Chicago Neighborhoods: Constructive, Corrosive, Communicative?

I. INTRODUCTION

Election Day in Chicago, and the candidates are out there. What are some of the topics on which they speak and on which they attempt to cater to the voters? There are the usual issues of taxes, TIFF’s, having an elected school board, transportation, the roads and bridges, and business. There is another issue that crops up in their ads: the neighborhoods.

It seems that the word “diversity” is a new concept to people of modern America, but it was not news to me when growing up in Nashville. There was not even a need to mention the word, as some kind of cajoling to get me to think of others who were different, to think of others in terms of some kind of census related terminology, or to see others for what I could get out of them for statistics, tax dollars, business funding, etc.

II. NASHVILLE NO – BOUNDARIES

The area of town I grew up in was about as low – crime as a part of a major city can be. There was no need to even think of anything dangerous happening. Police patrols were regular and it was good to see them, but they were just doing their jobs, that I knew. I just watched and went on with activities. Everyone kept their homes maintained and their yards neat, their lawns mowed, their mailboxes painted, and their noise levels down. There were no shootings, none of the “if it bleeds it leads” junk on the news networks that plagues us these days, and no talk of drugs around the area that would cause us to be on the watch for dealers/ pushers, and certainly no mention of gangs such as make parts of Chicago notable in the national scene for violence.

Not at all; our part of town was quiet, comfortable, and about as “diverse” as can be. I went to school with children who, thank goodness, did not all look like me or speak as I did, or dress as I did. They were interesting and different and my classmates and my teachers, pure and simple. We were there to learn, to play together, to interact on projects and to come and to go every week. We had no need for uniforms; we were there to do what students do – no metal detectors or security guards or metal bars needed, thank you. They might have been around but I had no need to take such heavy notice of them. I felt safe and that is what mattered to me and my parents.

The same applied to the churches I attended: it was a church, and everyone was welcome. Everyone sang, participated in Sunday School, baptisms, christenings, parties, etc. We came and went, one and all worshippers of the same God. The message was the same and we understood it.

People were people in my eyes and for my folks, who worked around the doctors and nurses and staffs of at least three major local hospitals as their careers progressed. They saw every patient, everyone who needed help, no matter who they were. I was fortunate to interact with the brilliant people who were friends of my parents, who came to our home and to whose homes we went. Compared to how people think today, my folks were ahead of the time in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and thank goodness I was not subjected to the terrible talk of what separates whom from whom and what this means to “the government statisticians” and the Census Bureau.

I traveled after high school for international vacations and the world broadened. Because I had not been so mentally restricted early in life, I had an open mind to these exotic cultures and languages, foods and attire and jewelry and histories that greeted me like the pages of an open book coming to life. I was not worried about it at all, the influence of these diverse and amazing cultures on my mind and spirit. Gone were thoughts of being separated by some imaginary line that ended at a certain street or city limit or ethnic boundary. Travel and the benefits that came with doing that made my world a better place. It was grand – the world became my neighborhood

It was marvelous.

Then I moved to Chicago…

III. CHICAGO: SIDES, DISTRICTS, and… NEIGHBORHOODS

Those candidates we will consider in this election today have spoken to and berated each other on their work with and in and their experiences with and funding of Chicago neighborhoods. They talk about how safe or unsafe “their neighborhoods” are; they talk about the closings of schools, the disrepair of roads, the lack of or the concentration of development for residences and businesses. They talk about diversity… not about unity.

We need a mayor who will break down those barriers and remove the roadblocks to progress, a friendly and open –  minded mayor and the aldermen who will work with him. As Shakespeare might put it, we need someone who will “dispel these inconveniences”, which is part of a speech from the play Henry V, when, towards the end, King Henry and Princess Katharine are listening to the Duke of Burgundy speak on restoring peace.

Our mayoral candidates might have a lot of money and influence and power when the cameras are around for campaign photo opps, but they seem to forget something, that Chicago is and always has been a diverse city, and always will be.

From its inception to right now, Chicago is made up of people who interact every day with others who do not look or talk or speak as they do, people who need help and who give help and who are glad to help in their lines of work, every day. These are the retailers, the first responders, the doctors and nurses and administrators, the airport ticket agents, the airline crews, the television studio camera operators, the bus drivers, and the furniture salespeople.

Diversity is nothing new, and we just need to leave off this census -oriented thinking and make progress. Interaction is easier when we just simply treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Represent yourself as a person, a special human being, an American citizen, plain and simple; represent yourself as someone who is one of those people out there to help and to work with everyone. Close down the prejudices, and bless yourself with the qualities of peace.

We just need to do that.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

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.

 

 

Holy Name and St. James: Churches of a Cardinal’s Feather

HOLY NAME AND ST. JAMES: CHURCHES OF A CARDINAL’S FEATHER

English: Steeple of St. James Catholic Church ...

English: Steeple of St. James Catholic Church in Chicago, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

See them both for yourself and you will get more of the picture than is being put on the news. The parishioners of St. James’ Church have a legitimate beef against the Archdiocese of Chicago and have every right to be heard in their efforts to keep this wonderful church open and the area around it thriving.

I had to go see what the real issues were behind just the talk of demolition, of the transit lines being here and there, of the area around the church and of the demographics (a nasty word at times and in this case the real problem, I think) to gauge the situation. The photos I have of this day speak to more than we have so far heard.

There are hidden gems to this beautiful structure, and the area around the church has its ups and downs just as any area of a major city does, especially when there has been neglect and racism and gerrymandering and politics getting in the way.

Now let us compare the areas around Holy Name Cathedral (the “Cardinal’s Church” as a friend of mine put it today) and around the magnificent structure of St. James’ Church at 29th and Wabash. I noticed a problem right away when I went into the area for the photographs. After a few minutes it hit me: this area should be just as thriving and prosperous as the area of the Gold Coast where Holy Name Cathedral is, just as beautiful, as clean, as preserved, as lovely, as safe, just as glorious, as televised and as touted and as visited by tourists and native Chicagoans alike. What is going on behind the scenes then, that has the diocese wanting to demolish St. James’ and be in such a rush to further destroy that area of the city?

Seems to me that demographics is playing a role, but to use that as a lame, corporate and vague and arrogant and authoritarian excuse to further the demolition … now that is about as false as any lie anyone has ever told- and to hear such a thing from the Church, the oh –so- holy high and mighty Catholic Church with its corrupt Curia and all –male official roster, and its priests and its prejudiced laws and rules is only to say, “Hey Cardinal, what’s wrong with this picture? What is going on, man? Why are you not owning up to admitting to playing the race card and wanting to see this area, Bronzeville, suffer as you talk of taking away this church?”

—————————————————————————-

Playing the demographics card is worldliness and falsehood and pride, and can lead to real trouble. Get over this demographics, racial gerrymandering and race card –playing, folks! Everyone lives everywhere, so do not come to the news people and say some area is “predominantly” this or that; every “race” lives in every place. Incomes and lifestyles are changing and with those changes people are looking for alternatives to living and working and moving to parts of the city that suit their need and their means. I don’t give a flip where “blacks” and “whites” and “Asians” and “Hispanics” live- that kind of talk does not fly with me and it should not fly with anyone who considers that they are educated. To speak in such a flippant and ignorant manner is an insult to everyone, Monsieur and Madam Politician.

Answer the people of St. James’ Parish about THAT one if you can, Your Eminence and Your Holiness; what is the problem  with that area that you cannot give them the same rushed consideration you gave to the rebuilding and preservation of Holy Name Cathedral? From what I gather it would cost no more to rebuild and preserve St. James’ than it did Holy Name.

And please do not use the “transit system is so close to it” lame excuse any more, please. The Red Line runs under Holy Name and you can hear and feel it when it does. Busses and cabs and planes roar by and over that church all the time, so mass transit is alive and well in the Gold Coast and around the school, rectory and cathedral. So what if the train lines run behind St. James’s? Just soundproof and shore it up somehow –certainly there are people who can do that and the money would come out of the woodwork if the project goes forward for the salvation of St. James’. Ask anyone who lives around the historic Gold Coast and I’ll bet those homeowners have found companies who can soundproof those older buildings so they are suitable for families and businesses and shore them up against the rumbling of subways, busses, trucks, jets, and the everyday traffic between Chicago Avenue and North Avenue.

The area around St. James’ Church has residents, businesses, and schools; it has bus routes and roads (that granted do need some fixing up and some cleaning up, but make the diocese alive and relevant and Streets and Sanitation would have to come out and do the jobs), so it is far from deserted and down-trodden. So there are some bare spots and trash that could be cleaned up, but then in a city this large there are bare spots and trash all over the place; vacant lots and dilapidated buildings and such exist even in the Gold Coast. On the bus ride back into the Loop and into the Gold Coast and through Lincoln Park the changes became apparent.

North of where it seems the diocese might end its borders (but then again if people can get to Holy Name from other nations they can get to St. James’ from anywhere as well), things turned more active and seemed cleaner and better maintained overall. People were milling about and folks were walking dogs and sporting their jogging togs as they exercised, and walking with their young children. People were shopping, going in and out of businesses of every caliber and every item from food to clothing, apartment finding to beauty supplies. Though the day is overall gray and damp, the spirits of the people north of 29th and Wabash certainly had a livelier flair than what I saw in the area around St. James’ Church. West of State Street there came a few people around the housing complex, and some walking about, and there were trains and busses passing regularly. But east, there came a couple of people and a few cars.

A couple of cars pulled up in front of the church as I took photos, but I waited till they left to continue taking pictures so I could get the buildings without too much modern interference. And there is more to that church complex than just the cathedral itself.

There is a hidden gem, a large stone structure that must at one time have been a very grand home indeed.

Take away the church and most likely the diocese would have to remove this gorgeous building as well which is in perfect condition from what I can tell gauged on this view. The architecture is magnificent and it should be preserved and used as a music school or some kind of learning center for the diocese.

People have been commenting left and right about the real issues and it is time the media stepped in to tell the whole and the true story about this demolition versus preservation beeswax. To do anything but preserve it and restore it would be an insult to the parish, to the diocese, to lovers of landmarks and history everywhere, and to everyone who has a history connected to St. James’ Church.

Divi Logan, 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.

There goes the Neighborhood? Maybe that would be a great thing!

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD? MAYBE THAT WOULD BE A GOOD THING!

Chicago is known for its neighborhoods, and to some, that is fine. The city is divided on racial, ethnic, and income standards, and all that is (no) thanks to the demographers who just love to separate people for their own ends and means and make our nation a “dis” united states.

Well, far as I am concerned, this neighborhood stuff can go to blazes in a handbasket and quickly too. I’m sick and tired of the “neighborhoods” making the news for gang and gun violence and drug markets and being known as “violent” or as “white” or as one factor or another that serves only to divide us even more so that the news people can have something to talk about.

Neighborhoods be darned, that’s all there is to it. Stop the bordering of the streets and the houses, head the divisiveness off at the pass and be done with this juvenile this is mine or that is mine and I’m not going to share kind of mentality. Ridiculous and delinquent and stupid, all of it. What are we, a civilization or a nation of immature people who have to be told how to do everything, have an app for everything, have an electronic reminder for everything and get someone else to do everything for us because there is too much convenience?

The idea of the neighborhood as being drawn along such lines has always been anathema to me, nothing but hateful and reeking of exclusivity and divisiveness. Time to grow up, folks. Time to give these people less to worry about and take down the historical neighborhood districts, tear down fences and improve streets. Just because some “neighborhood” cuts off at one or another street, the pothole repairs and the plowing and the planting have to stop at one corner and leave another looking unkempt?

PUH-LEEEAAASSSEEE.

Grow up, people. Get out, branch out; you are not hermits and no one should make you feel like a prisoner in your own home because of some “neighborhood” issue that turns into nothign but negatives for your area, in the way of turf wars, territorial battles for gangs and drug markets, and whether or not some income group or racial group lives there. Of course the latter is total bunk. “Whites” and “blacks” live together and with each other; ethinic groups can live together and in the same building. People marry outside of their nationalities and racial lines. In other words, who cares who lives where, except the demographers and the politicians who listen to them and think they are doing some good for this country.

Also total bunkum- these people do no one any good at all. They are demons of dividing and separating for the sake of having something to report on or talk about in the cable news or insert as being supposedly of some importance to the business world and the education community. The news on News Radio 780 WBBM in Chicago is more and more littered with the reporters thinking they have to say what neighborhood something happened in. Well I could care less whether a shooting happened in Wicker Park or Gold Coast; the point is that some act happened and someone thinks it worth talking about. Some one was robbed or shot or carjacked – who but the police and first responders would care where it happened? They will respond to it and help those in need.

Of course the more they talk about the acts the more coverage is given to those who do the acts and they will only do more.

Neighborhoods need to go, no doubt. Once the idea might have been just fine, when Frank Lloyd Wright and his associates made the nice planned communities decades ago. But now the idea of the neighborhood, which is often shortened to “hood” is very negative. You need a library, or need to put up new housing or gardens or a fire station or school… well, build it or improve it for goodness’ sakes and just get it done! So what where it is done – just work on it already!

The neighborhood can be a good thing if we want it to be. The historic districts can be atractive and wonderful and great for tourists to see and worth preserving. But when the sorting by race and income and ethnicity start to filter in then it is time to go away from the idea and turn to something else positive.

Clean up the act- break down this idea of separating by streets and the like.

Be a part of the solution, or else you are part of the problem.

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, 2013.

Chicagoland:: Chicago Land: Gangs, Guns, Drugs and Schools; What Are We Missing?

GANG TURF OR CHICAGO LAND? WHAT DO WE LIVE IN AND ON?

According to the news media in Chicago, it is gang turf that sees these violent incidents. But IS IT REALLY? A closer look at how the mass media and media blitz and spin campaigns affect us and our moods, our society, and our lives is in order. And there is more to it as well.

Wrapped up in the Chicago local scene issues revolving around public schools (the so -called neighborhood schools) is this wording in the news reports that students would have to cross “gang territory” to go to other schools if some schools close. GANG territory? Come on now, folks.

All the news people are doing is sensationalizing and making light of the real problem of lack of community service and involvement on all levels of society and within every ethnic and racial group and organization within a certain area that sees the worst violence.

We can learn a great lesson from reading the excellent book Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson. The book details the effects on our environment caused by highly toxic chemicals such as DDT, dieldrin, and other chemicals and sprays used to control insects and diseases. Instead of having the effect of eradication in many cases, the insects became resistant to many of the chemicals and people started to develop diseases such as the cancers that now plague our nation. The natural world has its own checks and balances in which humans have interfered to our blight and detriment and ruin. Carson’s book details all aspects of that issue and concern, from the big talk of the chemical producers to the straight talk of researchers and doctors about the nature and results of the use of these chemicals.

As we can learn from reading Silent Spring, there are ways to solve problems but we need to do more than rush headling into whatever the media says and reason that just because it is “on TV” or “on the radio” or “on the Web” that it must be right, proper, perfect, good and best. WRONG. All it is… mass produced and played and re -played until we are tired of hearing what the corporate news networks have to say. We act or we do not. We listen or we do not; we press mute or we do not. It is the will to or the will not to that is the foundation of any behavior, and the media people could easily make changes to their styles of writing and reporting if they so desired.

Well, if the “media corporate people” do not want to make the changes, the rest of us must make the changes so the journalists will TAKE NOTICE and REPORT on the changes we are making and not on what they want us to see, do, hear, or act on. We know what our problems or issues or concerns or challenges are. We see them in our communities every day without some hotshot anchor reporter coming on at a set time every day and spinning the tired threads of “news” and “breaking stories” from their viewpoints.

So some news station talks about the “gang turf” thing in regards to the schools; well, what else is there to do but be rid of the gangs and the reasons why there is “gang turf” in the first place! Same applied in Silent Spring; get rid of the cancer -causing chemicals instead of trying to keep on finding cures for the cancers. Unless we are rid of what or who causes the problems we will keep having the problems! How to be rid of the gangs or the drugs or whatever is causing the attraction to a certain area and catching people in these incidents that claim lives in Chicago every weekend now, is what we need to focus on. The police cannot do it alone, so we need more help. If order needs to be restored then SWAT and the National Guard ought to be called in to patrol these areas and watch out so that the good citizens can go about their business and not be worried off the sidewalks and playgrounds by some nasty gang banger or idiot out for revenge who gets a case of mistaken identity.

Gangs are like a cancer on the face of society; and all that is related to the gangs is the same. We do not need them or want them and must do all in our power to act now, same as for the “gun control” issue. ACT NOW, as Giffords said to Congress. America is counting on you to act now and not waste time. Lives are being lost every day to people who are angry, who are out for revenge, who are greedy and arrogant and bent on having their way with certain areas to get their drug and gun businesses going and keep people terrorized.

That is how some people think they get and keep power. These people are nothing but cowards… dangerous cowards though because somehow they get the guns and the drugs and the open ranges to sell them, use them, and get them from the cartels that pump these guns and drugs into American towns and cities and homes and schools.

What is the problem or what are the problems, then?

It was someone else’s land before it became “gang turf”. It was and is CHICAGO LAND, it is the land of good citizens and law -abiding citizens, that’s whose land it is. It is the land of children, workers, bus drivers for the CTA and PACE, the land of first responders who put their lives on the line every shift. It is the land of the free and home of the brave, of families with young kids in school, families trying to make it in tough times, people working hard to keep a home and a yard and live decently and in peace. It is not gang land, and never will be. The media makes it “gang turf” but the citizens of Chicago can reverse that trend.

We must then be what the slogan says: free and brave, so we can keep this the land of the free and the home of the brave, and have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, 2013.

Chicago Takes on the Negative Media Chatter

UNDERLYING NEGATIVES: SUBTLE OR OVERT, THESE WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS CLOUD OUR “SOCIAL MEDIA”

Well, if you are as I am, you have had quite enough of certain words, hints, expressions and concepts clouding our airwaves lately. What have you heard enough of, and how has hearing such things affected you or someone you know or love or care deeply about or work with?

In 2012 hearing the expression “fiscal cliff” was enough, but added to that in Illinois people had to deal with “pension crisis”, “gang turf”, “gang rape”, and “foreclosure”. Sure these are all terms that can interrelate as concerns politics, economic situations, neighborhoods and communities, but please folks, must we hear about them EVERY DAY?

Will talking about “gun violence” do anything until we actually sit down with a plan and ACT UPON what is needed?

And what about “behavioral problems”? Well now, everyone has some degree of a “behavioral problem”, and certainly this ties into “gun control” and the Second Amendment chatter going on.

Foreclosure and the banks and AIG and the insurance crisis… oh poor us under the gun of corporate thuggery and our own tendency to greed, pride, showing off, materialism, envy and coveting. Pity us who are in such a vulnerable state of behavioral crisis, and the corporations know that and see it and use their tactics to act on our vices, enhance them and make them seem acceptable, wonderful, marvelous and great. So we want a home larger than we can afford because we think it will make us “look good” or “get ahead” with someone? We think the same about our clothes and cars and jobs and the schools we put our kids in.

Status symbolism is materialism and the Seven Deadly Sins rolled up into one concept. So what if you have a box seat at the symphony or can get your name on the list of the highest donors to some hospital or park or music center? Is your home free of leaks, holes, broken windows and an overgrown lawn? Then what do you need so many bedrooms, bathrooms, and thousands more square feet for? To show that you can have an indoor basketball court or pool?

And what is a car meant to do? It is meant to get you from point A to point B, plain and simple. What do you need in a car- a DVD player, an IPOD hook up, a cell phone link or a miniature movie theater? What do you need to keep your kids entertained on a road trip, some little electronic device that makes noise and is easily broken? Didn’t have those things when I was a kid on road trips. I made do with visual and intellectual games, reading or eating or just resting and enjoying the scenery. I played games like finding out of state license plates or considering the types of architecture I saw on those road trips. I would think about the changing landscape or skies or weather conditions. If I became uninterested in the outside I turned to actual BOOKS and stimulated my brain that way. I did not need movies, my own phone or miniature television to stay entertained. I would read the newspaper and discuss currrent events with my travel companions.

What about upholding the Second Amendment? Hear ye, NRA, just because someone talks about eliminating assault -style weapons from our shelves and stores does not mean a total push to get rid of our Second Amendment rights and privileges – now that latter words is the most important here, PRIVILEGE. It is a privilege to own a weapon; we have the right to do that, to protect our homes and businesses with them, but we also must learn how to use them properly and take care of them so they function properly. No one needs a military -style weapon, unless they are in the military and are fighting in some situation where the potential of having to use dozens of rounds at a time might be necessary. You do not need one of those AR weapons or M weapons to go hunting or protect your home or property. Any gun will do the job, after all it only takes one right shot to do the work.

For the rest of the negatives, how about “the flu”, or “food stamps” (especially hearing that millions of American kids rely on them), or “the government”, and does everything have to be some sort of “crisis”?

Do we need to talk about the national debt one more day? Such expressions so cloud our airwaves that we begin to think that there is way too much talk and no action, and we are pounded constantly by talk of so many of the negative social issues, such as school closings, charter schools, payroll taxes, and the problems with the 787. We get the phrases, we get the issues, we get the concerns, and we understand there are problems, and one of the worst but most widely accepted is the hype about “social media”.

Now, all media outlets are in a sense social. The “mass media” are meant to draw people together to interact on certain events and concepts, to get us to think about something in a herd instinct mentality or to talk about issues of national or global importance, or at least what some news producer think is important, valid, or worth our time to see or hear. The private electronics world of the I -devices is social and yet it is antisocial. Through the pods and pads and tablets and readers people can chat, text, go to the Web, research, share data, look at electronic books and articles, and do business networking. That is the social/ society/ group aspect of those forms of sharing and media. These forms of expression and media become antisocial by… well, just look around next time you are on a city bus, waiting at a train or bus station or airport. How many people are silent, some with blank or glazed expressions, sitting or standing near you and others, holding on to those little devices as though they were platinum bars or something so precious that it would be a disaster to lose them? There they are with those cords hanging from their ears, wound around arms and hands, and sticking out of pockets, perfect targets for criminals who will think nothing of shoving that inattentive music listener to the floor and making off with that phone, pad, pod, tablet or reader and leaving them in whatever state they happen to be.

What else is negative, well anything dealing with our United States Congress, that is for sure. Anything about the Speaker of the House, the Senate, the House, any of them, I can do without. Anything about Syria, Israel, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Egypt I can care less about at this time. We need to focus on getting our own country, the UNITED STATES, not only back together but actually UNITED, thank you. No more money for foreign nations, not one cent. No more military support for them either, not one person or cent or plane or bomb until these folks can learn to take care of themselves instead of having us babysit and protect and train them. These countries were around long before America was even a thought, so let them deal with what they will. Let us turn to taking care of our own; it is long past due that we do.

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, 2013.

GUN CONTROL BEGINS WITH SELF CONTROL! Mental Health Crosses the Spectrum.

GUN CONTROL? WEAPONS OF DISTRUCTION? COME ON FOLKS, CONTROL YOURSELF!

Sandy Hook, Connecticut

Sandy Hook, Connecticut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the wake of the shootings – most recently of a police officer in Houston, Texas, of four firefighters and a wounded police officer in in West Webster, New York, and of the students in Sandy Hook/ Newtown, Connecticut, there have been talks regarding how best to implement and practice gun control.

Gun control? GUN CONTROL? We must begin a way many steps back than that, begin before the surface issues, begin before the copycat schemes and crimes that have riddled our nation with acts of violence in the past years and so many just in 2012.

The officials and legislators talk about mental health as of the utmost importance in working with the issues of gun control. Mental health is so complex an area of study that it, like the brain that works those faculties and processes, must be carefully considered. Everyday citizens have degrees of mental health, some towards mental illness and some towards what we might call sanity, but everyone experiences those degrees of mental health at one time or another ranging from experiences of euphoria and great dreams to depression and seasonal disorders (SAD).

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.
Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are others in our nation and around the world because of our policies, that also experience a wide range of mental health issues. Those folks are the personnel of our United States Military branches – the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, and the Coast Guard. Personnel in our first responder branches – firefighters, police officers and SWAT officers, and paramedics no doubt experience the widest range of mental health concerns possible.

The firefighters in West Webster and Rochester, New York, must now begin to pick up the pieces and, if someday possible, fill the holes left by the deaths of their volunteer colleagues. The police chief in those videos announcing the updates on that fire and shooting is visibly shaken when he talks of the friends he lost. We cannot even begin to imagine what the people are feeling in New York, who lost their homes and so much before Christmas, but have their lives to rebuild. Such tragedy… we must wonder what is happening within our nation.

But back to the concerns about our military personnel and the issues of mental health. There are tens of thousands of soldiers who have returned to the United States from violent and hectic tours of overseas duty, and some very young. They will have every range of mental health issues. They have seen people die, have killed people, have used high – powered weapons, grenades, machine guns, and fighter jets. They have seen horrible acts of rape, murder, burning, torture and desecration of bodies.

That would be enough to turn anyone’s gut, who has not had the training those folks have had. But though they are trained to be tough, to carry out those acts of sanctioned violence in the name of “freedom” and democracy, they are affected. They must see blood spilled, hear people screaming, see children scurrying for cover, see homes burning, hear the rocket -propelled grenades and the jets criscrossing the borders, the skies and the mountains and deserts. And they get involved in wrecks where the enemy plants improvised explosive devices that blow up vehicles and cause catastrophic injuries.

NATO personnel are tough, strong, brave, sure – just like military personnel are supposed to be, just like law enforcers are supposed to be. But only the hardest hearted person would not be moved to tears and turn green in the gut at the sight of innocent villagers huddling in bloodstained, burned -out buildings, wondering what the next day will bring. Will the coming hours bring freedom from their oppressors, will the troops harm them, or will they be killed by those who rule their nations, as in Syria?

What happens then when those American personnel come home? Certainly they might look like the same man or woman on the outside, the same Private or Captain who went across the waves on tour. But inside, in the brain and in the faculties, they are not at all the same. They might exhibit many of the habits you as family or friends recalled when they left – eating meals the same way, cooking some things, dressing a certain way, or driving a certain way (provided they have their limbs, their eyes, and their appetites). But their minds are not the same because of the very nature of what they have had to do during deployment.

Official seal of Newtown, Connecticut

Official seal of Newtown, Connecticut (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These personnel must be watched carefully for signs of PTSD (Post -traumatic Stress Disorder), depression, suppressed anger, and other signs that their minds/brains are in real trouble. They must be encouraged to talk about what they have seen and done, reminding them that it is strength to seek help, not weakness to ask for assistance. It is necessary that they talk about what is bothering them, that they not hide their feelings, and that they shed their toughened boot camp mentality so they can heal.

Another issue to think about would be whether or not the personnel had an honorable or a dishonorable discharge. An honorable discharge might not be so much a concern but someone who is booted out for dishonorable actions needs to be followed in case there were issues that caused their instructors or officers to doubt their effectiveness to serve and thus made the dishonorable discharge necessary. When it comes to background checks, every factor must be considered before a weapon is sold.

Background checks need to be extremely comprehensive, detailed, drawn out to the point of dotting every “i” and crossing every “t”. The potential seller must ask every relevant question and take down the information and share it with law enforcers in the area and at every level of government. If there is even any doubt about selling a weapon the sale must not go through. Weapons also need to be carefully traced from the moment they are sold, or when they turn up missing or stolen. The idea of another “Fast and Furious” must never cross our headlines again.

Collectors also need to be very careful of their possessions. Wherever they keep their guns they need to have detailed records close by, copies kept in case of disaster as well. They must note every possible relevant detail of each firearm/ weapon in their collections, from serial numbers to where they were bought to who sold it to them, if they bought it at a gun show, at a small shop, no matter. If possible, collectors should also have records of people in their area who are felons or who might not be allowed to possess weapons. Lists of national troublemakers should also be kept up with in case someone escapes and might be in the area of the collector, especially if they know the person who might have the guns and thus make them targets of robbery.

Mental health, as said, is a complex concern that runs the gauntlet of everything we do and say. It is not as easy as “self control” or as difficult as diagnosing eating disorders or criminal instincts. It is easy and it is difficult – we can say someone seems depressed or upset or sick, but to what degree? How can we… how can anyone judge the mental health of someone else, considering we all have those degrees of brain health and physical health that make us different? Is there a rule which we can call “normal”? Is there a person that you or I could say is deranged, when we might just be so? For what reasons do we judge others when we do not like to be judged?

We must be very careful, extremely careful, when we discuss mental health. Everyone needs to be heard, to take part in discussions and if possible the studies offered by counselors or hospitals. We are a nation at war within and without ourselves; we are at war around the world and deep within our brains and spirits and souls. For there to be proper discussion there must be a sense of a stable environment from which to begin those discussions, a place of peace and quiet and harmony where we can sit down like civilized people and talk about the issues in an atmosphere of parliamentary procedure and/ or military courtesy.

The more civil and properly prepared the atmosphere of education and discussion is, the better facilitated we will be to hear and be heard, to write the necessary letters, to talk about what bothers us, to confess if we must to our leaders of worship, to talk with our families and kids, with teachers and students, with our beloved and brave first responders, with everyone, with all our fellow citizens.

We are supposed to be a UNITED nation. Let’s start to act that way, and we will all be better for doing so.

Houston Police Department
Houston Police Department (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

**************************************

Condolences to the Houston Police Department, the people of the City of Houston and of Harris County, Texas; the people of West Webster and Rochester and the citizens of New York, and the people of Newtown and Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

Flag of Rochester, New York. Image created by ...

Flag of Rochester, New York. Image created by uploader based on previous SVG image (an auto-traced bitmap) on the English Wikipedia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.

Related articles

Gun Control: The Second Amendment and Our Freedoms

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution is:

Amendment II

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

***********************************************************

Now then, we know it is our right to have guns in the home, and that many states have “concealed carry” regulations. However there is more to the face of the facts than what we are hearing in the news these days. With the mass shooting incidents and the media coverage these and the assailants receive, we need to look deeper into these events, and ways of prevention and dealing with what has happened.

The first thing is this: gun control begins with self control. Let me emphasize the last two words: SELF CONTROL, as being the part, parcel and most important factor for anything we do, but especially certain things such as the handling of and possession of firearms.

It is as driving a car: there is nothing “virtual” or “second chance” about it. Just as the car is very real, tangible, and two tons of moving material that can do damage to things and people even at slow rates of speed, the firearm is an item that needs to be understood for just what it is. A firearm is an item used for defense, for killing, for sport. It is an item that can do a great deal of damage when mishandled, not properly cleaned, or used for purposes for which it is not intended.

The proper use of and the privilege of having firearms must begin very early in the community. Children see law enforcement officials every day anyway and thus are exposed to the fact that firearms exist; they see the people with the armored vehicles have firearms for protection, and so there is no reason to keep the fact of firearms from our children. Weapons are out there in more forms than the gun in all its styles and types, and they are around to stay.

To have the Second Amendment means more than just words on parchment: we must realize that it is more than a right for us to keep and bear arms. A freedom is not “free”, being a thing which we can take for granted and do nothing to defend. Freedoms are those qualities we must uphold, but with freedoms come responsibility, duty and honor and discipline. With freedom comes a community-service-minded orientation to be used to protect and defend others in our nation who are unable to defend or protect themselves… citizens such as our children and our elderly, our most vulnerable citizens.

We must begin with those who have guns in the home and who have children who are around those firearms. When a child is old enough to understand, the responsible parent should not keep the fact of the guns from the child -someday the child is going to see the gun case and ask about what it is for. The kids need to be educated on the use and purpose of the weapons. Very firmly and responsibly, the parents need to talk with the child about why the guns are in the house, talk about what the need for the guns are, and tell the children that they are very real indeed, not a video game or a computer simulation where you get a second chance to try something over again. That gun is a weapon, with a mighty mean kick and which needs to be used with the ultimate of care and thought and attention, if it must be used at all.

“Honey, this is to be used ONLY for (this or that purpose). It is to be handled only when you receive proper instruction from trustworthy people, and not to be touched until that moment when you understand the consequences of using this firearm improperly. It is NOT to be used to harm other people, it is NEVER to be used to harm animals, etc….” You must sit down and explain to them the ways weapons are not to be used, and have them repeat those words until you are certain they understand. You should talk with them about what is in the news, what is improper about what a person did, why self control is so very important, and about good mental health. And please, keep those video games of war and crime and car theft and such out of your households. Those things are nothing but trouble. If you want to learn about crime and its consequences, there are more immediate ways of doing that, ways which leave a vital and lasting impression, which, if the education upon those issues is done with the interest of prevention, will stop the young from growing up to commit violent acts for a few lousy dollars, for a stake in some “turf”, for some selling or using of deadly drugs, and against the toting of firearms for the purpose of harming others.

As responsible adult citizens you also need to catch early the ways to keep your kids from getting around gangs and drugs. Repeat that old rule of not talking to strangers. Tell your kids about people they can trust and go to if they are in fear or in need or are approached by someone suspicious or unusual in the area. Give your children something to pay attention to, good things such as after -school activities that strengthen the mind, such as music, dance, industrial shop, chess or debate clubs, athletics, anything that will keep them doing beneficial and good things for themselves and, you can hope, for their community as well. Give them the attention they need at home in order that they do not feel as though they need to seek it elsewhere and end up getting in bad company.

Take common sense safety precautions: go with your kids to their school and stay around and patrol the area if you can, like the Marine did in Nashville. He came out to his kid’s school in uniform and stuck around to provide a measure of security in the wake of the massacre in Sandy Hook/Newtown, Connecticut. If you can devote the time, if only a few minutes on your way to work, to drive around or walk around the campus and survey things when they are relatively normal, and in all seasons and weathers, you will know when something is not normal, when there is someone around who should not be there, and then you will know when to report to law enforcement what is going on. Also, never put the child’s name on a backpack or anything a predator or gang banger is likely to see. They could easily call to the child as though they know them and say things like, “I know your mom and dad, Ashley, and they want that I give you a ride home.” Tell the child that if that happens never to speak to the person but to run quickly, back into the school, to a police station or to a fire station, to make noise, anything to ward off the predator. And if it is within your power to do, allow the kids to take martial arts classes in order to protect themselves and provide them a measure and order of discipline that will carry them throughout life.

At any rate, protecting our children is our future, it is the stability and foundation of our country… they are our FUTURE and our PRESENT, and our presents as well, for without them, without our youngest citizens we will be no longer a nation. Our children are our most precious asset, different, unique and individual, innocent and wonderful and precious. Protecting them is our duty and it should be an honor and a privilege. Those in power should not abuse that power nor those under their charge, for someday those youngest of our citizens will grow to be as we are, and better if we are fortunate.

Let us hope for the best, for a nation bent on being stronger, making each of our fellow citizens stronger and wiser, and not on tearing each other apart, dividing our communities and our nation as the demographers would have us do. Let us hope for ways to solve problems peaceably, wisely, decently and honorably.

Let us hope for that most precious commodity – PEACE.

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, 2012.

Fiscal Cliff Talk is Bad Posture

PLAYERS IN THE FISCAL CLIFF SITUATION SHOW BAD POSTURE

Tax

Tax (Photo credit: 401(K) 2012)

Too much talk and no action, and according to the article there has been an awful (and I do mean awful) lot of “posturing”.

The problem is, it is bad posturing. What is the meaning of bad posture, and not just in the light of politics?

When someone shows poor or bad posture, they tend to slouch, to be rather the presentation of a “couch potato”, loafing about, eating a lot of the wrong or junky foods, not getting the proper amount of activity and the like. Bad posture is a sign of inactivity of the worst kind, a show that the person is not using their faculties properly, for wisdom and strength and such.

It seems our lawmakers (wrong word considering they do a lot of law breaking and corruptive behavior too) in Washington cannot even agree on what anyone in any of the two major parties has said or what their intentions are or what the results will be. They are no more than aged children gathered together on the same playground and they cannot agree on how to use even the basic equipment available. They cannot cooperate on the jungle gym, the see -saw, the swings or the slide; they quarrel and quibble and filibuster and bicker their way through our tax dollars used to run the Capitol every day while they waste time over their Senate Bean Soup wondering whom to blame and what to say for the news hour sound bytes.

And none of it is good for this country; none of it sounds good, comes off as good, or has any spot of decency that we can say is good or not. One thing is sure, it is trouble if we are pushed over that fiscal cliff, and no good will come of it. No one wants to be taxed, and we all are excessively all ready. No one wants to see their money going for more bombs or war expenditure or planes or rockets or rebuilding another country.

We need to rebuild our own rusting, crumbling, falling infrastructure right now, and have no more time to waste on this pointless bickering over where to get revenue. We need to get with it and cut wasteful spending and high time political perks before we, that is they in Washington, can talk of raising taxes even one red cent or cutting spending where it is most needed, for our elderly especially who have earned their pay and their time and deserve the right to benefit from what they have given their country, being decades of dedicated and good service for business and government in war and in peace. We need to hold our elders in higher regard than we do… we, that is again those in Washington who would see those estemed elders degraded and impoverished by rising taxes and higher medication costs.

In this week of remembering Pearl Harbor, those who fought and died and sacrificed and those hardy survivors who turned out to see the solemnities, we need to focus on what we can do for this country and not for any other right now. We need to repair not only our literal infrastructure but our moral and spiritual and morale inner structures as well. It is plain from many reports that employee morale is down, that corruption at state and local government levels is up, that the people we elected in trust to higher office are misusing public finds (witnes the Illinois official who bilked her charges out of millions of serious bucks), and that business is suffering. Families are hard up for putting food on the table, for heating their homes, for disaster relief and insurance payments, for car payments, for getting their kids the right education, for the basics of life… and what do those people in Washington do?

Those people with the cushy seats in the Senate and House and White House, those people with the pages and the nice offices, heat and hot water, a kitchen, limousine service, access to the most private and exclusive clubs in the world, all the finest and all the best amenities of life… what are they doing? They are wasting the tax dollars those families put into “the system” every day when they buy anything, from groceries to medications to cars and gas to books and paper. Those families wonder where their next meals are coming from; the politicians can have food and drink whenever and wherever they want. They don’t have to worry about a few million dollars here or there; they would not miss that extra money in taxes or investments or in business deals. They make a great deal of money every day on the backs of those families who are down on their luck, trodden over by the same people they elected into office with their precious votes and time needed to make those choices.

They are using resources to excess and living in the luxury those families cannot even imagine having, while they waste away the hours in the marble halls and behind the heavy, gilded doors of their chambers. Those senators and representatives do not care any more; they are so jaded and their minds so clouded with luxurious excess and their eyes glazed over with golden glitter from their expensive jewelry and engine – turned silver belt buckles and the shine from their tailored shoes that they cannot see the right path to take. They are so over the path of obsession with materialism and power that it might take a billion confessions to turn them back to the level of even thinking of the right and proper path for their debates to take in order to put this nation back in good form.

It is time you people in government tightned your belts in the same way you are asking the rest of us to tighten ours. You are not playing fair when you do not do the work we sent you into office to do, when you bicker and rant, rave and play the blame game and the party lines of corrupt and worthless political bantering. You are the ones we will blame when we are futher taxed, when we are unable to support the local businesses or promote our own businesses, when more families go hungry and more people lose jobs.

You believe that with your nice suits and expensive cars and such that you are figures of dignity and diplomacy. You are nothing of the sort. You are undignified, unworthy and blame -worthy people who have used your power for your own selfish ends and means, who have used information to gain to excess millions of dollars, book deals, news spin and photo opportunities. Your halls are filled with scandal and dishonor, and I cannot even begin to think what your consciences would look like if we average citizens could take them out and examine them under an electron microscope. I think we would see such dirt and filth, such grime, grit and muck that we would wonder if any amount of cleansing would make your souls and consciences clear again.

How pitiful it is that we are thinking about going over this fiscal cliff and seeing this nation plunge into a deep recession or even a depression. How sad it will be if small businesses, that do so much hiring and product promotion and advertising will fail or will come so close to failing that their employees will leave, give up, or wear themselves out trying to keep the store afloat. What families will suffer the most? What small towns will be hit hardest, what communities will feel it in the most challenging way, and what children will suffer when their school funding is reduced? Hazards lie ahead for us all if we cannot get our nation in order and our minds properly focused.

Oh, Senator Boehner, by the way, don’t let your friends’ grandchildren play on that bridge – it might crumble under them. What a vicious circle that will begin…

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, ©2012.