Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rest in Peace, Ms. Angelou

I'm so saddened today about the passing of our premier poet, Maya Angelou.  She was an extraordinary poet and an extraordinary woman.

As a poet myself, I recognize her literary talent and achievements as truly special.  She was definitely gifted as shown by her autobiographical books and her collections of poetry.  She truly rose from her troubled childhood to be a foremost practitioner of her craft.

She enriched us all and we are also poorer for her loss.

Rest in Peace, Ms. Angelou and keep your expressive spirit active somewhere in the greater cosmos.

Thinking Is Dangerous!

I'm always searching for writing exercises, writing prompts, blogging ideas and any activities to stimulate that muse.  Today, I happened across a quote from John Dewey:

"Anyone who has begun to think, places some portion of the world in jeopardy.” 

This is so relevant today.  There probably isn't a day now that you don't find some report of dissent being squelched somewhere around the world.  You also can find numerous reports of people rebuffed or ridiculed for asking questions.  Isn't it usually the result of "thinking" that stirs folks to dissent or ask questions?

Unfortunately, it seems as though critical thinking is not emphasized in education as it once was.  If there's anything we need, it would be MORE critical thinking.  We need students to be able to eventually take their places in society and help solve societal, political, communication, technical, and business problems.  Critical thinking is crucial for that.  The ability to sift through and analyze information, to formulate cogent questions, and to weigh arguments can indeed have practical as well as intellectual benefits.

Which brings us back to Dewey.  If "thinking" - critical thinking - is so necessary, why is is so dangerous?  There may be many reasons.  Maybe the powers that be don't want their policies questioned.  Maybe we'd have to look at history differently if we analytically asked different questions.  Thinking might lead us to conclude we might have to examine - maybe even change - some of our own beliefs.  Now THAT can really be scary.

In any event, if we are to progress as a society, if we are to progress as humanity, we must think - and think critically.  We once thought the Sun revolves around the Earth.  Courageous thinkers were eventually proven right.  It was once thought that certain Americans should be denied the right to vote.  Courageous thinkers and activists led the way to change.  We cannot, must not do less than to continue to use our brainpower critically.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Wrong Again!

Learning today of the Supreme Court declining to hear Hedges v. Obama - you know, the lawsuit challenging the "indefinite detention" provision of the NDAA really made me shake my head in dismay.

For background, here's a story from the Long Island Press (Be sure to read Tangerine? Jennifer? Bolen's facebook post in its entirety), and another from Truth Dig (where you can find articles by Chris Hedges).

I find that the plaintiffs are quite brave to have engaged in this challenge.  The entire idea of indefinite detention is scary.  It's not a stretch to imagine folks being picked up, held without an attorney or legal redress, for who know how long.  It's not a stretch to imagine this could be used against dissenters.  And get this - check out what is says on SCOTUS Blog  So if your not harmed, you don't have standing - but in this case, if you ARE harmed, how can you get any legal redress?  Terrible reasoning, I feel, by the Appeals Court and an equally terrible decision by the Supreme Court not to review this.

Wake up, folks!