Helping those who keep the U.S. the Land of the Free

Picture this. A soldier comes home from serving his or her country. They hear words of encouragement from the people in the airport or restaurant as the pass in uniform. They may even have a meal paid for by someone as a gesture of thanks for their service to our country. They may even get a standing ovation at a theme park when asked to stand en mass for recognition as a veteran. This all sounds like America cares about her people in uniform.

Now, picture this. That same soldier discovers that there is nowhere for him or her to find a decent paying job. He or she loses their housing. They become homeless. Where are the people who thanked them when they returned? Where are the politicians who sent them and praised them for their service when they returned?
We have heard politicians say those on government assistance are lazy and dependent on the system. Yet, they fail to mention that each month “a total of 900,000 veterans nationwide live in households that relied on SNAP to provide food for their families,” according to an article from United Press International dated November 13, 2013 (http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2013/11/11/Some-170000-US-veterans-to-be-cut-from-food-stamps/UPI-91491384230282/). Talk about a lack of respect.

Also, according to an article in Stars and Stripes, homelessness among veterans is a huge issue with over 57,000 veterans being homeless as of January 2013 (http://www.stripes.com/number-of-homeless-vets-drops-but-va-goal-might-be-out-of-reach-1.253983).

How is it that we can send our young men and women to fight overseas and serve our country, but we cannot house or employ them when they come home? This is a travesty. It is shameful for our country to do this to people who risked their lives. It is shameful for us to allow them to return with psychological wounds and not offer them help with these as well. It is all the more shameful that our elected officials, regardless of party, will call them lazy, yet use them for photo opportunities and speech backdrops. During last year’s government shutdown, those loyal to the Tea Party raced to defend the rights of veterans to visit memorials that had been shut down. However, those same politicians also voted to gut government programs that help veterans and their families once the cameras were not focused on them. This sends the message that patriotism only works for them if it will help them get elected or somehow shows them to be good Americans, which they are not.

When are we, as the people of the United States, going to stand up and demand help for our poor, especially our veterans who have served, yet are suffering from the greed of our politicians and their wealthy donors who wish to take assistance away from those who need it?

It is time for good people to stand up and speak out!

It is time for those politicians who refuse to help others to be voted out!

It is time for our veterans to know that we do care about them and all who are suffering from unemployment, homelessness, hunger, and lack of access to proper healthcare!

It is time for we, the citizens of the United States, to demand more of ourselves and our elected officials!

It is time!

U.S.A.–Bought and Paid for

Over 300,000 people are unable to drink or bathe in water contaminated by a chemical spill by a company whose spokesperson does not want to answer for their crime against nature and the people.

Politicians, many of whom are funded by wealthy corporations, make decisions that negatively affect thousands of people who are poor, under-educated, unemployed, and minorities or considered outside the norm, yet are re-elected by pandering to emotional causes such as abortion or gun control.

Massive political lobbies, wealthy individuals, and wealthy corporations control politics at all levels so that they continue to get wealthier while most Americans get poorer and become trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty.

The United States of America has changed from the Land of Opportunity to the Land of Greed and Plutocracy. We are no longer governed under the principles of being governed of the people, by the people, and for the people. We have allowed our country to be governed by the wealthy for the wealthy and to hell with anyone who is not lucky enough to make it to the top 1% in wealth. Face it, America is bought and paid for by these wealthy individuals, corporations, and special interest groups. We have allowed this to happen through being brainwashed into thinking that big business cares about the well-being of our nation.

We have been duped into believing that paying the lowest price is always the best way to go. It is the best way to go, for the corporate executives that know those cheap products we consume will need to be replaced shortly because they are of cheap quality. These corporations have moved the jobs out of our country to save money rather than keep them here and help our economy by creating jobs. What they are creating is more wealth for the executives since they continue to lay-off workers and/or move more jobs overseas. They fight against unions claiming they cost jobs because they exist to make working conditions better for the worker rather than the executive. They fight against affordable healthcare because they may lose some profit when they care for their employees needs by spending a little extra on insurance for them. They want fewer regulations claiming it will save or create jobs, yet refuse to admit that fewer regulations means causing environmental and human disasters that will kill people, some in time and others more immediately.

We shop at stores that are filled with junk at affordable prices that we do not need because they have undercut the local shops and sent them out of business. We are made to believe that these store care since they donate a pittance to the local schools or churches. However, we fail to see how much their executives make on the backs of their workers through low wages, no benefits, and fewer hours.

We dine on fast food because we are indoctrinated into it as children as the chain restaurants show cartoon characters who lead us into the world of low quality, calorie and chemically laden foods that are killing us physically, but our wallets still have some cash and we needed to do nothing to get the food but pull through the drive through or order it over our phones and computers. We refuse to see that the cheap food comes at a cost to our health and the ability of people to make a decent living, as the wages in these jobs are low as well as the skills needed to perform them.

We have sat by idly as we have elected people who care more about their next campaign than the people who elect them, except when it comes around to election time. Then, they drag out sound bites paid for by wealthy donors to scare us into believing our rights will be infringed if we elect those “liberals”. Ironically, it is those politicians who are sucking the lifeblood out of our country and our democracy as they pander to the chemical companies who now are in the business of selling genetically enhanced seeds to our farmers and to the oil companies who find new ways of polluting our natural resources rather than clean ways to provide energy that will save both lives and money.

It is time for people who truly care about America to stand up and say enough is enough!

It is time for real Americans to perform an election-driven revolution and unseat the greedy from office and put people into elected positions who will perform the will of the people with openness and honesty. People who will create laws that benefit all rather than the few. Politicians who will raise taxes on those who can afford to pay more and lessen the tax burden on those who cannot. Politicians who are statesmen rather than puppets. Politicians who will do more than promise a better America.

It is time for real Americans to stop patronizing the big box stores and shop locally at stores owned and ran by their neighbors instead of the distant corporations.

It is time for real Americans to realize that value means more than price. Paying a little more for a quality product is worth it in the long run. Putting fellow Americans to work is better than allowing corporations to move their business overseas.

It is time for real Americans to stand up, realize, and demand healthcare for all so that more people can work and contribute to the economy rather than suffer from illnesses and have to work simply to pay their medical bills.

It is time for real Americans to demand regulations on corporations that will protect the welfare of the people and the environment. We only have one earth and

It is time for real Americans to demand that our schools teach usable knowledge rather than teach so that students can pass a test. Bring back vocational courses so that those who want to work in a trade have the ability to learn that trade. With this comes the creation of jobs here for these students after they graduate rather than allowing corporations to move those jobs elsewhere.

Charter Schools: The Walmarts of Education

The American educational system is in a crisis. If one listens to the pundits and some of the politicians, he or she hears how American students are failing, teacher unions are keeping bad teachers in the classroom, and classrooms around the country are overcrowded and in schools that are dangerous. The solution some are proposing are privatizing our public schools and creating charter schools in their place. Many hear the term ‘charter school’ and think they know what they are and believe the rhetoric that these are the saviors of education. What is not said, though, is far more sinister and far less educational than the public realizes. Charter schools are businesses run using taxpayer dollars. Their business is to indoctrinate students into learning a set and many times rote set of skills that do not encourage much in the way of creativity or thought. It is education in a box. Another way to think of it is to see charter schools as the WalMarts of education—lower costs, cheaper output. There are many reasons why they are this way, but I will touch on only a few.

First, let us start by naming the primary corporations that run charter schools in the United States. Charter Schools USA and Academica are two of the largest players in the area. Other major charter school management companies are EdisonLearning, Mosaica, Achievement First, and Aspire Public Schools. It needs to be noted that these are companies who are accountable to an extent to school boards, but not to the same extent as public schools are held accountable. They are free to select students based on applications and even lotteries to determine which students may attend school at their managed operations. Public schools do not have the option, as they are required to accept any student zoned for their particular school. Essentially, charter schools are private schools using taxpayer dollars to run them, but can use that money with little say from the taxpayers on how they are run. Again, they are an educational business rather than a school.

The following is taken from a document produced by a group called The Philanthropy Roundtable entitled, “Investing in Charter Schools. A Guide For Donors.” It defines a charter school as the following:

• is a public school funded with public money.
• is tuition-free for all students.
• is non-sectarian, non-religious, and may not discriminate in student admissions.
• is chosen by families.
• is semi-autonomous, operating under its own charter—hence the name—and thus exempt from many of the regulations and collective bargaining agreements under which traditional district schools operate.
• is free to be a unique school designed to meet the needs of the students it intends to serve.
• is required to meet the same graduation standards as other schools.
• is responsible for improving student achievement and adhering to its charter contract, or face closure.
• receives discounted funding (in most, but not all, states), thus making it partially reliant on philanthropic support.
• can be a stand-alone school or part of a network of charter schools.
• can be nonprofit or for-profit (page 11).

Now, while most of this sounds good, note that charter schools are “exempt from many of the regulations and collective bargaining agreements under which traditional district schools operate.” That means that teachers and staff who work there are not allowed in many cases to negotiate their contracts, their working hours or conditions, or other benefits that traditional educators have. This would also include protections from termination without just cause. Therefore, if the administrator comes in and does not like a particular worker, then they can be fired on the spot with no recourse as would occur in the majority of the jobs, especially in states with “Right-to-Work” laws. It would also include situations where students may not be moving along at the pace required by the standards, which could be caused by the fact that children are individuals who learn at different rates and different styles or their socioeconomic conditions, where the teacher would be held at fault for the student not making learning gains and thus subject to disciplinary actions including dismissal.

This document goes on to call for a priority in “Priming the Human Capital Pipeline” in the form of encouraging more people to teach and lead their charter schools. The exact words they use are that donor are an important source in “supporting the development of a well-primed pipeline of talented human capital for charter schools and helping fund the development of innovative technologies that can decrease the dependence of the sector on finding ever more sources of talent” (21). In plainer English, it is up to those donors to bring people in from wherever they can find them to teach and lead students without relying on colleges and universities to educate their “talented human capital” (21). Teachers and administrators are no longer people, but “talented human capital” (21). Sounds like a business rather than a school, doesn’t it?

It does not stop there as they go on to call those who start up charter schools “education entrepreneurs” (24). Even some of the charter schools are praised for having created a “brand” (25) by which they are known. They make a comparison between industry and charter schools by stating that “consumers come to know a brand and what it signifies…Brands have proven very useful in the marketplace….Charter Management Organizations (CMOs” are the ‘brands’ of the charter sector, with quality control and cost efficiencies” (29). One further aspect they state in this document concerns the differences between these CMOs and their counterparts called EMOs or education management organizations. CMOs are non-profit while EMOs are for profit. One particularly damning piece of evidence states:

…it is important to note that many education reformers believe that EMOs hold real potential for revolutionizing public education. If investors in EMOs are able to deliver consistent student achievement and create a profitable investment vehicle, they will have discovered a highly attractive and sustainable model for charter schools specifically and public education generally. (30).

Did you catch what was said as well as what was not said in that statement? These people believe that education needs to be a business with investors and profits. The goal of the charter movement is to see public education be corporate operated and run. There is no mention of students learning aside from their wanting the delivery of “consistent student achievement”. Consistent does not mean improvement. It does not mean creativity. It means a steady keeping of the status quo. It means having the same results over time. If only 55 percent of the students pass on a consistent basis, then they succeed. Consistency not progress is the key for them.

So, just how do charter schools measure student success? One of the largest donors to the charter school movement is The Walton Family Foundation, founded by the family of Walmart founder Sam Walton. The director of the foundation’s K-12 education reform, Jim Blew, stated in this document that the foundation is

very straightforward with our grantees that we expect them to dramatically increase student achievement, as measured by standardized tests in math and reading. We understand that there are other ways of measuring quality—attendance rates, graduation rates, etc.—and we want to hear about those, too. But, at the end of the day, we want to know that grantees are actually raising student achievement. (79)

Student achievement is not based on anything but how well students score on a standardized test. That is it. They are not deemed successful if they create something new. They are not deemed successful if they finally master something they worked on. They achieve if they can pass a test. World-class bubble fillers are the key to America’s success according to this supporter of charter schools. If a student can fill-in the correct answer, regardless of whether they actually understand why it is the correct answer, then they have learned. Learned what, you may ask. Well, how to fill in the correct answer because that is all that is needed to succeed in life. That is all that is needed to make America great again in the world. Well, at least really good at working in a Walmart where all that is needed is to follow the rules and do what management tells you to do.

Charter schools are not good for the education of our students. They are standardized test mills. As long as students can pass the test, they are okay. If the student cannot, well, they can currently be tossed back into the public schools. How long that will last is yet to be determined by policy makers and the donors to them. That is unless you who are reading this find the idea of having your child treated like an assembly line worker and their teacher treated like human capital as appalling as many other people do. If that is the case, it is time for you to take a stand as a parent or as a teacher against this movement to privatize our public educational system. Our children are not all the same; therefore, we cannot allow them to be taught or expected to learn the same way.

Here are some ways to combat this growing trend of charter schools and even reliance on high stakes standardized testing. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but a small start.

1. Get active in your local schools. Go to school board meetings. Volunteer in classrooms and/or the school office. It does not matter if you have kids there or not so long as you pass a criminal background check and care about the future of our country.
2. Stay informed. Do not rely on the media outlets to tell you everything you hear about our public schools or even charter schools.
3. Attend local public school events. Cheer on the sports teams. Cheer on the non-sports related groups and organizations as well.
4. If you are a parent, find ways to opt out of standardized testing.
5. Look into how the state tests are organized. Speak out if they only cover items that are rote memorization based. Multiple-choice tests do not measure thought, only if the right answers were memorized.
6. If you are a parent, demand more essay tests or tests that allow your child to choose an answer and defend it with logical reasoning skills.
7. Support your teachers. They work far more than what many believe they do. They do not have summers off as they spend that time planning as they do nights and weekends during the school year.
8. Teachers, defend your rights to teach. Abide by your negotiated contract, but if need be, do no more than that if you are not being heard.
9. Administrators, especially those of you who once taught in a classroom, go back into the classroom. Plan a period every day of the year to keep teaching. If you keep teaching, then you stay in touch with the changes that are happening on the front lines. And do not try to teach just the select students, branch out your roster to include all levels of student abilities.
10. Political leaders, listen to the teachers who teach in your district. They are on the front lines every day. They are experienced professionals who know their job, their subjects and their students. Remember that standardized tests are snapshots rather than the big picture of what is happening in our schools.

If you would like to read the entire document referenced in this essay, please use the following address:

Click to access Investing_in_Charter_Schools__A_Guide_for_Donors.pdf

Attention Teachers! It is Time to Take Our Schools Back!

It is almost time for another school year to begin around the United States; in fact, some school districts have already started classes and it is only the end of July. Yet, there is an evil that grows ever more severe as it grows like a shadow over our public education system. Teachers, up to this point, have cowered at the onslaught of this shadow that seeks to place our educational system into eternal darkness. It is time for the cowering to end and for teachers to take a stand for their jobs, but most of all, for the education of the future of our nation. The shadow of darkness comes in the form of the privatization of our schools disguised as education reform legislation and wealthy corporate donors who buy this legislation through our elected politicians. The so-called reform comes from places such as Teach for America, the Gates Foundation, and the Walton Family (Walmart). These entities cite studies that agree with their ideals or even some that they paid for which advocate the corporatization of our educational system through more charter schools and replacing experienced teachers with people indoctrinated into their mindset. These entities and their political cronies advocate high stakes testing rather than the basics our students need to be competitive in the global marketplace. These entities use the media to portray teacher unions as evil organizations bent on keeping inept teachers in their positions. It is time for teachers, and their unions, to stand up and voice their opinions and professionalism to the public. No longer can teachers and teachers unions cower and kowtow to the latest fad to come through the educational pipeline. Teachers must stand up and be heard. Teachers must be advocates for the public educational system that seeks to educate all students who come through the doors of the thousands of schools in our country. Teachers must be advocates for their students as well as themselves.

Teach for America (TFA), the Gates Foundation, and the Walton Family, among others, are pushing an agenda that replaces education with testing and a one-size-fits-all educational approach that they say will help our students to succeed in the global marketplace. The catalysts for their approaches stems from the problems that face our educational system: high dropout rates/low graduation rates, students who graduate yet cannot perform the basic skills needed to be successful, and students with low motivation to succeed. Rather than address underlying reasons for these, which I will discuss further, they take the easy route and blame teachers, teachers unions, and the educational system for these social ills. These three items are not necessarily the fault of our schools, but of our society as a whole. What they are calling education reform does not address these problems; it just blames the teachers for them. It is like blaming the fire department for there being fires. After all, if there were no fire departments, then there would not be any fires, right?

The problem of high dropout rates/low graduation rates is not the fault of the educational system as a whole, but the fault of our society as it does not value education as highly as other countries in the world. The media constantly bombards us with news of how US students are behind students in Japan, China, Russia, or Finland. What they do not show is the culture of those countries values education as a highly important part of a civilized society. In China and Japan, for example, parents pressure children to do well in school and it is shameful if students slack off when it comes to schoolwork. The homework assigned is much more than in the US, but it is meaningful, it counts, and it comes with the expectation that it will be done on time and correctly. Students are expected to ask for assistance if they need it. As a teacher, I faced numerous times when students would not do their homework or ask for extensions. When I attempted to enforce a no late work policy, they complained to their parents who many times went to administration who then forced me (and other teachers) to give in and allow the student to turn their work in late. When I attended school in the ‘70s and ‘80s, this did not happen unless there were extreme circumstances. Furthermore, students who committed discipline violations that caused them the consequence of an out of school suspension were allowed to make up their work. Also, a rare allowance for my generation.

Another cause for the high dropout rates/low graduation rates is that educational programs, especially at the middle and high school levels, only address the academic areas of success. By this, I mean that many do not offer vocational programs for students who are not academically inclined. Instead, students are told that they all have to go to college in order to succeed. While that is a noble idea, the facts are that some students simply do not want to go to college, but would rather enter a trade. If there are no vocational courses, these students fall through the cracks and many become disruptions in the classroom. They see no need to study the academic areas in depth if they plan to become an auto mechanic or a cosmetologist. Yet, where is the funding cut many times, vocational programs and the arts. The arts are another area that usually faces cuts in funding, as they are not seen as necessary. Many students, including myself when I was in public schools, needed the arts to give me a reason to go to school. The arts connect with every academic area and many students who are gifted with a talent, when allowed to learn and use that talent, will also succeed academically. If you do not believe these to be true, listen the next time when a school board threatens to cut funding. The public remains relatively silent when vocational or arts programs are threatened with cuts, but when cuts to athletics are mentioned, the outrage is tremendous.
The next area consists of those students who manage to graduate without mastering the basic skills needed to succeed in the workforce. Again, those in power want to blame the educational system for this. However, take a closer look at why they are not mastering the basics and you will find another story. Part of it ties in to what I already mentioned prior to this, but another part points to the darling of the so-called reformers—high stakes, standardized testing. Students are taught the test in some places from kindergarten through the 12th grade. Yes, the mantra is that teachers teach to the standards not to the test. Bullshit. When a teacher’s career and salary are tied to how their students do on the tests, then the teacher teaches to the test. That is the reality of it. In addition, the tests themselves, which are products of big businesses such as Pearson, do nothing to measure usable skills. They measure how well students take tests. Most of them are multiple-choice where the student must simply figure out which answer the test makers want them to bubble in. They do not allow for a student to choose an answer and defend why they chose it. That would be placing learning above test taking skills as it calls for critical thinking and reasoning skills rather than bubble completion. Would those tests take longer to grade? Yes. Would they measure student knowledge better? You bet they would. The global workplace demands the ability to think critically and reason, not to fill in a bubble. I taught a great number of students who could bubble in tests with great success, but if assigned an essay where they needed to think critically, they faltered and many failed. The love affair with standardized testing has to end. Good teachers know this. Good teachers know that students must grapple with problems that cause them to think, to research, to reason, and to defend why they come up with the answers they do. That is what made America great over the years. Standardized testing only serves to enable students to work at places like Walmart or fast food because they do not really have to think, but just do what others expect them to do.

The American public laments as to why “Johnny cannot read”, but they also fail to see how Johnny’s parents do not read to him or make him read. Past generations had a parent or someone who read to and with their children. A major form of entertainment for students was to read. It increased vocabulary, enabled the ability to imagine and think about the story lines and the various plots, and it caused the child to have to picture the action in their head. Today, many students are babysat by the television or the video game system. They can text, be entertained, and not have to think because the media barrage of images does it all for them including when to tell them to laugh even if the jokes are not funny. Reading is a skill and needs to be cultivated. Math is another area where we are falling behind. How often do the children of our nation practice it? Obviously, not often enough. It is also a skill that needs nurturing and practice. Science is an area where we are getting our rears kicked. One reason for this is practice, or the lack thereof, but also it goes back to a skill gained though reading—imagination. Think of some of the great scientific discoveries from America’s past and they have their genesis in imagination. Imagine if man could travel to the moon. People did and made it happen. Students do not have to imagine anything if the media just gives it to them. That is a travesty in our society, not in our schools. If more parents would just stop and read to their children, or find ways to incorporate math or science into their child’s life, then the educational gaps would start to disappear. Any good teacher could tell you that, if people would listen to them instead of the corporate donors and their puppet politicians.
Finally, the lack of motivation in our students is lamentable as compared with the rest of the world. Yes, they are motivated by not passing a class—sometimes, if their parents get on their cases. One cause for motivation stems from the lack of support educators and education in general receive from the public, including parents. If students do not see education as valued, then they are not motivated to do the work. Lack of motivation also stems from students not being able to see why all of what they are learning is relevant to them and their goals. I can attest to this as an English teacher. It is hard to convince a student that Shakespeare matters. Yet it does as his plays teach us human nature and psychology. It is up to the teacher to show it. Good teachers find the hooks needed to reel in the student. Do they succeed with every student and every time? No. However, teachers try repeatedly until something clicks. The vast majority of teachers never give up on their students even if the students give up on them. It emotionally hurts teachers when students fail. Teachers take it personally when their students do not grasp a concept when they have tried everything they could to help them to do so.

What the so-called reformers are calling educational reform is the application of business principles to education. This results in a one-size-fits-all approach to education. Many of the ‘reforms’ they call for have teachers reading scripted lessons to students some of which even have maps that prompt them to say certain things as responses to student questions. It is like having a robot teaching classes. Good teachers know that all students are different and they learn in different ways. This is why the vast majority of teachers practice differentiated learning with their students. One form of this is through the use of multiple intelligence theories with students. Multiple intelligence theory basically states there are different ways students learn and if the teacher locates the areas where a student is strongest and gears learning toward using those areas, then the student will learn better. For example, one assignment I would give my students was to read a novel each month. They were then to present the novel to the class in whatever form best suited their abilities. This resulted in the traditional book reports from some; however, it also resulted in student created comic books, artistic works, musical compositions, plays adapted from the novels, videos, collages, and a number of other projects that proved to me that the student read and understood the text. The point is that the student read the novel, but presented their understanding of the concepts, themes, and overall idea the author had in mind through a manner best suited to their way of learning. It took me a longer time to grade them, but the students accomplished my goal, which was to learn. Any parent who has more than one child can tell you their children are different and do things differently, even the same task. The problem is that these so-called reformers do not see this and would rather throw a test where students bubble in an answer as being the solution to the problem.

I do wish to address one thing that always seems to be touted by these so-called reformers before I end this piece. That is the myth that teacher unions protect those in education who cannot teach. While this happens, it is usually not the fault of the union, but the school administration. School administrators are human. Many times, they are become friends with teachers or the teachers do not rock the boat for them, and yet the teachers cannot teach. The administrators protect these teachers to keep things easy for them and reward them with high ratings. I knew Social Studies teachers who relied on showing videos the entire year rather than teach their subject area. These teachers kept getting good ratings regardless of the evaluation system being used. The teachers who took a risk did not always fare very well, especially under evaluation systems that looked for a standard set of skills rather than if the students actually learned anything. I had this happen to me as I presented a lesson where the students were engaged and learned for a formal evaluation one time. I received a low to middle rating in part because the lesson carried over to the next day when the evaluation would not be held. However, a few months later, when the students were taking their final exam, I was again evaluated and received a high rating because the students were demonstrating their skills because they were being tested on a paper test. The first one was active engagement, but it did not fit into the specified period allowed by the evaluation instrument. The second was just students sitting there taking a test. Not something one could really call active engagement with material.

Teachers unions do not want teachers who cannot teach. It is that simple. Many teaching contracts are written with plans in place for teachers who are not performing well to be placed on developmental plans to improve their teaching skills. However, it is up to the administrators to place the teachers on them. If a teacher is placed on an improvement plan, they are expected to improve whatever skills they are lacking within a set amount of time or face further disciplinary measures including being reassigned to an area where they could meet with more success and learn the skills they lack or termination. No professional organization wants people who are not professionals within it as that only make the organization look bad. Unfortunately, the unions do not do a good job of bringing this to light in the media.

A new school year is quickly approaching. Rather than cower in the shadows, teachers need to stand up and speak up for public education. Teachers need to unite and be vocal when politicians and special interests groups try to lament the problems with public education, especially when those problems are societal rather than within the educational system. The problems within the educational system are societal more than with teachers or teacher unions. Are teachers getting more vocal? Yes. There are organizations beyond the unions, such as Badass Teachers Association, who are fighting back with words and protests to those who wish to change the system who have never really been in the system to begin with. Teachers are professionals, let them lead the reforms needed and have the support from the public and politicians and they will reform our educational system and save the future of our country.

America: Straying from the Faith of the Founders when it comes to caring for others

There is an argument often heard from the ultra religious and echoed by their politicians that America is a Christian nation. While it was not founded as to be a specifically and exclusively Christian nation (an argument I will save for a later posting), I wish to address how this claim is not being followed using the Christian bible so that those who claim to be Christians and claim America as a Christian nation so adamantly, while ignoring the most basic of Christian tenets, will hopefully understand how they stray from the faith they claim to follow.

Most of us know that the Puritans who came here on the Mayflower wanted the New World to be as John Winthrop called it, “A City upon a Hill.” He said that if
“we deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help for us, we shall be made a story and a byword through the world, we shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God and all professors of God’s sake; we shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to become curses upon us until we be consumed out of the good land where we are going”.

We, as a country, have lost sight of this and are becoming like Cain after murdering his brother Abel. The wealthy of our country especially are like Cain when asked about how they are helping those less fortunate than themselves. They are like to respond in the same manner by saying, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9). They are turning their backs on those who work for them as we see corporate presidents and CEOs earning millions while their workers earn hundreds of times less with many of them resorting to have to collect welfare or food stamps just to feed themselves and their families. They are supporting sweatshops where hundreds to thousands of children and women in poor countries slave in deplorable conditions to make goods that are sold for huge profits and those making the goods see nowhere near a decent wage even for the places where they live. There are people who do not have health insurance who watch their loved ones die or who themselves die for lack of money to pay for care; while certain politicians, many of whom claim to be on the side of Christian values, fight to repeal a law that would provide all people with healthcare that could save lives. Ironically, those politicians and their wealthy donors, especially those who claim to be on a higher moral plane, act like the scribes that Jesus cautions his disciples to be wary of when he said,

“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets! They devour widows’ houses and for the sake of appearance say long prayers”(Mark 12:38-40).

These people do just that. They expect to be revered, respected, and have the right to the very best while others suffer to pay bills and just to survive. They cry out that it is not fair to tax the wealthy who can afford to pay more in taxes. They also cry out that the poor are just lazy and should be able to help themselves rather than receive help from them. They make a show out of their charitable giving to those poor, but talk disparagingly about them when not in the spotlight. Look and see how generous that I am, is their mantra while their hearts are coveting more wealth that could keep the poor from their station in life.

Am I advocating that wealth is bad? Not in the least, but the greed of so many who have wealth and their desire to keep the poor down in their lives, is evil. It is not money that is evil, but the love of money that is evil according to the same scriptures that many of those keeping the poor down claim to ascribe. They say they believe in charity, but in their hearts, they do not.

They love money more than their neighbor. In doing so, they also love money more than God. If Christians are admonished to “love their neighbor” like they love themselves (Mark 12:33), then these self-righteous people either hate themselves or are being hypocritical in their faith. In addition, they—the wealthy politicians and their wealthy donors—cry about paying more in taxes while forgetting that Christians are to “Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). If money is printed by the State, then it is right and even Christian duty to pay the State their proportionately fair share of taxes.

America cannot be a Christian nation as long as these wrongs continue to occur. Until the wealthy and their political lapdogs realize that with wealth also entails responsibility to care for those who are less fortunate, as they are admonished to do in the Christian scriptures, then the claim of being a Christian nation is a farce. It is a sinful, travesty of a farce at that. As John Winthrop ends his famous sermon, he states,

“Beloved there is now sett before us life, and good, deathe and evill in that wee are Commaunded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another to walke in his wayes and to keepe his Commaundements and his Ordinance, and his lawes, and the Articles of our Covenant with him that wee may live and be multiplyed, and that the Lord our God may blesse us in the land whether wee goe to possesse it: But if our heartes shall turne away soe that wee will not obey, but shall be seduced and worshipp other Gods our pleasures, and proffitts, and serve them, it is propounded unto us this day, wee shall surely perishe out of the good Land whether wee passe over this vast Sea to possesse it;”

As a nation, we have been seduced to the worship of other Gods (power and wealth being the foremost) and the worship of profits over people, we are dooming ourselves to perish from our greed and self-love.

Is there hope? Is there hope that we can yet attain the status of being a light unto the nations? Yes, there is always hope. So long as there are those who fight the injustices in our country, there is hope. So long as there are those who stand up and speak for those who are afraid to speak or cannot speak out, there is hope. So long as there are those who defend the helpless and befriend the friendless, there is hope. So long as there are those who represent the will of the people rather than the will of corporate interests and greed, there is hope.

Where does that hope start for you? Are you willing to be a catalyst for that hope? Are you willing to be the spark that ignites the fires of a peaceful revolution for the betterment of all people? Are you willing to be the light that cuts through the darkness of despair or will you just continue to curse the darkness and, in your lack of action, be an accomplice for the darkness? You must answer these questions in the affirmative if the hope is to stay alive.

Time to Take America Back for All People

I follow a number of blogs and Facebook posts mostly to stay informed and out of curiosity. One in particular has had my attention for a great deal of time and deals with my hometown in Ohio. It was a great place to grow up. As a child, my peers and I were free to run around and be kids. Many of my classmates hoped to attain positions in the local factories or at least be able to continue to live there and have happy and productive lives. It was a good town with a great deal of pride in its history, schools, and citizenry.
However, it was also like many other Midwestern towns and tried to rely on that hope too much to sustain it once the factories began laying off workers and subsequently either going out of business or moving out-of-town, and sometimes, even the country as a whole. The leaders of the time did not know what hit them. They hoped there would be a bounce back. Later, they hoped to become a bedroom community for the closest big city that is about 35 miles away. The last part happened, but the leaders were not prepared for the ramifications of that happening either. They were not prepared for the bad elements of the big city to come to town. By bad element, I mean the drugs, crime, and even absentee landlords who purchased many houses and chose to keep them at the bare minimum of standards of living and even rent to the criminal element that came from the big city.
Now, my hometown is a shadow of what it once was. Parts of town that once had hope are now falling under disrepair and the scourge of crime. Citizens are feeling less safe in neighborhoods that once were very safe. The drug rate is climbing even faster than the unemployment rate. The rate of high school students graduating has dropped drastically. Like many towns of the Midwest, it is falling apart and many of the people are feeling hopeless. I visited the town a couple of weeks ago and witnessed it firsthand. I saw people walking around looking dejected. I saw businesses that once flourished now sitting boarded up. I saw a town that looked tired from its buildings to its people. It saddened me deeply then and continues to do so even as I write this essay.
On one of the Facebook posts, I heard someone lament that no one seems to care and they do not feel heard by the politicians who are in power. Someone else asked that person if he or she attends council meetings. They said they did not, but did not feel it would matter. That is the sound of defeat. That is the sound of despair. That is the sound of defeat. That is not the sound that should ever come from any human being. Hemingway once wrote, “But man is not made for defeat…A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” It is time for people to realize that quote is true. A person can be destroyed, but as long as there is breath in a person’s body, they should never allow themselves to be defeated!
So how does someone combat the chance of being defeated? It takes work. It takes courage. It takes the will that is inherent in humanity to stand up and fight those who would defeat him or her. It takes a few things that I wish to point out in greater detail. I will call these things, the plan to take America back for the people.
First, people have to find the courage to stand up and be heard at all levels of government. We live in a nation that elects its officials to office for set terms. Many states offer even ways to recall their elected officials if those officials do not represent the will of the people. Citizens need to exercise that right. Now, recall who I said need to stand up, citizens. These are not corporations. These are not special interest groups. These are not the wealthy alone. These are the people who live in the towns, cities, villages, and big cities of our nation. Each person needs to become active in the government for which they form the basis. While many elect people to serve them for a number of reasons, they also need to monitor what those people are doing while in office. Yes, this takes work. Yes, this takes time and time is a precious commodity. It also takes the willingness to research the positions the candidates take before they are elected as well as what they do once elected. It takes siphoning through what the media says to find the truth of the matter. Politicians say anything to get elected, but once they are in office, they are doing more of what their large donors want them to do rather than what is actually good for all of the people they represent.
A part of this is attending council and commissioner meetings and making yourself heard. Show up enough and they will have to listen. Keep talking. Write letters to the editors of local newspapers or articles on blogs. Talk to your friends and the people you meet regardless of where you are. Be the squeaky wheel for change when something upsets you. Organize others of like mind and protest, have letter-writing campaigns, call the elected officials, and email them. Make your voice be heard. If they are not doing their job and representing all their constituents, vote them out. Find or be the candidate that takes their job from them. Do whatever it takes to make your voice heard.
Want more jobs in your community? This is where it starts. Pester your elected officials about what they are doing to bring jobs to the area. If they are not doing enough, then find out why and work to get businesses to your community. If you are a local businessperson, then work with others to get good paying jobs to come to the area. You hold even more influence that is political because you have a business there. If you have an idea for a business that would be needed in your community, then consider starting it. There is plenty of help there to get you started if you just ask.
Another way to get more jobs in your community is to frequent community based businesses rather than the large box stores. One of the worst stores to enter into a town is Wal-Mart. They are notorious for coming in and under pricing their competition while saying they are there to help the communities they are in. Take a good look at their practices. Take a good and informed look at how they treat their employees, how much they pay them, if they offer them any real benefits. They are not in your town to help anyone but their bottom line. I could go on, but that is for another time.
My point is that local businesses are there to help the community where they make their profits. They are owned by your neighbor or at least someone who lives in the same area as you live. They have a stake in the city and area where they do business. If they fail, then it is due to not offering service or a product that is needed. If they succeed, they expand and hire more people from the area. It is simple economics. Smart customers will pay a little extra for better service. If the locally owned business wants to stay afloat, they can by offering what the customer wants in a manner that makes that customer feel welcomed and treated fairly regardless of the price. However, they can only do that if the community buys from them rather than the large, corporate stores.
Tired of crime in your community? Take to the streets to fight it. Form neighborhood watch committees. Get involved with the police or other law enforcement to kick the criminals out or make their lives so miserable that they leave on their own. Years ago, when I was growing up, the criminals in my hometown, especially the drug dealers, left because the law enforcement was so strict and determined to keep them from setting up shop that they left or went to jail or prison. That has to happen again. Are there bad cops? Yes, that happens, but even they are subject to the law and cannot be there for long once they are found out. It takes a citizenry to help the good cops, which outnumber the bad, to rid a town of the criminal element once it gets a foothold.
Want better schools? Then be part of the solution. Get active in your local schools by volunteering at them. Become a Big Brother or Big Sister to a child who needs a strong adult role model. Many children need some help or just need someone to reinforce what their parents are doing right. Demand more for your students even if your kids have grown up and moved away. We all know the adage that it takes a village to raise a child, but few actually realize the work that calls for. When I was growing up, the adults in my neighborhood were in our business all the time. They told our parents if we misbehaved and even scolded us themselves on occasion.
Teachers need your support now more than ever as well. They face many demands that are not sound educationally, but have been pushed on the public as being good (for example, mandated, high stakes testing). Stop vilifying them or teachers unions as the enemy. They are not the enemy. The overwhelming majority of teachers want the best for their students. There are those who do not, but they leave teaching pretty fast when they realize that parents are not going to stand for their lack of concern for the students. In addition, many teachers unions also try to weed out the bad rather than keep them, regardless of what the media says. Again, rather than complain, volunteer in the schools to see what is happening rather than just heard about it.
Tired of run down homes in your community? Then do what you can to either spruce them up or get council to tear them down. Abandoned homes help contribute to crime and vermin. If you have a neighbor who needs help fixing their home, then help them or find someone who can. Many churches have youth groups or men’s groups that would love to help fix up their communities. If you know someone who owns property and his or her tenants are behaving in a criminal manner, then let the property owner and law enforcement know. If you are renting from a property owner who keeps your rental in a state that is just a little better than the minimum, then talk with them first to see if they are willing to let you help them keep it up for a small reduction in your rent. If not and they will not improve the living conditions, and then find another place to live or just keep on the landlord. You could also contact the health department and let them know if it truly is an unsafe property.
This list is not exhaustive, but it is a start. If people do not start to act on their behalf and the behalf of their neighbors and friends, then America is destined to continue its downward spiral to being run by the wealthy through politicians who only seek to keep getting elected and catering to the whims of their wealthy donors. If we want to truly take America back from special interests, then we need to be willing to work to take it back rather than sit idly by and let others make the decisions for us.
America is not a corporation. America is its people. America is not a particular political ideology. America is its people. America is not its government. American government is its people. We cannot allow ourselves to be what Lincoln feared when he quoted scripture and said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” We are becoming that unless we stand up and take America back by focusing on ourselves as Americans first rather than allowing all those things we label ourselves as to divide us. We can only do so by working together and standing up for each other.

A Country on the Verge

The United States is becoming more and more of a country on the verge of revolution on a number of fronts. The attacks on women’s rights. The resurgence of blatant and covert racism. The increasingly noticeable divide between the wealthy, the working class, and the poor. The increase in lack of tolerance between people for a myriad of other reasons. At the forefront of this schism in our country is a small group of powerful people who are causing it. They call themselves patriots and even use the political designation of Tea Party because they believe they are defending freedom while talking away freedoms. What they are doing is turning our country into one where there are only those who are wealthy and privileged and those who are not. There is still hope for the US, though. It comes through having to combat their tactics and educate those who are falling for their sharp rhetoric of concealed lies. The media they use is slick and showy. They prey on the emotions of people without allowing logic to prevail. It is up to all concerned, intelligent citizens to fight back with words that are emotionally charged, but logically based.
First thing is to realize that they hate logic. A recent voting situation in Wisconsin points this out well. The head of one of their houses of state legislature demanded a vote on the requirement of ultrasounds on women wanting abortions without allowing for debate. His very action of denying debate itself should cause Americans who believe in a representative government to cringe with fear. Without intelligent debate, ideology can be forced through and made policy. Too many voters have elected people who said what they wanted to hear rather than actually participated in debating the pros and cons with the issues at hand. Too many voters have succumbed to allowing those who donate large sums of money to politicians dictate what those politicians make into law. It has to stop and it has to stop now! Our country cannot afford to be railroaded into ideology instead of good policy that benefits everyone in the country as whole.
Next, is to be heard. The one thing that these ideological politicians and donors do not want is a vocal and persistent opposition. There needs to be more people to speak up and, if need be, out shout the ideology of those causing the demise of our country and make people wake up and listen with the ear of wisdom to what is being said and the ramifications of policy before it is made into law. Silence is the same as acquiescence. If good people do not speak up, then freedoms will be replaced by the wants of special interests. When the media sound boxes for the Tea Party start trying to shut the voices of reason down, then the voices of reason must resist and be heard. Truth must be brought out over their half-truths and lies. If it takes people standing on corners with signs, then so be it. If it takes people going door to door, talking, and handing out flyers, then so be it. It is not going to be cheap, but it needs to be done.
In addition, it needs funding. Unfortunately, those who support free thinking and logical approaches to life are not always the wealthiest. There has to be a way to get the word out in a less expensive, but more efficient manner. People could donate time or talents to get the real truth out. It has been proven that grassroots efforts work, but they take people who are willing and able to coordinate others and get the word out. It takes people who can speak well as well as those who can write well. It takes those who can approach a stranger, even one who might be negative to new ideas, and meet them where they are and make them think more about issues even if it does not change their mind about them.
Next, the need for education is paramount. Ignorance is the fuel for the rhetoric of those affiliated with the Tea Party. If the public remains uneducated or undereducated, then they can control them easier. This is probably why so many of them support high stakes standardized testing over actually educating the children of America. People have relearn how to think for themselves again rather than blindly following their leaders. Our country was greater when we had thinkers and those thinkers actually acted for the benefit of others, rather than their own profit margins. We need to remind those who follow blindly that doing so leads to the detriment of our country rather than its prosperity.
Finally, we need to bring back a sense of community in our country again. Sure, we band together for the most part when disaster strikes, but we need to rebuild a sense that we are all in this together when it comes to our daily lives. We need to relearn to cooperate with our neighbors and work with them to help all of us live better lives. We need to practice charity for all rather than a select few. We need to define ourselves as Americans rather than anything else. Real Americans help one another. If we did not, then we would not have survived all the wars, disasters, and attacks we have faced as a country.
This needs to be our new revolution. A revolution to take America back from all the special interests and make it a country that shines again like a beacon for the world as a partner with the world to make it a better place for all human beings. We need to stand up for one another against the political ideology of a few who would like nothing better than to split us farther apart and into complacency, labels, and stereotypes.

Classy Kid vs. Racist Jerks

Recently, at an NBA game between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, a young man-made headlines for singing the national anthem. He did not forget the words. In fact, he sang them very well for a young man of his age in front of thousands of people. What he made headlines for was the reactions of some of the racists that fill our country and bring it down to levels of unintelligence not seen since the first man walked the earth.
People saying he had no right to sing the national anthem because he was not American enough subjected the young man, born in San Antonio, but of Mexican heritage, to racial slurs. Yes, you read that correctly, a number of racists that tweeted and commented about his performance did not consider him American enough about his singing the national anthem simply because of his racial background. Since when did being American equate with being White?
This rings of ideas reminiscent of the era before Civil Rights were gained in our country. White does not equal American. No race equals being American. We are Americans based on where we were born, if our parents were American, or if we were naturalized as citizens of the United States. The fact that there were people attacking this young man should not surprise us, especially since we have seen our president attacked and his being American questioned by “birthers” of the politically stupid that have come out of the woodwork in our country.
Our country is becoming less and less dominated by people who consider themselves White/Caucasian. The problem is that there are many Whites who fear this rather than embrace it as our becoming the melting pot for which our country is famous. Is this fear because there are those who are White who have acted in a racist manner toward those who are not and they fear retribution? Probably. Is it because there are too many Whites who simply do not know enough about other cultures and thus choose to fear them because it is easier than to learn about them and accept them? I think this is far truer than not.
This is not to say there are not racists of other colors than White. However, for those who are White, have you ever thought that is how they see you as well? Prejudice is the child of ignorance and fear. It knows no race, culture, or creed. If people are not willing to learn and take the chance to get to know others of differing cultural or ethnic backgrounds, then our nation is doomed to be run by racists such as those who spewed venomous words toward this young man. It should not be a case of a classy kid vs. racist jerks. Our country needs more people to realize that the only thing that truly sets us apart is our ignorance of one another. That can be bridged when one person steps forward with a smile and kind words. If enough people do that, then the hateful words and views of the few will be drowned out by the laughter and joy of friends of all races and cultures.

Memorial Day 2013

Memorial Day 2013. A day for many to have off work and cook out with friends and family. Maybe even catch a movie or a baseball game or even watch some golf. However, more than all of this, it is a day that we need to reflect on the sacrifices of those who went to war or into battle as members of our armed forces. By sacrifices, we need to remember those who have died, but we also must remember those who continue to fight the war even after they return home.
Take, for example, the soldier who has, like so many of our soldiers, endured multiple deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan with little time off between them. Yes, they were trained for combat; however, the human mind and body can only take so much stress before it has negative effects. A friend of mine told me about his commanding officer who had endured multiple deployments. He was a good man who cared deeply about his troops. They loved him for it. He would hang out with them when they would go out on the town when in Germany. He made certain they made it safely back to base. This man, when he found out he was to be deployed once again to Afghanistan, committed suicide rather than face the horrors of war again. I believe it would have been his fourth deployment. It is shameful for our country to send these men and women into harm’s way time and time again without some way for them to decompress and get the help they need to deal with the psychological scars of war.
There are thousands of veterans who have returned to their homes and jobs, but within themselves, part of them is still at war. They continue to fight the battles in their heads as they cannot get it out of their minds. It haunts them and causes many of them to take their own lives to escape the pain. These veterans suffer from what was once known as shell shock, but is now known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is the same thing regardless of the more politically correct moniker. It is hard to treat as many do not seek the assistance they need because they fear it is a sign of weakness to ask for help. Instead, they suffer through unknown rages or even recurring images of war that haunt them as they attempt to return to normal.
Another sad aspect of this is that, since their wounds are not in the open, many believe they have no injuries. We need to remember that although the body is intact, the mind may not be. Unfortunately, there are simply not enough professionals in the military to help these young men and women with the war raging in their minds. If someone sees a veteran with limbs lost, they want to help. Yet, those who have not lost a limb still have lost part of themselves and need our help desperately. The nightmares do not end for them. Sometimes the slightest sound or scent can trigger an episode of anxiety or panic for them. We have heard past news headlines where this has led to people being killed. While that does occur, many more veterans suffering from PTSD take their own life rather than the lives of others.
These young men and women deserve so much more than to suffer. They deserve our support. They need to be put in contact with professionals who can help them. They need to know that it is okay to ask for help. It is hard for someone who has been trained to fight and keep their pain silent to open up and tell their story, but it has happen for healing to begin. Their loved ones go through it with them, yet may not even realize what they are truly going through in their minds. We, as Americans, need to demand that these veterans get the help they need. We need to urge our elected officials to provide funding for adequate mental health services for our veterans. While many veterans may not currently show their pain, it is bound to surface sometime in their lives. They need help.
So, as you sit down to enjoy your hamburger or hot dog or the game, take a moment and also write to your elected officials and demand better for our veterans. Not just those with visible wounds and scars, but those whose scars are deeper.

Happy Mother’s Day to the Fairer Sex

With Mother’s Day in only two days, I thought it fitting to focus an article on women in general. Lately, they have come under attack on so many issues. There are those in government who wish to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. There are those who blame women for being raped for the clothes they choose to wear. There are those who even still believe women are the weaker sex and are inferior to men. As a man, I have to say that there is much more to a woman than what most people, including other women, see. They are stronger than one might think regardless of their body type. However, let me get into the issues I have already addressed.
First, the governmental regulation of what women can and cannot do with their bodies. The government has no right to do this; that is unless they wish to regulate what men do with theirs as well. There are those in government who want to tell a woman whether she can or cannot have an abortion. There are also those, many of them the same people, who want to limit a woman’s access to affordable, safe contraception. It is her body, her life, her wanting to be self-empowered and responsible, so the government should leave her alone! Imagine if the government tried to tell men they could not have vasectomies or purchase condoms. Imagine if men were forced by the government to procreate all in the name of patriotism. There would be protests and riots in the streets.
Next, the excuse that a woman’s clothing caused her to be raped. While there are women who wear less than others, that is not an excuse for them to become the victims of a rape. Yes, heterosexual men are turned on by the sight of a woman’s body, but that does not give them the right to rape women. Rapists use that as an excuse. A woman wears clothing for the same reason as a man does; they like how they look in it. They chose their clothing to fit their mood, the occasion, and to accentuate their body type. Men do the same thing. A man who chooses to wear a torso-hugging shirt or no shirt at all is doing the same thing as a woman who wears a tight-fitting or lower cut neckline shirt—they are showing off that part of the body they are proud of. Men wearing tight jeans hope to accentuate their rears the same as women do when they wear the same or a similarly cut skirt or dress. It is no different except in the perception imposed upon them by cultural beliefs or customs. When it comes to rape, that is a crime of power perpetrated by a man or a woman who feels they have no power and that if they make an intimate and personal attack on someone, then they will gain power. Rape is a cowardly act regardless of who commits it. A woman does not wear clothing hoping to be raped. Men simply need to control themselves and, if they cannot, then they need to seek psychological help to overcome their problem.
Finally, I will briefly address the idea of women as the weaker sex. How can that be true? They bear children. They carry 8-10 pounds of additional weight for 9 months only to pass that out an extremely small orifice. How is that week? That is pretty damned strong to me. In addition, many women work outside the home in addition to also trying to be as traditional as they can be as mothers. That is stressful, especially if there is no support from their spouses or significant others. The idea of their being the weaker sex is ludicrous. They are physically speaking the softer sex, but not the weaker sex. However, women are supposed to look different from men; it is part of what makes them attractive. So, rather than being the weaker sex, let us all view women as the fairer sex. I will hold off what makes women attractive for another article.
Let me just end this by wishing all mothers out there a Happy Mother’s Day! If you do not have children as yet, then I wish you a Happy Potential Mother’s Day. Even if you choose not to give birth or even adopt a child, that does not mean someone may not benefit from your maternal instincts and from you being a strong woman. So, Happy Mother’s Day to you as well.