Posted on January 25, 2008 by zoeweil
I recently spoke to a class of 4/5th graders who had read my children’s book, Claude and Medea. The book is about 12-year-old kids who are inspired by an eccentric substitute teacher (really a humane educator) to become clandestine activists in New York City.
After the children solve the mystery of a rash of Manhattan dog thefts, they establish Peace Power, a group dedicated to righting wrongs, whether to people, animals, or the earth.
When I spoke to this particular 4/5th grade, the students were confused by the name Peace Power. I asked them if they liked it. They didn’t much. They were flummoxed by the word “power.”
I’ve been pondering this. In our culture we tend to associate power with “power over” others. Those in power have control over the fate of other people, animals, the environment, the economy, the media, etc. Those who are disenfranchised, poor, disabled, etc., lack power. But power needn’t be perceived solely in this manner.
I very consciously named the youth group in Claude and Medea Peace Power because I wanted to juxtapose “peace” with “power” and remind readers that acting peacefully is a powerful act, and that groups that work for, and ultimately achieve peace demonstrate the best aspects of power. To harness this kind of power, we must summon such virtues as wisdom, compassion, integrity, honesty, and perseverance. In so doing we cultivate our power to create positive change in ourselves and in the world.
Filed under: humane education | Tagged: "Claude and Medea, humane education, power | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 8, 2008 by zoeweil
Recently, I learned about John Edwards’ new house. House isn’t quite the right word to describe the 28,000+ square foot estate he has built. The “house” portion is over 10,000 square feet and is attached to an 18,000 square foot recreational building with a swimming pool, basketball court, bedrooms, study, bathrooms, and more.
If John were a libertarian, I don’t think I’d be dwelling on his house, but he claims to be a populist supporting the working and middle classes. He says he supports environmental initiatives. I’m just stymied that someone who supports the “little guy,” who says we have to address climate change and environmental degradation, could choose to build a 28,000 square foot home. It doesn’t matter that his new home gets a gold star for energy efficiency; it’s still an enormous resource and fossil fuel guzzler that, if emulated by the masses he hopes to lift up, is entirely unsustainable. It doesn’t matter if he buys carbon offsets. I’m glad he does, but the extravagance of his estate lies in stark contrast to his daily populist speeches.
As William Elery Channing said, “May your life preach more loudly than your lips.” In the case of political leaders, I like to hope that their personal lives are aligned with what they preach, profess, and promote. I don’t mean to pick on John Edwards. I feel the same way about all political leaders.
May each of us strive to model our message.
Filed under: MOGO (Most Good) | Tagged: Environmental Preservation, John Edwards, Most Good, political leaders | 1 Comment »
Posted on January 4, 2008 by zoeweil
One of the students in our Master of Education program at IHE sent a group email on New Year’s Eve. In it she implored her “beautiful friends” to “start with switching off the light, talking more to your neighbors, loving deeper your partner, creating less suffering to animals in farms and circus chains, making organic dinners for your friends, volunteering for an hour a week for local kids….” She went on to say, “there is so much joy one can create in the world.” Her message was so heartfelt, so impassioned, so direct, yet I doubt any among her recipients felt defensive. This is what we need to tell our friends, our children, our students, our neighbors, and ourselves.
If you want to lose weight this year, do so. If you want to start exercising, great. If you want to stop smoking, wonderful. But please, in 2008 make a positive difference in the world, too.
Filed under: MOGO (Most Good) | Tagged: change the world, new year, power of choice | Comments Off