Patriots on Peculiar Battlefields / #criticalthinkers #politicalscience #teachers #parents #business #theFreedomPapers

Fine Tuning Our Dynamic Democracy

 

 As individuals who are part of families, and in a larger sense, the local and national community, we are taught the value of bettering ourselves, learning from our mistakes, making amends, and improving ourselves. Ideally, we grow wiser, gain greater understanding and insight becoming better individuals over time…ideally at least. 

Our interactions with our family, friends, colleagues and the greater community can and do (if we listen intently), give us constructive feedback which can serve to help us fine tune ourselves and our relationships. This process requires executive function machination, and active internal focus on our internal growth and development. Again, ideally, we learn and improve.

That which is of most value to us can easily be ‘perceptually downgraded’ for that which is enticing, ‘new,’ and quickly gratifying. This happens an untold number of times a day through the  presence of the technology and the industry that banks on it. Our executive function wherewithal  plummets in such a system of function, and our decision-making process becomes permeated and rigged according to the business-strategies of much of the technology that we interact with.

I recently read Tristan Harris’s essay, “How Technology is Hijacking Your Mind- from a Magician and Google Design Ethicist.” He is a well-known speaker and writer whom looking to help the average reader deconstruct the narrative of how social media is crafted to give you the idea of choice, when in fact, it is controlling the choices, or menu, for you. Not only that, social media platforms negatively disrupt our attention spans and wield great influence on how we navigate online, where we navigate to, for how long, and to what purpose.

This creates a tremendous challenge to individual critical thinking development, and a formidable obstacle to the growth and maintenance of a true democracy. A short-fusing of our thinking patterns has been built, making it difficult to detach from such a system of thinking not in service to our own self and values, but in service to the business protocols of the social media business industry. Such a system creates ‘friction’ for itself to be improved upon as it focuses on the short-term generation of increasing time spent by each user on its interface social media platform (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). The most disadvantaged segments of the population will be those people who are not aware of how social media is scaffolded to increase its influence in our life. Teaching critical thinking skills in grade school through the practice of writing, speaking, and discussion on a wide range of topics fine-tunes the mind of youth and adults to realize that there are systems of social operation that are selfishly focused on their business growth, their political ideologies, and their choices of what is important in life.

For example, on the Twitter platform, who picks what is trending on the “Trend page’? Political conservative individuals and organizations, as well as congressional leaders in Washington D.C., have pointed out that the news trend topics are heavily slanted to favor a leftist, social-progressive ideology. The same has been alleged of Facebook, whose CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, recently had to answer questions on his social media companies attempt to influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential elections. Google has become powerful as the number one search engine, and it is increasingly being called into question as to how its algorithmic functions control the website ranking of sites based on the companies political and social ideology. This is social engineering on the surface, and these are easily spotted attempts to control how we think, and how we make choices.

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Critical Thinking Matters

It is next to miraculous that I found out about Frederick Douglas’s contribution to democracy, given the above-mentioned system of negative attentional disruption, and the 24 hour news cycle. Valuing the time invested in writing essays on his defense of true Christian values and individual freedom and liberty was possible due to my recognition to value disconnecting from the social media narratives that seem to drive mental response. Douglass, an African-American and former slave, born in about 1818, established that a true Christian would not be racially prejudice against a person based on the color of their skin or the conditions in which they were born, but would be actively seeking the freedom, liberty and restoration of a quality life for a disadvantaged brother or sister-in-Christ. He realized that he had to write and speak, even purchase a form of informational production, a printing press, to change and influence public opinion. 

How can we grow internally, become critical thinkers, and gain greater understanding of what truly matters if we are raised in a culture that allows for the manipulation of our thoughts and attention, even our emotional state of being? How are mighty men and women going to rise on a grander scale, if our public educational system does not directly address the onslaught to the minds and hearts of each new generation? Our phones, our car radios, the social media apps, our televisions, the entertainment industry, the news industry- all these seek our attention, and all these influence according to the time we spend on them. There is even a high level of political collusion amongst these, with the prevailing norm being that social-progressive ideals be championed, and conservative voices be dulled, even silenced in the echo chamber of media.

There Is No Silence In The Quiet Moments

A mind becomes neurologically wired to such an external system, and pivots on its manufactured rise and fall. This directly limits, an individual’s liberty to leave, or temporarily detach from such a system, even when the person is not using a device. In such a state of mental functioning, a society is quickly steered consciously or unconsciously into serving not the greater values of a person, a family, or a community, but subservient to the business strategy of social media and technology at large.

It would be a great way to control a large population, limit the rise of scaled masses of outspoken critical thinkers, and curate a faux-democracy wherein an elite of individuals manage the masses. In this kind of framework, democracy becomes a house of cards, easily swept by the whim and desires of a few. Can a soldier in the armed forces of a nation defend against such a challenge to democracy? They valiantly serve, even place their life on the line, but this kind of work to defend individual freedom and liberty takes place in another battlefield that you cannot see as much as read. It is not a battle of ideas, but a deconstruction of narratives which prop up ideas, which in turn are fanned out through a social media distribution network that operates overtly and covertly. It is both in your face, and sublime. Conscious and unconscious influence for your heart and mind. This is how mountains are moved.

Positive Disruption and Social Responsibility

Reform educational curricula to value the development of critical thinking as it pertains to the defense of freedom and liberty, alongside science, technology, engineering, mathematics and entrepreneurship. Build not professionals only, but professionals who are entrepreneurial-minded and outspoken critical thinkers who participate in the process of democracy. We need not just empower an economic labor force to be great engineers, but engineers who write and speak out on those values that strengthen community and dispel the narratives of social systems that degrade our society.

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The Power of Discussion & the Written Word / #HaitianRevolution #AmericanRevolution #humanrights #FormsOfProduction #theFreedomPapers

 

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(Edited 9:29 pm 5/31/18)

How important is the presence and absence of (1) open discussion of ideas to humanity,  and how pivotal is the presence and absence of (2) the written word, and the (3) ability to physically (digitally) distribute such ideas to impact local, national, and global events?

 

On page 88, of ‘Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995),’ Michel-Rolph Trouillot, paraphrases, Louis Sala-Molins “claim” ‘that slavery was the ultimate test of the Enlightenment.’ Whereas Trouillot goes one step further and sais that “the Haitian Revolution was the ultimate test to the universalist pretensions of both the French and American revolutions. And they both failed. In 1791, there is no public debate on the record, in France, in England, or in the United states on the right of black slaves to achieve self-determination, and the right to do so by way of armed resistance.”

In such a manner does Michel-Rolph Trouillot place before the reader the possibility that the American Revolution (and the French Revolution) failed at their core. That given slavery’s continuance to exist, the inherent founding principles of every man being created equal was not truly practiced in the United States or France, given the existence of the global slave trade at the time, and America’s and France’s partaking in such a system of human bondage.

 

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1.Does the author steal away the laurel leaves, the triumphant narrative found in the Declaration of Independence and place it before us in plain light as ultimately, a dismal failure?

 

2. Is it not so that hundreds of thousands of African slaves experienced no immediate freedom or acknowledgment of their God-given human rights in the United States of America during the time of writing of the Declaration of Independence (1776) or the U.S. Consititution (1787)?

 

It can easily be said that this ‘Age of Enlightenment’ extended only to white men, scarcely to the white women, and certainly not so, to the native American savages, or the African brute slave. Both were deemed uncivilized and uneducated, in need of a task masters supervision, and relegated to complete banishment from ascending into the the colonial society. That this be so during the time of the writing of the American Declaration in 1776,  one can attest that surely, without apology, such an observation was true, and it was not until a ‘black Spartacus,’ born in the southern United States at about 1818, that the undertaking to change and set in place such a inalienable principle would begin to take shape;  even bringing greater a moral depth to the founding manuscript.

Through a more careful examination of the authors choice observations, it is argued that, at least for the United States of America, during its own time of emancipation from colonialism, America did not directly fail to be at the aid of the Haitian revolution for personal freedom, but differed dramatically in how it operated itself in its push for freedom and self-governance from colonial rule. It did, however, fail in not setting the moral example in addressing all human beings as a free people, “created equal,” endowed with certain unalienable rights by their Creator, “among these life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And this failing of America, and consequently, France, set a precedent where the absence of such discussion, that all men and women are created equal, never happened in any spirited way at such a time.

3. Had such thoughtful critical thinking taken place during this time, how would that have affected Western political thought within Europe and the United States during the nearly thirteen years of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804)?

 

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If such discussions would have taken place, it would be mere speculation that in short loss of time, the hearts and minds, the very energies of such altruistic revolutionaries in the United States and France may have seemed to see it befitting that the Haitian Revolution be helped with the arrival of printing presses on the island of La Hispaniola in the Carribean. But there is no record whatsoever, as has said Michel-Rolph Trouillot, of discussion or political debate on the issue of black slavery in America or France at that time.

 

From this lesser step, and within this national moral failing, the American and French revolutions failed to stand as shining examples of their written doctrines, and yet, the Haitian revolution for independence found, both success and failure, ultimately leading itself to keep a monarchical governing structure and rendering the freed  black slaves as serf-peasants under hierarchical social and economic oppression.

 

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Had the following been present in Haiti, as it was in the United States and France, it would have strengthened the power of the people and limited the possible rise of a hierarchical governing structure with a king at the helm:

(1) the written word of the slave rebellions founding principles or declarations

 

(2) literate, educated people

 

(3) the presence of forms of production, i.e. the printing press

 

(4) the ability to distribute copies of the written word through a network

 

(5) the ability to study and discuss such principles, allowed for the cementing of the ideals and constant remembrance of WHY the revolution was taking  place

 

Quite on the contrary and unfortunate for Haiti’s slave revolt sympathizers, none of these, except for the fifth point, (albeit in a degraded intellectual form of remembrance- the human mind), were present during the rebellion. The actuality in Haiti between 1791 and 1804 was that:

  • Lack of education: slaves were illiterate and their was no printed word
  • There were no FORMS OF PRODUCTION: no printing press or way to duplicate copies of printed word, thus no way to carefully study, discuss or transmit the principles of ‘why’ the revolt was purposed
  • The actions of the black slave rebellion took eminence over discourse: the unspoken revolution “expressed itself mainly through its deeds, and it is through political practice that it challenged Western philosophy and colonialism,” and not the written word
  • It was not discussed in profound throughtfulness: Their was no Continental Congress; no delegates: the revolution dealt with the impossible only after the impossible had become fact; and even then, the facts were not always accepted as such

Further, the author brings great awareness as to the constant changing of the slave rebel leadership, and the capturing of historical facts then and through time would have resolutely left the leaders, let alone the Haitian slaves, wondering who to back and support. It is so that in an age where ‘news’ from afar traveled slowly, the rendering of historical accounts from observers on the ground during the Haitian revolution would ultimately become perceptual narrative choices (p.48) of historical understanding, delivering a skewed story on what really happened or was happening. Individual perspective of the interplay during the Haitian Revolution would have struggled to keep up with a clear and concise view of who was backing whom and if the ideal of freedom for the slaves was still at the core of the fighting, such disarray could have been greatly helped through the presence of the printing press. Written word can act as a script that binds us, reminding us of what is important, and serving as a set of parameters to which to abide to.

 

To the fog of war, Trouillot gives the reader an important submission: the War of Independence was not simply a black against white affair, but that it was ‘a war within the war’ itself, (p.40). As the slave revolt continued through its years, various black slave commanders joined the French armies to battle Spaniard and British forces seeking a colonialist foothold in Haitian territory, and then many defected away from the French again, being jaded by calls from French leadership to eventually reinstitute slavery again. The lead rebel commanders themselves had, in effect, raised colonial slave armies, fought their colonial masters, and later defected from them, disdaining the promises of a hierarchical governance structure, (not that different from that which the slaves had essentially revolted from).

 

Though the desire of human freedom was at the heart of the slave revolt, the narrative would be rewritten and rewritten in the minds of the rebel commander leaders, as it would be with the leaders who had sided with the French colonial hegemony. Ultimately, a black Haitian ‘King Henry I’ took the throne, and soon after, a second King, Christophe, divided the kingdom and ruled over northern Haiti. Christophe, the author reports, built an opulent palace and was ruthless in his hold on power, allowing thousands of black peasants to die in the making of his personal domain. History repeats itself…

Could have the original ideals of the slave revolt, the human right of personal freedom been lost to human greed and moral ignorance, due to a lack of education and the forms of production (printing press)? If the form of historical production available at the time, a printing press, would have been present and functioning in Haiti, and the slaves could have been a literate people, how would the written reminders of the principles being fought for pillared the hearts and minds of the peasant-slaves to hold their leaders accountable?

 

Our words and actions matter, as do the intents of the heart. All must be balanced in the light of the moment, and in retrospect, with as much thoughtfulness as can be afforded. The words and actions of the Haitian Revolution did not follow each other, nor did the written word precede or hold accountable the actions. Instead, a series of actions were exacted and the historical understanding of such events was placed into a narrative according to the biases, preconditions and cultural inclinations of historical storytellers; the writers of history. The failure of American and French morality in accepting all humanity as created equal before God, set the stage for a watered-down version of human emancipation in Haiti, but the final intent of the black leadership in Haiti showed to place itself as a monarchy over the people it purported to free.

 

Had careful conversation leading to critical thinking discourse happened in the United States and France as to the need to see all humanity as created equal and bestowed with God-given rights (not just to white men), the aid to other lands and peoples following suit could have surely been afforded printing presses, (a form of production). Learning from their own examples, the leading American and French patriots recognized that it was correspondence and written declarations which held each revolutionary to a set of unwavering principles; edifying them (and us) with continual, non-changing written reminders of what is important. Much more, the free people who lived in the colonies during these times enjoyed a greater measure of literacy and educational upbriniging, unlike the Haitian black slaves who were purposefully kept illiterate.

 

Althogether, it can be said that initially, the Age of Enlightenment momentarily failed on the issue of black slavery, and yet, as is now known, not even twenty years after the Haitian Independence of 1804, an American black Spartacus, even a black slave, Frederick Douglass, would rise up against all odds, self-learning to read, write and speak eloquently using only two books, one of which was the Holy Bible, and the second, the leading scholastic text book at the time in America, The Columbian Orator. This same man, Douglass, harnessed the power of the spoken and written word, as well as the only form of production available at the time, the printing press, to catapult God’s call to respect the human rights of the black man as created equal. Stopping short of leading a campaign for the rights of women, and yet furthering the strength of the American founding documents (Declaration of Independence in 1776, The U.S. Constitution in 1787, and the Bill of Rights in 1791), Frederick Douglass was able to impact hearts and minds due to his constant writings, his printing press, his distribution network for his written word, and his ability to speak persuasively in public. The Haitian slave rebellion had none of these helps.

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So important is the written word to keeping us aware of what is important, and what to hold dear…

God’s Word, which is the “law of liberty,” serves humanity as an exacting moral compass, an admonishment, and a map of how to conduct ourselves, and what to expect. So important is the written word to humanity that even in the last sentences of the King James Version of the Judeo-Christian bible, God emphasized, “and if any man shall take away from the words of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

The Propaganda in Our Hearts & Minds / #positivedisruption #criticalthinkers #democracy

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Not only does human slaughter of the fruit of a woman’s womb promote the idea that we are disposable, but a people’s will to stand up to such a standard order of daily business is stifled through its information modes of content production.

  1. What does the latter mean? and how important is a critically thinking, open-minded individual who is God-centered to a local, national, and global community?
  2. Why would such characteristics in an individual be considered outright dangerous by a prevailing political order?

This type of individual can be found anywhere in the world, irrespective of ethnicity, race, or language, but not regardless of submission to the the true Lord of Lords, God Almighty. It requires altruism, time, and an investment of spiritual energy in a concerted way. We must become as if we were political scientist, listening, observing, watching and seeking to understand how culture is created, how governments interact with one another, with the citizenry, how people practice democracy (and how they don’t). Critical thinkers make time to think and study how local social order motivates national and global order, and how these macro movements, in turn influence the local, individual life.

 As it be, the average individual in the United States of America is not raised to be a critical thinker and active participant of maintaining democracy fresh and vibrant, but is raised up to be trained in the main academic subject matters of grade school, and prompted to seek specific employment, if not stepping forward to attain a liberal arts educational understanding of the world. For those who go on to graduate school, professional development is furthered with specific knowledge in a field of study. At no point is the valuing of critical thinking developed directly, and so the following happens through default:

People become work-focused, information receivers who are not active participants in democracy, but followers of a hierarchical system of governance that places informational content-creators from established organizations and corporations that espouse a leftist-leaning political ideology. The problem with this is that it does not create leaders, but followers. The glut of information directed at the average individual far exceeds the information they create using the same modes of production, meaning, social media platforms, television, radio, and academic information distribution channels are mostly a one-way street. At this point in time, the desensitizing of people’s minds and hearts is so pervasive that national complacency on actively participating in the daily shaping of democracy is an established social order construct difficult to break free from.

Our military soldiers, our veterans, our police men and women who serve day and night, these are not the first line of defense, nor the most important upholders of democracy, but it is the regular civilian (you and me), that determines the pace and kind of democracy we are to have. Regular Americans are the first line of defense, and all the day long we are trained and cajoled to abdicate our power in acquiescence to the hierarchical social-economic-political present reality.

It has become then, that our democracy is a mirage, and up for sale every day that we shirk our responsibility to practice critical thinking, and determined advocacy on the values that the United States of America was founded upon. We have become a people under control through distraction and division. Our human rights are set aside as we stand before the daily human sacrifice of 2,500 children cut up, vacuumed, burned and violently extracted from the womb of our women. In such ways we have cheapened ourselves, and in such manner the Lord will one day enter in all his magnificence and glory and ask us what we have done.

Four Main Community Priorities in the Realm of Special Needs / #empathiccapitalism #business #specianeeds ScalziOriginals.US

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  • Housing for Adults with Special Needs
  • High-quality at-home/ community 1:1 and Special Educational services for individuals
  • Mentoring services for at-risk youth
  • Executive function-based Youth Sports programs for youth and adults with special needs operated by qualified special educational professionals

Special Needs Housing

As of fifty years ago, across the United States of America, including Connecticut and New York, of which the focus is herein, housing for adults with severe special needs was in the form of asylum centers. Since then, awareness in human rights and the rise of special educational services has led to a movement towards state-funded housing and privately-run organizations offering adult-special needs housing. Even so, the waiting list for such housing is constant, and the quality of the housing itself is mid to low-quality in its recreational and residential amenities.

It can be aptly put forth that this is a segment of the population that is underserved, leaving great strain on families who have aging offspring with intellectual disabilities, Downs Syndrome and individuals on the autism spectrum who are intellectually low-functioning. With Connecticut’s economic budget in a historic long-term down-grade, there is no future growth of drastic refurbishing of such residential living for such individuals. Moreover, high-quality specialized educational services cannot be attained for those living in state-run homes, leaving a staff of paraprofessionals, and unqualified, underpaid caretakers to lead in the day to day life of these members of this community.

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1:1 Special Educational Services for Individuals

Families across all economic strata with offspring with special needs find that the range of services available and the quality of these differs according to affordability. It is so, that dynamic, innovative, at-home/ community Special Educators are needed to instruct in cognitive-physical development, while also providing support and respite to families. These services incur a great cost which is simply not attainable for most families with children and adults with special needs. 

The knowledge and application of the best instructional methods and strategies in the realm of special education resides with Special Educators. These are trained to teach the whole person. Though this be so, health insurance companies do not favor degreed Special Educator professionals, but Applied Behavioral Analysis specialists (ABA therapy), creating an immediate insurance  in-network reimbursement for such therapists, but not so for degreed-Special Educators. ABA is a therapy fashioned in the 1960s that was culled from training dogs. It focuses on limiting environmental distractions while using positive behavioral reinforcement tactics to achieve a desired result in the individual. Special Educators are cognizant of such canine training, yet are natural clinical teachers who approach their work as students themselves, applying a holistic-style instruction that is flexible, open to change and fluid in its delivery.

Funding for such services has been difficult due to health insurance companies prioritizing the aforementioned ABA therapy pathway of home instruction. An important obstacle to mention that directly limits families from hiring the best, qualified professionals is beholden to the controversy surrounding the dramatic rise of autism in the United States of America.

 Prevailing ABA therapy philosophy holds that the rise of autism is attributed only to human DNA anomalies, and certain environmental stressors. The ABA therapy position on the cause of autism is resolutely in line with the governments Center for Disease Control findings that harmful-ingredients in vaccines, such as mercury, formaldehyde, aluminum and other carcinogenic agents are not causing negative effects on developing human brains. The association of ABA therapy and the prevailing CDC findings are well-known. Health insurance companies and pharmaceutical-vaccine production companies are in line with this notion, and this directly offsets the possibility of a great number of Special Educators, who refuse that ABA therapy is the only or the best instructional intervention in the lives of those identified as on the autism spectrum, to reach economic help that can further develop their ability to operate as independent Special Educators, or pave an insurance reimbursement pathway for families with children and adults with special needs to afford such services ‘out of pocket,’ meaning to pay directly without  help from insurance companies.

Long-Term Development and Mentoring of At-Risk Youth and Young Adults

A number of developments have factored into the breakdown of the traditional American family unit leading to a deterioration of strong family ties:

  1. Men in mid to low-income social-economic demographics enter a general work force system that favors a ‘cronyism’ network-system based on personal relationships.This limits upward economic mobility for the vast majority of American citizens and directly affects the prognosis of American families to find economic freedom. Instead, the social-economic dynamic in many households, especially in and near urban areas hovers between survival and poverty.
  2. Public school educational experience educates and shapes minds to be socially-progressive, graduating a large quantity of people into an aimless focus. For those who sign up for a four year college education, the social-progressive indoctrination is continued without a balance of instilling a valuing and practice of entrepreneurial-business skills.

Under such conditions, hope in the future flickers and this inculcates familial instability. Immediate escape mechanisms, such as the pervasive abuse of alcohol and drugs, further degrades the family unit, creating a condition of absent fathers, absent mothers, parents who work long hours and cannot adequately tend to upbringing their families, with children raising themselves and using technology as a means of emotional support.

Short and long-term solutions to address the breakdown of the traditional American family unit include:

  1. Raising children up in the nurturing and presence of God’s Word as found in Holy Scripture.
  2. School curriculum that develops parenting skills should be part of public schools nation-wide.
  3. Overhauling public school curriculum to shift from a narrow focus on science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and sports, to one that applies such focuses with the practice of social entrepreneurship. This is an empathic capitalism which favors business self-employment skill acquisition that is community-building focused on the local, national and global level. 
  4. On the short-term, increasing funding for high-quality mentoring, at-risk youth programs can immediately answer current community needs. Such programs will be in greater demand in mid to low social-economic homes and communities. Such an initiative is already in practice, and has been so for decades, yet it is merely taking care of the aftermath, or symptoms of a family breakdown.

Long-term nation-wide healing solutions have to be immediately instituted across the country, bringing wide-spread empathic capitalism educational curriculum into elementary, secondary and academic institutions. The focus has to be on helping America’s sons, who become America’s Fathers, become economically sustainable.

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Scaling Special Needs Youth and Adult Cognitive-Physical Programs 

The downward economic pressure on the rise of innovative Special Educators cannot be understated. Their ability to create and scale special needs youth and adult is directly supported through their ability to take care of their livelihood and that of their families. The absence of health insurance company reimbursement support for their services to families, funnels Special Educators to only work in private and public schools. For those brave stalwarts who rough the road as educational, social entrepreneurs their exists no guarantees of income, and no certainty of economic success. Such entrepreneurial monikers as ‘hustle,’ ‘fail fast’ and iron-like determination create slim possibilities to operate as independent professionals. Without the economic support from the insurance companies, families routinely cut request for services, and due to this, the social, entrepreneurial Special Educators experience fast drops in monthly income.

The scaling of services is the only solution in the absence of the economic supports most health care professionals enjoy through health insurance companies. Community demand exists for individuals with special needs to transition from sedentary lives into challenging mental-physical activities. Skateboarding and surfing are two excellent executive function skill toning activities, along with track and field sports, which offer a challenging, yet fun environment that generates a repetitive sense of accomplishment, social and motor skill development, and community integration.

Greater levels in private and public funding of Special Educational foundations with degreed-Special Educators, offering quality instruction in the above mentioned sports would introduce a higher-quality level of educational, life skills instruction to the community, as well as economically support an entire industry of Special Educators who face tremendous economic obstacles to operate independently, and thus, invest greater personal time and energy in directly meeting the dire community need.

The Lion of Anacostia / #criticalthinkers #theFreedomPapers #education #FrederickDouglass #God #AmericaFirst #AbrahamLincoln

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Every seventh day he was given a bottle of whisky; he sat under a tree; he would escape his reality, even if the truth of his chains of air would all return to him before midnight. Frederick Douglass had taught himself to read and write using two books and a dollop of determination: He read and studied The Columbian Orator; a compendium of essays and literary pieces (wherein the practitioner gains articulate eloquence in character and pronunciation), and the Holy Bible. The latter gave Douglass profound ideas about what God intended, moral teachings on humanity, and intellectual upbringing through a God-Sanctioned understanding of human history. As a slave in the south, Douglass did not have a family experience, was not raised in a home with siblings, father and mother, did not have birthday parties, or attend school; there were no after school activities or playing catch with Dad in the late afternoon hours of the day. All he had was an inner spark kept alive that urged him to learn to read and write, to seek God’s face and to endure. The examples of the memorialized lives included in holy scripture had to qualify as the focal form of social development for him, grafting principles of kindness, Godly-inner strength, forgiveness, and love for others in spite of his station in life. These two books stood as pillars in his psyche creating mental models juxtaposed in contrast to his plantation life with the other slaves. I his formative life, there would be slave-singing and slave-dancing, slave-work, and slave-whippings, condescension and utter disregard for the humanity of the slaves, all of which would eventually bring greater beams of light upon the literature he had ingrained into his mind and etched into his soul. These were the beginnings of one of the greatest men to have ever lived; a soul resolutely on fire, a man after God’s heart.

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After having fled for the second time. Mr. Douglass soon found himself in Massachusetts having gained the skills to be a professional caulker (mostly employed in and around shipyards) working for half-wages, all the while being a dormant intellectual powerhouse on the cusp of transforming the nation. As of yet, he was subjected to merciless beatings by envious white craftsmen startled at the notion of having to do the same work as a negro, and was socially isolated until the time came for him to begin his life’s work. Having acquired a genteel refining while as a slave in Baltimore; a time separated from his plantation life further down south, he was allowed to wear better clothing and enjoy partial freedoms to walk about the city without being watched and lorded over. In fact,  Mr. Douglass had become accustomed to addressing a growing number of white folk during his brief time in Baltimore, and this had prepared him, along with his study of The Columbian Orator, a book to sharpen paraverbal skills (how we say what we say), to eventually become the leading abolitionist, in the United States of America. 

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So proficient in his eloquence was Frederick Douglass, that his audiences across a plethora of towns would routinely question if he ever was truly a slave, to which Douglass would simply turn around, raise his shirt, and show the striking ridges of his many whippings. People were astounded not just at his vocabulary, but in his ability to speak with sensibility, free of anger, filled with intellectual clarity and confident certitude in his calls for human rights and his invocation of what God-intended for America.

For all this, Douglass’s power was yet not complete, he was missing one final piece which would bring even the President of the United States of America, Abraham Lincoln, to listen to him repeatedly, even being affected by the moral character of Douglass and moved to action by his presence of heart and mind. This final piece would allow Douglass’s message to be inscribed into hearts and minds not just through the listening ear, but the seeing eye. We may be moved to see such articulate passion perform before us, calling for a realization of human rights, showing us his real scars, and hearing of his constant travel to and from American towns and cities prophesying for a better American experience, one where all men and women are free to live peacefully, enjoy inalienable, God-given rights and may pursue happiness as they see fit. But after a few days we will forget. Such is the brain’s working memory. It is as the late-poet Maya Angelou put forth, that we may forget what someone tells us, but we don’t forget how they made us feel. Douglass understood that he needed a form of historical production to scale his message in a physical format that it not soon be forgotten, but stand the test of time, remaining as powerful code to shift hearts and minds towards his altruistic vision of freedom and liberty. He needed to take his spiritual battle to the next level with a though-amplification machine which would allow him to distribute his ideas through a created network. Attaining such a contraption would make him more powerful than a standing army, complete with guns, cannons, and the mightiest warriors. Using the money given to him by a gracious community of people during a two year stint in England, Douglass acquired a printing press back in the United States. It was at this point that Douglass had become completely empowered to shift the balance of power in America, and yes affecting hearts and minds far beyond his physical reach.

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Armed with critical thinking, eloquence, deep character, passion and an education that rivaled the best statesmen at the time, Douglass began to write essays, constructing mini-newspapers and growing a distribution network chain to send out copies of his work. He worked tirelessly with a zeal that could only be God-driven, little by little, like a drop of water causing ripples in a pond, bringing change to the intellectual conversation in the U.S.A. His writings were created a ‘left-field literary knockout’ when compared to the established forms of media production in that day. There was no one else who wrote like him. There was no black man who wrote like him. There was no one who was as intelligent as him having been a slave before. Douglass had, in effect, cornered the market, and he was a standing army of one man only. He became unstoppable simply because he refused to sink and he refused to compromise his integrity.

To better understand Mr. Frederick Douglass, we must read his words on Christianity. He argued that a true Christian, as he understood it from the holy scripture, had nothing to do with racism and prejudice, but was called forth to love God and love humanity, in so doing gently doing away with such narrow-mindedness and apathy. (This was a subject of his interest on which he spoke and wrote about profusely.) In the face of this ownership of the only available form of production of the time, a printing press, along with a system of distributing copies of his works, Douglass softly commanded room in a growing number of hearts and minds, and this translated into political power. At the time, President Lincoln did not have the foggiest idea on what to do with the slaves. He was trying all sorts of ideas, like the time he sent a boatload of African Americans to Haiti. About half died of disease on the way over and upon reaching shore, the rest realized that there was no infrastructure to support them. It was open land without means to build. Much more, the Haitians there asked these newcomers what they purposed in the possible creation of a colony. The boat went back to America. Lincoln was in the middle of the Civil War and was allowing himself to be politically hamstrung due to his hesitancy to make such a drastic move as calling for the emancipation of all African-Americans, a people not known under that term, but identified as financial commodities at the time. Lincoln feared rebellion in the North if he made such a sharp political move. The president had reached an impasse and could not see a way forward.

 

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Enter God from Left Field

The Lord Jesus Christ uses people, even his children, as instruments to further his plans, according to his Word. God finds and creates solutions in all situations, and he raised up Frederick Douglass to enter the field precisely at the time needed, much like a wide receiver in a football game running and ready to catch a toss by Quarterback Lincoln, whom had no idea Douglass was on the team. But Douglass was on the America First team. Douglass’s printing press, a form of historical production, his distribution network, and his ability to write essays made it so that President Lincoln could not politically ignore him, unless he would be open to facing the journalistic opposition from the most outspoken voice on human rights at the time. Douglass could work to turn public opinion against the president, and the president understood this at a key time. This dynamic created the possibility of these two men forming a working relationship and Lincoln receiving greater moral strength and support to do the right thing; emancipate the slaves and have these fight for the northern Union.

Lincoln became ‘Lincoln’ after he had encountered Frederick Douglass, and Douglass, the open-minded, independent critical thinker served as a bridge of political support for Lincoln to take a stand and save the nation.

This year we celebrate Douglass’s 2ooth birthday (1818-2018). Happy Birthday, Frederick!

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