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Learning Liberty

Liberty: freedom from captivity, confinement, or physical restraint:

In politics, it’s the social and political freedoms to which people are entitled. In theology, it’s freedom from the bondage of sin.

Want to increase your liberty?

Increase your learning.

Works every time. I know because whenever I’ve learned something new, like how to . . .

  • replace the heating element in my electric water heater,
  • code,
  • fix a leaky faucet,
  • remove malware,
  • winterize an outboard engine,
  • run a marathon,
  • field dress and butcher a deer,
  • fix a toilet,
  • care for a sick child,
  • sharpen a chainsaw blade,
  • wire an outlet,
  • get out of a time-share contract,
  • drive,
  • read,
  • write,

. . . I gained a little bit of power, a little bit of freedom–a little bit of liberty.

It doesn’t matter what the question is. Education is the answer.  I’m not sure I can think of a problem for which learning can’t help better our odds.

Learning reduces fear, helping us to be more present, effective, creative, and competent.

Learning inspires independence and action, confidence and gumption.

Now more than ever, education is the element transforming ideas and information into tangible, practical, profitable solutions.

Instead of being at the mercy of a plumber who may or may not show up this afternoon, education gives us the ability to make decisions and take action for ourselves—and get that toilet flushing again.

Education is also the element that inspires the plumber to master his craft and create surprising value—which makes him an indispensable, irreplaceable member of his community.

Change your perspective, what you know, what you do, and you can change your reality. Formal education is the foundation; it’s where our attitudes about learning begin–but lifelong informal education can transform our lives.

Educated people inspire learning in others. Educated people raise the bar; because there’s a steep price to pay for being the least educated person in your group.

Ignorance is costly, confining, and limiting. Learning, on the other hand, is liberating.

Today I choose

Today . . . I will not be angry.

On days like this, you don’t have to ask. You know. Everybody knows, has an opinion, an emotion: Hope, despair, fear, elation.  The euphoria of victory, the agony of defeat.

All that.

It’s everywhere.

We’re all searching. Finding our own way in the narrative of, “Our Life and Times.”

Today.

We are adapting.

Adjusting.

Deciding.

It’s a very noisy process. With much rejoicing and gnashing of teeth.

The day after too. Tomorrow, you’ll still know. Next month probably. After that you may have to look up the date. Connect the dots. If this is you, in some future now (hello!) go ahead and do that. Context is good.  There are very few to connect. I promise.

But today, you know.  You know what I’m talking about. You FEEL what I’m talking about.  Me. Just one voice in the raging, swirling shit-storm of it all.

Saying . . .

Something else.

Can you hear me?

Because today I will tell you: I have decided.  I will not be angry.  Or fearful. I will not stand and “fight back” or acknowledge an “attack” on me:

On my values.

On my way.

On humanity.

On her.

On them.

On . . .

These are all real things, and if you are feeling them today and tomorrow and for years-it’s all right. I have done all that. Felt all that. Fought it all.

I live in Wisconsin. I’m a teacher here.  A public employee.  One of the “greedy few” attacked and discouraged and disparaged and marginalized and blamed.

And for years, I fought back.

And you can too.

There is nothing wrong with:

Standing Up,

Fighting Back,

Making Your Case,

and experiencing all the delicious emotions that come with that.

It is indeed a glorious thing to be called into battle. To fight and bleed for a cause you value beyond measure.  Something important and bigger than yourself.  It is noble and worthy and good.

A purpose.

Until it isn’t anymore.

And today I decided:

I will not be angry.

Or hurt.

Or fearful.

I will, in fact, be nothing. Do nothing.

I will watch . . . with much interest, I assure you—until I don’t.

Because I realized something today.

I am no longer in the game.

I’ve been benched.

With practically every seat in every branch of state government, the republicans own Wisconsin (bought and paid for by various interests with deep pockets by the way).  And for many years their anger, and blame, and every reason for upset was fueled by the Black Man in Washington.

But now the Black Man’s time is up.  So they cannot be angry with him anymore.

And for many years the republicans owned most of the seats of the both houses of congress in Washington DC. And they too directed their anger and blame for their troubles at the Black Man.

And even though they knew his time was up, still they were certain that when he was gone, they could direct their anger and blame at the White Woman.

But now she’s gone too.

The Black Man and the White Woman gave them an excuse. And, you see, the two of them kept me in the game. They weren’t much.   But they were all I had

And now,

Today,

The Black Man’s days are numbered.

The White Woman, will not be coming after all.

And so I understand (finally perhaps) that I’ve been benched.

Without those players, I’m no longer in the game. There is no one left.

The positions have been filled.

And I can, if I choose, watch from the bench, or shower up and join the fans in the stadium (all—in their own right–rooting or angry about some circumstance of the game themselves: a player, a call, a bad, or lucky bounce . . .).  I can step out for a hot dog. I can deliberate on an invitation to join some passengers on the blimp circling high above the stadium and watch from there.

I have choices.

I can go home and look up from my driveway at the stars blinking in the velvet sky.  Or smell a lilac. Or watch a snowflake melt on the back of my hand. Or read a good book. Or enjoy a play.

But I do not choose Anger or Fear.

Because I realize that is the energy that fueled those who fought the Black Man and the White Woman.

Anger and Fear combine for a toxic sort of fuel.  An energy that motivates and propels, but also pollutes.

I choose instead:

To Love,

To Console,

To Nurture,

To Encourage.

And every once in a while, I imagine, I’ll check in to see how the game is unfolding.

Because I wonder who—without the Black Man or the White Woman—the republican fans and players in the arena can find to be afraid of or angry with next.