Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Teaching as the Performance Art of Engagement

It's been a while since I thought about it, but a reader recently reminded me of and inquired about a blog post from 2010 in which I opined about "Teachers as Performers." After twenty-eight years in the classroom, I'd say I now realize the key is not just performance or entertainment, but the art of engagement. If the teacher creates an engaging lesson that is tailored to the students sitting in front of him or her, then the "entertaining" quality can take many different forms. Despite my introverted loner nature, I am on stage in class most of the time, and my teaching generally has pretty high energy or intensity. However, over the years as I've noted the downside to that for students who don't quite "get" me, I've actually tried to approach each and every year with the goal of being the "kinder and gentler" Mr. Mazenko.

For me, the performance aspect became my shtick early in my career, and it seemed almost necessary and certainly more comfortable to do it that way. That high intensity approach probably has much to do with my first job out of college -- teaching English as a second language in a private language school in Taiwan. Though I trained to be a high school literature and writing teacher, I was teaching elementary school kids, and even kindergarten for a year, in Taiwan. The fun, engaging performance style connected with the kids who were learning English because they had no choice. The rather rigid, or "canned," curriculum was centered on games and activities as well. The school and the parents liked that high energy approach.

After five years teaching in cram schools in the evening, I returned to the States and taught middle school for a couple years at a Catholic school in the city of Chicago before transitioning to high school in a middle class suburban district. And, at each stop along the way, I just found a performance approach seemed to equal engagement. In all honesty, I now realize I may have been overestimating the engagement level, especially when I consider the insight that "too often school is a place where kids go to watch adults work." I also had a great mentor who once advised me to make sure I don't "become a caricature of myself." Reflecting on these ideas is helpful. We do need to be "on" quite a bit, but it's important to remember we can also be human beings and be vulnerable. Otherwise, it's easy to burn out.

Reflection is the key. Be thoughtful about what you do every day, and ultimately be true to yourself and what your style of engagement is; for at then end of the bell, the only important consideration is whatever works. Just teach kids. Not just content. Not only skills. Teach the kids.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Krista Kafer's "Pro-Mask" Column actually makes things worse

In Sunday's Denver Post Krista Kafer, a Republican columnist for the paper and former talk show host, offered her advice on masks and COVID19: "Want to Convince Me to Wear a Mask?" Beyond the obvious that no one should have to convince anyone of the practice, as the CDC and basically the entire medical community, as well as many business leaders, have already made the case pretty clear, Kafer's premise held promise but ultimately falls flat. Kafer, a part-time rhetoric teacher at Colorado Christian College, offers advice on the art of persuasion, as she criticizes the apparently "not nice enough" approach of pro-mask voices and advocates like Democratic governor Jared Polis.
Kafer appears to offer reasoned criticism of the wrong way to persuade reluctant mask wearers, and in her view she is using a sarcastic and ironic tone to present what she mistakenly believes to be a positive pro-mask piece of commentary. Sadly, the professor and former radio host actually downplays the seriousness of the pandemic and rising COVID19 rates, subversively validates the irresponsible behavior of mask resisters, and justifies risky and aloof thinking that put us all at risk. In doing so, she basically ensures the pandemic and related economic disaster will persist and worsen.

Everyone wants this crisis to end, and while uncertainty remains, there are some areas where we can find common ground and help our communities. We can all agree the key to re-opening schools, restoring jobs, and reviving the economy is controlling or ending the pandemic. The key to managing the pandemic is slowing the spread of Covid19. And the key to slowing the spread is consistent mask wearing, regular social distancing, and choosing to be Safer At Home when possible.

While Kafer’s criticisms of Governor Polis and others who chastise, shame, or scare people may be valid, she unfortunately fails to solve the problem or assist efforts to reduce infection. Since many people won't listen to him, we actually need her and GOP leaders like Cory Gardner and Patrick Neville to help. If the President asked, his supporters would do it. If he'd lead, they'd follow. Why can't Ms. Kafer and the GOP get this? She could have used her platform to encourage people to do better – instead she justified their decision to make things worse.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Joe Biden should name first ever All Female Cabinet

Joe Biden will choose a female running mate soon, and when he wins in November, we will have the country's first ever female Vice-President (and maybe four short years from the first female President). It's a choice that is long overdue, especially when it's the norm around the world, including less, ahem, progressive countries than ours.

I fully support and have advocated for decades that the United States needs more female political leaders. It just makes sense, even if we discount the idea that "the women are smarter." So, I've often told the female students in my classes and clubs that they should simply stop voting for men. Just start electing more women at every level. And, granted, I fully understand that beliefs and stances on the issues should drive the decision, first and foremost. No one should choose a candidate just because she's a women. For example, I would never vote for candidates like Michele Bachmann or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And, for pretty much the same reasons. But there plenty of qualified and dynamic female legislators and executives, and when all things are equal, choose the woman.

To that end, Joe Biden should not stop at naming a female running mate: he should name an all female cabinet. And Biden should do so immediately, even before the election, at the same time he announces his VP. After the VP pick, he should release the list of his dream team with all the awesome women he's planning to invite to help him lead. Here are some of my picks:

VP - Kirsten Gillibrand (NY)

Sec of State - Nancy Pelosi (CA)

Sec of Treasury - Elizabeth Warren (MA)

Sec of Defense - Tammy Duckworth (IL)

Sec of Justice -  Kamala Harris (CA)

Sec of Commerce - Amy Klobuchar (MN)

Sec of Agriculture - Debbie Stabenow (MI)

Sec of Interior - Gina Riamondo (RI)

Sec of Education - Michele Obama

Sec of Labor - Gretchen Whitmer (MI)

Sec of Homeland Security - Susan Collins (ME)

Sec of Transportation - Nikki Haley (SC)

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

David Lee Roth, The Marine Corps response to COVID, & the Leadership We Need

"I sure wish our country had taken a Marine Corps approach to Covid."

That was the answer from Diamond Dave, David Lee Roth, former frontman of Van Halen and an ever-evolving artist whose latest work is an ongoing series of paintings and sketches that he calls his "performance therapy" when he was asked about our response to the pandemic.

A Marine Corps approach. Exactly. Everyone together, singularly focused on the mission. Working as a unit until the enemy is defeated. And leaving no man behind. 

A Marine Corps approach. A Moon Shot. A Marshall Plan. A Patton-esque campaign. A coordinated, deeply funded, strategical and scorched earth assault on this existential crisis and threat. It was a "Day That Will Live in Infamy" moment. It was an "all for one and one for all" challenge. It was "all hands on deck" situation. It was a War Time President opportunity. It was "win one for the Gipper" scene. It was a challenge and an opportunity for greatness. It was Rudy and W. standing on the rubble in lower Manhattan with bullhorns pledging resilience and triumph. 

And the irony is not lost on me that the current President of the United States was singularly focused on re-election, and the response that would have guaranteed another four years is the one he would never choose. Rather than a "we've got to get the economy growing again to win the support of the people" approach, it would have and should have been a "full faith and resources of the White House and the federal government to meet and defeat this challenge" policy. That would have sealed the fate of November, 2020. And he missed it. And we bear the brunt of his ignorance.

And, sadly, while he and his family and sycophants could never see the truth and opportunity, I am so profoundly disappointed in the Republican leadership who could have stepped up. At any time. It was something that a Mitt Romney or a John Kasich or a Joe Biden or a Barack Obama would so instinctively and easily done. 

The Marine Corps approach. Good point. Who knew Diamond Dave would have the answer. The question is who's willing to lead?

Semper Fi.

Friday, July 10, 2020

No Tax Returns? No Debate.

There is simply no reason for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to participate in a debate against the current president. Nothing new or good or helpful can come to Biden or the Democrats from engaging in a debate. The last election proved that, and hopefully, for the good of the Republic, Joe Biden and his people realize or figure this out. The debate is already happening as it is, every day playing out on television and on social media. The election is really a referendum on the current president and his past four years in office. Americans simply have to decide if they want four more years of him.

But, if there were to be a debate, Joe Biden should establish one simple condition:  the President must release his tax returns for the past six years well in advance of the debate. There is no legitimate reason they aren't already public record. Half the country is definitely interested in them. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the president has no special privilege to maintain their privacy, and it's certain they will be accessed by the New York Attorney General, if not also the House of Republicans, soon. So, if the Republicans want a debate between the two, they must convince the President to release the returns. And thanks to Thomas Friedman of the New York Times for proposing this idea.

Otherwise there will be no debate between the two, and Joe Biden should simply arrange with the networks to make himself available to their staff for an hour or two of discussion of all the issues and questions they would normally raise in a debate. Biden's debate is with the American public and can be smoothly and effectively handled through the network media.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Guns & the risk of senseless irreversible tragedy

"Expect to see another rise in gun sales."

That was libertarian Republican writer David Harsanyi of the National Review, and formerly of The Federalist and The Denver Post. That sort of commentary saddens and troubles me, even as I understand the point he is making. Harsanyi's comment was responding to the violence and vandalism that came out of the George Floyd/Black Lives Matters protests in numerous cities across the county, including Denver where David and I live. Basically, he's implying that our neighbors seeing destruction near their part of town will inevitably feel like they must arm themselves against raging mobs that are sure to take over the cities and suburbs.

That's troubling to say the least, and the nation saw that mindset in action later in a ritzy private neighborhood of St. Louis' Central West End, when attorney Mark McKlosky and his wife pointed their AR-15 rifle and handgun at protesters who were marching to the mayor's house. The images of people on the verge of irreversible tragedy fascinated social media and the infotainment world for about fifteen minutes, and I couldn't help but wonder if the extreme views of people like Harsanyi and McKlosky are firmly rooted in the belief that property damage must or should be countered with deadly force. Basically, if someone vandalizes your home, would you kill them?

I don't own a gun, though I grew up around them and respect the right to possess them. However, I also fully support regulation of firearms, including mandatory training, licensing, and registration of all guns. And I do worry about people who would instinctively grab a gun to "defend themselves" in too many non-lethal situation. I carry pepper spray and have for a long time, ever since I was attacked by a loose neighborhood dog, and because I live in an area with high coyote and wildlife activity. My local police recommended it, and it gives me a reasonable and non-deadly defense against the potential threats I may face. Granted, if someone breaks into my house to assault and kill me or my family, a can of pepper spray may not stop them and standing on my lawn like Rambo McKlosky would be more of a deterrent. But I don't think that's the appropriate mindset for the type of civilized society in which I grew up.

The margin for error and senseless tragedy is too thin for people to feel like they must have a gun as the primary way to protect themselves. And there are too many collateral issues that also increase America's preventable tragedy epidemic. Not only do we know that America has a strange gun fetish and a gun violence problem, but there is reason to believe that "the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic could worsen our gun problem.

So, when I hear observations like Harsanyi's, I simply feel sad for who we've become and are becoming, and I'm troubled that an astute and reasoned thinker/writer like David believes such comments and views are the way to go.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Krista Kafer Can Do Better after all

Colorado writer, talk show host, and adjunct professor Krista Kafer is irritated.

Amidst the public outrage and protests over the murder of George Floyd, she wrote that the statement she finds "most irritating is that we can do better." Hey, who you calling "we"? Krista is wondering what she did. It's not her fault; she's doing great. Just ask her. It's "racists cops" and "rioters, murderers, and thieves," who can "do better." Well, sure. Nobody is arguing that. But Krista is speaking up for the silent majority, all those millions of people leading error and bias free lives, but who have been wrongly indicted for the ills of society. 

Indicted? Hmm. "Most irritating"? Hmmmmm.

I'm not sure what exactly happened to Krista that she feels indicted. But I will say this:  the belief and statement that "we can do better" can and should be seen as an offer of hope and a challenge of self improvement. The "we" of contemporary society can certainly do better in so many areas. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in his poem A Psalm of Life that "Neither joy and not sorrow is our destined end or way, but to act that each tomorrow find us further than today." Life is always about getting better. I often ask myself, as well as my students, "Are you a better person than you were yesterday? A better student? A better friend? A better parent? A better husband, wife, son, daughter, neighbor? A better employee? A better boss? A better eater? A better exerciser? A better driver? A better sports fan? A better citizen? A better follower of your faith?

We can all do better. Always. In so many areas. And, really, isn't that the point. Let's all get better everyday. Even Krista Kafer can do better. And, as I read my Denver Post this morning, I was pleasantly surprised to learn from Krista's most recent column that she may be rethinking her irritation. She may have discovered a way to join in the task to "do better." As a newspaper columnist and radio host, Krista has a wide audience and notable influence in framing mindsets, promoting ideas, engaging thoughtful debate. She can use her forum as she wishes, and it's enheartening to see her use this week's platform to talk about and promote "Breaking the Cycle of Prejudice." If we could do that, we would certainly be doing better. And sharing these thoughts is one way a part-time columnist is playing a role. 

And, her initial "irritation," which led to her tweet and, for me, some reflection and ultimately a blog post, has helped me focus on how I can play a role in the task we have before us everyday:  to do better.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

Bronco's Coach Fangio, Racism, Discrimination, & the problem of not seeing color.

Many White Americans were raised with the idea of "not seeing color" as the way to combat racism and prejudice. By pledging to "judge people on the content of their character" as MLK had dreamed of, we believed were being anti-racist.

But we weren't. And that's a problem.

When Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said he dreamed of a day when his children would "not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character," he was not hoping or asking that people ignore race and color. It was not a call for society to be color blind. In fact, being color blind in contemporary American society can lead many white Americans to inadvertently condone racism and discrimination, or to at the very least lose the ability to recognize it, call it out, and work toward correcting injustice. That unfortunate blindspot is what led Denver Bronco's head coach Vic Fangio to make a careless, ignorant, and harmful comment on race this week. Specifically, in response to the ongoing protests against police brutality, the death of George Floyd, and the Black Lives Matter movement, Fangio said: 

"I think our problems in the NFL along those lines are minimal. We're a league of meritocracy. You earn what you get, you get what you earn. I don't see racism at all in the NFL, I don't see discrimination in the NFL," Fangio told reporters Tuesday when asked about his experiences in the league over the past four decades. "We all live together, joined as one, for one common goal, and we all intermingle and mix tremendously. If society reflected an NFL team, we'd all be great."

Here's my response, published in the Denver Post today:

The Broncos aren’t ready for the season, and training camp won’t help.
The problem is they have a blindspot, and it’s not an issue at left tackle.
The blindspot is a head coach who can’t see, and it’s not because he’s in his sixties and in need of a new glasses.
Vic Fangio believes the NFL has “no racism at all.” He claims there’s no discrimination in the NFL’s meritocracy. Yet, it’s shocking to believe Colin Kaepernick doesn’t have a job because his athletic skills don’t merit one. It’s equally shocking to imply few Black men have worked hard enough to “merit” a coaching position.
Coach Fangio quickly issued an apology after social media erupted in criticism over the insensitive remarks. Yet an apology doesn’t change his mindset. And the words he used simply reiterated his ignorance: Fangio said there is “no color in the locker room.” But his locker room is filled with color, and players can’t just take off their skin color like they do a uniform. For a leader to refuse to see his players’ racial identity means he also refuses to acknowledge the challenges Black men face every day.
Athletes know strength and change come through hard work and training. A team meeting won’t fix coach’s ignorance. Pledging to “listen” to players won’t change his mindset when he refuses to see their racial identity. Diversity and equity training is now every bit as important for the Broncos as sprints and out routes.
Fangio may be a veteran in the NFL, but he still has much to learn about the league. His players and the Broncos will benefit from his education.

Racism and discrimination are real and persistent threats in contemporary society, and it is not enough to not be racist -- we must be anti-racist. And we must see and acknowledge the presence of race and color in our lives. For white people that includes moving past the belief in a colorblind society to an acknowledgment of systemic, or institutional, racism, and the existence of White Privilege. Diversity and equity training is a valuable, if not indispensable, part of being anti-racist and taking an active role in breaking down the history of injustice based on race. I have benefited and grown through my profession taking an active role in working with people like Glenn Singleton and the Pacific Education Group to learn about the issue and to "do the work," which includes a willingness to have courageous conversations.

If you are interested in engaging with this topic, a good place to start is this book:

Friday, May 29, 2020

Faith, Religion, Spirituality, & Truth

"How's your faith and relationship with God?"

Born and raised Roman Catholic, once intrigued by the Jesuits and the monastic life, long interested in Buddhism and Taoist meditation, married to a secular Jewish woman, I have to pause when my sister asks that question every once in a while.

It's an interesting question, isn't it? Especially if you don't regularly think about it, but have some grounding in a monotheistic tradition (yeah, like Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, etc.). It began a rather deep conversation, though it had been many years since we'd discussed the idea of "faith." Perhaps it was the passing of both our parents within the past year, or it could have been about coming into middle age with my fiftieth birthday, or perhaps it was linked to this strange reflective pandemic experience we're all having. But we got to talking about that idea of faith and belief, and I've extended it recently with my son as he prepares for college in the fall.

Being born and raised Roman Catholic, with eight years in Catholic school and service as an altar boy in my past, the issue of faith isn't all that complicated for me, regardless of whether I attend services regularly or comment about being a "recovering Catholic" (both of which I have done). I've shared the idea with my son of people being "spiritual, but not religious." And we've talked about the difference between faith and religion, which for me is really just about dogma and ritual. I don't have all the answers when he asks about the differences between Lutherans and Methodists and Presbyterians et al. In fact, I can talk about the break from the Catholic Church, and I can share some ideas, but I honestly don't know all the details, and he'll find it all on Wikipedia if he's interested.

In terms of faith, well, if you ask me, Jesus is light, and God is love. That may sound glib, and some of it probably is. But light and love about sums it up for me. Where I see love, that is God. In terms of the Bible, my understanding isn't much different than it was during Catechism. Truly, the Bible is the word of God and the revelation of God's reality. But I'm also fully comfortable acknowledging it was written in a much different time, and as such should be read and discussed with that understanding. So, for example, as we've often discussed and acknowledged, the presence of things like polygamy or some of the more extreme rules or directives in books like Leviticus or Deuteronomy aren't exactly what we take literally today. The Bible is also steeped in metaphor and parable with the lessons and messages it contains.

Interestingly, in doing some reading about mindfulness and meditation (Like Pico Iyer's "The Art ofStillness) over the past year, I've been learning more about Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk who wrote Seven Story Mountain. The Trappists, like the Jesuits or Benedictines always appealed to me, much like the Shao Lin did as I grew up on kung movies. The idea of the devout spiritual practice appealed to me from an intellectual standpoint, though it was obviously not the right path for me.  But what I found really interesting was how Merton was actually quite open to learning about many spiritual paths, and he noted that church and holy books were about doctrine and dogma, and that's not really worth debating with others, but that other faiths had many valuable lessons about the human condition. And, so that incredibly devout Christian spent much time in discussion and contemplation about those different faiths. And, as I pretty much always have, I think that's pretty spot on. 

An example of the value of that: I was just reading a passage from the Dalai Lama the other day, and he talked about how people often ask him about his holiness and sort of expect that he has some mystical understanding, and he really just dismisses that idea. But, and this is interesting, he talked about when he knows people who are suffering, especially when a personal connection asks him or tells him, he said that he "will pray for them." Interesting word choice, don't ya think? We don't often think of Buddhists as praying, but the Dalai Lama does. I'm sure when he prays, he's praying to the same God we do. And, that's probably a pretty important message to remember.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Conservative, but not Republican

Having been born in 1970, and being vaguely aware of the Presidency through Nixon, Ford, and Carter, my political and ideological conscious really came alive with the rise of Ronald Reagan and the politics of the 1980s. Since that time, as I grew from an adolescent to teen to college kid to expat twenty-something to career educator and husband/father, I have thought deeply about the concepts of conservatism, liberal/progressive-ism, and the positions of Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and independents. I've caucused with all of them, which probably means I am truly the moderate that I always felt like, and I am reasonably at home in a complex "purple" state like Colorado, where I have been able to comfortably vote for both Republicans and Democrats. Yet, my Midwest upbringing as a Roman Catholic from southern Illinois forms the foundation of my beliefs, and it's increasingly difficult to support either party at the polls. More importantly, however, is my dismay and befuddlement at the recent positions taken by many Republicans, both representatives and party operatives, as well as the average voter. Honestly, it started in the mid-90s to be sure, gathered steam with the messiness of the 2000s, and went completely off the rails in 2016. The heart of my disappointment can be summed up, ironically, with Ronald Reagan's parting words as he left the Democrats:  "I didn't leave my party; my party left me."

Here's the deal: we need to separate the term conservative from Republican. They're simply not.

The inspiration for this reflection has been marinating in my mind for years, but came to fruition a few weeks ago when I read a piece by scholar Bradley Birzer for The Imaginative Conservative. In drawing from and reviewing Robert Nisbet's book Conservatism: Dream & Reality, Birzer thoughtfully asked "Is Conservatism an Ideology?" And many of us who read it while thoughtfully nodding our heads (in agreement with Russel Kirk and in appreciation of Edmund Burke) responded with our understanding of conservatism as a system of beliefs about the world and the nature of existence, as opposed to a platform of dichotomous positions on various political issues (taxes, gun rights, abortion, business regulation, etc.) That is why many people hold to convictions as conservatives but like Reagan understand how the party has left them. It's the conservatism of George Will, of David Frum, of David Brooks, of Ross Douthat, of Andrew Sullivan, of Jack Kemp, of maybe even Rod Dreher. It could have been the conservatism of Paul Ryan or Ben Sasse or Jeff Flake or Marco Rubio or even Linsday Graham (sadly it wasn't and can't ever be now).

A quick run around social media or the news exposes a baffling hodgepodge of Republican, but not conservative, rants and diatribes on our current state of governance. One prime example is the anti-mask and "open the economy" movements. A more disturbing trend is the conspiracy theories floated by people suspicious of the current pandemic. As I reflect on what I see people posting on social media and proclaiming on television, radio, and podcasts, it dawned on me that, for people who profess to be conservatives, they're actually embracing and pursuing rather radical views. And this example is key to the vacuum of consistent conservatism in the GOP. At the heart of conservatism is a belief in and an unwavering commitment to institutions and the stability that institutions establish, provide, and maintain. Science and the church are about the firmest of institutions in contemporary Western life, And thus it is so surprising to see the GOP abandon and literally challenge, condemn, even mock, the very institutional thinking that is the bedrock of society in a conservative view. With the Republican Party's capitulation to Donald Trump, and the ramping up of destructive and dangerous behavior among not only voters but their elected representatives like Vicky Marble and Ken Buck in Colorado, we find the ground zero for the end of conservatism. The party is now ironically and inexplicably absorbed in nothing short of liberal, if not radical, self service. 

It's the capitulation that is so hard to take. The capitulation is the most radical, and most definitely not conservative, action taken by current Republicans. A conservative is, I believe, a rationalist at his core; thus, the idea of submitting to support of a man like Donald Trump would be simply unacceptable to a man of conservative principles and values. The very nature of the justification that took place in accepting and supporting Donald Trump's candidacy and presidency in exchange for SCOTUS picks and hypothetical court decisions, laws, and regulations should have been unacceptable. And, now the misuse and abuse of the concept of liberty among crass Republicans like Vicky Marble and the anti-mask/open-up crowd is nothing short of an embarrassment for a belief system that believes in law, order, decorum, and basic decency/respect for our neighbors. At its core is a political party that rather than being conservative actually embraces and espouses the idea of "shaking things up" in its support of leaders who will simply "tell it like it is." That lack of class and character may have come to represent Republicanism, but it's certainly not the value of conservatism.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

What if kids end up ahead instead of falling behind?

It's not always about book learning and academic skills. In fact, when it comes to life and growing up, it's almost never really about book learning and academic skills. That's been a theme and an emphasis of my writing and my "teaching" over the years, for I look askance at the utilitarian skill and content basis of so much schooling. And, that view is central to my mantra for years that "not every kid needs to go to a four year college," and not every kid needs more time in school.

And, perhaps that's why I am smiling and nodding in approval with the anonymous Facebook post which has been floating around which poses this question:  "What if instead of falling behind, kids are advanced because of this?"

As we struggle and fret and worry and lament all that is being lost by the new normal of "remote learning" in education, and kids not being physically present in brick-and-mortar schools, we might consider some positives that could occur. And, let's be clear, this is not to dismiss or discount the equity gap in education and the serious challenges and access issues this will exacerbate for our neediest students, especially in terms of socioeconomic disparity. However, we can still consider that fortuitous benefits can and will occur for all in some ways. Here are a few interesting questions and thoughts from the post:

“What if they have more empathy, they enjoy family connection, they can be more creative and entertain themselves, they love to read, they love to express themselves in writing.

“What if they enjoy the simple things, like their own backyard and sitting near a window in the quiet.

“What if they notice the birds and the dates the different flowers emerge, and the calming renewal of a gentle rain shower?

“What if this generation are the ones to learn to cook, organize their space, do their laundry, and keep a well run home?

I think we are all considering the ways in which we individually, and society at large, might grow and learn and progress through this strange, unprecedented experience. In the early days of the stay-at-home, I posed the question: How much of the good stuff do you think we'll keep after this is all over?
More family time. More games and art. More creative homemaking. More re-evaluation of the important things. 

What if we focus on how we can all end up ahead?

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Where's Our CEO President? Or Should I Say Totalitarian Dictator?

While over the years, I have become less focused on politics with this blog, and while I have definitely lessened my politically-focused commentary since 2016, when I retreated from that process and sought to focus more on art and personal growth, I have been moved to write one political piece in the last couple weeks. And I am even more inclined to post it after the President's bizarre press conference yesterday when he confused himself with a king, or dictator.

In the past few weeks, we have heard the President move from saying, "I take no responsibility at all ..." to his surprisingly brazen and incredibly aloof statement that "when someone is President, the authority is total." This shocking display of ignorance & hubris at the White House was in response to being challenged on the idea that he is the one who will "open the country back up," a statement which baffled me and others because he has done nothing (other than very limited travel restrictions at airports) to "close the country" or lead in any way on the COVID19 crisis. And, other than a few lone voices of dissent, the GOP stands largely silent & passive in the face of a President who declared he has "total authority." Where's the outrage?

And, back to my piece of writing from earlier this week, "Where's Our CEO President?"

While Donald Trump’s time in the White House has been an endless supply of quips and quotes, the Covid-19 pandemic disaster has given pundits and historians the catch phrase that will define his presidency: “I don’t take responsibility at all.” That was the President’s defensive answer to questions about his dissolution of the pandemic response team and the subsequent testing boondoggle that has prevented states and communities from identifying, isolating, and tracking the community spread of the most insidious villain the country has faced in a century. Widespread testing is the obvious first line of defense against a communicable disease threat, and one that other nations like South Korea, Taiwan, and Germany have seamlessly implemented. It’s also one Italy and Spain miserably failed, and from whom the White House and CDC could have learned. Oh, how far we’ve fallen from the days and iconic words of one of the nation’s strongest leaders, Harry S Truman and the sign on his desk: “The buck stops here.”