2012

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Franco-Fete Nouvelles Villes Jumelles Minneapolis September 29, 2012. Hon. Jacqueline Regis

Friday, October 5th, 2012

On September 29, those attending Franco-Fete heard very meaningful remarks from Hennepin County Judge Jacqueline Regis.

Her 12-page remarks, printed here with her permission, “Serving our Community through the unique perspective we acquired through our French language”, can be seen here: Jacqueline Regis at Franco-Fete Sep 29, 2012

Her talk concluded with sustained applause.

Judge Regis, who grew up in rural Haiti, has her own inspirational story, “The Daughter of L’Arsenal”. It is accessible at a number of sources which can be seen here.

Judge Regis is profiled in the Journal, Francophone Roots in the Midwest, Vol 4, Issue 1, Fall 2012: Hon. Jacquie Regis001

At page 7ff Judge Regis comments on a personal hero of hers, Toussaint L’Ouverture, a leader in the slave revolution which led to Haiti’s declaration of independence from France in the early 1800s. There are numerous references to L’Ouverture on the internet. Take some time to take a look.

#599 – Dick Bernard: Thoughts in the immediate wake of Aurora CO

Friday, July 20th, 2012

UPDATE: Followup posts here and here.

Out and about this afternoon I noticed that Dark Knight Rises is playing at our local Woodbury Theatre, and the parking lot was packed. What these two facts might mean, I don’t know. The front page of the Variety section of this mornings Minneapolis Star Tribune gave the film Four Stars (out of four). This places the STrib in an awkward position this afternoon.

One has no doubt what the lead story on tonights news – all channels – will be. It is yet another tragedy, certainly not the first, and as certainly not the last in this comfortable-with-violence country of ours.

Waking to the breaking news this morning caused me to think back to an afternoon on April 20, 1999.

I was returning to St. Paul from a day-long meeting in Brooklyn Park, and along I-94 somewhere heard the announcement about school shootings in Littleton CO.

This elevated my concerns. My son and family had lived in Littleton for more than ten years, and Lindsay, my granddaughter, was 12 and in a Littleton school.

Those were the days before cell phones, and I couldn’t make contact till I got back to my office. There was an e-mail. All was okay with our family.

I learned the school was Columbine, which didn’t relate to me since no one had mentioned it before. I looked it up on the then fledgling version of mapquest, and found its location, which was misplaced on the computer map.

Turned out Columbine high school was about a mile straight east of where my kin lived, and Lindsay’s school was in a different attendance area in the massive Jefferson County Public Schools.

About a week later I was in Littleton – it had been a previously planned trip – and together we hiked up “Cross Hill” in the rain, and with hundreds of others, including pastor Robert Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral and his film crew, silently remembering and witnessing. Cross Hill was simply a pile of construction dirt, but it did overlook Columbine just a little to the east. It had its own controversy. The builder created and planted the crosses to each of the victims of the massacre at Columbine, including crosses to the killers, who had committed suicide after the deed. Someone else had come in and cut down those two other crosses….

Such is how grief works its way through, and in one way or another it will play out this way in the latest tragedy.

(It turned out that last night Lindsay, now married and living in the same neighborhood as in 1999, was at the midnight opening of Dark Knight Rises, but at another theater 20 miles away from Aurora.)

One never knows.

In the wake of Columbine I dug out an old handout from some workshop I had attended back in the early 1970s. It was one of those pieces of paper that seemed to be worth keeping, and I have kept it in its original somewhat primitive condition. A psychologist used the graphic to walk us through the stages of response to Crisis situations we might face.

(click to enlarge)

The stages in essence, and their approximate duration, are these:
IMPACT – Hours
RECOIL-TURMOIL – Days
ADJUSTMENT – Weeks
RECONSTRUCTION – Months

This is what “normal” response to a crisis looked like to some psychologist in 1972.

How will this latest tragedy be dealt with? How will it be used? The following days and weeks will tell the tale.

A good friend, a retired prosecutor in a major city, sent an e-mail this afternoon with an observation which occurred to him: “Every mass shooting in the United States has not occurred in a large city. They have all occurred either in rural areas, such as the Red Lake Reservation school shooting, or in suburbs such as Littleton (Columbine high School) or Aurora Colorado and the school in a small town outside of Cleveland, for example. What does that prove, what does that mean? I have no idea. Nor have I read of any analysis of this phenomenon, and I have searched for one/some.”

May we all seek non-violence as a solution to our problems.

UPDATES:
From Will:
1. Every time there is a national tragedy, every American wants the world to know where (s)he was and what (s)he was doing.
2. Are you saying, with no proof, that this film provoked the shooting? What if the theater had been showing a religious film and a shooting still took place?
3. Are you saying or suggesting we must start censoring, even banning films on the basis of their likelihood to provoke shootings? ACLU and CCR will come after you with both barrels!
4. If you believe Congress needs to pass stronger gun laws, use your computer skills and tell us which Congresspeople still in office received donations and in what amount from the NRA over the past five years and put it on your blog.
5. Write a letter to Sens. Franken and Klobuchar and your Congressperson—it’s Bachmann, isn’t it?—with your specific ideas on tightening gun controls.
Copy the NRA.

Response to Will from Dick:
1. Certainly, and why not? The only difference between now and 50 years ago is that most all of us can instantly communicate with most everyone anywhere.
2. No
3. No
4. Yes, member of Brady Campaign already, but not inclined to push my weight around in a blog. According to Brady Campaign, this year we already have over 54,000 gun-related deaths in the U.S. and we’re only halfway through 2012. We are awash in weaponry, but to even think about voting for some kind of gun-control is, at this moment, a political death sentence. The public does have to make a difference.
5. See #4. But the odds of any candidate for office actively pursuing gun control four months before the 2012 election are essentially zero. Groups like Brady Campaign know that, but I’m sure they are fully capable of thinking longer term.
There might be one or two that have some thoughts as a result of my blog. That’s all I can expect. It is pertinent and timely.

From Greg:
As it looks now, Friday evening, evidence points to serious mental illness on the part of the shooter.

Serious psychoses typically begin growing small during childhood/high school years, then burgeoning during college/graduate school.

The man is undeniably bright. Eventually we will learn whether he voluntarily dropped out of graduate school or whether the University asked him to leave. We will learn what his professors thought of him, and whether they saw similarities with the Virginia Tech shooter. What did the professors/ administration do to bring this man to the attention of the county mental health authorities? Keep in mind also that Colorado as with many other states is facing budget shortfalls. Mental health services historically are among the first government expenditures to be cut. Reason: There is just no natural lobby to press the legislature to retain funding. Compare mental health services with funding for highway construction, school aid, etc.

The mother of the young St Louis Park man who shot and killed two convenience store clerks was quoted in a newspaper article saying she knew her son had severe mental health problems but was unable to get medical care for him. Everyone will be abuzz for a week or two about this man, then something else will come up. A new legislature will be elected in Colorado November 6th. There will be other more pressing issues with which to deal. There may be some talk about this tragedy but basically nothing will be done. It will be yesterday’s news by then.

Someone who knows him was said to have described him as a loner, another indicator of mental illness.

Saw his father on cable tonight boarding a flight in San Diego for Denver. Got the quick impression the father is well educated and perhaps upper income class.

If this is even close to being true, what efforts did the father make to lead his son to mental health treatment? This is a major flaw in our society, that parents have no legal obligation to notify police their adult child is mentally ill, receiving no treatment and just may be dangerous

If a parent knows this to be true yet does nothing to warn authorities that parent faces no legal liability, civil or criminal if the adult child then shoots up a theater. Moral responsibility yes, but no civil or criminal responsibility.

Back to the shooter, look at his photo being shown on TV. Is that his booking photo taken after his post shooting arrest? The almost smirk he seems to have; another indicator of possible mental illness.

Now, a person can be seriously mentally ill but not have an insanity defense to criminal charges. Insanity is but one type of mental illness. Each state has its own definition of what constitutes insanity. In the days ahead we will learn what the Colorado standard is.

Look at the planning that went into this attack. Tonight we learned he had about 6000 rounds of ammunition for the four weapons he possessed. He wore an elaborate costume with protective gear. He had to make an effort to purchase all of that. Then he booby trapped his apartment. From the preliminary description we have of the apartment he must have spent quite some time and effort to purchase the materials with which he constructed the booby trap. The prosecution will argue the booby trapping effort is further evidence he understood the difference between right and wrong and constructed the booby traps as a way of avoiding capture.

from Carol: OK, a little bit miffed here at some responses. While I have due respect for prosecuting attorneys (retired or otherwise), I take exception to Greg’s trying to blame the parents. He wrote: “Got the quick impression the father is well educated and perhaps upper income class. If this is even close to being true, what efforts did the father make to lead his son to mental health treatment? This is a major flaw in our society, that parents have no legal obligation to notify police their adult child is mentally ill, receiving no treatment and just may be dangerous…”

If, of course, the parents were divorced – the father abusive, alcoholic or whatever – then they would get blamed for THAT. From all indications, in high school and so on this kid was not any weirder than his peers. He is legally an adult. His parents may, or may not, have made efforts to “lead” him to treatment, but they couldn’t force him. Greg wants what to change, exactly? What is the age cutoff where he thinks a parent should be “legally obligated” to notify authorities that their “adult child” may be mentally ill? 25? 35? 50? How about a child who is in school, working, married, living in another state – possibly has cut off contact? Should the parents be legally obligated to force themselves into his or her life?

And what exactly does he think the police are going to do with that information? Even this kid’s apartment mates didn’t know he was collecting an arsenal, boobytrapping his apartment, and risking all their lives. If the police ran around checking on every adult child who the parents fear may be mentally unstable, they wouldn’t get anything else done.

Those who have daily contact with an individual are the best assessors. And in this case, you have the sinking feeling that there was very little to set off alarms.

It does seem the best indicator should have been that someone who in a short period of time bought several weapons, a ton of ammunition, complete bulletproof clothing, plus chemicals and bomb-making materials was in deep trouble, and should have been on the police radar. But we can’t have any coordinated database of this kind of thing, of course. That infringes on our civil rights – having our kids shot in a crowded theatre does not.

#529 – Dick Bernard: Day Three Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg College, Minneapolis. Global Issues

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

After reading my post on Day Two, a friend asked a perfectly reasonable question: “What is the takeway for you each year you attend this Forum?”

My answer: exhausted as I am, back home after the third and final full day of the Forum: I feel, as I’ve heard said in another context, “touched, moved and inspired” – an energized exhaustion. I’m ready to go another round, and when the next Forum convenes at Augsburg (March 7-9, 2013), I’ll be there, Lord willing.

I’ll likely do a fourth post in the next few days, attempting to summarize the many takeaways from this years Forum. These takeaways will all be simple: in short, I came to conclude, as I was driving home an hour or two ago, that the Forum’s official theme: “The Price of Peace”, is essentially an identical twin of the occasional play on the phrase that I heard the last three days: “The Prize of Peace”. They are tied to each other.

You can’t win the prize, without personally and individually paying the price. Peace is not a spectator sport, where you simply pay for admission and watch the action.

In many and diverse ways the assorted speakers and performers demonstrated these ‘twins’. But that’s for later.

As before, video of today’s major sessions, featuring F.W. deKlerk and Naomi Tutu (Desmond Tutu’s daughter), are archived here (see first two programs archived there).

A small photo album of my experience today is below.

I need to comment, briefly, on former S. Africa President F. W. deKlerk, this years honored Laureate.

I’m like most people: there’s far too much information, too many issues, and too little time to absorb more than a smidgen in particular areas or passions. In this manic 21st century, we all become ‘specialists’ in our own bias or interest. This causes intellectual shortcuts about everything else which result in generalizations that often are not fair or accurate.

I’ve been involved with Augsburg and the Peace Prize program for the last four years, and when I heard that F. W. deKlerk had been engaged as speaker for this years Forum, I wondered why.

Apartheid came to mind of course, and we’d seen Invictus (excellent), and most everybody knows about Nelson Mandela, and I wasn’t aware Mandela and deKlerk were co-laureates in 1993.

September 15, 2011, I wrote Forum Executive Director Dr. Reed a short memo: “I know F.W. deKlerk has been engaged for the 2012 Forum/Festival. This summer I had occasion to read Naomi Klein’s NYTimes Bestseller “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”. It might be good for you to take a look at Chapter 10 of that book pp 245-275. Its “Democracy Born in Chains: South Africa’s Constricted Freedom. The book, now a few years old, is widely read, and in many ways prophetic of our present day.”

Said book wasn’t especially kind to post-free election South Africa.

So, I had “[pre]judged the [deKlerk] book by its cover”.

Rushing to judgement is always a dangerous proposition.

Yesterday, President deKlerk made my day, as described in yesterday’s post, here. Here he was, a real human being sitting three feet or less from me, one of the most important persons I’ve ever been in proximity with, identifying with and obviously moved by those First Graders singing from the heart….

Last night we were one of those privileged to meet him in person, and have our photo taken with him. Lynn and Donna Elling were with us – we had our photo taken together – and I gave Mr. deKlerk my card which features the website, A Million Copies, which honors the immense contributions to peace of Mr. Elling and Prof. Joe Schwartzberg.

President deKlerk put the card in his pocket, and if I’m lucky he’ll take a look at the site sometime.

The two personal close calls with the human being deKlerk opened up a greatly enhanced listening space for me when I heard him speak this morning. His remarks on-line speak abundantly for themselves.

As for me, I’ve learned once again that important lesson: never pass up the opportunity for personal contact with someone you don’t think you’ll like. Maybe you might learn something…about yourself.

Thanks Nobel Institute, Augsburg College, and everyone who made this years Forum possible.

It was great.

Other summary learnings in a followup post. The previous posts are at March 1 and March 2.

Here are a few photos from today (click on photos to enlarge):

Nobel Laureate and former South Africa President F. W. deKlerk addresses the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, March 3, 2012

Heatherlyn (left) and John Noltner (right) teamed for a great session on music and peace, one story at a time.  The room was packed.

John Noltner’s website, APeaceOfMyMind.net; note . Heatherlyn’s as well.

Geir Lundestad, Director of the Nobel Institute in Oslo, gave a fascinating and informative talk on the history of controversial Nobel Peace Prizes.

Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Institute here

LaJune Lang and Nadifa Osman led a packed workshop on The Price of Peace n the Horn of Africa

International Leadership Institute here (per Judge Lajune Lang); and Nadifa Osman

#528 – Dick Bernard: Day Two Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg College, Minneapolis. Education Day.

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Tonight on return from a long day at Forum events, I opened an e-mail from my retired friend and colleague John Borgen. In the e-mail was a link to this song sung by a young person with a spectacular voice, Jackie Evancho. Somehow, it fits like a glove the earlier part of the day, and transcends individual sectarian beliefs with a universal message from young people to us all.

*

The first part of today’s agenda was the traditional Nobel Peace Prize Festival for K-12 students, now folded into the new format of the Forum.

Kennedy Center at Augsburg College was crowded with school kids at 11 a.m. I had found a chair in the second row in front of the podium. To my left First Graders from Burroughs Elementary in Minneapolis were beginning their welcoming song. On the opposite side of the gym this years honoree, 1993 co-(with Nelson Mandela) Nobel Laureate F. W. de Klerk of South Africa, had arrived with no fanfare in a darkened auditorium.

The song had just begun and Mr. de Klerk walked briskly and inobtrusively toward the center of the room, and sat down directly in front of me, gazing intently at the children to his left. I couldn’t resist taking this photograph which, to me, speaks the proverbial thousand words (click to enlarge).

F. W. de Klerk at Augsburg College March 2, 2012

Burroughs Elementary First Graders, March 2, 2012

It was the beginning of another magnificent day. (The entire opening session, and all the other major sessions at the Forum are accessible on-line here. It is the opening session for Day 2, and is 32 minutes. It was announced by someone, yesterday, that people in 46 different countries had checked in on the on-line program at some time or other during the day. This is what the internet looks like!)

Mr. de Klerk was visibly moved by the kids performance. He commented on how those youngsters moved him in his remarks to the audience, primarily students, parents and their teachers.

As a fellow grandfather, I related.

I have been to previous Festivals, and heard other Nobel Laureates comment similarly.

Kids affect their elders this way. Regardless of ones fame, or ordinariness, almost all of us are aware that we are leaving a future to our kids, and it is coming to be their turn, and hopefully they’ll be kind to us, and hopefully they’ll remember what we left them fondly, and not bitterly….

Day Two is best observed through watching the previously mentioned video files archived on line. The thoughts of Andrew Slack of the Harry Potter Alliance; Joe Cavanaugh of Youth Frontiers; and noted rapper and writer Dessa, plus some some outstanding workshops filled out a marvelous day. Through the magic of still-youthful (born 2005) YouTube, you can easily find examples of Dessa’s music – just enter the name Dessa in the searchbox. (The Forum was the first I’d ever heard of her – she is a mightily impressive 30-year old.)

Though her remarks to the audience I was with were brief, she connected and she registered with me and with the audience. Arriving home in the evening, I tuned in the website, and Dessa was finishing her talk to a (probably) youthful, enthusiastic and attentive audience at the Forum’s evening session.

Listen to the keynotes on line if you can. If you can tune in on only one, I’d highly recommend Joe Cavanaugh of Youth Frontiers.

Hope for our future was with those kids and all of the speakers I saw and heard today.

I think it was Cavanaugh who compared the Millenials with the Greatest Generation: they are poised to do what needs to be done for our and the planets survival.

“Slow down”, he advised us all, remembering his father’s frequent admonishment to the youthful in-a-hurry kid, and reflecting the frantic pace and data overload of today.

Here’s a small album from today (click on any to enlarge):

Andrew Slack of Harry Potter Alliance, March 2, 2012

Student display area for exhibits on past Nobel Laureates March 2, 2012

Student group Exhibit at Peace Prize Forum March 2, 2012

Some of the enthusiastic and knowledgeable students exhibiting March 2, 2012

Two students with a powerful rendering of a poem about the bombing in Birmingham, 1963

Dessa

Joe Cavanaugh of Youth Frontiers

Parul Sheh, Humphrey Fellow and Youth Empowerment leader in India, speaks in one of the workshops March 2

Cowern School singers at closing ceremony of the Festival portion of the Forum March 2

Melvin Giles, "Mr. Peace Bubbles", presents a small Peace Pole to F. W. deKlerk at Education Day, Nobel Peace Prize Forum, March 2, 2012

Report on Day One here, and on Day Three, here.