The way you can measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Issue No. 8 – 12th September 2005
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Inspirational Message of the Week
“Don’t wish it was easier – wish you were tougher.” Jim Rohn
I subscribe to many newsletters and sometimes there are gems that need to be passed on. I include this abridged version of the following essay here not necessarily because I share the author’s opinion, but to make you think. As teachers it is very clear that we have a responsibility to our charges. For some children, one teacher who believed in them and encouraged them, is all they’ve got and all they’ve ever had. And that one teacher can make all the difference. Sobering thought but true. So when you’re feeling down and wondering why you’re still teaching, remember that you are making a difference. If you don’t want to wade through the whole essay, just read the last paragraph. May it inspire you to be the best teacher you can be, that is, a teacher who inspires and empowers children to be the best they can be.
“A Turn in the Road” by Robert Ringer From Maverick Spirit June 27th 2005 (http://www.maverickspirit.biz)
“This may surprise some of my long-time readers, but I felt a great deal of sympathy for both Michael Jackson and Mike Tyson as I watched their lives reach new lows recently. ‘
I believe that people sometimes take a wrong turn in the road – perhaps inadvertently or maybe just as a result of an ill-advised impulse – and then discover they can’t find their way back. There can be many causes for making that wrong turn – teenage pregnancy, the loss of a loved one, disappointment over not landing an anticipated promotion, lack of social acceptance, or failure in an area such as sports, academics, or spirituality.
Whatever the cause may be, we know that some people give up on life and turn to alcohol and drugs, become bitter recluses, or even resort to suicide. At the same time, there are others who, after experiencing everything from a poverty-stricken background to racism to the loss of an entire family to financial catastrophe, fight back and succeed against all odds.
What we don’t know is why one person is motivated to take the turn in the road that leads to a happy, fulfilling life, while another chooses the turn that leads to self-destruction and misery. ‘
The truth of the matter is that we simply don’t know. Years ago at a seminar in Sydney, Australia, Jim Rohn, in talking about how easy it is to become irritated by individuals who are nasty to you, suggested that you have to learn to “meet people in the hurt.”
Everyone who has children can relate to this, because kids experience enormous pain growing up. What they have to go through as adolescents and teenagers borders on cruel and unusual punishment. The good news is that most of them survive and go on to lead normal, healthy lives. The bad news is that millions of them never find their way back to the main road. Instead, they end up on drugs or alcohol. They end up in abusive marriages. They end up homeless. And, yes, many end up dead at an early age.
Whenever I cross paths with a street beggar, I find myself wondering what happened in that person’s life that brought him to such a wretched state? What was the wrong turn he took, why did he take it, and when?
I began giving money to street beggars at a relatively young age. ‘ I don’t give out of guilt. ‘ I give because I know that this person is going to live out the remainder of his relatively short lifespan enduring a kind of pain that is incomprehensible to you and me. Something human inside me senses this and makes me want to meet him in the hurt, if only for a moment.
Not only does compassion feel right in such cases, it is also a constant reminder to me of how minor my problems are compared to the problems of those who have permanently lost their way on this side of the secular/nonsecular divide.
Let me make it clear that I’m not on a crusade here to help the poor. On the contrary, I am a staunch believer that people who rail on endlessly about the injustice of the growing gap between the rich and the poor almost always do more harm than good. ‘
History has made it clear that a pretty wise fellow who once pointed out that the poor will always be with us was absolutely right. Nothing ‘ has been able to eradicate hopelessness.
Notice that I used the word hopelessness, not poverty. ‘
But let’s get back to the high end of society. His problems with young children aside, every time I see Michael Jackson on television, I wonder to myself what has made this man-child so miserable. As late as the mid eighties, he was a remarkably handsome young man with talent unlike anything people had ever before witnessed.
Yet, he made a conscious choice to destroy his incredibly good looks and turn himself into a freak. Why did he choose to start dressing like a clown and talking like a little girl? When I look at Michael Jackson on television, I see nothing but pain behind the choreographed scene of bodyguards, umbrellas, victory signs to his fans, and his jaw-dropping babble about cookies and milk. ‘
But when I think about meeting people in the hurt, Mike Tyson is the celebrity who most often comes to mind. Many people have a strong dislike for this hoodlum turned famous centimillionaire turned felon, bankrupt, and all-around broken man.
If you listen carefully to Tyson’s words, you can feel the pain radiating from him. As a youngster in Brooklyn, he knew no other life but that of a street thug. His wrong turn came at a very young age.
And Tyson also has something in common with the Michael Jacksons and so many other celebrities. The nonmedical term for this problem is too much money, too fast, too easy
What I have said in this article is not an appeal for you to follow my lead. What you do in your life, and with your life, is strictly your business.
What I do hope you take away from this article is an increased ability to keep your own problems in perspective. In addition, I hope it will make you think about how fortunate you are that you haven’t taken that wrong turn in the road – or, if you have, that you were able to find your way back.
Above all, I hope my words remind you how important it is to make the effort to at least meet your friends and loved ones in the hurt, particularly your children. At the end of the day, love and understanding could very well be the difference between a child’s becoming an honour student and going on to a stellar career at Harvard … or evolving into an angry kid in a black trench coat whose life ends in tragedy.
Robert Ringer Copyright Robert J. Ringer, 2005
Strange Things You May Not Know
Did you know the dot over the letter “i” is called a tittle? Celery has negative calories. It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with. Charlie Chaplin once won third prize in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest.
“A great presentation, most useful.” Bev Ross, kindergarten teacher, Melbourne
“Love the ideas for making the resources ‘ hoops, ribbons and tapping sticks.” Cleonie Boyd, Geraldton
About The Author
Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA
Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she has taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.
57 Henry Lawson Walk, East Perth WA 6004
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: 0410 64 2781 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Until next time – continue being a legend in your classroom.
Marlene Rattigan, Editor
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