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Education is the silver bullet. Education is everything. We don’t need little changes. We need gigantic monumental changes. Schools should be palaces. The competition for the best teachers should be fierce. They should be getting six-figure salaries. Schools should be incredibly expensive for government and absolutely free of charge to its citizens, just like national defense. That’s my position. I just haven’t figured out how to do it yet.
Sam Seaborn, The West Wing (via theaccidentaloptimist)

One Hundred Years

Well said!! old-ways:

Last night, the United States reelected President Barack Obama to a second term in office. Because of the amount of influence (both monetarily and militarily) that is wielded by the United States, that election influenced events to come all over the world. Some are happy about the outcome of the election; some are not. Some are afraid for what’s next; others are hopeful.

If you looked back in time 100 years, the people living back then (1912) wouldn’t recognize the world we live in today. During the expanse of time from there to here, we’ve fought two World Wars and brought down the Berlin Wall. We’ve cured countless diseases, have increased life expectancy by three decades, dramatically decreased infant mortality, and seen millions die from a global flu pandemic. We’ve discovered new forms of life and watched as others go extinct. We’ve sent human beings to the moon and back, now live good portions of our lives in a non-physical place (the Internet), and sent a probe beyond the boundaries of our solar system. We’ve ended racial segregation here in the United States, are beginning to recognize that love is not defined by the genders of the couple, and have created a concept called human rights. We regularly eat foods from all over the planet that would have seemed exotic to earlier generations, have countless libraries of information at our fingertips, and schedule our lives around music, movies, and videos that would have left earlier generations awed with their reach, power, and magnitude. We have seen new countries born, old countries dissolve, and empires rise and fall during that single century. We’ve begun to understand that we live in a network of life, that the choices we make for ourselves not only impact other people, but other species and even the very environment we need to survive.

That journey is not the story of one political party or even one country. That is OUR story, the story of a species that survived the Ice Age, who unlocked the secrets of the atom and the genome, and who has many, MANY chapters left in our tale. If we hold strongly to our disparate positions, we will sow ever greater dissent. We need to begin to understand that our points of conflict aren’t battlegrounds, but potential moments of collaboration and change. We need to look beyond the rhetoric to the core principles held in our opponent’s position. Does your opponent really want to take away your reproductive rights or are they passionate about family and life? Does your opponent really want to pay people not to work, or do they have great compassion for the poor and downtrodden? If we look to our very planet, the rich diversity of life is not found at the poles, but grows exponentially greater as we move ever closer toward middle ground. Likewise, our solutions as a people and as a species are not found in the extreme rhetoric championed by so many, but in the middle ground between those polar opposite positions.

If we are willing to hold onto the core of our beliefs while embracing the strength of our opponents’ perspective and calling, we will find a common thread. That thread will lead us through the challenges ahead, whatever they may be, as long as it is a thread that we find together. We stand, in this moment, at the brink of the next “100 years.” There may be war ahead; there may be unparalleled peace. We don’t know. All we know is that the story before us will change things from how they are in this moment so dramatically that, looking back, future generations will marvel at how different the world has become since our time.

The key isn’t in speaking louder than your opponent or in attacking their beliefs or passions. The key isn’t even in fully understanding where your opponent is coming from. The key is in understanding yourself, being able to speak honestly and from the core of your beliefs, and truly listening to your opponent as they do the same. You won’t agree with each other, but we’re all the same people, the same species, journeying through the same story. We don’t need to agree with each other to find the common ground between us. If one half carries the gifts of peace, the other half carries the sword and shield of defense, and we embark together, we are prepared for anything that may await us on our path. Our differences aren’t a weakness; they’re a strength that allows us to see the full spectrum of the human experience. What will the future bring if we work together? That is entirely up to us. What will the future bring if we continue to sow dissent? That is also completely up to us. All we know for certain is that things will change and, 100 years from now, our descendents will look back from a world that we have given to them - and we will live the rest of our lives in the world that unfolds from here to there.

~ Jeffrey Pierce, traditionally trained shaman

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