The Nation’s Critical Thinking Test

Each day brings us closer to election time.  The news is already on information overload. Both candidates have supporters, ads and an agenda.

The country if you believe the media is crisis and it may very well be.  Things are definitely not going well. People are angry and rightly so, but are they angry about the right things?

As a teacher, I have felt how my profession has been attacked in the last couple of years.  Teachers and other public sector workers have come under fire. We are according to some greedy selfish individuals growing rich off of the public’s money. I would love to challenge these individuals who believe that I am somehow living high on the hog.  My bank account and credit score are tangible evidence that I am not. My health benefits and retirement plan were suppose to be my compensation for being paid less than I would make in the private sector.

The upcoming election is a test of our nations ability to make decisions for itself.  Do we have the ability to separate the propaganda from the facts? Do we know what we truly want for our nation? What is actually best for the country as a whole not just for ourselves? Can we separate our emotions from the facts in order to make a logical choice?

Politicians from both sides count on us voting with our hearts instead of our minds or better yet both.  I admit that I was guilty of this early in my voting career.  I voted the way my birth father did because I felt that our shared values dictated it. It was only later as I walked further and further into the adult world that I realized while my values had not changed my perception did.  I have lived on minimum wages, without insurance and in public housing.  The view from the middle is vastly different from the view from the bottom of society.

Neither party has the perfect solution for the country. It will take compromise and innovation to get us where we are once again prosperous.  In the next election, it really does matter if you vote and let your voice  be heard.  No voting is how Florida ended up with Governor Scott, who hasn’t been the boost to the state’s economy that he promised.  A few people decided what was best for the rest of the state. Now, my paycheck has been decreased in the name of conserving money and being responsible.

While the media debates the issues or what feel are the issues, it is up to us as everyday Americans to decide what are the real issues that affect us.  Then seek out information from multiple sources and reflect on what it means for us.  It will take a sacrifice on our parts. We will have to give up our valuable time for the future health of our nation.   And then we must  vote accordingly in the fall.

Justice…

When we achieve justice for one of us, we achieve it for all of us.

The shooting of Trayvon Martin didn’t just hurt his family and friends, it hurts all of us.

Many of the students who come in my classroom already have a problem with the color of my skin; complexity of ethnicity not visible to their eyes. All they see is labels that experience has taught them, not the people underneath.

Experience has taught them that “white” folks aren’t to be trusted, the police even less… You can argue against me all you want.  You can tell me about the racism that you have experience. We can trade stories back and forth, but it won’t change the fact that a young black man was shot in the back for just walking down the street and his killer hasn’t been arrested. It won’t change the fact that instead of showing how far we have come from the days of segregation when Justice was far from blind, we are now confronted it just how far short of the dream we have fallen.

Media personalities have blamed what the young man was wearing and I am sure that there are some that support the gunman’s right to protect himself.  But, if the man who shot the teen never goes to trial and the evidence heard in open court, how can we ever really be sure that justice has been done?

I don’t think that the law is too blame but the implementation of it.  If the gentleman’s action are justifiable under the law then let him stand trial and prove it in a court of law. The Orlando Sentinel recently reported more facts in the case, including Zimmerman’s statements to the police.  This place Trayvon in a negative light. The timing of the statement’s release as well as witness statements seems a little too late.

The case has awoken tensions that can’t be quieted by a news report.  Media personalities have stirred the pot and their words took on a life of their own.  Some blaming the victim, others blaming the law. If it was Zimmerman’s story is true then he has been done a disservice by the media and the police.

Blaming the victim for what they were wearing makes no sense.  Yes, hoodies can make a person look mysterious on a warm day, but a February night even in Florida is chilly.  Hell, I have worn my hoodie to walk down the street to get a snack.  Maybe I was spared because of the big Mickey Mouse symbol on the front or the translucent nature of my skin in winter.

Still, does it really matter? Does the color of our skin still matter so much these days that we will excuse the killing of an unarmed young man because of it?  My students after watching the coverage might be even more inclined to say yes. And I can’t blame them; there is even a part of me that agrees.  There is just too much evidence to dismiss it even if it goes against what I want to believe.

Justice won’t be served by debating or blaming the victim’s fashion choice. It needs to be decided by a jury, after all isn’t our justice system one of the things that makes us great and separates us our “enemies.”

Justice also needs to be served in the case of Shaima Alawadi who has succumb to the injuries she received from an intruder who invaded her home.  He left a note; directing her terrorist family to go home.  The family has been in the country for over twenty years; long before 9-11 and before the majority of my students were born. Her children were raised in America, not Iraq, as if that matters in the end. Both her and her husband worked for the U.S. Army has cultural advisers to help out troops in the Middle East.   She was one of us and like Trayvon; she deserves justice.

Justice for them is justice for us all; and America that includes Mr. Zimmerman as well.