Dark Side of the Moon: An Excerpt

The world is changing. The war is over, and they say civil rights have been won although if you look around my school you wouldn’t know it. In high school there’s an invisible line dividing kids into whites, Mexicans, and blacks. Oh, sure we cross over and party with each other, but we all know that there’s this glass wall between us.

We all live in separate worlds. And it pisses me off.

Ever since Charles Manson made hippie a symbol of evil, kids have stopped hitting the streets to march for peace. Now we teens steal behind trees in parks or shut ourselves into the back of Chevy Vans where we pass joints around and listen to Pink Floyd take us to the dark side of the moon.

On that side no one cares when gang fights break out. Over there it doesn’t matter if we are denying people of color their rights. We breathe in Colombian smoke and the guitar’s riffs fill our ears as we listen to Pink Floyd’s quiet desperation guiding us ever further from the light.

On the dark side of the moon we are so high we don’t notice the rest of the world. Our vision is blurred and all we see are the twinkling stars in space.

 

The above is an excerpt from a novel I’m working on. 

The author of The Pharaoh’s Cry,  Portal Shift, Kidnapped Smile, and Dragon Sky from the fantasy series The Artania Chronicles,  as well as the middle-grade Forest Secrets. Laurie Woodward  co-wrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy. Her poetry has been published in multiple journals and anthologies and she was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant, poet,  and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes on the Central Coast of California. More about her work can be found at artania.net

 

Standing in Silence for the Seventeen

Yesterday our entire elementary school joined thousands of others around the nation in a 17 minute walkout.  And the children’s response inspired me.

Like many, The February 14, 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, cut me to the core. Shock. Disbelief. Grief.

And a lot of anger.

But I was heartened by the children’s response. The survivors were demanding action, and when they didn’t see it in adults, they organized a “walkout” for 17 minutes–one minute for each life lost in Parkland.

On Monday I was surprised to receive a letter from our superintendent stating that we would support these efforts. The entire Santa Maria-Bonita School District of 17,123 students would participate. We received instructions that we should embrace the differences in opinion, views, and perspective and thus lead  organized options for our students to participate, or not, in the walkout.

Our administrators drafted several age appropriate letters for teachers to recite before the event. I fought back tears as I read,  “You might have heard about the tragic incident that happened at a high school in Florida a few weeks ago. There was a troubled young man, who entered the school with the intent to hurt as many students as he could. On this day, 17 students lost their lives. Many schools across the country are deeply saddened and frustrated that something like this could happen. The students at the high school where this happened have been working hard to change laws in their state that would make it more difficult to purchase a gun, along with asking that those who can buy guns be screened carefully for mental illness.
The students are also saying that people who might be unstable or have the desire to hurt others, should not be allowed to purchase guns. While we all may have different ideas about what should happen, we all agree that our schools should be a safe place.

In order to support this message we asked that everyone wear  the color orange today, and we are also going to participate in the 17 Minute National School Walkout. During our school’s walkout we are going to give you three options to express your feelings. (1)
You may stand quietly in the amphitheater as a sign of silent protest. (2) You may march with your classmates around the perimeter of our playground. Organized marches have been held many times in our history to create awareness and change. Today, many students across our country are choosing to take the hand of someone who might be lonely, so that we all have someone to walk with. (3) Or, you may take his time to just be a kid, which is what we think every child should be able to do, and play on our playground for an extra 17 minutes today.
Regardless of your choice, please be especially mindful of why we are doing this today. This is about making a statement, that schools should be safe from violence.”

Then we went out to the playground. Some children wore self-affirming signs. Others marched. Most played.

Then there was a  group in the amphitheater standing in silence. I joined them. Around me were bowed heads and pained faces A single chain of hands linked teachers and students. I gave gentle hugs and exchanged looks acknowledging the tragedy with our eyes. The crowd grew.

As more of my students came up by my side, feelings of pride joined the sadness of the event. They could be playing yet kids as young as six were standing to remember the fallen seventeen. At the same time, I couldn’t help but imagine these shining faces falling before the horrific gunfire like those beautiful souls in Parkland.

Those seventeen minutes moved me to a place I cannot completely describe. A place where I was one with those around me. One with the community and one with our nation.

Praying for change.

dc

Martin Luther King Jr. Rises. Will You?

As the heckler’s rock struck Dr. King in the head, he fell to one knee. Staring at the ground, the crowd waited. What would their leader do? Give in to fear? Or rise up and continue?

He stood tall and continued to lead the march. It was August 5, 1966 and Martin was in an all-white neighborhood of Chicago protesting housing discrimination.

Now, when he was struck he could have retaliated with anger. He could have flung that stone right back.  But Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of peace. Of God. And he had a wisdom so often lacking today.

He knew.

We teach by example.

Just a few days later he withstood blistering summer heat to speak at a rally in the city’s football stadium. There in Soldier Field he spoke of how tired African-Americans were often living in rat-infested slums, and being lynched physically in Mississippi, and  spiritually and economically in the North.

No hatred in his words. No vitriol. No dividing lines.

But he did draw lines in the sand. On one side was the dream of equality and justice. The other side racism, malevolence, and suffering.

sand

We have that power today. We can reach out hands to those who are different from ourselves in friendship or use them to fling rocks at the innocent and righteous.

I, for one, choose friendship.

Who is with me?

 

 

(Source: Time Magazine “The Suprising Story Behind This Shocking Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. Under Attack.”)

Book Review: Martin’s Big Words — Teach Peace Now’s Post

~ The Power of Words ~ It is impossible to listen to the news and not be struck by the way words are being used to cover up hateful actions and outright lies by our leaders and politicians. Words are powerful as Martin Luther King knew. The 2002 Caldecott Honor children’s picture book Martin’s Big…

via Book Review: Martin’s Big Words — Teach Peace Now

Kendall F. Person’s Inspiration

https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F116948169&color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false

We have the wisdom to understand who we are; a small but intricate piece of humanity….

via ONE LIFE TO LIVE — The Neighborhood

Why We the People Should Never Forget

We the people…

Beautiful words.

Like open arms ready to

Envelop all citizens.

Of the United States 

United, united, united?

In order to form a perfect union.

A union.  Not dissolution of the different.

Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility.

Tranquil? Really?

Provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare,

Caring for others. Because they are human.

and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. 

Security from the Founding Fathers. Who knew just what a blessing liberty is.

Do ordain this Constitution. 

Thank you to the fifty-five delegates of 1787 who spent 116 days in a hot, stuffy hall writing draft after draft. We the people…your posterity.. use them to guide us in times of light and dark .

We the people…

Are we Really so Different?

Are you shocked by the daily hatred spewed against the thems?  Do the divisions in our country sadden and frighten you ? Like me, are you a dreamer who is wondering what has happened to people’s hearts?

Then why don’t we examine what it means to be different. Or the same. I differ from you, how? Let’s see. It could be my political party, what region of the country I live in, the church I go to, the shade of my skin or hair, who I want to marry. Those are the sorts of things that seem to be dividing our nation big time.

But I think they’re pretty friggin’ arbitrary. To begin with, my family is made up of many political parties; Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and even a Libertarian or two.   I love each of them no matter how they vote behind the curtain. And I’ve found I don’t even agree with everything people in my own party say and do. There are some things they propose or some personal actions that give me pause.   Second, I live on the Central Coast of California but does that mean I’d say to my Washington friends, “Mt. Ranier? No way. It’s Whitney or no mountain at all.” Or to  Texans, “Can’t hang with you. Your state is shaped like a weird pancake.”

Of course not, it’s silly!

How about the church, synagogue, mosque, or the open field people choose to pray in? If I see them walking into those doors, or, if they choose, skipping the trip, I don’t say I’ll never walk with them again. Their spirituality is between them and their God. Same goes for shades of skin and hair. Mine change with how much time I’m in the sun and how many trips I make to the hair dresser. But I sure as Hell don’t trade my friends from season to season depending on whose skin  shade more closely matches mine. Now it’s winter and I’m pale, I think Myrtle and I match  but OMG  when summer comes I’m only going to do drinks with tan Zelda. 

globe hand

Or who I want to marry? I married a man, (GASP!) but was still in school. Had to take classes after the wedding and finish my degree. But I haven’t noticed anyone shunning me for School Marriage.

The ways we are different are as myriad as life itself; birthday and time, address, social security number, how many hangnails on our left hands, height, weight, job, education, how much money is in our bank accounts, family make-up, favorite food, house color, car make, piercings, pets, music tastes of who rocks and who sucks, creative outlets…And it goes on and on.

But look at how we are the same. Every human being needs love. In fact without love, life itself cannot exist. Studies have found time and again that babies will fail to grow and thrive or even die without those kind words of assurance and gentle touch. We all need sustenance, shelter, and family. We all can become ill, injured, or healthier. We all have faces longing to be seen. We all seek a sense of worth.

painted sky

We all have an immense capacity for love. Let’s honor that part of us that is the same, and maybe the petty differences will begin to fade away.