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This Community Is Not Anyone’s Comic Strip

Two night’s ago was the second time I attended the monthly school board meeting at my daughter’s high school.  My purpose for going was because it offered me one more rare opportunity to catch a glimpse of the dynamics of all the “players” in this year’s District 125 school board election.  However for me, the “players” were not just the 7 candidates, but it also included the Administrator’s, concerned students, members of the community and staff.    Why?  Because I’m still trying to understand how and why this election has become so contentious and divisive to the point where people who were once “friendly” neighbors are now being targeted, ostracized and gossiped about with no regard and left unchecked.

That old familiar saying “politics is politics” has been repeated to me often enough recently as if justifying the actions of a person(s) or group of people’s goal to trample or discredit neighbors opposed to their views. Maybe “politics is politics” but is that because it has been accepted as the norm? The status quo?  Is it possible that as a society we’ve become desensitized to certain basic human ideals, values and respect regardless of race, religion or whatever?  Is everything game and nothing sacred anymore?  Is this really the “critical thinking” we want to pass on to our kids?  I need someone to explain to me how we as a community have been good examples to our kids in terms of  tolerance, acceptance of others and self-awareness in this campaign.  How about self-management or social-awareness?  And let’s not rule out relationship skills or responsible decision making.  As I see it, none of these “social and emotional competencies” have anything to do with academics, class, race, color, religion or sexual orientation.  In a society where labeling everything and everyone is so important, where do these social and emotional competencies fall under?  And how come they are only called into play when it’s convenient? Yet they are considered essential foundations for student success in school, work and life? More importantly, how do they compare to academic excellence, fiscal responsibility, or culture of involvement, inclusion and collaboration?

Over the last few week’s this community has been kept “well- informed” of this election by an urban liberal journalist by day and comic book writer by night.  I had the distinct pleasure of being slighted by this journalist last week when he wrote

“The fact of the matter is that people have defected from the incumbents’ campaign because they were offended by the underhanded “deceit” tactics. When they defected, they brought their strategy sheets with them.”

Dude, are you serious?  Is it possible that you consider yourself some sort of “hero” or perhaps “sexy-cool villain” in believing intelligent people won’t see through your negative innuendos, implied condemnation’s and one-sided flippant remarks?  And when you’ve completed your noble work of helping shred a great community to pieces, are you the lucky recipient of some sort of ComicCon award?  You have no idea nor do you care to know all of the facts.  And by the way, I wasn’t “offended”. Disappointed maybe but not offended. What I did was call bullshit on something because it was morally and ethically wrong. Note, while I don’t have any horses in this race the ultimate prizes are my children and this community’s children.  I won’t allow you or anyone to discount the fact that making that decision was extremely hard for me and goes against who I am. Elaborating on that fact is useless at this point, judgment has already been made.   I don’t think those “supposed” strategy sheets shed any light as far as real campaign strategy but I’m pretty sure the 125 candidates were at a minimum shocked  by the divisive words used to describe them and their supporters.  Can you imagine if the 125 campaign or its supporters created such a document or any of the other similar documents circulating in this community?

Mr. Lissau, this campaign and this community may just have been a grid of panels where as much “action” as possible was crammed into it.  After all, a panel is acaptured moment in timethat “include one or more more-or-less simultaneous (or at least rapid fire) actions”, no? You’ve been quoted as citing the wordsenter a scene late and leave it early.”  You were successful in building tension and momentum in this community and have no issues or conscience walking away from the havoc you nurtured and helped wreak.

I’m ending this post with a quote, “what any journalist should do is, at the very least, to avoid being naive, or gullible, or lazy is checking facts and sources..”  — Russell Lissau.

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District 125 School Board Election – An Opportunity to Rise to the Occasion

For the the past 5 to 6 years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to be an involved parent at both of my children’s school’s. I’m limited only by the time required at my job and my gradual development of low tolerance for non genuine people.  I admit it’s a fault but one I’m committed to improving upon.

Although I would have much rather preferred to get informed about a local School Board election under more positive circumstances, I believe that this election; while very controversial; has caught the attention of a typically apathetic community. Me included. And let’s be honest, sometimes that what it takes for a community to engage and begin rational dialogue.

Every day I learn a little more and more about the responsibilities, various decisions and the extent of  time and personal commitments made by volunteer School Board members and candidates.  It can be considered a thankless job but I honestly believe that most these community members sincerely volunteer their time and their families time for a much greater cause.  Our kids and our community.  When the going is good, they get to sleep well at least one night but each and every day they wake up to the fact that the winds can change in an instant and they are required to answer to this community which isn’t always easy as many of us know.  While I may not agree with some of the decisions or tactics each campaign employed, I have nothing but respect and am very grateful to them and their families for volunteering their time, blood, sweat and tears.  Thank you for doing or considering to do a job most of us conveniently don’t have the time for.

I pray that not one of them have hidden agendas nor consider themselves so indispensable that they’ve forgotten their original reasons for getting involved.  I pray for their wisdom and discernment because the fact is their decisions will impact my children and I will not tolerate elected leaders with egos or personal missions to interfere with the success of all students.  The District 125 community is a melting pot of cultures and lack of respect for anyone despite religion, race, culture, or sexual orientation should never cloud our judgments.  Not only do we not have the time to waste on ignorance but at this point in time, we should have already learned so much from lessons past and yet here we are.   As a community we do have common threads that bind us.  Threads such as basic human decency towards one another, respect, accountability, tolerance, compassion and helping our kids achieve their goals without pressuring them, growing our community without compromising basic common American and human values and living fulfilling lives.

I want to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to all of  the students, families and community members of District 125 and it’s 7 feeder school districts for not doing a better job.  Yes, we’re adults but as you well know, while our intentions I believe for the most part are genuine and good, we’re all learning and adapting in this fast changing world.

This is a wonderful opportunity to rise to the occasion by collectively using our “critical thinking” skills, morals and values for something bigger than just this community.

Your neighbor,

Sylvia Lima

Teachable Moment II – In what world is it right to exploit kids?

Students United for Stevenson

Students United for Stevenson

This Facebook chat exchange occurred February 24th, 2011 between a student  looking for the truth  & a student representing the Students United for Stevenson FB page:  The “seeker” in this exchange has many friends that are supposedly being targeted in this campaign and she doesn’t believe anyone has a right to discriminate against others.  She is an honest and sincere girl with a very open heart.  She is a Believer but she doesn’t allow other people or even dogma to cloud her thinking.

Read it, think about it and if you want, write about it. Bottom line is the kids are obviously being coached and even worse exploited.

FB Student representing Students United for Stevenson Facebook page
“10:27pm     Hello *******
10:27pm      hi! whats up?
10:28pm    I want to know your views on this upcoming elections for SHS?
10:29pm    well, I am running the group, so I think its pretty obvious where my vote is gonna be! :D  Is there anything in specific you wanted to know?
10:30pm    oh ok:) i was wondering, what candidates are you supporting and reasons why?
10:32pm    Well, Im supporting the incumbants. They’ve been doing a great job making stevenson a widely respected academic center and place of cultural diversity. Meanwhile, the opposition wants to remove any pro-gay groups, cut teachers salaries, fire gay teachers, and ban books. Plus they have wild financial ideas, that although ideal on paper, are not in the least plausible in the real world!(sounds like a campaign speech)
10:32pm    thats ok:). Um,where did you retrieve the evidence, that the opposers wanted to remove any pro-gay groups, cut teachers salaries, fire gay teacher, and ban books?
10:37pm    I have a bunch of letters to the school board written by the candidates and those who support them. I can email them to you. The ones I have talk about the newspaper’s prior review, banning pro-gay events, “preventing the school from being run by pro-gay activists” (which translates to firing gay teachers, and many other things. I don’t have all of that, but, idk if you know **** ** ******? Her dad is big in the school board scene, and he showed me a lot of papers that talk about banning books and other things more exclusively, most of these were on emails sent to the board and on a newslist the opposition has. I don’t have those physically on me, but if you want, I can ask him to get those to me. as for the emails, I posted a few quotes on the group, but there is a lot more as well
10:39pm    that would be awesome if you sent some of those emails to me to my inbox? :)
10:39pm    they’re pdf files, so I can’t copy paste them to facebook (I’ve already tried, trust me xD). do you have an email adress, so I can attach them in an email?
10:40pm    yes i do :)  its xxxxxxxxxxx
10:40pm    ok, I will send it right away
10:41pm    thank you so much for your time xxxxx  :)
10:43pm    no problem! Anything to help out with the campaign…its a very important one! Also, just so you know, the opposition has a website, voted125for125.com that has an faq, obviously they are denying that they want to ban the GSA, its a campaign and they no loner can afford to state the opinions that they held privately (atleast until elected), they do even there admit to wanting creationism tought in biology
10:48pm    ok:)
10:48pm    also, I sent you the email
10:48pm    ok thank you so much and again for your time:)
10:48pm    No problem. Just spread the word to your friends and your parents! :D
10:49pm    ok:) see you then xxxxx :)
You are not online.”

Again, when and where is it ok to exploit kids? I haven’t even tapped into when one thinks its justifiable to target families for taking a stand.  Or is it me but isn’t feeling the need to hire a political adviser for no other reason than to shut the opposition down? Depends I guess. But what if that political adviser isn’t even a member of our own community?  And is it possible to correctly determine who the actual members of a “Club” are and not be heartbroken and betrayed?

I got nothing.  I got nothing because it kills me to accept that this behavior is fostered, nurtured and instilled in the moral threads of a community starting with its kids.

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Teachable Moment – Part 1

Global Player

Global Students

Teachable moments happen everyday to everyone regardless of age, race, beliefs, culture or financial background. It’s what one learns and takes away from these moments that is important.

These last few weeks have been a series of teachable moments for me and while they were certainly not easy, I’d like to believe that I’ve learned and continue to grow from them.  Our world is changing so quickly and our kids are facing a mountain of challenges.  Challenges that we as adults did not have to deal with at that age.  Robbing them of their youth.

As a parent, I believe one of my responsibilities  is to help prepare my kids as best I can for these fast-moving, inevitable local and global challenges.  But how and where do I start?  I’m learning that it’s essential to have an open-mind, accept people for who they are and not judge them, and more importantly, not allow arrogance and discrimination to cloud and cripple thoughts and ideas. In this competitive world, I expect parents, administrators, the community and teachers to be proactive in identifying these challenges and in turn collaborate and give them the academic as well as social and emotional knowledge and tools they’ll need to be happy and thrive in their communities and global environment.  It is critical for communities to see the bigger picture.

I don’t believe in censoring or shielding my daughter from life’s realities. I do however believe that although life is on turbo, it doesn’t necessarily mean that our kids’ brains’ automatically have this ability to process information efficiently and effectively.  Their minds are still developing (heck, mine is still developing!) and having to discern and understand all of the information that is being thrown at them is overwhelming, daunting, frightening and in a lot of ways very dangerous.  When I think about this I always imagine our kids standing on a beach with a straw as a tidal wave is coming at them.  They’ll will be required to make snap intelligent decisions with very little information. They will need to see the bigger picture without the luxury of time to research. They’ll have to develop “gut instincts” and learn how to trust them. And just because some were blessed more than others doesn’t protect any one of them for the harsh realities of life today or tomorrow.

So what do we do? Where do we start? How can we help?  Those are the questions that I contemplate today.

I find it so interesting that qualities such as compassion, patience, understanding, tolerance and acceptance have become central to who I am and I owe this partly to my daughter.  I’ve realized that she sees the world differently. My daughter has this saying, “mom, it doesn’t matter who they are or their background, as long as they’re good people, I will continue to be friends with them.”  As my oldest, she exposes me to this generation’s life situations. While I know these situations exist and I’m pretty sure I’ve experienced a lot of them,  they often challenge me to reflect on myself, my values and my upbringing – not as a teenager but as a mom and an adult.  As a result, I can’t tell you the number of times those reflections have shaped me and allowed me to become more open-minded and open-hearted.  There are many times I think we don’t give this generation enough credit and my daughter is my example of one of those times.  I think as adults we sometimes fail to see the world through their lens and as a result unnecessarily complicate and confuse them more with our own ignorance, shallowness, personal agendas and narrow-minded thinking.  At the same time they’re searching for their identity, their values and their place in life.  Pressure cooker comes to mind.

We are their parents, their teachers, their protectors and their guides and they’re watching and learning  from us.  The world is changing around them. Doesn’t it make sense for us to strive to become more organic and transparent?  Less critical? Less judgmental? Less hypocritical?

Challenge question:  If our world is evolving and becoming more and more “global” doesn’t it make sense to grow and nurture a more values-based movement of social transformation?

Values are a common thread that unite people of different religions, political viewpoints and cultures. Our world is changing right in front of our eyes, so doesn’t it make sense for us to evolve accordingly?


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It’s Our Future and Ignoring It Is No Longer An Option

I wrote this post on January 9th, 2011 but never published it.  I wrote it because I needed to get my anger and sorrow out somehow and I find writing therapeutic.  I didn’t publish it because I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire and the last thing I wanted to do was throw salt in the wound so to speak.  However, recent events in my own community have caused a sense of deja vu.  We hear it and see it every day but this time it hit too close to my home, my family and my heart.  There’s a pattern here people and it has a lot of strength and momentum only not in a good way. It’s time for change.

Ironically enough, I recently read a blog by a teacher and although their bark is different, our trees and our fruit is the same. “The key in all this is to not get discourage. Change in education is like an ice age. It happens slow. But it does happen. Stick with it and remember, its not about us. It is about those kids that come through our doors everyday. Don’t they deserve it?” -- by Steven Anderson

The goal is not to become another obstacle for our kids and our teachers.  It’s to clear the path with honesty, source with fairness and responsibly maintain the tools they need to succeed in today’s world while consistently setting a good example.

January 9th, 2011 – 5:04pm

This morning we all woke up to the terrible news of the shootings in Arizona.  I was instantly sad and angry at the same time…as always.  As always, just acknowledging  those words made me even heavier hearted. Why? Why do we continue to be surprised and shocked when these tragic events happen?

I’ve given it some thought and reflection and I began to realize that the “surprise and shock” effect is typically felt by the same people.  You know.  The ones that haven’t let life jade them just yet; the ones that still have hope.   These rage and acts of hate and violence have happened often enough to the point where I start wonder if it only affects the older generations. Let’s be honest, our children have been lied to, they’re confused and as a result they’ve become conditioned to aggression and violence as being somewhat normal, accepted and even worse it’s relatable.

Honestly, what do we as a society expect at this point in the game? Let’s break it down, we’ve taken honor, faith, accountability, social-consciousness, respect and so many good and simple virtues and chucked them in the garbage in the name of freedom of speech, political correctness, freedom of religion  and so on and so forth.  The “badder” you are in life rewards you with more attention and money thanks to the media and society’s insatiable habit of feeding off of scandals and others’ misfortunes.  This is today’s world; this is the environment our kids are exposed to like it or not. Apathy is no longer an option, it’s time to engage. This behavior isn’t going to change by simply placing a label on it or digging for the root cause buried in that supposed crazed child or person’s past just so we could justify it in our heads and reconcile it with our hearts.  We have become part of the problem; leaving us with a few choices: 1) maintain the status quo because after all, you don’t have time for additional complications or inconveniences, it’s not your problem, 2) follow the crowd by conveniently engaging or not, or 3) do your due diligence to understand the issues and more importantly get informed with the facts.  With an open mind and open heart.

So where do we start and what can we do?  For me, that realization came by taking the time to reflect on myself and my actions.  I’ll admit, it isn’t easy identifying one’s own faults and seeing the impact it has on the people around me. What example am I setting and are they positively contributing in shaping my kids minds?  Today’s issues are many and they are huge.  I know they’ve often left me feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.  Over the years, I have developed defense mechanisms have made me numb and complacent.  But it starts with us. It has to.

For every one of us that has stayed on the sidelines there are others that have already seen glimpses into the future and they are fighting for it.  Some a bit more reserved than others but I strongly believe that there is a common vein in all of us.  Do we tend to easily judge people not following the status quo as activists, fanatical, antagonistic, over-zealous, extreme and crazy? Why? Because they challenge our comfort zone?  The plain and simple truth is that we need to hold ourselves accountable.  We need to hold our kids accountable and we need to hold each other accountable.  It’s not a popularity contest, it’s our kids lives and it’s all of our futures.

Is it possible we have slowly allowed ourselves to be quelled? Have we become so busy and distracted that it has resulted in taking our focus away from the things in life that really matter?   And as a result, is it possible we’ve allowed our kids to be conditioned to and desensitized in a society where hate, violence, greed and lies are perpetuated by those closest to them and accepted as the norm.  What do we expect when we continue to condone or look away when something is obviously wrong?  Where it’s convenient and doesn’t demand our time, attention and energy.  When we conveniently don’t act because it’s “someone else’s problem?” When do we say no more? How long will you continue to stay on the sidelines?  Engage but not in the name religion, culture, political affiliation or pride but in the name of fairness, tolerance and human decency.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an existing, future or former SHS parent, alum or community member. These issues are so much bigger than all of us put together. Challenge yourself to see the bigger picture and understands what is at stake. For you, your family, for all of us.  Don’t we deserve it?

Thankfully we live in the USA and still have the opportunity to make a difference. I know, many think that it doesn’t matter because you are after all just one person. But collectively we have a powerful voice.  Most of us have voted in the larger elections because we’re frustrated and angry and want positive change.  I’m there with you but trying to correct it from the top on down isn’t working.  It’s like stepping in quicksand. So maybe we really make a positive and concerted effort to take ownership and help build the solid foundations of our community and hopefully meet those working the issues from the top in the middle.  And what better place to start than at the local level.

Identify the issues, do your research and understand the facts.  Please come out and vote for your District’s elementary school and your high school on April 5th, 2011. Don’t know where to go or how to start?  Click here to be directed to the Lake County Clerk Voter Services page and quickly and easily find out if you are already registered to vote. And if you get stuck and don’t know what to do next, please don’t hesitate to contact me at smlchi22@gmail.com

I appreciate you taking the time to read this as i know how valuable time is to all of us.

Talk soon!    — Sylvia

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