Thursday, April 19, 2007

Massacre at Virginia Tech.

I can't even begin to express my sincerest of condolences to the victims and their families of this extremely mind-blowing tragedy. To think that a life can be literally blown to pieces in such a rapid and meaningless manner is an absolute heartbreak, and even worse, for no good reason.

The man responsible for taking the lives of these 32 people is nothing but weak and disgusting. No legitimate human being takes his anguish and disillusionment out on others unless he is afraid. Afraid of what, we’ll never know. Most likely, afraid of himself. Afraid of the evil that lurked inside of him. Afraid of never being known by society. Instead of ending his own life and going in the silence he’s remembered for living in, he felt it necessary to take the entire world down with him.

What happened on Monday at Virginia Tech will always be remembered; Cho Seung-Hui will not. Our nation is coming together to mourn the victims of this heinous rampage, and to comfort one another in knowing that we are united as one. When all of the media, madness, and mayhem of this devastating situation subsides, Cho will be nothing more than dust in the wind – a man who was clearly demented, lost, and alone. A man who will now be made to relive his wickedness over and over again until his final day of judgment. A man who deserves nothing more.

And as for myself, I’ll always wonder why. Why the police didn’t enter the building sooner. Why the campus wasn’t closed down after the first two murders took place that morning. And mostly, why such terrible things have to happen to decent people.

The truth is clear – our nation is slowly transforming from a safe place where nobody locks their doors, to a chaotic and unexplainable mess of crime, sadness, and utter selfishness.

The Sadness of Virginia Tech

Our hearts and prayers go out to those at VT. So many brilliant lives cut short, and only God knows why. Having a college age daughter, I find myself frightened to allow her to go to classes. I want her home, safe and protected with me.

As a writer, It is hard for me to admit, but I just don't have the words to convey my feelings of love, pain and sympathy. So instead I do the best thing I know...I ask Gods mercy on you and pray that he will be there to help you through this.

Cho Seung-Hui was a very troubled young man. I also pray for his family. I wonder what has happened in his young life that made him so angry, so torn apart inside that he would do such a thing as this.

It would be so easy to allow my pain and sadness to turn to anger and start pointing fingers and blaming, as so many have already begun doing. It won't bring back our children, and it won't make things easier for those who have so much pain to deal with right now. So what I will do, and what I ask each of my readers to do, is to take a minute or two to pray for the families, the students and faculty, and the town. Let us also pray for our country and for Gods guidance and love. God have mercy on us all.


Monday, April 9, 2007

A Woman President

A Woman President
By Pamela S. Meek

"Something which we think is impossible now is not impossible in another decade.”
Constance Baker Motley (First African-American Woman in the U.S. to become a Federal Judge)

In March we celebrated National Women's History Month. We celebrated many heroic achievements of women who have contributed to the economic, political, and social progress of our country. We honored the courage of the early suffragists, including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who fought for the right to vote. We acknowledge pioneers such as Virginia Claflin Woodhull who in 1872, became the first woman to ever run for President of the United States, as well as other women, past and present, who paved the way for our advancement into the women we are today, and the women we still struggle to become. Many of us have contemplated a woman holding
the office of President of the United States for many years.

The problem is, the world was not ready when we had the right candidates and now, there is a huge question as to IF we have the right candidate running when we might be ready to accept a woman. I have decided to leave my own personal opinion
out of this at this time.

In 1872, Virginia Claflin Woodhull became the first woman to ever run for President of the United States. She ran under the Equal Rights Party. Since then we have had eleven other women who have entered the race.

1884 and again in 1888- Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood ran for President under the Equal
Rights Party.

1964- Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to have her name placed in nomination for President by a major party. She received Republican primary votes in New Hampshire, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, and Oregon, among others, and had twenty-seven first ballot votes at the Republican National Convention.

1972- Shirley Anita Chisholm was the first African American woman to run for President. She campaigned throughout the country and was on the ballot in twelve primaries in what was largely an educational campaign. She received 151.25 delegate votes at the Democratic National Convention

1972- Patsy Takemoto Mink ran as an anti-war candidate in the 1972 Oregon Democratic presidential primary, winning two percent of the votes.

1976- Ellen McCormack entered 20 state primaries for the Democratic presidential nomination as an anti-abortion candidate, winning 22 convention votes. She became the first woman to qualify for federal campaign matching funds and qualified for Secret Service protection. In 1980, she ran for president again as the candidate of the Right to Life Party, winning more than 30,000 votes from three states.

1984- Sonia Johnson ran on the ballot of the Citizens Party.

1988- Patricia S. Schroeder a Democrat, took preliminary steps toward making a serious run for the presidency, but was forced to drop out before the primaries because she could not raise the necessary funds.

1988, 1992- Lenora Fulani - New Alliance Party. Ran for U.S. President twice and qualified for federal matching funds both times.

2000- Elizabeth Hanford Dole - resigned her position as president of the American Red Cross in January 1999, a position she had held since 1991, to run for the Republican nomination for President

2004- Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun was among ten Democrats seeking the 2004 presidential nomination.

2008- Hilary Rodham Clinton is a current candidate for the Democratic nomination for president.

When checking into the backgrounds of these women, I found that, in my opinion, there were several who would probably actually make it if they ran today. There were a couple who made me wonder what on earth they were thinking, and a few who just made me laugh and very glad they were not elected.

On that note, let’s take a look at what it would take to elect a woman as President in 2008...

1. Political party affiliation; Today we have the Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Right to Life, Green, and a new one I just heard of called the Technologists. Just how important is her party she represents to you?

2. What about personal Ethics? If we define Ethics as the difference between right and wrong used to benefit society as a whole and to improve the human condition, do you feel these personal ethics are important and should they be used to judge a candidate?

3. Stance on Important Matters; How would your candidate need to vote and on what matters do you feel are important?

4. Is Personality important? What if the candidate feels she is superior to others and is rude to her body guards and others she feels are inferior? Should that enter into the political debate? Should someone be elected because everyone likes the way they smile and treat others?

5. Is it enough to be Politically savvy? Just knowing the ins and outs of the political arena is not usually enough, what else would your candidate have to know for you to elect her?

Bonus question…Do you know of a woman who should run for President today? Why?

We would love to hear from each of our readers. Please take a moment and answer our short poll in the Blog area of the magazine., to answer our brief questionnaire…or just tell us what it would take for you to vote for a woman

Thursday, April 5, 2007

One Nation Divided

By Linda O'Connell

Illegal immigration issues are a huge topic of great concern in America. The side on which one stands divides or unites us. I am conflicted on the issue, and I am not certain that there are any clear cut solutions, despite my wavering opinions.

Residents of Valley Park, Missouri, a sleepy little town west of St. Louis are up in arms. Local legislation that would impose a fine on anyone who employs or rents to undocumented immigrants, has been repealed. Routing out the illegal immigrants has pushed the hot buttons of compassionate, caring individuals --- and they stand firmly in their beliefs on both sides of the issue.

Perhaps the adage, with age comes wisdom, is true. I had an older neighbor once who imparted her knowledge and wisdom to me when I was a young mom. Each evening we would stroll around our city block. She had been a war bride in the 1940’s and met her soldier husband in her hometown in Germany. She immigrated to the United States where she attained citizenship, and raised a family. But she left a huge chunk of her heart in the Rhineland. She frequently talked about her country and the family she left behind. She also spoke of tyranny and tolerance.

One evening we noticed a moving van parked down the street. As we approached, we saw that the family was African-American, the first black family to move into our segregated neighborhood. The woman said to me, “I don’t know why people make such a big deal out of color. People are just people. Ethnicity doesn’t make one bit of difference when you’re under five years old or over seventy-five. When you’re in your formative years, all you want to do is play and eat and sleep; doesn’t matter what color the kid is next to you. People are just people. It’s the way you treat one another that matters at that age. When you’re old and falling apart, it doesn’t matter what color the person is who feeds you or takes you to the toilet. It’s the way the person treats you.”

That statement has had a profound impact on me ever since. An elderly relative, who had been a racist all of her life, entered a nursing home last year. She receives quality, loving care from a devoted African-American nurse, and they have developed a fondness for one another. I can guarantee you it wouldn’t have happened years ago.

Our inner city school has a diverse ethnic population. Recently I received a new student from Thailand into my preschool class. I listened to a group of children discussing the new girl. One of the children said, “I think she is Chinese like me.”

“No, she is maybe from my country. Her hair is black like my hair,” said a little girl from Eritrea, Africa. Another child chimed in, “I know! She is Vietnamese; her eyes look like mine.”

I sat quietly and listened as the children continued their debate. It reminded me of times I have been in group situations. I attend educational seminars and I also facilitate at these events. I begin by asking teachers to observe other people in the room for a few minutes, and then I ask them to share what they have discovered. Invariably they will do a head count and tell me how many people are in attendance. Typically, one by one they will begin to dissect the group by ethnicity, gender, age, hair color, even clothing. They seem confused when I smile and remain silent. I do not respond until the last observation is voiced. They are amazed when I make my own observations. “You are all human beings, all or most of you have hair, and you have eyes with which to see my materials. All of you have ears with which to listen intently and learn something that you might impart to others. You are all able to speak, ask questions and share your information with me. Every single one of you have feelings that can be hurt or bolstered by what I say and do as your group leader.” They nod in agreement; most understand that I am trying to demonstrate the profound effect each of us has on others. I ask them to ponder a question; why is it that when we walk into a group, we immediately see our differences? The answer is simple; it is human nature to be a bit egocentric and ethnocentric. I remind them to treat others as they would want to be treated - with respect and compassion.

I remembered the day I attended my grandson’s preschool graduation. The children pledged allegiance to the flag and sang a patriotic song. A nice gesture, perhaps a policy instituted after 9/11, not necessarily part of a typical preschool curriculum, I thought to myself. I wondered exactly how much the youngsters understood as they belted out unfamiliar phrases: “My Country ‘T is of Thee, sweet land of liberty, let freedom ring.”

My reverie was interrupted by a verbose child in my own classroom who said, “You guys are all wrong! I know what she is; she’s JUST a girl.”

If only we could all see one another as just a boy or girl, just a man or woman. After all, people are people. It’s not skin color, ethnicity or religion that makes one bad or good; it’s their actions.

Now, I completely understand why my grandson’s teacher taught her students the Pledge of Allegiance and a patriotic song. We do live in one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all. As Americans practice their constitutional rights to freedom of expression we unite on different sides of the immigration issue. Our country - land of the free and home of the brave - stands divided. Our government needs to get some things straightened out. In the meantime, we should all try to treat others as we want to be treated.

For more from this talented writer, click here.