What’s the difference? #WATWB #FF

Charli's cat

News from Charlottesville has flooded the media this week and it is difficult to not be gripped by despair at the hatred that exists and fear for the future.

I don’t usually express my political feelings publicly, other than the important role that education has in developing responsibility and compassion in all, and for all, travellers on our planet.

Education will remain my focus for I believe it is the solution. However, I am writing in this context, as that is the context chosen by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch Literary Community when setting her flash fiction prompt to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that heals America. Difficult and idealistic, I know. Think about building bonds of trust or stories of friendship. It could be a positive story about America. Bonus points for hugging a cat.

mirror

Well, I don’t know about healing America. I think any healing needs to start with the self. This situation implores us to look at ourselves and see where our own attitudes can be improved. Australia’s history of treating its indigenous peoples is no more admirable. Recognition as people in our constitution was granted a mere 50 years ago.

On the last Friday of each month many writers join in the We Are The World Blogfest which “seeks to promote positive news.” It says, “There are many an oasis of love and light out there, stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit. Sharing these stories increases our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world.” Follow the link if you wish to join in with their mission to “flood social media with peace and love.” Or contact this month’s co-hosts  Simon Falk, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Inderpreet Uppal, Lynn Hallbrooks, Eric Lahti, and Mary J Giese.

Charli’s post reiterates the importance of creating connections through trust and friendship. With both these prompts in mind, I share with you some positive messages that shine a light in the darkness that sometimes seems overwhelming. (Apologies to #WATWB. I have broken the 500 word rule.)

  1. On his Science and Education blog, Daniel Willingham, a psychologist who works at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, wrote about Nazis in Charlottesville. He discusses the reasons why people hold onto false beliefs and the importance of education in teaching truths, fighting fake news, and standing up for media sites that get it right. He says,

“Truth is our greatest weapon against senseless evil. Fight with it. Fight for it. And don’t be discouraged.”

2.       Fast Company published Ben Paynter’s article How Charlottesville’s Small Businesses Supported Their Community Against White Nationalists. The article tells of rainbow coloured posters displayed by small businesses in support of equality and against hate. The posters read,

“If equality and diversity aren’t for you, then neither are we.”

Seven different equality symbols are displayed at the bottom of the poster along with the words,

“Minority rights are human rights.”

  1. In the Huffington Post I read How I Handled Homophobia in my Third Grade Classroom by Ilana Greenstein. I agree with Ilana’s position that,

“teaching tolerance and acceptance is not and should not be remotely political.”

After overhearing a homophobic remark made by an eight-year-old student, she embarked on a discussion of family, family composition, and what makes a family. The discussions continued throughout the school year and included other topics such as inequality and stereotypes.

At the end of the year she asked the children to write about the role of president and what they would do if they were the president. The boy who had made the “gay” remark earlier in the year, wrote:

As the president of the United States, I would want to be kind, brave, and nice. I would want to try to end fighting. I can do this by trying to let them be friends instead of being enemies. I also want to stop people saying ‘gay’ offensively. And last I want to stop people saying stereotypes.”

What a wonderfully hopeful statement that supports the importance of education for the whole person, not just cramming them with a bunch of facts to pass a test. Surely the ability to live a life that honours and respects others is the most important test to pass.

  1. On the theme of equality and diversity I wish to acknowledge two wonderful picture books by one of my favourite authors, Mem Fox:

Whoever You Are and I’m Australian Too.

While I’m Australian Too may be considered specific to the Australian multi-cultural situation, Whoever you are is suitable for reading to Little Ones, “whoever they are, wherever they are, all over the world.”

Possum Magic

I was delighted to read that one of Mem’s books Possum Magic has been honoured by the Royal Australian Mint with its very own coin collection. Of course, I had to purchase a set or three, didn’t I? What a lovely celebration of a wonderful book by writer Mem Fox and illustrator Julie Vivas and the importance of children’s literature in general.

  1. I watched an inspirational video on the blog of one of the most inspiring teachers I have met online. Her name is Jennie and she blogs at A Teacher’s Reflections. Pop on over and find out how she improves the lives of all in her care. Here is the video titled Change the World. It’s a perfect fit for this post. I hope you watch it.

I have combined some of these ideas into my childish flash. I hope you like it.

What’s the difference?

She dumped the toys on the floor, then proceeded to arrange and rearrange them in groups. The largest group was of bears, a smaller group of cats, a few lizards, two puppies and an assortment of singles. With a finger tapping her cheek, she surveyed them. First, she dismantled the group of bears muttering about bows, hats and vests.  She hugged Tiger as she separated all the toys. Then Dad appeared with his briefcase.

“Ready?”

“Not yet.”

“What’re you doing?”

“Thinking.”

“Which one to take?”

“I can’t choose,” she said, scooping them up. “I love them all the same.”

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

P.S. I hope I earned bonus points for hugging a cat!

56 thoughts on “What’s the difference? #WATWB #FF

  1. Kate

    “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
    That perches in the soul –
    And sings the tune without the words –
    And never stops – at all – (E. Dickinson)
    The video was wonderful, insightful and a rekindle for hope in our hearts. Lovely choice Norah. And I particularly loved your flash … beautifully written.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thanks for adding these words of Emily Dickinson to my post. Yes, we must live with hope perched in our souls.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the video, and my flash. Thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. robbiesinspiration

    A most interesting read, Norah. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the current situation in the US and also in your own country. In South Africa we are, of course, still struggling to heal wounds from the past. Your 99-word flash was lovely and it pleased me to see your mention of Jennie here too. You and her are the two most inspirational teachers I have come across in my life.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your very kind words, Robbie. They are greatly appreciated.
      I’m pleased you found the post interesting. There are many areas around the world where healing is required, and I think there are some similarities in the situations in the three countries you mentioned.
      I’m pleased the flash worked. Thank you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. hilarymb

    Hi Norah – it’s good to read your thoughts and others’ re the present time. This blogfest is the best for helping us promote positivity and to evaluate our thoughts on life – so many put themselves forward as excellent ambassadors … kudos to the lad you featured. Cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Hilary. The blogfest is wonderful, isn’t. I’m pleased you enjoyed reading the boy’s thoughts. I was rather impressed by them too.

      Like

      Reply
  4. Emily Bloomquist

    Thanks for this inspirational post Norah. I especially liked #2. Those businesses did face a difficult decision on whether to stay open or not and the sign was a great way to let all potential customers know where they stand. Your FF was fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for reading and commenting, Emily. Those businesses in #2 were very courageous, I thought. It’s not always easy to stand up and let one’s voice be heard.
      I’m pleased you enjoyed the FF.

      Like

      Reply
  5. Hugh's Views and News

    Thanks for sharing that wonderful video, Norah. At first, I thought ‘yes, I make my bed every morning, so I’m fine’ but what an inspirational five and half minutes that followed after the reference to the bed. It certainly made me feel even more determined to never to give up or quit for not just me, but for everyone else.
    Your piece of flash fiction was the perfect read to end the post and your thoughts on. I couldn’t help but smile at the words of that little girl.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I’m pleased you enjoyed the video and felt inspired by it too, Hugh. What a great reminder to be persistent and never give up.
      I’m also pleased that my flash gave you cause to smile. It’s good to pass the smiles around. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  6. Pingback: Stories to Heal America « Carrot Ranch Literary Community

  7. Charli Mills

    Bonus points! Education plays an important role, no doubt, but I find it hopeful to see educators demonstrating how their actions do make a difference. And their words. And making one’s bed! Your flash is how we should feel about others — all so different yet all so wonderful. Thank you for your links and introducing us to #WATWB.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Charli, for that bonus points and your encouragement. I’m so pleased the intended message of my flash flowed through. #WATWB is a great initiative. The voices are growing together in strength.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  8. dgkaye

    Norah, this was a beautiful post and lovely tribute to Charlottesville. That little note from the boy who would be president is priceless, and I hope his heart stays pure, uninfluenced by some of the bad he’ll encounter as he grows. I love the video, in fact, I added that video for my own #WATWB post on Friday, lol. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Debby. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post, and the note from the boy about being president. It was a longer than usual post, but I didn’t want to leave any of these special things out, especially the wisdom of that little one who learned so much from the encouragement of his teacher and his peers. Like you, I hope he can hold onto those learnings as he grows. I’m so pleased that you will also share the video. It contains some pretty powerful and important messages.

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
  9. Susan Scott

    Thanks Norah for this inspiring post and the links. They clearly show the valuable role our younger ones play in shaping our future with their hearts and attitudes in the right place. Along with the aid of education and elders who encourage them by way inter alia of books, life can be hopeful.. Your flash is perfect – hard to choose which to take: “I can’t choose,” she said, scooping them up. “I love them all the same.”

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Susan. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post. I appreciate the additional wisdom you have shared. It is very important for us to hold onto, and spread, hope. I’m pleased the flash worked.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you so much for your very positive and encouraging comment, Irene. I have always made my bed in the morning. The rest of the housework may (does) slip, but I do like my bed made. I love the new way of looking upon that activity William H. McRaven has inspired.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  10. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Again, a beautiful and thoughtful post and flash, perfectly paired.
    Do you know an Australian children’s book called My Place, by Nadia Wheatley? It’s pretty cool, follows all the different people who people a place over time and the changes on the place.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you D. I appreciate your kind words.
      I do know My Place by Nadia Wheatley. It is a wonderful picture book and a very innovative way to share the history of a place and how it, and its inhabitants change over time. Thank you for the reminder.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  11. Annecdotist

    You’re right to promote education as a medium of change and tolerance (so long as it’s genuine education as you’ve often defined it). Sometimes these terrible events can be useful in shaking us (me) out of our complacency. You’ve collected some valuable resources here – and I did enjoy your flash.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your words of encouragement and support, Anne. Complacency can be comfortable, until something prickles us into action. I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  12. Christy B

    The end of the flash left me with a smile, Norah. This morning I turned on the TV and was instantly met with news coverage from the U.S., a rather upsetting way to start the day. But we cannot put our heads in the sand as ignorance won’t help anyone. Those books for children sound beautiful and remind me that, yes, love is love. xx

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Christy. I’m so pleased the flash left you with a smile. We often consider the innocence of childhood. I’d rather it interpreted as the wisdom of childhood. I think they come with so much but we soon teach it out of them. We can learn a lot from observing young children and need to nurture in them, and us, those best qualities.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  13. Jennie

    I love this post, Norah. How you combine different pieces to say the same message is just perfect. The little girl deciding on the toys, and Mem Fox’s books are terrific. I am honored to be part of this important post. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  14. thecontentedcrafter

    I used to never air my thoughts on contentious issues publicly either Norah -politics, religion, personal attitudes………. but recent events have made me realise now is not the time to be quiet. I recently saw part of an interview made by a South American journalist with a white supremacist couple who were so unspeakably ignorant and hate-filled I couldn’t keep watching it. I also read an article about the manner in which people grounded in their planes on Canadian soil during 9/11 were hosted by the locals, cared for, watched over, entertained etc and how those people later repaid that care. This uplifting human response in a time of tragedy and frustration received no air time globally. We have to hunt these things out to realise the world is full of good people doing good things. I’m all for any body or any venue that celebrates that instead of the few ugly people who are in our faces all the time. I’m sure that as soon as we realise where the balance really lies we become empowered again. But it’s definitely time to stand up and speak out. Love the flash – of course she can’t choose, who could! 🙂 Absolutely extra points for hugging the cat – or tiger 🙂 (Sorry – I’ve raved on again ….)

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I love it when you share your wisdom, Pauline. Never a need to apologise. I think it’s a great thing that the #WATWB people have initiated, asking us to seek out the good things that happen in the world. Look at me – I found 5 this week, and that was only the tip of the iceberg. They almost got drowned out by all the other horrors. We do need to feel empowered and stand together in the light, some of which you do a great job in spreading, I might add. I’m pleased you enjoyed the flash, and thanks for the extra points. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply

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