Love, Choice & Opportunity: A Strong Web

When I wrote it, Week 37 felt like the most controversial essay of the whole book. I wonder if you agree? I wrote it to both the educator within us and to Humanity.

Yes, I was drawing an analogy. Wherever I used “squirrel”, insert “person” or “student”. Yes, the story of the squirrel follows Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. None of us can think big if we can’t get beyond fulfilling our basic needs.

The fundamental notion that we need to dramatically address our social contracts (not just the ones teachers have with students) has grown in my mind over the intervening time. Since I penned this essay, I’ve learned more about the different struggles that students face in their daily lives. My view on how incredibly broad the range of experiences is among the youth of today has become more clear. In many ways, that scope is the result of how our social contracts have been written and practiced across the board. I have spoken with adults across the United States and around the world, who deservedly complain of this flaw of perception that I’m not alone in having. 

In truth, we are all blind to someone else’s suffering, even if we see much. The person suffering from unfair rental practices probably doesn’t “get” another’s inability to pay for their needed medicine. The student who struggles with reading doesn’t see why another student can’t do a “simple” math problem. The fact of misperception do not lessen our need to try every day to do more with and see more of our real web of connections, as depicted in my cover shot. We need to offer more chances to each other to catch more in that web.

As I said in the essay, 

“Every single one of us needs a continuous flow of opportunity. All the free choice in the world means nothing without it.”. 

The good thing about contracts is that we can rewrite them. We can choose to support the flow of opportunities, but that “we” can’t just be the “we” of education. It’s all of us. With opportunities, I believe we’ll be amazed at the choices our youth will make. It won’t be perfect, and some may feel “hurt”, but we will be better off. We must bravely step ahead as many groups have done so over time.

Now, as a school year is ending and we (and our world) have all evolved since I originally wrote it, I want to review the first essay I wrote introducing this weekly newsletter- fittingly enough, posted exactly 9 months ago to the day! It fits perfectly with this week’s essay on social contracts, providing the big WHY. I believed it when I wrote it, but this idea is now a conviction of mine:

We need each other in broad terms. We need to reach out to each other in equally broad terms. Love builds strength and resolve. Love builds courage and weakens fear. Love = opportunity.

From: Sunday, August 20, 2017

We’re at the beginning. We feel like our love can conquer all.

For that to be true, the flow of love must be a complete circuit, like the wires that lead from the battery to the bulb and back again.

Let’s look at the second part of this Lao Tzu quote first. We love our students deeply. We pour our entire beings into the craft that is education because our love emboldens us to do so.

The backside of that is the first part of the quote. Where do we get our strength? We need multiple sources. The students’ gratitude and love is one. However, we need more. Family, friends, religion, pets, coworkers, bosses. How about from ourselves? We show ourselves love by taking time for food, exercise, music...these are only a few. Without input, our potential output is diminished.

It’s time now to affirm who loves us and actively receive their gifts of love at every opportunity we can so we can strengthen ourselves. As we send our love out, let’s have the courage to affirm that we deserve an equal measure in return.

Best wishes to you this week!!!


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