Go Ahead and “Unfriend” me Now

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Martin Niemoller

I read this quote when my sisters, Mom and I were in the Holocaust museum a few months ago.  It has been on my mind since yesterday, after another mass shooting has stirred my frustration with the new America.  I have started to see parallels with Nazi Germany and our own country as brains are washed and people convinced that a loud mouthed “leader” will deliver us from all of our problems.  I woke up to quotes on my facebook thread that I can’t ignore as a difference of opinions any longer.  I refuse to be silent.
One of the first quotes I read Sunday morning:  “Hmm. I bet the liberals will have a field day with this one..(gays and guns)”  Really? Maybe you better look down at your WWJD bracelet a little more closely if that is your first thought the morning after fifty people are slaughtered.

“Obama is an elitist, narcissist.  He can’t even say Radical Islamists.” That is your focus in the face of a tragedy such as this?  What the heck does it matter that he doesn’t use those words?  Shouldn’t we then call the lieutenant Governor of Texas a radical Christian extremist for his hateful words, condoning the mass murder, tweeting scripture that God should not be mocked, you reap what you sow.  Wow.  People who call me “friends” agree with that sentiment.  They are ok with God’s children in that nightclub dying because they think it’s God’s wrath for their homosexuality.  Sounds like “final solution” rhetoric  to me. Unfriend me.  Please.  We have nothing in common. I don’t want friends like you in my life.

No one but our military and police need  this type of gun.  And yes, evil exists but evil also comes under the disguise of an organization which should support stricter laws, responsible ownership, background checks and keeping terrorists from legally obtaining guns.   And yes.  Bad people will always find  a way to get a gun, but why are we making it easy for them?   And yes. Bad people may be able to take a machete and kill a few people or a bomb made from fertilizer and destroy lives, but being silent and doing nothing about guns is not ok.  It’s NOT FRICKING OK.

Little, innocent children’s  blood sprays the walls  at Sandy Hook. Multiple tiny bodies in Hello Kitty t-shirts in body bags. Nothing is done. Cell phones continually ringing in body bags at Virginia Tech.  Parents frantically trying to recall their kids’ college schedule, praying  and crying desperately that their son wasn’t in Norris Hall until the next day  Nothing is done.  A night out at the movies turns into a bloody nightmare. Nothing is done.   Over and over and over.  It’s not going to stop unless we decide that it’s enough.  And honestly, with the direction we are heading politically, no one seems to want  it to stop.

So unfriend me. Do it.  Now.  You won’t  see any side of this, you’ll scoff at my ignorance roll your eyes and what you will retaliate with, I refuse to politely see as a difference of opinions.  You are wrong to want and expect nothing better from our country and you are ignorant if you feel that we are heading in the right direction with a fascist as the next President.  Simply wrong.  I’m done with you as much as you are done with “elitist-liberals” like me.  I won’t miss your posts on what you had for lunch last week or those nice little inspirational scripture posts because you really don’t mean it.  You really don’t think that God loves everyone so stop pretending. You don’t think God loves gay people or dark people or Muslims or people who think the Earth is 4 1/2 billion years old instead of 15,000 years.   You miss the good old days of segregation and when women like me knew their place.  Again, look down at that WWJD bracelet and think about what is happening.  If not, unfriend me.  Do it.  Now.

Bring Me Your Hungry, Tired and Poor…

I am finishing my first year (27th of teaching!) as a Gifted Specialist.  I was hired last summer not because I have this special endorsement on my license, but because my principal wanted a seasoned classroom teacher in the position.  Seasoned?  I guess after this many years, I am seasoned but not quite done! There have been some lonely moments in this new position where I felt isolated from a team of teachers, but I have grown to love my new job.

A few weeks ago, I offered to teach enrichment lessons to entire classrooms, letting the teachers know that they didn’t need to do anything to prepare for the hour. Yesterday I went into second grade teacher Terri Wolfe’s class to do an AIMS activity that I had done long ago on candy counting, sorting, division and fractions.  If you have been a teacher in the 1980s and 1990s, you might remember AIMS materials.  They are engaging, challenging and very fun!  When I walk in classrooms at my school, kids get excited and usually mill around me.  It usually means that they are going to do a STEM activity or something out of the ordinary.  Yesterday was a little different.  Several were gathered at the door, peeking out, intently listening to Mrs. Wolfe talk to the Home School teacher as he introduced a new student to Mrs. Wolfe.   “We’ll get started soon, Mrs. L.  You know how it is.  Always new, exciting things happening even with a few days of school left.”  Mrs. Wolfe is retiring this year.  When you are an elementary teacher, retirement doesn’t mean that you put up your feet the last week of school.  I went ahead and started setting up.  Soon, Mrs. Wolfe walked into the room with her arms around this sweet brown-eyed girl.  “Class, Class.”  “Yes, Yes,” the children answered.  “Boys and girls, we are so happy to have Helen join our class, and we are going to make her feel welcome and help her get to know our school even if we only have three days of school left.”  She spoke in hushed tones to two girls, “Would you both sit near Helen and speak to her in Spanish when she needs help?”  They agreed.  My eyes filled with tears as 18 children smiled, welcomed this girl to our country and helped her with her Skittles math.

Later in the day, I worked with some fourth graders on Little Bits.  Google that name.  They are the most innovative science material that I have worked with in a long time.  It is way too simplistic to just say they are circuits that snap together.  When the second rotation of students came, Mrs. Van, the fourth grade teacher, wanted the ELL students to have an opportunity to do the activities.   I watched as the English-speaking students automatically chose to pair up with the ELL students.  I have a feeling Mrs. Van has modeled that this is what we do at school, but it still amazed me.  There were no complaints of “always having to work with him” or “I want to be with my friend” as I’ve often heard students say over the years.  It was  genuine and it was a beautiful nonverbal statement of love and kindness.  I watched with interest a boy from Somalia, Muhammad, work with the Little Bits.  I am sure that this little boy has spent almost his entire life in a refugee camp so to see these things magnetically connect, light up, make sound, and spin motors must have been a magical experience for him.  To say he was engaged was an understatement.  He was really doing his own thing and not following directions, but I learned a long time ago that sometimes it’s best to let kids go and not stifle their curiosity.  It was when I showed the students how to use Lego structures with the Little Bits, that Muhammad found his niche. His face broke out in a huge grin, and he went to work on the Legos, creating amazing structures.  I think it’s safe to speculate that he didn’t have Legos in the refugee camp.  All of the children love when the Legos come out, but this was something fresh and new, and it was like all of us were experiencing the magical bricks for the first time through Muhammed.

What a gift it was to my soul yesterday to experience the graciousness of wonderful teachers and little boys and girls offering kindness, acceptance and hope to others.  God bless the children and the teachers of this country.