What makes you come alive and wake up in the morning, eager for the day ahead? I encourage local parents, teachers and the general public to consider what it takes to inspire wonder, awe, enthusiasm and courage to actively participate in changing our way of life. It seems to me that to achieve this, one has to examine one’s inner life — many call this the contemplative and active life.
Our local holiday parade modeled a glimmer of a coming together. A coalition of 15 local groups calling for positive changes in our society marched. I do not speak for this coalition, but I support the positive messages they displayed. These nonviolent group activists are usually described as “protest,” but their activities are directed at what is best in America.
For example, Ken Jones of the Reject Raytheon group suggests that “we can generate more jobs with investments in sustainable energy, education, health, infrastructure” [“New Plant Is Leading Us in Wrong Direction,” Nov. 30, Xpress]. I see this as a call not to merely criticize, but to actively work at discovering what we really want. Promotion of the “arms race” is a reckless way to create jobs. This suggests that we pay more attention to more meaningful jobs, meaningful work and a living wage.
My temptation here is to back up Ken’s factual information with more facts pertaining to the now Disunited States of America. But I don’t think more information will change the hearts and minds of many Americans. So, this brings me back to schooling our children, supporting families and the workers of our country. Why do we teach reading, writing and arithmetic in our schools? Is it to become better consumers of material possessions and entertainment? If so, this implies the tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort more important than spiritual values.
Do yourself a favor: As you make your way through life and learn from your experiences, practice expanding your worldview by getting out of your comfort zone. Read, study, contemplate and, if inclined, pray. Pray, not to ask something from your God, but to remind yourself what really matters. Read not merely for information or entertainment, but for inspiration to contemplate on things that really matter and pass this down to our children. There is no liberal, conservative or even one religious or American way to eat, breathe, sleep and survive. We are all human; a miracle of life.
Focus on your own lives on spiritual values such as compassion, kindness and loving relationships, friendships and family life, etc. It will positively affect your second half of life, including your retirement years. And it will be a gift to future generations.
I suggest to parents, home schoolers and teachers: Teach peace and nonviolence in school and give equal time to peacemakers. But educating our children is not a single issue. All of us can do the work of informing ourselves, even when family and work responsibilities limit our democratic participation. One resource that might help is Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life, by Peter Gray.
I offer a challenge from Maya Angelou. “I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. We carry accumulation of years in our bodies and on our faces, but generally our real selves, the children inside, are still innocent and shy.”
Ask yourself: “What is calling you to the heroic in you?”
(For information on our local coalition or resources, contact email@example.com.)
— Ed Sacco