All posts by P7

Michael Morton is a teacher, student, son, and father. He teaches at Quarter Mile Lane School in Bridgeton and in the Gear Up Program at Cumberland County College. He is an alumni of Rowan University. His children Emily and Dylan are also very involved the various community activities. As an former firefighter of the Gouldtown Volunteer Fire Company, Michael prefers to support his fellow fire fighters in innovative ways. In 2012, he ran for public office in my township. As the top vote-getter in that election, he pledged to uphold the Constitution as he pursued positive change for his community. He's lived in Cumberland County for nearly 30 years. He's been a second grade teacher for 6 years. Before that he taught early education at the district preschool (GOFECC) for a year. He taught 8th grade Civics at West Avenue School for a short period of time. Including his experience teaching special education in the Millville School District, he has taught for a total of twelve years. Currently Michael teaches middle school Civics in the Gear Up Program at Cumberland County College. As a former employee of the State of New Jersey, Michael has held the responsibility of case worker and juvenile probation officer. He is the first in his immediate family to graduate from a four year institution with a bachelor's degree. For this reason, his family is very proud of him and continues to support my efforts in community service.

Teach Empathy

I wanted to say model empathy, but you can’t model something if you forgotten how to do it. You also can’t do it well if you’re out of practice.

Gun owners who haven’t lost loved ones to gun violence wont give up their guns.

Bigots who’ve not been impacted by bias can not accept a racist label.

Yet victims of sex crimes are not the only ones who feign indecency (but the victimizers won’t stop until they’re apprehended, convicted, and restrained).

We recognize wrong, but we point it out in the judgement of others. It’s our own discomfort that changes us. It’s the prisons that others put us in that victimize us.

Those who oppress never apologize. At best, they resign; but most often they justify their actions as fitting for the circumstance, for the environment, for the moment in time.

There are large chunks of society that can not exercise empathy. To them, your analysis doesn’t matter; your criticisms are minimized; your position is not their position. To them, there is no unity. Unity was their enemy all along. There’s no empathy so it doesn’t matter.

This is where we are. Empathy has expired. Entitlement erases empathy. Oppression erases empathy. Ignorance erases empathy.

You already know what we need. But you’ll never convince the non-empathizers without imposing on their values, oppressing their freedom, or stripping them of their rights. You’d have to witness them endure everything that they’ve caused; everything that hurts; everything that strips away…dignity. And maybe they may grow a sense of empathy.

But they’ve already witnessed it occurring to others, and they failed to act. It’s not personal until it happens to you. Empathy is personal. When tragedy occurs to groups of us, it’s interpersonal, but it’s still doesn’t belong to everyone.

Watching is not enough. Talking is not enough. Teaching is not enough. But all of these are a start.

Teach empathy. Model it.

Feel.

Heal.

Reveal.

Advertisements

Birds Singing

For most of my life, I’ve lived in the midst of the woodlands. I was never far from the sound of traffic though. Rarely do I get to sit and watch people go by because we are all in a hurry to get somewhere.

Dogs bark and birds tweet, but I’m rarely able to get past the gossip hounds or the twitter rants. The coffee is never fresh brewed and the tea is always cold. I’m living in excess, but my needs are barely met.

I suppose my reflection has once again prompted my personal call-to-action. I WILL (for a moment) put down the phone. I will brew a fresh cup of java; even though it will surely make me sleepy. I will donate the things that I don’t need; and want a little less.

I won’t contemplate the lies I hear; I’ll be listening less. I won’t turn on the news because it’s usually the same old things expressed… differently.

I will ignore the news that the president’s spokesperson has retired her voice; even though I am entertained at the thought that the president will resume speaking for himself.

I will ignore that another black man was shot by police in the Deep South; even though it will be characterized as a righteous kill.

I will ignore that my clients make transactions right before my eyes. The battered doors and smashed windows weren’t warning enough for me.

I’ll ignore the bloated bank account because I remember that last week’s debits were overdrawn. The gas bill is low this week, but the electric bill is rising.

I’m just going to park the car, lock up the bike, and walk

Down the street

Watching

People go by.

Assessment Comes After the Lesson

As much as we try to plan or predict what the future holds, it is our ability to reflect that is most effective in determining what we’ve learned. Outcomes can be measured. Our data fosters understanding. We are hopeful that our information will translate into preparedness.

Teaching does not always equate to learning. We’ve forgotten that our effectiveness should not be determined by what we know, but how we develop our ability to learn.

Flawed systems are only determined after the fact. Omniscience neurally exists. What I mean is that we feel, but our feelings are emotional. Wisdom comes not by determining what we know, but knowing what we do not know.

What we think we know may not be a true reflection of knowledge. It may simply be a manifestation of our beliefs. Misconceptions, however, are not evident without exploration, reflections, and reality.

Life is the test.

Survival is contingent on action.

Knowledge is dependent on experience.

Practice is superficial if it is never applied.

Missing the One That’s Gone (mistreating the one that’s here)

The title suggests that relationships are backwards. But consider a deeper concept. We mourn at funerals, but the emotional commitment to sadness doesn’t usually last long. We eventually level out…chemically emotional, spiritually. And although the memory stimulates disappointment for the loss of a loved one, it also allows us to recall the good times.

We reminisce!

We are learning more about our genetic code. Commercially branded exploration such as 23andMe, Ancestry and myHeritage.com connect us to lives that we never knew, experiences we would not endure, and family we’ll never meet. But doesn’t it seem awkward to pursue “extra-” life when our own is right before us? The option to abandon the present in exchange for knowledge of the past lineage.

It’s every history teachers’ fantasy to have so many students of the world want to know where they’ve come from. In one way or another, we are all connected to some legacy.

But what of the present?! Can we be motivated to enhance our lives to do better? What lessons have we’ve absorbed from our ancestors? The history books could only convey a story from the perspective of the story tellers. But are these new methods of history-sharing impartial and unbiased? Is someone really telling us our story. Or are we getting a digitized rendition of similar narratives all dressed up with political correctness? Has our DNA been exploited to sell stock?

Pharmaceuticals are the capital for the scientists and bioengineers. DNA testing could be the conduit to normalize scientific explanations of the past–all the while omitting the gemological data that resembles all that is wrong with the world. Who is dealing/selling/marketing this to us? And raise your hand if you’re buying it.

Perhaps we as a society are so eager to embrace the positive and exciting aspects of our history. We don’t want to be burdened with the condemnations of a society gone array.

Ellis Island was a new beginning for many, but for others it was a resting place for family, cultures, and tales that could no longer be passed down to the next generations. (You absolutely must go back a click on the link). But please don’t forget that there were many nations that were torn apart and destroyed only to be reconstructed poorly in the new world. The original coming to America is vastly under-told. No cotton swab can ignite a recollection like that (and we wouldn’t want it too). American can’t handle it. We’ve become obsessed with the obsessed and numb to the pain.

Tabloids and opioids…junk for the mind, junk for the body. THIS is where we are. Reactive, we ponder treatment options in lieu of reconciling the pain. Mass shootings become last week’s news because the anxiety of “now” is too great. The precautions and the prohibitions do nothing to make us safer; instead these menial drills grasp at our insecurities and ignorance of the present.

We will react to the loss(es) of (un)loved-ones. We will pick up the pieces. We will search for something to ease the pain. As our eyes roll back and our existence begins to fade, your choice of chemical (or tactile) will ultimately determine (or UNDERmine) your future.

The art is longer imitating life. Our lives have emulated art.

Eighty years of radio/television, forty years of video games, thirty years of internet, twenty-five years of music videos and reality TV, ten years of smart phones and tablets, five consecutive years of hate, violence, and mistrust of organization and institution…equal the destruction of safe spaces.

We miss what’s already gone. We are mistreating what is already here.

Let’s digress. After all, it is just the day after Friday!

1994 Wishlist

the things most important to me at the age of adulthood; those moments that i would fantasize or dream of things just barely within my grasp are not even things anymore. i could not know then what i would not need (or even want) in my “mature” years. the photos should speak for themselves, but i’ll defend as we peruse…the coveted swatch watch. my peers had several. i was able to save up enough money for ONE. that’s all i needed. Now i don’t even wear a watch.

my high school counselor warned me that our regional state college would more appropriately be my dream school. i applied, and gained admission.

and then a million dollar endowment and national recognition transformed it into a university that might have made my counselors prediction accurate…

go figure!

the sports car that i dreamed of was one that i thought was practical. whereas a Porsche 928 was what i really wanted, it was its cinematic association that made it an unlikely reality

this Shelby Charger would fit the bill instead. i was fortunate enough to own one for a few months. i sold it out of anger.

Too soon…

jessica…boyish fantasies remind us of how ridiculous we can be! Bugs never had it so good. Maybe it was the red hair…

Or not…i had so many cassettes, it only seemed fitting to have a way to play them consecutively. i hadn’t imagined that i’d be financially reckless enough to own countless compact discs and that the future-me would hoard all kinds of music media.

we simply didn’t know that mp3s would be a thingi figured that typing my thoughts would be more efficient than keeping a diary. I knew that i could type almost as fast as I could think the words…

i practiced my typing. i used my sears credit card to buy one of these (an open-box special). one day i’ll be a blogger. it’s 1994. What’s a blog?

by the way, i really liked the movie The Mask. i don’t know why. i didn’t care much for Jim Carey.

Red

i had TWO high school rings. i lost the first one that my parents bought me. i bought another identical ruby ring with my grocery clerk earnings before they could find out how irresponsible i’d been. then they found the one i’d lost.

for her 13th birthday, my daughter inherited the recovered ring along with the lesson of unnecessary discretions.

when i graduated university, i bought myself an imitation emerald ring. Authenticity wouldn’t matter when it was time for my grad school ring. That one will be pure onyx for sure (even though i have no dream of achieving another degree).

Hard Knox from here on…

and those things i thought i wanted aren’t important any more. they probably weren’t important then. i just didn’t know it.

Freedom of Mine

Don’t mind this freedom of mine. The policies that govern us were not founded on the premise of common sense. This is where Thomas Paine and Samuel Adams floundered. But let us not keep the foundations from embracing our roots. Roots crack foundations.

We don’t need any institution to dictate what is moral or fundamental. Any institution that governs (or enforces) represents a collective objective. It can not truly mandate our individual souls–although it may try. For that which is in your mind intrinsically belongs to you. As long as it is there, it can not be adulterated or perverted. It’s the escape that is subject to scrutiny.

We govern how we release our thoughts. We plan our path recognizing the external forces that we cannot control. Proceed with caution. Hater-ation is the kool-aid that the lemon throwers grow for our lemonade.

Own the rights to your own mind. Be free with your thoughts. Do your best and promote the same in others. Seize the day, but tomorrow is yours too. We don’t have to surrender our passion to anyone.

Let every fight be external. Let us own our thoughts, guard our expressions, and silence the restrictions. All that dream are thirsty for a reality beyond the world’s imagination.

The freedom we seek exists. Our hearts and minds are not always in agreement, but we have insurmountable power that has not yet been tapped.

Last thought…those who seek to oppress us, restrict others, and regulate the masses…they too are dreaming of a world that suits themselves. They’ve unleashed their unrestricted and unregulated passions. The assertion speaks to their morals.