Holidays Bring Time for Reflection and Balance: Rooting the Self in What is Essential

HOLIDAYS HAVE SPECIAL MEANING FOR EVERYONE

These are the holidays… again… and as usual it seems, these holidays started two months ago… almost three, for from the end of October and the bare cessation of Halloween, holiday decorations and talk of Thanksgiving and Christmas pounced upon us like a dog out of chemical balance that hadn’t had its fill of Porterhouse steaks yet.

Stores began to fill up with decorations and signs advertising sales and deals. Mercantilism took a firm hold on the visual, the audible, the spiritual and the emotional. Spangled signals of those overblown holiday wants and wishes were stuck in our faces and until these same holidays are over we will not be rid of them. Spangled signals… tinsel, shiny cash registers, bows, glitter, wrapping paper in gold and red foil, electric lights by the strand and by the net, festivals and parades full of floats, fake snow, cartoon characters and corporate sponsorship lighting up the avenues and boulevards as though spending money was going out fashion.

Somehow something seems lost in the mix and muddle and hurry of the holiday season, something that has been broken from our senses in some sort of way. Some folks get the meaning and some manifest that in ways that others cannot understand.

For everyone, “the holidays” have all kinds of meanings. To one, it means that breakout and roll – out of corporate bling and gleam; for another it is the spiritual where one must be in a church or before a Nativity scene; and to another it means standing with family and friends watching the parades and attending galas and really cool parties stocked with good food and gifts. For adults it means one set of things; for children it means other sets of things – attitudes that some understand culturally while others only watch and think what certain rituals mean.

Holidays are times of symbolism for everyone, for those who believe in deities and those who do not. But they are special times for degrees of reflection and all manner of such and of beliefs and rites must be respected, for in America it is a right of everyone to celebrate as they desire, and to express themselves as they wish. Naturally freedoms and rights come with a price, and that price is personal responsibility.

Our Constitution guarantees every American citizen certain inalienable rights and privileges, such as the freedoms to worship as we desire (or not to), of speech and to assemble peaceably. We can pursue life, liberty, and happiness – really comes to a head during “the holidays”, doesn’t it?

The mercantile aspect, well, that is something it appears we will deal with each in our own way. Holidays are really meant to be sacred occasions, and have been for centuries celebrated without the need for millions of dollars spent on advertising and gaudy decorations to attract attention and bring people in to purchase stuff that will get broken, returned, or discarded or otherwise rid of by recipients. There goes to waste the wrapping paper and gift bags and the time and attention paid to getting those gifts looking “just right” and all pretty for putting under the tree and in the stockings. A lot of energy is wasted here in so many ways in some eyes, but in some aspects it is not really a waste.

For in this season of winter, there is need for something to remove the heaviness of the grayness this time of year brings. When there is less natural light and more clouds to fog up our views and visions, we act differently, we sense and feel differently and we do not act as our “normal selves”, being at times moody and taken in by disorders related to holidays and winters. Seasonal Affected Disorder is real and it hurts many during this time in so many ways. For many the solution to conquer the holiday blues is to get into the “spirit of the season”. Even this phrase has many meanings.

Some folks bring out the lights and decorate from foundation to roof their homes and shops. Others go to the store and stock up on food to cook for large parties (cooking can be very grounding and therapeutic and settling and is a social activity to be shared). Others just “go for it” and raid the stores after just the special gifts for those on their lists. They will spend hours and wear themselves out in that search… and then after that they need the food waiting for them at home, victuals that someone spent hours preparing.

In the end what matters? Is it the sales, the deals, the specials and the material things? Is it the lights, the paper, the bows and the bags, the stockings and trees and ornaments of fragile glass? Is it the decorating and the big dinners?

Be grateful and joyful in all these things, and I think you will understand what matters in the end.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

Race Relations? Are We Making Progress… or Making Problems?

Race relations is a very complicated issue… and we have made it even more so by allowing our government to put into our culture and our more vulnerable trains of thought and action and working the idea of demographics being so important. Well, perhaps “demographics” are important but only if the methods lead to actual, real, and tangible actions being done for those who are really in need of certain things being funded or built or done for a community.

But what is “good” and who is doing the “good”? Truly it should not even matter, but these days when Americans are so rude and crude in their manners that they are coming out and DEMANDING things, and DEMANDING this or that, and thinking that they are the only important factor because of their skin color or their ethnicity that they can push others out of the way and get in the front of the line, we need to be more on our guard than ever.

Race relations will not make progress until we lessen the role of the Census Bureau and wake up to the fact that it does not matter what you look like, “where you are from”, what your ethnic background is, or what you do for a living. People need to realize that the government is not really doing the average citizen any good at all.

Witness the recent talk of school segregation. Who really is at fault? Everyone or no one or the government or school officials? Is it the false idea of the “neighborhood” school that prevents  people from growing up and out and expanding their trains of thought and branching out? Is it the fear among these “neighborhood” people that if “someone does not look like me that they will have a bad influence on my family”? What kind of silly thinking is THAT?

Who cares about what the person looks like that is teaching your kids or treating your for a disease or selling you that house? And anyway, NO ONE looks like anyone else, so get that into your unique heads right now! NO ONE looks like anyone else, and we all think about things in different ways and see things in unique and variable ways. Someone can say there are “identical” siblings, but that’s not the real issue here. People vary in their coloring, in their hairstyles and hair coloring, in eye color, in a thousand different physical variables that push the idea of “looking like” another person completely out the window with the rest of the demographic garbage.

Think about this, a thought inspired by something I heard on the radio this morning, to wit that there are not enough “African – American” doctors in the “underserved” areas of Chicago, and no doubt other major cities. And then someone thinks the resources are not there to train and get these doctors -to -be, those “black” and “brown” children mentioned in the report on News Radio 780 WBBM in Chicago, out to those areas where the need appears greatest. Bologna.

Have you ever heard of a medical school, Mr. WBBM Reporter? Yes, there is actually something called a MEDICAL SCHOOL, folks. Just in case you in those communities are not aware, there have been doctors of every “race” and background for decades in America. Anyone, yes anyone, can go to a medical school, get the proper training, get incentive, and get to the business and the study of becoming a physician. Then they can choose where they want to go, and the choice is based on those variables such as where they will feel comfortable or needed or what kind of money they will make.

Well if the money is all that matters the doctor will not be a good doctor to the point of seeing the patients as people instead of as payments. If the doctor wants to get out there and serve the populace that is the target of the policies that have cause that population to be inadequately served and thus in need of care and comfort, then they will do so. An episode of the popular television show EMERGENCY! had a physician who put his private practice way out in an area of desert and scrub and no one around for miles, at least not another doctor who could provide his skills. The small office had a nurse, a couple of nice clean patient rooms, and a surgical suite.

Now in early parts of the episode there is a bad accident that the main EMERGENCY! characters come upon as they return from a vacation. They must get help for the victims since they cannot practice their paramedic skills in another state, so they eventually get help and race the mother and boy to that small clinic in that small town area. The nurse is the only person on staff there and so they must wait for the doctor, who eventually arrives and sees that there is need for his services. The paramedics are expecting to see an old man, the proverbial lovable old country doctor but instead a younger man with a thick mustache and in very casual clothes, comes in and assesses the scene. After the victims are treated the paramedics and the doctor talk about why he has put his practice in that part of the state. He says something to the effect of, “Well I just wanted to practice where I am most needed. That’s why I stayed here.” Marvelous. EMERGENCY! as a 1970’s television show had a cast that was wonderful in its professional presentation and diverse nature, and this one episode is only one demonstration of what happens when need and service and consideration outweigh “government” policies and separatist attitudes and action takes over and someone has the courage to establish that practice where they really are most needed.

Now think about this: when it comes to “race”, what someone looks like on the outside, what would you do if your house caught fire and you were trapped on a higher floor with no way out? The only “race” you should then be concerned about is the dash of the fire department to your home to save your life. Would it really matter to you who was first up that 100 foot Pierce Aerial in that basket to rescue you from the burning bedroom? I think not. If you looked out that window at the firefighter who came up in his or her heavy gear to get you out, what would you see – someone with a face that “does not look like yours”, or someone who is there to save your life, with arms at the ready to carry you down and get you some help? If you took one look at that firefighter and back at the flames coming through the bedroom door, I suspect you would reach out and let the firefighter carry you down that latter, with his or her words of reassurance as you go down to the ground, safely away from the flames and smoke.

There is next the issue of this stuff about “neighborhood” schools, especially in Chicago. A neighborhood is made up of people who can be of the same background or can be made up of a lot of different kinds of people. So what does it matter what the teachers or the officials “look like”? Goodness gracious, what digression… what aggression… what stupid trains of thought! “I won’t let you teach my kids because you don’t look like them!” Come on, folks. If the teacher is qualified, if the school system is providing qualified personnel and proper facilities, then there is nothing to worry about. People are letting words and concepts such as “charter” and “selective” and “magnet” and “private” and “public” get in the way of seeing that the students are provided a good and proper and higher education. We are being taken away from the real issue: EDUCATION.

My teachers were very diverse when I was growing up and attending public schools in Nashville. I didn’t care a bit what these ladies and gentlemen looked like: I respected them each and every one, I sat and listened in class, and I was respectful of the principals and other school officials and bus drivers. Had I thought, “I’m not taking math from him because he’s not from my neighborhood” or “I won’t listen to her because she has a different skin color from me” would have gone against the very principles of what education is meant to do and what its purpose is. Education is meant to challenge us to grow and expand our horizons, to get us to put different skill sets together and continue to learn and work with others, to make out the map of our lives and careers and our plans for the future. If we do not draw out the talents we have or that others have; if we do not march out and away from the ideas and thoughts that impede progress in the sense of us working together with others for success; if we do not lead others out of the mental captivity our government officials have chained many of us with, then our education system has failed.

We have failed, we have then wasted money and energy and resources, and we have not done our best.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

 

 

Photography, not Demography: The Arts Bring Us Together

PHOTOGRAPHY… NOT “DEMOGRAPHY”: Art Brings Everyone Together

Sometimes we like to say or think, “Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we could get along, if we could communicate easily all we say and think, our hopes and dreams and plans?” We can communicate in spoken and written words and in other ways as well.

ChiCOMMU

 

Communication Manhole Cover”. Divi Logan, Chicago. 2013.

There are those who cannot speak, and those who cannot write, at least in the conventional methods most people understand, with the computer or with pen and ink and pencil and paper. When language is a barrier, when we cannot understand the standards of Sign Language, and when music appears as foreign as a tongue with which we are not familiar, we can use other ways to get our message across.

One way is art, and what a broad range of expression that covers! We think of painting, dance and music; we think of sculpture, architecture, bronze casting, batik, and skywriting. We see people in the studios dreaming up ways to hack into the marble block or figure out which line to put in next on a drawing; we think of designers of cars and planes looking to the future, and we can envision the astronomer pondering ways to use the space telescopes to image distant galaxies and stars. We can follow the lead of that astronomer and, in our own special ways, “write with light”, which is the fine art of photography.

The arts transcend every barrier humans can create, any of the nonsense of demographics, of census bureaus, of departments of commerce and of those who wish to lead our nation in Congress by those very examples of separation and division, which in the long run do much more harm than good.

Why would anyone want to do more harm than good, or any harm at all? Those are subjects for another time; for now we want to concentrate on the good that “the arts” can do for us and for our nation and our world.

“The Arts” are so elemental, so basic to us that we wonder how schools can cut such programs even in the most budget -strapped of situations. We need our artistic forms of expression in order to release stress, in order to focus on the special gifts we have, in order to share our talents and our unique natures. Those arts listed above are fine ways to tell others what we think and how we feel when words escape us.

 Writing with light is a special art form; photography has been around for more than one hundred years and it is an art in which anyone can participate. In photography, all the demographic lines are erased; the person holding the camera is not “black”, or “white” or “man” or “woman” or “ethnic” or “income”. The person is a photographer, and they have something to say.

With that camera in your hands- be it a SLR, a DSLR, or a rangefinder, with whatever film format you choose, or with memory cards ready for video or for a few hundred photos of special occasions, you are prepared to tell the stories of others or your own special tale. You have the means of helping others speak. You can express thoughts and plans in your mind that you might not be able to put words to but which the image, which what you see can tell. The person on the street, the landing plane, the dragonfly on the tree or over a pond, the incoming storm and the building being constructed speak to people in different ways, and anything can be used to help express something in the brain.

What do you want to say that perhaps cannot be said with ordinary words, but which a photo can say? The picture is worth a thousand words, goes the proverb, and by taking one simple photo you can look at it and write about what it says to you.

Look at the photo – what are the elements in it?

 

redwingbird

Here is a photo I took at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The dominant feature is the Red- winged Blackbird, a standout with its distinctive colors. It is on a rail over a bridge that overlooks a pond where other birds feed and nest. But there are other things you see in the photo besides the bird. What about those flagstones, or the metal of the rail, or the grass, or the branches? Might those things say something to your audience?

interiorcolor2

Here is an interior I photographed. There are many things here, and what might the picture say? What is special about the room- the chandelier, the furnishings, the drapes, the lighting, the way items are placed on tables, or the dividing column on the right? If you photograph a home, inside or out, professionally or casually, some element you see might just speak to you in a way you did not expect, and it could be very pleasant and enlightening.

Use your camera to help someone else tell their story or stories. Is there someone in your home or community that cannot speak or walk, an older or disabled person that wants you to take pictures of memories in their home or business, a person that is unable to take photographs? Offer them the use of your hands and eyes and camera gear; tell them you can help out and will gladly photograph for them. Perhaps they want to make an album to share with relatives or others that will factor in their later lives. Offer to use any artistic talents you have to help them create an album or scrapbook.

Naturally you can use your photographic skills to branch out and start your own business or work for a media company. You can do events such as weddings and holiday parties; you can become a field photographer for a news corporation… there are so many things you can do, including photographing sports, working for transportation companies, and working for interior design magazines or architects. Combine the skills of photography with other lines of work, such as going into the military or the fire department or astronomy, and the horizons will expand.

As you take your camera up today and think about how to use it, consider the good you can do with that specialized equipment.  How will you “write with light?”

Divi Logan for ®EDUSHIRTS, Chicago, ©2013.

Education and the Demographic Distraction

EDUCATION AND THE DEMOGRAPHIC DISTRACTION

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Now let us see here… what does education “mean”? ‘mid all the news and the talk and vague corporate chatter about the issue of “getting an education” we are not remembering the building blocks of what that has to do with us becoming good citizens in the first place. We need to take a deep breath, step back, and look at the whole idea of education from the beginning, in order to understand where our goals have failed and thus where we have failed ourselves and the children, the young citizens of America.

The roots of the word and concept of “education” mean to “draw out”, “march out”, or “lead out”. In that respect are those who talk of the issues and concerns regarding education doing those things? What is getting in the way of progress and satisfaction?

EDUCATION

EDUCATION

EDUCATION

INSTRUCTION

EDIFICATION

TRAINING

CULTURE

TUTORING

Then you can move on to… GRADUATION, which means what… yes, that’s right, moving up, taking higher, grander, greater steps. You have “gradually” gained sets of facts and skills that you can use to pursue a career and to grow as a good citizen. You have “made the grade”, taking the ups and downs of the learning process, the good with the bad, the late nights with the easy reading and the details with the attainment of the goals.

Thus when you are able to walk that stage and think, “I GRADUATED!”, you have accomplished something special, walking in the torchlight that generations before have set up for you to follow. Now you can research, take their ideas and concepts and designs and make something new, do something different, and choose your path.

Instead of saying this big-sounding talk of “get an education”, take it a different way and “BECOME EDUCATED”. The latter indicates that the idea of learning will always be with you if you are fortunate, every day, to take in something new and useful for your way of life. To become educated is a goal everyone should have.

As my grandmother says as a great mantra, “Learn something, learn something.”

She is correct. Do the right thing; make the situation easier at the outset:

BECOME EDUCATED and LEARN SOMETHING!

THE DEMOGRAPHIC DELUSION

In Chicago this year, and especially in the past month, the concerns over the closing of many dozens of public “neighborhood” schools has drawn fire onto the Chicago Public Schools bureaucracy, and has resulted in name-calling and the use of foul language.

American Education is in the Dumpster

American Education is in the Dumpster (Photo credit: brewbooks)

What is behind much of this prattle about the closing of the schools and the possibility of the “public” school being replaced by the “charter” school? Many factors are to be considered, among them and what we might think of as the main problem is demographics.

Far as this author can see, demographics focuses on separating and talking about people with regards to skin color/ “race”, religion, ethnic background, where they live, how much they make, the supposed concentration of certain people in a certain area, social and economic and gender aspects as well.

Is such thinking helping or hindering genuine progress? Is not such thinking making us a country that is NOT united? Any kind of separation pits one person or group against another person or group when seen in the light of demographics- whether or not someone has something the others do not or that they want, comparing people based on what someone assumes a certain race or gender will want at a certain time of day, using language that makes someone seem dumber or smarter in comparison to someone from a lower social-economic background, and making other arrogant and insensitive assumptions based on the few people they see and what those people appear to do and stamping others of that look with the prejudicial factors.

The people who are boiling in these issues need to learn some hard lessons, apparently. If education means in part “to lead out” and “to draw out”, and they talk about keeping the kids in their “neighborhood”, what does that say about those in control? They aren’t acting very EDUCATED, are they? What if the areas they are in now are more dangerous than the places where the new schools are?

So what about the type of school it is that they attend- what about it? One school type is no better than the other- all of them can have problems. The important point is achievement and holding to academic standards and personal behavior standards.

Best then to eliminate the divisive junk about “neighborhoods” and this stuff about “remember where you came from” and the rest of this “heritage” trash, than to continue the bickering based on such silly issues. Such demographic thinking does nothing good for anyone at all. As for this junk about “neighborhoods”, I don’t care where one area starts and another stops, what “race” or “ethnicity” lives there and who does not, what they look like or do or what kind of cars they drive.

The government is guilty of fomenting division in this nation, you can see that. The Census is their way of trying to keep such divisive practices in the pipeline and because those in power push it at us we think it so good to fill out those forms and send them in.

Why does “the government” want that information? Why do you think? They want to use those separatist statistics to parcel out “federal” money based on what race, color, creed, gender or ethnic group is in a certain school, workplace, or part of the country. They want to “help out” or “build that area up” based on those factors. And then they want to make it seem that they are doing those people good and helping them by giving them money, buildings, and parks and such. But is it helpful to think about people in those ways?

IT IS NOT.

But you must remember this: YOU CAN AND MUST LEARN TO GOVERN YOURSELVES! You can branch out and get away from this derisive, delusional talk; you can wrest control from these terrible thoughts and patterns, you can break the chains those demographers are putting on you. You can think positively and forget the negatives so fast you will wonder why you didn’t focus forward in the first place.

You can stop thinking backwards and letting the Census and commerce and ad people keep hold on you. You can tell them, “I don’t like that way you portrayed X in this ad. It is not truthful and not every X acts that way!” You can tell them, “Your ad campaign and your business practices are highly offensive to X because of X!” You can write letters, you can stop watching the shows, you do not have to go to the movies and you do not have to take flack in the workplace due to some stupid demographic category.

You can stop thinking that something is happening on a racial basis; you can stop pulling your bag back because you think someone is going to take it on the street just because they are walking toward you and looking a certain way. If they happen to be looking at your level, so what- people DO move their necks and eyes! You cannot judge why someone is looking a certain way and doing something!

HOW DARE YOU PRESUME?

You just go ahead with your duties and tasks and let the guilty party realize their errors. Do you not presume, do you not assume, you just go about and take care of business. Let others “mind” the supposed problem, the offense that did not happen, the event that did not occur, their reasons behind their actions and their prejudices.

People of Chicago, learn some lessons of your own! Grow up, get your goals straight, and then air your differences and your ideas. When you can learn to do so in a civil manner, when you can act like the educated people you think you are or want to be, then come to the table and sit down and act like people who want to be civilized.

After all, who are you harming the most in the end? You adults, you officials, you people in control are not doing all you can to make the gang and drug areas less dangerous, then you say that closing the schools will put the kids in danger. Bologna. YOU are putting them in danger by being all talk and no action, or not enough action. You are causing more worry and harm than the good kids who want to learn and accomplish something no matter what school they attend. You could stop the gangs, get rid of the drug markets, punish the offenders in your family, and clean up your supposed “neighborhood” if you wanted to, if you were not saddled with corrupt cops and politicians and national red tape.

If you officials on the Chicago Public Schools board are harboring ANY kind of Census-type racial, ethnographic, gender biases of ANY degree, if you are nursing anything related to supposing who lives where, what they are like based on some survey results, what they look like or what they do, then you are inciting shameful behavior. ALL OF YOU are nursing this bad behavior, and believe me, it is BAD BEHAVIOR, and you are not attending to what the kids want at all, though you might say you desire things to go in their best interest.

YOU ARE SHAMEFUL, THE LOT OF YOU! SHAME ON EVERYONE WHO TRUSTS THE CENSUS STUFF TO DECIDE EDUCATION ISSUES!

What does it matter who lives where or how they ended up in a certain part of a city, town, village, state, community or “neighborhood” (what a ridiculous idea anyway based on how that data is now being used)? Who cares? You do, and based on those biases that divide us? YOU ARE AT FAULT THEN for any of the problems that arise because you are keeping the problems up and getting mad the moment anyone wants to go after this supposed security blanket of “identity” and “heritage” you are shielding yourselves with. It is a see-through shield, a false and shredded blanket, a wall that is crumbling and a guard that is losing power. Everyone loses when biases cloud progress, everyone loses when demographics takes over.

For the instant anything like this comes up, the VERY MOMENT, someone gets so angry and so mad that they cannot control their behavior and right away the anger bubbles up so heavy and hot and volcanic that their mouths erupt with slurs, race and gender terms, bias terms, and they finger-point at everyone else.

But do they take action to correct the small things in their own minds before they take out the boards in the other person’s eye? The people who get so mad so quickly are clouded to so deep a degree that all they can think to do is react, not pro-act; they can get mad but they cannot offer clear solutions to the problems. They cannot present themselves civil and decorous and disciplined because of the news spin and the corporate chatter that weights their minds with the demographic dribble. They want to hold others accountable, honest, transparent and trustworthy… but can these accusers and finger-pointers and yelling heads hold their lives to the same expected standards?

What does that say when you want to keep them in the same areas they are growing up in, with “their own kind” and “their own type” and filling them with such limiting ideas? That is not the idea of being educated. Keeping them in their own boundaries means that they will not expand their horizons, learn about other cultures and people except from a book or some online page that might not be adequate in information or might be skewed in one or another way that would not permit the reception of more information from all sides of a story. To learn about others, you have to experience others.

I was fortunate not only to learn about Asia but to visit China, Japan and Hong Kong in the middle 1980’s. Had I only read about these wonderful people or seen movies or television shows portraying some aspect of their culture my experience of Asia would be incomplete. As it happened I ate their food, tried their clothes, saw their homes and families, shopped in their stores, saw the local scenery and heard the language. I have experienced Europe and England and enjoyed the best parts of many cultures. Travel for certain brings a new meaning to the phrase “live and active cultures”.

Even though an American child these days might not be able to travel due to economic trials, they can branch out and learn from people of the cultures around the world. There are many communities in Chicago from all over the place. You can experience Mexico, China, Japan, Turkey, Korea, Greece and India.

But what I am talking about is simply mixing with other people, no matter what they look like or what they do. This talk of “Black”, and “White” and such other gibberish is trash talk and not suitable for educated, learned people or folks who want to consider themselves so and pass learning on to others.

You must be sure your standards are not prejudiced by thinking “Black” or “White” or “rich” or “poor” or any other demographic category. Anything less than ridding yourself of backwards thinking is showing that you are uncivilized and far from educated; you will only pass on skewed information to the next generation and keep them limited, dumb and thinking on the same low levels as you are doing.

What does that say to the students who want to branch out, who are tired of being hemmed in by so much talk of gangs, drugs, where one community ends or begins just because of who lives on certain streets or because of what the buildings look like or some other demographic detraction? What does that tell the serious learners who want to get away from thinking that someone who does not look like them is not “their own kind”? Their own kind is HUMAN and AMERICAN and that is foundation enough.

What then do you want to do- keep talking or dig deeper and get more active in ways to make the education system better and more appealing and attractive and efficient?

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO and WHY? ASK THE BASIC QUESTIONS!

Ask who, why, what, when, where and how… ask what is essential and needed. You do not build the roof first after all; you start by laying a strong foundation.

DO WHAT IS NECESSARY FIRST.

What do you NEED to do FIRST?

Title page to Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning...

Title page to Locke’s Some Thoughts Concerning Education (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divi Logan for ®EDUSHIRTS, ©Chicago 2013.

Neil Armstrong: Among America’s Best, the Spirit of What Makes Us Explore

On hearing only a few minutes ago that Mercury-era and X-15 Program pilot and astronaut Neil Armstrong had passed, I was struck with only one sentiment: this is a loss of national tragic proportions, indeed a national loss.

Flag of the United States on American astronau...

Flag of the United States on American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s space suit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let us not forget the millions of mathematical calculations, the hours of scientific achievement, the weeks and months and years of testing the equipment that would eventually place the great, the legendary, the brave, the courageous Neil Armstrong, among America‘s finest pilots and astronauts, on our Satellite.

We must not let the dream of, the love of, the romance of space exploration and astronomy pass from the halls of our educational institutions. We must not let the hard work and diligence that placed Armstrong and others on the Moon, go to waste when there is so much up and coming, so much potential out there in our young students who want to explore, to do more than remain earth-bound and stare at the stars and planets.

They want to step on those worlds, to gather the data, to touch the dust and rocks as Armstrong and his colleagues did.

As we consider the shock of this loss, let all politicians and officials who read this and who think of Pilot-Astronaut Armstrong, remember that it is the love of learning, the want and need of mankind to explore, to reach out, to yearn to visit other worlds and exotic places, that inspires students to get up, go to school, and spend hours learning, reading, doing those math calculations, the science and the designing.

It is those students who will join NASA, who will work at JPL, who will test spacecraft at Vandenburg and on the Space Coast, and who will join scientists and pilots in other countries in exploration, testing, flying and designing. Those students will do the astronomy, will explore the planets, will document the movements of asteroids, stars, moons, and galaxies. They will chart future courses to the Moon for bases and to Mars as well… provided we never lose sight of how important… how essential it is, that we keep focused on the STEM areas of education.

STEM: Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics- and when you think about it, what much of our education system relates to and our economy is built on. It is not complicated to consider. It is not “hard” or “difficult” or “complex” or for the “rocket scientists” only. It is for everyone who wants to do what is challenging, what is hard, what will require hours in the lab, late nights in the corridors of learning, and who will wait to see the test results of the latest booster craft, the capsules for space flight, the robotic rockets that will go where Viking, Mariner, and others have visited.

They will have the sense of curiosity that inspired us to send the Curiosity Rover to Mars only this month.

Neil Armstrong, we remember you and we hope others will follow in your flight path.

This article written in memory of Mr. Armstrong, Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee(the crew of Apollo 1), and all who have perished in the name of space exploration.

English: Astronauts (left to right) Gus Grisso...

English: Astronauts (left to right) Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee, pose in front of Launch Complex 34 which is housing their Saturn 1 launch vehicle. The astronauts died ten days later in a fire on the launch pad. Polski: Od lewej: astronauci Gus Grissom, Ed White i Roger Chaffee pozują na tle Kompleksu startowego nr 34 w którym znajduje się ich rakieta nośna Saturn 1. Astronauci zginęli tragicznie 10 dni później w pożarze na stanowisku startowym (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Congressional Space Medal of Honor

Congressional Space Medal of Honor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2012.

Judgement Calls: What Right Have You to Call Me…

Every time on the news that I hear some politician or official call some group or person “ordinary”, “average”, “commonplace” or  “everyday” I wonder who these folks think they are. What ivory tower did they emerge from; what kind of sheltered environment or spoiled household did they come from?

English: A composed satellite photograph of No...

English: A composed satellite photograph of North America in orthographic projection. The observer is centered at (40° N, 95° W), at Moon distance above the Earth. Español: Imagen de satélite de América del Norte (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hey you, don’t call me average or ordinary, everday or the common person! Dig this, arrogant official- I’m your fellow citizen and taxpayer and your constituent.

And everyone is special, has potential to do great and wonderful and spectacular things; so is that “ordinary” or “everyday” or “common”? I think not.

Be careful too when using racial or ethnic terms. Not everyone with dark skin is “African- American“, or “black”. In fact I see very few people who are so dark of skin that they migh actually just about fit the description “black”. Not everyone desires to be grouped with one of the trite ethnic or racial groups, so do not be so hasty to call someone something or group them with another set of people who might look the same but who have very different lifestyles or other habits. And the term “Caucasian” is historic and should not be used for describing “whites” alone. And the Caucasus is in another part of the world anyhow, certainly not in North America. In my mind only someone from that region should be designated as a “Caucasian” if it is so important to some demographer that such a category be used.

(Just think as you look at the photo of North America to the right- see any borders or lines or separations of people or neighborhoods or other society divisions here? Nope.)

Far as I am concerned, the Census and any similar program or listing on anything like a job application is only good for dividing people. None of that is good for unity, strengthening a workforce or a nation, or bringing those groups closer together. It is time we stop looking at the outside of the person and just take “diversity” as a given of the human race and nothing to write home about. People look and act differently and express themselves differently- get over this divisive junk and the damping down of what makes people special and unique and able to contribute to the greater national experience.

Come on, folks, grow up all ready. It should make you suspicious enough the fact that the Census Bureau is part of the U. S. Department of Commerce- that got my hair raised the closer a look I had at the logo which is pictured here. So how did this Census junk get twined up with the Commerce Department? Does this make you just a little bit wary and concerned about where advertising goes, who sponsors ads and products, who is in commercials, what is shown on job applications, and perhaps attitudes seen in or around your workplace?

It is time for change… many a change at many a level. Let’s wake up people- we need to work togegther, set aside the differences, and look to re-building a stronger and better America. But remember, we cannot do this if separate and divided and in derision or in doubt; such a mission can only be done by WORKING TOGETHER and LOOKING TO GET THE JOB DONE TO THE BEST OF OUR ABILITIES.

Seal of the United States Census Bureau. The b...

Seal of the United States Census Bureau. The blazon is defined here as: On a shield an open book beneath which is a lamp of knowledge emitting rays above in base two crossed quills. Around the whole a wreath of single leaves, surrounded by an outer band bearing between two stars the words ‘‘U.S. Department of Commerce’’ in the upper portion and ‘‘Bureau of the Census’’ in the lower portion, the lettering concentric with an inner beaded rim and an outer dentilated rim (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Caucasus. Qasara Gorge

Caucasus. Qasara Gorge (Photo credit: paukrus)

Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2012.