Recent events have proven, again and again, how important making “human” connections are. I consider myself ethnically diverse (because I am) but also socially and culturally open minded and interested in others. Plus I am a “talker”…I can carry on a conversation with a rock if all else fails. Last week, I was in a taxi going into the city for dinner with some friends. The taxi driver and I struck up a conversation and in the 30 minute drive hit on many topics personal and professional. He was a black man from an area in our city that is known for poverty and violence. That was where he grew up but clearly highly intelligent and motivated, working multiple jobs to start his own painting business. I took his card and fully intend to call him this summer for some painting that needs to be done. We also talked about relaxing with friends, wine, the Super Bowl and educational opportunities. When we reached my destination his parting words were “let your hair down and have fun with your friends”. I was truly ashamed that as I turned to walk into the restaurant a thought slipped into my head “I hope I didn’t make a mistake being so open…..he knows where I live and that I am not home”…….”yuck, what is wrong with me?”, I thought….and there is the root of the problem in our world today. We are all so programmed to be very suspicious of the motivation of others…it was an eye opening moment
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I don’t think much of Tom Brady. He has always seemed to be an entitled spoilt individual. I have to say though the sheer exuberance on his face after they beat the Colts made me pause and wonder if I was being unfair. The next day the deflategate saga broke and it makes one wonder. This is not difficult. If they cheated then they should forfeit the game they won. That’s what happens when you don?t follow the rules. By the NFL not doing anything before the Super Bowl and letting the Patriots “handle it” and be allowed to move on is just wrong. I don?t get it….why are they not held accountable. So, I for one will be cheering for the Seahawks. They may not be the smooth media savvy group in this saga but they have a raw honesty to them which is appealing!
I’m not sure why but this weekend I was reflecting on the relationship that my three children have with two of their cousins, my younger brother’s boys. Mine are older, and in fact all three were born before my brother got married. This meant of course that my oldest was very involved in her uncle’s dating and ultimately marrying his wife!! There are 14 years between her and the youngest cousin with my son and the two boys being the younger of the five. There were years when there were more fights than calm (mainly my son and his younger cousin), the boys snickering at my second daughter Katie because of her sometimes different behavior because of Aspergers. Through this my oldest, having those extra years ruled the roost with all five. So families are complicated but I look at them now…..and realize that quite a few years ago the relationships settled in. My son and his younger cousin still argue all the time…..mostly about sports and they can annoy each other with just a glance. They would never admit that they actually like hanging out with each other. This weekend I found out that the cousins were helping my son move into his off campus apartment and built his IKEA furniture….that’s a rite of passage!
Both the boys have become very understanding and supportive of my middle daughter and truly care for and support her as she does them. This weekend my oldest also moved and my brother’s oldest, who could be this generation’s Michael Dell if he wanted to, installed the computer he had made for her! She has always been a great “big sister” to them but now it’s a two way street. All five of them are really good to each other and it is wonderful to see. So families are complicated, but in ours, I know that the next generation will always be there for each other and, really, who can ask for anything more?
We have made so much progress since MLK’s “I had a dream”….many would say “look at us”…we have a black president, we have improved in diversity in social status and education. All true. But yet so much remains the same and we in fact in certain aspects, have taken a huge step back. The gap between the have and the have nots has widened. Our communication has been reduced to “tweets” “likes” blogs (yes, even as I mull on this blog), news cycles where we “watch closely” from the comfort of our homes. When the news cycle moves on our focus and attention moves on too. Think about just in this last year: Ferguson, NYC, gang violence, the disproportionate killing of young innocents in Chicago…You get the picture. We all have responsibility. If we don’t communicate directly with each other we will never understand each other. If we don’t mix directly with each other we will never be able to move forward. The more we point fingers and use race and religion as an excuse the more we will continue the downward spiral. MLK and other great men of that generation didn’t have social media. So if you believed you had to put yourself “out there”. We should too……
This is the mission statement of The Milton Hershey School….yes that is the “Hershey” in Hershey Chocolate Company. My “Lost souls” mulling of yesterday has had me thinking. Certainly, much of the focus is around the Jihadist extremists but let’s face it, gang violence has much the same foundation of radicalization leading to violence. Think about all the innocents killed on the streets of the Southside of Chicago, for example.
Anyhow back to MHS. Milton and Catherine Hershey established the school in 1909 to provide an educational institution for orphaned boys. The school was set up in a way that provided a supportive and structured home life year-round to help these otherwise lost youth gain the skills to be successful in all aspects of life. Today, the school is co-ed and the mission continues with a student population drawn children from families of low income, limited resource and having other social needs. The mission and goal is still focused on preparing students to lead productive and fulfilled lives by providing FREE private, coeducational home and school for all students. Yes that’s right “FREE”.
How is it done? The Hershey Company is partially owned by a Trust. The Trust runs the school. How’s that for impact? How’s that for corporate America really making a difference? So what if this model was replicated around the world and a proportion of our lost youth had such an opportunity? The ripple effect would be amazing. I am sure the administration of MHS would be happy to provide guidance. The White House is hosting a summit this week to discuss how to prevent the radicalization of our youth globally. I hope they consider the need for excellent education in a supportive environment….it is THE foundation for building exceptional lives……….Milton and Catherine Hershey amazingly had the resolve to bring this to reality….we should learn from their actions.
The migration of humans across our globe is a phenomenon that has taken place since the beginning of time. Living together peacefully is not easy, it never has been. Tensions have always been a part of life as humans have evolved.
If we are completely honest with ourselves, the root cause of the current generation of young “homegrown” terrorists is not their hatred of religion or race but because they are lost souls. When someone is connected to a community, if they feel valued and cared for and are productive, it is easier to not want to hurt and lash out. We have to ask ourselves why it is that so many young people are attracted to and drawn to creating chaos in such a violent manner. Why are they not assimilating into the communities and countries where they were born and raised? Why are they such easy targets for radicalization? Young people emulate what they hear and see around them at home and school as they grow up. However, it is a proven fact that most immigrants, even refugees, come to developed countries filled with hope and aspirations. Generally, these hopes and aspirations are less for themselves but for their children. It is true that these children feel tremendous pressure to live up to those expectations and when they can’t they are already several steps toward rebellion and easy prey for terrorist groups. Why? Because they build up their self-esteem and feeling of fulfillment. Are the “good guys” going to sit back and let this happen? We seem to be sitting back at this point. Surely we are not going to let small groups of bad people steal our lost youth. The current rhetoric of “something needs to be done’ generally comes along with the implication that it is not MY problem because these are not MY people. But these are OUR people so we need to step up…….
Those two murderers did a really stupid thing and all, in their sick minds, for a supposedly noble cause. How stupid is it to attack people who draw for a living? That really is what it boils down to. Were any of the innocents gunned down in Paris expressing hatred for Islam or taking violent action against innocent citizens? Nope, they were cartoonists. Cartoons make you smile. The political/social version of cartoons are satirical because they bring to our consciousness uncomfortable issues in a way that makes us smile….and that quite frankly allows for conversation. Cartoons in the religious satirical genre poke fun at all religions and the funniest ones are the cartoons poking fun at one’s own religion because we can definitely relate to that!!
So two idiots thinking that…..in the name of Allah, let’s shoot some cartoonists are just stupid. There is a saying, “the pen is mightier than the sword”……today, with this senseless tragedy, terrorists will discover that “the pencil is mightier than a gun”……