Archive for June, 2016

STANFORD, CA - JUNE 12: Emmy Award-winner and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns (C) arrives during the 125th Stanford University commencement ceremony on June 12, 2016 in Stanford, California. The university holds its commencement ceremony amid an on-campus rape case and its controversial sentencing. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Getty Images)

Stanford University Commencement Address

by Ken Burns

The following is an excerpt from this year’s commencement address delivered by the highly respected Ken Burns, world-renowned award winning documentary writer, director and producer. . . He is a proud American, brilliant, observant, and is known for his outstanding character and integrity . . . He says what needs to be said.

Please listen. . .

“. . . For 216 years, our elections, though bitterly contested, have featured the philosophies and character of candidates who were clearly qualified. That is not the case this year.

One is glaringly not qualified. So before you do anything with your well-earned degree, you must do everything you can to defeat the retrograde forces that have invaded our democratic process, divided our house, to fight against, no matter your political persuasion, the dictatorial tendencies of the candidate with zero experience in the much maligned, but subtle art of governance; who is against lots of things, but doesn’t seem to be for anything, offering only bombastic and contradictory promises, and terrifying Orwellian statements; a person who easily lies, creating an environment where the truth doesn’t seem to matter; who has never demonstrated any interest in anyone or anything but himself and his own enrichment; who insults veterans, threatens a free press, mocks the handicapped, denigrates women, immigrants and all Muslims; a man who took more than a day to remember to disavow a supporter who advocates white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan; an infantile, bullying man who, depending on his mood, is willing to discard old and established alliances, treaties and long-standing relationships.

I feel genuine sorrow for the understandably scared and – they feel – powerless people who have flocked to his campaign in the mistaken belief that-as often happens on TV-a wand can be waved and every complicated problem can be solved with the simplest of solutions.

They can’t. It is a political Ponzi scheme. And asking this man to assume the highest office in the land would be like asking a newly minted car driver to fly a 747.

As a student of history, I recognize this type. He emerges everywhere and in all eras. We see nurtured in his campaign an incipient Proto-fascism, a nativist anti-immigrant Know-Nothing-ism, a disrespect for the judiciary, the prospect of women losing authority over their own bodies, African Americans again asked to go to the back of the line, voter suppression gleefully promoted, jingoistic saber rattling, a total lack of historical awareness, a political paranoia that, predictably, points fingers, always making the other wrong.

These are all virulent strains that have at times infected us in the past. But they now loom in front of us again-all happening at once. We know from our history books these are the diseases of ancient and now fallen empires. The sense of commonwealth, of shared sacrifice, of trust, so much a part of American life, is eroding fast, spurred along and amplified by an amoral Internet that permits a lie to circle the globe three times before the truth can get started.

We no longer have the luxury of neutrality or “balance,” or even of bemused disdain. Many of our media institutions have largely failed to expose this charlatan, torn between a nagging responsibility to good journalism and the big ratings a media circus always delivers.

In fact, they have given him the abundant airtime he so desperately craves, so much so that it has actually worn down our natural human revulsion to this kind of behavior. Hey, he’s rich; he must be doing something right. He is not.

Edward R. Murrow would have exposed this naked emperor months ago. He is an insult to our history. Do not be deceived by his momentary “good behavior.” It is only a spoiled, misbehaving child hoping somehow to still have dessert.

And do not think the tragedy in Orlando underscores his points. It does not. We must “disenthrall ourselves,” as Abraham Lincoln said, from the culture of violence and guns. And then “we shall save our country.”

This is not a liberal or conservative issue, a red state, blue state divide. This is an American issue. Many honorable people, including the last two Republican presidents, members of the party of Abraham Lincoln, have declined to support him. And I implore those “Vichy Republicans” who have endorsed him to please, please reconsider. We must remain committed to the kindness and community that are the hallmarks of civilization and reject the troubling, unfiltered Tourettes of his tribalism.

The next few months of your “commencement,” that is to say, your future, will be critical to the survival of our Republic. “The occasion is piled high with difficulty.” Let us pledge here today that we will not let this happen to the exquisite, yet deeply flawed, land we all love and cherish-and hope to leave intact to our posterity. Let us “nobly save,” not “meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. . .”

To read the entire commencement address by Ken Burns, go to: Stanford Commencement Speech

Thank you to my good friend, 
Sue Hartzell for sharing this address with us.

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Do Something Wow pic
My heart aches and my body hurts as I think about the dear people who were victims of the horrifically tragic Orlando massacre. My most sincere sympathy goes out to their mourning families. I don’t have the words to express my sorrow and sadness for such a terrifying event so I won’t even try. We must all look within ourselves, seek our own truth and decide how to respond.

It was a hate crime if there ever was one and should we be surprised? For the past year, hate, anger and bigotry have been flooding the airwaves. Fueled by despicable degrading rhetoric, promoted by a media hungry for ratings, and supported by others who also hate, or by those who have an incredible ability to ignore, deny and justify the constant negativity, it has made an indelible impact on most all of us especially the mentally unstable.

The pain, destruction and separation this negative mindset creates, undermines the very moral fiber of our country. People become afraid and automatically resort to self-protection:

“Get the other guys before they get me. People who don’t look like I do are ‘different’ and therefore a threat. . . kill them, hurt them with words, reject them, undermine them, over power them through intimidation . . . I’m superior, I’m better, you’re less . . . my way or the highway and by all means . . . win at any cost . . .”

This is all driven by fear and when the human body perceives fear, it immediately responds in one of 4 ways, fight, flight, follow or freeze. Each of these is a stimulus-response reaction based in survival. None are based on enlightened thinking. None are based on the context of thriving. None involve conscious, evolved choice.

Now more than ever, our world and our communities need us to be clear about what we stand for as individuals and as citizens of this country. Now more than ever, we need to decide what America stands FOR, not what we’re AGAINST. We need to show the world who we are as a remarkable nation driven by principles not prejudice, human decency not hatred . . . a country grounded in a win/win attitude that seeks solutions grounded in a moral foundation of mutual respect, freedom and justice for all.

If we recognize our accountability for the condition of our world (and we are accountable whether we admit it or not) we must look at the choices we make in our own lives and ask ourselves, “When given the opportunity to make a positive difference, do I fight (resist it), flee (ignore it), follow (my voice doesn’t matter) or freeze (do nothing)? OR am I an active contributor to something positive, committed to influencing myself, my family and my community to step up to a bigger game of love, mutual respect, win/win, compassion and caring?”

Ask yourself. . .

“Do I engage in constructive conversations and choices that challenge conventional thinking or do I avoid rocking the boat and silently and unconsciously go along with the mediocre drift of humanity, wait for someone else to do it, and hope it all turns out OK? Do I take action on my values or do I just keep them more or less to myself?”

Please stay awake!! Please stay vigilant and alert! LOVE is a verb! It requires action. As a reader of the WoW, I expect that you ACTIVELY be a source for spreading good in the world, that you make your voice be heard. We have no room for apathy and irresponsibility. I expect you to be a part of a group that is ACTIVELY contributing to building community around you.

What can you do for the dear souls lost? How can you help them? You can DO SOMETHING positive. Don’t just think about it, talk about it or complain about the negativity. Don’t just wring your hands and say how sorry you are. Don’t just talk about the tragedy . . . DO SOMETHING to move us energetically forward as a society – not backward.

First of all, as Gandhi said, “BE the difference you want to see in the world.”  BE caring, considerate, respectful, thoughtful and forgiving, and then DO SOMETHING!

Make a difference in the life of a friend or family member . . . DO SOMETHING you would not normally do that will show them you love them. Write them a note or a poem of appreciation, give them the gift of your time and energy, help them out with something they need to have done. Go out of your way! For heaven’s sake, make an extra effort!

Volunteer for something in your community, find a common ground between your neighbors, create a block party, be generous with your support for ways that bring people together, visit an elderly person or someone who is sick or alone. Be a source of positive energy. Forgive someone whom you think has done you harm. Let it go and have compassion and understanding. It will cure what ails you!!

Fighting hate with hated does not work. Hate kills. Love heals. Only love and kindness can create a better world. This does NOT mean for you to be passive or to drift off into woo-woo land. To the contrary. When politicians and others spew lies and mock the way others look, or their disabilities, or their race, gender, sexual orientation or religion, or cast negative judgement on entire groups of people, SPEAK UP if it you find it offensive (and I certainly hope you do!).

Don’t ignore it! Don’t make excuses for it! Don’t tolerate one single second of it!! Live your values by taking ACTION!

Fight, flee, follow, freeze or put LOVE, MUTUAL RESPECT and HUMAN DECENCY into ACTION! Be an ACTIVE force for good on this planet. I expect absolutely nothing less of myself or of you.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

The choice is yours . . . and it always will be . . .

Thank you for all that you do.

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Most Importan Lesson WoW

Make Me Feel Important


“During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: ‘What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?’

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank.

Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count towards our quiz grade. ‘Absolutely,’ said the professor. ‘In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.’

I’ve never forgotten that lesson and I also learned her name was Maria.”



Why don’t you pick three people with whom you work and make them feel valued, valuable and important? Talk with them in person or write them a handwritten note. Share your appreciation for all they do. Let them hear how their contribution to the workplace makes a difference to you and to the company. It will make their day . . . and yours . . .

Now pick three people with whom you live and do the same thing . . .

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