I was hoping that this edition of the Newsletter could continue to deal with the critical issue of gun violence in America. We have some readers outside the U.S.A. who receive this free publication each month. It’s almost hard to believe that over the July Fourth holiday weekend (about 2 weeks ago), bullets rained down upon innocent people merely watching a parade in Highland Park, Illinois. As a result of this latest gun outrage, at least 7 people have died and many parade-goers were injured. This shooting took place on a national holiday celebrating U.S. independence from England. We start this issue with an article by Todd Denick from Germany. In fairness to Todd, I could not have imagined that when I made the article request to him, something horrendous would happen over an American national holiday weekend. But it did! What follows is his article submitted a few weeks ago.
International Perspectives on Schools and Guns
By Todd K. Denick
"What are we doing today, Mr. Denick?” a rapidly blinking fifth grader, born in India, raised and educated in Germany, asked me.
"First,” I started, "we need to talk about reliable sources. Then,” I paused, "I’d like to have a serious conversation with you.”
The room remained quiet. The wind howled outside pushing in a brutal summer thunderstorm.
In the back, a student born in Russia who has been helping out the Ukrainian refugees - now students, raised her hand. "What did we do wrong?” she asked.
"Nothing, of course,” I told the class of fifth graders. "I just want to talk to you.”
That satisfied the students as we worked through our program for the day. I’ve thought a lot about their reaction to my statement; about the ways the students responded to having a serious conversation with one of their teachers.
They are a good group. In fact, a majority of the students in our international school in Germany are wonderful people. They easily navigate working with peers and teachers from forty different countries, with forty different languages, and eight hundred differing understandings of morality and justice.
We feel safe.
We do not feel threatened.
We have no fear when we step into our school building that this could be our last day alive.
I never had that same feeling in the U.S. where I had three different gun situations in two different schools within a ten year timeframe. That’s one teacher. That’s what I know. I can’t even begin to imagine the information that has been withheld, or kept confidential. Every single person entering one of my classrooms could have been armed.
I never, ever considered arming myself.
It’s shocking to watch the news unravel with one of the US’ latest shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and not be surprised or shocked at the news.
Explaining the gun culture in America to non-Americans is a struggle. Even a Colombian colleague who grew up amidst Pablo Escobar’s violence, doesn’t understand the American infatuation with weapons.
I don’t either.
We concluded our lesson, leaving twenty minutes at the end to talk about the school shootings, not only in Uvalde, Texas, but the string of gun violence against students that only seems to plague America.
Those few minutes didn’t grant us enough time to hear every raised, concerned hand. The bell rang and the students, not one of them, moved. They politely, and with attentiveness, listened to their peers, even if it meant losing some much-loved recess time.
They told each other about how their countries pay close attention to the events in America and use the lessons to guide their own governmental and societal actions. They talked about America as a colonizer and that they wonder how long the United States will continue its reign as one of the most stable countries. They know empires fall, eventually. One student gave the United States three more years, arguing that "the US can’t maintain this level of violence for much longer.”
I told them about the three instances, that I am aware of, where students had a gun concealed in my classroom. My students, here in Germany, could not believe it. They, like most of us, see these events on the news and think that they are so far removed from our reality that the possibility of such a situation would never, ever happen to us. That is true, until you meet someone with a story.
I took away a renewed spirit of trust and faith in the up and coming generation of decision makers. I am more aware that global eyes are watching the United States for direction, positive or negative. That their individual behaviors and understandings of morality are shaped by the United State’s response to crises.
Our students, worldwide, want to be heard. They want to be kept safe. Their opinions, and the humans that we are helping to shape deserve our elder ears, ears that are not too old to be apathetic when it comes to preserving their life.
"I’m glad we’re here, where we’re safe, Mr. Denick,” one of the boys said as they left.
"Me, too,” I told him. "Me, too."
Todd K. Denick, an educator and writer, is author of IT WILL COME: ALASKAN ADVENTURES PALE IN COMPARISON WITH SURVIVING SEPSIS (Lalo Publishing, Inc). He is currently on the staff of the Franconian International School in Germany. He is originally from Virginia. He met his German wife when she was on a tourist visit to Alaska where Todd was then living and teaching. While IT WILL COME is Todd’s first book, his writing has been published in a variety of publications and online. Todd will greet visitors at Author Events in Winchester, VA on July 23, 2022 (2-4PM EDT) at the Winchester Book Gallery and at Samuels Public Library, Front Royal, VA on July 26, 2022 (6-7:45PM EDT).
THE CURRENT U.S. SUPREME COURT AND THE CHALLENGE TO AMERICA: PART ONE
Comment by: Charles P. Lickson
The United States Supreme Court rendered last month a momentous decision which will affect the lives of many Americans (women and men). As all readers know by now, the decision to overturn the famous decision of the Court in 1973 in Roe vs. Wade (410 US 113) holding that American women in all states had a right to abortion (as part of their right of privacy – to make a choice for their own body). The exact outcome of the decision in the June case (Dobbs vs. Jackson Womens’ Health, June 24, 2022. No. 19-1392) is certainly not fully felt as yet. As virtually all media have already shown, the Dobbs decision has already had meteoric effects.
I will leave it to the talking heads (of which there is no shortage) to have their own comments on at least two other decisions of the Supreme Court in June, 2022 modifying the power of the Environmental Protection Agency and Rights to Carry Concealed Guns.
Since the Dobbs decision is so important and represents the current Supreme Court’s commitment to become embroiled in the politics dividing America, we invite readers to check out the upcoming August issue of the IIO Newsletter. In Part Two of this article, we will deal – at some length – on the Dobbs case (2022), how the Roe and Casey cases came to the Supreme Court, the Right of Privacy, and what might be next for this conservative Court.
FROM CONFLICT MANAGEMENT CONSORTIUM
We reported in these pages that a decision was made months ago to spin off Conflict Management Consortium, LLC. (“CMC”) into a separate company. CMC has re-launched its conflict management and resolution training offerings and mediation services under the direction of Charles Lickson and James Martin. A Train-the-Trainer program is underway as we go to press. CMC and its predecessor Mediate-Tech/MTI have offered training and services in conflict resolution to many public agencies, corporations and individuals in the past.
Charles (Chips) and Bryane Lickson will continue to be a resource for the new CMC, as that company moves forward. CMC will use Ironing It Out: Seven Simple Steps for Resolving Conflict (by Charles Lickson) and Effective Negotiation in Seven Simple Steps (by Charles and Bryane Lickson) as resource materials for upcoming classes to be offered virtually and in-person.
If readers have a background in dispute resolution, mediation or related fields and have an interest in becoming a trainer or an associate of CMC, please contact Chips or Jim by phone at: 540-660-4643 (USA) or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A new Train-the-Trainer cohort will begin this coming Fall.
Ironing It Out Newsletter Staff
Charles Lickson – Publisher Bryane Miller Lickson – Editor Carol Cable – Graphic Design Tom Wible – Technical Director
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