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Showing posts from May, 2008

Revenge

I wanted to talk about something that might be a tough topic today...revenge. From Dictionary.com you will find the following definitions:

to exact punishment or expiation for a wrong on behalf of, esp. in a resentful or vindictive spirit

an opportunity to retaliate or gain satisfaction

harm done to another person in return for harm which he has done (to oneself or to someone else)

It is my belief that the desire for revenge contributed not only to so many US citizens supporting Bush's pitch to invade Iraq in the wake of 9/11, but it also fuels much of what is wrong with our criminal justice system today (especially our continuing use of the death penalty).

A couple of years ago I read a fascinating book about a woman who struggled with revenge. Her name is Laura Blumenfeld and the book is titled Revenge: A Story of Hope. In 1986, Laura's father was shot in Jerusalem by a member of a rebel faction of the PLO. Her father lived, but for years she felt the need for revenge. As the jac…

On being lazy

I imagine that we were all given several labels as children that were used to define us. We were smart, funny, responsible, rebellious, shy, or the opposites... on and on. One of the labels I received as a child was that I was lazy. I remember always being frustrated, feeling like I eventually would have gotten around to getting something done if folks had given me a bit more time.



It wasn't until I was in my first professional job out of college that I began to challenge this label. All of the sudden I took a look at myself and how hard I was working. It was at that moment that I discarded the label.

And yet, as is the case with most of these things, there was some truth to it.

The interesting thing is, there were very clear signs that obviously showed it was way more complicated than that I was lazy. For example, the one comment that ALWAYS showed up on my report card was that I worked too fast and made mistakes. Upon reflection these many years later, I see that I just had differ…

When the student is ready...

As we all know, this Buddhist saying ends with "the master (or teacher) appears." I am not a Buddhist, nor do I play one on the blogs, but this saying has grounded me for years. I think I'd substitute "learning" for "master" in the quote though, so it would read "When the student is ready, the learning appears."

(My Helper by Bill Rabbit)

Here's how Jean-Claude Gerard Koven describes it:

It is said that when the student is ready, the master appears. This adage is usually associated with going to India to sit at the feet of some swami-ji who speaks in parables. And certainly, I’ve met countless disciples who waft through life inhaling the intoxicating wisdom of their manifested master. I’ve always been left wondering when I would find my one great sage.

Looking back over my wanderings through the metaphysical maze, however, I see that innumerable teachers have guided my journey. Unfortunately, I was so married to a certain model of what a mas…

Mother's Day Proclamation

I won't be writing anything this weekend because I'm heading to Texas to be with family for Mother's Day and my Mother's 80th birthday.

But I do want to share this Mother's Day Proclamation written by Julia Ward Howe.

Vision

For the last 18 years, I've been the director of a non-profit organization working with urban youth who are starting to get in trouble at home, at school, or with the law. I came to this position naive and inexperienced, so I had a pretty steep learning curve. The toughest lessons I had to learn were about what it meant to organize and lead other people. But running a close second to all of that are the ongoing lessons about racism and its impact on me, our staff, and most importantly, the youth and families we work with.



In the beginning, I thought combating racism was all about learning information and hiring a diverse group of people. For awhile, that was the focus. One of my initial attempts to do that involved organizing a series of "brown bag" seminars with people from different cultures to facilitate discussions. The first person who came in was a Latino man who had worked with youth in this community for over 30 years. I'll never forget his opening remarks, &q…