Whose Responsibility is Awakened Action?

How much awakened action am I able to offer the world?

Mr. Rogers taught our children innumerable lessons of kindness, self-worth and love. Why are those messages that children were so receptive to and so benefited them, now so difficult for adults to hear? Can we not find the simple courage to remind ourselves that immigrant children are no different from our children? Would we wish any of what these children have experienced on children we know and love?

“Love is at the root of everything” wasn’t a dogmatic lament to soothe others’ temperaments or egos, or even Mr. Rogers’ personal belief. There is a visceral, felt, peaceful presence in one who is awakened to who he is spiritually. It shows up as an inherent kindness, a quiet, slow and constant attention to that to which he or she is present.

While noticed, felt and lived as real, that awakened presence never shouts or demands or even calls attention to itself. It just lives in each of us, ceaselessly, constantly. When one identifies with that presence as being who he/she is, everything in the world changes, though on the surface everything remains the same.

An effect of an awakened presence is that one knows him/herself to be all others, not rhetorically, but literally. This is where Mr. Rogers’ care for children originated.

If we acknowledge it, our relationship to these immigrant children is no different than Mr. Rogers’ felt understanding of his relationship to children.

Immigration policy has many solutions for those who care to think well and listen to their inner voices. Compassionate courage is also required, a quality distinctly lacking in the methodologies recently employed by this administration.

Am I suppressing that which I know myself to be?

How much awakened action am I able to offer the world?

 

 

 

 

 

 

If You Have a Voice, Let’s Change the Narrative

“The United States has always been, and remains, what we make it.” the ACLU

If we scratch the surface of what causes us to act and are truthful with ourselves, we recognize that progressiveness has nothing to do with ‘us’ and everything to do with ‘us, all’.  We’ve then admitted to ourselves that our ‘why’ in moving a progressive society ahead has, as its origin, that empathetic impulse to improve all lives. It arises from seeing ourselves in others.

Nowhere is it written that progressiveness is not associated with broad planning and activism. It’s not about angry, separatist political thought. It’s about changing hearts and minds.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU, has a 50-state plan for what it calls People Power, founded only last year. The beauty of the movement is multi-faceted. It’s meant to be flexible to encourage activists to move on local issues while standing on the long-established structure and funding of the ACLU. “Local chapters [are] already in place, as well as funding for a long-haul effort”, says Marshall Ganz, who organized for the civil rights movement in Mississippi in 1964 and was the architect for Barack Obama’s grassroots campaign in 2007.  I canvassed for President Obama in Cincinnati, and the structure of the campaign was masterful. It was built in a way that got commitment, respectfully, from each and every potential voter as to that person’s candidate preference, no matter the number of contacts required to do so.

Ganz makes an important distinction between ‘mobilizing’ which is what we largely see today – reactive – and away from ‘organizing’ which is local, broad and powerful.

In an interview with The Nation, Ganz says the ACLU changed their motto to ‘We the People.’ “That’s a pretty significant reframing. If you think of yourself as, ‘We the lawyers who are defending rights’ versus ‘We the people who are fighting for our rights’ – that’s a very different idea.”

“If there is one thing I will give Donald Trump credit for, he has given birth to what may be a golden age of citizen activism.” — Anthony Romero, ACLU executive director. Faiz Shakir, ACLU national political director and architect of People Power, is “leveraging a movement… that builds out long-term infrastructure to prevent the next Trump.”

The ACLU says, “We’ll do the work in the courts. You do the work in the streets.”

Interested in changing hearts and minds?

 

 

Teaching Activism

Imagine publicly advocating for your chosen profession prior to actually joining it.

Two bright, eloquent about-to-be North Carolina State University graduates marched this week with future teaching colleagues at the state capitol demanding better pay and greater school funding.

Cristina Chase Lane and WinnieHope Mamboleo joined a collective voice of teachers who are rightfully asserting their demands for income aligned with the responsibility of teaching our children. Lane: “I know part of my philosophy of teaching is to teach students to have a voice… and to be activists for what they want. And I feel like I can’t teach them to do that if I don’t do it myself.”

Teaching epitomizes service. A recent NPR/Ipsos poll disclosed more than 9 in 10 teachers said they entered the profession to do good work. We each serve one another. Teachers exemplify service.

As a former mentor to a young teen through the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative, I was shocked to learn how deeply immersed in students’ lives teachers and administrative staff were. Inner-city teachers know students’ tenuous family situations. They know whether their kids had dinner the night before. Boxes of clothing, along with a washer and dryer, were stored in the vice-principal’s office for kids whose clothes were not clean. Staff actively looked for children who failed to show up for class.

Financial support for dedicated teachers in this country continues to be stale, as does appropriate school funding. Hope Mamboleo has $20,000 in student loans. Of teaching she says, “I can breathe and learn and be myself in this space. I just have to be humble and know that the main difference I’m making is going to be in the class. I’m just not going to have a lavish life.”

It’s time for us to stand beside them.