There are many songs by the legendary Bob Marley which often brings me to tears. After hearing about Trump’s “Mount Rushmore” speech, one song, in particular, has occupied my mind space. The toward the end of the song Babylon System, from the album Survival, the phase “Tell the Children the Truth” repeats. Mr. Marley’s pleas to be honest with the children is still painful to hear, as I witness a “president” who refuses to tell the truth about America!
In his speech, Trump portrays this idea that schools are vilifying the heroes that built our country. However, I have witnessed the exact opposite. I have donated to many book projects for teachers, classrooms, and schools over the last couple of years. Looking at those books, I do not see “our heroes” being vilifying. Instead, I see our heroes becoming more inclusive.
“Our children are taught in school to hate their own country and that the men and women who built it were not heroes but that were villains.”
Trump, Mount Rushmore, July 03, 2020
When our teachers expose students to the US enslavement of Africans and their descendants, they teach that those Black Lives Mattered. They teach about men and women who literally built our country. Men and women who were literally vilified – not even recognized as human for a time!
When our teachers teach about the land stolen from the Native Americans, and the immigrants whose labor also built America, they teach about the truth that Trump and his followers would rather forget. The US was built by many, but greatly profited only a few. To keep that balance of imbalance, those who invested the most blood, sweat, and tears were made the enemy of the US. This is not hate speech, it is truth.
A Not Mad. Motivated. Point of View
The history of America gives witness to the fact that wealth and power has always been more important than its people. There is a lot to be mad about when it comes to our history and the impact that it continues to have on so many today. If you are angry, make sure you are angry with a purpose! Seek knowledge. Have real conversations. Move with kindness. Have compassion. Tell the Truth. Do NOT just get MAD. Get MOTIVATED. The difference starts at home.
A few weeks ago, a stranger paid for my lunch. This random act of unexpected kindness was shocking. Had it not been for my temporary state of disbelief, I may had “paid it forward” immediately. However, this weekend, I saw the perfect opportunity for kindness in this current time of uncertainty.
I went to a store to buy a couple of items. During checkout, I noticed some bagged items had been left. I brought the bags to the attention of the cashier, hoping that no one left them accidentally. Afterwards, the cashier motioned toward the near-by customer using the phone. Then the cashier realized that the customer was attempting to use an EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer/ Food Stamp) card, which the store did not accept. As I finished my transaction, I quietly asked the balance of the other customer’s purchases and paid for it before they had the chance to leave the building.
Kindness is Contagious
Kindness is contagious! Although we will witness some ‘ugly’ acts such as hoarding needed supplies, we often see very beautiful acts of kindness during our most difficult times. We could never predict the exact affect of such actions. We cannot know with certainty how many lives a seemingly small act can touch. The recipient may pay-it-forward with kind words to a friend or an unexpected call to family member. Perhaps they will be encouraged to help an elderly or physically challenged person with a difficult task. Or just maybe, they become a little less bias because of receiving kindness from someone they normally would judge as ‘bad’.
Many of us are currently connected through the unprecedented times that we are currently in, but please remember that people all around the world are in crises and are suffering everyday. When new cases plateau and the threat level has receded, don’t forget to be kind to the man, woman, or child fleeing from extremely impoverished and/or war-torn countries. Do not forget to be kind to the activist fighting to improve the community of children who live in uncertainty everyday. Be kind to the homeless, even if it is just an acknowledging smile. Kindness is always needed!
Kindness in Action
I would love to hear from you! What are some acts of kindness that you have experienced?
Many of us are staying home more then usual. What are you watching, reading, or listening to in order to stay busy or entertained? What hobbies are you picking up? Which interests are you building upon?
A lot of us parents are overseeing school assignments that are usually completely at school. Teachers, what advice to you have for parents? What resources do you suggest? What special accommodations are you making for your students?
Some of us are cooking at home more. Are you trying any new meals? Do you have tips or recipes to share?
Let’s share and spread kindness!
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My youngest son was a couple of months away from turning three when he was seriously injured on January 4, 2015. I started working from home to attend to his increased needs during recovery. His personality seemed to return to normal after a few days. However, I continued to grow emotionally, mentally, and physically worn out. Finding positivity was becoming more and more difficult at this time.
I felt guilt and embarrassment for not keeping him safe. My intense emotions caused a lack of focus on my work projects, and the fear of my jeopardizing my job only increased my stress. I was also physically drained from maneuvering and transporting my son in his heavy cast.
It was more than two weeks before I returned to the office on January 22, 2015. After my work day ended and I ran a couple of errands, I returned home to find that my mother left me two voice messages. I immediately became alarmed. When I returned her call, she informed me that my father had been killed earlier that day.
2014: An Unusual Year
One day, late in May 2014, my dad called and said that he was coming to visit me and my family, and that he would be without his family – my stepmother and half brother and sister. He had been upset and needed a break. He stayed until the begin of June.
Before he left, he added a garden in my backyard. He also made plans to return the next month to celebrate my oldest son’s seventh birthday. I was surprised that he would be coming back so soon, but so happy that he did. It was the first time that he was present for one of my son’s birthday. And since my youngest son was scheduled for surgery a few days later, he extended his stay to accompany us to the hospital.
These two usual visits were full of so many great memories. I did not have cable at the time of the first visit, and my dad made a request for the movie Deja Vu. He would play this movie, fall asleep to it, and start it all over again, repeatedly. I can’t see that movie, or hear that phrase, without smiling and thinking of him.
During his visits, he told my things about himself that I had never heard before, including a story about him getting hit by a car as a kid. His older brother told him to get a ball that rolled into the street. My dad, listening to his big brother, darted into the street for the ball without looking. His recovery took many long months.
I learned that he was a day manager at a night club while he was stationed in Vietnam. He also commented about the loud (wartime) noises that polluted the environment; this is the only time I remember him speaking about his time in Vietnam. Lastly, I found out that my dad loved table tennis, and had played seriously in many places, including Japan. I loved finding out this jewel of information.
Thanks for the Grilled Cheese, Dad!
The last time I saw my dad was at the hospital after my youngest son came out of surgery. My dad then left with the rest of my family and I stayed at the hospital with my son. He returned to Tennessee before my son was released from the hospital.
One of the sweetest and most personal memory from these visits with my dad is that he sent two grilled cheese sandwiches for me to the hospital. He knew that my mind was on my baby and he wanted to make sure that I ate. I always loved his grilled cheese sandwiches, they were one of his specialties. They were still delicious and greatly appreciated even after the 15-20 minutes travel time. Now, any time I make grilled cheese sandwiches, I try to recreate his masterpiece!
Finding Positivity While Dealing with Grief
After five years, I still cry when I think of my dad, but I am not paralyzed by my grief! I am energized by the unexpected visits that allowed us to spend valuable time together. I am thankful for the time that my sons were able to share with their grandfather. Everyone deals with grief in their own ways but finding positivity and holding on to it helps us cope in a less destructive manner.
My father was killed by an impaired driver. The driver had just left court after being convicted of a previous DUI. Cocaine was found in her system after she caused a crash that killed two.
Although I am angered by her actions, my Faith guides me toward finding positivity. My Faith ‘says’ that perhaps my dad was at the best place, spiritually, for him to leave this world. Perhaps his death protected him from a life that would become unbearable with suffering.
Being positive and having Faith makes difficult events and situations have a purpose. When we can place value and purpose to our pain, we can grow from it. When we become stagnant in our pain, we are at a greater risk of self-destruction. Unfortunately, self-destruction is often not contained to just one’s self.
As a parent of an Autistic child with learning disabilities, adopting the habit of celebrating – even the smallest of victories – is not unusual. Something as small as my son handing me a plate with a bag of chips, or a container of hummus, is enough for me to celebrate! Not only is he communicating his desires, but he is also displaying significant growth.
In the past, instead of handing me items, he would go ‘shopping’ in the kitchen on his own. He is very observant and incredibly fast. The exact moment that there was not at least one eye on him, he would stealthily invade the pantry or refrigerator, opening whatever he had a taste for, by any means necessary. The devastation left behind was often a test of my patience.
Witnessing his growth does wonders for my ability to support him. It is his growth, big or small, that reminds me to not get in the way of his progress! His growth reminds me that he is only volunteering to show me a snapshot of his abilities; and that I must discover how to motivate him to share more of his hidden skills and talents.
A “Not Mad. Motivated.” Point of View
No matter your situation, strive to find your reason(s) to celebrate today and everyday. It is not always easy but I assure you that there is at least one reason to be grateful. If you did not wake up in pain, celebrate – be thankful. If you woke up in less pain then you were in the night before, be thankful. If you had a safe place to sleep last night, be thankful. You could never count all of the many Blessings that you experience in a day or a life, so decide to celebrate often!