.” (Rogers Hornsby)

Whenever I enter a Major League Baseball Stadium, my immediate attention usually focuses on the sheer thrill of winning baseball for the hometown team. Before each game begins, I so often “tune in” to the contagious enthusiasm of the crowd resonating throughout the ballpark waiting for the game to begin. At this year’s Miami Marlins “Fan Fest”, however, I got my baseball juices flowing” in a much different way. For while no game outcome would be decided on this bright sunny afternoon in mid February at Marlins Ball Park, a “behind the scenes” aura of winning Marlins Fever seemed to resonate strongly during my visit.

How liberating it seemed at this inaugural spring training event, that all fan attendees today were granted free roam of the playing field, dugout, seating areas, and team locker facilities for more than three hours. For me, such a personalized tour of Marlins Park stimulated a “deep-seated“ mind probe into the human matter of team culture to win for those who actually play this game so competitively. For how intensely does each hitter practice at batting cages to improve their swing before each game? How efficiently does a rookie sensation pitcher use his modest locker space to help him prepare positively to face competent, major league hitters? What strategies does a valuable bench player have to stay focused in the crowded dugout as he awaits the pressure induced call to pinch-hit later in the contest? To what extent do the established stars of the team selfishly prefer to promote themselves as popular celebrities rather than improve on fundamental baseball skills needed for winning team play?

With these performance issues in mind, I present the following slideshow from “Fan Fest” 2020. Can you spot any signs leading to the sweetness of victory as the Miami’s Marlins strive to soar this year to heights of winning baseball?

Maximizing The Writing Moment

“Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

What makes writing so important these days? Consider our regular habit of jotting down our routine obligations on a monthly calendar of what we need and want to do. Or in times of future worry, some of us complete a personal diary or journal  as a a daily meditative mantra to  offer us emotional support from the frustrations of difficult life challenges As our attention span from each moment to moment seriously shortens in today’s fast paced, urban world, we also rely on our device of digital communication to calm the incessant mental chatter these days.  

In this era of fake truth writings, so many of us find greater need to  pay closer attention to commercial advertisements and published articles as well. For by examining the written word more carefully, we learn to trust ourselves to avoid making hasty, negative prejudgments or illogical/biased conclusions in our own formal and informal writing endeavors.         

We must realize, however, that self serving egoism can never suffice as our sole invitation to write. For while we desire to be heard in a timely text, tweet, or email, we often do not take the time to understand what others have to say. So why make it difficult? Learn the art of two-way written communication. Consider the following blogs reposted below. How might you make practical use of the content of each posting to maximize writing moments in your life?                                                                                                        

NOTE: CLICK ON THE URL LINKS FOR EACH OF THE FOLLOWING TITLES 

Caressing Catharsis

How can we beat manage our feelings in confrontational situations?

https://onstageformyselfnow.blog/2019/12/26/caressing-catharsis/

Perplexing Paradox Connections

How can on deal effectively with “You’re Wrong I’m Right” thinking?

https://onstageformyselfnow.blog/2019/11/20/perplexing-paradox-connections/

Love Above Hate

What are the underlying motives of love vs. hate filled rhetoric?

https://onstageformyselfnow.blog/2019/10/30/love-above-hate/

Let’s Act Without Labels

How can we avoid assigning inappropriate  labels to people ?

https://onstageformyselfnow.blog/2018/11/05/lets-act-without-labels-2/

The Least I Can Do

What are the best ways to figure out the truth amidst a lie-ridden, political culture?

https://onstageformyselfnow.blog/2018/06/26/the-least-i-can-do/

Beware of Illogical Thinking Trap

How can we avoid the dangers of propaganda by thinking more “critically”  about key issues of concern

https://onstageformyselfnow.blog/2018/02/06/beware-of-illogical-thinking-trap/

A New Light For War On Words

How does one best obtain “peace of mind” in a politically turbulent world?

https://onstageformyselfnow.blog/2016/11/09/a-new-light-on-war-on-words/

Acadia Affections

“In every walk with nature, one receives more than he seeks.”(John Muir)

Hello Bloggers:

I recently learned from one of my favorite blog followers that 2020 marks Maine’s celebratory Bicentennial year. As I considered her offer to share my own visions of Maine as part of this effort, I immediately recalled hundreds of iPhone pictures I’d taken of Acadia National Park and the nearby Bar Harbor region during our recent Maine cruise travels. Logically, the time seems right for my latest blog to take a fresh look at my blog writing skills and “fire up” some original Haikus about the inspiring natural beauty of this American region.

I thus share three poems below for your imaginative pleasure. Happy New Year USFMAN

SUMMER DARE

A Fractured Rock Shore

Gaze Dark Plunge Into Chaos

So Simple To Fall

NATURE’S NOD

I Just Want To Sleep

Undisturbed In Maine Silence

Away From My Phone

WILD EMBRACE

Strong Pillars of Pine

I Hug Sweet Bark Today In

Living Nature’s Peace

Love Above Hate


Nothing is easier than to denounce the evildoer, nothing is harder than to understand him” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

I am deeply disturbed by the continuing presence of racism in our country today. In particular, I am concerned about the pervasive presence of white supremacist hate reaction to Donald Trump’s Presidency via right wing media, “hostile” Twitter rants and at raucous political rallies. Looking over my Kindle book collection last week, I thus discovered “ The Opposite Of Hate” by Sally Kohn as a captivating reading on this subject. With strong research provided in her book, she presents a stunning picture of America’s current political climate where  white racial resentment runs rampant among Trump supporters.

Yet according to these  findings, many “Trumpies” surprisingly either reject viewing themselves as explicitly biased about race matters in extreme, Ku Klux Klan fashion or are simply unaware of their own hate spewing ways. A logical conclusion surfaces then that as many Trump fanatics fail to “own up” to their own prejudicial views about race, they accordingly deny their responsibility to reject partisan, race-hate propaganda spewed by their President. Thus in response  to America’s hate mongering problem concerning race today, I became motivated to write the following poem.

LOVE ABOVE HATE

Hate

How Much Do We See

Blinded In Fight

By Society’s Ils

When White Scorns Black

Only Paralysis Waits

 

You and I

To Taste Together

Where We Forgive

There I Am With You

Minds Cool As We Go

To Wander As One

 

Whether We’re Rich

Or Poor, We Are

Vanquishing Weary Walls

My Favorite Foe

When Will We Love Again?

You might also be interested then to find out more about how humans prejudge white/black race with bad/good sensations. If so, click on the Implicit Association Test and TED lecture link in capital letters below.

IMPLICIT ASSOCIATION TEST

“TED” LECTURE

Source:

Kohn, Sally. (2018). “The Opposite Of Hate”. Workman Publishing. Kindle Version

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