Health, Personal Success, relationships

Principles

 

One of our vocabulary words in my fifth grade class this week was principle: “a personal or specific basis of conduct or management.” Basically, I told my students, principles are your personal beliefs and values and they dictate how you act.

My sister in Silicon Valley emailed a news article to me. Santa Clara officials have “declared the teen suicide problem an urgent health care problem” due to the episodes of suicide clusters in that area. High school students (many from affluent homes of highly educated parents) are committing suicide in staggering numbers. They jump in front of trains, they jump off overpasses and buildings and they hang themselves. A Yale psychologist who has studied this phenomenon says that, “on average, rich offspring experience serious levels of depression and anxiety at twice the national rates.”

Why are children who seem to have so much promise taking their lives?

The experts have identified two factors: overwhelming pressure to succeed AND a broken or non-existent bond within their families. These youth are showing signs of mental illness and their parents are in denial. The principles, then, of these parents are simply high achievement, excellent education and then successful careers for their offspring. Absent is the principle of unconditional love and acceptance.

At this moment, our country is experiencing high tension: racial violence and racist rhetoric not seen since the civil rights movement is now a reality. The principles in our current federal administration seem to be tax cuts for the wealthy, protect the KKK and bully people into submission. Again, absent is the principle of unconditional love and freedom. Absent is the principle of peace and equal rights (for women, LGBTQ, immigrants, etc.)

With such principles, only disaster can result.

It is up to each of us to do our own part to right this wrong.

  • Vote hate out.
  • Join the NAACP.
  • Join NPR.
  • Subscribe to the NY Times.
  • Volunteer at a community organization that serves people in need.

Any other ideas? Feel free to add!

 

 

 

motivation, relationships

Peace, Not Passivity

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Photo by Jakob Owens

There’s a lot of political strife and fear going around. I keep hearing about people losing sleep over the recent events in Virginia with the supremacist groups and the death of an innocent protestor.

I offer this: Take a deep breath. Do not expect others to feel the way you do. Do not get frustrated and scared. Instead, think of one SMALL thing you can do to feel effective and do it. You’ll feel better. You might even sleep better.

Lead by example.

Show up. We need people to show up for what they believe in.

But fighting and arguing are only going to get defenses up.

And, for your insomnia, I offer this YouTube video of Byron Katie speaking with someone who feels the way you do. Trust me, you need to watch this. It’s magic.

This is not a call for passivity. You need to feel the inner peace before you can help create the peace outside of yourself.

 

writing

Wanted: Trailblazers

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Artists are powerful because they appeal to people’s hearts and minds. Painters, sculptors, writers, musicians and other artists are changemakers.  Writers, for example, can be drivers for social equity.

Two Asian actors in “Hawaii Five-O” just left the show. When they signed on, they were the big names. No one really knew the two white lead actors (Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan). Daniel Dae Kim was coming from “Lost” and Grace Park was famous for her work in “Battlestar Galactica.” The Asian actors were really the draw for the show. Now, seven years later, the Asian actors are still not making as much money as the lesser known leads.

NPR had an intriguing and informative interview with writer Rick Najera and Jeff Yang (podcast host). Najera made the assertion that the power lies in the hands of the writers:

NAJERA: The writers’ room can decide whether that actor is a supporting actor or a leading actor. So it’s very easy to make that decision. So you can sit there and say, well, we have two Asian actors on a show set in Hawaii, which is predominately very Asian, let’s make them leads. They can make that decision early on. I think Hollywood’s kind of catching up to that thought and wants to. It’s just everyone in Hollywood wants to be second, no one wants to be first.

I believe artists outside of Hollywood – the independent filmmakers and artists – are the people who will make (are making) this happen.

Be the first!

 

 

 

 

 

Health, Personal Success

Filters

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When you are in the presence of a person who speaks his mind freely, spontaneously and thoroughly (often inappropriately) we say, “He has no filter.”

This is often a problem in the classroom when there are 34 students and the teacher has numerous goals she wants to achieve. The outspoken person not only takes up valuable time uttering words that have little to no value, but it can distract other students and take them off-task.

It often causes drama.

That student can filter his words, but it requires self-awareness and self-discipline.

We can ALL filter our minds. We are in control of what we choose to read. We are all, each, in control of who we socialize with and, to some degree, who we engage with at work. You can choose to read the news and get upset or, you can choose to opt out.

But how will I stay informed? How will I continue to participate in my world?

To which I ask, “Are you truly engaging and participating in the world when you read what inflames you and then complain about it?” How about doing some volunteer work? How about starting a rights group? How about writing letters to your state representatives?

There will things you see or hear that you do not like. This is when space is helpful.

Filter your world carefully and you will see a change for the better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Success

Elections from Kids’ POV

 

Our school just held Student Council officer elections this week. Classes voted yesterday and we identified our winners by the end of the day.

One thing that struck me throughout the week of campaigning was how CLASSY the kids were. These were 12 and 13 year olds. They wanted to be school President, Vice President, Secretary, Historian and Treasurer. Each one made posters (most decorated them themselves) and they were funny and witty.

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NONE called their opponents names. Instead, they focused on the positive: they shared their visions of making our awesome school even better. They wrote speeches. They were nervous wrecks as they recorded them and they did it despite knowing the entire school would see them on the broadcast system. They did it, dreading the fact that by running for office, they left themselves vulnerable to criticism and defeat. I wanted every one of them to win, but of course, that’s not possible. I was excited to announce the winners, but I also dreaded breaking young, hopeful hearts.

The candidates were an eclectic bunch: nerds, athletic nerds, new-to-school kids and popular kids. The popular kids didn’t always win.

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Each candidate focused on giving the student body what they wanted. They promised to listen. They shared personal information  (“I have two sisters  and a dog. I love watching movies and eating ice cream.”) They were so scared, that a few shared how nervous they were giving the speech DURING the speech. One of the candidates sang her entire speech acapella. They read their qualifications and it sounded like a list of Over Achievers Anonymous: Science Fair winners, Eagle Scouts, Straight A students, Star Soccer player, and on and on.

I don’t doubt that most of our American Presidential candidates really want to help America. But I wonder where our election process is going. Billions of dollars are spent on campaigns for an election that has been named “A Race to the Bottom.” Certain candidates have made allusions to gender, sexual body parts and trophy wives. They have mocked each other’s intelligence and looks. They lie and disregard fact-checking.  In my social studies class, I wanted to utilize this year’s election in the classroom by taking candidates’ speeches and having students analyze them. To my dismay, I couldn’t do that (in a bipartisan platform, anyway). Must of what was bantered about was X-rated!

As I spoke to the candidates, I expressed how extremely proud of them I was and how I wished that adults could handle their campaigns in the same smart and mature way. They smiled. They knew what I meant.

I really hope that our young students grow up and remain full of enthusiasm and integrity. I have faith that they will.