A little about Mario Depeine, Sr.

As an educator I get the opportunity to get a small glimpse of how our society is shaping up. Children come into the classroom with all types of perspectives. A lot of the perspectives are a result of their environment. Some of those perspectives reflect the home life or lack of. Some reflect the street life and some just reflect the media that the children are exposed to.

Middle School children are just starting out in life. You see how their characters and personalities are shaping up. Many can be molded or adjusted easily others are a lot more resistant to change depending on their circumstance.

I work in an urban district. While there I see many interesting and at times disheartening things. Hopefully my experiences as an educator can shed some light on what we can do to better prepare our children for the future.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Limits to Freedom of Speech?

America is a wonderful nation. It is a nation whose people really beieve in pursuing and fighting for many ideals that bring it closer to becoming a "more perfect union." In history, various issues have been addressed and confronted. Slavery was challenged and eventually abolished. The "Jim Crow Laws" were also challenged and eventually abolished (although there are some remnants of that thinking and practice in pockets of our "perfect union"). The impracticality of the Vietnam War was challenged and that war was eventually stopped. McCarthyism, a very dark period in American politics, was also toppled. Prejudice and racism has been challenged and continues to be challenged, although not with the same fervor of the "past."
There are many other issues that Americans have addressed or attempted to address to get it closer to being the "more perfect union." Some of those issues are health reform, education reform, economic reform, and a few others that I won't mention in this article.

One thing that runs through all of those issues that I mentioned above is how much "freedom of speech" has been challenged in the process. It seems that everytime someone or a group of people wanted to challenge what has been established they are met with a "roar" of opposition. It almost seems like the rule is, "If it is here, then it must be right already." We even have the very familiar and at times popular phrase: "If it aint broke, don't fix it." Well, perhaps it may not be "broke" to you but it may be "broke" to the person who is being adversely affected by it.

In order to keep striving to become a "more perfect union" it is important that as a nation we leave room for improvement and room to challenge something or things that only benefit a few people, while the majority is "left out in the cold." We must become a nation that not only looks out for the "self" but stops to consider the plight of his or her neighbor. We need to ask the question, "I know I'm okay, but what about the others around me, do they have at least some of the basic things that I have?" If you conclude that they don't, then maybe it's time to explore the possibility of supporting someone or a group that wants to bring about a change in that direction. Perhaps you are the one that can bring about that change?

Sometimes the degree to which an individual has "freedom of speech" is based on how much money he or she has. There are positions that an individual can take that are noble and good, but could cost them their job or livelyhood. Yes, you have the freedom to speak but you also have the freedom to be fired. so you understand that your freedom is limited by where you work and who writes your paycheck. "Freedom of speech" is also influenced by the group that has "media power" or influence. All it takes is for an individual to state a position contrary to that group and the "news is all over it." I have seen people in the news being quoted for making a "true statement" based on history, but because it contradicts the group's agenda, that individual is "blasted" in the media and there are calls for their resignation and firing. Why? Because they spoke a true, historical fact? When the media, the news reporter supports that type of suppression of facts, then the system is "broke." There is a need for some fixing. Of course, I am not saying that the "media" in general is like that. I am saying that this scenario happens too often.

Establishing "freedom of speech" for everyone is a very ideal goal. The United States will do better as it emphasizes innovative and constructive thinking among the people. It is good to highlight people who are coming up with solutions to problems that affect our society. When we look at "education reform" we should not only look at speaking to the teachers, but also the parents and caretakers that are responsible for "preparing the children" for school and society. When we look at racism (a very touchy issue) we must admit that it still exists in many corners of our society. We must create an atmosphere that encourages people to voice the "problem" and prevent others from suppressing the additional progress that could be made in this area.

The United States of America has had many great victories in its short 234 year history. It has weathered many storms. The US is a country that many want to visit and make their home. It is a country that many want to imitate in a lot of areas. It has great influence around the world. It has a lot of resources and it has a lot of potential.

We see that all of the great changes that America was able to accomplish required a lot of energy. There was opposition to the changes but with a lot of perseverance, America moved closer to being a "more perfect union." "Freedom of speech" is at the crux of the changes that America will need to continue to make. Without "freedom of speech" there is no advancement for America, there will only be regression. As we see things that are needing "improvement" lets speak and realize that there will be opposition, but continue the speaking, translate it to action and let's make America the "more perfect union."

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New Jersey Rally of May 22, 2010

New Jersey Rally of May 22, 2010
Young ones making their voices heard.