Considering that it is now eight minutes past midnight and officially Thanksgiving Day I thought I would post some thoughts on giving thanks. In the autumn of 1621 the pilgrims gathered together in celebration of their first successful harvest. They gathered with the Native Americans who had helped them learn the land and gave thanks to God for His blessings. It has been a long time since that first Thanksgiving and many things have changed, but we should never stray from giving thanks to God. Just as He provided for the pilgrims, He still provides for us today. With all the advancements we have had since 1621 (and yes many of them are wonderful and I grateful for them) I have to wonder if the pace with which we live today has not robbed us of some of the joy and thankfulness of small things. The pilgrims were celebrating growing food, how many times do we put food on the table without a second thought? The older I get the more I long for the small things and a simpler life. I am grateful for the modern conveniences, but feel that with each one we as a society move further away from the life God has called us to live. We are a nation built on Christian principles and values with a legal system established on Judeo-Christian law, and I am thankful to our founding fathers who built this nation that way. This Thanksgiving I give thanks to God for all the wonderful blessings he has bestowed upon me: a wonderful husband, a loving family, great friends, a home and a job just to name a few. But, I will also remember, and give thanks, for all the sacrifices that have been made since 1621 to provide me and you with the opportunities we have today in the nation we call the United States of America. On this day I ask that when you pause to give thanks that you remember how this tradition began and reflect on what it really means!
I want to talk about something that really bothers me, and given that this week we honor veterans, now is as good a time as any. This issue bothers me on several levels: 1) because I am the daughter, sister, granddaughter and cousin of military personnel, 2) because I am grateful to those who have come before me and paved the way, and 3) because I am a citizen and proud of it! The issue–people who do not stand up during the Pledge and/or the Star Spangled Banner. I cannot begin to describe how much this irritates me down to my very core. Not only do I see it at sporting events, rallies, ect., but as a teacher last year I dealt with it every day, and I still see it when I am in the schools. It really is something else to know that not only are adults not standing for the Pledge, but that adults are teaching their children the very same disrespect! And that is exactly what it is to me, a matter of respect, or lack thereof. I have heard all the arguments; I have even been told as a teacher that you cannot make someone say the Pledge. I don’t buy the arguments! It is a pledge, to the country you have CHOSEN. It does not tell you to pick up arms and fight to the death, and it does not ask you to renounce your religion. If you don’t want to utter the words that is one thing, but to not even stand is inexcusable. I have no words for those who say it is a religious thing, because no where have I ever study a religion that would bar you from standing in honor and respect. Those who say they are not from America, well…it may sound ugly but if you cannot respect the Stars and Stripes go home. You are here for a reason and most say they come here because it is the land of opportunity, well those opportunities have been provided by the men and women that fought under that flag and for the freedom it represents. If you are here then you have chosen to make this your home and should honor the sacrifices that give you your freedom. The same is true for born and bred Americans that do not stand. It does not and should not matter if you agree with everything this nation does. No one will, nor should you, agree with every decision our leaders make. We are all different and going to have different views at times, but that should never stop you from honoring the men and women who have sacrificed to provide the freedoms we enjoy. If you cannot stand for this country, then maybe sitting in another one is the place for you.
Okay, there are sooo many things in news that I can blog about right but I try to stick to one topic per day, so stay tuned for the following topics:
1). Are You Kidding Me?! — Thoughts on Obama’s most recently speeches about America and the Muslim community
2). Women and the Republican Party — Rebuttal to the media’s claim that women are held back by the Republican Party
3). Entitlement — A look at the growing mentality of “what’s yours is also mine!”
4). So Sue Happy — Is the increasing civil litigation killing America?
John Adams (the 2nd President of the United States) said “There are two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.” and I completely agree with him. The problem we have run into is that children are not being educated on both fronts either at home or in the school house. I recently began reading a book entitled “The Global Achievement Gap” by Tony Wagner about how the US is falling behind other nations in educating our children and how they are not leaving schools prepared for the job market, and while I agree with him on a wealth of things he says I believe there is a major error in one area of thinking. He, like most (even the federal government: see the No Child Left Behind Act), are under the impression that it is the job of the schools to teach things like Citizenship and Character. That is what they are calling morals and values-character. And citizenship–I am the first to want to teach any form of Social Studies, but Mr. Wager says that the schools need to be preparing students to be good citizens, to know how to tell right from wrong, fact from fiction while sitting on a jury. I personally find fault with this line of thinking. As a former teacher, and a citizen in general, I am here to tell you that if this were taught at home before the child ever entered the school house it would be a lot easier to teach anything! And with regard to “character education” the same holds true. As a teacher there is a fine line to tow with character teaching, because in the public sector you don’t dare enter into the zone that could be considered Biblical, or you will find yourself in the unemployment line.
Our schools are falling behind. There is way too much time spent preparing for all the tests that are required and not enough time spent on really preparing kids for life outside that building. I don’t ever remember being prepped for the graduation test. We knew about it, and knew we had to pass it, but that was it. Today the schools are literally spending weeks preparing students for these tests. That is valuable class time lost. Not to mention that the mindset of the students now is ‘well if the test is over why do I still have to be here’. We have taught them that the only thing they go to school for is to pass tests. What a sad reality. What happened to preparing for a better life? What happened to wanting to gain knowledge in something? From the perspective of a lot of the students I taught they believed that they could get a job without an advanced education and whatever else they needed the government would provide. Not a lesson I want my kids to get. So what are the answers? I am not 100% sure, but let me give you some food for thought:
1) Bring back, with force, Vocational Education. We need to get away from the mentality that some jobs are better than others. Blue collar, white collar it does not matter, if you are providing for your family that is an honorable thing. What would it be like if we were all business executives!
2) Stop mandating things from Washington for a school district 3000 miles away! You do not know the needs of that district if you are not there. We need to send control of education back to the local level. And parents, students and business leaders alike need to take an active role in what is going on. There is always a huge push for participation in national elections, but more important is what is going on in your own backyard.
3) And this is the most important: START AT HOME! The school is not there to raise your child; it is there to education him or her. If we start by teaching our children right from wrong, morals and values and that education is an important thing at home, then the job of the school system will be so much easier because the amount of time they spend on disciple will be slashed in half leaving them time to focus on what?….EDUCATING the children! I like what Martin Luther (the German priest) was quoted as saying, it is strong but true, “I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.” It may not be something that is done any longer in the public school system but if we do it at home, hopefully the results will show!
What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child. George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish writer.
Life is full of changes. Some are big, some are small. Some come swiftly and others happen over time. Normally we can pin point the exact time the change occurred, or at least began to occur. My hope is that the sweep the Republican party saw yesterday and is enjoying today will be the start of a new and better change. I don’t expect it to be quick, and I don’t expect it to be easy. And I hope that you don’t either. I know that sounds funny, but the truth is change is rarely easy especially when we know it needs to be done. I am excited and nervous at the same time. I love politics, have for years, and I love this country. I was fortunate to be able to have the opportunity in college to work in government, and while my views and beliefs in the policies have changed a lot since then, I still long be in that arena again one day. My hope is that the grassroots effort that was begun and came out in such force yesterday will not end simply because the election season has, but that we as a nation will continue on with the efforts of showing everyone that there still is a large base of conservatism and that we are going to hold our elected officials accountable. Please don’t give up and don’t give in. Join me in continuing to keep this fire alive and push for the real change we all need.
Today on facebook I posted that voting is not just a right, but a responsibility. It’s funny how easy it is to complain, but how hard it is to take responsibility. As Americans we are fortunate to have the right to elect our leaders. But, if we don’t take on the responsibility of being and staying inform and taking the time to go out and cast our votes than we are being remiss in our responsibility to this nation, our forefathers and future generations. I heard on Fox News yesterday that the statistics for the last election (which was a presidential one) was 45%, and that was high! How sad that is. I often wonder what our predecessors would think. I have taught school for the past 3 years and one of the things that have struck me the most is the lack of patriotism and personal responsibility in our schools. For example: most students refuse to stand for the pledge; most students believe they are entitled to things; and they have a skewed view of history. Those things in detail are a blog for another day, but it strikes me that responsibility is something that seems to be on the ‘endangered species’ list.
A study showed that after the Greatest Generation came home and settled into life after WWII that they worked hard to provide for their families. After facing the Great Depression with their parents and the effects of a long and hard fought war they wanted to provide their families with everything possible, and give them a safe and secure life. How far we have come from generations that literally gave their all to a rising generation that expects it all. Where is personal responsibility? This question is not just for E-Day. Yes, it is Election Day and your responsibility is to vote, but it does not end there. Contrary to what is normally said America is not a Democracy, not in the true sense of the word. We as citizen do not vote on every law; America is a Democratic-Republic. We vote for representation. Our representatives are responsible for representing our input, and our responsibility is to be sure they do their jobs. If we are unhappy we need to look at both sides of the coin: are they doing their job and are we doing ours? It is easy to lay blame elsewhere (in all cases, not just with politics), but we need to be able to look at ourselves, and teach our children, that at the end of the day we have to take responsibility for the actions and decisions we have made in our lives and move forward. The other guy can only have as much control as we give him.
Know before you go, and remember there are big differences between rights, privileges, and responsibility!