Get Up, Stand Up

There was an education rally in downtown Albany on June 8. My wife, who’s not prone to activities such as mass demonstrations, attended; so did her mother, and her brother and sister-in-law, which she didn’t know about until she ran into her brother quite by accident. New York in particular was one of two states that has opted to mandate these idiotic standardized tests for its students even sooner than the rest of the country. This despite the fact that the teachers, by and large, hadn’t been trained in it. I’ve said this before: the tests were a waste my daughter’s education time. (Here’s a defense of education spending.)

I get notices for rallies of one type or another, many of which I agree with philosophically, but if I attended them all, that would be all I do full time. Maybe if I ever work downtown again, or retire (as if)…

When I was younger, i went to countless events for civil rights and against the Vietnam war. No single event may have made a difference, but one felt that collective effect of these actions might have had an impact.

The demonstrations against the Iraq war, in which I participate, obviously had no effect in preventing it. The Occupy movement, that I didn’t much involve myself with, may have had a longer term impact than its critics have suggested; among other things, it’s gotten the term “the 1%” in the conversation. Whether that will lead to economic reform, though, is still an open question.

Maybe what we need right now is some mass demonstration against the massive government overreach that are these two sweeping U.S. surveillance programs of our phones and e-mail, in the US and abroad, just to make sure President Obama is quite clear that we don’t his benign analysis of our government’s intrusion. Theoretically, something could change; socialist Bernie Sanders and the Tea Party’s Rand Paul seem to be on the same side of the issue. (This is at least the second time this year I’ve agreed with Paul; the last time was on drones.) I certainly support the ACLU lawsuit against the Obama Administration Over NSA ‘Dragnet’ Surveillance.

You know who is gutsy? Rev. Stephen Heiss, a United Methodist minister in Binghamton, NY, my hometown, who wrote a letter to his bishop admitting to actions that may cost him his job: “In the last few years I have officiated at several weddings for brothers and sisters who are lesbian or gay. One of those weddings—the highlight of my ministry—was for my own daughter and the woman who is now her wife. They are so happy!”

But these are BIG concerns. When I first started writing this, it was inspired by a much smaller issue in the grand scheme of things, an unreasonable, bullying landlord who [UPDATE – initially seemed to have relented, but the fight goes on.]

Whether the issue is international in scale or merely a neighborhood concern, this quote does seem appropriate: “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.” – Robert Frost. Now that’s WAY easier said than done, but it is something to aim for.

LISTEN to Get Up, Stand Up by Bob Marley, as relevant now as it was 40 years ago.

4 thoughts on “Get Up, Stand Up”

  1. I will admit to being conflicted as I utilize the perspective of age. There is a very real conflict between ideology and pragmatism. We want to maintain our privacy. We don’t want to be inconvenienced by being searched when boarding planes. We don’t want to kill innocent people while hunting down those who have declared that they want to do us harm (largely in revenge for interfering in their own brutal affairs). Yet we don’t want to be targets of terrorism on our home soil. Other than withdrawing from world affairs – not too likely – I’m not sure anymore what is the correct balance between liberty and security. I don’t like it, but there it is.

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  2. 20 percent of kids in Albany go to “charter” schools, all run by the Bright Choice Corporation. But 45 percent of NY State aid to Albany education goes to Brighter Choice’ charters. Yet the corporate charters offer ony a fraction of the services provided by the legitimate public schools any more would cut into their profits. And the charters do NOT provide basic accounting information to the public about how our money is being spent,but the legitimate public schools certainly have to be open and honest about their finances.

    I say, if Brighter Choice has nothing to hide, then why are they so secretive?

    The purpose of standardized testing is to provide more favoritism to the corporate charters. You see, charters can pick and choose which students they want to exploit. If a kid has low grades or needs special attention they get kicked out to attend the public schools. I hear it from my neighbors all the time.

    So by segregating the kids in this way, eventually we’ll see these (supposedly non-profit) corporate owned charter schools winning the standardized test competition. Why? Because mostly what the charters “teach” is how to pass the standardized tests. And if a kid is a bit slow, they eliminate that low number from their records and force the public schools to carry it.

    What a scam.

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  3. the problem with a collective outrage against the NSA (or privacy intrusion in general) and why it probably won’t happen in any meaningful sense is that it doesn’t involve abortion or gun control. if it did, half of the country would be yelling about it so much that the other half would have to stomp down the ridiculousness being yelled out. this is what passes for political discourse in mainstream media nowadays (for the most part). hell, even ESPN understands this by bringing in bigots to talk about Jason Collins. and, besides, the 4th amendment is sooooo unsexy (and shrug-worthy for a lot of people on the Right).

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