“I Want to Live Up to Her Expectations”

13 01 2011

UPDATE Friday am – Michelle Obama writes open letter to Thinking Parents here.


It was magnificent, the best since his race speech as a candidate imo. As a mom and educator, of course my favorite part was about setting an example for the children, whose hope is yet undimmed, who believe us and believe IN us:

“I want to live up to her expectations

I want our democracy to be as good as Christina imagined it

I want America to be as good as she imagined it. . .

ALL of us, we should do everything we can, to to be sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations!”

If we’re lucky and smart, it will turn out that fine words like these matter most.



15 responses

13 01 2011

Five years ago (less exactly one month) I wrote a Culture Kitchen column titled “Failing at Freedom.”

And in our ignorance and impotence, schooled yet ill-equipped as self-governing citizens of our free union, we yell more than we think, point fingers, shove, stampede and then start shooting.

Police Chief Nannette H. Hegerty of Milwaukee calls it “the rage thing.”
“We’re seeing a very angry population, and they don’t go to fists anymore, they go right to guns,” she said. . .

It’s clear something big is missing; the education essential to independently enjoy one’s life, liberty and pursuit of happiness somehow isn’t reaching all its intended beneficiaries. Ignorance of ideas and poverty of purpose are combining to make a daunting social villain that threatens us all . . .
what to do?

See also
from last August:
“For any nation in any age including here and now, the ultimate war is over competing narratives, conflicting power of story. Snook, as faithful readers can attest, is all about narratives and the power of story — in education, relationships, science, politics, work and play, war and peace, in the meaning of life itself.”

and last June:

“Do you love America?
Here’s a Thinking Parents’ introduction to America’s real power of story now that as a country, we collectively miseducate our kids about value (as in the value of college, competition, hard work, health, free markets, firearms, friends and family.)”

Political theatre is truth-telling of telling truths, despite individual characters who seldom do the same. And even when it is terrible, it’s instructive to see what wins.”

13 01 2011

And this from years ago too, about words and story and how our minds create our reality: Presidential Candidates Write Their Own Power of Story (wonder if Palin will ever understand she was literally writing her own reality show all along?)

. . .one thing that struck me is the lack of diversity in the types of brains that we’ve let politics narrow down to. We’re dominated by linear wonkish male-pattern lawyer brains (even in the female frontrunner!) although perhaps surprisingly Obama who is also a lawyer, deviates from that mold into a more whole-brained style of writing, you know, the kind of mind traditionally dismissed as “female?” 😉

Daniel Pink of course, says that linear left-brain, info obsessed thinking is so last century!

“The last few decades have belonged to a certain kind of person with a certain kind of mind – computer programmers who could crank code, lawyers who could craft contracts, MBAs who could crunch numbers. But the keys to the kingdom are changing hands.

The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind – creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people – artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers – will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys. . .”

This swells in significance when you remember all these lawyer-brained folks pass all the education laws and set all the standards. That linear lawyer brain, much less the braggart super-CEO motivational speaker showboat (also described in this Sunday piece) don’t fit the minds we want our kids to develop for the future a la Howard Gardner, right?

Thus it suggests we could start by electing different kinds of minds to lawmaking, if we’re really serious about systemic change for kids on campus.

All much more interesting to me at least, than the usual “horse-race-sex-party” analysis. (See how cool that sounds when I run the cliches together and combine meanings in jarring juxtaposition, horse race with race, sex with party, etc? The power of prose!)

13 01 2011

(Cock of the snook to our favorite “online action figure” Chris O’Donnell)

More pitch-perfect power of story this morning:

“You see that it’s not one side against the other. It’s both sides against the normal. . .now watch what the normal folks do. . .They hear something and try to help.

Of course they’re afraid, but they just have to do what they can. This is how normal fights back, by rejecting fear and choosing courage. “

13 01 2011
Nance Confer

I’m not feeling it.

My “normal” recently was an encounter with two newly-released mental patients. How newly, you may wonder? It was early Monday morning, they were wandering the strip mall and they still had their hospital bracelets on.

My “normal” was to apologize to the bible-toting guy who asked for a light and go in to run my errand.

On the way out, my “normal” was to hope the other wandering lost soul didn’t get pissed enough to do anyone any harm. What might piss this poor guy off? The cute little red convertible that was zooming though the parking lot and thought it was a good idea to honk at the deranged person wandering down the middle of the road.

Yes, some of us can be brave and do the right thing when a tragedy happens. Some of us can’t and there’s no reason to expect we should. The “normal” response is not to flinge yourself at the gunman.

But when there are crazy people around that one political party consistently underserves, putting the rest of us at risk, it is “normal” to point that out.

And since there will always be crazy people — did any of us doubt that the AZ shooter was nuts? — it is “normal” to point to the party that consistently gives those with a violent bent a target to aim for.


13 01 2011

That’s so interesting, how we read it differently. The “normal” I thought was meant, was the one in the general population anywhere between wingnuts and paid political opinion hypers on either fringe. Hmmm. . .

13 01 2011

Either way, I agree about the false equivalency. Some “not normal” voices even this week are clearly determined to ride that horse straight to hell if need be, as long as they can take their sworn enemies down with them.

13 01 2011

About living up to our children’s expectations, I KNOW my children have made me a better person. Not necessarily a better competitor in the global marketplace or even healthier, physically at least.

But better — all I prize in this world is for the world to be better for them, and my chance every day to help them be better for it.

14 01 2011

Nance, does Paul Krugman capture some of what you’re thinking?

A Tale of Two Moralities

14 01 2011

And Michelle Obama’s letter to parents, after our debates a la Chris Christie and Michelle Rhee over whether public service jobs like teaching, help tear the country down or build it up, and whether we or any Americans deserve basic human considerations and freedoms even if we don’t actively “compete in the private marketplace” (whatever that means anymore.)

Seems like many if not most of the Tucson injured were public servants or not actively employed for a paycheck. Worth noting in the health care debate we’re about to recycle? That’s a lot of folks not so “normal” as painted by those who claim employer-based health care is the greatest system in the world.

And wait, were ALL of the slain in that category?! — not actively competing (against other Americans!) to “earn” their rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness from the “private” marketplace.

14 01 2011
Nance Confer

Yes, JJ.

Now connect the idea that we will never agree with the indulgence of gun fantasies as a solution to anything, cutting social services as a budget balancing tool, being disconnected from science and advances in mental health and health, for that matter, at least for those who can’t afford private care, made more expensive by corporate (need I suggest right-leaning?) interests, etc., etc. All the ideas on the right side of the aisle, whether truly believed or held for reasons of greed — take that whole ball of wax, delivered in the most beligerent, fact-free way, and see how far you think Obama’s suggestion that we live up to the ideals that we can imagine a 9-year-old girl might have will get us.

I don’t think turning the other cheek will do a bit of good in the face of a crowd that has the nerve to suggest that years of hate-filled rants, laced with violent images, has nothing to do with a crazy man hunting down the local Dem.

More in a minute. . .

14 01 2011

Did you hear the one about the pregnant woman (drinking water, if that were any of the business’ business) who was ejected from a bar because the bouncer at the (private competitive business, no doubt) decided it was bad for business to let her stay . . .it was in Illinois. Here is that state’s commitment to human rights even in “private” places of public accommodation:

“It is unlawful to discriminate in the full and equal enjoyment of facilities and services by any place of public accommodation.”

Just found a story link from Chicago Tribune.

14 01 2011
Nance Confer

Here’s an analogy from real life right now in my house —

My SIL (our 4YO Dear Nephew’s grandmother and guardian) had a heart attack a few days ago. After a few days in the hospital and appropriate procedures, she is being released and will return to light duty work and, fingers crossed, be fine.

So, yes, even though she is a healthy person, always watching what she eats, getting exercise (she’s a PE/health teacher), etc., she had clogged arteries and had the attack.

Is it conceivable that the years of stress she has been put through by her daughter — the drug addict mother of Dear Nephew — culminating in a horrendous custody/visitation hearing on Friday, had nothing to do with this?

If her daughter learns of this, will it occur to her that some of this is her fault?

Does it occur to a Republican suggesting cuts to mental health programs and pushing “2nd Amendment rights” that the nut who goes on the shooting spree might belong on his ledger?

And does it do me any good to think that I might be able to reason with either one? I don’t think so.

I don’t know what is left but talk of listening better and whatever other unity message we are all supposed to be using to heal with. . . no, not this time. This time I am going to remember what happens when our President decides to be the good guy, reach out, meet in the middle. He and we get shafted. Again.

14 01 2011

And if I heard it right, the bouncer’s explanation had to do with public violence, something about her being more likely than most to get hurt when the brawl started up so it was for her own good — and to save the business the legal liability — whattaguy!

14 01 2011

. . .does it do me any good to think that I might be able to reason with either one? I don’t think so.

I don’t know what is left

Nance, I’m so sorry. That stinks, for everybody. I agree we can’t reason with addicts and the mentally ill and the stupid, gullible, and/or purposely ignorant. Or the desperate, who are multiplying everywhere. And I’m in your corner that merely “talk of listening better and whatever other unity message we are all supposed to be using to heal with” must NOT be the only thing left. If it’s not part of changing the rules of engagement, if we don’t fix how we decide these things, then all that’s left at that point is will the better armed terrorists win and destroy everything doing it?

It seems to me we’re awfully close to that brink.

14 01 2011
Nance Confer

Sadly, I think you may be right.

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