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Archive for April, 2017

Drugs in Graphing Calculators and Teddy Bears? The DEA Wants Parents to Be Wary!

April 29, 2017 Comments off

In an article whose content would not be out of place in the Borowitz Report or The Onion, Christopher Ingraham’s Washington Post op ed piece describes a bizarre tweet from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) that provides a link to a page entitled “Hiding Places” at getsmartaboutdrugs.gov, “a DEA resource for parents, educators and caregivers.”

And where does the DEA think your child be hiding drugs? In alarm clocks, graphing calculators, highlighters, shoes, candy wrappers, posters, heating vents, teddy bears, car interiors, and game consoles. As Ingraham writes:

The general take-home message of the page — and of the “getsmartaboutdrugs” website in general — is that seemingly innocuous objects and behaviors can be signs of a life-ruining drug habit. Candy wrappers, belt buckles, ski caps, glow sticks and pacifiers are all potential pieces of drug paraphernalia, according to the site.

Warning signs of teen drug use include “disinterest in school,” “lack of interest in clothing,” new friends, and “excessive attempts to be alone.”

The categories are so broad as to be practically meaningless, a reflection, in part, of the DEA’s worldview that drugs are everywhere and everyone is a potential criminal.

Ingraham takes a light-hearted approach to this, underscoring it’s preposterousness by noting that “Among teens, use of illicit drugs other than marijuana is near historic lows and marijuana use is flat or falling.” and concluding with this quip:

So parents, take heart: If your kid seems really into her graphing calculator, all it really means is that she’s well on her way to a career as a successful engineer.

I wish I found this to be humorous, but instead I see it as part of the insidious direction our government has taken us for decades, one that preys on our fears and suspicions instead of our faith in our fellow man.

Because we are fearful that isolated incidents of terrorism we are subjected to ever more invasive scrutiny in our travels. Because one terrorist used a shoe bomb we ALL remove our shoes to board planes. Because one terrorist used some kind of gel-like explosive we need to remove our shampoo from our carry on luggage. Because one individual used an underwear bomb we are now subject to body scans and on occasion pat downs. And in order to provide this security we have spent millions of dollars on security technology and millions annually on trained TSA personnel.

Because of isolated incidents of school shootings, we now lock the doors to our schools, provide surveillance cameras, and often provide police officers to monitor students. We also place strictures on the information students can access while they are under the supervision of schools and ask schools to assume responsibility for “bullying” communications that take place outside of school. And in order to provide this security we have spent millions of dollars on security equipment and millions annually on non-instructional staff in schools. Worse, we are effectively training our youth to be comfortable in a world where their every move is monitored and their communications might be limited.

Because of isolated incidents of armed robberies we provide 24/7 surveillance on many of our streets and because of isolated incidents of violence by police we are providing body-cams to ensure the safety of innocent citizens. And in order to provide these additional layers of security we have spent millions of dollars on equipment. Worse, we are reinforcing the notion that neither our fellow citizens nor the police can be trusted.

I look at the billions spent to promote fear and reinforce docility and contrast it with the relative pittance spent on mental health, addictions counseling, and the safety net programs and wonder where our country is headed. As one who read and valued George Orwell’s insights, I think I know.

 

Colorado Op Ed Writer Urges Christians to Stay in Public Schools Based on “The Golden Rule”

April 29, 2017 Comments off

When I read the title of Colorado Springs Gazette op ed contributor Andrea Ramirez’ article, “Should Christians Abandon Public Schools?”, I expected the response to be a resounding “yes”. Instead, Ms. Ramirez offers a thoughtful and scriptural based “no”, despite her stated admiration for James Dobson and her support for Betsy DeVos. Why? Because she is unsettled by the hypocrisy of an affirmative answer given our inequitable wealth:

As the spirit of Christ calls us to love our neighbors, not just our own families, public school withdrawal appears particularly off target.

Our neighbors with access and financial means may enjoy many options for education: home schooling, Christian or private education, and public or charter schools.

Other families, due to location or income, health or family constraints, find their local public school to be their sole educational option. And let us not forget, most of our neighbor’s children are attending public schools, a full 90 percent of our nation’s 55 million students.

As Christians we can “love our neighbors as ourselves” by ensuring excellent education options for all children, including students in poverty, disabled students, English language learners and military families.

As one who has studied the precepts of many religions, I cannot think of one that is not based on some variant of the Golden Rule. Religious scholar Karen Armstrong noted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey reported on by Huffington Post:

“Confucius was the first person to formulate the Golden Rule, as far as we know, 500 years before Christ. And his disciples said, ‘Which of your teachings can we put into practice all day and every day?’ And he said, ‘Never treat others as you would not like to be treated yourself.’”

“I think that all the faiths have come to tell us this. That this is what works. By looking into your heart and discovering what gives you pain – and then refusing to ever inflict that pain on someone else — somehow, you achieve new capacities of mind and heart.”

“Once you (practice the Golden Rule), everything falls into place. I think the fact that every single one of the world’s faiths has developed this ethos of the Golden Rule separately from one another, independently, and said, ‘This is what brings us to Nirvana, or to God’ — they did it because it worked.”

Those who argue that our nation was founded on Christian principles are right to the extent that our forefathers believed in the straightforward logic and practicality of the “Golden Rule”. But because they clearly sought a UNITED States of America they wanted a nation completely disentangled from religion. To a man, they had witnessed how religious prejudice and politics failed the nations they fled from and in creating a new country sought to avoid those kinds of conflicts. We should learn from the religious persecution that drove migrants to our country and led us to separate church and state… and, heed Ms. Ramirez’ words:

Jesus serves as the clearest model for how Christians should live and love in our world. He served all he encountered, loving those in his community, serving those on the margins.

May we follow his lead as we serve those in our communities.

Steven Singer: No, Mr. Trump, You Can’t Curb the Federal Role While Imposing Vouchers

April 28, 2017 Comments off

Blogger Steven Singer notes one obvious example of the hypocrisy in Mr. Trump’s Executive Order to limit “Federal Overreach” in public education. Like his predecessors the President wants to mandate a direction that is contrary to public opinion but wildly popular with the business community… but unlike them he doesn’t pretend to care about the rights of students or protecting children raised in poverty. 

Source: Steven Singer: No, Mr. Trump, You Can’t Curb the Federal Role While Imposing Vouchers

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