Growth Freedom

In Puerto Rico the Slavery Abolition Day is celebrated today, so I chose this day to write about… freedom. The theme of freedom can be talked in the classroom from many perspectives. I would like to talk about it now from a very particular perspective: the perspective of public service.

All true public servers ––as all teachers are called to be–– share a passionate call to making possible a free society for everyone: an open society where everyone can grow free, with dignity and fraternally, according to the best human growth possible…

This is very easy to say in ideal situations, I know… But what I ––as public server–– could say if I witness how people are constantly exploited, how children are constantly exploited in order to impose certain ideologies, how students are constantly manipulated in order to make them act in certain ways just to terrorize or cause stress or a distorted reality to someone else? This is an example of a non-ideal situation. What I am talking about is a modern slavery: students are recruited, taking advantage of a vulnerable position ––for example: having a disability, not having money to pay for other school, the parents being coerced to lose their jobs if they do not comply with the explotation, or just being a minor–– for the sole purpose of “ideological explotation”. This means: using children to create specific circumstances for projecting a reality that allows to promote certain ideologies. That may imply many things: creating circumstances that cause stress to people that do not live according to the ideologies that are being promoted, creating circumstances in which those that do not live according to the ideologies that are being promoted can’t function normally or even in a healthy way (this means, for example: creating circumstances that may make the impression that a person has mental health problems ––just for the purpose of creating the impression that that person is a non-credible person–– through creating an unhealthy environment around the person), create circumstances in which only those that live according the ideologies that are being promoted can function normally and even excel…

There is another name for this: human trafficking, the use of human beings for controlling ideas, the use of children for ideological exploitation. This could happen to anyone, but it is not the same ––not the same at all–– when an adult is used for ideological exploitation than when a child is used for ideological exploitation. Both are a human trafficking situation, but children are more vulnerable, especially if they are not even old enough to being conscious of the ideological exploitation they are being part of, or if they have a disability that makes impossible to being conscious of what is going on, no matter how old they are.

What would I say to children in those circumstances?

Actually, this could apply to any person that is ideologically exploited…

Now I can’t just talk as a teacher or as a public server. The only way I can talk about this also includes my vocation as Christian to radiate God’s Love.

The first thing I would say to children and persons in these circumstances is: I am sorry you are through this. I am really sorry that you are being used the way you are used, because you are not a tool to be used: you are a beautiful human being who deserves to be cherished and loved unconditionally. You don’t deserve to be a slave of an ideology. You don’t deserve to be educated only according to what is convenient to promote certain ideologies and in the way that is convenient to promote certain ideologies. You don’t deserve to be reduced to what is convenient to some other else. You deserve to be happy, free and educated in an environment where you are allowed to grow according to your best human growth possible. You deserve to receive all the resources you need to thrive just because who you are, not only because how useful you could be for an ideological agenda. You are citizens that deserve to be defended and respected as human beings, with human rights that should be respected unconditionally by everyone, especially by those who have the duty to protect you and to affirm those rights, and instead use you to promote ideological agendas. Above all, you are a beloved sons or daughters of God that are called to be the best persons you can be, not called to only being allowed to behave in whatever way is convenient to any ideological agenda.

I am sorry. I am truly, deeply sorry that you are being ideologically exploited…

But in a circumstance like that one, being sorry would not be enough. In the face of a human rights violation being sorry is not enough: action is needed… but what kind of action?

The needed action in a circumstance like this one is clear: making possible a free society in which those children can grow as human beings, citizens and sons and daughters of God, not as victims of ideological exploitation. This kind of action is affirmative ––it does not answer violence with violence, or dehumanization with dehumanization…––, and it can be done even if the own students deny the exploitation they are being subject of because it simply affirms their humanity unconditionally, it doesn’t depend on their behavior.

As a matter of fact, I think that every public server and every Christian is called to serve the common good in this way: through making possible a free society in which everyone can grow as a human being, as a citizen and as a son or daughter of God. John F. Kennedy said: “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” I say: And so, my fellow brothers and sisters, ask not what your society can do for you, but what you can do for your society”. I know what I can do for my society, for my culture and for my nation: making possible an open and free society in which everyone can grow as a human being, as a fellow citizen and as a son or daughter of God.

As a Christian, my way of doing is through radiating God’s Love in every concrete circumstance. I believe that God’s Love is the only force that can be able to abolish any kind of slavery. I believe that when we incarnate God’s Love we can be able to abolish all kind of slaveries, including ideological dictatorship. I believe that is my duty, both as public server and as Christian, to make that happen, to never conform with evilness, corruption, abuse of power, coercion; to seek how to serve God, the family I am called to create and the common good in every circumstance… no matter what. I mean: no matter what it may cost, is my duty to make possible a free society where everyone can grow as a brother and a sister, a society where I can adore God “with the whole growth”. This requires further explication to be understood.

I have prayed many times that God ––imagined as “Jesus Charity”–– asks to be adored “with the whole growth”. This means, of course, that I am called to adore him with my own whole growth: through creating with my own whole personal formation a living icon of God’s Love and becoming who He calls me to be. However, adoring God with the whole growth does not only refers to my own growth. It also includes all my brothers and sister’s growth, it also means the whole society’s growth: adoring God with the whole growth also means to adore Him through making possible that everyone can grow as a son and a daughter of God, according to the dignity He had given unconditionally to every human being.

So, no matter what I am doing, where I am doing what I am doing, how I am doing what I am doing… the focus is the same: adoring God with the whole growth and radiating His Love in a way that all the light and all the freedom He gives so generously and so tenderly is radiated as a gift of life, truth and plenitude, not only to me, but for all, creating a growth society, a life culture, a nation of Love that grows in communion… for everyone,  not matter what. It doesn’t matter if some don’t like me. It doesn’t matter if some don’t think like me. It doesn’t matter if some don’t agree with me. It doesn’t matter even if some are complicit and promote torture tactics against me because they are told or forced to do so… We are all brothers and sisters, and we are all called to grow in communion, and only through radiating God’s Love unconditionally that can be possible, no matter what.

Today, the day we celebrate the abolition of slavery, is a great day to affirm this truth: we are all called to make this possible. We are all called to make possible a society where everyone can grow as a brother and a sister, as a human being with equal human rights and as a citizen that is not slaved by the ideological agendas of some. We are all called to make visible the light of God’s Love with all the consequences it may imply, to live God’s charity in a radical way, in a way that liberates everyone, that illuminates the whole society and brings a better future for everyone, especially for all children, who deserve it most. We, as adults, owe them a better world, a society full of life, truth, justice, peace, fraternity, beauty, joy, compassion and values that shape a freedom full of meaning; a freedom that does not only seek the sake of the own interests and benefits; a freedom that is capable of giving free life to others and of giving the life for others as Jesus did, as a service to God, to the Church ––His Bride–– and to the common good; a freedom that is capable of always choose to love as God love us, to illuminate as God illuminate us, to liberate as God liberate us… Values that shape a “growth freedom”: a freedom that creates the best growth possible for everyone, a freedom that assumes all the duties and responsibilities that is called to assume in order to make possible a society where everyone can grow according to his or her God-given human dignity. This is the freedom that I believe in: a growth freedom, a freedom that helps to grow, not a “freedom” where anything can be done and controlled according to the law of the strongest, where only some ––those who are useful according to the ideological agenda–– are allowed to grow, and even when allowed to grow, they are allowed to do it only in the way that is convenient to the ideological agenda. We are all called to eradicate all kinds of ideological dictatorships, along all kinds of modern slaveries that impede the best growth possible for everyone, with a public service that radiates growth freedom to the whole society, with all the consequences it may imply.

Let’s make that possible. Let’s ask ourselves: how I am called, in this here and in this now, to let the light of God’s Love radiate my own heart, and so everything around me? How I am called, right now, to share all the life, all the fullness and all the freedom that God’s Love brings, breaking all slaveries and all oppressions that corrupt my society and inhibit a growth freedom? How I am called, exactly where I am, to share the consecration of charity ––the consecration to adore God with the whole growth–– that makes possible the fullest growth possible for everyone?

Let’s keep growing!

 

 

 

Functional Slavery

People should and is entitled by law to promote any kind of idea they want. Having a plural society ––a society where everyone can live according to his own ideals–– is a very healthy thing, and this should be reflected in the classroom, allowing each student to have and stand their own opinions and ideas. Not everything in a classroom should be a matter of being “correct” in a certain way or “incorrect” in a certain way. There can be many ways to be correct, and there can be many ways to be incorrect too. However, there must be a clear limit at the time of affirming what we believe and at the time of make our life’s choices: respecting human rights.

When a society is truly democratic, it is organized in order to honor everyone’s human rights, all of them. That democracy also applies in the classroom, of course. However, we are seeing more and more in our society the imposition of ideologies ––nationalism, socialism, ideology of gender…–– in ways that clearly are a violation of human rights.

No matter what I believe, I can’t tell anyone what to believe or what not to believe, and this includes my students. That is not my duty as citizen, as public server or as teacher. I have the right to believe, to give an example, that marriage can be only between a man and a woman, because according to my faith marriage is not only a civil union: it is a sacrament. That belief is only one of the many beliefs that imply a true Catholic faith. There are many other “unpopular” beliefs that I embrace to live according to my faith: I do not use contraception (I’m abstinent because I am not married and the Church teaches that people that are not married are called to live a chaste life, so I don’t need it anyways, but I what I mean is, wherever I get married I won’t use them neither), I pray the rosary everyday, I have a spiritual reading everyday, I read the Bible everyday, I pray by writing contemplative poems and contemplative dialogues everyday, I do not use clothes that show more than the appropriate, I live a consecration to charity everyday, I go to daily mass wherever it is possible… so on, so on. I don’t think this is the moment to explain explicitly how I live my faith.

Yes, I believe all this. It should be my human right to have the functional freedom do so. However, I do not have the right to impose my belief to others. I simply have the right to live according to my faith and to share it in a way that is respectful and appropriate. With “respectful” I mean that I honor other’s human rights when I share it. With “appropriate” I mean that I do not practice proselytism. To say an example: I do not talk about my faith to my students if they don’t ask me, and even when they ask me, I am very sure to talk about how I live in a way that I won’t enforce on them my way of living my faith due my authority as teacher. That is simply not appropriate, period.

However, we are seeing more and more people in our society that believe that they have “the power” to impose their beliefs to others via what I would call… functional slavery. Let’s explain.

Let’s say that I am a Christian that believes all the things that I said before (what is true) but people in “power” to do so want me to live according to their ideology… but because they know that they can’t explicitly forbid me to live my faith ––that is clearly and explicitly illegal–– what they do is creating circumstances in which the only way to function normally in a physically and mental healthy way is… if you behave according to what is convenient to their ideology. Considering that if you behave according to their ideology, you would act against your faith, the Christian must choose between living a healthy life ––this includes a healthy social life, a healthy professional life, a healthy academic life–– or being forced to live a life without being able to function normally ––as an equal citizen would be able to do––.

That is what I call functional slavery: circumstances in which the only way to function normally is through being ideologically slaved. If you don’t comply with the ideology of “power” and choose to life according to your faith, prepare to have all kind of “malfunctions” in your life. Literally, all kind of “malfunctions”, everywhere: in social life, in medic life, in academic life, in professional life, in familiar life, in economic life, even in ecclesial life, and also in the life of your pets.

Some could say: well, that is not a violation of human rights, they are not technically physically restraining you and forbidding you of living your faith (actually, when a person is forced to be medicated and hospitalized, that can be considered physical restraining, but I won’t talk about that now…). Well, if some people create environments in which the only way to function normally is behaving according to what is convenient to certain ideologies and believing in certain ideologies… those are functional chains that make impossible to the Christian to function as an equal citizen, and so it is a violation of human rights: a violation of the human right of religious freedom. What changes here is the form of doing it: this way of violating human rights consists in promoting only the human rights of some, of those who behave according to the ideologies in “power”.

So, let’s say that because I believe that a marriage can only be between a man and a woman, I am given certain instructions that can imply that I must “follow instructions” of the ideology of “power” and implicitly comply to define marriage as they do, or I am being exposed to certain circumstances and situations that are only caused because the way I live my faith, in order to cause stress that make me more difficult to live according to my faith, and so I would need to define myself according to the “stress” that surrounds me or according to the “trauma” that is being caused to me and not according to the faith I strive to life. That is functional slavery, people. That is a violation of human rights: “malfunctions” are provoked in my life just because I choose to live according to my faith.

This is a very sensitive example ––and I used it on purpose, actually there could be many examples to explain this–– because some could try to “twist” this according to their ideological agenda and say that the true problem is that I am “homophobic”. It could even be implicitly said that it is “just” to violate my human rights because I’m “homophobic”. That is not the issue here. What I am doing is living according to my faith in all aspects of my life, including in what I believe about marriage, not acting against anyone ––including homosexual people––. The true issue here is that when the human rights of everyone are respected, you can believe that homosexual people can be “married” and I can believe that they can’t, because for me “marriage” is a sacrament, not only a civil union, and we would be treated equally. We can agree to disagree, and that is all right, I have no interest in imposing my faith. The issue here is that imposing certain ideologies via functional slavery ––creating environments in which the only way to function properly is by living according to certain ideologies–– IS a violation of human right. I am not saying that you can’t believe that homosexual people can be married. What I am saying is that you can’t impose your ideology with violation of human rights. No matter what is your ideology, if you promote it through violating human rights of those who don’t live according to them, that can’t be allowed in a democratic society. Period.

Let’s see some examples here. You can believe that Puerto Rico is a nation, and that is all right, but if you impose your nationalist ideology via functional slavery, that can’t be allowed in a democratic society. You can believe that socialism is the answers to all capitalism’s disasters, but if you impose your socialist ideology via functional slavery, that can’t be allowed in a democratic society. You can believe that there are more than two genders, that people can change their genders, that homosexual people can be sacramentally married ––among other common statements of the ideology of gender–– but if you impose your ideology of gender via functional slavery, you are violation human rights. You can believe that liberation theology (I know this can be a VERY twisting thing to say, because technically no “liberation” can be preached through slavery, whatever kind it is, but this is just an example…) is the best way to live the Catholic faith, but if you impose your liberation ideology through functional slavery, you are violating human rights.

How this can be applied to the classroom? If a student, in order to receive the education he or she needs, must allow to be instrumentalized ––used as an object in order to cause malfunctions on those who does not live according certain ideologies, or in order to promote behaviors that are convenient to promote certain ideologies–– that is functional slavery too, besides being exploitation and a violation of human rights in other sense: every kid has the human right to get an education “directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups” (That’s a quote from the Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26).

Read that carefully: it doesn’t says “an education directed to the full development of certain ideologies.” It says “full development of the human personality”. I won’t talk too much about what is being human now ––I have done that in the past–– but let’s remember that a human being can’t be instrumentalized, period. All instrumentalization of a person is dehumanization, and that can’t be allowed in a democratic society neither.

This is something that every teacher must strive: the full development of the human personality of his of her students, the strengthening of respect for human rights and the fundamental freedoms, the promotion of understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations (and cultures), races and religions… whatever costs. That ––among other reasons–– is why being teacher is also being a public server: a true teacher must have the disposition of serving the common good beyond his or her own convenience, no matter how dehumanized the circumstances could be, how many human rights could be violated once and once and once again via functional slavery… and although this is a call that not everyone can embrace, it is a necessary call that some people must answer generously.

Yes, we need people that is able to choose to serve the common good no matter how difficult it could be, because that is how we build a better culture and a better nation: making possible that every person can grow in communion, as a human being, as an equal, as a free person, as a brother and a sister that is helped to grow unconditionally.

I dare to say that teaching this everyday in my classroom ––that we can all grow as human beings, as brothers and sisters that grow in communion, as equal and free people–– is as important as teaching whatever I am teaching about language arts.

So, see around you carefully, and if you see any functional slavery, do what an honorable citizen would do: do not commit, promote or consent any form of violation of human rights and make what is possible for not allowing them. That is what I do every day, not only because it is what a Christian would do, but also because that is my way to serve my culture and my nation, my way to serve the common good everyday and help everyone to grow according to the dignity that God has given to them: free, equal, in peace and in fraternity.

This is what true power is about: about transforming our culture and our nation into a society that honors all human rights of everyone, into a society of life that grows in communion, into a more human and free society for everyone.

Let’s keep growing!

Heroic Choices

During this past week I heard someone around me saying that democracy is “the government of majorities.” That means: democracy is doing what most people want.

Does democracy truly means that? Well, I do not think so. My conception of democracy follows another kind of vision, a vision that embraces the growth of the whole person as fundament of any social order.

For me, the main characteristic of a democracy is that it is a social order that respect human rights. For me, democracy and human rights go hand by hand. I believe that there cannot be democracy without human rights, and there cannot be human rights without democracy; there cannot be politics without human rights and there cannot be human rights without politics. This means: if what the government wants or promotes is a violation of human rights, even if most people agrees with it or consent it, doing that is not democratic, it is a crime against humanity. This, of course, requires a correct conception of the person: it requires to be able to see that everyone is a human being with human rights to be respected. It requires to be able to see that human rights cannot be applied upon convenience. It requires a model of personal formation that is rooted in the whole human person, not only on some convenient aspects.

Here comes again a question that I have made in earlier posts: if the correct vision of our human personal formation is so important, who defines it? Who defines what is being human? Who defines what is a “human right” and what defines the basic characteristics of our humanity? Embracing the responsibility of deepen this is a true service to the common good of our culture, our nation and the whole humanity.

We can see that in order to have a democracy, a state of law cannot enough by itself. It must be accompanied by a correct conception of the person. A democracy that embraces a vision of the personal formation that does not honor all the human rights of everyone would transform the state of law in an ideological dictatorship, turning laws and government services into tools to push specific ideologies.

So, what is democracy for me? Democracy is a government system that guarantees that all the human rights of all citizens are properly respected, creating a society where everyone can grow with equality and freedom, a society that is centralized around helping to grow everyone in communion as a human being.

Democracy is a government system that promotes a correct conception of the human person and so a correct conception of the state of the law.

Democracy is a government that promotes the participation of everyone in political life, a government that promotes the inclusion of everyone in the culture and nation’s life.

Democracy is a government that builds a future filled with hope, life and peace; with growth that creates a better humanity for all.

Democracy is a government that encourages all citizens to serve the common good, even if it requires heroic choices.

This is something that is really important: you do not need to be a politic to embrace and promote democracy and human rights. I can promote democracy right here where I am with my heroic choices: choices that help everyone to grow placing the common good first. I can promote human rights right here and right now with heroic choices too: choices that give human life to my culture, that give humanity to my nation, that create a better world for everyone.

This, of course, also requires a correct conception of what is common good: what helps everyone to grow as the best person she or he can be. I mean: the “common good” is not what is convenient to some, is what helps everyone to grow in communion. The common good is the good of the whole person and the good of every person. The common goods does not refer to material aims or ideological aims but to aims that embrace our whole humanity. Yes, defending the common good sometimes requires heroic choices. We should not be afraid of serving the common good, especially if we are Christians that are specifically called to make visible God’s Love wherever you are, whatever you do. One way of doing this is substituting the “structures of sin” ––social structures that promote sin–– with “structures of Love” ––social structures that incarnate God’s Love in society––. That can only be done with a creativity that lives God’s charity everyday.

Actually, as a teacher I do all this literally everyday in my classroom. The growth choices that I make in my classroom are also heroic choices that place the common good first, and that also radiate God’s Love where I am, even If I never mention explicitly the word “God”.

I think that that is the proper way to teach democracy: with heroic choices that place the common good of all citizens ––of our culture and nation–– first; with heroic choices that make possible that every person can grow with dignity and human rights, even If you may be threatened to death for doing so, like Martin Luther King Jr was; with heroic choices that make possible a vision that sees a brother and a sister in everyone, even if they do not agree with your conceptions.

This is a very good question to make in any moment every day: how did I serve the common good today? How did I make possible today the growth of everyone as the best person he or she can be? How did I make possible today a society that is organized around serving the people, not the ideologies? How did I promoted human rights, justice, freedom and compassion today? How did I help to create a culture and a nation where everyone can be just, free and equal, where no one is excluded ––bereft of his or her dignity–– and where dehumanization ––systematic violations of human rights–– are not promoted, specially among government services?

To a Christian, this is very related to others very important questions: how did I lived charity today? How did I make visible God’s Love to the whole society, beginning with the poorest, the neediest and the most vulnerable?

This blog post is an answer to all those questions. All my words and works are also an heroic choice: to let everyone know that a social order that is based in the whole person’s growth is possible, and we are all called to make it possible with our service to the common good.

Let’s keep growing!

Choosing To Serve The Common Good

I just saw the movie Gosnell. For those that do not know what this movie is about, it tells the horrific crimes and trial of the America’s biggest serial killer, the abortion doctor Gosnell. I learned a very important lesson from this movie that can ––and should–– be taught in every classroom. I want to share this lesson here.

When the police man realizes that the narcotics investigation leads to something quite more gruesome ––the death of persons, the violation of someone’s human right of life–– he could choose to simply overlook the issue, because it was not the main objective of his investigation, and actually it would have been more comfortable, professionally speaking, to overlook the issue… but he chose not to overlook the issue and do the right thing: to investigate it further, eventually making possible the whole trial of Dr. Gosnell.

The conversation that this police officer had while he is convincing his colleagues to investigate further the women’s death is worthy of being shared here. As he is told that what he believed ––that a crime was committed–– implied “a lot of assumption” he states all the facts that clearly indicated that a crime was committed and insists to his colleagues:

––Now she’s dead and no one seems to give a damn?

––You seem to give a damn.

––I do

––Ok, what kind of procedure was it?

––Abortion.

––What?

––I thought you were pro-choice

––What does that have to do with anything?

––I don’t know, what does that have to do with anything, Dan?

––It complicates things.

––Am I in the right place here? This is homicide, right? Homicide? Because this is homicide, Dan. It’s homicide.

What is happening here? A crime is committed ––a violation of human rights is committed–– and it is almost overlooked simply due ideological reasons, because it was related to abortion, and “it complicates things”. I say “almost” because eventually it is investigated further… thanks to several public servers that chose to do the right thing despite it was a professional risk for everyone.

What is the lesson that is worthy to be taught about this movie? This is the lesson: the defense of human rights is not and should not be transformed into an ideological issue. The defense of human rights must be unconditional: all human rights must be respected in everyone, everywhere, no matter what.

Affirming all human rights of everyone is not and cannot be related to being pro-choice or pro-life. It cannot be related to believe that Love is Love or that God is Love. Affirming all human rights of everyone must be done unconditionally. If a violation of human rights happens (life is a human right and the woman and babies that were murdered were denied that fundamental human right), it must be denounced clearly, no matter who commits it, and no matter how “ideologically uncomfortable” it could be, or how much “it complicates things”.

When we transform the defense of human rights into an ideological issue, a dehumanization process begins: human rights are affirmed only at the convenience of a certain ideological view, dehumanizing all those that are not convenient to that ideological view, and applying human rights only as it is convenient to that ideological view. I don’t know if you can see what is the problem here: the human life and the human growth becomes an ideological instrument of the socio-political order, instead of being an inalienable end of the whole socio-political order. What should be affirmed unconditionally in everyone ––their humanity, their human rights–– becomes an ideological commodity that is granted only to some.

Does this happen? Yes, it does. We are seeing public servers, businesses and politicians that clearly only promote and respect human rights according to their ideological view or according what is more profitable to them. We are seeing persons that in the name of the promotion of their ideology justify the violation of human rights of those who does not live according to that ideology.

Let’s give an example here.

A person creates a work of art that paints a God that is Love, promoting her faith accordingly (marriage is between a woman and a man, inspiring a new model of personal formation, etc…). Living that faith contradicts multiple ideological agendas of those who are in multiple positions of power and influence… (It actually contradicts any ideology that dehumanizes the human person, transforming him or her into an ideological instrument.) The work of art is meant to share God’s Love, but sharing God’s Love has several consequences that clearly contradict their ideological political agenda: defending all human rights of everyone, not consenting corruption, not consenting the ideological exploitation of persons… So on, so on.

So, the human rights of the person that created this work of art begin to be violated, done in such way that the violations cannot be proved legally. She begins to be tortured constantly ––psychologically torture that can turn into physical torture in certain circumstances–– in the plain view of everyone… All this done in order to break that artist in such way that is harder to her to live according to her faith and to live a normal citizen life. If falsification of reality is needed to break the credibility of that artist, so no one can takes seriously her words and work, it is done accordingly, even if it requires to provoke a false psychiatrical diagnosis made by multiple institutions, to manipulate her medical reports, to use court orders to force her to be medicated and alter her memory and her cognitive capacity… all this done in plain view of everyone, but the authorities and public servers that could do something about it not only do not do anything, but consent, participate and collaborate in the psychological torture, promote it and allow other people to participate, even if that means the exploitation of vulnerable people, like old people, disabled persons and kids that cannot reason by themselves what they are doing.

In this case doing something to denounce the violations of human rights would be “ideologically inconvenient”: defending the human rights of the person that made that work of art contradicts very “powerful” ideological agendas. It doesn’t matter that violations of human rights are being committed even by persons involved in government’s services: all that matters is to affirm their ideological agendas, even if that means to dehumanize a whole society, and even if the intention of the artist that made the work of art new was to oppose anyone, but just living her faith (that is another human right, by the way).

This is a very important detail: when anyone tries to dehumanize someone else, the dehumanized is the one that tries to dehumanize, and if it is a socially promoted death-culture, the whole society becomes dehumanized… I mean: when a whole society promotes to dehumanize those who doesn’t stand certain ideological view, or those who are inconvenient to a certain ideological view, promoting only the human right of a few, we face a systematic dehumanization system. Said in other words: we have an ideological concentration camp, like Auschwitz was.

So, do we keep the human rights violation proceed just because it is not pro-gender ideology, or pro-nationalism, or pro-socialism, or pro-populism, or pro any other ideological view? Can the defense the human rights of some ––of those who are convenient to a certain ideological view–– can be done by violating the human rights of others?

These are the kind of questions and situations that are possible when the defense of human rights becomes an ideological instrument. This cannot be allowed anywhere, anyhow, to anyone. When a violation of human right happens, we need people like the police men and women in this movie: public servers that are able to stand for human rights unconditionally, not because it is a pro-life issue, not because it is a pro-choice issue, not because it is a pro-ideology of gender issue, not because it is a pro-religious freedom issue… but because it is a human issue: when violation of human rights are systematically allowed, a dehumanization process is allowed, like it was during nazism, and this cannot be allowed, for only for the common good of our whole country but of the whole humanity.

As one of the police officers of the movie says: “The way I see it, you got a couple of choices here…” You have the choice of serve humanity’s common good and make possible to stop all kind of dehumanization… or you have the choice of serve ideologies and allow dehumanization and systematic violation of human rights to keep going on.

I made my choice: to serve the common good. I made this choice not only as civic duty, as a public service for my people and my nation, but as a faith duty, as a God-given duty: among the many things that radiating God’s Love implies, it implies to make possible that everyone can grow as a brother and a sister of the same human family, that everyone’s dignity can be recognized unconditionally. If violation of human rights are allowed, especially if they are systematic, that is not possible. You cannot radiate God’s Love and consent or even commit violations of human rights.

I don’t mind if some people say “this is about anti-abortion agenda, no one touches that…”, or “this is about anti-LGBTT agenda, no one touches that…” I even do not mind if some people say “this is just about pro-religious freedom agenda…” or “this is just about pro-life agenda…” Whatever side people see it, left or right, I don’t mind. Violations of human rights is dehumanization, and it cannot be allowed, no matter what. Human dignity and human rights must always be affirmed, no matter what.

All this may seem that is something that a government should do: affirming everyone’s human rights. It is true. A government should be ordered to make possible the recognition of everyone’s human rights, to make possible everyone’s growth in communion, as a brother and a sister of the human family whose human rights are unconditionally recognized, including their human right of life and freedom. When a government is not ordered to serve the person and violations of human rights begin to be allowed by public authorities, we can begin to talk about crimes against humanity…

But the truth is that we can also make possible the unconditional recognition of all human rights of everyone in our ordinary lives. The change doesn’t begin with the government: the change begins with each citizen. One citizen that chooses to stand for human rights is enough to defy a whole system that only promotes the defense of human rights of some, justifying the dehumanization of everyone else. As John F. Kennedy said: “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” I know what I can do for my country. As a citizen, I can promote unconditional recognition of all human rights of everyone, I can make possible that everyone can grow as a brother and a sister of the same human family, I can promote a non-ideological conception of the human person. As a Christian, I can make all that possible through radiating God’s Love unconditionally, giving a true hope to my people, to my nation and to humanity: no matter how gruesome dehumanization can become, God’s Love can make all things anew.

This is something that must be taught in all classrooms: the unconditional recognition of everyone’s human rights is not an ideological matter and it is not only a government’s duty. This recognition begins with each citizen, through choosing in our ordinary lives to help to grow everyone in communion, to recognize everyone’s human dignity unconditionally and to make possible that all human rights of everyone are unconditionally respected. This means to constantly choose to serve the common good, not the ideology of some. When you dare to choose this despite any kind of intimidation you may encounter, sooner or later you create the change that your country needs to recognize everyone’s human rights unconditionally, not only because you are pro-life, not only because you are pro-religious freedom, not only because you are anti-ideologies (any kind), but because you are pro-growth, pro-humanity and pro-democracy.

That is another very important detail: being pro-human rights also means to be pro-democracy. In order to promote democracy two very important things are needed: the rule of law and the right conception of the human person. Making possible that everyone’s human rights are respected is united with promoting the right conception of the human person. If you don’t have the right conception of the human person, you can’t affirm the human rights of everyone. When you make possible the right conception of the human person, you also make possible that all human rights of everyone are unconditionally recognized, and when that is done you are not only serving the common good by making possible that everyone can grow in communion, as a brother and as a sister of the same human family: you are also promoting democracy, promoting a social order that makes possible the best growth possible of everyone and for everyone.

So… we all have a choice to make in our ordinary lives, right here, right now. Do we stand for humanity or do we stand for ideologies? Do we promote ideological concentration camps or do we promote everyone’s best growth possible? Do we serve the common good of everyone or do we serve the ideological good of some? Do we promote a democracy or do we promote an “ideocracy”? Do we serve our country and our humanity or do we serve our ideologies? Do we promote the recognition of all human rights of everyone or we promote only the recognition of the human rights of some?

All those questions could be resumed in one: How I made possible today the recognition of everyone as a brother and a sister of the same human family?

This may also be asked in an even simpler way: do we choose to humanize or do we choose to dehumanize? Do we choose to “abort” humanity from our society or to radiate humanity to our society? Do we choose to serve a culture of growth or a culture of death, to serve a nation that helps to grows in communion or a nation that helps to dehumanize systematically?

I repeat again the phrase of the movie: “The way I see it, you got a couple of choices here…”

It doesn’t matter if ideological agendas “complicate” things: affirming everyone’s human rights, including the rights of those ––even children–– that are ideologically exploited, is a choice that is well worth the “complication”. That is what a true public server ––all teachers should be public servers–– is called to choose: to serve the common good, to affirm all human rights of everyone, no matter how complicated it can be. Teaching to answer this kind of questions wisely, to choose making the right choices ––and if the right choice is not possible, choosing to make the right choices possible…–– is part of choosing to serve the common good.

If you are a Christian, as I am, choosing to serve the common good also means to choose to radiate God’s Love unconditionally, no matter what, no matter who, no matter when, no matter how… because that is what a true Christian does: choose love over hate, choose a culture of life over a culture of death, choose peace over violence, choose fraternity over exclusion, choose patience over anger, choose mercy over worldly justice, choose humility over imposition of power, choose conscience over convenience… choose to radiate God’s Love with every choice.

So, what you are going to choose?

I have already made my choice, with all the consequences it may imply.  As a citizen and a public server, I choose to serve the common good. As a Christian, I choose to radiate God’s Love.

Let’s keep growing!

Toxic Dehumanization

Classrooms are not exempt of the many social problems that ravage our humanity. Today I am going to talk a little bit about one of those social problems: toxic dehumanization. What is toxic dehumanization? For explaining this I need to explain some details further.

It all began when someone told me he wanted to “eradicate toxic masculinity”. I had no idea of what that term meant. I do know what “machismo” is, but at that moment I had no idea that “toxic masculinity” is basically its synonym. The person then explained me that it was a term that was just created as a psychological disorder by APA…

Then the next day the famous Gillete ad came, and suddenly the term “toxic masculinity” was everywhere.

Well, as I see it, the true problem is not “toxic masculinity”. I am not saying that I agree with “toxic masculinity”, I do agree that it is a social problem. What I say is that “toxic masculinity” is a symptom of another disorder, instead of being a disorder by itself.

As I see it, the disorder behind “toxic masculinity” and many other “social disorders” is “toxic dehumanization”: practices that legitimizes a powerful ideological dominant position in society and justifies the subordination of the human common good and human personal formation to an ideology.

Let’s use the Gillete ad example. If this ad was truly meant to “eradicate toxic masculinity”, it would have not been used precisely to promote the use of psychological aggression (aka: violence) as an indicator of power, something that “toxic masculinity” promotes.

We can’t only promote “the best man can be”. We must promote “the best human being can be”. There is a slight different in seeking to promote only what can be good only to some and what can be good to all. Promoting only the growth of some is violence, if violence is defined as anything that violates human rights.

Something that is very commonly related to “toxic dehumanization” is doing everything just as an opposition to something or someone. Instead of affirming their being according who they truly are, they will affirm who they are according to who or what they oppose, because an ideology can’t be affirmed by itself, so it must be affirmed as an opposition to someone or something. Said in other forms: toxic dehumanization promotes the growth of human being as a process of opposition to who we are (a process of dehumanization, a process of ideological opposition to the human being), instead of being a process of affirmation of who we are (a process of humanization, a process of personal affirmation of the human being), as it should be. If you choose not to affirm what it is (the being), the only way you can affirm yourself is in opposition to the being. This applies one the almost–forgotten–by–everyone ontological properties of all beings: no being can be and not be at the same time.

Instead of affirming the truth (“this is dehumanization”), toxic dehumanizers will say “this is humanization” but only to promote the best personal formation possible of some: of those who are convenient to their “ideological dominant position”. All others who do not “comply” with that position will be seen as “opposition” to them. All others who are not convenient or important according to that position will be simply dehumanized.

If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, you will realize that this is happening today way too often and that toxic dehumanization ––a disorder that switches the social order from promoting the best growth of everyone to promoting the “ideological dominant position”–– is a very serious problem of our society, a disorder with many symptoms, like toxic masculinity. You can see toxic dehumanization in the poor people that die of hunger because there are not important as human beings to those who are only interested in promoting the ideological dominant position. You can see it in the so many children that instead of getting an education that is ordered to promote the best growth possible for everyone and making possible that everyone can be the best they can be, it is ordered to promote the ideological dominant position, leaving those who are not convenient to the ideological dominant position behind. You can see it in the many disabled, vulnerable and elderly people that are helped only if they comply with the dominant ideological position, of that are helped only in the way that it is convenient to the ideological dominant position, instead of being helped in the way that helps them grow as the best person they can be… so on, so on, there are many ways to see how toxic dehumanization ravages our society as a process of ideological opposition that happens inside out.

The only solution to toxic dehumanization is igniting personal humanization processes, igniting an integractive humanism, a new humanization: practices that legitimizes a human personal inclusive position in society, centering society in the human common good and promoting the best personal formation possible of everyone. There are so many ways to do this! Just be creative.

So, how to do this in the classroom? How to promote the human common good and the best personal formation possible of everyone in the classroom?

For me, the answer is: helping to grow unconditionally, contemplating everyone not only as a student –or a teacher, or a boss, or a director, or an administrator, or a janitor…–– but also as a human being that is in the middle of a growth process where mistakes are allowed and part of the process.

As a Christian, contemplating everyone as a human being is rooted in a very beautiful God-given giftedness: contemplating unconditionally in everyone the light of human dignity that God has given to every person, to every son and daughter of the Creator. No matter how a person behaves, he or she is not defined by his or her behavior. Every person must be defined primarily as God defines him or her: as a human being with a God-given dignity that must be respected unconditionally.

So, think for a moment: how can you start humanization processes exactly where you are? Whatever the answer is, dare to plan it and to execute it. Eradicating toxic humanization and promoting humanization processes everywhere is a duty not only of a teacher, but of everyone citizen interested in serving the common good, interested in creating a more human culture, a more human nation, a more human humanity… a better world for all, where anyone ––not only men, or not only those convenient to the “dominant ideological position”–– can choose to become the best they can be.

A New Beginning

The word “beginning” is defined as “the point in time or space at which something starts.” I know how I want to begin this New Year: helping to grow those around me, those who I am called to help to grow as the best person that he or she can be, helping everyone to contemplate each other as a human being, as a person called to grow as a brother and a sister of the human family, sharing themselves as a unique growth gift that creates better persons, better families, better communities, better cultures, better nations… As a unique growth gift that sparks a beautiful light that creates peace, joy and hope.

Everyone can make a difference with their growth choices, a difference that makes a change not only in himself or herself, but in the whole world. For me this new beginning is a gift given by God to help to grow everyone in the fullest way possible, beginning with those who are nearest me and who I am called to serve as human beings that are called to grow ant to be loved unconditionally.

So… I prepared this Power Point presentation (followyourdreams) for my students, for our first week of class. This week will be dedicated to determine together New Year’s resolutions that help us to follow our dreams and becoming the best person we can be.

I may search some quotes to begin every day’s class discussion, but I think that the growth objective of this lesson plan, follow your dreams, helps by itself to create a great growth environment, open to a very wide range of discussions and creative ways to concrete which goals will help each one to become the person who he or she is called to be.

I think these themes ––themes that integrate the whole person and growth objectives in the classroom–– need to be discussed. We need to constantly seek ways in which we can help others to be fully humans, to grow fully, to be fully happy. These kind of lessons always begins with the own example: daring to change whatever is needed and to make the right growth choices to become the person who we are called to be. We need to constantly seek ways in which those around us can look at themselves as unconditionally called to grow as persons, as citizens that are called to serve the common good. New beginnings are an amazing opportunity to teach this!

I am deeply grateful to God for this new beginning, for everything that has brought me to this concrete point in time and space at which something amazing ––something that radiates life at its fullest and creates a better world–– can start.

Let’s become the human beings we are meant to be and we will set the world on fire! Let’s become the culture that we are meant to be and we will set the world on fire! Let’s become the nation that we are meant to be and we will set the world on fire! Let’s become the humanity that we are meant to be and we will set the world on fire! Let’s become the spark that ignites changes that create a better world for everyone!

Let’s keep growing!

FollowYourDreams.jpg

Follow Your Dreams

So… I have reached the final day of my first semester as ESL teacher (the final teaching day of this semester is tomorrow). I have not written in this blog as much as I would have wanted, but I will resume in this post what I have learned and grown during these three wonderful months.

I am very grateful to God for the opportunity of finding a job as ESL teacher in a special education school. I love working with kids and teens that need extra care and extra love to thrive. They are all amazing students, each one with unique challenges and gifts. These students are very used to be treated as “less capable” than others due their disabilities. I have been blessed with the opportunity to teach them to see themselves according to who they are (not according their disabilities): as thriving human beings with the same dignity than anyone else.

What other lessons, besides ESL, I have been blessed to teach them and to learn from them? Let’s see…

You are a person, you are an amazing human being: You are not your behavior only. You are a human being, called the best person you can be. You matter as a whole person. You are loved and respected no matter how you behave.

You have rights: Your human dignity must be always respected. There are some rights called “human rights”. You have them. I have them. We all have them, because we are all human beings. We all must respect every human being just because he or she is a person with dignity.

We all have our own “learning rhythm” and that is OK: an ordinary teacher has a lesson plan to follow. I can’t work that way: I have students with learning need that require some degree of individualization. Doing lesson plans is part of my job, but the way I apply them is quite flexible. I must embrace the “learning rhythm” of each student and create a symphony with all the voices. One thing I have tried to teach to them is that is OK to have an own learning rhythm and do things in other way.

You have an amazing capacity to do good: usually when a student has behavior difficulties he or she has very clear all the wrong things he or she is capable of doing. What is not so clear to these students is all the capacity they have to do good. They sometimes surprise themselves when you show them that they did something really good, of when you simply believe in them. They need to know they are capable of doing great things.

A new beginning is always possible: I have students that are living proof that new beginnings are always possible. I have met students with very difficult pasts, students that have overcome huge obstacles in such young lives and that have demonstrated me each day that new beginnings can be possible if you reach the help you need and choose to work hard.

A disability or a medical condition doesn’t defines you: this is a VERY important lesson when you are teaching students with any kind of “disability”. We need to learn to focus in each other’s abilities, not disabilities. We are all able to follow our dreams and become the best person we can be. We all have things that we can’t to and we all have things that we can do. We can choose in which one we focus.

Growth choices help us to become the best person we can be: whatever we do, we must make “growth choices”: choices that help us to become the best person we can be. Every choice is an opportunity to become the person that we are called to be.

Our growth choices have the power to create a better culture, a better nation and a better world: our growth choices not only help us to become the best person we can be. When we choose to become the best persons we can be, when we make growth choices, we create a culture of growth, a nation that help all to grow as the best person they can be. Our choices have the power to create a better humanity and a better world. When we make a true growth choice, it doesn’t help us to become the best person we can be: it helps everyone to become the best person they can be.

We must look all persons to the eyes: in a world where we are used to judge people by their physical appearance, we must look everyone to the eyes, not focusing in their physical attributes but in who they are as persons.

We must dare to test our limits and never limit ourselves: something the fact of having a “disability” makes students limit themselves because they see themselves as “disabled”. On purpose, I have placed them on situations that are at the same time safe and a challenge to their limits, only to let them discover by themselves that they can do something they believed they couldn’t do. This can complicate things sometimes, but it is really worthy, especially when you see the student’s huge smile when he or she discover that he or she can actually do something that he or she thought that he or she couldn’t do. This help them to learn how to engage in the world that is outside of the classroom and the school, becoming citizens that have a healthy independence and know what they are able to do to serve the common good.

What happened with the “growth plans” design? I resumed my “growth plans” design by adding a “growth objective” in the lesson plans. I truly think that it can be possible to create “growth plans” besides the lesson plans, or even make both plans integrated as a “growth plan” instead of making a “lesson plan”, applying what should be taught to the personal formation of the students, but now is not the moment to design a whole “growth plan” to substitute the lesson plans with it. That enterprise would require a research capability that I currently do not have: I first need to observe, then research, and finally apply. For now, using a “growth objective” to help the students to become the best person they can be is the best choice to complete the observation phase.

Before leaving for Christmas break, I am leaving everything prepared for the first lesson plan of January: each student will create a poster with his or her New Year’s growth resolutions, resolutions that help him or her to become the best persons he or she can be. The only thing that is still needed to give this lesson plan is preparing a short message about what is a growth resolution and why they are important, or may be find a prepared short message of other person that talks about that theme (of course, in English, because it is English class 😀). I will work on that during the Christmas break. During the Holidays I will also work in the design of a Pictionary Olympics for the English Week, that is at the end of January. We will have a lot of fun! 🙂 I’m so eager to start the next semester!

My last pending classroom task before ending the semester, besides all the administrative tasks that are due in any semester ending, is putting a huge “Follow Your Dreams” in the wall, so they can all see it when they walk into the English classroom when they come back to the school in January. Here is an image of my “Follow Your Dreams” (I bought it in the online store of Carson Dellosa, but I do not recommend it, their shipping methods are terribly slow. If I need another “Follow Your Dreams” for a wall I will ask my students to make it, specially with glitter, they love glitter!).

Follow Your Dreams

I have had this “Follow Your Dreams” since weeks ago, but I have not been able to put it where I want to place it because I need to move first my teacher’s desk, some student’s desks and a book shelf in order of being able to put the “Follow Your Dreams” in the wall I want (the wall that is first seen when you get into the classroom). So, I chose to wait until the end of the semester to do all that movements needed to put the “Follow Your Dreams” in the wall safely and peacefully.

That will be the “growth objective” of the first lesson plan of the year 2019: follow your dreams. Whatever New Year’s growth they may have, they must help them to follow their dreams and to become the best person they can be. For me the phrase “follow your dreams” has a very beautiful meaning: I dream with God’s Love, seen as Jesus Charity, literally every night, so for me “follow your dreams” means following God’s Love, realizing His will in my life, whatever that may lead me and whatever that could mean. In this moment, following that dreams means being the best teacher I can be for my students. However, of course, I have never told that to my students, nor I will, because my dreams do not have to be their dreams: I want them to have their own dreams and to dare to follow those dreams. I want them to learn how to dream dreams that create a better growth community, a better society, a better world… I want then to learn how to dream dreams that are bigger than themselves, dreams that help everyone to grow as the best person they can be, beginning with themselves. We can’t get used to be less of the best we can be. We can’t get used to situations of degradation of any human being or to situations that dehumanize of our society. We are all called to be the change that the world needs to be transformed with fraternity, joy and creativity that gives life. I want them to learn that when they choose to be the best person they can be they change others for good with their growth. ☺️

Please pray for me, so I may serve my students in the best way possible and I may teach them with living lessons to dare to dream big, helping them to learn how to follow their dreams, how to make resolutions to turn those dream into a reality and how to always choose to become the best person they can be.

Merry Christmas to everyone! May you follow your dreams and may they lead you to become the best person you can be. Let’s keep growing!

PD: Here is a picture of the “Follow Your Dreams” placed in the wall of my classroom 🙂