Saturday, November 28, 2015

# 332 / Taking A Break From Negativity

There is nothing wrong with a "feel good" article, or two, to help keep us from plunging into dark despair. There are lots of things to despair about, and you can read about them right here on my Two Worlds blog! I tend to be a "bringer of the bad news" kind of person, as an antidote to our all too human tendency to pretend that (perhaps) our problems aren't really problems, or that our problems will just go away if we can avoid thinking about them. 

Well (in my opinion) global warming and the Sixth Extinction aren't just going to go away, and neither is income inequality, and what that means in real life, and neither is our apparent intention to plunge the world into perpetual military conflict, with metastasizing terrorist attacks the latest result.

Friends have criticized my "negative" approach to life and blogging! I am not that apologetic. I do believe that we need to identify and think about our problems in the course of deciding what we should do about them. However, while still holding to that view, I do admit that there is nothing wrong with a "feel good" article, or two, once in a while, and here is my "feel good" article for today, a column by the not always beloved columnist David Brooks: "Communities Of Character."

In his column in The New York Times, published on November 27, 2015, Brooks talked about "schools that nurture the soul." This column made me feel good, and I recommend it. It suggests some ways that we could restructure our schools to be community-building institutions. Here is the statement that I found most important: 

You'd think that schools would naturally nurture deep community bonds. But we live in an era and under a testing regime that emphasizes individual accomplishments, not community cohesion. Even when schools talk about values, they tend to talk about individualistic values, like grit, resilience and executive function, not the empathy, compassion and solidarity that are good for community and the heart. 

We are "in this together." Our schools can be/should be, places where we come together and discover and celebrate that fact, the truth of our interdependence and the often under appreciated reality of the existence of our community ties.

When we start focusing on that, in school and out, we will all feel better!

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