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What if we stopped one day, looked at all the work we had done to try to make the world a better place than we found it, and instead realized despite all of our efforts, we had failed?

What if we supported political candidates, helped to get them into office, only to find many of them, far too many of them, coopted by the perquisites of office, concern for reelection, or wanting to be "players" and abandoned what we thought they had promised us?

What if we devoted our energy and our time and our passion to trying to make the government more responsive to we the people and less responsive to those who already have power and money, only to find economic inequality becoming ever more severe, and decreasing numbers of people retaining any hope for a better future for themselves or their posterity?

Would we feel like fools?

Or might we wonder how much worse it might already be had we not tried?

The tale is of the boy walking along the beach tossing stranded starfish into the water.

"little boy" a man told him, "you can't save all the starfish."

"yes, but I can save this one" as he threw one more into the oncoming waves.

I am tired.

I am worn out.

I find it difficult to get up each morning, to drive 45 miles to continue teaching.

I find little energy for politics, for writing about policy, for challenging myself and others.

I see so much of what I have done, what I continue to do, and have to wonder why I keep at it, instead of just withdrawing, as increasingly I long to do, to carve out a space where I can just read, listen to music, pet my cats, spend time with my wife, maybe even get back to doing real cooking.

I will go to a political fundraiser into which I have talked my way in order to speak to an influential politician about an internship for a gifted student.

I will give up an hour of sleep to enable others to hear voices and read words that might make a difference for them.

I will force myself to keep challenging students who sometimes want to shut down, who don't think they have a future.

What if I didn't?

Would my non-participation make that big a difference?

Would the world really notice?

I don't know, and in a sense I don't care.

I would notice.

I would care.

I know what I have to do.

so long as I can breathe, drag myself out of bed in the morning, read, speak, write, teach, advocate.

I cannot say I will leave the world a better place than I found it.

I can and will say that at least i tried, no matter how poorly my efforts may have a positive impact.

i suppose that is why I am a liberal.

I suppose that is why despite my frustrations I remain a Democrat.

And most of all, I know it is why I continue to teach, whether in the formal classroom or through other means.

Teaching is challenging.

Teaching is provoking.

Teaching is engaging.

Teaching is reminding ourselves and others that things as they are now are not the only possibility.

I wonder if this makes any sense to anyone except me?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (181+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    churchylafemme, Shockwave, DRo, wordwraith, tardis10, Wee Mama, murrayewv, sillycarrot, ImpeachKingBushII, praenomen, Hopeful Skeptic, David54, sandblaster, alasmoses, Liberal Protestant, Dartagnan, lennysfo, 3goldens, happymisanthropy, Simplify, JeffW, WakeUpNeo, RandomNonviolence, dle2GA, Metalgirl, Ree Zen, mikeconwell, rodentrancher, Court Jester, Chaddiwicker, GreenPA, eyesoars, tofumagoo, stevenwag, Steve Masover, midnight lurker, phree, briefer, quill, i dunno, kurious, Chi, greengemini, Aaa T Tudeattack, StonyB, Eileen B, worldlotus, sc kitty, CalBearMom, mrsgoo, gfre, Laurel in CA, deeproots, slapDem, LeftHandedMan, kkkkate, Involuntary Exile, SilverWillow, CJB, kaliope, basquebob, hwy70scientist, Choco8, Larsstephens, glendaw271, Situational Lefty, Ray Pensador, Danno11, Lujane, northerntier, Chitown Charlie, susakinovember, Alumbrados, Lily O Lady, boomerchick, fb, psnyder, YellerDog, ramara, VA gentlewoman, TX Scotia, Sharoney, Texknight, yojimbo, chimene, pvasileff, fhcec, Omir the Storyteller, dull knife, Leftleaner, nancyjones, La Gitane, Loose Fur, histOries Marko, tubacat, Mostel26, Evoculture, Grandma Susie, Bud Fields, P Carey, onionjim, radarlady, carpunder, mrhelper, Sprinkles, nswalls, mujr, SouthernLeveller, Gardener in PA, reginahny, onceasgt, ChuckInReno, coppercelt, magicsister, nsfbr, Temmoku, blue aardvark, Brainwrap, HeyMikey, Debby, The grouch, binkycat, Ohiodem1, AnnieR, RFK Lives, gulfgal98, Dave the Wave, vmibran, aravir, kenwards, surfbird007, Nancy on Lake Michigan, Bendra, moldyfolky, Words In Action, Airmid, UTLiberal, catwho, Chirons apprentice, VAtrendsblue, jck, Domestic Elf, sawgrass727, WearyIdealist, Brunette, Wino, zerelda, kck, mkor7, Sassy725, Box of Rain, renbear, One Pissed Off Liberal, NJpeach, Al Fondy, Marko the Werelynx, leeleedee, weaponsofmassdeception, sfarkash, cohenzee, Batya the Toon, Paul Ferguson, DrSpalding, Loudoun County Dem, melvynny, Mimikatz, Joieau, slowbutsure, kjoftherock, grrr, Sneelock, blue muon, MKinTN, tegrat, doingbusinessas, George3, Crashing Vor, quagmiremonkey, ERTBen, thepook, JamieG from Md

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 05:33:40 PM PST

  •  Many days I wonder why bother (34+ / 0-)

    Then I tell myself we only live once.  The day I die I want to tell myself I did what I could and I'm convinced I'll die happier.

    I once had a near death situation, I had an out of body experience as I felt floating away as I saw my body at the bottom of the ocean. If I had any regrets about anything I should have done but hadn't it would have been  hell.

    So we may fell very frustrated about the results of what we try but knowing that we did what we could makes all the difference IMHO.

    What you do teach lifts us all up and inspires us.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 05:51:23 PM PST

  •  As the rabbi said, (29+ / 0-)

    If I am not for myself, who will be?
    If I am only for myself, who am I?
    And if not now, when?

    Teaching is always a mystery and a profound act of faith.

    Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? . . . and respect the dignity of every human being.

    by Wee Mama on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 05:52:13 PM PST

    •  And as JFK said (17+ / 0-)

      If not us, who? If not now, when?

      And RFK said

      Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
      I teach social work in Southern Georgia, doing something like what Teacherken does, though I suspect not as well. But each of us does what we can, and that makes all the difference.
      •  um, that was Hillel in 1st Century BCE (15+ / 0-)

        the passage appears in the Pirke Avoth, in  the Talmud

        If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?

        "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

        by teacherken on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 06:34:17 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I practice social work in the schools. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Wee Mama, teacherken, mkor7

        We once had 11 social workers. When Christie came in we dropped 3. Now when we retire they don't replace us. A colleague is retiring in Dec. I have to take over part of her caseload. Will now have 75 kids to see per week, plus now they have added writing IEP's to  our duties. I am told to see the kids in groups, but it doesn't always work. Last week I was chastised because a kid was using the vending machines not far from the desk where I was working with a student ( I have no office ) and I shouldn't have allowed this. I will be written up for this; Christie's attacks on tenure have given vast new powers to management. Already, veterans at the top of the salary guide find they are being written up a lot. I am tired. I don't sleep well. I want to take a day to rejuvenate, but if we are out 6 days we are written up. Nine days and your salary differential is withheld. What keeps me going? Even when kids seem bored or disengaged, they benefit fro m our sessions. I know this because the teachers always tell me their kids ask about me when I miss them due to school activities or holidays. So that keeps me going. The job has become grueling, however.

  •  changing the world one step at a time... (10+ / 0-)

    Thomas Edison's teachers said he was "too stupid to learn anything." He was fired from his first two jobs for being "non-productive."

    Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."

    If a any goal we aspire to accomplish  takes 1,000 tries, then we only truly "fail" when we quit trying on-or before- our #999th attempt.

    "I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way." John Paul Jones

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 05:58:21 PM PST

  •  For the most part, my life is over, but I am (15+ / 0-)

    fighting as much as possible to make this world a better place for my children and grandchildren.  There is no other choice.

    I just finished feeding 24 feral cats. I do it every night, even though I can't afford it, and it is very tiring for someone my age. But I care. One of the cats that showed up tonight first appeared at our doorstep after it had been beaten so badly that its head was terribly bloodied and swollen. We nursed him back to health, and then he disappeared for a month. Then one night he showed up again and has been coming back every since. That makes the effort worthwhile.

    Intrinsic rewards make life better. Extrensic rewards can't even come close to the same feeling.

    You have fought a long battle, but you will leave behind much good. That is better than living an ego-centric life. Count your blessings. You were given a special gift. Just think about how empty your life would have been if you had been born into wealth and the only thing you had to live for was making more money.

  •  maybe don't teach (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    45 miles away.

    easier to find a p/t gig closer to home.???

  •  I Doubt Europe Mostly Felt Like Fools (6+ / 0-)

    in 1942 or so.

    Good people and good causes lose. That's grounds for feeling terrible but not like fools if they gave a good fight.

    Ships sink, empires decline. Sometimes they get saved.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 06:19:34 PM PST

    •  There should be no regret for failure... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hwy70scientist, Box of Rain

      if you did your best and gave your all.

      For me the only regrets are those times I look back and know I could have done more, and didn't.

      Your philosophy makes sense to many people.  We can and should strive for perfection, even as we know we will never achieve the goal.  But hopefully each of us can become the best person we can be.

  •  I get very tired sometimes, Ken... (11+ / 0-)

    ...but I try to remember I'm making a difference...according to what I am told, at least.

    Somebody has to do it.  If not me, who?  If not now, when?

  •  My two cents. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, susakinovember
    carve out a space where I can just read, listen to music, pet my cats, spend time with my wife, maybe even get back to doing real cooking.
    That would be better for your health and well being, for sure. But that isn't your DNA. You can't not do those things. And it's fun.

    That's my excuse, anyway. I don't teach. My mother and grandmother did, though. I coach basketball for many years. Without pay. Why on earth did I do it? I enjoyed it, even with all the headaches. Fucking DNA.

    What is so unnerving about the candidacy of Sarah Palin is the degree to which she represents—and her supporters celebrate—the joyful marriage of confidence and ignorance. SAM HARRIS

    by Cpqemp on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 06:23:51 PM PST

  •  Joan Didion: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, reginahny, Words In Action
    "One thing in my defense, not that it matters," she says. "I know something Carter never knew, or Helene, or maybe you. I know what "nothing" means, and keep on playing.

    "Why, BZ would say."

    "Why not, I say."
  •  Does this make sense...? Hate to break it to you (4+ / 0-)

    but, probably no.  Not as you see it.  Unfortunately, the world as you see it is quite unique.  You might sometimes view yourself as a single flame in an inferno, one of 330 million in a country on a planet of 7 billion.  But, believe it or not you are quite unique.  Let the flame die and it might be displaced, but it won't be replaced.  How do I know? This:

    things as they are now are not the only possibility
    The possibilities in your mind are only in your mind until you bring them out.  I'm not suggesting you burn yourself out.  But, to see the world as it could be is rare.

    And we love to wear a badge, a uniform / And we love to fly a flag But I won't...let others live in hell / As we divide against each other And we fight amongst ourselves

    by ban48 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 06:45:37 PM PST

  •  It makes total sense (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, Ree Zen, SouthernLeveller

    My upbringing taught me that we are all called/tasked with making the world a better place for others. And we are to do that while ensuring that we take adequate care of ourselves.

    With everything you have on your plate, perhaps you need to concentrate on yourself (and Leaves on the Current) for awhile. You obviously put a lot of effort into us at DK in addition to what is no-doubt a demanding job. At some point choices need to be made.

    But you already know that.

    Ted Cruz: The second coming of Christ, but not quite as good as Reagan (yet).

    by nuketeacher on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 07:06:23 PM PST

  •  Makes perfect sense to me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurel in CA

    I'm not a teacher but I'm heavily involved in helping people with hearing loss lead better lives. It wasn't something I came to easily. I fought it but recently I have found peace with it and I feel whole for the first time in my life. How much of an impact am I making in the grand scheme of thing? I don't know. I don't care. I'm going to keep doing my thing and hope it makes an impact on at least a few people's lives.

    I'll answer some of your what ifs also...

    What if the politicians are unsalvageable, the money divide to wide and no matter what we do the country and planet continue to be sold to the richest assholes around?

    That's why they invented revolutions. That's why they invented general strikes. That's why the 1% cannot win forever, they simply don't have the numbers and eventually people will get fed up enough to do something about it physically if they cannot fix the problem politically.

    No, I'm not advocating violence, but anyone who thinks it's impossible hasn't paid attention to the history of the human race. Time is ticking down and eventually the new world will throw off the old world and figure out what comes next. If they have to "eat the rich" to get there, they will, because quite simply there's not enough cake...

    Voting straight party D 'til there's no GOP...
    Oh and the name is Jim, not Tim, the user name is a typo

    by jusjtim35 on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 07:44:31 PM PST

    •  There's plenty of cake, too much greed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      There is a vast difference between "having enough" and being greedy for the sake of it.

      I love the old saying "Enough is plenty". Inordinate greed and the potlatch mentality are unnecessary.

      Focus on the love! The Republicans can keep the disco.

      by Mr Horrible on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:35:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Teacher Ken, Many days I feel discouraged (9+ / 0-)

    but people like you keep me going. I always read any diary that you post. You teach me and you challenge me. You keep me going and fighting for what I believe is right; and I thank you for it. All the best to Leaves!

  •  It's pretty much the only thing that makes sense (4+ / 0-)

    ... to me.

    And since you brought up the Pirke Avot in an earlier comment, I'll add something that came up in conversation earlier today with the editor of a novel I hope to publish in a year or so:

    Attributed to Rabbi Tarfon, Pirke Avot 2:21: "It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task; neither are you free to desist from it."

    Not desisting from what needs to be done is what gives our lives meaning. Or so I tell myself when I get discouraged myself.

    •  "It is not incumbent upon you ..." (0+ / 0-)

      That may be one of my favorite passages from the Pirke Avot.

      A better translation for "desist" might be "excuse yourself" or "consider yourself excused."  You are still responsible for doing what you can, even knowing that you are not responsible for finishing the job.

  •  I teach too (6+ / 0-)

    and have asked myself why I continue without the possibility of ever getting another FT gig after my department was eliminated at a local college.  Sure I get emails from students thanking me and they make me feel good, but that's not reason enough to continue.  I have teaching awards and do believe I've made a difference for some.

     Then I look at my 7 year old and realize I must go on with something for his sake.  However, other than a sense of duty, I can't tell myself it's making a difference, except for this one child.  I feel like the starfish kid.

    Reaganomics raped the American worker & this depression is the result. When will we wake up & vote with our own financial interests?

    by phree on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:06:43 PM PST

    •  A wood shop teacher once told me (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Nancy on Lake Michigan

      that you could always get teachers to work for almost nothing, because they feel some need to do it. People who load crates or fix potholes harbor no such illusions and so expect to be paid for their efforts. Although even that has changed in this economy I guess. Of course when this shop teacher retired the shop was closed. last year the cooking teacher retired. Program closed. Metal shop? Closed in 1992. it is test test test all day long. Soon they won't have any social workers left in the schools either. I have had administrators tell me point blank, if it ain't on the state test, it doesn't matter. We should not be offering services like counseling or even speech or OT/PT. parents should get those on their own time with their own money. I am told. As one principal told me, school is not a social service agency. I replied, wanna bet?

  •  Thank you, (5+ / 0-)

    I would notice. Peace,

  •   It's equally ok to retire... (9+ / 0-)

    ..and allow for rest and nourishing activities and time for celebrating a long life spent caring for others. It took me ten years from the day I said I retired, to the day I finally did retire, at age 70. It was that hard to change the imbedded direction of caring for others before self, no matter what. It's a huge transition. I started taking care of the sick before I was 10 yrs old, and never stopped. My body quit before the rest of me did.  But oh my, what a wonderful time of life this has turned out to be. It's a internal freedom and peace I've yearned for forever, and really didn't believe even existed.

    New doors opened that I never knew were there, to do a totally different kind of work/play that I'd couldnt have grabbed onto when my hands were grasping my old roles so tightly. Work that was play and joyousness, running a theater troupe for actors with disabiities. Who knew I had that in me?
    But I had to let go first, of all of the roles that had defined me all my life.

    That's behind me now too, and I am finally ready to enjoy stillness and contemplation and enjoyment of the simple blessings I am surrounded with. I can write all I want now, as long as I want, whenever I feel like it.

    I can see my old white horse out there in the green pasture,  munching away, after being ridden hard into more battles than I can even remember. I planted ivy in my old suit of armor and now dress in soft warm sweats instead.

    Yes. There does come a time when it's ok to stop, look and listen to the softer wiser voices within. We've sailed the seas, and left a huge wake behind us that will be felt by many for a long long  time. So, onward we go.

    When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. Cree Prophecy

    by scribe on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:35:29 PM PST

  •  Just when I think I can finally (5+ / 0-)

    kick back in the barcolounger with a clicker in one hand and cold beer in the other I watch (Chuck Todd) say something stupid.

  •  You are not alone. (3+ / 0-)

    You  teach, you write, and you witness with both actions to the importance of caring for every single child. You touch the lives and hearts of the students in your classes and the readers of your articles - some just glancingly, others deeply, sometimes in ways that are not fully manifest for years. You have been called to this work - that shines in every word you write - and someday, you'll be released to rest and reflect (and, we hope, to share those reflections with us.)

    My grandfather was a minister. He went on the bus every day, until just a few weeks before his death at 93, to the county courthouse, where he had a tiny office. He ministered to prisoners and tried to help them, and occasionally married someone who wanted a religious ceremony rather than civil. It must have been discouraging at times, and I expect he saw more than his share of repeat visitors to the jail, and lost souls.

    But the fact that we can't save everyone does not excuse us from trying to save someone.

    Teachers are the front line in our efforts to make the future different from, and better than, the present. We have to draw our hope and light from those we save, and keep the light on for those still lost and wandering.

  • I understand THIS.... (4+ / 0-)

    Men tend to define themselves by what they do. I suppose if I were to define myself by that standard, I would have to say the preponderance of my efforts have been working towards 'the betterment' of either myself or others. I have at times put myself before others when I should have worked harder. But if I die with that as my only  'sin' (I wish..) I will be happy with my life in the balance of karma.

    You can't be there for others if you aren't there for yourself first. Take a break. Carve out that niche. Life is too friggin' short not to do the things you want to do.

    You obviously love to teach. Your passion. You do it for the little satisfactions it brings, not the over-arching idea of "being a teacher." You would probably be a 'teacher' if you had a job or not. It's what you have made yourself. Only you know if who you are is what you are, but I'm betting you want to be known as a more than a teacher.

    I was a medic and a nurse. I get it.

    "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

    by CanisMaximus on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 08:56:47 PM PST

  •  Turn Off the Computer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Spend that time with your wife, take some walks, enjoy real life. You'll probably miss the computer eventually. Your interest and passion for it will return. Or not - so what?

    If you love someone, set them free. Whether they come back or not, if they're yourself, you're free, and more loveable too.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 09:31:30 PM PST

  •  Ken, it's no wonder (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nancyjones, Laurel in CA

    you're exhausted. You took on a difficult job because it was a place you felt you could make a difference, and then, when you needed your energy for the job and the commute, Leaves got sick, and the two of you have been on the cancer journey together.

    People do not have the emotional energy to deal with two such tasks at the same time. You've missed a lot more time in class than you intended and that must be hard for you.

    Thank goodness Leaves is better and thank goodness you were there for her. Her world is certainly a better place because of you.

    There is a letdown after such an experience - its intensity, the lower level of stress hormones in your system - is bound to leave you feeling discouraged. Reaction has set in.

    Know that the places where you touch the world are better because you touch them. Do something just for yourself - a pedicure, a sauna, something totally narcissistic - and remember to take care.

    Being attentive to the needs of others might not be the point of life, but it is the work of life. It can be ... almost impossibly difficult. But it is not something we give. It is what we get in exchange for having to die. - Jonathan Safran Foer

    by ramara on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:18:32 PM PST

  •  Makes total sense to me Ken (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And I have many days when I am where you are.

    All you can do is the best you can do.

    Maybe our generation was raised to think that we could save the world. maybe that's why we feel let down.

    All we can do is the best we can do.

    If you can't do it yourself any more, try to motivate others. That's about where I am. I watch my daughters raising good kids of their own, one finishing a PhD while working in PG instead of Fairfax.

    I watch kids I have turned on to political activism go out and canvass.

    All we can do is the best we can do.

  •  In my own way, I teach, I facilitate (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    projects and organizations, I read, analyze, help my friends and family. I settle arguments.  I get people working together on shared goals. I sing, dance and joke to keep my spirits up, and other peoples'.

    I get tired, discouraged, even despondent at times.

    I get up the next day and do my best to make the world around me a little better. I try to associate with people who are also doing this.

    I haven't ended war, poverty or injustice.

    I know that I improve things, for my family and my community. Even here, I sometimes fall short, and even fuck up.

    Someday, I suppose, I will really be too tired or sick to continue.

    Not yet, though.

    I can't help it. I love the state of Texas. It's a harmless perversion. - Molly Ivins

    by rsmpdx on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 10:56:40 PM PST

  •  Melancholic inspiration or survivor's guilt? (0+ / 0-)

    Don't know; either/or and it changes frequently for me.
    Memories of too many dead friends keep me going sometimes; trying to make inward and outward worthy of their love and dreams. They're gone, I'm still here. Got to mean something, right?
    At very least it means, to me, to live and act.
    However one defines those two words, the tragedy is to deny them.

    Tea Party Ingredients: Cellulose gum, Trichoderma longibrachiatum, Alces spongiform encephalopathy, Polyethylene glycol, Diethyl parathion, H1N1, 5β-cholanic acid-3α,7α-diol, C7H5NO3S, tea.

    by yojimbo on Tue Nov 19, 2013 at 11:29:45 PM PST

  •  We have far more impact than we realize... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nancyjones, gulfgal98

    Just like a new expression or phrase was originally spoke by but one person and one day becomes common knowledge, everything we do has repercussions and a life of its own.

    Sometimes a butterfly just flaps it wings and sometimes it helps feeds a storm. The butterfly itself never knows which flaps are which but it keeps on flapping none the less.

    You may never know when you say just the right thing to just the right person to begin a wave of change, but if you don't bother to try then you can rest easy knowing you never will.

    I have always believed having a little Don Quixote in you tilting windmills in vain, is actually a very fine trait and important to humanity as a whole.

    Sadly most people try and think of themselves as too pragmatic to bother...

    The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function [Albert A. Bartlett]

    by fToRrEeEsSt on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 12:27:52 AM PST

  •  Read the new Mark Lewisohn Beatles bio! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mkor7, Laurel in CA

    You want inspiration?

    Jeez, those 4 lower class guys really had NOTHING to live for, especially Ringo, who due to chronic illness had only a rudimentary education and no career prospects whatsoever. None were born to households with indoor plumbing(!).

    Despite parents' hopes of decent jobs for them, all four were looking at military service, followed by a succession of menial factory jobs.

    The book is a real eye-opener, revealing all sorts of eyewitness info never before published.

    The only thing that made them keep going was their love for rock & roll. That and defying all the really rotten teachers they had to deal with.

    But ONE good teacher saved the day for both John Lennon, and a great stepdad did the same for Ringo.

    Teacherken, you are a beacon of hope for the kids you teach. Teach the receptive ones what money is and what it can do. Make them understand that doing favors for each other can build networks and that such networks are the essential building block of all success stories.

    But most of all, teach them to never give up. Success in anything is not a given, but the failure rate is 100% for those who give up. Hell, Jeff Bezos failed at lots of stuff (and went through louds of lousy webdomain names) before he came up a winner with Amazon.

    "Alcohol enables Congress to do things at eleven at night that no sane person would do at eleven in the morning." - George Bernard Shaw

    by Loose Fur on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 01:34:40 AM PST

  •  I'm reminded of a conversation I had (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Laurel in CA

    with my boss in which they were thanking me for showing up to the lab having only left the building 7 hours ago and only being able to get about 5 hours of sleep. I had made (as I often do) a bit of a joke about karma and he pointed out that it was highly unlikely anyone else in the lab would have done this for me or the chemist that I subbed for (the chemist in question wanted to be around for his kid's first halloween). I acknowledged this and replied that it doesn't matter what other people do it only matters what I do.

    Thus I do understand your mind set though I would say that you should also take your own time too teacherken. Especially for our feline overlords if yours are anything like mine they will arrange for your undivided attention by being naughty.

    Der Weg ist das Ziel

    by duhban on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 02:14:16 AM PST

  •  we define ourselves through our decisions (0+ / 0-)

    no matter the outcomes

  •  Some compulsions are good. I suppose that's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    why compulsion and obsession persist in the genome. Some people are compelled to interact with other human beings. Others are quite content to dwell in solitude and not converse with anyone for days on end. Solitude is what I found attractive in a contemplative order of nuns, the Ursulines. However, they advised against joining on. It was in the sixties and I now suspect they already knew that their way of life was about to be undone by the church hierarchy -- that bishops were about to sell their convent out to developers and free them from their habits to don secular garb.
    Some people discover solitude in labor. I suspect that there's an element of solitude in laboring among the young. Youth are too self-centered to recognize their teachers for the people they are. That's also the case with children. For all intents and purposes, their parents are anonymous for most of their lives.

  •  It does to me (4+ / 0-)

    Gandhi said that we cannot control, or, often, even, see what ends will come from our actions. We can only control the actions, the means that we take toward the ends we seek.

    It is extraordinarily easy to believe that our actions are vain. To burn out and drop out. We do what we do in order to keep from becoming like those we oppose.

    I hope you do "keep on keeping on" for the long haul. (This is why I wrote on the necessity of revolutionary patience--and I was writing as much to myself as anyone else.) But DO carve out the space to pet your cats, listen to music, spend time with your wife, practice real cooking.  All that is necessary--is strength and rest and recooperation--for further struggle.

    Holding you and all you do in the Light.

    "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

    by SouthernLeveller on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:23:29 AM PST

  •  Thank you! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I am a teacher in a Title I school with most of the students living in poverty, on free lunch, etc.  It is the same school in which I have taught for 30 years.  It was once "the" school to attend in the district, but new neighborhoods being built on the edges of town have changed the type of students who attend.  

    What I wish people could understand is that the teachers and staff in the Title I school work so much harder now while getting lower test scores than we did 20 years ago when scores were much higher.  We are trying to overcome some obstacles that those earlier students didn't have.  I look at it like an oncologist fighting stage 4 cancer as opposed to stage 1.  It is a harder fight, and the results may not look as impressive, but it is important to those who can be saved.  

    I am about to get in the shower to get ready to go to school another day and it is discouraging to care so much and work so hard and be disparaged by politicians as lazy teachers in a failing school, but your words have helped me today.  I thank you for that.

    Recently I talked to a young lady that I had in class last year.  She was sweet but frequently would be absent and would even skip class after lunch after being there before lunch.  I worked with her all year and felt discouraged because I wasn't seeing her "get it."  This year she told me that she didn't think she had a future and that coming to school didn't matter, but she was finally she that it wasn't true and thanked me.  She is now coming to school on a regular basis and is trying to achieve.  Someone looking at her scores last year would say that she was being failed by the teachers and the school, when she was in the process of growing and realizing what she can do.  It is a process.  It is a long, difficult process, but it is worth it.  

    I wish the politicians and pundits that are so critical would come into a school and try doing the job before barking so loudly.  I work with people who deeply care and work hard to make a difference, no matter how little appreciation is shown.  Please forgive any mistakes in this comment because I must get in the shower right now and don't have time to proof it, but I wanted to tell you thank you.  I will get in the shower with a better feeling after reading your diary.

  •  Karma yoga (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ( and Gandhi ) teach total non-attachment to the fruits ( or lack, thereof ) of our efforts, and our efforts, whether successful or not, are the core of our spirituality.

    To the hungry, God is a loaf of bread. - Gandhi

    by bisleybum on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 04:54:57 AM PST

  •  Jim Valvano story (0+ / 0-)

    You may need to see the Jim Valvano story.  He was the coach of NC State when they won one of their National Championships in basketball.  He was an underdog who kept fighting and climbing to the top.  He battled cancer and was an inspiration to many.  His most famous quote is "Don't give up. Don't ever give up."

  •  We do what we can but (0+ / 0-)

    peopleare very "selective" learners. They "learn" what they want and are ready to learn.

    We should count ourselves lucky to save just one starfish!

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 05:55:37 AM PST

  •  Ken, meet George Bailey (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HeyMikey, SouthernLeveller

    Yes, I know, Kapra Korn.

    Also still true. The Potters of the world win unless all of us keep plugging.

    I'm on a mission! Testing the new site rules.

    by blue aardvark on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:06:34 AM PST

  •  MLK: we're making progress. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    not this time, teacherken, mkor7

    Every day now, thousands of previously-uncovered people are signing up for health coverage effective 1/1/14. I am so tired of reading in my disability clients' medical records that because they don't have insurance, they can't get this medication or that scan or test or the other surgery. The day is coming when I will read that less.

    Today my church committee is working on preparing Thanksgiving baskets for those who can't afford Thanksgiving dinner, and Meals On Wheels for the day after. Had it not been for the 2009 economic stimulus, hundreds of thousands more, maybe millions more, would still be out of work and unable to feed themselves and their families.

    Every day dozens? hundreds? of same-sex couples say "I do." My genderqueer (her term) daughter has come of age in a society in which she is safe, can live openly, and is respected for who she is.

    My nephew, US Army Cpl. Ian Sorrow, and his new wife sleep sounder knowing that he will not be sent for a third tour in Iraq.

    These things are true. And they are true, Ken, only because you and many like you worked for them.

    Thank you.

    We have come a long, long way. We have a long, long way to go. I close, if you will permit me, by quoting the words of an old Negro slave preacher. He didn’t quite have his grammar right, but he uttered some words in the form of a prayer with great symbolic profundity and these are the words  he said: ‘Lord, we ain’t what we want to be; we ain’t what we ought to be; we ain’t what we gonna be, but thank God, we ain’t what we was.’ ”


    remarks to the Hawaii House of Representatives
    September 17, 1959

    "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

    by HeyMikey on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:19:36 AM PST

  •  Why do we do what we do if we are just a drop (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, teacherken

    in the bucket of life?  I have been asked this very same question multiple times as to why I have joined a local Peace vigil that meets once a week and my response is that if I or anyone else can reach just one person, then perhaps that person can do the same. The four stalwarts of this group have been doing it for over ten years.  Every one of them is older than I am (66) and one is even 91 years of age!  They do it because that is how they feel they can make a difference.  Each person has his or her own way of trying to make the world better and none of us alone can change the world.  But we can help change others' views for the better and that should lead to a better world.  So I try not to think in macro terms but in idea of one person reaching out to another person and so on.

    "I don't want to run the empire, I want to bring it down!" ~ Dr. Cornel West "It was a really naked declaration of imperialism." ~ Jeremy Scahill on Obama's speech to the UN

    by gulfgal98 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:35:06 AM PST

  •  I agree with Vonnegut (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action, mkor7

    “I still believe that peace and plenty and happiness can be worked out some way. I am a fool.”

    Better a fool than a cynic.

    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 06:53:28 AM PST

  •  When we choose to help others (0+ / 0-)

    how would we even define failure?

    Warren/3-D Print of Warren in 2016!

    by dov12348 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:01:59 AM PST

  •  Of course you are making sense. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    All thoughtful people have bouts of "doubt".
    Maybe these evaluative moments are intended to reaffirm that actions and feelings are congruent with one's identity.

    About one thing, there is no doubt. You have distilled your essence in these few words:  

    Would my non-participation make that big a difference?

    Would the world really notice?

    I don't know, and in a sense I don't care.

    I would notice.

    I would care.

    I know what I have to do.

    A departure from what you know you have to do would violate your core belief system.  That's the way to insanity.

    We have enough youth, how about a fountain of smart?

    by Bendra on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 07:25:40 AM PST

  •  "I find it difficult to get up each morning, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Batya the Toon

    to drive 45 miles to continue teaching."

    See this:

    The Monkey Cage

    Long commutes are making Americans more politically apathetic

    From hunter's diary:

    I knew it wore people down in other ways, but now this.

    I'm part of the "bedwetting bunch of website Democrat base people (DKos)." - Rush Limbaugh, 10/16/2012 Torture is Wrong! We live near W so you don't have to. Send love.

    by tom 47 on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 08:12:40 AM PST

    •  Anything that wears people down on any level (0+ / 0-)

      does it to one extent or another on all levels.  Emotional fatigue makes physical tasks more difficult, and vice versa.

      I didn't know about this study but it does not surprise me in the slightest.

  •  Ive chased the big questions (0+ / 0-)

    what does it all mean? what is the point of it all? Tossing all the malarkey and propaganda aside I have come to accept life as a simple concept.

    In the scheme of things, in this multi dimensional universe of energy. vastly larger than we can even begin to grasp, we humans, this planet , all our actions dont mean much in the macro scheme of anything, the earth could vanish tomorrow and the universe would hardly notice.

    So what are we to do with our everyday?  well I just think perhaps our souls journey is like most energy in the universe and it just looks to reach a balanced and harmonious state.   You can read forever how to possibly acquire this, but in the end everyone is only guessing.  So I just go with what feels right and to me it's simple.

    Live a life that is simple, honest, and positive. In other words dont be a dick. Treat others as you wish to be treated, and try to leave this planet a little better off than you found it. Be a good soul. Its pretty simple.

  •  On the grand scale (0+ / 0-)

    I look at Bill Clinton and Al Gore who put the national debt problem to rest.  Then within only six months their good work had been undone by Republicans.  How must they feel now?

    I fought ignorance for 38 years as a teacher.  But by sheer numbers--because of the failure of ZPG--there is more ignorance in the world now than when I started.

    Maybe it is an occupational hazard of being retired:  I know old people when I started saying they felt sorry for me and my generation.  

    But on some level, I keep trying.  Otherwise, I would be like the guy in the bible who said, I have a good life.  I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones.  I will eat, drink and be merry.  All of us in a certain generation know what happened next.

    I'm from Johnson City.

    by Al Fondy on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 09:09:45 AM PST

  •  you (0+ / 0-)

    At some point, you will need others to help you.  It is disgusting to see selfish, well off young men and women; it is foolish for you not to have your time.  You earned it--it's a reward--here on earth-- that will be used by today's youth as an example.  Work hard, do good deeds, sacrifice, but don't die without pigging out on the roses.  You carried the torch long enough--take a trip--be extravagant--buy your wife a bourgeois gift.  

    My wife and I paid our dues teaching in Brooklyn and in the Bronx  Now we walk the beach, play golf, and visit our new grandson.  We get the urge to volunteer at the local school, but it passes.  If a neighbor's kid needs help, we tutor, paid for with smiles and hugs.  At some point, you and your wife need to be the center of your universe.  That's not selfish--that's just dessert.  Don't wait until you are too old, sick, or tired, to enjoy the ripe fruit on the tree.

    Enough cliches --  take a hike--oops--another one--

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:33:12 AM PST

  •  Being a teacher is one of the best professions (0+ / 0-)

    to correlate with a reduced risk of dementia, so maybe you are selfishly doing this all for you ;)

    ...Son, those Elephants always look out for themselves. If you happen to get a crumb or two from their policies, it's a complete coincidence. -Malharden's Dad

    by slowbutsure on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 10:40:26 AM PST

  •  You only are beaten when you don't get back up. (0+ / 0-)

    They can knock you down, they can kill you but they can't stop you from trying and fighting.

    Each kid you teach to question the status quo instead of blindly accepting it, is a victory.

    Each politician you hold to their promises for even one more hour, is a victory.

    Each person you influence to go to a protest or just read about issues instead of takiing the word of the media and voting their way, is a victory.

    Each person you talk into getting engaged in the process, is a victory.

    Each time you get up agai after you get knocked down by events, is a victory.

    Each war is won or lost by millions of little victories or defeats.

    If you keep fighting, you win.

    "if we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress,.. To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way." - Gabby Giffords

    by daddybunny on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 11:32:58 AM PST

  •  You have already made the world better. (0+ / 0-)

    It doesn't feel like it, boy do I know that feeling, but what we do always makes the world a better place.  

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Wed Nov 20, 2013 at 02:51:22 PM PST

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