November 16, 2011
Open Letter to the Silver Consolidated School District:
Re: Jose Barrios Principal Michael Koury, Staff Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Padilla
CC: Superintendent Dick Pool, Ms. Jan Zinc, 2nd Grade Instructor
My name is Hueteotl Lopez and I am the father of a son who is in second grade attending Jose Barrios Elementary School. He is instructed by Ms. Jan Zinc. I write to you today first and foremost as a parent who wishes to express my concern about the tone in which the topic of war is being introduced to our children at Jose Barrios.
As you may or may not know, during this year and last year’s Veteran’s Day program that Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Padilla coordinate, I asked Mrs. Anderson and Michael Koury if there would be any invitation to a veteran for peace made that would teach and introduce the children to the concept of the need to end war. They said, “No. That their program wasn’t about that but simply to thank soldiers for their service to our country.” I disagreed and shared with them my feeling as a father of a young boy under their care that dismissing the teaching of peace and the end to war was hurtful. That leaving it out of their program is detrimental to the student’s development and understanding of the importance and need to get along with each other. That not mentioning peace in their thanking the soldiers in front of the students could easily lead to a child believing that war is good, heroic, necessary, and just an everyday part of life and that these thoughts are easily engrained deeply in the human mind when coupled with things that trigger an emotional response such as music, singing, salutes, prayers, colors, videos, flags, and men dressed in uniform.
My thoughts are for the growing children, whose hearts and minds are innocent and are especially sensitive to this. Children’s health and our community health depend on the cultivation of a peaceful world outlook that ensures compassionate behavior. I believe that this is what has been behind the effort to widely teach and commit ourselves in all schools to a “Bully Pledge”. It is also what has been the inspiration for the families of the Columbine killings to bring Rachel Scott’s teachings to the world through “Rachel’s Challenge” and begin to teach kids and adults to replace bullying with compassion and love for others.
War is bullying on a grand scale. It is the worst manifestation of the adult inability to challenge ourselves to find peaceful solutions to life’s problems. It is the worst example that we can provide and the most terrible legacy we can leave to our children. Teaching them to believe and obey by supporting the soldiers without questioning war is teaching them that they are somehow superior through war. The long line of soldiers in my family taught us differently. They taught us that fighting for freedom in some far off land and killing others for profit and wealth does nothing but bring the eventual death to all human life and freedoms.
As my children’s mentors and teachers I wish for you on Veteran’s Day and everyday to find it within yourself to creatively incorporate the message of peace. When our soldiers are honored please make it your patriotic duty to reinforce and incorporate school teachings that cultivate intelligence, a sense of co-existence, and peaceful behavior such as to not fight with others, to work things out, to respect others, to not hurt other creatures, and to share and not be greedy. In the presence of our children I hope that you will not continue to romanticize war. I hope that as leaders that you will take responsibility by being honest with the kids about the realities of combat and call for its end and never resort to war yourself by dismissing, demonizing, removing, or ignoring those who lift their voice up in conscience for a better world. I invite you to view the videos below.
http://youtu.be/Y38GCA7qMOo & http://youtu.be/Y38GCA7qMOo
"The pioneers of a warless world are the youth that refuse military service". -Albert Einstein