Tag Archives: On Being

Tuning in to infinite hope

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Vincent Harding knew, worked with and was a lifetime follower of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Harding followed Dr. King by sharing and keeping hope alive for decades as he wrote, spoke and founded the Veterans of Hope Project at Iliff School of Theology in Denver. http://www’veteransofhope.org.   Dr. King’s message is echoed in the words and emulated in the work of  Vincent Harding.   Those words brought much-needed hope to me this morning as I learned of Harding’s life, leadership and shared wisdom.

For this awakening I am indebted to Dr. Harding who died two years ago at age 82. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/22/us/vincent-harding-civil-rights-author-and-associate-of-dr-king-dies-at-82.html. I am also indebted once again to Krista Tippett who shares the wisdom of guests through her weekly radio series on Minnesota Public Radio. (http://www.onbeing.org) Today’s conversation with Vincent Harding teaches me truths I had not seen and reminds me of forgotten roots of ideas that shape my life.

What the world needs now is to hear, learn, think and hope to understand the wisdom of those who have walked the walk and held on to “infinite hope.”   Listening to Vincent Harding this morning inspired me to keep hope alive. My hope this evening is that others will find time to listen and to maintain and pass on the flame of “infinite hope.”  Take time to listen to the conversation and to read the comments of other listened —  http://www.onbeing.org/program/vincent-harding-is-america-possible/79






Truth, community, Wikipedia… A thought-provoking conversation

This post is a departure from the “norm” – if indeed there is some sort of norm to this blog. Still, in the unparalleled confusion of facts that characterizes this campaign, today’s remembrance of 9-11 – not to mention the proclivities of subscribers to this blog – a hasty post seems in order.

Within the past couple of hours, I listed to this week’s episode of On Being with Krista Tippett. (http://www.onbeing.org/program/jimmy-wales-the-sum-of-all-human-knowledge/8916) I have always thought that the best time to learn is when all the balls are in the air; the balls-in-the-air construct is most evident when a group or community is learning together, the challenge we face today.

Krista Tippett’s guest is Jimmy Wales, the co-founder and “promoter” of Wikipedia and Chair Emeritus of the Wikimedia Foundation. No doubt every information maven who reads this blog has critiqued, questioned, deliberated, and occasionally argued with and debunked Wikipedia. Clearly, every neophyte researcher was been cautioned to challenge herself to “drink deeper of the Pierian spring.”

Still, the dialog between Tippett and Wales deserves a listen or read. It’s about the meaning of truth and of community,  the distinction between facts and truth, about the role of the global encyclopedia and of our place in the cosmos. The conversation also touches on a conundrum that I think of often, i.e. how a “fact” or an idea can be true and untrue at the same time.

It may be the solemnity of the day, or the ambiguity of the campaign, a lazy summer morning in September – or then again it may be that the librarian gene kicks in when the topic is Wikipedia. Whatever, today’s On Being exchange between Krista Tippett and Jimmy Wales – and the published responses — gave me pause to think and share with like-minded readers.


Armchair Learning – Click and Learn from Massive Media Archives

Life… It tends to respond to our outlook, to shape itself to meet our expectations — Richard M. DeVos

The agenda of go-to opportunities scheduled for Older Americans Month is robust and welcome – learning opportunities abound – to learn from the experts, to share ideas, join a spa, to take a class or participate in a conference. The focus and the effort are to be lauded!

Still, seniors who yearn to learn often encounter barriers – money for tuition, fees or registration, physical limitations, lack of transportation, time commitments.   As a long-time advocate for armchair learning I can’t let OAM pass without a pitch for just a few of my favorite online learning picks

Increasingly, digital learning could and should be the flagship of lifelong learning. Though there’s lots of buzz about distance learning for young learners or as a cost-effective way to build a trained workforce, we tend to overlook the fact that lifelong learning is a certain investment in a full, rich, mentally and physically healthy life for older Americans, a learning life of ideas, opinions, information and memories and curiosity about life, the university and everything.

My concern is that too many of us, including lifelong learning proponents who push keyboarding skills, undervalue the potential of 21st Century access to the expanse and power of resources waiting to be tapped by seekers of knowledge or entertainment. Judging by promotion of the virtues of digital skills one might conclude that, for older techies, the primary applications are email, shopping, sports, and sharing progeny photos.

In fact, armchair learning opens the mind to endless possibilities. My goal in the OAM posts is to raise expectations – learners’ expectations of the abundance of recorded knowledge and techie trainers’ expectations of the learning horizons of seniors.

Though my skills are limited, my searching style is random and my fuse is short, I have faith that the Net is as patient as it is bountiful. That bounty includes – and is clearly not limited to — massive libraries of programming that began life as broadcast or cable television or radio. Many of us still think of mass media as being “of the moment”, unaware of the vaults of learning possibilities waiting to be clicked. The myth persists that you need to view or record the program as it is aired. Patently no longer true.

Because my quest to learn leans to independent, unscheduled, free and open (read armchair) learning I am currently poking around the staggering mix of digital libraries devoted to archiving and extending the life of broadcast/cablecast media – documentaries, informed discussions, book talks, interviews – all searchable and viewable online.

For me, radio rules. That may be because I learn by listening – and I’m probably not armchair bound but more likely doing boring chores while I make room and time for the information and ideas to sink in.   Still, doodling and knitting do improve focus.

For example, listening to Krista Tippett early on Sunday morning is a ritual; the On Being website and blog keep rattling around my head during the week. And if I oversleep or need a refresher listen it’s archived here:

http://www.npr.org/podcasts/381444594/krista-tippett-on-being http://www.onbeing.org/about.

Similarly, most public radio programming is posted, cataloged, annotated almost as soon as it is aired. A ready point of access is NPR inclusive site (http://streema.com/radios/NPR_National_Public_Radio). It’s just a click to listen to archived treasures including All Things Considered, Fresh Air Radio, Morning Edition, Talk of the Nation, Science Friday, The Diane Rehm Show, Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me Weekend — and a whole lot more – from wherever and whenever. For a lighter touch click on the digital replay of This American Life with Ira Glass – wouldn’t this be a good time to take a fun break at http://video.newyorker.com/watch/new-yorker-cover-mirror — or to reflect on the Bob Edwards’ wise words, as apt today as when the were recorded http://www.bobedwardsradio.com

Though radio’s great TV is not without its charms. In fact, yesterday’s television programming excels as an untapped learning resource. The wealth of video options on the web is staggering – random, but immense. Virtually every producer maintains an archive and search tools. It’s important to underscore that many of these programs are captioned. Readily accessible video vaults abound, including these, the tip of the digital iceberg:

Access to archived mass media is an obvious starting point for the armchair learner – the idea is to dive in, to eke the most out of the techie tools, to expect success.

Stay tuned for future armchair learning possibilities, starting with the inestimable resources produced, collected, organized, preserved and delivered to your armchair by government workers who share your vision of a learning democracy.



Reflections and Resources for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2014

First I was aggravated at Oliver Stone for throwing in the towel on the much-touted film on the eve of the Martin Luther King holiday.  He knew the announcement would grab the headlines and further sully the great man’s name.

Then I turned my anger to the keepers of the MLK legacy, the King family and their advisers.  Why not just admit that MLK had feet of clay that are far less relevant than his leadership of a movement that has forever restructured the political, social and cultural contours of this nation.

When I turned on the radio for my Sunday morning ritual listen to On Being I was delighted to realize that the gurus at MPR had wisely chosen to air a conversation that Krista Tippett shared some weeks ago with Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons and Lucas Johnson.  Listening to that thoughtful discussion relieved my angst and inspired reflections far more appropriate to the occasion.  Though my original intent was to share the podcast and transcript, a click on the website disclosed that the interview was actually videotaped in December in front of a live audience at National Public Radio in Washington, DC.

Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, an early black power feminist, is the older of the two guests.  She well remembers blatant racism, picketing and marching, the subtleties of the leaders’ philosophies and the distortion of the facts over time.  She has written about her experience as a SNCC activist in Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC.  Today Dr. Simmons is assistant professor of religion at the University of Florida.  She is also a member of the National Council of Elders (about which I want to learn more.)

Dr. Lucas Johnson, a younger man, speaks more of the impact of the civil rights movement on him personally and on his generation.  He is Southeast and Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.  His conversation revolves around the impact of the civil rights movement on current issues of peace, non-violence and reconciliation.

  • MPR has posted a short video discussion starter based on MLK’s I Have a Dream speech. View the video here:  http://vimeo.com/64079741