When egomaniacs who equate making a living with making money and having power through that devise an agenda, hurting others rarely crosses their mind. They only think of their own cleverness in helping themselves.
On the other hand, those like Eric Lafarnge who have discovered Self and created Purpose and Vision with their Heart understand that the focus of life becomes living the purpose we make, we create. Money and power have little to do with that.
The portion of The Fellowship of the Heart I am sharing this evening is lengthy, so I’m not commenting more than this for tonight — (I even abridged it for this post!).
Since Anne and Eric had re-opened a more normal, warm communication, he found everything more interesting, more intriguing than he ever had.
His engagement in the Oprimida case had grown. Since he and Anne had not been able to have a child, he had not paid much attention to education issues, at least not in an activist way. Mariela Oprimida left anyone she met little choice: they understood what an educational activist believed. Eric caught her enthusiasm and plunged himself into the specific issues for which she was terminated from the school district where she had taught for twelve years.
Mariela had become alarmed based on a number of trends, not the least of which was the decades old high stakes testing that determined teacher evaluation. She knew this directly impacted instruction in the classroom, that little motivation for teachers or students to be excited about learning existed in the classroom. But the last two years had seen more stringent guidelines discussed, including a federal curriculum which Governor Etts had determined to champion in Missouri.
She had spoken in an informal capacity to her colleagues and students about the negative effects of such legislation. She had also addressed a large group of educators in a formal setting when she had been named the teacher of the year in Missouri two years prior. She shared with Eric the exact way the school district and principal targeted her. They had used staff members to catch her speaking about “subversive” attitudes concerning district and state directives and actions. Words spoken in private conversations became public knowledge before she knew what was occurring.
She stood as a staunch advocate for the children, especially the ones in earlier grades subjected to, in her words, “meaningless, stressful, education-killing tests.” That was the final blow that allowed the district to terminate her. She advised a small group of concerned and influential parents to opt their children out of the tests. While they could do that, policy interpretation, according to the district, forbade her from speaking about that to the parents.
Eric had met with Mariela Oprimida on several occasions and read extensively about current educational practices and those who dissented with such, as Mariela had. One morning, she had called and asked if she could come in and speak with Eric about a new development. …
“What is that? I wasn’t notified of anything.” Eric set his glass down.
“Yes, I know. I was served a summons early this morning. I have been charged with misdemeanor child endangerment.” Mariela’s voice quavered and her eyes glistened.
Eric stood quickly, grabbed a box of tissues, and set them on the occasional table between them. “What basis did they give? I’m assuming it originated from a school district complaint.”
Mariela took a few drinks of water and settled herself. “It reads that I advised parents to take a course of action that was academically detrimental to their child. It specifically mentions the Infant to Toddler Educational Preparedness Initiative. I know when it happened. I told a colleague on the day I was leaving that I would not submit my child to the education system as it stands now. I said I would not even register a child in the ITEPI program. I never even told them or advised them not to, not directly at least.”
“Okay, this is not so serious. They are just taking potshots at you. I am fairly certain the basis of their original charges against you will not be upheld by a judge. The whole implementation of the state and federal curriculum guidelines has been left open to a wide range of interpretations, and even though they have tried to tighten things up, in Missouri they have relied on ultra conservative actions by individuals. No one has challenged the philosophy in the court before you came along.”
“Eric, based on what you have shared with me along the way, I think you are right. The problem is I think they know that, too, so they have come up with something that will stand up to scrutiny. What I fear is that they will try to get statements from others with whom I have spoken because this can be, under certain circumstances, a felony offense.”
“Mariela, I have seen the ITEPI legislation. No one has enforced it because everyone pretty much complies. Those who don’t are warned and that’s it.”
“Eric, this is why I didn’t want your assistant to hear this. I truly don’t trust anyone else. People who I thought I was speaking to as friends who were seeking my professional opinion have betrayed me. I think the authorities are going to try and make an example of me.”
Eric’s desire to be a voice for the voiceless in the face of legitimatized injustice has become the expression of his Vision, which is his Mission. Let’s see what happens.
I hope you enjoy living the life you create, you make. May that be your focus, and not only the “making a living = making money” model. Again, blessings!
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!