Rules for Fully Living, part 2

11. Honor confidentiality
12. Be appropriately transparent
13. Listen well
14. Grieve your losses fully
15. Confront evil
16. Honor differences
17. Hurting people hurt people
18. Trust your instincts
19. We teach people how to  treat us
20. Enjoy simple pleasures

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Guidelines for Living Fully

I started a few months ago compiling some guidelines (rules, if you prefer) for living fully. I share a few with you below.

1. Be grateful
2. Rejoice
3. Smile and laugh often
4. Trust
5.  Don’t waste good
6. Tell the truth
7. Know when to cut your losses
8. Know when to say no
9. Know when to wait
10. Know when to say nothing

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DISCLAIMER: WordPress occasionally adds an advertisement at the bottom of my blog. Twice, I’ve been notified by readers that those ads were offensive. I am unable to view these ads, and I cannot delete them. I apologize and am attempting to prevent this from happening in the future.

On Transparency and Fear of Conflict

“Why reinvent the wheel?” someone asked.  So often others say things better than I ever would, so I like to share quotes.  Here are two:

On fear of conflict

“Why are we so afraid of conflict? Because we associate it with combat. Why are we afraid of combat? Because we don’t want to get hurt. In the workplace, the fear of conflict stunts creativity, growth and collaboration. So, if we want to get those three important ingredients for productivity and job satisfaction back, we need to learn how to manage conflict effectively for all concerned.” – Karen Mattonen

On being real (transparent)

“To be transparent is a relief. Muddy water hides a host of unpleasant surprises. Clear water shows us the bottom of the sea-the rubbish and debris if they are there, but also the multicolored fish, shells, starfish. Honesty allows us to look into someone’s eyes and through them into their heart.” – Joe Roberts

Lessons Learned on the Navajo Nation

As I near the end of an amazing two-part adventure (5 more days, but who’s counting?), I reflect on what I have learned.  Part one of the adventure was living on the Navajo Nation.  Part two was my first foray into teaching at a public school.  Both adventures taught me much.

Living on the Navajo Nation provided many lessons:

  1. Government dependency can lead to poverty (40% of the Navajo people fall below the poverty level) and high unemployment rates (60-75% on the Navajo Nation, depending on the source).  From my observations living among the Navajo, both poverty and unemployment can be directly attributable to government dependency.
  2. While the Navajo people are amazing, bright, and resourceful, a very high percentage of them are bored, depressed, and in poor health.  Diabetes is epidemic among Native Americans.  An estimated one in eight will get the disease (thanks, largely, to commodity foods).
  3. The Navajo are losing their language.  In nine months, while walking through the hallways, being in the cafeteria, having students in my classes, and other observations – I never heard any two students speaking to each other in any language other than English.  I do know that many of them know how to speak Navajo, because that’s the only language some of their grandparents speak, so they must speak Navajo to communicate with the grandparents.

Teaching in a public school taught me more than I taught the students:

  1. Public schools are in trouble.
  2. The source of the trouble is debatable, but I suggest that government dependency is again one source.
  3. Standardization, lack of self-discipline, and poor discipline practices are other sources, in my opinion.
  4. The last, and possibly most damaging source of the problem is the lack of parenting skills.

Hopefully, I learned some things from my adventures that will help me be a part of the solution to these serious problems.

Parenting and Public Schools

My hypotheses about the current fundamental public school problems are simple.  First, effective parenting is paramount.  And, second, sound relationship skills undergird the entire education enterprise.

Exemplary teachers usually have solid parenting skills.  Must a teacher be or have been a biological parent to acquire these skills.  Not at all.  They can best be learned by rearing children in a nuclear family.  But, they can be learned other ways too.  Most importantly – they can be learned (and taught).

Good parenting skills teach us the importance of letting our children (students) know that we value and accept them, regardless of their behavior.  Simultaneously, we inform them (and demonstrate to them) that bad behavior has negative consequences.

More to come….

Discipline in Public Schools

PHS added a dress code this year.  Oh, the outcries of offense!  But the administration stood firm.  The dress code policy reduced violence in the school.   Ninety-six students were expelled (not suspended) the year prior to the dress code.  This year, the first year of the dress code policy, one student has been expelled

Ninety-five percent of the prior year expulsions were a result of fighting, drugs, and failure to make academic progress.  All that changed this year.  Teachers report a big difference in classroom performance, student attitude, and learning.  The administration and staff took charge of the school.  Rules and order govern the school, not gangs and violence.

A dress code is a form of discipline – something sorely lacking in most public schools.   PHS would almost certainly benefit from other forms of discipline, but this is a good start.  When students receive discipline, they can develop self-discipline.  Self-discipline leads to success and positive accomplishments.  Thanks, PHS, for this great example.

Poverty on the Navajo Nation

In a previous post, I briefly discussed the “third world nation” status of the Navajo Nation (NN). This was primarily due to the poverty issues they face.  Yet the NN received millions of federal and state funds – enough to distribute non-trivial monthly checks to each family living on the “Rez.”  On the other hand, citizens of the Navajo Nation:
  • do not pay federal or state taxes.
  • do not pay to register and license their vehicles
  • do not pay real estate taxes
  • rarely have house payments
  • never have to pay for land, since no one owns the land (yet every family has an allotment of land)
  • rarely have credit cards, so their debt load is minimal, usually a vehicle payment
  • receive free medical, dental, and eye care
  • much of their education is paid for by the tribe via workforce development or other social agencies.

How can one explain the ironies of monthly checks, incredible tax breaks and other government provision, and persistent poverty?  Government Dependency is an insidious thing.

Government Dependency

“”Todd’s family had worked hard to escape a rut that some find themselves in when faced with harsh conditions.  They saw that when government programs started growing, sometimes citizens became dependent on the programs and abandoned the strong work ethic of their elders.  This resulted in too many young people giving themselves over to a dependent lifestyle that often leads to fractured families, abuse, subpar education, and other problems.” – Sarah Palin referring to her Native American husband, Todd.

Working and living on the Navajo Nation the past year has confirmed Todd Palin’s observation.  I’ve also seen it on the nearby Hopi Reservation, and I saw it on the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation when I worked with them several years ago.

Is the same thing happening to the U.S. general population?  Hmmm.

Dine Culture

Dina dancerI learned several years ago that to engage a new culture, one can learn their songs, dance, and food.  When we lived in Kentucky we learned to eat Hot Brown and enjoy Bluegrass Music.  We went with some friends to the granddaddy of all Bluegrass Festivals in Lexington, KY.  It was great.  We saw and heard most of the performers who provided the music for the movie released about a year later – “O, Brother, Where Art Thou.”  We also took clogging lessons.  That was great fun, and it got us accepted into the culture very quickly.

In the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, where much of the population has an Eastern European immigrant heritage, we went to the almost weekly festivals at area churches and other venues.  There we were introduced to the amazing foods new to us – like pierogies and baclava.  And we gained a new appreciation for polka and other folk dances.

On the Navajo Nation, the native music is mostly Navajo language chant, and the dances are part of their religion.  So, we struggle to learn and engage in their culture.  But, we keep trying.

Navajo Nation and Socialism

navajoWhy would I call the Navajo Nation a socialist nation?  I’m glad you asked.

The Diné (Navajo people) receive monthly checks from their government who receives monthly checks from the U.S. government.  They depend on those government checks.  They do not have to work to survive.

Few jobs exist on the reservation – other than governments jobs, school-related jobs, health-care related jobs, and jobs in the few retail businesses that exist – convenience stores and fast-food outlets in the smaller communities – and larger retail stores in the few larger towns.  Other possibilities include mines (coal) and power plants.  Most of the businesses are owned by people outside the Reservation.

Navajo Nation government, local and National, experience corruption typical of governments.  Power, control, and opportunities for fraudent accumulation of wealth corrupt humans.  To be sure, many government officials are very honest and servant-minded.  Nevertheless, corruption frequently harms the Nation’s citizens.  U.S. government corruption also harms.  Some local citizens call the Bureau of Indian Affairs – the BIA – “bossing Indians around.”  🙂

From my perspective, socialism is not working well on the Navajo Nation.