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?



––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!


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 🙂

Always Affirming the Person

At the end of September I began to work as ESL teacher of secondary level (in my school this means middle and high school) at a special education school. So far, I love it. I have six groups, mostly multiple grades groups (grade 5, grades 6-7, grade 7, grades 7-8, grades 9-10, grades 11-12). The biggest group has six student. The smallest group has only one student. Most of my students have behavorial special needs, so I must adapt my teaching methods and my disciplinary methods to meet their needs in the classroom. In total, I have 23 students, plus one more on the way (I have not meet him yet, but he will be in my classroom soon and I am already being informed of what needs he will have to be prepared when he arrives).

Although I should call it “special education”, I prefer to aim a “person-centered education.” With “person-centered” I do not mean exactly “individualized”, although sometimes I must individualize my lesson plans due my student’s needs. What I aim is “learning by forming”: teach them ESL through helping them to grow and to learn how become the best person they can be (this is what I mean with person-centered education). I could called it “learning by growing” too. I do have class books to follow, but I have a wide creative range to determine how to apply each lesson. Besides lesson plans, that are mandatory (of course they are, I would never deny their importance) I am designing “growth plans” to promote the best personal growth possible in the classroom. Designing something like this from scratch takes intellectual creativity, patience and time. Right now the only thing I can say is that with a person-centered approach almost all the attention issues and the discipline issues are avoided… but it is very, very important that students understand the importance of being person and of becoming the best persons they can be. That part can be tricky sometimes. Why? Because my students tend to reduce the definition of person to his or her behavior: we are how we behave. If you realize that special education students are constantly being evaluated according to their behavior, you understand their personal formation view perfectly. Teaching them that they are not their behavior and that the person is first and foremost a human being called to grow and be best is crucial to integrate a “growth plan” and to pursue a “person-centered learning” successfully. Right now I am working on that aspect while I keep developing the “growth plan” design. It takes time and resources, but it is worth it because you truly respect your students as persons when, instead of limiting yourself as teacher to give them certain information and skills, you keep looking how to help them to be, to do, to grow and to radiate as the best persons they can be.

Whatever I teach in the classroom, I teach it through affirming the person. It is like positive behavior, but I don’t limit myself to behavior: I affirm the whole person, so let’s call it “positive humanity” or “positive growth”. That means that my respect to the student and the opportunities that they are given to grow won’t change according to their behavior, so they learn they are valued unconditionally as human beings. They may loose privileges, but they won’t never loose “growth opportunities”. The main problem with a behavior-only approach is that the student learns to value himself or herself according to how he or she behaves, and I want them to learn to value themselves as whole human beings called to growth. I am not denying the importance of behavior: I am just integrating it to the whole person.

So far, I only have had one instance when this “growth approach” has not worked to avoid a discipline issue. One. My students have many behavior difficulties due being special education students, so having only one instance when it has not worked can be considered quite a success… but let’s see how it keeps going. I need to observe more and to refine more my methods to make more concrete conclusions. I recognize that the “growth plan objective” (value) it is not always fully reached because the students are unconsciously more focused in the “grade objective” (the lesson plan objective: the one that is graded summatively or formatively)… That is one of several of my current dilemas in the “growth plan” design: how to integrate the “growth approach” to the assessment. Right now, I am not assessing it formally, I am doing it just with observations, because I am not sure how it should be assessed. Should I make it part of the grade? But how they will learn to aim to be the best person they can be outside of the classroom if they do it only for a grade and not for life?

I can resume the difference between a “lesson plan” and a “growth plan” very easily: the lesson plan is what I must teach (the content) and the growth plan is the how I must teach it (how to help them to grow as human beings and to become the best persons they can be with the content I teach). Right now the growth plan has a “growth objective” and four phases: integration, action, realization and projection. As I said, I am designing it yet. So far, the growth plan works wonders as discipline method, although that is not its main aim. It’s main aim is affirming the person. As teacher I truly believe in always affirm the person, but it requires creative space, structure and… sometimes it also requires to skip what the book says we should do, because how the book teaches certain stuff can be truly abstract sometimes. Whatever I teach, I must apply it to the personal formation’s growth of my students, it can’t be abstract. This is impossible if you are required to prepare the students only for a standardized test.

The best part of the “growth plan” is that the teacher doesn’t wait that a student misbehave to give him or her help: you always keep seeking how to offer him help to become the best person he or she can be, no matter what. When the misbehavior occurs, it is addressed too, but the approach is not only disciplinary: is a whole-person growth approach. What this means? First: all students receive support wherever they need it most (this eliminates the view that only those who misbehave need support). Second: as teacher I am not only teacher: I am also a mentor who seeks to help my students to grow as the best person they can be, according to their own view (that is important: a mentor never imposes his or her own view but help others to develop their own view and their own growth choices). The mentor factor is important. A psychologist deals with learning or emotional difficulties only. The person in charge of discipline deals with behavior difficulties only. A mentor helps to grow as the best person the student can be, integrating the whole person, including all the difficulties that the student may have, but not from a difficulty approach, but from a affirming-the-person approach. This is a “positive growth” focus.

I will keep sharing how the “growth plans” adventure keeps going. I am truly grateful of being in a school that gives me as teacher the creative space to develop this kind of approach to deal with discipline methodology and teaching methodology.

Let’s keep growing!















Integractive Sciences: A New Humanization

I strongly believe that one of the deepest problems of the education of our times is its lack of integractive sciences. But before writing about that, let’s clarify what I mean with “integractive sciences.”

Integractive sciences are the sciences of the person: the sciences that study the persons and how they become who they are and who they are called to be. The integractive sciences integrate three faculties: Education, Social Sciences and Humanities, including arts and theology.

Why I call the studies of these faculties “integractive sciences”? Because they can’t follow the method of the natural sciences, so used to “dissect” what it studies. The persons cannot be “dissected”: they must be studied as they integrate, act, realize and project themselves; they must be studied “integractively”. The word “integration” is the union of the concepts “integration”, “action”, “realization” and “projection”, the four phases of integraction as model of human formation.

May be is necessary to redefine a little bit what we call “scientific method”, giving the space to create an “integractive method” as “scientific method” for integractive sciences. The fact is that we cannot pretend to understand the person by “dissecting” his nature, as natural sciences tend to do. We can only understand and study the person with the union of humanities, social sciences and humanities, all together. This requires an “integractive” approach. We cannot keep these faculties separated, proposing that the person is something in one of them and then proposing another thing in the other faculty. They must be integrated because that is how the human person grows: integractively.

Does this means that other sciences and faculties, like natural sciences, health sciences, law, business… are not needed to understand how the person integrates, acts, realizes and projects? I do not mean that exactly. Integractive sciences and natural sciences complement each other. The application of natural sciences, health sciences and any other science is necessary to understand certain aspects of personal growth, but the essential sciences to understand how the person become who he is and who is called to be are the integractive sciences. For example: you can apply natural sciences to the study of the person, but you can’t understand the person through natural sciences by its own.

This had been one of the hugest mistake of our times: reducing the study of the person to the application of natural sciences, or aiming to study integractive sciences with the same method of natural sciences, “dissecting” the integraction of the human person, and so reducing the human identity to “social constructs”, for example. This must change. The human person must be understood “integractively” in order to embrace our identity as we grow more fully humanely.

Our schools are depleted with natural sciences, but the only integractive science that is usually taught is history. That’s a problem. We cannot be surprised that our students get bored in schools that do not help them to understand better who they are, how they grow as persons, and how they are called to be: better human beings everyday. We need to connect what they learn with a better personal growth and a better world. Only through teaching integractive sciences we can aim to build a society for peace, where everyone treats each other as human being and as brother, serving the common good and avoiding all kinds of dehumanization that are destroying today’s world. It is time to propose the creation of schools specialized in integractive sciences, where technology and natural sciences, among other disciplines, are applied to the study of the person.

Weeks ago, I read a quote from Nelson Mandela that I do not remember literally right now, but it proposed that if hate can be learned, love can be learned too. Let’s paraphrase that quote: If dehumanization can be learned, humanity and human rights can be learned too. We can learn how to grow until become the best person we can be. We can only create peace if we learn how to help everyone to grow as the best persons they can be. I call this “new humanization”: an integractive conception of how to become the best persons we can be as human beings. Noticed that I didn’t say “to become the best persons we can be as republicans”, or as democrats, or as homosexual, or as conservative…No: I said “as human beings.

We need a new humanization. We need to learn how to see each other first and foremost as human beings, as brother called to grow together. We are not our genders. We are not our political affiliation. We are not our sexual orientation. We are human beings, called to be loved and to grow unconditionally in fraternity, justice and peace.

There is a wonderful world in taino language, “goeiz”, that means “the spirit of a living person.” We must aim to embrace the spirit of a living person, the spirit of a person that is human and keeps growing as better human being everyday. This is also part of living the Christian faith: “The glory of God is the human person is fully alive” (St. Irenaeus).

We can only keep our students engaged with their education by teaching them how to apply what they are learning to their own human growth; by helping them to be, to do, to grow and to radiate as the best persons they can be. The opposite is dehumanizing them. We cannot keep dehumanizing our society through a dehumanizing education, an education that focus more on ideologies than in the human being and personal growth. We need to search together new ways and paths to create a more human world, a world where everyone can understand how they grow as persons, how to become the best persons they can be, and how to find the tools and resources needed to be able to do so. We need to teach that a human being can never be treated as an object, or as a mean, or reduced through dehumanization, through the ideological laceration of his human identity.

Together, we can make that possible. Together, we can make possible a more human world for everyone.

Let’s keep growing!

A Better World…

Today I am going to write about something that will deeply influence my teaching style as teacher and public server: human rights. First I am going to write about the experience of being completely conscious while my human rights are fragrantly violated, giving concrete examples of those violations. Then I will write about how I am enduring it and how I am able to stand a situation like this one. Finally, I will write about how it will influence my teaching style from now on.

Through these last weeks I has discovered many things that I was unaware of. I discovered many of them suddenly, others through contemplation in prayer. I can’t tell them all in a single text, but one of the discoveries I have made is that my human rights had been, and are being, fragrantly violated. I am being subject of cruel treatment. I am being subject of torture. I am being subject of ideological persecution. These are not easy affirmations to make, especially when they involve collaboration of your own “family”, but reality must be faced.

Let’s begin with the beginning. What is a human right? A human right is “a right that is believed to belong justifiably to every person.” In words of United Nations, “Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.” The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has 30 articles.

In my own words, human rights are rights that belong to all persons unconditionally. They are not negotiable. They are not respected only in those people who believe what you believe or only in those people who stand your own ideology. Governments and public servers are entitled to guarantee that these rights are respected always.

Which violations of human rights I have endured? I will write examples.

Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person: I have been made believe that my live is in danger many times, through many different methods, and that is both against the security of person and against the right to life. These methods require coordination, resources and collaboration of many people, I am not talking about an isolated initiative. I am being exposed to certain set of sounds or images in wherever place I go, including “medical appointments” (I wouldn’t call them exactly “medical appointments” but torture, but I will talk about that later…), in order to try to control my freedom of movement and to make me believe that I have a psychiatric disorder. I have been exposed to sounds to interrupt my sleep many, many, many times, and that is against the right to life.

Article 9. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile: I still remember one of the times I was forced by the police to undergo psychiatric treatment. He did not allow me 30 minutes to finish what I was doing and gather all my things, telling me that “he did not had the time to wait, he needed to go and help more people.” Obviously, he was playing with my Twitter username, “helping to grow” (that has happened many, many, many times, specially among public servers and doctors who insist me when they are forcing me to undergo psychiatric treatment that “they only want to help me”).

I have been subject of arbitrary detention, using judicial orders that are based in manipulations of reality, by police at least three times. Police officers went inside my room, forced me to get out when I was actually being abused mentally and emotionally and I was not able to recognize it, and made me choose between jail or psychiatric treatment.

Article 10. Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him: When a tribunal insists in forcing you to seek psychiatric treatment (I have lost the count of how many times I have been hospitalized by force by the tribunal of Toa Alta, but they are around 5, and still counting…) when the real problem is the manipulation of reality and the abuse of your parents, evidently the tribunal is not impartial but part of the ideological persecution. This is especially true when your parents use the tribunal orders to try to medicate you by force, and when you are not able to defend yourself because the Government doesn’t provide you a free layer to defend yourself and you don’t have the money to hire one.

Article 12. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks: All that I am living began with the interference with my privacy. Those who are around me were accessing my thoughts and my writings through my computers and devices for years without I being able to notice. When I finally was able to notice it, I was made believe that I had a psychiatric disorder in order to not daring to denounce it publicly for fear of a forced hospitalization or to not being believed by the competent authorities. Last time I went to seek help, a few week ago to the police in Miami, I was told that I only needed to “take my meds”. I never received help of any Government authority in order to stop this interference with my privacy. My correspondence has been opened without my consent many, many, many times, and I have missed many letters too.

Article 17. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property: I have missed the count of how many things I have lost in my “own room”. My security card is not where I left it, my passport card is not where I left it, my Puerto Rican and USA flags disappeared… Through the years I have lost many, many, many things believing that the problem was me. Now I finally realize that the problem was not me in most of the cases.

Article 18. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance: Besides article 5, this is the article that has been violated most deeply. Everything that has been done, all the torture, all the privacy interferences, all the manipulations of reality, even the false psychiatric diagnosis (there was an image of the Santiago’s Way, the place where I discovered my vocation, in the promotion of the place where my parents took me for treatment) has been done in order to undermine the truth of what I have contemplated in prayer and to manipulate what I contemplate in prayer or how I live my faith. This has been truly savage. I have never understood such obsessions in manipulating the prayers of someone else or in denying the faith practices of someone. The violations to this human right has been the core of all the human rights violations that I have endured and am enduring right now.

Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers: When you are being threatened with a forced psychiatric hospitalization by many people, including doctors, if you say what you believe is the truth, evidently your freedom of expression is being violated. Also, the forced medications make me harder to write, so they also affect the freedom of expression.

Article 25. Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control: Right now I had not been given money for food, medicines or anything else in two weeks. Why? I was threatened to not being given money for food, being left without car to going to mass, being left without internet to communicate… if I did not follow a psychiatric treatment. The psychiatric treatment is being forced in order to cover the truth about the violations of human rights and the abuse that is happening, and in order to avoid me to express myself freely.

Article 27. (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits. (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author:  the ideological persecution has been of such magnitude that interferes with my right of freely participate in the cultural life that surrounds me. Manipulations of reality are constantly being created by many means. I will give an example of this. My parents leave the papers of my forced hospitalization and my medical plan card besides something with a Puerto Rican flag. Then, when I go to the medical office to the forced appointment, I find that a Puerto Rican flag is placed in the desk of the secretary that receives me to the office, that belongs to a government agency. Then you are being told in that office that you need to go to the office of Medicare in Toa Alta to seek a paper, and when you go there a person with a Puerto Rican flag is “casually” walking by when you arrive to office to seek the needed paper.

The only way to avoid that kind of manipulations of reality is avoiding cultural life until everything is publicly known and you can enjoy a home free of reality manipulations that manipulate your social and cultural life.

Also, everything has been done in order to avoid me to complete my painting, Iesu Amor, and the written works related to Jesus Charity.

Article 28. Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized: As I already wrote, the ideological persecution and the violations of human rights that I have endured has not been something of one person, or two, or three. Hundreds of persons are needed to do something like this. This has not happened only in Puerto Rico: it happened in Miami and even in the cruise ship I was forced to go. A corruption of this magnitude needs some sort of political support. The democratic order is being substituted by an ideological order, and that can’t be allowed to happen. Using fear to try to manipulate people and ideas is being a terrorist, and that can’t be allowed anywhere, especially in USA, the land of the free. It is my duty as citizen to denounce what I have endured in order to avoid anyone else to endure the same violations of human rights that I have endured for my faith.

You may realize that I skipped some articles of the Declaration of Human Rights. I skipped one in purpose: the article 5. The article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Now I realize that I have endured and am enduring torture. I will explain how.

First of all, what is torture? United Nations Convention Against Torture, in its article 1.1, defines “torture” as “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity.”

Manipulating reality in such way that you believe that you have a psychiatric disorder becomes torture when Government agencies complicitly help with the scheme. You just don’t create a psychiatric disorder manipulating the reality at home and in the social environments, although that already requires a lot of coordination and resources. Besides manipulating reality, you need a psychiatric medicine faculty that complies and participates in the manipulation of reality in order to diagnose the disorder and “certify” it officially. You need a tribunal that complies and participates in the manipulation of reality in order to force you to seek treatment for that disorder even when you know that everything has been made up and that you don’t need medications that cause you secondary effects that affect your written expression. You need a public agency that has doctors and personal complicit with the manipulation or reality… Why this is torture? Because it had been made with cooperation of public servers, a public university and public authorities. You are constantly treated as a mental patient and as a disabled in such way that, if you had not a clear vision of who you are and who you are called to be, you would lose your whole personality and your identity in the process. Yes, all this is a process of dehumanization, I am well aware of it.

Now, how I have endured everything? How I am enduring all this and still remain to be myself without fears? The answer is simple: God rescued me by making me able to contemplate Jesus Charity, the contemplation of His Love incarnated in Jesus that I painted in the painting Iesu Amor. I have truly discovered that Love is not an ideology: God is Love, and that truth has defined me in such way that no dehumanization process could harm me. I am a daughter of God, a beloved princess of Heaven, a human being in the process of becoming a work of Love. Through integraction I have deepened the nature of personal formation in ways that overcome my own intellectual capacity. When I developed integraction I was not aware of what was happening around me. It was God telling me: “this is the path you must follow in order to not dehumanize yourself, in order to become who you are called to be.” God has not left me alone. The presence of His Love has saved me from hate, cruelty and dehumanization. He is giving me the gift of forgiving everything and beginning a new life, leaving my sinful past behind.

I am so grateful of what I had been given the gift of share to the whole humanity (believe me, this will be publicly known, I contemplate it clearly…) that I would endure everything again just for the opportunity of telling the whole world: truly, God is Love, God saves, God loves you. I have no idea of why all this has been allowed by public agencies and authorities, but I am sure that everything is part of God’s will and that I am safe in His hands. Just for writing this blog post, I am exposed to being hospitalized by force again. I don’t care. I can’t avoid to share with the whole world the truth: God has saved me, God has forgiven me, and can forgive you too. He is waiting you eagerly with His tenderness to help you to grow and become the best person you can be. I am not denying the reality that surrounds me: my human rights are being violated and I am being tortured… but God’s Love is protecting me from all harm and all dehumanization. God is honoring my humanity in ways that I can only be grateful, because what I have contemplated and what I am contemplating can only be a grace. The reality of God’s Love embraces everything and heals everything, including violations of human rights and torture. The charity of Jesus makes all things anew and creates true peace. Evil never has the last word. God’s Love has it. Although I have written today about all the violation of human rights I have endured, it is also true (I contemplate it…) that I have encountered many angels in my way to whom I also owe my life, and to them I will be forever grateful.

How all this influences my teaching style? I have learned that besides teaching my students to radiate Love, teaching about human rights is necessary in order to help them to achieve the best personal formation possible. Human rights must be integrated in the curriculum in order to create better persons, better citizens and a better society… and eventually, a better world. Yes, a better world. We can’t conform with mediocrity and corruption. We need to aspire to a better world. That is what Jesus call us to do when He calls us to radiate His Love unconditionally and what we are called to do as public servers. We need to teach our students how to create a better nation, a better humanity, and I have learned that human rights are an essential part of that lesson.

Let’s keep growing…