Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama to parents: Turn off TV, put away video games

Note in passing: President Obama made one of the strongest, most widely heard appeals ever for media literacy in his speech before the joint session of Congress on Tuesday.

Here's what he said:

….education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a parent -- for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, read to their child. (Applause.) I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father, when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home. That is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. That's an American issue.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Joe, Steve and me

Yesterday, Joe Lieberman, Steve Jobs and I all did the same thing.

We celebrated our birthdays.

Not together, of course, but as Pisces, we no doubt were swimming in the same birthday stream.

Joe and I actually share the very same day of birth back in 1942, making us both 67. I’m not sure what this coincidence signifies, except that neither of us seems the wiser for it.

Lieberman was elected vice president back in 2000 but was denied assuming office by five Supreme Court votes. He’s followed a circuitous path since. A super-hawk on Iraq and no longer a Democrat, he actively campaigned for John McCain last fall.

At times in recent years, I’ve thought of calling Joe to play my 2/24/42 birthday card.

“Joe,” I’d say, “we’ve been through a lot of years together. I think it’s time we compared notes….”

He has a lot more than I do. I’ve tried to keep things relatively simple. If I could share the virtues of simplicity with Joe, it might be worth the call.

Steve, 13 years younger than Joe and me, celebrated his 54th birthday yesterday.

I’m typing this post on one of his elegant machines. I’ve been an Apple aficionado for years even though I’m not one to bond with brands. I’ve made an exception of Apple. It’s part trust (these things are bullet-proof) and aesthetics (my five-year-old iMac still adds a splash of grace and class to my office clutter.)

I learned of Jobs’ birthday only yesterday, but now it’s fun to weigh whether the 2/24 connection mysteriously strengthened my 25-year affinity for all things Apple.

So, a day late, I wish both Steve and Joe well. Steve, whose health may have taken a bad turn, is in particular need of kind thoughts. And, say what you will about Joe’s shifting politics, I’ve always considered him a congenial and gracious guy.

So, Joe and Steve, here’s to us!

Labels: , ,

Monday, February 23, 2009

Joys amidst concerns

Out of silent worship, Quakers often share “joys and concerns.” Someone might cite a birth or reconciliation as a “joy”; another might speak of an illness or dispute as a “concern.”

These days, of course, we’ve focused a lot on concerns that have come with this deepening economic crisis: unemployment, foreclosures, bankruptcies, homelessness, stress, etc. When those are applied to individuals, families or businesses they grow to personal tragedies.

But oddly, we are seeing some unexpected joys as well.

Here are four:

• Discovery of what’s important. In short, friends, family and community. Charity and simple kindness mean so much. Taking the time to listen, to be together. Celebrating nature. Breatheing. The best things really are free.

• The decline of consumerism. We have way too much stuff. We are not what we have but who we are. Advertising seems all the more deceitful and absurd in these times. We see and find joy in simplicity. Tight budgets make distinguishing between needs and wants so much easier.

• "Swamps" are being drained. I think particularly of a corrupt financial system, executive greed and an ethos that chooses short-term rewards and riches at the expense of the environment and the planet.

• We have the opportunity to start anew. When we rebuild, we will do it much more holistically, much more environmentally and even more compassionately. This crisis is re-educating us — refining and redefining our values.

Labels: , , ,