Saturday, August 14, 2004

Politics and Culture

You know I am a politician. The dictionary describes a politician as “a person engaged or concerned with politics”. That’s me. A teacher, coach, businessman & tennis player, turned politician. Politicians are sometimes regarded with the same contempt as trial lawyers, (think asbestos & silicone), or some stockbrokers. Sorry, I left out some baseball promoters. I’ve listened to stockbrokers who were great on telling me when to buy or sell. Half of time they were right; it was the half that they were wrong that may cost my kids their inheritance. (Just kidding, Mark, Mary Jo & Nancy). I’ve always said “I don’t suffer fools gladly”, which means I’ve been pretty angry with myself many times, especially when I keep hearing the siren song “the market has bottomed out, buy now”. Or “don’t worry about the stock I just sold you just because it’s falling through the floor.” Your stock will come back because this company is in a “niche “market”. (Think Adelphia, World Com, & Lucent). I’ve heard of great success stories & fortunes made in the market, probably not realizing that with all those stockbrokers guessing with your money, half of them could be right. I dealt mainly with the ones that guessed wrong. But hey, I’m an Optimist!! Most successful business owners are optimistic which later may become a liability when you turn over your money to someone who probably never earned an honest dollar in their life. (See U.S. News & World Report – August 16-23, Page EE8, 2004). On a serious note, I did enter politics because I was & am concerned about what has happened and is happening in my community. I wouldn’t be taking the abuse I get from some of the arrogant elite or poorly informed people, take your choice, if I didn’t enjoy it or feel I wasn’t making a difference. Thanks for your support!

Many people aren’t sure what the word “cultured” means but they just know they meet that description. So, I looked it up in my relatively new Oxford Dictionary & Thesaurus. (Don’t ask me what Thesaurus means). Your turn to look this word up!!! Anyway it says culture is “the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.” It also says, +-“a refined understanding of this; intellectual development”. I don’t know about those of you reading this but I recognized myself immediately, but the word “collectively” stumped me. There are a whole bunch of people out there who think they are “cultured” but I sure don’t want them all lumped in with me.

Speaking of School District 150, I really wasn’t but I am now. I was dialoging with some of the people you might see on a Monday night on Channel 22. Those at the podium, I mean, not those on the Board of Education who are duly elected & set the policy & direct hired folks to administrate & enforce these policies . Anyway, I really wasn’t dialoging with one of “those people”( Eric Turner’s phrase) when he changed his mind the other night at a City council meeting when he thought the protesting neighborhood was putting disadvantaged people down (which they weren’t.) I was suggesting that some of the problems with discipline in our school systems might be approached by the school telling the arriving students in the fall that they may be entering a different setting from the one they have at home and that this year, the school was going to take a no nonsense approach to their behavior from the time they arrive until the time they leave. I suggested advising these kids that they might be entering a different “culture” from the one they just left & will return to. Mistake!! I was immediately confronted by a person (think District 150 Monday nights at the podium) who informed me she had at least one doctoral degree and her “culture” was as good as mine. I don’t know, or care, what degrees she earned because no where in the dictionary does it say that “culture” has anything to do with the color of a person’s skin. Shows what a doctoral degree gets you if you don’t even know the definition of culture!

I grew up being taught that the character of kids I associated with was the only thing that was important. Mom called it having good manners & an education. (She didn’t know what “culture” meant and she didn’t care). Did I mention I grew up during the Depression & Mom knew at least three different ways to make mush? (Today’s generations think “depression” is how you feel after someone has hurt your “self esteem”). If mush was set on the table; we ate it or went hungry. It was called choice. Even back then kids had “school choice”, either walk to the one room school on the hill or go to work. Mom & Dad said, “Your choice”. Today, kids won’t eat food that is palatable (I know because I’ve eaten school lunches), even though these lunches may cost their families nothing.

Back to some of the people who appear at the podium. I am a strong supporter of free speech, although I would rather hear speech from people that can educate and assist in the decision making process. I suggest these podium speakers dialog with our own Sharon Crews, who has taught English at Manual for at least thirty-five years, ( thanks very much, Sharon), listen to what people like Bill Cobsy, Leonard Pitts, William Raspberry & Ward Connerly are saying, and take with a large “grain of salt” what Don and Ernestine, Pam, and Martha are saying & writing.

I’ll leave you with a statement made by the great African-American leader & columnist, William Raspberry who wrote, “We have too often allowed our children the easy explanation of racism when we might have pushed them to personal exertion.”

Talk to you soon & enjoy the rest of your weekend!


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