A Gutsy Newsletter for Better Citizenship

Year 3, No 28-------May/June 1996

The Power is Yours!

How many times do we hear people saying: "What can I do to change things? Nothing. I am powerless." These people are manipulated to believe that power is given to us by more powerful people. They say: "The rules of the game are determined by others. Our job is to comply with those rules." They believe that power is a dirty word that describes nothing but control of others. They also assume that power is a zero-sum concept, i.e., there exists only a limited amount of it, and if you want more power, you have to take it from someone else.

Power is the ability to influence and control actions and events. No positive change can be established without power. You need power because you cannot realize your goals without it.

Power can also be used for destruction and coercion. Tyrants like Caligula, Hitler, or Stalin used their power to murder millions of innocent people. They acquired their power by inheritance, election, and skillful manipulations, respectively. Nowad ays, negative power is usually obtained by appointment, appeasement of powerful bosses, deception, or is simply bought for money.

The real source of power, however, is inside each of us. As Vincent Lombardi said, "Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing." Winners win, and losers lose. Only you can decide whether you wish to be a loser or a winner. The oppressors' power is based on other people's fear. As soon as you refuse to be afraid of them, their power is finished.

To acquire real power, you have to set your mind on being a winner. First of all, you have to understand that you are the absolute master of your thoughts. It is up to you whether you are afraid of someone or not. Get rid of your fears and you are p owerful!

You have power because you insist on truth and integrity under any circumstances.

You have power because you speak up.

You have power because you establish yourself as a person who must be taken seriously.

You have power because of your knowledge.

You have power because you don't give up on your principles and ideas.

You have power because you know who you are and what you want to accomplish.

You have power because you are not afraid of failure. According to Winston Churchill, "Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

You have power because you do not let yourself to be manipulated.

You have power because you are not afraid of anyone.

You have power because your actions and words affect other people.

You can make a difference!

--Miklos N. Szilagyi

Quote of the Month

The sole advantage of power is that you can do more good.

--Baltasar Gracian

Letters to the Editor

Letters and other contributions are encouraged! We reserve the right to edit contributions. Readers' letters published in this section do not necessarily represent the views of The Tucson Institute.

The New Common Sense

I like your statement: "Problems must be solved at their core, not on the surface." My sentiments exactly!
----Michael Saari, Palo Alto, CA

Educational Reform

The world is becoming uncivilized; it is cascading into savagery. Ninety-five percent of murders, spousal abuse, child abuse, robberies, and on and on, are committed by men.

I am not a feminist or a man-hater. Not all the male population is responsible, only those who are spewing their seed with the abandon of the windblown dandelion. Every county in every state has thousands of files on fathers evading child support.

A child who grows up without a father can only feel he wasn't good enough to have a father to love him. He enters school believing that a classmate is more worthy because he has a father. Does this boy prove his worth by becoming an O. J. Simpson, a Mi ke Tyson, or a police blotter enrollee?

The good, fine, and decent men in this world have a job to do. They must display to fatherless children what a real man is like. You must sell the "father personality" and show them that a good man is a wife cherisher and an improver of this world.

Perhaps a real man can convince the school system that ethics and values can be taught in schools without violating our constitution.
----Gloria Brooks, Tucson, AZ

You are, of course, right about your ideas on educational reform, but they are hopeless for the USA. There is no chance of introducing your proposals into our public schools.

We are rapidly going into a two-class society. The upper class will do the work, have their children in private schools, enjoy the best medical care, travel and work all over the world, live in guarded areas, shop via the computer, etc. The lower class will be on free or low-cost drugs, and there will be free food loaded with birth-control medication. Lots of TV violence will keep them amused and from rioting in the streets. It will be much the same way Europe was in the 1500s. The only difference is t hat in the 1500s there was work for the lower class.

All the above should not give you the idea that I like the prospects, but that is the way it will be. We can take all the blame: we invented the computer and automation. It will certainly be the end of our republic. If you are honest, you will agree th at this is the future.
----Stuart A. Hoenig, Tucson, AZ

According to a local news program, the Tucson high school graduation rate is about 60%, and it is even lower for minorities. In addition, Arizona has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation.

I believe that something must be done to change the academic standards that presently exist in our school system. First of all, parents must change. They have the collective power to improve the educational system, influence their kids by their example , and providing support and interest in their learning. The second thing that must change is the fact that less than one third of young adults in the lowest income quarter of all families make it beyond high school.
----Charles Koehler, Tucson, AZ

Can We Burn Our Flag?
Community Dialogue on Freedom of Expression

Presented by The Tucson Institute and the Arizona Humanities Council

We continue reporting on our Community Dialogue whose goal is the exploration of multiple points of view and trying to reach common ground on at least some of the controversial issues connected with freedom of expression. The discussions are based on philosophical, historical, and literary approaches. This program is made possible in part by a grant from the Arizona Humanities Council.

The topic of the sixth meeting was religious freedom. The discussion was led by Dr. Helle Mathiasen.

We read a short excerpt from William Bradford's Of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647. The Puritans escaped religious oppression and became oppressors themselves. We discussed the reasons why people believing in the same God kill each other just for prayin g in different ways.

This issue led us to the recognition that governments tend to suppress freedoms in times of real or supposed danger. This idea generated far-reaching discussions on subjects ranging from anti-Semitism to flag burning.

The basic question is this: What kind of society do we want? Freedom is based on social contract, and the flag symbolizes this contract. On the other hand, if we are strong enough, we must be able to take some risks and tolerate the actions of a small number of unbalanced people. If we do not look at them as aggressive acts, they will automatically become less important.

The flag burners may even love this country. They burn the flag because they feel powerless and frustrated. Nobody burned the flag during WW II but many did as a way of protesting the Vietnam War. A participant even suggested that forbidding flag burn ing is equivalent to the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

The conclusion was that the present young generation is in great danger because they do not have the support system of the church, the school, and the family.

The seventh meeting was led by Professor Miklos Szilagyi. It was devoted to the taboo subjects of our society.

We listed the subjects that we would be willing to talk about but most people would not listen, such as emotions, values, religion, racial and power issues, etc.

On the other hand, there are other issues that we consider taboo subjects, e.g., sex, personal finances, our spouses, and health issues. The problem of hate speech was discussed at some length. Some people felt that hate speech is like yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. Others believe that education is more effective in fighting hate speech than laws against it.

The problem of obscenity laws was raised again. As it is impossible to define what "the standards of the community" are, such laws are either unenforceable or are subject to widely varying interpretations. The participants came to the conclusion that the only solution to the problems of hate speech, obscenity, and other related problems is moral education. Not so long ago, "insufficient family upbringing" was a terrible statement about a person. Free speech carries social responsibility. We must work toward a society where respect and civility are natural norms of behavior.

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