ward of the state…

The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings;
the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance,
and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.

Sir Winston Churchill

Socialism is the same as Communism, only better English.
George Bernard Shaw

A ward of the State.

When we talk about wards of the State, what do you think of?

Perhaps no surprise, I immediately think of Annie…
as in “the sun will come out tomorrow”…Annie.
As in the little red-headed orphan who was, in essence, a ward of her state…


The definition of the ward of the state, according to legalbeagle.com is the following…
“Not all adults have the ability to care for themselves.
Whether from disability, disease or age, some adults are unable to make their own decisions without help.
They can become adult wards of the state when this happens.
Adult wards of the state don’t have adult family members who are willing or able to serve as guardians.
Guardians are instead appointed by the court from local government agencies to make decisions for them”.

In theory, I too was a ward of the state.

The day I was born, my mother signed the papers and in turn, walked directly out of the
hospital after having giving birth, while I then became a ward of the state—
all before my adoption.

So I get it.
I understand the notion of falling under the care of “the state.”

However my concern today, well past adoptions, is now for our Nation…
and the fact that so many of us seem to want to become wards of the “state.”

“Say what?” you ask…
“Who in the heck wants to be a ward???”
“A ward of the State?!”

But yet sadly, you have read correctly…
it appears as if a wide swarth of Americans want to become wards of the State.

As in giving up one’s ability to make it on one’s own, by one’s own merit,
and simply rest and relay upon one’s “State”— ie, one’s government…
relying on the government to care for us and to keep us up…and thus what does
the State requires in exchange?

Has history taught us nothing?!

Or perhaps the better question remains, do Americans really care?

Do Americans care whether or not they/we rely upon themselves/ourselves or rely upon their government
in order to provide for their needs?

Have we, as a people, not historically been known for our tenacity and fighting spirit
for all that exemplifies freedom??

Yet under a socialist state, citizens become wards of the State and therefore,
all their needs are covered, met and cared for..there is no need to fight for freedom.
They, in turn, become minions rather than fighters.

And so is that what we are?
Is that what we want?

As Americans, is that what we are–is that what we want?

We simply want to be minions?

Do we want to be placated underlings or do we want to be freedom fighters?

Do we want to be free to make our own choices?
Or do we simply want to give all of that up while simply being told what
we can or cannot do?

President Ronald Reagan quoting Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain noted that…
“The Founding Fathers were neither metaphysicians nor theologians,
but their philosophy of life and their political philosophy,
their notion of natural law and of human rights,
were permeated with concepts worked out by Christian reason.”
Reagan continued, “From the first, then, our nation embraced the belief that the individual
is sacred and that as God himself respects human liberty, so, too, must the state”

The Founders believed that freedom of religion and of conscience were both sacred–
more sacred than a man’s castle, as James Madison put it.
“The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man:
and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate,”
wrote Madson, who called conscience” the most sacred of all property.”
The Divine Plan / Paul Kengor and Robert Orlando

President Reagan, long before he was president, riled against the notion of an insidious
and far-reaching ‘state’ —a state that wants to not only care for the physical needs of its
people but a state that wants to make the final decision for man’s personal
relationship with his God.
As in there is no God…only the State.

In 1975, years before he became president, Reagan stated
“Socialists ignore the side of man that is of the spirit,”
“They can provide shelter, fill your belly with bacon and beans,
treat you when you’re ill –
all the things that are guaranteed to a prisoner or a slave.
But they don’t understand we also dream, yes, even of owning a yacht.”

It would behoove us to remember that the current folks running for the Democratic
party’s nomination are each touting the notion of the ‘big State’…
that being the big State making both your and me its wards…it’s minions.

Wards are not free but are rather dependant…as in totally dependent.

Dependance did not win us a Declaration of Independence.

Please click the following link which is a story about a prophetic warning.
A warning offered by Ronald Reagan, long before he was president…


(back to the Mayor and the Sheriff–the life lesson post must wait a bit more)

submission, constancy and perseverance

“You must make a sound and firm resolution to submit yourselves totally to His will and,
with a lively and steadfast faith, to receive from Him what you have to do for love of Him.
And in this (whatever may happen) to persevere with constancy to the very end.”

St. Angela Merici

(from bloom to fruit—patiently we wait for the meyer lemon / Julie Cook / 2018)

Reading this morning’s quote by the 16th century Italian Saint, Angela Merici,
I was struck by two things—
First by the notion of submission to Christ…
not merely belief, but submission…
as in the notion that most 21st century women shutter when they hear the word…submit
as in “the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority
of another person.” (Merriam-Webster)

Then secondly I was struck by the idea of
both perseverance and constancy.

That stick-to-it-ness business of pushing through the strain and pain with no waffling,
no ups, no downs….just straight through the middle…

After the death of her parents, Angela and her sister were left as orphans.
And sadly shortly thereafter, Angela’s sister also died, leaving her alone to spend her
childhood living between various extended family members.

One day Angela experienced a vision in which she believed that Jesus had told her to create
an order of chaste women who would, in turn, go on to instruct young girls religiously
as well as in areas of general education.

She became the foundress of what would be known as the order of Ursuline nuns,
originating as an order dedicated to offering poor girls an education.
An education rooted in the Catholic faith but coupled by a general education as well.

Girls were not ones to be afforded formal educations, not unless they came from nobility.
So the idea that “poor” girls were to be given such, speaks a great deal to Sister Angela’s
drive and passion.

So as the prime teacher she was, Angela reminds us that we are to commit soundly,
making a solid resolution…being steadfast in and with our love for Jesus—being
constant as we persevere till our very end…as in never ceasing, never stopping…

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,

Ephesians 6:18

The Memory Project

“So where is all of this art that a “retired” art teacher should be talking about or showing?” you ask.  And you would be correct in assuming a retired art teacher should be talking, at least a little bit, about art.  I certainly do need to showcase a little good art now and then.  However in order to do that I need to first share with you about a project that my students and I were involved with several years ago.  A project that not only provided an opportunity to “create” art but a project that went well beyond creating as it went to the very core of humankind—and that being the sense of self worth for an individual—and in this particular case, it was and is all about the self worth of a child.

The children I speak of are orphans.  Orphans from around the world.  One thing we may assume correctly about life in an orphanage is that the residents don’t have a great deal of material possessions—especially kids who are “moved around” a great deal—from, say, orphanage to orphanage.  The other correct assumption is that these children do not have parents or family members snapping pictures at each milestone or videoing each historical event in their young lives.  No one finds losing that first tooth terribly monumental in an orphanage.

Here in Western civilization, we, as parents, usually don’t ever put a camera down as we are constantly taking images of our children doing even the most mundane of activities.  The daily ritual of simply bathing and getting clean, for example, can lead to precious moments best captured for posterity in a video-allowing us to post to You Tube for the entire world an opportunity to laugh at and with, as well as enjoy our otherwise private family moments.  Not so in an orphanage.

Adults who spent their childhood in an orphanage can tell you that all they usually have  are but only a handful of memories—some good, some not so good.  There are not the yearly school portraits, the images of blowing out the candles on a cake at a birthday party, no image of the falls taken while learning to ride a bike, etc—no private moments snapped as mom or dad bends over and gives that last goodnight kiss.  It is almost as if orphans do not have a “history”.  What is history without documentation?

Ben Schumaker is a young man from Wisconsin.  I met Ben several years ago when, at school, I received a postcard in the mail about a “project”.  The Memory Project.  Intrigued, but busy, I left the postcard on my desk thinking that I should look into that when I had some time. The time came at the end of the school year when I was cleaning off my desk and once again found the postcard.  I went to the website, watched a couple of videos and liked what I saw.  But as it was the end of one school year, I would have to re-visit the idea come August.

Once the new school year was underway, I introduced the idea of The Memory Project to my kids, explaining all about the project.  I told my kids that we would start small.  I would take volunteers, anyone who was interested.  Let’s try 10 portraits first and see where we go from there.  Little did I know how much of an impact this little project would have on all of us.

I must, however, back up a tad and share with you more about Ben and what The Memory Project is all about.  Ben was a graduate student attending college in Wisconsin.  He needed to develop an idea or plan that he could work on as his graduate “thesis”.  The premise he decided to work with was that of children in Orphanages.   It dawned on Ben that these particular kids did not have pictures and or images of themselves marking their growing up.  In fact, children in Orphanages had very little to call their own.

Ben had the idea of traveling to various Orphanages around the world, take pictures of these kids and distribute the photos to school kids back home in the States.  Students here at home would then create art portraits based on the photographs only to have the portraits re-delivered to the orphans.  This gesture was to provide the orphans with a lasting treasure marking a particular time in their “growing up”.  A wonderful means of integrating art into the bigger picture of Life.

What started out, as a plan for a Graduate thesis, has now become a wonderful non-profit program and life changing adventure not only for Ben but for those of us who have been fortunate to be included.

Kodak donated the cameras.  The schools wishing to participate would be charged a nominal fee per portrait to help offset costs of shipping, processing, packaging, etc.  The way it actually works today when a teacher wishes to participate is that a number of portraits is decided upon by the participating teacher—in my case it was the students who I polled, getting a general commitment form them as to how many we would request.  A teacher can either contact Ben via his Organization’s website or can call him directly. Ben is very hands on, organized, passionate and super easy to work with.

My school issued a check that we in turn mailed to The Memory Project with the information form printed from the website.  It just so happened that at first I used the money from the classroom art account but as our volunteer numbers grew, our Principal took the money from his discretionary fund.

Once Ben receives the necessary paperwork for the participating school, he electronically sends the images of the orphans on a zip file to the teacher.  He follows up with the hard copy photos—usually 5×7 glossy photographs.  I found that my kids would also request that I print off a larger image in order to give them a “close up” of their “child”.

The country of origin of the orphans is a matter to timing.  At the time my students wanted to participate, Ben may have had a group of kids form India, or El Salvador.  If I request 10 or 30 images, he sends me that number of photos.  The art students are required to work on paper no larger then 9×12.  The paper must be flexible enough to allow rolling or even folding (yes art teachers, folding, a taboo yes, but a practical means of storage for a kid in an orphanage who may only have a small storage cubby for any and all personal effects).

Ben gives “must have” date for the completion of the art portraits.  This allows the teacher to properly pack the portraits, getting the package in the mail,  in turn allowing Ben time to un-pack, categorize and re-pack for personal delivery.  Ben hands delivers the images to the various orphanages.  The presentation is usually video taped and he graciously shares this with his various school partners.

When we first participated, I was a little hesitant as I wasn’t certain how seriously my kids would take the assignment.  As I had made this a voluntary project, I did not assign a grade to the project, working with them and juggling assignments around if necessary.  I only allowed my upper level kids to participate.  I did not discriminate based on anyone’s talent level.  Some kids are absolutely wonderful when working with the human face, others are not.  Any student, who wished to participate, despite talent level, was encouraged to do so.  I would help them as necessary with this project as I would with any other project.

They could paint, use color pencil, markers, mixed media or pastels as long as we could “seal” the work to prevent smearing or smudging.  The portraits were not to be backed or matted—remember the need for rolling or folding.  The backgrounds were left to the student’s imaginations.  They could change the clothing of the orphan as many were dressed in a uniform.  They could accent the hair, removing hats, or adding bows, etc…

I stressed the importance and seriousness of the project.  I told my kids the story of orphans not having the sorts of things that they, my students, took for granted.  I sat back and watched as my kids took ownership.

The day the photographs arrived was a day of great anticipation.  I scattered the pictures out on a table and had the kids come up to find which image “spoke” to them.  Other times I actually assigned them a picture.  One time the pack we received contained a number of images of special need kids; I was most interested to see how my kids would react.  Usually everyone gravitates to the “cute” but I was pleasantly surprised when they were just as eager to take the image of a child who perhaps had a very dirty face, who was over weight, or had Down’s syndrome or Cerebral Palsy.

I was teaching, at the time, a young man who had been adopted by a local family.  He had come from an orphanage in Russia.  He had only been in the US for two years, where he was now finding himself in a classroom working on a portrait for some other child in an orphanage somewhere else in the world—the irony of the moment was not lost on any of us.

My students began referring to the orphans as “theirs”—they were encouraged to jot a few words on the back of their art portrait.  Given safety issues and the protection of minors, as all involved on both sides of this venture were minors, no true personal information was to be included.  Also given the fact that the orphans may yearn for a lasting relationship, no “pen- pal” relationships could be established.  No false hopes could be given to these children.  My students were not to included anything about e-mail, face book, etc. as once again we are dealing with minors –also the orphans most likely have no or very limited access to technology.

There was a great deal of pride as well as angst involved in this project.  Other students, who had not originally, participated, for whatever reason, watched their classmates intently during the weeks of work.  There were struggles as my students wanted desperately to capture the personality of the child in the picture. There were many re-starts, frustration and even tears, as this became the most important of assignments.  And then in the end, there was even sadness as each image was completed and the due date neared.  My kids had formed a very real bond with “their” kids.

As I collected the portraits, I would take a photograph of my students holding the original and the completed portrait.  We mailed these back to Ben to be included with the portraits he was going to deliver.  I was often moved to tears reading the back of the portraits and of the comments and or advice my kids had written to “their” child.  My silly, often immature teenagers were now allowing a bit of brotherly or sisterly love to shine through.  Hope for a bright and happy future was a repeated comment.  If their child was Hispanic, they would work to write their comments in Spanish.  I marveled at their gestures of kindness.

This project was probably, out of my 30 years in education, the most important and most meaningful activity I, as well as my students were fortunate enough be involved in.  We started out with 10 portraits and worked our way up to 30 by my last year at school.  This was one of the hardest things to walk away from when I retired.

Kids giving to other kids….that’s magic.

If you have a minute—please click on the link to view The Memory Project up close and personal:


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