Thursday, August 24, 2017
Two weekends ago a White Supremacist Rally was held in Charlottesville, Virginia, under the guise that they were to there toprotest the removal of a statue of Civil War general, Robert E. Lee. The rally was met by an intense resistance and eventually violence erupted. Horrifically, multiple people lost their lives that day. Let's be clear , the possible removal of the statue did not fuel the hatred of the Neo-Nazi or White Supremacist factions attending the rally that day. Hatred was the culprit. The opportunity to move forward an agenda of hate was the reason for the rally and the violence that ensued was a vehicle used by the protesters to act upon their hate. This hatred towards other races and religions is a major part of the White Supremacist culture which has lived and been perpetuated for centuries in our great nation. Crimes have been inflicted upon humanity and gone unpunished at the hands of these " hate groups". As a nation we need to move forward a stronger series of political reforms. These reforms need to be designed to eliminate crimes against humanity which are motivated by hatred and violence, with more vigorous prosecution for those responsible.
Tearing down statues is not the answer to removing hate from our nation. We need to pump the brakes and be reflective about what we are really trying to accomplish. Statues in America have long been built in remembrance of military leaders, social activists or political figures who have accomplished something of significance. The judgment of their legacy and impact is up to those that they leave behind. The opinion whether favorable of unfavorable may even change from time to time. People that make history usually are polarizing figures that cause a measure of discord, but discord is a fundamental and necessary part of our democracy. Removing or destroying a statue does not make that figure any less polarizing; only time can accomplish that.
Statues are constructed in the United States to serve as reminders of people and their actions that have changed our nation for better or worse. Unfortunately these actions at times unquestionably changed our nation for the worse. Especially glaring are those of the Civil War era and the issues that those fighting the Civil War sought to resolve. The consequences of the resolution should not include the erasing of history through statue removal or dismantling, because the winners get the final say. Rather, the answer is to educate our culture about the issues that led to conflict and their resolution. Then we need to examine the "question of hate" and act upon eliminating it wherever and whenever possible.
1. American History Encylopedia, Hatshepsut Joshua J. Mark October 19, 2016
Sunday, August 20, 2017
For most baseball fans, baseball is the game of our youth. Many of us dream of playing Major League Baseball. The reality though is that only the few and very fortunate are blessed with the opportunity to walk across the white lines of major league diamonds and engage in careers as major league baseball players. My sons' Peter, Scott and I all put our formal association with Little League Baseball in the rearview mirror quite a few years ago. However, every August we renew our passion for the game, closely following the Little League World Series. Each year we are delighted for two weeks by the amazing stories surrounding the players and their teams, as well as the action on the field.
Over the years we have become familier with just how special a place Williamsport is, watching players from all teams interact off the field, enjoying amusement, fare and experiences designed to make them feel like royalty. This year, things have been taken up a notch with the development of the Little League Classic. On Sunday of week one, players from the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates arrived on site to watch Little League teams from around the world engage in this years tournament. In addition to taking in the games major league players and litttle league players had the oppurtunity to engage in conversation, as well as play ping pong, or just spend quality time with each other. Not only was it special for this years particiants, but also for many of the major league players as well, having previously played there as Litttle Leaguers. You could'nt construct a dream any better.
The dream does'nt conclude though with the end of the days action at Williamsport. After the final game ends, all of the players from all the little leagues represented, board busses and head to Bowman Field, the second oldest minor league ball park in the nation. (capacity 2,500) Once they arrive the players will be treated to a major league baseball game featuring the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The entire stadium witll be sold out with essentially an audience of Little League baseball players. Keep in mind that many of these players will be seeing their first major league game. Hopefully the game will be as much of a classic as the rest of the day.
Espn, MLB and Little League baseball executives all deserve congratuations for organizing a day that brought together little league baseball players and their major league heroes. In doing so they ultimately created an experience that most adolescent baseball fans could only dream about.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
My experiences have taught me that like an onion their are many layers to peel back when engaging in the reflective process.
Layer 1: I must assess the performance or issue through an objective lens, staying void of emotion as I examine the issue and my role or performance within it. What were my strengths? Where could I improve? What other factors were relevant in terms of how they impacted the issue or experience?
Layer 2: I must ask myself if my assessment is truly an honest one? If it isn't what is preventing me from making an honest assessment? Are my emotions clouding the process? Sometimes I may need the help of others.
Layer 3: I need to sit down with someone that I trust and honestly share the issue or experience with them and then openly listen to their feedback. Remembering that if it is someone I truly trust they will give me honest, objective feedback.
Layer 4: Apply all that I have learned about myself from the current situation, to future situations. Keeping in mind that I can always improve and others will benefit from those improvements as well.
Reflection is a complex at times painstaking process, but it is a skill that has great value. This particular skill allows citizens within global societies to move forward if they are courageous enough to engage in its practices and embrace the remedies that it reveals. This skill is one that must be taught to our children at a young age in order for them to recognize personal imperfections and failures. We must then use reflection as a tool to enable them to first accept failures and then to grow from them. When we have done this we put them in a position of readiness to accept the challenges that await them in their future.
I am a better person today because of my ability to be reflective, but that's not to say that I wouldn't be just a little bit happier, if only I did it right the first time, most of the time.
Sunday, April 2, 2017
Saturday, February 4, 2017
Monday, January 16, 2017
Friday, January 13, 2017
"There are two ways of spreading light, to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
In 1989, my career in education began when Harry Conover the former Athletic Director at Lawrence High School decided to take a chance on me and hire me as the assistant Winter Track coach. Beyond the opportunity to work with young student athletes every day, the thing that thrilled me the most was the opportunity to coach against the men who had coached me as an athlete, during my years at Steinert High School. My passion for, and knowledge of the sport was a direct result of their influence on me. Over the next six years being able to develop a positive professional relationship with these men who had mentored me as my coaches, is something I will cherish forever. Every chance I was given to spend time with them as a peer and learn from them as a coach, brought me great joy and enriched me professionally. I only hope they realized the gratitude that I felt towards them, as they assisted in my professional and personal growth. They all have had an immeasurable influence on my life as an athlete, a coach, an educator and a man.
These are just some of the success stories that reflect the paths chosen by former students in the field of Education or History. I consider myself fortunate to have had a front row seat for at least part of their journey. I am proud of everything that they continue to achieve and of the productive, contributing adults that they have become.
A few years ago my friend, mentor and former coach Jerry Bleistein after learning that one of my former athletes had coached against me and had coached his team to victory said " see it comes full circle". I always knew it would, I just never thought it would happen so soon.
(This post is dedicated to all of my students past and present who continue to inspire me each and every day.)