We the People

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Politics and civil commentary with community columnist John Eyster.


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John Eyster
Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I am feeling UNusually OPTIMISTIC this morning! How are YOU feeling?

One factor for me is the fact that I’m headed out to the Janesville Tuesday Morning Optimist Club as guest speaker. GLAD for this opportunity to re-visit this group today.

This club has invested in democracy – civics education year-after-year through WASHINGTON SEMINAR since the FIRST YEAR when I took a group to Washington – that was 40 years ago this year – From 1973, I travelled with WS each year through 2002 = 30 years. I retired from the classroom in June 2000 and JOE VAN ROOY became the Director of WS. He has done an outstanding job maintaining and upbuilding the WS program over the past 12 years = 40th annual WS Field Study was this year (2012)!

Talk about being OPTIMISTIC! The Tuesday Morning Optimist Club made an investment in an IDEA in 1973 and their conscientious and generous support has significantly helped maintain WS!

Another significant factor is that earlier this morning I watched, as I do each morning, the Norwegian Broadcasting’s daily feature review of the day’s news from the night before.

The review I watched online this morning was for yesterday – Monday, 12/10 – that’s the date on which ALL NOBEL PRIZES are awarded because it is the date of the death of Alfred Nobel. The NOBEL PEACE PRIZE is awarded by NORWAY as directed by Alfred Nobel so the ceremony was held in OSLO, NORWAY. The other Nobel prizes were awarded in Stockholm, Sweden yesterday.

This year’s NOBEL PEACE PRIZE was somewhat controversial – it was awarded to the EUROPEAN UNION (EU) "for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe".

If you want more information, you can use the following links:

1- “Nobel Peace Prize” from the official website of the Nobel Prize. This website will post the video lectures and acceptance speeches from the Nobel Peace Prize laureates from yesterday soon. Right now, you could review those lectures/speeches from 2011 and before online now.

2- “2012 Nobel Peace Prize” – Wikipedia article.

3- “European Union” – the official website.

4- “European Union” – Wikipedia article.

Listening to the speeches (while I speak Norwegian, I note that the ceremony is in ENGLISH) was meaningful and even inspiring. There were very poignant points!

The Dagsrevy report specifically spotlighted a reflection on the comparison of EUROPE in 2012 as contrasted with the EUROPE of the 1940’s with WORLD WAR II. (Remember that NORWAY was one of the countries occupied by Hitler’s Germany during the war.) One speaker called attention to the fact that sitting together – side-by-side – in the audience were: President of France (Francois Hollande), Chancellor of Germany (Angela Merkel) and Prime Minister of Poland (Donald Tusk). Believe it or not – they were there together smiling and acknowledging one another!

I know there are readers who are going to scream, “What about REALITY?” I agree! I would assert that I am keenly aware of the REALITY of the absence of WORLD PEACE in our world TODAY!

I am completing another semester of teaching the course I developed when I was teaching at UW-Rock County, “Terrorism” at UW-Waukesha. I experience week-by-week the realities of the ongoing violence - wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have several current and former students who are veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. I followed the crisis of the Palestinians and Israelis and continue to hope for a peaceful 2-state solution. The list goes on and on and on. Reality!

At the same time, there are DYNAMICS DEVELOPING which I dare to HOPE and BELIEVE have the potential of bringing us to WORLD PEACE. I PRAY SO!

Added to my OPTIMISM this morning is the experience of hearing PARKER PALMER at the annual Board Meeting of the Wisconsin Council of Churches yesterday. I am one of the delegates representing the WI Conference of the United Church of Christ on that board.

The Council sponsored a very significant program through the last year, “Season of Civility” which asked the question, “Are you weary of the increasing polarization in our public discourse at the very time we need government leadership to address our biggest problems?” Parker Palmer’s latest book, “Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit.” The Council developed a study guide to complement the book and numerous other resources which YOU can access online using this link “Parker Palmer, “Healing the Heart of Democracy” which is part of the general “Season of Civility” webpage.

Use this link to learn more about “Parker Palmer” from the Center’s website.

Use this link to learn more about the center which Parker Palmer developed, “Center for Courage & Renewal.”

There are valuable resources available from the Center for Courage & Renewal which have enriched numerous persons and institutions. Evaluate them for YOURSELF and for the GROUPS - INSTITUTIONS with which you are associated. Go for it...

Here we go…

Mr. E.

Last updated: 10:33 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor assigned with the online/distance education faculty of Viterbo University, LaCrosse. He continues his personal mission supporting democracy/civics education in Wisconsin K-12 schools through Project Citizen, We the People, Discovering Democracy (Milton HS). John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff or management.

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