Tag Archives: education

Terror in America’s schools and at home

Rats and Bullies Documentary

Would you send your child off to be terrorized everyday at a local prison? Would you let them play with loaded weapons over at their friend’s house? Would you allow them to walk around with something in their pocket that could lead to their death or the death of someone around them?

Up front, most anyone would answer, “No” to all of the above questions. A person with the responsibility of caring for a child would typically have this child’s best interest in mind. They would protect them to the best of their ability, right?

The question is, as parents, community leaders, teachers, administrators and across our nation, are we doing what needs to be done to protect our children, our young people and our future?

Everyday children are going to school across our country and being terrorized by other children and this is absolutely not getting the attention it needs and deserves. Some schools are stepping up, and not only admitting there is a problem but are bringing the students together, opening communications, and learning different ways to treat this epidemic by starting with one of the most important steps, speaking up.

This is more than a “bullying” issue going on. This is something involving all age groups in schools, work places, homes, malls, online, cell phones, etc. This leaves no safe zone, no escape for those constantly being tormented. The threats become relentless. The torture and harassment is leaving our children feeling hopeless and alone.

This is not something that will go away with a few schools taking charge, a petition getting signed or a TV special hoping to speak to anyone who will listen. It will take everyone stepping up getting involved by talking to children and letting them know that being different is okay. It is also means living by example and explaining to a child that talking down to others is never okay.

Often it takes a tragic story to get the attention of national news media or action from lawmakers. In the past it has taken horrific tragedies to have schools look at what could have been done to avoid an event that has already taken place. Losing any child to constant tormenting from others is preventable and each life lost is in part the responsibility of everyone that turned a blind eye or did not do everything possible to protect our most valuable resources, every child. Many children fear going to school each day.

Understand if a child has access to a computer or the Internet via a cell phone, game system (PS2, PS3) many available MP3 devices (which have Internet access), or by simply going to a friend’s house, they are possibly being or taking part in bullying actions. The possibility is there. More than ever, the need for communication and knowledge about online activity as well as personal and online friendships is now more important than ever.

While attending school, children rely on their teachers and the school staff to protect them and parents expect the school to not only be responsible and accountable for this but also rely on this protection as well.

With the diversity of students in our schools as well as the overall social changes within our nation, it is absolutely crucial that our nation’s schools have a plan in place for many situations that can arise during a typical school day or any time of crisis.

Bully free zones should be everywhere!

Dealing with student harassment and ongoing bullying is something the school needs to have the support of parents, the community, local government and laws need to be in place to protect students in need of support but also giving teachers the ability to lend a hand to students in need.

While the legislation process and politics are playing out on the news, parents are talking about this at home. The debates (and their language) are making their way into our schools through our young children who become more confused. Slander and hate that is expressed at school is not something a person is born with. Hate is not a birth trait.

Bullying, and terrorizing of another is an action that the bullying student should be held responsible for. This is something the bully should receive mandatory counseling for.

Too many children are killing themselves! These losses are as tragic as a loss by any other tragedy or disease to those left behind. Most often, these suicides could have been prevented and signs are either noticed too late or had not been taken seriously in the time leading up to the time of death.

Even though there’s typically evidence leading back to the cause of their suicide, the ongoing threats and harassments, most often nothing is legally done. This can be changed if enough people will stand up and demand change.

This is made very evident in a ground breaking, Award Winning documentary “Rats and Bullies” directed by Cassidy McMillan.

Originally, the story of 14 year old Dawn-Marie Wesley was shared on the Oprah Winfrey Show. This young girl took her own life in her family home after having been continuously bullied and threatened. Like too many before her, it reached a point she felt she couldn’t take anymore.

After being shown in schools, feedback from students shows that “Rats and Bullies” validates how many students are feeling with the difficulties of being ridiculed and intimidated. There is also an eye opening part to many watching this film that although the one committing suicide appears to be ending their life, those left behind are beginning a nightmare of living without their loved one, asking questions about what they could have done differently or if it was their fault. This film brings up a lot of points to open communication within schools and communities as well as at home.

The Producer and Director of the film Cassidy McMillan hoped by making “Rats and Bullies” would help prevent any future loss of life. To this point, the significance of response in showings at schools and festivals definitely reveal not only a need for a significant increase in discussions but also an awareness that these situations are not as isolated as many believe them to be.

Cassidy McMillan

McMillan has been receiving emails from students saying they have changed their mind on a planned suicide, how her film has greatly affected them and has validated how they felt. She is very pleased by this outcome.

What can we do to help in the effort to eradicate bullying in our culture?

Everyone must speak out against any form of bullying. It is never okay to torment anyone, ridicule or harass either in person, via email or text. If you are a witness to bullying – Report it. Speak to an adult. If you are being the bully – STOP! Ask for help.

As a community we need to demand that our Senators and Representatives create laws that will protect victims and hold our schools fully accountable for the bullying happening while our children are in school.

Every child should feel safe heading to and from school and be focused on learning not worried about being bullied or having their life threatened. Every child should feel comfortable going to the school administrators to report a problem.

Too often, when a person isn’t directly involved with a given situation they don’t see the need to help fix a problem. I ask Cassidy McMillan why it will take everyone to fix this problem. She said, “When someone dies, we all lose someone.”

We discussed this a bit and the point is we would never know who that person would become, who they could have grown up to become. Could they have grown up to cure cancer? Could they have become president? We will never know.

Having a child with cancer and with the news of Steve Jobs just passing, that puts things into a perspective that many people can and should be able to understand. What if someone like Steve Jobs had not been around to accomplish all he did? None of us would be here if our parents weren’t around to have us.

Everyone should have the opportunity to grow up in a safe environment and this issue, unlike some diseases or natural disasters, is something that is within our grasp and ability to prevent. Let’s put an end to this terror many of our children have to face each and every day.

**To find out more about “Rats and Bullies” and where you can view this Award Winning Documentary, please visit http://ratsandbullies.com

**Visit the Facebook Page for “Rats and Bullies”.

"Rats and Bullies" Awards

Help stop bullying Pt. 2 – Bullying affects everyone

Photo by Eddie~S

By speaking up when we see bullying, or talking and letting people know it is not okay to treat others with disrespect or cruelty, this cycle can be stopped.

According to the US Department of Justice and the National School Association of School Psychologist, 10% of students drop out due to repeated bullying and 160,000 students miss school each day due to fear of bullying.

According to the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment, the US ranks average amongst 70 countries around the world when comparing 15 year olds in reading, science and math.

The education report and the need for educational reform is not new and while many budgets are under the microscope for getting cut, America’s students may not get the much needed support they desperately need and deserve.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 60% of boys identified as bullies have a criminal record by the time they are 24 years old.

In extreme cases, bullying has been named as the cause of student suicide and student homicide.
With an average student spending 6-8 hours a day at school, if that day includes being bullied or having the fear of being bullied, their learning ability will be diminished.

With this going on, as well as any other typical school distractions, necessary learning of lessons and social development can be missed and go unseen in today’s overstressed society. Unless there is a clear objective to focus on these issues, with the proper attention and involvement and do whatever is necessary to make life changing differences not only for those directly involved but throughout our society, the current generation as well as the future generations will continue to decline.

When the subject of bullying is brought up for discussion, it is often not clear what accounts for “bullying” or that it can often take place online within many social networking services like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and other social gathering sites or through texting, messaging and email. Cyber-bullying has opened a whole new world for bullies to reach their victims either after having left them earlier or sometimes having never even met them face to face.

Photo by J_O_I_D

Half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online and about the same number have engaged in cyber-bullying.

This has turned a person’s home into a place that once used to be a safe area into a place of torment as well. A person can use their phone or the computer to send threatening messages to the victim threatening them in some way or even threatening to harm their family.


What can you do to help?

If you have children or family members with children, talk to them about bullying. Ask them what they know and how they feel about it. Let them know it is never okay. Tell someone. All people should feel safe.

Talk to coworkers and family about doing the same. The more people you know, the more children you know, the greater chance you know someone being bullied or possibly someone bullying. You can help put a stop to this, now.

Every place should be a bully-free zone.

Every place should be a bully-free zone.


Take a stand and help stop bullying in your school, workplace and community. It starts by speaking up and talking with others.





Bullying can be snuffed out by breaking the silence.

*½ of adolescents and teens have been bullied online and about the same number have engaged in cyber-bullying.

*Cyber-bullying affects all races.

*Cyber-bullying victims are more likely to have low self esteem and to consider suicide.


Stop Bullying Now – ASL



Graduate Students of Gallaudet University in hopes to spread awareness and address bullying within schools and communities, and prevent future harm to children and adolescents.





Great Links:

TakeAStand.StopBullying

StopCyberBullying

ItGetsBetterProject

PeaceBuilders

MakeLaughterCount

Please feel free to comment on your thoughts and/or experiences and subscribe to this blog for upcoming articles. This is an ongoing series and your thoughts may contribute to future articles. If you have not read the previous article,”The time to talk is now!“, I would urge you to do so. Thank you.

Not just a story

Our world is under a constant change. That is a given. Those who try to stop change or stand in the way of progress are slowly being rooted out.
That is certainly being seen across the Middle East as they continue to fight for their freedom of speech, equalities and the ability to finally be out from under the unspeakable acts of cowardly dictators that have ruled over them for decades.

As each day passes, bravery becomes more evident because to share the turmoil going on in places such as Egypt, Syria, Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, it literally means risking arrest or even one’s life. Making a phone call, sending a picture, a tweet, updating a blog or even carrying on a conversation on the street or anywhere in public can cost a person their life on the spot or have them detained, tortured, or kidnapped leaving their family to wonder whatever became of them. This is not something that is exaggerated or made up. This is life for the people of these countries and has been for decades.

Most reporters sent in are there under government watch and only go places with government permission, in government convoys and to places the governments wants them to see. Example of this is in Tripoli’s famous Rixos Hotel where a large group of reporters have stayed and covered Libya’s conflict for an ongoing amount of time. This is where Iman Al Obaidi ran in to share her story of what happened while she was held by Gaddafi’s soldiers. Her story became internationally known once it was shared by worldwide news organizations and across social media websites. This became possible only because she risked her life to go into that hotel in the first place.

Other reporters have been thrown out of Libya and other countries for sharing too much of the truth as well as having been detained, beaten, raped or are still missing or or have been killed.

To name just a few, Chris Hondros, Tim Hetherington, Mohammed Al-Nabbous, Anton Hammerl were killed just recently. These are just a few and are just naming ones killed in Libya.

Why do “outsiders” risk their lives to share these “stories”?

I’ll answer this question very directly so as to be very clear.

These aren’t just stories, this is life. Just because I am an American writing about people that are living all the way around the world, doesn’t make this any less relevant than if I were writing about something locally, not to me.

You see, these people in many ways are just like me. They have hopes, dreams, families, loved ones, and friends.

Rebel fighters at the Wazin Border Crossing(Tunisia and Nafusa Mountains) May11th
Photo Courtesy of: @ShababLibya

A mother losing her child or a child losing their parents somewhere else in the world is just as upsetting as if that happened here, or to me. A friend watching their friend die is no less painful because it is further away or because it is in a time of war. Many of those fighting in these current revolutions are students, lawyers, doctors or young kids. Most are not soldiers and had never held a weapon before in their life. They are protecting their homes, businesses, families and their lives. They didn’t want to fight. They don’t want to fight. They want to be free which is the opposite of fighting.

As an American, I want our government to be able to help, of course.

I also know that many times, U.S. involvement comes with a cost and although at first glance and in a time of crisis, it seems great and the right thing to do when making arrangements but the long term effects, due to diplomatic arrangements made to reach that original agreement, often far outweigh the long term benefit. Doesn’t sound right, does it?

Let me explain. Iraq and Afghanistan.

The need for help is there and the desire to help is there but the actual response and outcome is often so jumbled up in politics, the RSVP would have been better to have been lost in the mail.

Some situations are so clear, up front, one would think there wouldn’t be any issues. One would think.

In Libya, Gaddafi was making it abundantly clear that he had no problem with taking as many lives each day as he could without any given reason. He also made it clear he wasn’t listening to reason. Once the UN came to an agreement and NATO started its response against Gaddafi’s crimes against his own people, it wasn’t as quick of a process as it would have once been thought.

At this point, it seems communication on the ground (what little there is) doesn’t get heard by the right people, quickly enough. I personally think if it were, Gaddafi would have been cut off much quicker.

Syria has tried to hide what is going on in their country but they haven’t been able to do this, not completely. The government says one thing and does another. It seems they want to act like Iran, dress like Iran but not be treated like Iran. When do threats from the U.S. end? Syria’s government has clearly chosen its path.

In Yemen today, President Saleh refused to sign the exit deal to hopefully bring an end to the political crises. Saleh has ruled for 32 years.
For months now, Yemen has been filled with protests for him to step down. Hundreds have been killed and he has refused to sign a deal at least twice before.

Saleh is demanding the opposition be present at the signing. The opposition refuses saying it will send the wrong message to the revolution leaders in Sanaa, making Saleh look victorious.

The opposition signed their part of the agreement on Saturday, May 21st with the understanding Saleh would sign his on Sunday.
About Saudi Arabia…this is a country with a great deal of oppression toward women.

I am a woman. I drive. Recently Manal Al Sharif was arrested for doing exactly the same thing in the eastern town of Khobar, Saudi Arabia which defies a long standing ban on women’s driving. Yeh, that’s right.

Manal Al Sharif 32 year old Saudi Arabian woman detained for driving in Saudi Arabia

It’s said that about two-thirds of a woman’s salary goes toward their transportation. They can’t walk on the street or drive so they must pay a taxi or private driver. There’s no public transportation.

On June 17th, there’s a campaign #Women2Drive which is growing in numbers on their Facebook page. The idea is for those women, with foreign licenses, to go out in the Kingdom of Saudi and drive that day. Some are even offering to teach others how to drive. Manal Al Sharif remains detained at this moment but in an interview to Gulf news she said, “Every lady has something to do in the city, she’ll just drive, do her business and come back. So it’s as simple as that. People can’t call it a demonstration, we’re not going against the law, we’re not going against anyone, we’re not even demonstrating.”

I was going to divide this article into two parts but I think it’s important to keep it as one.

You see, as a nation, we have an enormous amount of freedoms. I am writing this article which I will shortly post because I have the freedom to do so. I have the ability to share the information which I freely read about on the Internet or via links that were sent to me. Information is golden.

Education is priceless. The ability to have those available to us should never be taken for granted.

In many parts of our world, these freedoms or abilities do not exist. Our freedoms were fought for by very brave people before us and to take anything at all for granted, to me, just seems wrong. It also seems wrong to take lightly why others would want these same freedoms as well as the loss of lives they are experiencing while fighting for their freedom.

Many have chosen to come here, to the U.S., seeking a better life for themselves and their children. Around the world, America has been known as the “Land of the Free”, but is it? Do we truly know where these people are coming from, why they are seeking freedom and can they still find it here? In coming here, they have often made many sacrifices leaving behind the only homes they have ever known and family members to still live under dictators and the very life they are running from.

It’s been a while since I have written. I’ve been following much of what has been going on around the world, devastating natural disasters, revolutions and our own nation and its many ups and downs.

I hadn’t planned to write quite yet until I read a comment about the woman in Saudi, Manal, who had been arrested for, driving. The comment was basically along the lines of the fact the reader would never live in a place that wouldn’t allow a woman to drive!

My question: What if you were born there?

Votes for change, again

In 2008, the majority of voters made it clear they wanted change. In 2010, the majority of voters made it clear during mid-term elections, they wanted change, again.

The argument can go back and forth whether voters wanted to get rid of Democrats or welcome Republicans but one thing is for sure, things were not okay with voters the way they were going.

When a job is going well, many are willing to stand with their team and take credit but when uncertainties arise and plans either drag out or changes need to be made either to existing programs or benefits in order to set a long term goal or a fix for a broken system, people start backing down, changing sides or turning away, unwilling to have their name attached to an uncertainty.

Many times, this could be understandable or even a reasonable move, but in Washington, when it comes to an elected official whose job is to make tough decisions, many times with uncertain outcomes or no immediate gratification, this can be looked at as running away from responsibility.

An elected official’s job consist of making long lasting decisions on laws, taxes, wars, healthcare, education, immigration, national security and anything that may be put on the table at any time and has to be ready to stay with a task, see it through, until it is resolved whether that means long discussions, comparisons of ideas, hearing out conflicts and finding either a new approach or compromise to resolve the differences and therefore bring a conclusion to the job that was presented. There are no promises of easy answers, but coming out with the excuse no answer can be found is not acceptable.

To be a good representative of the American people, an elected official comes down to having the desire to do the job one was elected for. They can’t hide behind their party, their values, their religion or their future ambitions. Who they are, and what they stand for is what should have brought them to run for office and get elected in the first place, and was part of their character before they were elected. It’s not something used to stall votes, hinder discussions and therefore tie down the ability for America to move forward, holding back Americans from having the ability to see the necessary solutions to the problems facing America.

With these mid-term elections of 2010 behind Americans and changes coming to Washington, let the voices of the Americans be heard. Although there have been many different sides and views to the elections, the overwhelming sentiment is voters are seeking change. The change voters are seeking is in actions more than words, in the behaviors more than the people and in the nation, a country that so desperately needs to be repaired in more ways than many in Washington have been focused on.

Recovery for America Pt. 3 – Is education a priority?

In the last article of this series, “Education Reform”, the different issues concerning education in America was looked at and some of the changes currently being made were focused on. Please take the time to read over the previous article. Is education a priority in America?

In the United States, nearly 6.2 million students dropped out of high school in 2007, according to a report by the center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts and the Alternative Schools Network in Chicago, Illinois. Why?

Students across the nation drop out for different reasons. In some areas there is gang violence, racial issues or drugs. Other students lose interest due to poor grades, lack of incentive, situations at home, lack of teacher involvement or the loss of ambition and many times due to outside influence.

Many people believe the students dropping out are low achievers but actually quite often, they were receiving high tests scores and just felt unmotivated and uninspired. These dropouts could have been avoided by more challenging work and more relevant studies as well as more positive influences.

Of course, there are those that drop out due to failing grades but even then, the question is who is failing who?

The fact is education is a necessity for a productive and successful life. This must be a priority for everyone including children, parents, government and community.

It is a must for everyone to work together from the time each child begins their school years till they complete their schooling. A parent’s involvement not only helps to keep their student motivated but also helps enforce what goes on at school. Understanding what the school expects and what homework assignments are being sent home helps keep the student more on track and allows the teacher and school administration the ability to communicate any concerns or feedback to the parents or guardians. Communication is a key element and allows even more possibility for the student’s potential to become that much more attainable.

In a student’s high school years, many freedoms come their way with more activities, a different type of high school schedule and many students will start driving and possibly working a part-time or even full-time job.

However, it is during this time many students find their education and goals starting to collide or become unclear. Teachers don’t always have the time to personally interact with their students and in larger schools especially, a student can feel more in the background and unsure of what their future holds.

With less personal interaction from teachers, and parents becoming less involved due to their child seeming more independent now being in high school, grades and goals can begin to diminish. It is during this time when students need more interaction and help with setting up their plans and keeping up with their grades, school attendance and graduation requirements.

What about the United States standard graduation requirements? Over time, the U.S. has dropped in education throughout the world. Not only should our students meet the graduation requirements but our students should be able to face the world, head on.

In order to do this, we as a nation need to make education a top priority. Our students need to not only learn the basic requirements to graduate but also how to face a situation, think and resolve, form ideas and opinions and learn about the world and its people around them. Our students need to be inspired to excel in all they do and go beyond what is expected because they want to exceed in the world. The tools need to be there for them to live up to their full potential.

For students to achieve in school and regain our standing in the world, this needs to be a national priority. With voting coming up, let your candidates know where you stand. Let them know this is a top priority. Let your school know this is a priority and you plan to be involved starting this year. Education in America must return to a top priority for the sake of all students and the future.





Question…. are you subscribed to this blog yet??

Recovery for America Pt. 2 – Education Reform

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was last reauthorized in 2002 as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Although the NCLB has sparked many controversies due to its tests and the time spent on test preparation vs. time spent on education in other necessary areas of learning, it did shed light on the achievement and opportunity gap in our nation’s schools.

Students should be able to face the future when leaving school and they should have the best opportunity during their early education through their High School years. It should not depend on where they live, their family income or their circumstances.

In America, education is an equal opportunity. It should be.

The question for a High School student should not be, “Can you read?” That should be an expectation in elementary school and middle school. To be competitive in the world, the U.S. needs to ask more of its students which means the educational system needs to be more innovative, diverse and competitive itself, always moving forward.

Can U.S. students form an opinion about something they just read and justify their opinion? Can they create solutions when faced with problems? Are they prepared for college? Do they know what is going on in the world around them? Students of today are leaders of tomorrow, business owners, doctors, scientist, inventors, parents, and teachers. It is up to today’s leaders, teachers and society to help prepare them for their future.

On February 17, 2009 President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The ARRA provides $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund, a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education, innovation and reform. Click the above link to read more about how this Race to the Top fund is expected to change education.

Although some programs come in and seem to work while others don’t and some bills can easily get passed through Washington while others get held up or turned down, the fact is not everything goes as planned or as promised.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama reached many college students. One of the goals he proposed was to raise the $1800.00 tax credit for college students to $4000.00. However, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the existing law currently has the tax credit set at $2500.00 for college students.

As of July 1, 2010 all new federal student loans will be originated through the Direct Loan program, instead of through the federally-guaranteed student loan program. The Direct Loan program is a more reliable lender for students and more cost-effective for taxpayers. This bill will increase the maximum annual Pell Grant, expand the Perkins Loan Program, simplify the application process for federal student aid and boost support for community colleges.

The United States has continued to lose ground in education worldwide over the last 20 years. For the U.S. to gain this ground back, students must be able to do more than just basic studies. They need to be able to use those skills and apply them to real life situations, show the ability to think, reason and problem solve. The educational system needs to provide them the atmosphere to grow and learn.

Students need the ability for further education and the desire to pursue higher goals. Family and community involvement, with the help of schools, will better promote an environment in which a student is able to seek support and focus on their studies.

By being involved in local schools, school districts and knowing what is going on with upcoming pieces of legislation, a person can vote on important matters that will be in effect for many years to come. Education is the key to the future.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

Inspired or Angered?

Inspiration:

*In 2007, Gary Oppenheimer ended up with leftovers from his garden that his family could not use. In trying to find a way to put his fresh produce to use, he came upon an idea that has since really caught on and is not only helping him use his excess surplus but is also helping others in need to eat and stay healthy and has given gardeners across the nation a way to get involved and help save lives. His idea grew into AmpleHarvest.org. The free online resource enables food pantries to register and be listed in a central nationwide directory, and makes it possible for American gardeners to easily find the local pantries where they can donate extra produce.

*HelpOthers.org is just an amazing source of ways to reach out to anyone. If you have someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time and aren’t sure how to make that connection again, visit this site. If you want to do something nice for someone and aren’t sure what to do, go by this site. They have a lot of good “random acts of kindness ideas.” They also have something called, “Smile Cards”. They are cards you can either print up yourself or they will mail them to you, FREE!! Yep, totally FREE!! How kind is that?? You can donate if you can or want to but other people donate to keep this service going. The idea is though that you will mail out these cute little smiley cards to cheer up someone’s day. And, let me tell you, cards do cheer up someone’s day. Having a daughter that has spent month after month straight in the hospital, cards are great! But, also think about the fact that now-a-days the only thing most people still get in their mail box is bills or junk mail. When is the last time you sat down and wrote a nice little note to someone and stuck a stamp on it? Yeh, stamps? Texts and emails are nice but a note or letter in the mail? Wow! But, drop by this site, there are a lot of great ideas and even stories on there.

*Out of personal experience and having lived in the “world of cancer” for so long now I can tell you that being around cancer patients and kids fighting cancer, I am surrounded by inspiration. I find it very difficult to complain about a headache or a bad day since I have been introduced to people that daily fight for their lives while being inflicted with so much pain and sickness. Do you know what I noticed right away on the oncology floor that I would have never imagined to have seen? I noticed a lot of smiles, lots of smiles. I am not sure if they were always there, if people were just always smiling and I didn’t notice it or if it was the fact that the people fighting hardest for their lives found more of reason to smile through each day they were living. I think it is the second point. I think they found more of a reason to smile. I will never forget when I noticed those smiles. Ever. They inspired me to notice that each day is different and each day is a gift. They inspired me to realize even more that none of us are promised the next day, the next hour or even our next minute. Life is a gift.

*In a previous article on my blog, “21 Days Makes a Habit”  I spoke about the Pay It Forward Foundation.  . The idea of “Pay it Forward” was brought out very clearly after a movie was released in 2000 based on the novel. In the movie, an 11 year old boy, Trevor is doing a project for his science class. Trevor calls his plan “pay it forward”, which can be described as a charitable pyramid scheme, based on good deeds rather than profit. “Paying it forward” means the recipient of a favor does a favor for a third party rather than paying the favor back. His plan not only caught on but it caught on BIG! This 11 year old inspired a movement and people really felt so eager to do something for others. They not only did something but they did so with a happy heart and in many cases, their heart had been closed or had been just going from day to day not really feeling much of anything.

*Do you think the above people are still doing what they started doing in the links mentioned above? I mean once someone gets inspired to get involved like Gary Oppenheimer with his garden helping others or people that go by helpothers.org once, do you think they will go by a second time. Well, the people that started that site were inspired enough to start it and the people that donate to keep the cards free obviously have been inspired enough to get involved to help with that part of the service as well. I know we have been so inspired by our daughter’s fight for life and others’ fight for life as well as how different organizations such as BeTheMatch.org, Florida Blood Services, and so many others that we wanted to do our part to further help educating others on the need for marrow donors and blood product donation as well as helping families going through transplant so we started our own foundation, the Katia Solomon Foundation back in 2003. Inspiration tends to continue on a daily basis because it not only touches your life, it touches your heart. It has somehow changed your life and maybe given you purpose.

So, what else moves people to get up and do something? There are a lot of times people get angry over something that happens in a community and a community gets together to make a statement. It can be a tragic accident with a drunk driver, a missing person that a community gets together to help find and sometimes the news turns out with a very happy ending or the reverse of that story the person is found murdered after a long search. When communities come together to help each other, it is great and even better when the news covers the story. When a community stands up against a tragedy together, it often brings the community together.

However, so many things have become arguable. Things that most would think are beyond argument. I mean one can always find a path to an argument if you choose to go looking but these days it seems nearly anyone is ready for an argument, ready to take sides on things that there should be at least a clear understanding on certain parts of the story.

I mean has it really come to the point that everything is an argument and that is what motivates people to speak up? Get involved?

Anger:

Here are a few examples.

*Oil in the gulf… is bad. The problem has to get fixed. We need accountable, competent people fixing the problem until there is no more oil coming out of the oil well. A lot of people have lost their jobs and a lot of damage is being done to wildlife and beaches. This damage is going to last for a very long time. Everything needs to be done to assure these issues do not happen again.






*Immigration Reform is something that will always be a work in progress as our country is in a constant change and each year more people will migrate here from different countries all over the world. As our country is constantly changing and more people are coming and going, laws need to be updated and relooked at on a normal basis. Our country’s safety is always a top priority.






*Education is the foundation to a good future. Every child in every town across America deserves a good education. This should be a top priority across our Nation.






*If you think your child is sick, you take them to the doctor. That is what any good parent does, right? Not if you don’t have health insurance. Well, of course you should be able to take you child to the doctor or go to the doctor if you are ill. Of course you should be able to go to the doctor for regular screenings that can catch cancer early, diagnose the beginning of high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol or many other diseases that when left untreated can end up causing significant health problems and run up enormous health cost or cause death. Health reform was set out to correct this issue.














Personally I don’t see where there is even an issue with any of the above things mentioned. I don’t see how someone can jump on any of those statements and say how there is a disagreement as those stand. I can see how there is something a person can jump on IF they already have a set view and don’t want to look at the plain, easy-to-see picture as it stands. There is always a way someone can drag it from the “left” to the “right” and not see it in the way of humanity and simply as what is just the basic right thing to do. That is very often overlooked until things get just too far out of hand or something so tragic happens that the cloudiness over our eyes that has been put there by our own views and the views of what we watch, read or listen to is finally washed away by tears of tragedy and sadness. It doesn’t need to come to that to see how we can be a part of doing what is right even though we may feel differently about some things. Just because we may see things in a different view doesn’t mean we should overlook basic human rights, common sense and being part of the growth of our nation and not a hindrance on our growth.




My response to the above issue:

*When a company is responsible for the death of any of its employees, damage to natural habitat, loss of jobs and the ways of lives that have gone on for generation after generation, they should claim that responsibility. It should be done in a legal way according to a way that is laid out and agreed upon. Too often these types of incidents become something more like a “witch hunt”. At this point it doesn’t matter what side you’re on or even if you aren’t keeping up with BP and the leaking oil in the gulf, you are on the wrong side. Someone is totally against you and you don’t know what you are talking about. The fact is this was the first time this has happened and yes, it should NEVER have happened. It has taken a long time for someone to even come close to finding an answer and there is still oil leaking in the gulf at this moment…leaking, leaking, leaking. Not like a dripping faucet either. More like barrels just being dumped! But, the point is, nobody has the answers. I think a lot of people want to do a lot of firing and even more people want to find a problem. Even more wish this had never happened. This is the optimal time for political parties and campaigns to point fingers of blame at each other. It will go on for years. But pointing fingers and placing blame on each other doesn’t make it right and it certainly doesn’t reverse time, fix the leak or clean up the gulf now does it?  While I am typing this, there is hope of a new solution fixing the problem…let’s pray this works.






*Immigration Reform is another one of those issues that either people really have an opinion on or some people just don’t touch the topic due to its heated debates. This country was built with immigrants. There is hardly anyone in the United States that didn’t have family who at some point in time migrated from another part of the world. At different times, there were different standards of how immigration was done, how land was claimed, or what rights a person had as an immigrant. If you have read my past articles, “Will History Repeat Itself?”  and “What Divides Our Nation“, you will see how far our country has come and also have to ask yourself what is going on now? For a country that has been built on diversity, freedom and so many have fought for human rights even fighting for the human rights of others in countries around the world, why is it that the immigration issue is now becoming something that would even come close to taking away anyone’s human rights. Not sure what I mean? Read “Arizona is just the beginning… watch out!”  Yes, Immigration Reform is a necessity and it is something that needs to be done now and continuously monitored. It is a federal issue and it is something that both democrat and republicans need to work together on. You see, everyone came to this country seeking freedom and a better life, right? This country. The UNITED States of America.

*Education is something that everyone should see is a top priority. I think that part everyone would say, “Of course, absolutely.” The education system in our country has moved down the list when compared to other countries and there is absolutely no reason for that. When George W. Bush became president, he signed the No Child Left Behind ActIt was signed to increase funding, accountability of schools and teachers and close the gaps between minorities and children in impoverished areas. It measured students annually through standardized tests. The numbers that came back were shared and showing improvements for the first few years. The gaps were closing and the funding appeared to be working for the teachers’ incentives. Schools that were doing a poor job needed to earn a better grade to get more money. There were problems with the NCLB act. The tests were on math and English. So, to score a higher grade, teachers were “teaching to the test”, basically preparing their students for the test and not teaching on other subjects or preparing them for even their next school grade. There is also the idea that ALL students can take the same test and the school can be judged by the outcome or the teacher can be judged by the outcome. Although a teacher does teach in the classroom, more often, that has less to do with what students take away from a class. Although our students go to school each day, they are taking less education away from school and more outside influence. I feel there could be 10 standardized tests on education a year and it really wouldn’t give much information at all about what students are learning in schools. There is certainly not anything standardized about the public school system in America.

I don’t believe in stating a problem without a solution so here is at least the beginning of a solution because to give anymore would be another blog. What is missing from our public schools and even most private schools today is the communication between the student and their parents, the communication between the parents and the teachers and the communication between the parent, teacher and the student together. If a teacher knows that the parent and the student are communicating (and that is saying you do communicate with your child) and then the teacher knows they can communicate with you if there is an issue at school, it opens up a whole new avenue of tools for the teacher to use to help your child with their education. Teachers have less available to them now than ever before when it comes to dealing with their students. They are teaching less due to funding, testing and class size. They are held back and paid very little but are expected to turn out something amazing after approximately 35-45 a day, 5 days a week with your student. How often do we as parents get involved with our students after school, ask what they are doing, read something they have written, talk to them about their friends, their goals, etc. Teachers can’t do all the teaching. Our children are our responsibility. Teachers are there to help us teach our children. We should know what they are doing and communicate with their teachers. A teacher should have a phone number they can feel free to contact you and know you are there to work with and take part in your student’s education ALL the way through their school years.



*To me, the last one is just a simple fact of humanity. If someone is sick, they go to the doctor or the hospital to get better. That shouldn’t have anything to do with whether they are rich or poor, have a certain type of health insurance or another or have no health insurance. It shouldn’t have anything to do whether they have recently lost their job or do not have a job. It is their health. They are not going to the doctor to get a 6 pack of beer, a tattoo or play poker. It is not a day at Disney or a free vacation. It is the doctor’s office and it is either that they are sick or someone they take care of is sick. It’s pretty simple to me. I am not even going to go into the politics of all the things our country’s citizens will pay money on but taking care of people when they are sick is something that I don’t consider should be one of these things that should cause a roaring debate for over a year in this country. When we are each born, we aren’t promised to be born into a family that has it all!! We aren’t promised to be born into a country that has it all!! During our life we aren’t promised there won’t be any obstacles or tragedies to come our way. Anything can happen to any of us at any time. That I can promise you. A family member can come down with a terminal or debilitating illness and either with insurance or without insurance bills add up. A car accident can suddenly put one of your family members into a coma for a long time and they can come out with irreversible brain damage. Again, even though you may have the best of insurance you can lose everything due to medical bills. What if the person that is diagnosed with the medical condition or involved in the accident is the one the medical insurance is under? What if you have insurance and then lose that insurance? You are then with the millions of others without medical insurance. So many people are willing to stand against EVERYONE without insurance saying they don’t want their money going to pay for people without insurance but yet these people fighting against those without medical insurance don’t know the stories of these individuals without insurance. They think they do. They think they are all people that have never worked a day in their lives, don’t plan to and just live off the system, thanks to the tax payers!


Meanwhile, plenty of the people at those rallies didn’t have health insurance. Many people right next to those people at their jobs making plenty of money to be able to buy their own insurance didn’t have health insurance. Why? A lot of people don’t think they need it. While people at low paying jobs who are thought not to have insurance do have insurance because their company offers it and the employees understand the importance. You see, you can’t judge a person unless you not only know the person but you know the circumstances. So it is best just not to judge. My belief is that insurance is a right. Insurance should be available to everyone. Every company should be able to afford to offer health insurance to their employees and the employees should be able to afford to buy it. If health insurance was seen as a human right and a basic necessity, it wouldn’t be something our representatives could argue over for a year holding up a bill getting signed into law. It wouldn’t be something people fought over while people were getting sicker and dying. That tends to get overlooked or it is looked at and not cared about as though, these sick and dying ones are different than the ones that hold their insurance cards in their hands. They have a card that says they can live, for now.




So, you see I get motivated by both inspiration and anger but anger doesn’t make me go and do something that isn’t going to solve anything. Anger doesn’t make me do something that is going to hold back another person from moving forward in their life. Anger isn’t going to get me to do anything that will hold someone back from getting what they need to live a full and happy life. No.

I have been inspired to do everything in my power to see that I leave this world better than I found it.

I have been inspired to help someone who is down.

I have been inspired to think of a solution instead of dwelling on the problem.

I have been inspired to look past the differences and see the likenesses.

I have been inspired to not only dream but to soar with the possibilities.

I have been inspired to not only see what can be done now but to inspire others that will go on long after my time is over.

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose”. Robert Byrne