YBR followers. I ask you to take a slight detour and visit my other blog for a post:
My qualifications to write a blog about motherhood are about the same as the ones I have to write about financial success and thermodynamics, however, I was a son who had two mothers (and two fathers to balance the equation), so that gives me a token right to comment on motherhood.
However, I would have to be the first to admit that what I learned about being a mother actually didn’t come from either my birth mother or my adoptive mother. What I did learn about motherhood came from five other sources…five other people: my sister, my wife, my daughter and my two daughters-in-law.
My sister, Patti, allowed me to be a hands-on-uncle, with her children before I got married. I quickly learned how hard it is to be a mother and how many different skills it takes to be a mother.
I took what I learned about motherhood with me when I married, Patty…and was not surprised to learn that she was a natural, born to be a mother. Watching her do what came natural to her with our four children, Jennifer, Jeremy, Nicholas and Kieran I was continually amazed. Her patience, guidance, selflessness…and above all, love when our kids were infants turned into toddlers, into students, young adults…and then into parents was never ending.
Today she has resurrected all those qualities of motherhood as she plays a role in the lives of her grandchildren.
Today I am able to see the next generation of mothers in my daughter, Jennifer, who does an amazing job with Jillian, Brielle and Addyson; in my daughter-in-law, Sarah who is a wonderful mother to Andrew and Emily; in my daughter-in-law, Courtney, who is honing her motherhood skills on Landon.
As I said earlier, I have no qualifications to say anything definitive about motherhood, but I do have the right to salute Patti Van Damme, Patty Begley, Jennifer Devine, Sarah Begley and Courtney Begley.
Keeping the YBR Commencement address tradition alive, here is the 2013 address delivered by the Wizard of Oz:
Tom Hanks was busy on Broadway, Meryl Streep is off in Mozambique filming a movie, One Direction was going in a different direction and Lindsay Lohan just checked into the Emerald Rehab Center, so at the last minute I, the president of Emerald City University, will be your honored 2013 commencement speaker, at a bargain price of only $25,000.
While I have been unmasked, or in my case “uncurtained” as a humbug, let me tell you that everything I say today will be the unvarnished truth…or close to it, perhaps. Maybe.
With tuition, room and board, unnecessary fees, books, and supplies, you, members of the Class of 2013, have paid roughly $200,000 for your education. Many of you will leave here in debt and without the prospect of a decent paying job. Hell, most of you won’t even be able to get a job at Five Munchkins, the hamburger joint I just opened in Oz.
But don’t let that get you down, because while you can put a price tag on a degree, you really can’t put a price tag on learning. If you came here simply to “earn” a degree, you not only wasted your time, you threw away $200,000, because you could have gone online and bought an Emerald City Degree for $10.95 plus shipping and handling.
A degree, my friends, is not worth the paper it’s printed on. Learning, as the makers of Master Card say, is priceless. Trust me when I say that. Those of you who spent four years here in the hallowed halls of academia were presented with an opportunity that usually only comes once in a lifetime. Some students think of college as a big Quicky Mart where they filled up on high-priced junk food. Others approached their stay at college from the perspective of a shopper at a ShopRite or a Publics where they had aisles and aisles of items to choose from to prepare their academic meal. Others still, opted to have an organic college experience. Instead of loading up their shopping cart with packaged foods, they shopped around and went to a fruit and vegetable stand for fresh produce; they went to a farmer for range-free eggs, and meats from animals that were not fed hormones; and instead of buying baked goods off the shelf, they bought fresh ingredients and baked their own bread.
Students like that “learned.” Students like that took the time to become educated. Instead of fretting over a grade, they explored the material to see what gems they could add to their lives. Instead of only taking safe courses, they expanded their minds by taking courses that challenged them to think.
And that, young graduates, is the purpose of a college education. To think. And not only to think, but to take action, to be involved in the world.
Think how many spring break trips you could have taken for $200,000. Think about the buzz and all the cavorting you could have done in Cancun, the Virgin Islands (are there still any virgin islands left in the world?), the Riviera, New Orleans, etc., etc.
But think about how far you could have traveled here in Emerald City University if you had used your passport to learning to unlock all the doors of wonder that awaited you.
To quote my dear friend, Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go..”
My hot air balloon awaits me, so let me tell you something about the price of an education. You get out of it what you put into it. You’ll have a number of jobs before you call it quits. And if your education was limited to getting jobs…and that makes you happy, then so be it. But, if your education puts you on your own yellow brick road, then you have invested wisely for you will be prepared for the journey that will last your lifetime.
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!”
Do yourself proud. Keep on truckin’
Posted in Brain, Courage, Yellow brick road | Tagged class of 2013, college commencement, college degree, cost of education, Dr. Seuss, Emerald City, Meryl Streep, Oz, thinking, Tom Hanks, Wizard of Oz, Yellow brick road | 1 Comment »
Of late I have been doing a number of odd jobs in and around the house. While doing these jobs I was reminded of something my father once told/taught me: He always said “let the tools do the job.” He was right, of course. Having the right tool is only part of the process. Using it properly is probably more important.
When cutting a piece of wood this week I was amazed how easy it was because I let the tool do the work. It’s something to think about when we consider our journey on the YBR.
Dorothy was given a number of tools on her journey. She had the ruby slippers, she had Toto, and she had three good friends. But even more important than her slippers, her dog, etc. was her ability to think…or what I would call he ability to reason.
In life, I believe, when we use our ability to reason…properly and correctly, we are using a wonderful tool and letting it do the work.
When we fail to use our ability to reason, we run the risk of having the tool become an impediment.
And then I thought about something else…but related. I thought about how the word “tool” has taken on a less than upbeat or positive meaning. To call someone a “tool,” is (according to the Urban dictionary) One who lacks the mental capacity to know he is being used.
Dorothy used her tools, but she was also “a tool.” She was the Wizard’s tool. She did his bidding. He wanted the WWW (world wide witch?) dead and he “made” Dorothy do it.
How often are we someone’s “tool?” How often do we do someone else’s bidding? Being an unwitting tool is one thing, but today many of us know we are the “tools” of a cruel boss, a nasty co-worker, etc. but more often than not we can’t do anything about it.
I wish I had a resolution to what I think is a growing problem in our society and the workplace…but I don’t. It’s just something to think about.
Sunday, April 7, 2013. Holocaust Remembrance Day. Unlike other “days” that are remembered with parades, decorations, gift-giving and merriment, Holocaust Remembrance Day is an attempt to “not forget” the horrors of a time when all traces of humanity vanished and in place of it, the basest and lowest side of man appeared.
In truth, there is no real and meaningful way to remember what happened to the millions of people who were sent to their deaths or who died behind the barbed wire of a concentration camp.
If there is one word that I believe sums up the Holocaust, it is the word “evil,” because that was the root cause of the horror we call the Holocaust. But, we make a mistake when we nod and agree that what the Nazis did was evil because in doing so we have washed our hands and declared “we had nothing to do with it.” That’s because the evil of the Nazi regime was not our fault.
There was no barbed wire in Oz, but isn’t it interesting that the first thing Dorothy had to deal with when she crash-landed in Oz was evil. Evil was present in Oz. The Munchkins and other denizens of Oz were imprisoned by two evil witches. Dorothy might have had her own agenda, i.e. getting home, there was no way of getting around the evil. She was in the thick of it, and in order to get what she wished for, she was going to have to destroy the last vestige of evil in Oz.
I think we have really forgotten what evil is and where it comes from. It’s not limited to a Korean despot, a militant Muslim bent on riding the world of infidels, or any of the crazed individuals who pop and now and again and commit horrific acts. Evil is ever-present in our lives. The only thing is we either ignore it or make believe it’s not happening.
We want to make believe that the evil we see in the workplace isn’t really evil, it’s just…business as usual. I say BS to that. Anytime we allow a boss at any level to use their power to make life a living hell for a “subordinate,” or turn our back when we see someone in a position of power and authority misuse that power, then we are providing a breeding ground for bigger evils.
But what are we supposed to do? If we dare speak up and out we risk getting fired because we all know there’s no such thing as freedom of speech in the workplace. And there’s the rub. Once we tolerate evil even in its simplest form, we open the door for more powerful evil to be unleashed. How many “good” citizens of Germany didn’t say or do anything because the evil flame that had once just flickered was now a raging holocaust was something they couldn’t blow out.
Let me end by including something I try to remember every day.
First they came for the communists
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the socialists
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.
Then they came for the Jews
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
Remember. Never forget. What happened can still happen…again.
Easter Sunday. The Superbowl for Christians around the world. The day that Christians clinched the spiritual pennant. The day the Easter Bunny hides all the eggs under one bushel. You get the point. It’s a big deal day on the Christian calendar.
However, despite its religious implications, it is the one day by definition that separates believers. It’s the fork on the yellow brick road where some go this way and others go that way. And while the lily is often considered to be the official flower for Easter, I believe it should be the “mum,” because this is the day when non- Christians are obligated to keep mum, otherwise they risk a form of retribution that hearkens back to the good old days of the Inquisition.
On the CBS show Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer, his guests included New York’s Cardinal Dolan and a panel of religious leaders who took advantage of the occasion to talk about faith in general.
The air in the television studio was warm and politically correct, but it lacked a degree of truthfulness that I believe can best be described as the gorilla in the room. I don’t believe for a minute that the panelists believe that one religion is as good as a another. Forget the crap you hear about “the same God.” That’s political correctness at its worst. You might be able to draw a religious “family” tree that shows that three world religions “descend” from “the same God,” but once you throw in the Jesus factor, you’re talking a totally different game.
With a growing population of Born Again Christians and the like, there’s no way you can say all religions are equal. If there is a heaven, and if you side with those who say the only path to the pearly gates is by believing in Jesus Christ, the redeemer, how can you honestly believe that the Jew, the Muslim, the Buddhist, etc. is on the right yellow brick road?
One of the panelists made a good point when he said we spend too much time talking about what the Big Three Religions have in common. And while he didn’t intend to say that it’s sufficient to recognize and respect the differences, that’s the impression I got.
To be a real and practicing member of a religious denomination you are obligated to swear allegiance to a number of rigid beliefs and dogmas. The dogmas of the Catholic Church are not the same as those espoused by Lutherans, Presbyterians, Quakers and Southern Baptists…and they are certainly not the same beliefs of practicing Jews.
When Cardinal Dolan spoke in the segment before the panel discussion, I started talking to the television. Dolan is a nice guy. He’s got personality. He’s got charm. He knows how to work the camera. But I believe that when secular push came to Catholic shove, he’d be right there shoving the Catholic line because there’s no room for discussion on matters of faith. His tolerance has its limits.
Going back to my early days as a Catholic, I always had a number of questions I never asked because I didn’t want to risk going to hell in a hand basket or any other contrivance. I did recognize that there was a difference between the world from Monday to Saturday than the world of Sunday Mass. It was a thing called secularism. I didn’t call it that, but I did understand that people acted one way in their daily lives and sometimes acted differently on Sunday. As I grew up I came to realize that secularism wasn’t a dirty word. And because I studied world religions and spent time going to other churches and participating in Bible studies with people who were not Catholic, I realized that there was much good to be found in faith once you threw away all the dogma crap.
Emerald City was not the Vatican, Jerusalem, or Mecca. On the other hand it might have been all three and more. However, we need to remember that the Emerald City was not the final destination. The goal was to get back home. And to me that home is a place in my heart and being that has no religious label.