The Course is Stayed. Orwellian Style. ©

Since George W. Bush was selected, the comparison has been clear.  George W. Bush channels author, George Orwell.  Laws that deny citizens their right to privacy are titled, “The Patriot Act.”  A unilateral attack on Iraq, an attempt to “change the regime” is declared, “spreading democracy.” 

Just as Bush senior coined the phrase, “collateral damage” to define the loss of innocent lives during the previous Persian Gulf War, Baby Bush does the same.  The two play with words.  They each plot to gain strength and resources in the oil rich Middle East, and call their endeavors “compassionate.”

While the litany of lexicons is ample and I might submit many for your consideration, I will focus only on the most recent, our change in tactics.  You may recall the strategy is the same.

Bush Won’t Change Iraq Strategy.
Associated Press.

President Bush conceded Friday that “right now it’s tough” for American forces in Iraq, but the White House said he would not change U.S. strategy in the face of pre-election polls that show voters are upset.

With Republicans anxious about the potential loss of Congress – and with conditions seemingly deteriorating in Iraq – Bush addressed the question of whether he would alter his policies.

“We are constantly adjusting our tactics so that we achieve the objective, and right now it’s tough, it’s tough,” Bush said in an Associated Press interview. . . .  Despite calls for change, Bush said, “Our goal has not changed. Our goal is a country that can defend, sustain and govern itself, a country that which will serve as an ally in this war.  Our tactics are adjusting.” 

Were it not so painful to experience, the Bush presidency would be my pleasure.  After all, it provides ample humor to [the demeaning term often used to identify Democrats] an intellectual.

I invite you to enjoy the rhetoric, reflect, and realize, the past is the present.  We live in 1984 on an Animal Farm.  In 2006 this is the World According to George.

I ask you to delve more deeply into the universe.  The Sandwichman at MaxSpeak offers a glorious assessment of the course, the discourse.  Please enjoy Stay the (Dis)Course.

Learning to love Big Brother George W. Bush channels George Orwell,Daniel Kurtzman. San Francisco Chronicle. Sunday, July 28, 2002
Bush Won’t Change Iraq Strategy. Associated Press. Military Advantage. October 21, 2006
Animal Farm. George Orwell
1984 George Orwell

Single Women. The First Time. ©

The idea first entered my consciousness at the age of five.  I overheard my parents having a passionate conversation.  I had never seen them so animated.  I wanted to feel as they did in that moment.  By the time I was a teen I had read much.  I knew; I was ready.  How long would it be before I too felt the excitement and the energy I witnessed?  I wondered.

When the time came, I was anxious, expectant, and so eager.  I did not know that I could do it in my own home.  I was young and naïve.  I walked outside the house into a driving rain.  I hitchhiked to meet my destiny.  Once I completed the act, I was elated.  I could hardly wait for the next time, then the next, and the next.  All these years later, I still love doing it.

“You want me to tell you about my first time . . . I like doing it in the morning . . . When was it?  What year was it?  Well, it’s kind of personal . . . I felt grown up.  I wasn’t a kid anymore . . . Once I did it in an old woman’s garage.  You have all of that energy flowing inside.  You go in.  You commit.  It is a beautiful thing!”

These women, Felicity Huffman, Marg Helgenberger, Angie Harmon, Rosario Dawson, Tyne Daly, and Daphne Zuniga are speaking of voting, as was I.  They are reflecting on their first vote; their virginal experience as an electorate.  A recent television advertisement campaign, sponsored by the Women’s Voices, Women Vote, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, District of Columbia, is attempting to appeal to single women voters.  Apparently, according to a recent study, there are approximately twenty million of these.

In this election year 2006, single women are considered the group to get.  They are the voters that candidates wish to attract.  These lovelies are the silent, sweet minority.

In recent years, each election has been marked with a group of swing voters — 1992 was the year of the woman, 1994 — the year of “angry white males,” 1996 — the soccer mom, and 2000 — waitress moms.

According to [Daron Shaw, PhD., an associate professor at the University of Texas,] Shaw, the swing voter becomes more legitimate when you can picture them as a group.  The waitress moms, branded as blue-collared women who were typically single mothers, were an easy group for people to visualize — Helen Hunt in “As Good as it Gets,” a movie that came out only a year before the election.

Heading into this election year [2004], a media buzz has surrounded one group in particular — NASCAR dads — a term used by Democratic consultant Celinda Lake in 2002 to describe white, conservative NASCAR fans.

Though the legitimacy of NASCAR dads as a swing vote is debated, in February President Bush, decked out in a racing jacket, flew on Air Force One to the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s biggest annual event.
“Our message to them (NASCAR dads) is Democrats are not going to take away your guns, but Republicans are taking away your jobs,” said Lake, the Democratic pollster, who worked as a consultant for the Clinton/Gore campaign.

Some pundits, however, have argued that NASCAR dads as a swing group is nothing more than hype.

Today the group to capture are single women.

I am among them.  Yet, I have done it for decades.  I am a dedicated voter.  Unlike the twenty-two percent of eligible single female citizens that forfeited their right to vote in the 2004 Presidential election year, I cast my ballot.  Contrary to the expected 24 percent of single, adult women that are not expected to vote this year, I will again select my representatives.

Single women are now being defined as slackers.

By contrast, [Joe Goode, Executive Director of Women’s Voices, Women Vote] Goode said, “married women comprise 28 percent of the voting population, but their participation was 31 percent in the last presidential.”

Who are these fair ladies?  Are you among them?  if so, please share your sentiments; what are you thinking, feeling, and why.  I want to understand.

Seriously, for me, at the age of five I felt passionate about politics.  My natural father was a right-winged, radical Republican.  My Mom is a Democratic Socialist.  One day the two were engaged in a heated exchange as they discussed the candidates.  I witnessed this and thought, “Wow, I can hardly wait to care so much and have the power to bring about change.”

I grew up in a quiet home.  This discussion for me was unusual, electrifying, exhilarating, and lively.  I listened intently.  The dialogue, and the moment, was unforgettable.  Since that conversation, which was my introduction to issues, the parties, and political campaigns, my interest has never wavered.

My Mom later divorced my biological father.  She married a Liberal Progressive.  Political demonstrations became a part of my life early on.  I participated in the process long before I could vote.  In Wisconsin, at the age of seventeen I was able to cast a ballot in the primary.  In the Badger state, if you were going to be eighteen at the time of the general election, you were eligible to vote in the preliminaries.

At the time, I was a college student.  I moved after registering.  In order to  vote, I needed to drive, in my case hitchhike to my former precinct.  It was far.  The weather was awful.  Not only did I drudge out during a thunderstorm, I repeated the process in November in the midst of a blizzard.  Nothing deterred me.

Yet, according to experts single women in America have many reasons for not voting.  Time and money seem to be major concerns for this population.  Somehow, this effects their partaking in the process. 

According to Joe Goode, “Fifty percent of these single women live in households that make less than $30,000 a year.  They are very economically depressed.” 

I relate.  I would think that this state of affairs would stimulate a desire to vote, to take action.  These women, more than most need a good government to assist them.  With representatives such as our current compassionate Commander, they are certain to falter.  Statistically speaking, I am in this group.  I know how hard life can be when the money in your pocket cannot fill a molehill, let alone a mountain.

Thus, I trust that life for these women must be a challenge, it is for me!  I acknowledge that day-to-day doings are made more challenging by a non-responsive administration.  I know that; this is my experience!

Many single women “may be struggling just to get ahead.  They may be single moms.  So their support network just isn’t the same as married women who tend to be upper-income and a little more established in terms of where they live.”

Oh, this is so true.  For me, there is one income and it is shaky.  My support system is quite limited.  My network is likely smaller than those that meander in and out of meaningful exchanges with their spouse and “his” associates.

One reason for this disparity, Goode suggests, is that “single women tend to be more mobile.  A third of them move every two years or less.  They might not even know where to go to vote.  A lot of them are under 30 and a lot of them are over 60.”

Whatever their age, these are women with concerns about affordable health care, the cost of education and pay equity.

So true Mr. Goode.  Health care concerns have haunted me as long as I can remember.  Though I loathe moving, I seem to be more mobile than my married counterparts.  On the topic of pay equity, I can only say, please.  If I begin to share stories on this subject, I will go on endlessly.  I often wonder do married women and single women receive equal pay.  I will leave that research for another time.

Once again, with all that effects single women directly, why do so many of  these magnificent beings choose not to vote.

Sara Grove, a professor and Chair of the Elsie Hillman Politics at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, is sympathetic; she understands the large burdens many students shoulder today, single women among these.

Ms. Grove states, “If you are attending college … this is one of the last things you are paying attention to.”  The Professor cogitates, ‘many students carry 12 college credits so they can obtain health-care benefits while also working a full-time job.  They wind up struggling to stay afloat academically and financially.’

Grove continues, “That is increasingly becoming the dilemma more and more students face.”  Yet, I wonder; does this justify not voting, not turning to those that might better the system.  I too attended college, often working full-time while carrying a full load.  I did struggle and every aspect of my life suffered.  Thus, I saw a need for being active.  For me, voting was meaningful.  It gave me a voice.  When I cast my ballot, then and now, I felt and feel empowered.  I was making a choice and attempting to improve life in America.

Barbara DiTullio, program manager for Women Vote PA, said Pennsylvania is the only state in the nation where women are less likely than men to be registered to vote.  One way to draw more women to the polls, she said, is to hold elections on weekends.

“Why does it have to be on a Tuesday between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. when people are working and children are in school?  If we really want to engage people, we have to make it easier for them to vote.” 

Wow!  Originally, I am from Pennsylvania.  However, as you might surmise, as a single woman, I have moved many times in my life.  I no longer reside in what once was my home state.

Nevertheless, the scheduled Tuesday vote is to me almost a non-issue.  Years ago I learned of the power of an absentee vote.  I was working as the Democratic Party Representative on election eve.  Members of the Grand Jury and people from each political party were at the Registrars to monitor the vote count.  I befriended the Sergeant of Arms, the Republican representative.  He informed me, to ensure that the ballots would be cast, the Republican Party encouraged people to vote from home, well in advance of the election.

I thought what a great idea.  After assessing this dynamic, I began to do as he advised.  On many occasion, this has helped me immensely.  Voting can be a leisurely well-researched project when you mark your ballot from home.  The days and times for an “election” are ones a voter can choose.

What for me is more fascinating and more real is the lack of awareness among people entitled to vote, and those that volunteer during campaigns.  Only days ago, my telephone rang.  The caller represented the Democratic Party.  She sounded young; she seemed to have a script.  she read from it and asked if I had received a white card, an application, allowing me to vote from home.  I mentioned the “absentee ballot option.”  She said “No, not that.” 

At the time, I was rushed and did not have time to retrieve the document.  The staff person and I parted ways.  Later, I did go and look at the brochure the woman spoke of.  There it was, printed right at the top, “Absentee Ballot Application.”  I am new to this state and thought perhaps there were processes and pamphlets that differed from those that I am familiar with.  Perchance there are.

Here, in Florida, Early Voting polling places are available.  People, citizens have been casting their ballots for weeks on days other than Tuesday.  Thus, again I ask, if you are a single woman and are not voting, if you have not voted in the past, please help me to understand.

As a single woman whose income is low, who struggles to make ends meet, as a female that finds it difficult to survive, that fears the need for medical assistance, as one that knows a minor or major health concern could change my life drastically, I ask why would unmarried women not vote.  Why would those that need to live in a society that cares for its weaker wonders not wish to ensure that all is well?  I am so confused.

Single women of America, please scream out.  Participate in the process.  I plead; I beseech you.  I am willing to say, “I need your help!”  Please support the candidates of your choosing.

Your Sample Ballot . . .
Single Woman Vote. YouTube
My First Time. Issues. Dreams. Women’s Voices. Women Vote.
Women’s Voices. Women Vote.
New Survey Finds. Women’s Voices. Women Vote. February 21, 2006
WVWV Leadership Team. Women’s Voices. Women Vote.
Women Talk About the ‘First Time’ ABC News
12 Days and Counting: Will Women Show up at the Polls on November 7? By Romi Lassally, Yahoo News October 26, 2006
Organization trying to get more single women to vote,By Marylynne Pitz. Knoxville News Sentinel. October 22, 2006
Politics 101: Swing Voters. The Online NewsHour’s Vote 2004. Public Broadcasting Services
Women Really on Their Own, By Ruth Rosen.  The Nation October 28, 2004
Cable News Network Election Results
Healthy, Wealthy, & Wed,By Amy M. Braverman. University of Chicago Magazine.
Women’s Earnings, Work Patterns Partially Explain Difference between Men’s and Women’s Earnings. United States General Accounting Office
Sacramento Women: Women Vs. Women, By Dayna Dunteman. Sacramento  Magazine October 2006
Democrats Push to Counter G.O.P. in Turnout Race, By Adam Nagourney. New York Times. October 29, 2006

Open Thread. Saturday, October 28, 2006

I have had dreams and I have had nightmares,
but I have conquered my nightmares because of my dreams.

  ~ Jonas Salk

People always fear change.
People feared electricity when it was invented, didn’t they?
People feared coal, they feared gas-powered engines…
There will always be ignorance,
and ignorance leads to fear.

  ~ Bill Gates

Jonas Salk, Medical Doctor
Born on this day, October 28, 1914

Bill Gates, William H. Gates
Born on this day, October 28, 1955

The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.
  ~ Jonas Salk

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.
  ~ Bill Gates

Scripting. Share with Style.

Please Note . . .

This is a collection of HTML Hints; we thought these might be helpful to diarists. Be-Think did not originally write these.  They are a re-worked production and will likely be revised as time goes on. However, for now, as an introduction, we hope these will be of great assistance.

This listing will be greatly expanded over time.  We offer only the shortest introduction for “scripting” your diary and comments.

  • Please notice a space is placed after the < or before the > so that the script is visible.

However, in use, you must delete the space separation before and after the symbols.

  • To Bold text use these symbols on either side of your verbiage. Open with  < b > and close with < b >.<li>

< b >Bold Text< /b >

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< i >Italic Text< /i >

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< u >Underlined Text< /u >

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You may also use these in combination.  The tag that makes text bold, italic, and underlined would look like this:

< b >< i >< u >Bold Italic Underlined Text< b >< i >< /u >

Again, removing the spaces after the ‘<‘ and before the ‘>’ will yield text that looks like this:

Bold Italic Underlined Text

To form Block quotes, the “pretty boxes” around text, use the code

< blockquote >the text < /blockquote >

Typically, these are used when you are quoting a reference.

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In practice . . .

the block-quoted text

Hyperlinking is a term you hear often.  It is a powerful tool and allows the diarist to link to references,

The tag structure for the hyperlink is as follows:

< a href=”” >The text you want hyperlinked< /a >.

The structure of this is very important.

Quotation marks surrounding the full website address are advised, though depending these may not be necessary.

After removing the spaces after the ‘<‘ and before the ‘>’, a successfully hyperlinked piece of text would look like this:


We will include more scripting techniques in time.  These will help you to begin.

You may wish to look at “source codes” when visiting a site you enjoy.

If you look to the main menu bar on your Internet application, you will see the word “View.”

Hold your mouse down to lower the drop-down menu.  Look for “View Source.”  Mark this option. A dialogue box will reveal all the code.

Copy and “play” as you will.

May you enjoy the exploration.

“Be Afraid; Be Very, Very Afraid.” I Am. ©

It was early in the 1960s that I first learned of fear.  There was much apprehension.  The Cold War was on; it was with us each and every day.  It had been for decades.  In Capitalist countries such as the United States, children practiced rushing into Air-raid shelters.  Adults feared the possible threat of a bomb.  They taught their offspring to fear as well.  Underground safe houses were built.  In backyards throughout America, steel and concrete sanctuaries were established.  “The stakes were high.”  Yet, these circumstances and societal beliefs did not alarm me.

Lyndon Baines Johnson in his 1964 Democratic campaign spoke of the impending threat in a political advertisement.  This singular commercial came to be known as the “Daisy Ad.”  One transmission of that commercial was more than enough for the general public.  The broadcast was considered too controversial.  This public notice was not shown again.  All previously scheduled airings were canceled.  There was enough alarm within our society at-large.  Americans did not wish to be reminded of it in their living rooms.  However, beginning this weekend citizens of this country will again acquainted with fear as they watch their cable networks.

Please view each of these commercials.  The “Daisy Ad” is offered below.  The Grand Old Party presents “The Stakes are High!”  2006 at their website.

If I saw the one and only official screening of the Johnson commercial, I have no memory of it.  Whether I did or did not see the ad, I do think it would have affected me as deeply as a personal experience did.  I did learn of “fear” in the 1960s. 

My Mom and her encounter with an unnamed man that burglarized my family home taught me of terror.  I did not come to understand it as President Johnson may have wished me to do in 1964.  Nor will I accept the supposed lesson President Bush and his Republican cronies are now intending to teach me.  I have seen and heard “The stakes are high” in the newest Republican political campaign.  I have heard our “fair” leader declare, “Be afraid; be very, very afraid,” and I am, though not of Osama Bin Laden.

Ticking clocks and bombs that might possibly explode do not frighten me as much as man himself does.  Images of Osama Bin Laden might scare me.  A young frightened face can paralyze me.  Bush bellowing his belief, we must “rid the world of the evil-doers” causes me great grief and anxiety.  However, none of these negates the lesson I learned at a very young age.  “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself-nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”  Actually, each of the images in 1964 and 2006 campaign commercials solidify my understanding.  No matter what we do to protect ourselves from imagined fears, we cannot change the will of others.

Each of these public notices proclaim, “The stakes are high.”  Yes, “The stakes are high,” particularly in this election year.  Sadly, they are getting higher.  I could rejoice as some Democrats do and begin to declare victory.  I might imagine the Republicans are running scared.  However, I believe the Progressives, Liberals, Democrats, and Independents are as well.  Fear is flourishing all around us.  Thus, campaigns such as this newer advertisement can be successfully introduced.  They may fail.  I know not.  I only observe the climate is right for such a cynical campaign.

I understand as many do.  As Americans reflect on the fall of Saddam Hussein, they assess the once declared victory, and they ponder the effects of the Iraqi War.  As they do so they realize “spreading democracy” is not the “bed of roses” they were told it would be.  Currently, many of our countrymen and women think they have more to fear than fear itself.  American citizens are apprehensive about the future. 

In pondering what will be, constituents are concluding they must rid themselves of what we have now.  Today we have a Republican controlled House, Senate, and White House.  This is scary, at least for some, myself included. 

However, I ask as many do, will the Democrats truly do better?  I sigh and trust they cannot do worse.  Nevertheless, most of those on the Left initially supported the war.  A war I did not and do not support.  I never have advocated violence of any sort. 

I acknowledge that the Left, the “Right,” and the Middle are each mired in a belief that I do not hold.  They think we can eliminate terrorism by aggressing against the aggressor.  We can secure our borders and protect ourselves from invaders.  Americans seem to believe that we can control the will of others through punitive or mechanical protective measures.  I think these beliefs are such foolishness.

I share this true story to illustrate my conviction.  In the 1960s, my family was living in a very affluent neighborhood in the North East suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  My Mom was home alone.  A man broke into our home.  He jimmied an unlocked window to gain entrance. 

This intruder stumbled upon my Mom.  He panicked and threatened to rape her.  She did not resist; she craved no confrontations.  The thief feared her openness and proceeded to place her in the living room closet.  In his terror, he neglected to lock the wardrobe door.  The robber stole a car, money, and material goods, then left.  When my Mom felt certain the man was gone, she exited her cubbyhole and telephoned the police.

After this experience my Mom concluded, if a person wishes to commit a crime, they will.  If this burglar chose to use a crow bar to pry open an unlocked window, why secure the portals at all.  People, with intent are powerful.

I propose we must understand the motivation of a man or woman if we are to prevent future outrages.  The mind is our master.  Where there is a will, there is a way. 

Thus, I ask, in the future will we address human will as a means of prevention, or will we continue to charge ahead telling others they must change.  I inquire; if we do what was done, will we ever be effective.  Will peace ever come?

I believe a superpower with bombs will do little to maintain national security.  A President making broad pronouncements will not deliver us from “evil.”  Our shores will not be safe when we see enemies everywhere.  When we as a community look suspiciously at certain ethnic origins then we create what we fear, discordance.

I surmise as long as we, the people, accept a world where bombs are built, people will build bombs.  I trust that when our countrymen proudly promote war, or any form of combat, as an option, then people will die in such conflicts.  I offer, we can lock our doors; close our borders, troll our telephones, remove our shoes at airports, or argue the effectiveness of advertisements that promote fear.  As long as we focus on such follies, nothing will change.

Thieves will pry open unlocked windows, because that is what they do or believe they need to.  Terrorists will capture airplanes, and fly these into buildings.  That is what they think is reasonable.  Television campaigns and political parties will tell us to fear.  This strategy has often proven to be a “winning way” in the past.  You might recall numerous electors were thankful that Ronny saw the bear in the woods.

“Right,” Left, or wrong, 2006 is reminiscent of 1964.  We see evidence; life goes on just as it has.  We can debate this commercial or that.  Nevertheless, change will come only when we ourselves choose to change. 

Please recall, Democrats and Republicans alike have used “scare tactics” to promote their agendas.  Perchance, we need not question the strategy.  I think we must query ourselves.  How often do we work to protect ourselves from self-perceived foes?  Could we not challenge our perceptions and succeed in creating alliances?  I sigh and say, let the commercial come; it will not influence my perception.  As I assess society, then or now, I know that I experience deep sadness.  Oh, how I crave peace and perceptions of unity.

  • May I offer a paradoxical and poignant phrase uttered by former President Lyndon Baines Johnson at the close of his now infamous commercial.  Poet, Wystan Hugh Auden wrote the beautiful acknowledgement;
    “We must either love each other.  Or we must die.”

  • Please review the “Daisy Advertisement.”  Listen intently and ponder the prospect of love or death.

    ? Please appraise “These Are The Stakes.”  The clock is ticking or so we are told.

  • Please Peruse The Reasons For Fear . . .

  • Classic Political Ad: Daisy Girl (1964)
  • Republican edge on security wanes as elections near, By Liz Sidoti. Associated Press. USA Today. October 21, 2006
  • “The Stakes are High!” Republican National Committee
  • “Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”: FDR’s First Inaugural Address History Matters.
  • Low Blows and High Rhetoric: Political Ads on Television, By Maggie Riechers. Humanities. July – August Edition. 1999, Volume 20. Number 4
  • Going Negative: How Political Advertisements Shrink and Polarize the Electorate,  By Stephen Ansolabehere and Shanto Iyengar. Quill Magazine. Stanford University. May 1996
  • Scary Ads Take Campaign to a Grim New Level, By Jim Rutenburg. The New York Times. October 17, 2004
  • The Man Behind The Movement, By Jack Beatty. Atlantic Unbound. August 8, 2001
  • Bush vows to rid the world of ‘evil-doers.’ By Manuel Perez-Rivas. Cable News Network. September 16, 2001
  • Bear (Reagan) The Museum of the Moving Image
  • W. H. Auden.
  • A politics of love, By James Carroll. Boston Globe. October 19, 2004
  • Single and Married Parents Spend More Time With Children. Much is Lost

    © copyright 2006 Betsy L. Angert

    Decades ago on October 16, I was born into a family that admittedly wanted no more children.  My mother was not working; nevertheless, before and after my birth she was rarely home.  My natural father did not wish to entertain the notion of a newborn.  With my birth, he decided to focus on life far from the family house.  During my youth it was thought, parents spent time with their progeny.  However, mine did not.

    On October 16, 2006, a report was released, “Married and Single Parents [are] Spending More Time With Children, Study Finds.”  This too, is not as expected.  New York Times Journalist, Robert Pears reveals, “Mothers are spending at least as much time with their children today as they did 40 years ago, and the amount of child care and housework performed by fathers has sharply increased.” 

    Thousands of personal diaries were analyzed and assessed by University of Maryland researchers, Sociology Department Chairwoman Suzanne M. Bianchi, Professor John P. Robinson, and Melissa A. Milkie. 

    For the purposes of this study, parents were asked to chronicle all their activities on the day before an intensive interview.  The findings were published in a new Russell Sage Foundation book, “Changing Rhythms of American Family Life.”

    Ms. Bianchi worked for the United States Census Bureau for sixteen years.  There she developed an interest in family life.  The research done for this study builds on her work as a demographer.

    In discussing this investigation, Bianchi stated, “We might have expected mothers to curtail the time spent caring for their children, but they do not seem to have done so.”  She continues, “They certainly did curtail the time they spent on housework.” 

    The researchers found that “women still do twice as much housework and child care as men” in two-parent families.  But they said that total hours of work by mothers and fathers were roughly equal, when they counted paid and unpaid work.

    Using this measure, the researchers found “remarkable gender equality in total workloads,” averaging nearly 65 hours a week.

    These words appear and many other glowing evaluations appear early on in the Times article.  It would seem at first blush parents are pursuing a balanced relationship with their offspring.  Perchance they are.

    I offer some of the other appraisal for your consideration.

    “It seems reasonable to expect that parental investment in child-rearing would have declined” since 1965, when 60 percent of all children lived in families with a breadwinner father and a stay-at-home mother.  Only about 30 percent of children now live in such families.  With more mothers in paid jobs, many policy makers have assumed that parents must have less time to interact with their children.

    But, the researchers say, the conventional wisdom is not borne out by the data they collected from families asked to account for their time.  The researchers found, to their surprise, that married and single parents spent more time teaching, playing with and caring for their children than parents did 40 years ago.

    For married mothers, the time spent on child care activities increased to an average of 12.9 hours a week in 2000, from 10.6 hours in 1965.  For married fathers, the time spent on childcare more than doubled, to 6.5 hours a week, from 2.6 hours.  Single mothers reported spending 11.8 hours a week on child care, up from 7.5 hours in 1965.

    Wow, this realization is truly wonderful.  One could surmise that Americans discovered the truth, just as our former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich did.  There is no true balance.  People must choose their priorities.  Do they desire a glorious career or a fabulous family?  Some in the study did decide.

    ? Many couples delay having children to “a point later in life when they want to spend time with those children.”  People who are uninterested in raising children can “opt out of parenting altogether,” by using birth control.
    ? Families are smaller today than in 1965, and parents are more affluent, so they can invest more time and money in each child.
    ? Social norms and expectations have changed, prompting parents to make “greater and greater investments in child-rearing.” 
      [Yet, this is part of the problem as I see it]
    ? As couples have fewer children, they feel “pressure to rear a perfect child.” 

    Ah, the “perfect child.”  The young person of today is followed or pushed by the ideal parent.  Perhaps this explains much.

    Parents today are spending time with their children as they drive them hither and yon.  The youth in America are enrolled in everything.  According to the publisher of The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap, By Alvin Rosenfeld, M.D., Nicole Wise, and Robert Coles . . .

    Parenting today has come to resemble a relentless To-Do list.  Even parents with the best intentions strive to micro-manage every detail of their kids’ lives and live in constant fear that their child will under-perform in any area – academic, social, athletic.  Lists and schedules, meetings and appointments invade every moment – and the need to be the best is a philosophy dominating – and undermining – our own sense of self as well as our children’s.

    In my own life I may not have been given the structure that constant companionship or parental supervision provide.  However, I was given the freedom to think, to be, to imagine, to invent, and to inspire myself.  I was able to fashion a life that reflected my inner most joys.  Activities were not imposed upon me.  I immersed myself in personal pursuits.  My parents did not choose my interests; nor did they force me to compete.  I was deprived of their time, and rewarded with many opportunities. 

    I learned to enjoy my own company and to create an unparalleled community.  The world of me, myself, and I was wondrous, full and expansive. It included my grandfather, who took care of me frequently.  Mary, my caregiver was my daily companion, and though for the first five years my Mom was not fully physically present, she was totally, emotionally there for me. 

    My Mom recognized her own need to be a better parent and person and set out to become so.  In the interim, she consulted regularly with Mary.  She established a connection with me by expressing her desires to Mary.  She discussed child-rearing in depth and detail  She knew what she wanted for me.  My Mom ensured that my upbringing was the best it could be until she could again fully join me and advance my greater growth.  I was given time to play and contemplate. 

    My resources were inspirational readings, paper, pencils, and toys tailored for investigation.  Egg poaching pots and pans were early energizers.  Coloring books were considered too restrictive for a creative soul.  Thus, structures were my own.  I was encouraged to explore, to be curious, and to be the best of scientists.  The phrase often uttered in my family was, “Ask, and you shall receive.”  Gifts were not meaningless materials; they were loving and thoughtful trinkets, gems, words of wisdom and gestures of support.  What was given was invaluable, encouragement and engagement.

    In recent years, many child development experts have voiced increasing concern over the fact that children are accorded little time or encouragement to engage in imaginative play.  Too many children are overscheduled with school and other activities, according to these experts.

    Even sports, in which an adult sets the framework, leave little room for the development of creative thinking in children, these experts say.

    When children do have time to play, they too often play with a pre-programmed electronic toy or sit in front of a screen — television, computer, or hand-held game — responding to a scenario created by someone else, experts say.

    As a result, children are developing a “problem-solving deficit disorder,” says Diane Levin, a child development expert at Wheelock College in Boston. “Developing imagination and creativity is essential for children to develop problem-solving skills.” 

    Today, we as a society are saturated in standards.  As parents, producers, and power-mongers we seek accountability.  We prefer systems and forego freedoms.  We teach our children to do the same.

    In educational settings, they must engage in collaborative learning projects.  In sports, they are trained to be part of the team.  Throughout their young lives, our offspring are prepared.  They must attend the “best” schools and receive honors for their studies.  They are readied for their proper role in society.  They, just as their parents, will occupy an “appropriate” station.  The young today need not think; nor are they taught how.  They, as their employed mothers and many fathers have no time for such supposed silliness. 

    In today’s society, thinking is not considered necessary.  We are taught to quote facts and use these to formulate a life.  Our life is expected to be parallel to that of others. 

    Intellectually we may feel free to be who we are; however, in truth, conformity, not deep thought is the guiding light, and publicly accepted principle that many of us follow.  We, as a population, are as many employed mothers . . .

    On average, the researchers said, employed mothers get somewhat less sleep and watch less television than mothers who are not employed.  [The latter may not necessarily be a bad thing.]  . . . they [employed mothers] also spend less time with their husbands.

    Sadly, I suspect, we as a nation are not teaching our children well.  We present information and demand prevailing tenets.  Society states, “There is a need for scientists and mathematicians.”  Teach the formulas, the facts and create technicians.

    Administrators and those in favor of “accountability” say, “Forget the Fine Arts; they do not yield the fruits we as a nation need to survive.”  Apparently, the need for curiosity and creativity is void.  Thus, we stuff the minds of our children with statistics; we command them to “meet the standards.”  We no longer require, nor do we teach our young to think.

    As this New York Times article concludes, in 2006, nothing is as it appears.  Couples may stay together, though they rarely spend time with each other.  Husbands and wives are not friends; they barely know each other.  People, partners are busy.  Families run from here to there, mindlessly.  People do not realize their dreams, though they constantly race towards them.  They believe there may be other possibilities; yet, they never conceive these.

    I surmise that parents spending more time with their children may not breed what we human animals crave.  The connections we yearn for are lost in the dust as we scurry about.  We are rushing, chasing a career, our children, or the competition; yet, we forfeit our selves.  Our souls are lost.  Only on occasion do we imagine what we might be within.  We are too busy, too busy to breathe.

    In today’s world, hours, minutes, and seconds, man-made constructs govern us.  We measure these as though they can be quantified and qualified.  We treat our children and time as tangibles.  Researchers want to theorize the more time together the merrier; however, in reality this is not true.

    I propose we not evaluate schedules when appraising the value of a relationship.  Instead, I invite each of us to assess reciprocal reverence in the parent child connection.  This characteristic is not necessarily visible or verifiable.  Calculations cannot always determine excellence within such a bond. 

    If parents tell their children what to think, say, do, feel, or be in a moment or in many moments, this will not gratify the souls of our youth.  It will not engender closeness.  Nor will it make our offspring better human beings.  Time spent together may be important.  However, it is not more critical than what we do with our time.

  • I offer another glorious essay by Helaine Olen.  This exposé also evaluates the parent child relationship in 2006.  ‘Gifted Child Industry’ Preys on Parents’ Insecurities, does not paint a pretty picture.

    References for your review . . .

    You may subscribe to the New York Times Online Newspaper without cost or obligation.  It is free.
    If you prefer to read the article online without subscribing, please click on this PDF [Portable Document Format] version of the exposé.

  • PDF “Married and Single Parents Spending More Time With Children, Study Finds,” By Robert Pear. New York Times October 16, 2006
  • “Married and Single Parents Spending More Time With Children, Study Finds,” By Robert Pear. New York Times October 16, 2006
  • “Changing Rhythms of American Family Life,” By Suzanne M. Bianchi,John P. Robinson, Melissa A. Milkie
  • Suzanne M. Bianchi. Maryland Population Research Center
  • John P. Robinson. Department of Sociology, University of Maryland
  • Melissa A. Milkie. Department of Sociology, University of Maryland
  • Russell Sage Foundation and the American Sociological Association
  • Census Bureau. U.S. Government Census Bureau
  • The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap, By Alvin Rosenfeld, M.D., Nicole Wise, Robert Coles
  • Experts concerned about children’s creative thinking, By Karen MacPherson. Post-Gazette. Sunday, August 15, 2004
  • The Family Leave Act, By Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor. New York Times November 8, 1996
  • For Parents: How To Raise a Kid Who Cares. Oregon Public Broadcasting
  • Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good About Themselves but Can’t Read, Write, or Add, By Charles J. Sykes
  • Summary Dumbing Down Our Kids, By Charles J. Sykes
  • Dissecting the Dysfunctions That Lead Down the Path to Divorce, By Kathleen Kelleher, Special to The Los Angeles Times. Monday, September 18, 2000
  • Keeping Art Alive Under No Child Left Behind Act [NCLB], By Ellen R. Delisio. Education World® 2006
  • O, Say, Does Your Class Know the National Anthem?, By Ellen R. Delisio. Education World® 2006
  • Standards, Assessment and Accountability. U.S. Department of Education
  • Parent-Child Relationship Quality Depends on Child’s Perception of Fairness, By Jeremy Diener. Journal of Family Psychology. August 11, 2004
  • Daily Distress. Heartbreak, Heartache, and Heart Felt Feelings ©


    Currently I am writing for an educational organization.  In penning my pain for what occurs in our schools today, it occurred to me the same impersonal approach, awareness, or lack thereof, is evident in offices, neighborhoods, and in our broader community. People pretend to or believe they “know” their fellow workers, their family members, and their friends.  Yet, more often than not, I observe that this is not necessarily true.  I, we, she, or he only comprehends what is visible on the surface.

    Few choose to ask of, address, or answer the deeper concerns that life delivers daily; I offer this narrative and request your reflections. We all have our own tale to tell. I invite you to share yours.  Please trust that I care; your secrets are safe with me.  I suspect that others will honor you as I choose to do.  I believe we all relate to sorrow.

    Today the distress I wish to discuss is heartbreak, heartache, and heart felt feelings. In my own life, I am witnessing that many close to me are battling life-threatening illnesses. Their terminal diagnoses effect me deeply. They weigh heavy on those closer to the “patient” than I. I cannot begin to imagine the pain long-suffering persons feel. Yet, through the quiet trials and tribulations of a teen, who supposedly studied under my tutelage, I learned. What we hide hurts us most.

    I feel such sorrow for their friends, family, or even the individual that is hurting, struggling to survive. Each time I hear of a person waiting to pass, I wonder.  What are they thinking, feeling; how will their own being be altered, and what of their loved ones.

    As I listen to many in my life speak of loss, I am aware that even those that lose a loved one to divorce, physical separation, or a break-up are also feeling great pain.  There is so much that occurs daily in the lives of each of us.  Yet, we rarely discuss our deepest anguish.  Students are often satiated; their personal pressures can be overwhelming.  Anxiety has an effect on the work of pupils; yet, few educators address such concerns.  I wish to share a personal story, one that illustrates how loss can take a toll on our students.

    I recall a time when I was teaching high school students.  A young girl, quite bright was struggling to connect in most of her classes. Many of Marsha’s instructors pondered, “What were they to do with her?”

    Each educator in Marsha’s life approached her; they wanted to help. Teachers truly believed that Marsha could achieve if she just put her mind to it.  She was “not working to her potential.”  Her mentors felt certain if they affirmed their belief in her that would be enough. All else would change. Thus, instructor after instructor spoke of with this young scholar.  They discussed her grades, her attention to detail, and her chatty nature.  When I arrived at the school, I observed that in respect to Marsha, teachers focused on what they could see; they had for the last two years.

    What they could not envision and did not experience was what occurred in the two years prior. Marsha witnessed a suicide.  Her father killed himself in front of her. She shared that after the incident, she and her mother were told by law officers that they had to clean the mess, the splattering blood, brains, and guts that covered the walls of her once tranquil home. Wow. How traumatic!

    This young woman shared the tale calmly; it was “just” part of a conversation. She showed no emotion as she described the details.  After all, she had two years to become numb.

    Had I not “been there” sitting with students and discussing daily distresses as they do while they work I would not have learned of this alarming event. In my own teaching, I do not place myself at a distant “teacher’s” desk in the front or the back of the room.  I casually chat with students while they work.  I purposely did not and do present an imposing influence, in part because that is not my nature.

    As a tablemate, I learned what many teachers had not.  Thus, I ask, are we as instructors attending to success, achievements, and to verifiable standards?  How often might we miss knowing our students?  I too acknowledge that with overcrowded classes and curriculums that must be completed time and care can capture our attention.

    I wonder what might we do.  Please share your thoughts, experiences, and observations.  I, we as educators, as parents, as persons in a society that stresses “accountability” in our schools can learn from you!

    For those of you that are reading this saga and are not mentors in the conventional sense, please trust that you too are a teacher.  We all are. Simultaneously, we tutor and we learn.  We are all students and guides; we each facilitate expansion.  I invite you to advance my own.  I thank you for offering opportunities for our greater growth.

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  • School Shooting Safeguards. Arm Educators?


    © copyright 2006 Betsy L. Angert

    In the last few weeks, school shootings have dominated the news.   The frequency of these seems to be increasing.   People throughout the nation are panicking; what are we to do?   President Bush spoke of this situation in his Saturday, October 7, 2006, radio address.   He proclaimed, “We will bring together teachers, parents, students, administrators, law enforcement officials, and other experts to discuss the best ways to keep violence out of our schools.”   Conferences have been called.   The problem has been discussed for years.  

    President Clinton convened such a forum in 1999.   Educators, policy-makers, law enforcement officials, and adolescent-development specialists came to the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study on May 21, 2002.   Each group was equally intent on investigating the causes and effects of Lethal School Violence.   In the symposiums, experts sought solutions.   Everyone wanted [and wants] to protect our progeny.    

    At the time, programs were initiated; yet, the violence continued.   In the last month or more, we as a nation are wondering; is there no end?   Will our children ever be safe?

    Citizens are again asking how can we secure our schools and shield our offspring from societal harm.   Finally, an answer comes from a Wisconsin lawmaker.   Representative Frank Lasee is proposing that teachers and administrators carry guns daily and use these when necessary.

    In the wake of school shootings in Wisconsin, Colorado, and Pennsylvania during the last two weeks, a state legislator says he plans to introduce legislation that would allow teachers, principals, administrators, and other school personnel to carry concealed weapons.

    Representative Frank Lasee, a Republican, said Wednesday that, while his idea may not be politically correct, it has worked effectively in other countries.

    “To make our schools safe for our students to learn, all options should be on the table,” he said.   “Israel and Thailand have well-trained teachers carrying weapons and keeping their children safe from harm.   It can work in Wisconsin.”

    Now there is a solution!   Certainly, our communities will be safer if everyone is armed.   The National Rifle Association believes this is true.   Organization enthusiast state “Guns do not kill; people do.”   While this may be a fact, I remind the vitriolic members of such a vigilant organization, guns cannot cause death unless they are in the hands of humans.   We might consider accidents among trained hunters.   Vice President Richard [Dick] Cheney comes to mind, or we might contemplate what occurs when weapons are found in the hands of young innocents.

    Perhaps this determination is too rash; a conference might allow calmer heads to prevail.   We as a society must evaluated the circumstances more completely.

    We know that communities have long been concerned with gang violence.   However, what has occurred in recent years differs.   On January 29, 1979, individual outbursts came into our collective consciousness.   “Brenda Spencer, 16, opened fire with a .22-caliber rifle at an elementary school across the street from her San Diego, California, home.   She killed two people and wounded seven because she `didn’t like Mondays.'”

    Upon hearing this story, our country held its breath as it does now.   Jointly we release a communal sigh.   Still the violence increases as is evident in these last five weeks.   There is talk.   What measures can we take to guard against weaponry?

    Metal detectors were introduced in educational institutions after a 1992 shooting.  

    In 1994, the federal government began requiring school safety programs in an attempt to crack down on violence on school grounds.   Many schools introduced metal detectors to check for guns, knifes and other weapons . . . although the Supreme Court eventually overturned the federal requirements, most school safety measures remained in place.   In Los Angeles, for instance, [as of 1997] all high schools still use some sort of metal detectors.

    However, it is clear, these actions do not secure the premises.   Zero tolerance campaigns were invoked.   Violations are and were numerous.  

    Parents, administrators, teachers, and staff were told to observe student behaviors; they were asked to attend to warning signs.   Discipline problems were considered predictors; yet, this was not always the case.   Offenders did not only come from within the school system, they enter and exist throughout society.   Witness the killings within the last month or more.

    Whatever we choose to reflect upon, when looking at violence in our schools, our homes, or in our airports I ask us to bear in mind that traditional methods for preventing violence are not working.   I think we must look at why people do what they do.

    Violent crime continues to be a major problem and I suspect this will continue as long as we look for simple solutions.   I observe, when we as a country, focus on machines and mandates as a means for deterring violence in schools and within society at-large.   We ignore the violator.   I believe the life of the perpetrator is most telling. This is the key component in a crime that can be influenced and altered.   If we address it early enough and treat root causes sincerely and seriously we can make a difference.

    However, instead, we look at guns, knifes, box cutters, gels, powders, matches, lighters, and bombs as though these are the killers.   We work tirelessly to prevent these from entering the systems, schools, airports, office building, and prisons.   Rarely do we address the authentic reason for killings.   People and what goes on in their heads, hearts, and souls cause death.

    I propose we look at life, at our daily existence and the stress our culture promotes, rather than hypothesize; how might we use technology and authority to control the minds and misdeeds of men and women.   I theorize if we assess the way in which we live and the life standards we choose to accept, then, we might be able to prevent these carnages.  

    I request that you, dear reader, consider what passes for the “common wisdom.”   Is it sensible?   Please ponder accepted theories and simple solutions with me.   Then ask yourself, what might we do to truly change what comes?

    On Monday, October 2, 2006, a deeply distressed man entered a one room Amish schoolhouse.   He excused all the male pupils and personnel.   He was interested in only the young female students.   It is not known whether the church-going milkman intended to molest the girls; though there is evidence to suggest that he did.   However, what is certain is that the perpetrator shot these little lovelies before taking his own life.   Pennsylvania schoolhouse killer Charles Carl Roberts IV revealed in a telephone call to his wife, at the age of twelve he molested two young relatives.   Events of 20 years past haunted the man throughout his life.   Guilt took Roberts’ life and the lives of several young innocent Amish girls.

    Five days earlier, in Bailey, Colorado an armed drifter walked into Platte Canyon High School.   He then entered a classroom.   The transient demanded that all the men leave the area.   He wanted to be alone with the girls he corralled into a classroom.   According to a student and her mother, Duane R. Morrison seemed to prefer smaller, blonde girls.   This disturbed wanderer with his quarry of petite flaxen hair maidens proceeded to sexually assault some of the six young girls he held hostage.   Ultimately, he shot one before killing himself.   Some social scientists are theorizing `girls are the targets in school violence.

    After the crime,

    at their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Morrison’s stepmother said she and her husband, Bob Morrison, “have no record of him being, having any trouble before.”   “We just know the way he was raised,” Billie Morrison said, declining to elaborate.

    How was he raised?   Some experts think the relationships established in the lives of the killers might offer answers.   In the series of recent rampages there is a seemingly notable consistency.

    “The predominant pattern in school shootings of the past three decades is that girls are the victims,” says Katherine Newman, a Princeton University sociologist whose recent book examines the roots of “rampage” shootings in rural schools.

    Dr. Newman has researched 21 school shootings since the 1970s.   Though it’s impossible to know whether girls were randomly victimized in those cases, she says, “in every case in the US since the early 1970s we do note this pattern” of girls being the majority of victims.

    Prior to these two incidents, the focus and fantasy was on troubled adolescents.   These were thought to be the person responsible for such horrendous school crimes.   Some behavior experts hypothesized; violent young persons had been bullied in school.   They were browbeaten at home.   These youthful aggressors were tormented by their own inner struggles.   They act out after years of deep-seated frustration.  

    Forensic psychiatrist Keith Aldo says mental health problems, especially among young people, too often go ignored and untreated.   “Everybody in the class often knows who the troubled kids are.   Parents know.   Teachers know,” he says.   “And if anything we should know that there is a preventative bit of medicine, psychological medicine to be dispensed in our classrooms earlier than we have been doing.”

    Aldo urges parents and teachers to talk more openly about problems that could erupt into violence at school.   He says unresolved issues can continue to haunt a child throughout life.   “The more that you can express your feelings of fear, the more that you can talk about your reactions to terrible events, the less that those events are going to be toxic to you later on.”

    Aldo says airing such concerns helps build a stronger and safer community.   Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, agrees.   He says the community must work at making schools safe places.   “It happens by making sure that the first and best line of defense is a well-trained, highly alert school staff and student body who are aware of changes in behavior of other students as well as strangers who are walking around in parking lots and the hallways of our schools.”

    While I do not quibble with this later premise and I am willing to consider the earlier hypothesis, I think each supposition negates a broader problem.   I believe the more recent incidents confirm the quandary has many causes.   The dilemma is not limited to youth acting out against their harassing, haranguing, or hounding classmates.   These incidents are not only a reaction to discrimination from peers.   Parents are not the central problem.   This transgression is as all others, complex.  

    The complexities that cause violent crime in our nations schools are similar to those that create terrorism.

    Terrorism usually results from multiple causal factors – not only psychological but also economic, political, religious, and sociological factors, among others.   There is even a hypothesis that it is caused by physiological factors, as discussed below.   Because terrorism is a multi-causal phenomenon, it would be simplistic and erroneous to explain an act of terrorism by a single cause, such as the psychological need of the terrorist to perpetrate an act of violence.

    For Paul Wilkinson (1977), the causes of revolution and political violence in general are also the causes of terrorism.   These include ethnic conflicts, religious and ideological conflicts, poverty, modernization stresses, political inequities, lack of peaceful communications channels, traditions of violence, the existence of a revolutionary group, governmental weakness and ineptness, erosions of confidence in a regime, and deep divisions within governing elites and leadership groups.

    International terrorists, sadistic student rebels, and lone executors have a common bond; society and stressors impact their lives severely.

    Student’s killers are often exposed to frequent slights from peers or parents, just as some terrorists feel slighted by our treatment of their culture and religious practices.   These snubs are evident if society as a whole and those functioning within the system choose to recognize them.   The stress in young lives can be reduced or eliminated if we attend to these grievances quickly.

    We might realize that lone shooters, those that walk into our schools also are victims of a fragile upbringing.   There are reasons that these solitary shooters might aim at young girls, blondes, or the most innocent among us.   Again, if we as a community chose to be aware of what we are creating for our children, we can save them before they become adult or adolescent killers.

    Religious or political zealots, the defiant, defensive, and the righteous also are products of their environment.   They may act out against nations or peoples; still, the source of their rage is apparent if we choose to look for it.   Each of these executors feels persecuted and why not.

    In a world where frustrations are ignored or attributed to authority figures, women, or circumstances beyond our control, there is much to feel frustrated about.   Students feel stuck in school, at home, or in lives that demand much of them and give little in return.   Adults, loners and cult followers alike, feel lost in the unresolved circumstances of their past and present.   They want to affect the future.   However, in the future, as in the present, and the past, people are not the focus.   Folly and failed systems are.

    We evaluate preventive mechanized and legal measures.   We disregard the fact that these are not effective.

    I propose we look at life, at our daily existence and the stresses our cultures promote.   I theorize if we assess the way in which we live, the life standards we accept, then, we might be able to prevent these mass and individual tragedies.

    I invite us all to pay homage to the notion that problems are not resolved by outside solutions or systems.   What is real, meaningful, and elicits change is knowledge and understanding.   If we are to embrace people more so than policies, I believe we will all be encouraged and empowered.

    I think it vital to accept and acknowledge that any of us might turn in a split second, or so it will seem to an outsider.   However, all of us are stewing, marinating in our own milieu.   Without exception, we could easily be a mild-mannered, church going, milkman in a moment, a sullen student, a scholar, or a vagrant in one moment and a murderer in the next.   We know not what the mind might perceive and act upon.

    Yet, in assessing this novel crisis, we negotiate matters that are of little consequence, metal, gels, powder, fluids, steel door barriers, and the soles of shoes.   We ignore or avoid assessing the souls and spirits of human beings.

    For the 54 million Americans with mental illness, broad access to services and treatments is not a luxury; it is a fundamental need.   It is imperative that state policymakers not target mental health as a way to save money with state and local governments providing more than 50 percent of funding for services through programs like Medicaid and SCHIP.

    America’s mental health system is at risk of plunging from crisis to catastrophe.   Cutting budgets and instituting draconian limits to needed treatments and services not only increases human suffering, but also puts additional strain on state economies through increased reliance on emergency services, correctional systems and welfare programs.

    We must stop asking, “Are our schools safe?”   “Are our streets secured?”   “What can we do to “prevent” violent crime in our nations educational institutions or on our shores?”   I think the better questions are, what are we doing, how and what are we feeling?   What can be done to improve our lives and what resources are we bringing to bear on these core problems.

    I propose what effects our youth [or our nation] affects us all.   We drown our sorrows in drugs.   We suffer silently.   Americans no longer spend time with family; they seek support in superficial forms and forums.   Mental health care institutions are closed to all but a select and wealthy few.   The hospitals of today are not equipped to handle the multitude of mental and physical health concerns.   Yet, we as a nation create more of these lost souls everyday.

    Parents are working two and three jobs, just to survive.   Families are rushed about; people do not know their neighbors let alone siblings.   Americans are isolated; yet not insulated from all that surrounds them.   We are stressed and fighting to seem stable.   We react to real pressures and just as the man that took, the lives of the Amish girls; guilt or anxiety ultimately may grip us.

    Can we as a nation protect ourselves from aggressors?   I contend, only if we face the genuine pain that causes their reactive behaviors.

    We must understand the intentions of the people that perform malicious acts against others if we are to prevent future outrages.   The mind is our master.   Where there is a will, there is a way.   I ask that we address human resolve and spirit as a means of prevention.   I believe placing guns in the hands of potential victims will do more harm than good.   Ultimately, it will cure nothing.

    References For Reflection . .  .