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A Note On Forgiveness

Mar 2, 2018

The small hand-written note, left on my desk after a day of teaching sixth graders many years ago, caught my attention.

"Mr. Kline: I am sorry. Will you forgive me? David."

As students go, David was neither saint nor sinner. Or perhaps, in the words of Martin Luther, he was both, as all of us are. I carried that note in my wallet for years and later moved it to a file for safekeeping.

As I think about that student and the request he was making, two things immediately come to mind.

Filling The Nothingness Of Evil

Mar 1, 2018

Matt Rawle, in What Makes a Hero?, defines Evil as nothingness. Evil exists, but only as a shadow – something defined only by a lack of light.

Consider the profound nothingness within and surrounding the 19-year-old who shot up the high school in Florida, or the 16-year-old boy who jacks cars in Chicago because he will not face a felony, or the politician in a position of great power who is blind to his own misogyny and insecurities, or the 14-year-old middle-school girl who ostracizes a fellow classmate by spreading rumors and lies.

Measuring The Mettle Of Representatives

Feb 28, 2018

In 1787, when he emerged from Independence Hall in Philadelphia at the close of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked: "Well, doctor, what have we got -- a republic or a monarchy?"

His famous reply? "A republic -- if you can keep it."

His questioner was a woman. And while his answer was directed at her, it was clear that the "you" was meant to include all the citizens of the emerging country.

Now, 231 years later, Franklin's admonition reverberates with fresh relevance. And urgency.

Nature Sets Her Own Rules

Feb 27, 2018

If you had just 90 seconds to say something to the world, what would you say?

As I sit pondering, a cooper’s hawk lands on the porch outside my window, rescuing me. He hangs around, hunting the feeder. More it snows, more I see him.

The snow has been remarkable, hasn’t it? Everything that’s not flocked is frosted. Just what we needed, I think, fresh whitewashing of the old cow barn. If the only thing the snow did was make the cardinal stand out, well, that would be enough.

New Items For The School-Supplies List

Feb 26, 2018

I’m going to warn you right now: What’s going to follow is marked by sarcasm, bitterness and perhaps some faulty logic.

I believe school districts need to update their school-supply list to reflect the times. Depending on the grade level, most kids need the prerequisite pens, notebooks, notecards and calculators. But there are two things missing from that list that I think are now necessary to safely attend school in this country: bullet-proof vests and SWAT helmets. And here’s why.