Author Topic: Make the Neighborhood Great Again (Trump, Farechilde and Aberlin)  (Read 2733 times)

DannyJoe

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I recently wrote this 2-part piece for the adult members of my Tree House following and I thought you might enjoy it. Would love to know your thoughts.

Make the Neighborhood Great Again

As long as I live, I will never forget that unruly mop of hair, that bulging red nose and those duck-like lips. There was a time when I just couldn’t understand why someone so mean could be allowed to have such a prominent voice in the community. Fear, doubt and jealousy were the tools of choice for this self-entitled media mogul who sat atop a gaudy throne of multi-colored pillars. With one carefully placed catchphrase, the world could be turned upside-down and my neighbors, my friends, my family would turn against each other--at least for a little while.
I eventually realized that this caricature of a real person was there for a greater purpose, although I’m sure that purpose was unbeknownst to this simple puppet. Each time that voice spoke, we were offered an opportunity to choose how we should respond to the conflicts, which were often exaggerated or outright fabricated by this individual, in ways that didn’t compromise our (or others’) traditions, philosophies and beliefs. With every shout, quiet manipulation and backhanded compliment, each individual neighbor was given the opportunity to really think about their moral stance, their understanding of the situation and then respond accordingly. It’s easy to let our anger and fear take over and shout back and mock and attack or disappear into ourselves and hide from the conflict. It is exceedingly more challenging, fulfilling and ultimately effective to pause, reflect, empathize and then calmly respond with logic and respect. This latter process reflects the behavior of a mentally healthy adult human-being--a true leader.
Like many young children, I used to be attracted to external power--the pretend strength that comes from things like dragons and superheroes. I think that many of us adults still feel attracted to that same type of superficial power during times of uncertainty, times when we still feel powerless to effect change, but that type of power is not real--it's just make-believe. True strength comes from within. It is beyond wealth, beyond fame, beyond raised voices, beyond name-calling, bullying and displays of brute force.
We can all be proud of who we are. We are special. Not better than anyone else, not entitled, not superior, but truly special-deep down inside--just like all of our fellow neighbors--all of our fellow human-beings. We don’t have to tear each other down to be heard. We can listen. We can stand up for what is right. Be brave my friends. Be strong. Be kind.
I believe in you. I hope that you believe in you too.


Danny

Make the Neighborhood Great Again (part 2)

Do you Tweet? I’m new to it. And I have to say, I find it very challenging. 140 characters feel so limiting, although I know or “follow” a lot of people who can eloquently express themselves with just a few words.
Last night I tweeted at someone who I admire very much, Betty Aberlin (yes, that Betty Aberlin). If you are on Twitter I highly recommend following her. She is political, and smart and very funny. Reading her thoughts, ideas and feelings about the world is kind of like that wonderful moment when you see a teacher outside of school being a bit more...real. It’s kind of weird, but really exciting.
Like a student with a self-assigned “extra credit” report I shared my recent piece about Lady Elaine Farechilde, in which I attempted to draw a parallel between her and Donald Trump. You can read it here: on.fb.me/1QUAlWM I was very excited when I saw that Ms. Aberlin responded, but a bit crushed by her first response:

“@DannyTreeHouse Oh no, Danny. Never. Lady Elaine spoke truth to power/King Friday XIII.. She never denigrated people or scapegoated them.”

Cut to 8 year-old me as my heart crumbled and I slowly folded and hid my report behind my back. I looked at the screen and said, “But, that wasn’t what I was trying to say-- I, I, hmmm.”

And then I read her second response:

“@DannyTreeHouse I would have liked to know what Lady Elaine thought of Mr. Drumph. She would not have minced words.”

I hearted that.

And then I started thinking--really thinking--the way a child tries to understand a teacher's note written in red. Why WAS I so frightened of Lady Elaine? Well, to be honest, she was (on the surface) very scary looking. Physically she appeared to be descendent of the famed “Punch and Judy” puppets, not known for their conflict resolution skills. Originally, in the early MisteRogers’ Neighborhood programs, Fairchilde was the official mischief maker. This was her role. She would wield her Boomerang-Toomerang-Soomerang and cause trouble--conflict to facilitate the story ark. Back in reality, Mister Rogers would shake his head and say with a tone of disappointment, “Looks, like that Lady Elaine is at it again.”
Throughout the years she evolved (slowly) and by the 70s and 80s she became a strong, outspoken feminist--a role model for girls and boys. As Betty Aberlin noted, she would stand up against the “power” to protest what she felt was wrong or unjust. There was much more to her than what met the eye. She truly did care about her neighbors, but often her knee-jerk reactions needed to be explored and discussed, so we could understand her motivation, which was often ruled by her passions. Lady Aberlin (the ultimate cool big sister) became her friend and, I think, teacher. Aberlin took the time to ask questions and listen and ask more questions until a peaceful solution could be met. Eventually, Lady Elaine was flying on her own. Just look at the modern-day animated Lady Elaine. She’s come a looong way and will continue to evolve just like the the rest of us.
In retrospect, it wasn’t really fair of me to associate Lady Elaine with Mr. Trump. Or for that matter, Mr. Trump with Lady Elaine, even though on the surface there are undeniable physical similarities. But with more reflection, I see that they have had very different experiences--at least I assume this is the case based upon what I’ve seen from afar, through the screen. I can’t help but wonder who were the people that influenced Donald’s behavior as a child? Did he have emotional guidance as a young boy? Who were his teachers? Who were his friends? Did someone offer him unconditional acceptance of who he was and who he could become? Where was his Lady Aberlin?
Dan Gartrell, creator of The Guidance Approach (please do yourself a favor and look up his work) says that in children’s behavior there is always reason. We just need to take the time to find the root cause. Instead of labeling children’s socially unacceptable actions as “misbehavior” we, as thoughtful, caring mentally-healthy adult educators should instead think of their questionable actions as “mistaken behavior” and guide the child to acceptable social behaviors, which will ultimately benefit everyone. This type of guidance is really hard to apply in practice. It takes time and dedication, but the emotional investment can have lasting results.
I once read that we can’t control the actions of others, but we can influence others with our own actions. Maybe it is too late for Mr. Trump. Maybe not. But we can choose to take advantage of his actions and reflect and respond in ways that we feel are socially and emotionally responsible. If we look at it the right way, this is a gift. It is an opportunity to teach and learn.
Who influenced you as a child? Was it a timid tiger, a pompous King, a mischief maker, a kind hearted big sister, a dedicated caring neighbor? Who do you influence as an adult? How do they reflect your actions? Who will they become? A teacher? A student? Both? Someone who listens? Someone who never learned how?
I strive to influence future generations through truly interactive media in the same way that Fred Rogers influenced me through television because I think it is an investment in OUR children’s future. An investment in how they will resolve their conflicts as adults in their neighborhoods. I worry a lot about that.
It’s been said that the characters of the neighborhood of make-believe represented different aspects of Fred Rogers’ personality. I guess that we are all more than just one thing. We’re complicated. We’re constantly evolving.
It may be no surprise, but as I write this, I really hope that Betty Aberlin reads it and that I get the chance to continue this conversation with her. I want my teacher to be proud of me. I want her to know how much she has influenced my behavior and how very thankful I am to her. How thankful I am that she is still teaching me, giving me something to think and talk about.

See what I mean? I could never fit all of this into 140 characters.

Be kind, my friends. It’s worth the investment.

Danny
Danny Joe

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Re: Make the Neighborhood Great Again (Trump, Farechilde and Aberlin)
« Reply #1 on: April 18, 2016, 09:19:19 AM »
It is rather interesting to see the boldness in both of those characters Trump and Lady Elaine. 

We were having a discussion at work one day, I'm in my 30s, my co worker just turned 40, and both of us were talking about how people really need to "give it up" about gays and lesbians.  Whether people like it or not, this is the world we live in.  People really need to get it together in this world.  And in some ways, the way churches convey this message goes in the opposite direction.  I don't know if its because its a generational issue or what, or if the church conveys this message in such a way where the hatred comes from, but gay people are here to stay.  After all this stuff going on in various states about gay rights, etc, I feel like we are trying to live back in the 1960s.  Especially talk about which bathroom are people suppose to be using.  There has always been young boys who play with dolls and in the other light young girls who are more like little boys.  We need to learn to accept these people for who they are.  It is all about "DOING THE RIGHT THING."   

DannyJoe

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Re: Make the Neighborhood Great Again (Trump, Farechilde and Aberlin)
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2016, 06:48:31 PM »
I've been thinking a lot about acceptance lately-- why its so scary for so many.  I think that there are many factors that lead to blind hate. I hope that if we keep talking with co-workers, friends, family, strangers and virtual neighbors we can remind ourselves that we are not alone. There are others who strive to offer and receive acceptance. Our actions will influence the behaviors of others. My mom taught me and my sister this quote during her battle with cancer- "Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit." Napoleon Hill

There is so much love/acceptance in our world. We just need to look for it.

Keep doing the right thing. 


Danny Joe