The Future Is Here

Notre Dame is more than a building. She will be rebuilt. However, there’s another fire that shocks us. Climate change. And the Earth, once destroyed, cannot be rebuilt. This speech should leave everyone speechless. This brave, wise, and compassionate little girl, Greta Thurnberg, is a courageous leader. It is her generation that will have to confront what has and will happen to our beautiful planet. In my mind, she’s a hero!

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God Is Neither Straight or a Dude

Pavlovitz God Is not a Dude

 

“God not a dude.” Very well said! Descriptions of God in the Jewish bible (Tanakh) are just that; they are not meant to be taken literally, as God (Hashem) demands “He” not be seen (especially in Exodus). Pavlovitz points out “ruach,” the spirit of God is a feminine word. I’ll add “shekinah,” also spirit, which is described as a feminine quality. All people were and are created equally; we are brothers and sisters.

 

Why Students Should Learn to Be Kind to Animals

From the window of his attic study, Janusz Korczak fed the sparrows every night. In his writings, he recalled stepping into a swampy area to save the life of an insect. These vignettes illustrate Korczak’s holding all life sacred, much as he did for children, the smallest people.

It has been my experience that children (and adults) who are kind to animals are also kind to their fellow human beings. Sadly, the converse is true regarding those who treat animals with cruelty.

Animals hold a certain magic for most children. They seem to relate to their their fellow creatures. And many animals do likewise for children, especially dogs. Many adults who love animals are those who become “little again.” As this beautiful article so aptly illustrates, learning to treat animals kindly reinforces empathy. And as a teacher of students with disabilities, all this holds extra truth.

So, with this, I turn to the article. “Humane education, which teaches students about animal welfare, fosters empathy and can inspire students to become change agents in their communities,” writes teacher Julie O’Connor.

Source: Why Students Should Lea”rn to Be Kind to Animals

A Magical Mystery Tour to Childhood

magical childhood

Bedford VAL / Plaxton Panorama Elite II coach used on the “Magical Mystery Tour”, a tour of Beatles-related sights in south and central Liverpool. (This bus is the same model as the original.) Photo by David Root, via Wikimedia Commons

 

Most of us have seen and appreciated the recent film of James Corden and Paul McCartney in Liverpool. This very happy video is well worth seeing again… and again. Early on, Corden gets teary eyed when McCartney starts singing “Hey, Jude.” The Beatles were a huge part of his life.

 

 

About midway through, they visit Paul’s childhood home, which has been preserved just as it looked in the early 1960s, a trip back in time. The painted street signs for Penny Lane and Abbey Road still exist, albeit faded. Toward the end, Corden and McCartney play at one of the original Liverpool pubs, to the sheer delight of patrons of all ages.

 

What It All Means to Me

A history major in college, going back in time has always been very meaningful to me. The feelings such activity elicit are very complex; my tears are no doubt very similar to James Corden’s

I was a young boy living in Switzerland at the time. It is a surprise that the Beatles cassettes played over and over on my dad’s wood-grained player never wore out. Having gone to British schools since leaving the U.S. instilled a deep love of England and all things English. I would revisit that love a decade and a half later while spending summers on a Roman archaeological dig in Shropshire. The scenes in the video bring back happy memories of those times, though I was certainly no longer a child.

magical mystery tour to childhoodThis episode has very much been a magical mystery tour, back to a distant time and a distant place, though not a distant memory.

An aside: this month also marks the release of another childhood favorite, in the form of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” a documentary about Fred Rogers. (Watch this space for a review of the film.) Mister Rogers certainly knew a thing or two about connecting with children and childhood!

Sir Paul McCartney is still going strong, so much so that he will be releasing an album, Egypt Station, in September 2018, a half century after these memories. On impulse, I bought a copy of the CD. Perhaps this will be a short respite from the awful news lately. I do not know what the songs will be. Let’s say, it will be a Magical Mystery Tour!

Three Gentle Souls Who Taught Us About Love

western lowland gorilla

Jock, (born May 1985), a western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in Bristol Zoo, by Jack Hynes, via Wikimedia Commons

By reaching out to a sentient and highly intelligent animal, we learned a great deal of what it means to be human, a caring and compassionate human being. Koko loved kind people; she knew who they were! According to a beautiful tribute in the New York Times, Koko’s favorite fan was Fred Rogers, and he loved her back. Mister Rogers who is being remembered in Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a documentary opening in New Jersey today. Watch this space for a review.

 

 

She also had a deep bond with one of the finest, most brilliant actors, Robin Williams. And that gifted soul loved her back. According to the Gorilla Foundation, Koko was crestfallen upon learning about Mr. Williams’s tragic suicide.

May we rejoice in the memory of these three beautiful souls, who brought the

During Pride Month, a Very Unhappy Anniversary.

Pulse Club Anniversary - Twitter

Two years ago this day, a deranged gunman entered and shot and killed 49 people, wounding 53 others at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. These people are in our hearts and thoughts; we ought not afford their attacker the attention he sought. Yet, in this outburst of lethal hate, love prevails, just as it did at the nightclub. After all, in the name of a comic book anthology, “Love Is Love.” This book comes with a hearty recommendation.

In a thoughtful tribute, the New York Times today remembered the victims and survivors of this atrocity. Indeed, these are lives lost or forever changed. Shamor v’zakhor: observe and remember.

This year was different from last. Since then, there was the tragic Parkland shooting. Indeed, Marjory Stoneman Students were present, with a very important message to tell. A photo anthology from the Orlando weekly captured the moment. Yes, guns are the problem. or at lease a major part of it. An interactive graphic shows the number of shootings that have occurred in 5-, 10-, 15-mile radii from the Pulse nightclub since this day two years ago. there were 175 shootings within 5.2 miles , 199 shootings at 5.8 miles, 282 shootings at 7.5 miles, all the way up to 392 shootings at 15 miles. Across the nation, deaths by firearms – both shootings and suicides – that is 93 deaths on an average day.

The day after the tragedy, commentator and writer John Pavlovitz penned a beautiful, haunting poem on his blog. “The Forgotten Children Killed in the Pulse Shooting.”  The 49 victims were human beings, loved and treasured by their parents.

“Not statistics, not people groups, not causes or culture war symbols, not illustrations or examples or stereotypes or case studies.

Children.

Someone’s children.”

Or, in the words of Janusz Korczak, these adults who were once children, were:

“individuals who are people, not people-to-be, not people tomorrow, but people now, right now, today.”