Thursday, December 5, 2013

Overwhelmed and Disillusioned

The news out of Washington, D.C, and Brussels, Belgium, and London, and just about anywhere you turn is all bad. We are still engaged in a deadly conflict in Afghanistan despite the medias best efforts to pretend no such war exist under this President. Unemployment is still staggeringly high and the job market offers little hope for those seeking employment. Many have simply given up the search and committed themselves to a life of federal assistance and poverty.
The Obamacare rollout was terrible and has not improved with the new and improved rollout just released. Unfortunately, the new rollout did nothing to fix the systemic problems with matters like hackers and identity theft. It is pointless to even mention the problems which infest the actual plan and it's implementation...things like the need for at least 40% of Americans under 35 to enroll when the facts show we will maybe get 25%, or the fact that even MORE Americans now think we should scrap Obamacare.
We have a President who has expanded his offices authority to levels never imagined but certainly feared by our Founding Fathers who thought the safe guards they put in place would protect the people. Little could those Founders have known that they would need to put in place motivators to get the Congress to act or the Supreme Court to rule Constitutionally to defend the nation from such tyranny.
The good news is that the sun rose today and I am breathing...the bad news is on every page you read, every blog you visit, and every pundit you hear speak. How much longer will the American public wait to act? The Founders did include one last stop gap measure to protect this Nation and it's the measure that would come in the Red box with the glass cover marked, "In case of Emergency Break". The alarm bells are blaring the signal to action and it does not appear that any of the men or women who signed up to be the first line of defense are going to it is quickly approaching the time to Break that glass and pull the lever!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Education: Can We Teach Common Sense Now?

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson


The stories in the news of late have me wondering whether schools have lost the ability to think or teach critically. Teachers and administrators have gone so far over the top in their response to perceived danger that even our friend Calvin would have a hard time imagining such atrocities were imminent. For example, a 5th grader from Philadelphia was recently suspended from school for having a paper gun. The piece of paper was crafted by the little girls’ grandfather and was reported by another student who saw it as the girl unfolded it on her desk. The teacher reportedly yelled at the young girl and threatened that he should, “Call the cops” and also was said to have warned she could be arrested for her paper gun. I am certain had she had a permit to carry this would have been a moot point.
Also in the great state of Pennsylvania we had a kindergartener recently suspended because she told a friend while waiting for the bus to go home, that she wanted to shoot her friends and herself with her Hello Kitty Bubble gun. She did not actually have the gun in her possession and posed no immediate threat, if any. The following day the 5 year old was taken into the office by the Mount Carmel Area Elementary officials and questioned for over three hours. As a former law enforcement officer, I have witnessed actual criminals being interrogated for less time! It is also worth noting that the criminals had access to representation, something this 5 year old minor was denied.
This list of insane incidents with over reactionary responses does not end with the first two cases but continues and includes more stories like the one of a 7 year old student who was suspended for playing with an imaginary grenade. The young man was playing alone on his schools playground and was witnessed to have thrown what “appeared” to be an imaginary grenade at an imaginary bad guy, in an imaginary game he called, “Rescue the World”. The school declared this was a violation of one of their absolute rules which state among other things, “No fighting, real or imaginary; no weapons, real or imaginary;”(and should have a disclaimer that states No thought, real or imaginary was put into these ridiculous rules) Upon finding out his punishment the young Alex responded, “I was trying to save people and I just can’t believe I got dispended.” No Alex and neither can the rest of the sane world!
Anyone ever read Calvin and Hobbes? The above clip is a classic example of Calvin behavior. He isn’t really a spaceman about to zap an alien with his ray gun. However, it is apparent that Calvin would be deemed a dangerous young man with violent tendencies and potential terrorist proclivities by teachers and administrators at these schools. His imaginary scenes would be considered hallmark signs of trouble as outlined by the latest homeland security watch list now being published by these educational imaginary thought police, the list “When Kindergarteners go bad”.
If I am to accept the alarmist over-reactions of these schools, teachers, and administrators as valid then I should be concerned that yesterday my 5 year old ran around the house with a clothes hanger stuck in the back of his shirt. He was pretending the hanger was actually a bow and arrow. As he darted from room to room making swishing noises to imitate the sound of arrows flying, he was carefully seeking out evil goblins intent on attacking our home. However, now that I see the real story behind his actions I see the menacing nature that lies just below the surface. OK, actually I don’t…I see a healthy 5 year old boy who happens to think Lord of the Rings and Legolas in particular, are super cool. Something his 40 year old Army officer dad tends to agree with wholeheartedly.
Edmiston (2008) says, “When adults confuse pretend fighting with violent behavior, stop children from playing, and lecture them about not pretending to be bad, they can actually become oppressive while believing that they are being virtuous” (p.189). If instead of reacting to these moments with anger, punishment, or distaste, adults responded with a mature approach, then these could be teachable moments. We could properly question, answer, and guide them to ethical decisions, not confuse or frighten them with over reactions and negative responses to natural child development. Lastly, as adults we could remember that we were all once children with imaginations who I suspect fought our own monsters and villains. I challenge any adult who says they never used their imagination to act out a violent scene.
 Let’s focus on restoring common sense to our schools and stop creating problems where none exist. Teachers and administrators need to focus on reality and let kids focus on imagination. Look for trends in behavior and question those that seem to create a real threat to safety. Seek to understand what is going through a child’s mind rather than to control what goes on in that mind.  Finally, let’s allow kids to be children without crisis management 101 requiring that every stick turned into a weapon by a wayward child is a sign of imminent danger.
Edmiston, Brian. (2008). Forming Ethical Identities in Early Childhood Play. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Broad living Abroad

Having been married to an Army man for ten years, having taught overseas, and having served in the US Navy before marrying, I have spent a great deal of time living abroad. One of the first things I noticed about life overseas is how you become aware of others from your home country.(Also that McDonald's really is everywhere) While living in America the question, "Where are you from?" can mean a few things. If you are outside of your home state, it likely means, "What state are you from?" While if you are inside of your home state this same question typically means, "What part of the state or city in the state are you from?" Once you leave the shores of the Good Ole US of A, it means, "What country are you from?"

What's also interesting is how when you leave your native home, you want to meet others who are like you. When I moved to South Korea on my own in 2002, (my family calling me insane, which wasn't entirely false...just not related to my choice of living locations as much as my having grown up with two older brothers) I was the only American working at the small English speaking school in Seoul. The others in my group were from Australia, Great Britain, and Canada. Now, given that I spoke not a word of Korean upon arriving in Seoul, it seems obvious that my choice to hang out with English speakers would be logical.(Also given that all Korean men mistook blond haired, white woman as Russian "Dancers"aka prostitutes, it was safest) What I quickly discovered was that the folks from the other English speaking countries were not very impressed with America or Americans something a great number of Koreans seemed to agree with at the time.(Although I did have a Korean man tell me I looked like "Miss America"just before propositioning me...ah hum)

Now they were not mean to me or difficult to work with but it was hard to be in their company many times. While spending time with these guys, the favorite subject at lunch, dinner, or after work seemed to always surround something critical about US actions around the globe.(Since Koreans were protesting America at the time, I must confess to having pretended Canadian Citizenship to get a cab once or twice) Having served in the US Navy I was a Flag waving, Constitution loving, Patriot and it was not sitting well with me that "foreigners" were so nasty about my country. So, I began seeking out other Americans to spend my free time with and in no time found my way to the US Army Garrison at Yongsan.

As I found myself sitting in a local pub called Geckos, I met a number of service members who quickly took me under their wing and into their circle of friends. (Being a young single white blond English speaking female probably had little to do with their enthusiasm) My time in Seoul became one of the greatest experiences I've had living overseas. Not that I didn't miss home or find the idea of McDonald's NOT serving breakfast hard to swallow. (Thank God, the South Koreans changed this about McDonald's in 2007...just in time for my pregnancy and early morning cravings) Living abroad can be a great experience but it's always seemed better when I could find at least a small group of Americans to share in the experience.

Plenty of others helped make my overseas experiences all positive, but it was my beloved fellow countrymen who truly made it great! Talking about politics, government spending, taxes, and all the other subjects being discussed at home are no less important to those of us living abroad. (With the exceptions of Honey Boo Boo, American Idol, and other reality TV shows most of us were HAPPILY oblivious of) We can however, feel a bit out of the loop and unable to participate. Calling our state senator can be complicated by time zones and expense. Attending local Town Hall meetings just aren't options we find available 6000 miles from home. So, we need those who can relate to our positions and help give voice to our opinions. Don't get me wrong...not all Americans share my political slant (or love of Kimchee) and often the discussions were heated, but those were the ones I cherished the most!

What living abroad has done for me and most of my friends, is to give us a reality check and greater appreciation for the blessings we have in America.(As well as the ability to say hello, goodbye, where is the bathroom?, and other important phrases in three or four languages) I wish every single American had the opportunity to live at least one year Europe or Asia or anywhere in-between. To see how the other half lives is so important to me and to my family. Now, when I am home and folks complain about the grocery store being out of their favorite ice cream, etc. I want to laugh or scream! (Try finding Dukes Mayo ANYWHERE outside of the South!) Living abroad is the best teacher of appreciation for what we have at home. Whether it's driving, shopping, movies, or food selections....there are some awesome things in America that just can't be matched overseas. (Not that driving in LA is a joy or DC or half a dozen other major US Cities...but if you haven’t' driven in Seoul, Beijing, Tokyo, Jerusalem, or Brussels...never mind)

Our son is 5 years old and has lived in two different countries (three if you believe what some in Hawaii claim) and Texas (Also a question mark since Texas was once it’s on country and some are leaning that way again). He is currently attending a French speaking Kindergarten and for the first two years of his life had Korean speaking nannies and was pretty fluent for a two year old! All the Ajumas loved him and his bowing self! Yet, he knows we are all American and is resisting the French language because he fears he will forget English, but I digress. I love living abroad, but I love America and hope when we move home it is to the country we left and not a country that is Left!

So, for those of you thinking of moving abroad, preparing to move abroad, or living abroad, you are still American and still important in the role as a citizen. Unless you take up Tina Turner’s view point and relinquish your citizenship…you have a voice that needs to be heard. Find your US Embassy or Consulate and get registered for your own safety. Then find a McDonald's and you’ll likely find some Americans in there hiding out as locals…or tourist.(OK, the pubs are really where you’ll find politically minded Americans…it’s not easy to complain about government or taxes over a Big Mac like it is a glass of good Red or a cold Stout) Get involved with the local group that organizes expat events and enjoy the time you have overseas. I’m thrilled at the opportunities to travel I’ve been afforded and look forward to seeing more of Europe, but ultimately to returning to my country, the United States of America!

And that's my rant/ramble for the day!





Friday, February 1, 2013

We all know about the gun debate raging across our nation. Many who have not read the Constitution since high school, if then, are now being reminded of the 2nd Amendment. Thanks to Google and the internet in general, if you do not know this amendment it is only a mouse click away. What I keep hearing from folks troubles me. I hear comments like, "Our 2nd Amend. right can't be infringed" or that, "Congress can't take away our right to bear arms because its granted by the Constitution". Well, here is the thing folks, our right to bear arms is NOT found in the Constitution in general or in the 2nd Amendment in particular.

Now, before you gun carrying Patriots mount your attack, and before you anti-gun carrying cheerleaders shout to the ceiling in jubilation, let me explain. The 2nd Amendment does not grant the right to bear arms. We are granted that right by God or if you prefer, by nature. This means certain rights are "inalienable" and the right to bear arms is one of those rights. Now inalienable has nothing to do with aliens, UFO's, or Area 52. According to The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd Edition; inalienable: adj. not alienable; not transferable to another or capable of being REPUDIATED: syn. inviolable, absolute, unassailable, inherent. In short, it cannot be disowned or cast the color of your skin, it's there for life!

So, if the 2nd Amendment doesn't grant us the right to bear arms, what does it do? Well, like all the amendments it explains the limits of government power. Specifically, the 2nd Amendment tells government or the state what it cannot do to the people. It says it cannot prohibit citizens from bearing arms or ammunition, period. End of debate! Everyone in every country is born with the right to bear arms, but not everyone has a constitution to restrain their government from infringing on that right. We in America are blessed to have a Constitution, but everyone is blessed with the right to bear arms by virtue of their birth.

Now that we have that matter cleared up, what is going on with our government? Why would they attempt to overstep their authority? Why would they want to restrict our God given (natural for you atheist) rights? For the answer to these questions I quote Thomas Paine who wrote on Dec. 23, 1776 during one of the darkest hours of the American Revolution. This is more popularly known as The Crisis and you may recognize these famous words that were read by Gen. George Washington to rally his distressed and disheartened troops: (The words in bold parenthesis are mine...)

These are the times that try men's souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it NOW, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain to cheap, we esteem to lightly: 'Tis dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed, if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated. Britain (Obama), with an army to enforce her (his) tyranny, has declared that she (he) has a right not only to TAX but to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER,(By use of Executive Order if necessary) and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth. Even the expression is impious, for so unlimited a power can belong only to GOD.

So, am I implying that President Obama thinks he is God? Well, if he doesn't he would be the only one on the liberal left who doesn't think it true. The main stream media (msm) have certainly ascribed godlike qualities and attributes to him. Those in his inner circle worship him with greater faith and enthusiasm than a suicide bomber screaming, "Allah Akbar" as they denote themselves. Sorry for the visual but we are in serious trouble! How exactly have so many (at least 50% plus according to the election results) come to see him in such a saving light? Well, H.L. Mencken once said, "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins." Or in a more modern version of the same, Rahm Emmanuel said, "Never let a crisis go to waste." I again turn to the enlightened words of Thomas Paine who explained, "It can only be by blinding the understanding of man, and making him believe that government is some wonderful mysterious thing, that excessive revenues are obtained (And I say, that ridiculous laws are passed) It is the popery of Government, a thing kept up to amuse the ignorant and quiet them into taxes" (Or into bondage).

In conclusion, we Americans cannot allow ourselves to be lead by emotion, to relinquish our inalienable rights. Do not be fooled into thinking this is for the best, any loss of freedom is for the worst. Montesquieu once said, "A nation may lose its liberties in a day and not miss them for a century." It may be that you and I never have need of "arms" to defend against tyranny or to protect against criminals, but what of our children or grandchildren or great grandchildren? What if it's a decade from now that some tyrant gains power in our country? What if it is two decades from now? Will it matter to the hopeless masses "when" they lost the right to protect themselves? As the government strips away the basic rights granted by God (or nature) we may see no harm come to us, but it will come to those after us. I will not let what my forefathers fought and died to preserve, what I wore the uniform to protect, and what my husband protects now, be tossed away in a day by those who cannot see the future and the dangerous consequences of their actions or inactions.

May God be with us all and grant wisdom to those in government.