Let there be light!

Sun rising over the St Lawrence River. Picture by me, click image for source.

Sun rising over the St Lawrence River. Picture by me, click image for source.

I am learning how affected I am by the light. Yesterday I looked through a year’s worth of blog posts as I submitted 1 post for each month of 2008 to Blogapalooza and saw a pattern. In the depths of winter, whenever there is a lack of light, I have doubts. I am down. I am tired. I am confused. When there is an abundance of light, I am filled with hope.

This morning I read two comments on Michael Doyle’s post November Light . Both comments invoke light through quotations and it got me to thinking of different words we can come up with to fill us with light during this cold, dark period.

“Open the second shutter so that more light may come in.” Goethe, quoted by Michael

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” Albert Camus, quoted by Kate Tabor

I needed the reminder that it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness (Chinese Proverb).

I’d like to start a collection of words, sayings, quotations about light. Do you know any good ones?

Not in our name.

Sometimes re-framing is a demolition job. It can be a lot of hard work. Image found on sheribarbre.blogspot.com. Click to view source.

Sometimes re-framing is a demolition job. It can be a lot of hard work. Image found on sheribarbre.blogspot.com. Click to view source.

I.
I try to teach my students to care. To care about each other and that, in order to do so, we need to go outside of ourselves. It is probably one of the more difficult things I try to do, and it isn’t always something I do explicitly. It is in our actions together, it is in hearing their stories when they are arguing or sad or hateful and then re-framing them to see them from the other’s perspective – because there is always an other in these stories.

…She’s such a …. I hate her, him, them. She, he, they think they are hot shit. If he doesn’t stop I’m going to have to get him. She thinks she’s all that just because she…

It is in trying to get them to talk to each other but more importantly to listen to each other. With some of my students, I get the sense that empathy, sharing, and caring are truly foreign to them and so I need to work all that much harder to re-frame their stories and push them toward a caring future.

II.
On January 7, 2009 8 Jewish women occupied the Israeli consulate in Toronto to put pressure on the Canadian Government to withdraw support from Israel. To show their disgust, their outrage at the ongoing assault against the people of Gaza. To show how abhorrent the idea is that Israel’s actions are being done in our name, in the name of Jews.

We are Jewish women, not in our name.
Shame on Canada, shame on Israel.
These are war crimes.
Not in our name.

I found this video, documenting the protest, on the Independent Jewish Voices (Canada) blog.

III.
So why does this video remind me of my students? Or rather, lend me to think about them? My hope is that somehow my constant re-framing of stories will help to lead my students toward a future of questioning, of wondering why things are happening, and of trying to re-frame the stories that don’t sit right with them. I hope to see a student I taught in a video like this one day, trying to re-frame a story that isn’t right.

What it takes.

To help others to make a better world is healing.” Harley Wylie (Huu-ay-aht First Nation and American in ancestry. His mother went to a residential school in Port Alberni where she was regularly beaten for speaking her Native language. from Straight.com After the Settlement Comes Healing, Closure by Carlo Pablito)

Male fireflies flashing in unison, from The Millenium Bridge Simulator Project of the University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering (2000)

Male fireflies flashing in unison, from The Millenium Bridge Simulator Project of the University of Cambridge, Department of Engineering (2000)

I just commented on Jose’s rich post What Will It Take? and my comment or, rather, the feelings that were stirred in writing it, are rising in me.

Cynicism poisons my motivation for change. I know this about myself so I purposefully disallow it. I shake it off when I feel it coming. I have to. Some have called me a blind optimist and I’ve become comfortable in that. I refuse to allow any part of me to believe that something I see as necessary won’t happen. I think that is why I became a teacher… “Teaching is the greatest act of optimism. ” (Colleen Wilcox)

George Carlin also said “And then there are the times when the wolves are silent and the moon is howling.” The challenge is to maintain hope and positive energy until it is our time to howl again.

As I prepare myself for a new school year – one that is certain to be rife with challenge – I am paying attention to what I read, what I listen to, what I feel, what I add my voice to.

I’m filled with struggle and hope. I am deeply cut by how we can treat each other.

In June I wrote about the pride I felt for the Canadian government’s apology to residential school survivors and families of survivors. I felt it was a step toward a positive future. I still feel that way, though differently. I am confused about this apology. I hear accounts of healing, I also hear accounts that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a sham, a tool wielded by the Government and the United Church to ensure that the truth never really does come out. That the Aboriginal leaders involved in the commission and the acceptance of the apology are working in tandem with the Government and the Church for these secretive and shameful ends. That the apology comes from a misguided place. That until genocide is acknowledged it means nothing. That there are mass graves of children across Canada. That those (i.e. Kevin Annett) who try to point out these facts are lying or crazed.

When I look to the centre of my confusion around this history – and the agonizing, wretched, ripping and at the same time damming effects that continue to resonate in our rivers and hearts – and dredge out my feelings I find myself focusing on the people and the acts that represent hope. On the healing journeys. I believe that by focusing on hope for the future we have it. And we will see more of it. This is how I am preparing myself for the new year.

Recently I asked readers, ‘What are you looking for?’ and Michael Doyle (go read the post I linked to with his name. do it. he’s awesome) created a strong image in response

I am not sure I can answer this question directly, but I will tell you that I am closer to it when I am sitting at a pond’s edge at dusk watching lightning bugs attracted to their own reflected light than when I am in my cortex, trying to approach this rationally.

I am attracted to your light. That’s what it takes.

Ethics or (doing what we do)

Up at the top of this blog has appeared a new little grey box. Right there, next to Home. See it? Today I’m going to introduce you to it – readers, meet ‘Ethics’. Mine.

I’ve been thinking about all of these words I’ve put into this blog, into my comments on other people’s blogs, about which blogs I read and return to again, and again, and again.

What inspires all of this? What am I looking for?

Hope for the future. That’s what it is all about for me.
When I meet/see/do/participate/read/write about actions and people who care for each other as people, who help each other be our best selves – who show each other how we can care for each other.

Who don’t put up with the opposite.
Who stand by their beliefs no matter what.
Who write about them, talk about them
live them.
(caring is biological)

It gives me hope for a future with more caring than we have now.
It gives me hope that our children can learn a curriculum of humanity before and behind any other.

Words are powerful things for me. Once said or read they resonate in me. So I prefer to read and say ones that push toward our best selves. Our ever changing best selves.

Where do I look for them?
Everywhere I can. Lately that is

Here.
Here.
Here.
Here.
and
a new place for me, Here.

So I adapted and absorbed and hold before you my statement on ethics. Read my blog, participate, come visit my classroom (for real) to see more. Read the links above and in my blogroll to see even more.

And answer me this question to help me to understand more:

What are you looking for?

morning hug

%NOCP%

Residential Schools Apology: Toward a Positive Future in Canada

**Aug. 19/08. My thoughts on this apology are shifting. See the progression here**
Yesterday afternoon I sat in my car with tears rolling down my face as I listened to words of healing in our government’s apology to First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples in Canada for residential schooling, and in the various responses to the apology.

Connie Brooks in a letting go ceremony

image from cbc.ca…Connie Brooks, who attended the Shubenacadie Residential School in the early 1960s, during a “Letting Go” ceremony in Shubenacadie, N.S., on Wednesday. (Mike Dembeck/Canadian Press)

Here is some of that response, a country in conversation.

Reaction to apology video on cbc

As a teacher who works with First Nations students (Mohawk from Kahnawake) I was moved by the sense of hope for the future that this conversation holds for all of us, together. And by the simple humility it is to give and accept an apology.

For more information about how this conversation got going, take a look at this cbc site