The State of The Union …

Many folks were watching the address by President Obama last night but I am sure there were some who were not … for whatever reason.  I had to watch it because of who he is … where he came from … where he is now … and where he is trying to lead this nation!  He, too, recognized … that this is about more than politics!
Now, the thing for me is that there are many critics of this man.  Many saying that they have more passion for America than he does.  Others who got elected into office just by saying that they disagree with him!  And believe me, I know, that is the way the world is … from the bottom to the top … and from the top right back down to the bottom again.  But when each of us leaves this realm, this Ultimate Stage … we will enter another level of existence and leave all of our costumes and props behind!  Peace be with us …
Yet, I found his words very inspiring as he offers a change in venue from dependence on oil and further collapsing the core of the earth (unless it is too late!) and embracing a new direction of electrical energy.  It doesn’t sound easy but it sounds better that what we’ve been doing!  The Republican speaker after Obama’s address spoke initially of the recovering representative from Arizona, “Gabby” Giffords, and supported Obama’s pledge to unite the parties under the dreams of the little girl who lost her life … Amen.  What I noticed is that he never addressed Obama’s declaration for handling education in this country a bit better.  He never addressed the idea of utilizing electrical energy for cars, homes, businesses, etc.  He only attacked the health care program and the national deficit, which he said Obama’s administration has increased!  As I spoke with a guy last night while leaving the gym, he commented: “That is human nature and we are part of the human race!”   We can too often easily find something negative to say, but would rather collapse under stress than to say something positive about one of our fellow human beings!
I leave you with this thought of the day from one of my favorite groups, the Native Americans:
“Within every man there is the reflection of a woman, and within every woman there is the reflection of a man.  Within every man and woman there is also the reflection of an old man and an old woman, a little boy and a little girl.”   –  Hyemeyohsts Storm   TOUCHSTONES  January 26th
Have a great day!

John I. CookRed rose, Director
Educational Excellence

Another One Bites The Dust …

Hello World!  And, I’m sure you already know …. T.G.I.F.!
“Yesterday … life was such an easy game to play … now I need a place to hide away …” – The Beatles
The lyrics to that song are like a “tell-tale heart”.  No matter what we do, and I don’t know about you … but I ain’t perfect, it has some impact on who we are and where we are going.  In essence, we must take part in this thing … this gift … called LIFE!  Needless to say, it is NOT a game we should be playing, although many of our fellow human beings do just that.  Some of us have less of a choice than others.  Pray for them!
Miami witnessed the killing of two law enforcement agents who were en route to delivering and executing a warrant.  That word “execute” sounds so terrible, as is the job of doing this portrays.  There in Overtown – a rough and tough neighborhood in Miami where residents say gunplay is as common as stickball games – a young African American male was hiding out from not only police, but the people who were friends of the person he had murdered last year!  The way the residents of Overtown put it, “Nobody is safe here!  People shoot guns all times of the day and the night!”
I can only thank my Creator, whom I chose to call God, for not delivering me into a life … or a neighborhood like that!  When law enforcement officers went to execute the warrant, they were armed but apparently not prepared.  They should have taken some shields and had the SWAT Team there.  But in retrospect, the young convict apparently wanted to die …. this was his suicide attempt!  There was no way out for him … and surrender seemed not to be an option!  Oh what a tangled web some of us weave!
“How good and how pleasant it is that brothers sit together.”  – Psalm 133   I am grateful for precious friendships with men and women in my life today.  Jan 20
“There are things for which an uncompromising stand is worthwhile.”   – Dietrich Bonhoeffer    Jan 21, (excerpts from TOUCHSTONES)
May we stand united … while we can … and continue to spread the gospel of peace and love … as futile as it may seem!  Stop The Violence … one heart at a time!
Peace be with each of you!

John I. CookRed rose, Director
Educational Excellence

Having A Dream …

Have you ever had a dream … I mean, a big dream … like graduating from a specific university or attaining a particular degree like a Doctor of Philosophy aka PhD?  Maybe even landing a particular job, finding that great mate or buying some property like a house or condo?  Maybe even starting a business!  Many of the dreams that people have today are more practical like the aforementioned.  Now, these dreams are cool.  In fact, I have one of my own.  Those of you who are reading this are an integral part of this dream I am having.  I plan to make this year a big one for Educational Excellence and the Stop The Violence Campaign which I actually launched at the end of last year.

This dream of mine was born because I, myself, have had to make some attitude adjustments in handling the overt ignorance of people with whom I have come into contact.  The hardest thing for me is to let people close to me unless I feel safe.  Now you might say, why would a 6’4″ 210 pound man have to feel safe around other people?  The answer is simple: while I may be “big and strong”, I have feelings, too!  One of my former significant others used to tell me that I was too sensitive.  Now, this can be a good thing especially when you are working with people everyday as I had done for 10 years teaching at White Plains High School.  I learned to feel and sense what my students were feeling and experiencing.  Thusly, I became a more effect teacher.  The “Catch 22″ of all this is that when someone hurt my feelings by something they had said or an attitude they may have had toward me, I took it to heart, so to speak.  Sometimes, too much … getting involved in self destructive behavior in my attempts to ease the pain that I was experiencing.

The Dream I like most is the one that The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. had over 20 years ago.  You know the one about ” … little black boys and little black girls being able to hold hands with little white boys and little white girls and say ‘Free at last, free at last! Thank God almighty, we’re free at last!'”  Now, for those of you who were alive when this dream of his was born,  you will know that most people, including myself, thought he was a little bit optimistic, approaching crazy as we saw all the segregation, hatred and racism that permeated the major institutions of American Society.  In fact, that was one of the reasons I studied Sociology at Princeton University after attempting to handle Psychology, because I wanted to know what made people act and feel in such a hateful way towards someone because of their race or color.

I mean, it was just last week when I had to tell someone who had been close to me that they should stop using the n-word to me, about me or at me, because they were upset with me.  To be honest, that is one of the reasons that I hope I never see this person again!  You know the way people say things can be very hateful and hurtful.  Now, I have learned to disregard the negativity of people when being hostile and hateful.  But today, I chose not to be around those people. 

I, too, have a dream … one of peace and love amongst the youth of today.. and the adults though we are somewhat jaded and corrupted!  One of sharing and understanding each other and not resorting to violence to get ones point across but continuing to engage in dialogue to come to some agreement or understanding, even if it means to not talk for a while!

In conclusion, I would like to remind us all that people like Dr. King has paved the way for many of us, including me as I went “From The Projects to Princeton” up until and including the election of President Barack Obama.  Now there have been many beautiful spiritual changes here in The United States of America regarding race relations and an improved national understanding.  I am not being too naive to notice that there are many many sore spots in our national human relations, both at home and abroad.  But I do want to take a minute and ask you to do the same and embrace and acknowledge the success of a dreamer like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  May we continue being a part of his dream … in peace and love … and harmony!

Things You Gotta Know!

Happy Hump Day, Everyone!

Just yesterday, I was saying to a co-worker, “Is it Wednesday yet?” I have been busting my chops on the phones in the office … and having a fair amount of success, too! Wednesday has arrived!

Now, I got up early for this one because of the latest events, in particular the ones that were mentioned in Monday’s e-mail. Before I go any further, I hope that each of you know that this e-mail family started years ago … maybe four or five. And each of you are part of the collogue of friends I have met and asked if you’d be a part of this for a reason. I continue to ask you that if you want to be removed, just let me know. This family grew from my heart, my soul and my spirit. In essence, it grew from my experiences since I was a child, if you know what I mean. In many ways, I am like the man with the “Golden Voice”, it is just that I have enough umpfff and angels disguised as good friends who have kept me from being homeless. This e-mail set up, the blog, my website and Educational Excellence … even my books are the cardboard signs like the homeless carry on the streets telling you what they need or are willing to do for money. I, too, am offering something and seldom ask for money. Now some of you have been very generous in my times of need, you know who you are, and have helped me in ways that I never thought I’d ever need to be helped.

Okay, back to the latest event that has literally brought tears to my eyes … and I thought I had none left! How can two parents watch their child leave, whom they KNOW is disturbed, especially since when he was kicked out of community college was told by the officials that something was wrong with him, and let this individual run away from them carrying a black bag the morning that Congresswoman Giffords and those innocent people were shot, and not pursue him or call the police? How come they didn’t notice the shrine in their backyard with the skull, candles and marijuana? Why didn’t they try to get help for this boy who was obviously suffering from a depraved mind set? Even one girl in his college class clearly stated that she would NOT be surprised when he appeared on the news broadcasts after having shot someone because she would be waiting at the classroom door ready to run out when he did it! Parents, people … there are certain things you gotta know … especially about someone you brought into this world! And as we say here at Educational Excellence, “Know Thyself”!

So, today … and everyday … as Pres. and Mrs. Obama did … pray for the victims of this despicable event that happened here in the USA … not Iraq, Iran nor Afghanistan! And, uh, if you know any Anderson Coopers, any Zig Ziglars, any Anthony Robbins or Oprah Winfreys, tell them about me and … “hook a gifted spiritual brotha up, y’all!” And if you don’t, just remember that I have asked you to be a part of my e-mail family because each of you are very important to me. I promise you, I will keep building EE until I can’t build anymore. I thank you from the crevices of my heart ….

“I should be content to look at a mountain for what it is and not as a comment on my life.” – David Ignatow

God grant me release from the oppression of my ego. TOUCHSTONES, January 12


John I. Cook, Director
Educational Excellence

And Then There Were None …

Good Monday morning, All!  Citizens of the Universe … embrace love!
Oddly enough, last week was one of interesting news in the great nation known as The United States of America.  On one hand, a 53 year old homeless man is catapulted from homelessness to do important voice work for people on television and radio … maybe even Oprah Winfrey!  Then, just a few days later, a youngster decides, apparently after much contemplation and listening to tunes like, “All The Bodies Hit the Ground!”, decides to shoot a congresswoman and as many people as his sick depraved mind could hit at a supermarket “meet and greet” activity.
I don’t know about you, but there is often a clear display in life of “ying and yang”, good vs. evil … God vs. the Devil, if you will …  As I watched the newscast last night as it showed the innocent people who were killed, my heart cried and my eyes watered as I heard the story of the 9 year old girl who just wanted to know more about the political system.  She was killed and her parents suffer tremendously for her loss … Woe be to America … the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Now, again, I don’t have all the answers to anything … including things in my own life … my strained relationship with my own daughter, whom I will always love deeply … the challenges I face each day with health and work … sometimes even love!  Yet, as I sat at the beach yesterday with my best friend with whom I grew up with in White Plains … and his wife, I looked at them both and let them know that I appreciate their friendship.  Is is a far greater feeling to have, I presume, than to want to hurt someone, and I used to have those feelings periodically … especially if I felt someone had wronged me personally. It seems that we’ve got to find a way to reach these humans who are falling through the cracks of life directly into the hands of Satan!  Take a chance with me and do what you can to “Stop The Violence”!  Visit my blog, if you will!
“If you don’t take chances, you can’t do anything in life.”   – Michael Spinks
Today, let me see possibilities, and guide my inner sense of when to take a chance for growth.    TOUCHSTONES,  January 10
Peace be with each of you … Amen!

John I. CookRed rose, Director
Educational Excellence

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