Learning from life





Building Community

I understand the desire to be in homogenous environments. I work part-time at a white church and sometimes face awkward situations there because of race. It would be easier to work for a black church. But I’ve become more community-minded through my exposure to other cultures.

– Oct. 14, 2003, Charlotte Observer

I just view patriotism as a much more challenging concept than enjoying fireworks and waving flags on Independence Day. Patriotism means supporting our nation as she tries to fulfill the ideals upon which she is based, such as liberty and justice for all…. I think America is still on that journey and always will be. We are very gradually becoming the nation our founding fathers described. It has not been easy. I’m not so naive to believe everyone is happy about what I see as progress. Nor do I believe prejudice is limited to Caucasians. But I do think we are closer today to fulfilling the vision in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

– July 8, 2003, Charlotte Observer

I was once late to lead a workshop in a Mississippi town. And I was lost. I stopped at a filling station. A bunch of older country gentlemen sat out front. Oh no, I thought. Racists. Rednecks. I haltingly asked for directions. That group couldn’t have been kinder. Though stereotypes sometimes melt away through quick exchanges, we usually discover our connections to others through meaningful conversation.

– April 8, 2003, Charlotte Observer

I remember the story of how Stan Brookshire, then mayor of Charlotte, was invited to a 1968 rally honoring Martin Luther King Jr.’s work. Most people didn’t think Mayor Brookshire would come. He did. Then he joined the singing! It was a more emphatic statement of support than anything he could have said.

– March 11, 2003, Charlotte Observer


Honey, not vinegar. Yes, like most major institutions, our education system needs improvement. But nonstop negative rhetoric about the public schools doesn’t help anyone. Limit your negative comments about the schools and people who work there, especially in front of children. When we speak respectfully about teachers, that helps children understand their teachers are worthy. I know that when I learned new information from a teacher I respected, the knowledge registered deeper in me. I was able to reconstruct her information and make it mine.

– Aug. 12, 2003, Charlotte Observer

My mentor helped me discover my calling — early childhood education, with music as one of the tools. I never saw myself as a thinker until my teachers viewed me that way. A good teacher lights the fire that’s already set up and ready to burn. Through example, my teachers taught me about the importance of developing myself, and giving to others.

– June 10, 2003, Charlotte Observer

Eighteen years ago, I started a children’s choir in a low-income area. A woman from the neighborhood public housing project assisted me. That person was key because she connected me to the parents. From that experience I learned if you haven’t engaged the parents, you can’t help the children nearly as much.

– May 13, 2003, Charlotte Observer

What Children Know

In my own religious tradition, we celebrate the miracle of God sending us a baby. Not a full-grown adult. Why a baby? Maybe God wants us to value beginnings.

– Dec. 9, 2003, Charlotte Observer

I’m thankful for what children teach us when we pay attention. They understand how to give genuinely. I’m thinking of a 3-year-old I know who clutched onto a prized cookie. The cookie was very important to the boy. But when he realized his mother was sad, he walked over to her and offered his treat without hesitation. I hope I am as generous as that child when people need me.

– Nov. 28, 2003, Charlotte Observer

The renowned psychoanalyst and author Alice Miller describes what happens to children who are ignored, silenced or abused. In “For Your Own Good: Hidden Cruelty in Child-Rearing and the Roots of Violence,” she examines the abusive childhood of one well-known boy. He grew up to make a deep mark on humanity. His name was Adolf Hitler.

– Sept. 9, 2003, Charlotte Observer