Helen: I think what we'd like to do is to go beyond the current time, perhaps even going back to the founding of America, to go beyond politics to the actual principles behind what America is all about. Also, to look at what we are doing currently to show how those principles are or are not working. When we call it the Great Experiment, we're talking about it sort of like when you cook something. Sometimes you make a cake and find out you haven't used enough sugar or chocolate, whatever, but then you adjust the recipe. That's how we see America, sometimes it's two steps forward, one step back, and we learn as we go along. It is just like human life. That's basically what we'd like to get into from your unique perspective. So, let's begin with your understanding of the Great Experiment.
Pat: I started thinking about this the other day because there are so many things going on right now. In fact, I'm constantly thinking about what we as a country are all about and why we came to be in the first place, because this is an amazing experience and it's still going on. If ever it is destroyed, it won't be someone else destroying America; we will destroy ourselves. I don't believe the outside can destroy us because we have something that the world has never experienced before. To have so many different people from all over the world come to live in one country, respect each other, want to see each other succeed, want to be free enough to explore new ideas, well, it's an amazing experiment. When I think back upon America and what motivated the Founding Fathers, I realize they came here because the countries they were in didn't have freedom. They couldn't worship as they wanted; they couldn't speak what they wanted to; they couldn't write what they wanted to... they couldn't express themselves at all. They knew what they were leaving behind and they wanted something different. They wanted something that would stay free. The miracle of our Constitution and the things that we have are just mind-boggling. I think it was something that was Divinely led, it wasn't something that just happened. It was for a purpose, and I believe the Founding Fathers had a healthy respect for God. Even if they didn't know God, they had a healthy respect for God and they also had a healthy respect for each other. They wanted a society that would be open to new ideas, changes, but yet with a foundation that would always keep it together, and keep it together with peace, with respect and joy.
The children today are not taught American history, they do not know the heritage of this country. They think they do, but they really do not. They are being exposed to some facts and figures, but I think of the contrast when I was in school (I graduated from school in 1960) and one of the things we had to know was our history. We had to know American history; we had to know Black history; we had to know all kinds of history in order to know how different America was from every place else. We were not to be like all the other countries. We were founded separately and we had a clear map. It is the Great Experiment.
Helen: I think that's one problem with what's happening now. It seems that many people think we all want the same things on earth and we don't. Even some of the things we agree on may take different roads to attain them.
Pat: Yes, I believe some things about George Washington, I believe he was a great man, a man of humility. Today, he's not revered at all. They're removing his portrait from places, eliminating things that he said from writings. Yet he didn't even ask to be President, he was made the first President because of his wisdom. I realize he lived in the days when they had slavery and they had things that were not legal. He abhorred those things and wanted to see them gone, but that didn't stop him from trying to create a society where those things would be abolished.
Helen: Yes, it did take us one hundred years to achieve that goal.
Pat: That's why it's the Experiment. Sometimes I think people get so captivated in the past that they can't look into the future. They don't have any idea why they are here, or how they got here. I think to myself, "Lord, thank you that I was born in America, and that I was born Black here in America."
Helen: Tell us about that.
Pat: I get to see two different worlds that some other people don't get to see. I get to see the down and out and also what's on top and exist in both. There are some people that have always had things and never had to look and work and hope and pray for anything; everything was always handed to them. I've also seen the bottom. So, basically, I think it's good to know what's on the bottom. When you get to the top, you know what's on the bottom. In other words, you are familiar with the foundation and how to build on it, rather than going to the top and falling to the bottom very, very fast. Because there is a certain sense of endurance, agility that develops from knowing all levels. Being born here and experiencing how we've changed has been a wonderful experience.
Helen: What do you see as the strengths and the weaknesses of the Experiment?
Pat: I think the strength of the Experiment is the faith the country has in God. I really do. The Ten Commandments put it all together, and if a person could live just by those the country would be much different than it is now. I also think the reason we have so much here is because we give so much to the world. We've given materially; we've given spiritually.
Peter: We've given inspiration. That's why people keep coming.
Pat: Yes, I believe that although people are trying to erase God from our society, the Founding Fathers, who had a healthy respect for God, put him in enough places to remind us that we were never sufficient on our own. For you know, anytime we could disappear as a nation. However, our trust is in God. He is the one who has been protecting us and helping us. In 1969 I wanted to go to school in Germany. I wanted to become proficient in another language and I picked German. I applied to the Goethe Institute and my application was lost. They did promise me that if I would re-apply they would make sure I would be one of the first to be considered the next year. However, I had saved money to go that year and I had such a hard time holding onto money, I thought I had just better go on a trip that year anyway and see what the rest of the world was like. At that time, America was in Viet Nam and I was working at the State Department as a secretary. So I cabled our Posts (Embassies) to obtain some contacts. Because I thought we were giving so much money and protection to people around the world, I wanted to know what they really thought of us as a nation. I wanted a first-hand experience of what they thought of us.
I went down to the travel agency with my two girlfriends and mapped out a three week vacation in Europe. We tried to travel to as many places as we could. We were going to visit our Posts, but basically we wanted to stay away from Americans. We wanted to see and meet the Europeans. The first night, it was too late to go to our hotel because of a late flight, so when we got off the train we asked around where we could stay. We spent that first night at an American Army base and then went out on our own the next morning. I was the only one in the tour that spoke some German.
Peter: You became the tour guide.
Pat: Yes. I think I mis-spoke the language at times, but we still got around. Anyway, I did find that in all the places we visited America was respected for the most part and they enjoyed Americans. However, I think Americans themselves ruined our reputation overseas. Most of the time they were very loud, very demanding and very ungrateful. Everything there is slower. If you're in a restaurant there you might spend 2 or 3 hours. Not here; eat and go is what we're used to. Even in the shops, if I saw an American I'd run the other way. I just wanted to talk to the locals. And I found that they weren't as disturbed by us being in Viet Nam as I thought they would be. Sure, I saw a few signs and met a few people who opposed this action, but by and large we had a wonderful time. People took us all over the place and wanted to do everything for us. I found they were very, very hospitable.
I have to tell you a side story. While we were there, Teddy Kennedy had gone through the Chappaquidic thing. Well, we didn't know what had happened yet we knew people were talking about something. So we got a paper and saw the picture on the front, however, I could not read German that well. Yet, I could surmise what was going on and that someone had been killed. I found that had overshadowed Viet Nam at the time.
So I found most people wonderful, except for France. I found the people of France very rude. That was the De Gaulle era.
Helen: Do you think the rudeness was directed against Americans, or to anyone?
Pat: Americans. That's the way I found it.
Helen: We were just recently reading about the Supreme Court rulings throughout history and they were talking about Miranda. The author suggested that someone in Kuala Lumpur, say, watching a TV program in which Clint Eastwood catches the bad guy and the first thing he says to him is "you have the right to remain silent," must think that's really something in oppressed societies where, even if you are innocent, you might get beat up by the police. So, did you find any misconceptions about Americans when you were on your tour?
Pat: No, I really didn't. They were certainly open to us. They had a lot of respect for our government and a lot of respect for the people here. It was our people who went overseas who ruined our reputation.
Peter: Those people stopped being people and turned into tourists.
Pat: I think, now that I've been overseas, I've seen that the media has also done a lot to damage our image. I saw our movies shown over there filled with profanity, promiscuity and violence. I was thinking of writing to the FCC because the kind of stuff we release overseas does not build our image. And it's a real shame because that's what people over there think we're actually like. You turn on the TV and see Jerry Springer. They think that's who we are; they don't realize it's entertainment. They think that's what the average American is like, let alone that the average American woman is always running in and out of someone's bed. They see this all the time; what else could they think of us?
Helen: That's one of the misconceptions we've come across again and again. Other nations watch our TV programs and movies, not as entertainment, but as reality.
Peter: They might think that somehow these bizarre entertainments must be sanctioned by the government and sent abroad as expressions of American foreign policy or cultural exchange.
Pat: In 1969 many people still didn't have TV there, but now it's just rampant. I could see how the Arab world doesn't want American principles if they think our principles are reflected in our entertainment.
Helen: We were recently at a press conference with Charlotte Beers. A fellow from Pakistan complained that a commentator in one of our newspapers had said something negative about his President. He started out asking how we thought the people of Pakistan felt about that, and then leaned toward the idea that our government should suppress these comments. It's very hard to tell someone in another country that we have a free press and that one commentator doesn't speak for all the American people, and especially doesn't speak for the government. While it is our right to say what we feel, it's not always necessary, or polite, to speak out. We see this as one of the weaknesses of the Experiment. People take their rights too literally without thinking of the responsibilities inherent in those rights.
Pat: That's right, you have to respect the other culture.
Helen: I may have my right, but it's halfhearted unless I recognize your right too. However, what do we do in the Great Experiment, because it's almost like nasty children fighting or saying nasty things.
Peter: Actually, it's an experiment in liberty. You have to, if not bite your tongue, at least stay your hand every now and then and say, "well, OK, if I pass a law against someone else doing that, then I'm passing a law against myself also. Do I want that?"
Helen: That's why the Great Experiment is so exciting. Yet, we have to accept that when we get the good, the bad will be there also. We can only strive to balance them. Yet, it is exciting because good always prevails.
Pat: Yes, it does.
Helen: It may take a few generations, but good always prevails.
Pat: There is always enough good around, but it's up to the people to express it. It's when the good people do nothing, it's when they sit on the sideline and do nothing, then that's when the trouble begins.
Helen: Can you tell us your definition of freedom or liberty?
Pat: Some years ago I took a seminar that gave me a definition that I have remembered for the last 25 years and I have tried to live by it all these years. The definition is that "freedom is not doing what I want, but what I ought." That's what the Founding Fathers thought about freedom. They knew what ought to happen. They probably knew what they wanted to happen, but they did what they thought was going to be the very best at the time. They took the persecution; they took the fight for what was right; and in those days, there was a right and a wrong way.
Peter: There was a right to fight for.
Pat: That's one thing I'm finding out about young people today. They are growing up in a culture where anything goes. I think there are some young people now who are willing to die for something worth while. Because if you're not willing to die for something, you're not really willing to live for something.
Peter: I've heard it put that if you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.
Pat: That's exactly right. You've got to be able to die for something; and if you don't, you really don't have a reason for being.
Helen: When we lived in California we encountered some kids in gangs. They weren't inner city kids. These kids lived in households where maids came to do the housework, gardeners did the lawns, yet the kids still needed something and the gang was it. I think there is a natural urge of life itself that comes through and wants to express itself at a certain point. This urge could be constructive or destructive. For those kids, their initiation was to throw the new kid from a moving car onto the freeway. If the kid lived, they were in the gang. We worked with them and talked to them in other modalities to try to use this urge constructively. We found most didn't care how this urge was used as long as it could express itself. So we concluded that purpose was something that comes after we harness this urge constructively.
We were at a conference recently where someone was talking about the young Islamic kids who might potentially become terrorists. The speaker had a very enlightened attitude; she suggested we don't drain the pond because we think they are poisoned fish, but rather help them to use this energy in constructive ways. For instance, we've seen street gang people take very well to martial arts, taught properly, not just to inflict damage, and the gang members were pleased to just use this power. They belonged to a club, they were respected for their skill and they could express the urge. Using it constructively wasn't considered weak. So after feeling some degree of mastery and self-determination, people find a purpose and are able to make a sacrifice for something worthwhile.
Pat: They want something to stand for. They really do. And they must be taught the difference between right and wrong.
Helen: With moral relativism, everything seems optional. It seems that role models are a bad influence anymore.
Pat: For instance, many of the soldiers overseas now believe in something. They know they might not come back, but they are all volunteers doing a great job.
Peter: It's very impressive in the international perspective, that the entire military is composed of volunteers.
Pat: They're excited, they're raring to go. They've got something they can do that is right.
Helen: We all need that because that's Life expressing itself as our life. We might call that Life, God. God could only express itself through us. "I have no hands nor feet but yours" is the biblical saying. We have to learn how to live up to the challenge of expressing that Life. Another aspect we talk about in respect to freedom is that within the concept of freedom you have to have discipline. It sounds paradoxical, but without that discipline there is no freedom. And that's where the framework of right and wrong comes in.
Pat: And you have to have faith. I believe, in the past 40 years, that the role of the church has changed. In the early 1900's they were a force of love, of compassion, and not only that they had a vision for hospitals, for orphanages, for schools, for organizations that helped people. Even Harvard and Yale were founded by men of God who recognized that educational qualities were important. But then the church became corrupt and that all ended. People didn't trust it very much anymore. I believe this happened about 40 years ago, not just in our recent history. By corruption, I mean the church decided to let the government do everything and they would sit back and watch.
Helen: Talking about the early 1900's; some people remember that only as the 'robber-baron' era. However, looking at it in totality, we see that was a time of great proliferation of nonprofit organizations that were not just 'activist' groups, but groups that genuinely helped people They sprang up like weeds and they were funded by the very people who made their millions during that time. Philanthropy was at an all-time high. The money made by a few was given right back to the public again, on a voluntary basis, rather than the taxing situation we have now.
Pat: They made a lot, but they gave away a lot also.
Helen: For instance, Andrew Carnegie wrote a beautiful essay about giving back wealth to the nation. He was against inherited wealth and, except for token gifts to his family, he began great philanthropic institutions with his.
Pat: Yes. And then, when the change came, the ministers weren't any longer teaching people, they were reading the newspapers.
Peter: They became the activist churches of the 1960's.
Pat: They weren't challenging people to become better themselves. They weren't asking people to do anything... except be entertained.
Helen: We saw it as a change from making yourself a better person and working on your communion with God to, "let's make others make the world a better place for us to live in." In other words, make the other person do the work to make me comfortable while I sit back and receive it all. And that's where people should realize it is their own engagement in the Great Experiment that matters, not what you try to make other people do.
Pat: Yes, I'd rather work with children any day than work with adults. They don't want to talk about doing things, but rather they want to be engaged.
Helen: We've had the same experience. Adults might go through four or five sessions wanting to talk about doing something, whereas children get bored talking about something after a few minutes and want to experience it.
Peter: Children will try stuff. Adults want to talk about trying stuff.
Pat: When talking about the Ten Commandments, we know that God gave Ten Commandments, not ten suggestions, but adults want to set up committees and talk about them rather than live them. The funny thing is that the church seemed to be the first to violate them. As long as the ministers and priests were strong, the people were strong, and as soon as the ministers and priests got off track, the people followed.
Helen: That could bring us to how we see government. Some people see government as a sort of God or, at least, as parents to them, to take care of them and keep them from harm. For instance, with the last snowfall, we saw people standing around on the street not knowing what to do about their snowbound cars. Without government to help them, it never occurred to them to shovel out themselves. On the other hand, we also saw good Samaritans driving up in their trucks to help those in need. Yet, it was sad to see people giving up the right to move about the city, just because the government didn't move the snow for them.
Pat: Some people are afraid to do things for themselves anymore. It's become an attitude. And sometimes they miss out on helping someone else.
Helen: And if someone else will do it for us, then we forget we can do it for ourselves.
Pat: It's that sense of getting involved ourselves that some of us have lost. We've become lazy. I've seen people in church say to the minister, "you go visit the sick," "you go do this or that" and the minister was doing everything as they watched him like spectators at a football game. They're rooting him on, but he's killing himself.
Helen: Somehow, a lot of people are letting others take the responsibility for their lives... not because they are bad, but because they don't think they can do it themselves, or think it's someone else's job.
Peter: It's the attitude that "it must be someone else's responsibility."
Helen: Sometimes we think of the government, and ourselves as supporters of government, as so compassionate for doing so much for the people. But we forget that, by that very action, we've taken away their power to live their own lives.
Pat: Yes, that's right.
Peter: Or we've given it away ourselves. Speaking theoretically, the government is some reflection of us. And it's become large to the point that, starting with the New Deal, some have adopted the attitude that "someone must help us." Before that it wasn't expected, and if hard times hit... well then, you're just wiped out. Now, we demand help. And once delivery is made on that first demand, you keep waiting for the next one and that takes some initiative away from the individual.
Helen: There's a fine line between compassion and simply taking over someone's responsibilities. It's also too easy to expect everyone to be compassionate to me and forget that I must also show that attribute. It's being on the receiving end all the time and forgetting that the complete cycle is both giving and receiving.
Pat: That's it. It reminds me of when I went to elementary school here in the District of Columbia. At that time, the schools were still segregated and my father had gone to a little school called Military Road School. He and many of the members of the Black community in Montgomery County had gone there because it was the closest one in the Northwest. There was really nothing else to go to. We moved out here (to Silver Spring, MD) when I was four and he wanted my sister and me to go to the same school. Now, there was another school here in the community, but it wasn't a school that would challenge you academically. So, we had long days. We would leave home at 7:00 in the morning and we didn't get back home until 6:00 in the evening. That's a lot for little kids, but it became a way of life and we understood that he wanted us to get a good education.
I remember when we were in that school from 9:00 to 3:00. It was a place where we learned basic education and part of that education was, not only learning how to give to one another, for that was very important in the games we played, in the teams that we formed, but there was something unique about DC schools in that they had lots of different teachers for different things and they taught us how to give. They had a garden teacher; they had a music teacher; just about anything you wanted. So we had a garden, in those days it was called a Victory Garden. Our garden teacher taught us how to plant different crops and, as kids, watching those crops grow was amazing. Then we got to harvest the crops, but those crops were never for us. Those crops were always for someone in the neighborhood who had a large family and who was having a hard time. Those crops were never for us to bring home to say, "look what I grew". Our parents knew that and we were all very happy do that. Another thing they taught us was how to save. We had to have milk and cookies everyday and that was maybe 3 or 4 or 5 cents per day. So if you didn't bring the money from home, the teacher started a little bank and you saved your pennies there. When you were ready for your milk and cookies you made a withdrawal from the bank. There was a sense of accomplishment in that. I think if you get children when they are very young and teach them these concepts of working hard, giving, discipline, teamwork, then it sticks.
The school was called Military Road School and because there were a lot of kids to care for and the academic standards were very high, strict discipline was applied. You might have thought it was the Military. The teachers didn't have time to keep going over discipline problems. This was a four room school that became only two rooms by the time I left. When she said "shape up", that meant shape up right now. It didn't mean later. And if you didn't, then she followed through; there were consequences. She didn't have the time to say the same thing over two or three times, because the rest of us had to learn. We were three grades in one room. So we definitely learned discipline, learned to behave ourselves, learned to act like young ladies and young men. Plus Officer Friendly would come around and tell us what we needed to do to be safe on the streets, what to be aware of, and what to be careful of. It was all right there. We had no excuse for not becoming good citizens. We had Negro History Week during Negro History Week we learned about the great Negro leaders of our time and in times past. We were taught everything we needed. Our teachers didn't skip a thing. However, we had to learn it at that very early stage of life. If you didn't know what you were supposed to know, you didn't pass. You stayed there until you got it.
Peter: Yes, I remember that.
Pat: We learned all that so that when we left there we were supposed to know what we were about so that other people wouldn't have a problem with us. We could further our education after high school or start our own families or businesses. We could do whatever we wanted to do, but we were expected to know what was right and what was wrong. That was the most important principle for us as children.
Peter: It seems this might be one aspect of the experiment that is not coming out so well anymore. Do you think it's an aspect of liberty that's made that possible or maybe something else?
Pat: I think for the Black community... First of all, let me say that, right now, our street is an international community. The people across the street are from Africa, on the corner from the Philippines, behind us from Asia, another from Spain, and even though this was a Black community when I was growing up it always had one or two Caucasian families in it, so it was always an integrated neighborhood as far as we were concerned. However, I think what happened in 1954 when everything was de-segregated and schools began to open up and we could all do everything we wanted to do, I think the sense was that we had to accept everything....and reject nothing.
Everything became open. Everything was fair game. If you didn't want to do something, if you wanted to do something, you didn't have to reason with anyone. All you did was do what you wanted to do. That's it. At that point, we threw away a sense of respect. Then in the 1960's everybody began to overthrow everything. Remember 'free love'? Everybody wanted to love everybody. It became a love-fest with everybody loving everything, except those values we grew up with. The slogans said to leave behind everything of value we grew up with. Some of these new ideas grew out of leaving segregation behind. But not only were we leaving behind segregation, we were leaving behind true values. So it was, "throw away everything from the past", rather than bring along the good things from the past and marry them up to the good things of the present.
Helen: Tell us about how you've been engaged in the Great Experiment.
Pat: I've been thinking about that and I can't say that I've done anything outstanding. You know, for years I was a Sunday School Teacher in the Methodist Church. I started out with the very young children and then moved on to the high school children. That's where I found out I could help shape and mold thinking. When I went to Sunday School at our church in Silver Spring I found that, no matter what I learned in school during the week, something would present itself to me in Sunday School class to help explain it. It never failed; the two criss-crossed. I remember one incident that amazed me. That week in school the teacher asked, "What does 'AD' mean?" Well, I thought 'after death', meaning after Christ's death. Well she said, "no it means 'anno domini', and then in Sunday School the next week the same question came up. I thought it was amazing that very simple things like that criss-crossed.
I even kept up with my Sunday School teacher. He was a wonderful man who just passed away a few years ago. He always tried to help people; always had a calm voice; and I guess a lot of us in Sunday School thought we'd like to pattern our lives after him. Years later I had such an opportunity and I volunteered as a Sunday School teacher and I found that I, too, had an opportunity to mold the children, in what they needed to know. I always told them not to worry about what they didn't know, just do what they did know how to do. Sure others things will come along and you'll want to make a wise decision, but if you don't know what to do now that's right, neither will you know what to do in the future. Just do your very best right now.
Since that time, I have kept in touch with some of the students and some tell me now that they didn't know at the time how valuable that information was, but now they do. I see them working in hospitals or wherever they're working and they tell me they still remember those days and will even say to people around them, "that's my Sunday School teacher." That makes my day.
Unless a child has someone who stops for them and tells them "this is the way", they keep on going the same old direction. A parent can't do it all. A parent should be the foundation, but then others come along to reinforce it. A number of households right now have kids without even one parent, let alone two parents. This is where I think the church could get involved. If you see a household with one parent sending the children to day care--spending a lot of money on day care, there's no need for that with all the retired people around us. The retired people could get invigorate their own lives by getting involved in the children's lives. They could turn entire neighborhoods around.
Peter: Taking two loose ends and putting them together.
Pat: That's right . People today seem to think they have to talk about something formally, or have expensive credentials, or they think people will misunderstand them. But I think all they have to do... is do it! First, you should have something to say and share it. When I went to Israel for the first time in 1982, the troops were in Lebanon and the U.S. was trying to help the Israelis get out. Now they really wanted to get out of there, but there also a portion of Lebanon who wanted them there because the Lebanese knew, if they weren't there, they would have all been slaughtered. So they (the Israelis) were a protection for those that they could protect. I remember a man in a shop who told me, "It's OK if the UN turns against us, or even if the US turns against us. We will survive." I said to him, "I know that's true. God's going to help you survive; He's got his hand on you and will protect you and keep you." As time went on, we were there for a celebration called the Feast of Tabernacles plus about a week of talking to people, attending seminars and so forth. They helped us to understand how they were suffering and also how they had suffered at the hands of Christianity in the past. It became a shame for us. But I'll never forget the day I left. I met this man in the hotel and he said, "you know you Christians are different than those we normally meet. What's different about you?"
Well, I didn't know what kind of people were there before, so I said, "well, I don't know. I just know God will protect your nation. We know we love you. We know He's going to see you through. We want you to know we're with you." I can only image those who were there before us. They were probably the kind who looked over the people and told them what God wanted them to do, beating on them with about a thousand messages, but probably not a soul ever looked at them. They probably never said, "Good morning; how are you doing?" things like that.
When I was working, people used to ask me why I was so happy every morning. Well, I didn't have to wear a big sign. I didn't have to walk around with a bible in my hands. All I felt I had to do then and now is do what is right. If we do what we know we should, then the rest will work out. God will give us the opportunities.
Helen and Peter: Oh Yes! Oh Yes!
Pat: God will give us the opportunities if we're ready for them. But it's like Josh Grogan, who's one of the new singing sensations. He has a beautiful voice and I think even attended the Julliard School of Music . Well, simply trained his voice and when the day came when he was given an opportunity to sing, he was ready. He went forth. Well, he's absolutely phenomenal; people can't believe their ears that such a young man has such a voice as that.
Helen: So you're saying the average person can be involved in the Great Experiment by just doing what they know how to do, to train, to learn... to get ready for the opportunity that will come to them?
Pat: Yes, just do what you're supposed to do. Don't worry about what you don't know. Do what you do know. And the rest will come.
I've found it to be true, I'm led from one thing to the next and the next. I just do my very best at what I'm doing and the opportunities come for something else. I don't necessarily look for something else unless I have something I'm trying to accomplish. I mean we should always have goals, something to reach for, but you know the young people today are not prepared. They're not getting the right type of education. It's more a feel-good type of thing, but it's not really knowing what life is all about. They got a lot of facts and figures, but it's not a full education. It's not really living the reality of knowing what that education is really for. Having knowledge and knowing what to do with it is wisdom. That's why they're looking for something; they want something to hang onto, something that's real.
And we adults keep trying to be their friends instead of trying to be their mentors.
Peter: People have to grow up themselves; no one can grow up for you.
Helen: Yet everyone needs a leader.
Peter: Someone to give you direction.
Pat: To give them something to work for. Some of these gurus talk about love everyone, love them all, love them all, peace, peace, peace. Well there will be peace when you're peaceful on the inside.
Helen: Yes, until that time when we're peaceful on the inside, there won't be peace outside. We had once talked to someone who went to an ashram in India. They were very impatient to be enlightened and the enlightened leader told her that first she must attain inner peace, and that may take all her life. That's the first step.
Pat: Yes, we keep thinking that if we change things externally, we'll have happiness. Something like taking some laws off the books or putting more laws on the books. Well, that won't solve the problems. If you don't like something, turn your head and go the other way. This is a big country; just walk away to somewhere else.
I remember talking to my neighbor, who is from Pakistan, about the laws we have that are for our protection. He told me that "your women here are so protected." I agreed and he said, "Yes, in Pakistani society they are not protected that way."
Helen: We sometimes forget how blessed we are in our society. It's quite easy to complain and look at what's wrong, but we should never forget how very blessed we are right now.
Pat: I've always thought that if the average American... if only three people from the neighborhood or from a block, could go to another country and just stay there for two weeks, not on vacation, but to actually live as the locals do... I bet their point of view would change. What a blessing it is over here!
Helen: We read that Colin Powell's parents came here during the Depression from one of the Caribbean Islands and thought they were blessed to be here... and that was during the Depression. So the difference must have been great.
Pat: Yes, when I was going to school, the schools here in DC were some of the very best in the country. We had doctors and dentists come to school once a month to take care of us, we had garden and music teachers, and we were also inspired to do something with our lives. We all learned how to do something and we were expected to do it when we got the chance and to help the community as we helped ourselves. Things have changed in the educational system today. We all had a sense that there was a calling in our lives, something we were meant to do, and we all wanted to respond to it. It didn't necessarily mean we would have to cure world hunger, maybe it was just to do some errands for an elderly neighbor.
Helen: We are very pleased that you took the time to share your experiences. We're inspired and we're sure others will be inspired by this also.
Biography of Pat Tyson
Family Ministries Coordinator, and Church Historian.
Presently secretary of the Military Road School Reservation Trust of Washington, D.C.
Appointed Silver Spring Representative to the Montgomery County Community Action Board.
Coordinator for the Annual National Night Out for the Lyttonsville & Rosemary Hill Communities.
Community Action Board.
Hobbies: Traveling - U.S. - New York; Virginia; Chicago; Connecticut; Massachusetts; South Carolina; Georgia; Florida; Texas; Arizona; California; Hawaii; Pennsylvania; Michigan; and Washington State.
- Outside the U.S. - Jamaica; Canada; East Germany; Federal Republic of German; Salzburg, Austria; Paris, France; London, England; Brussels, Belgium; Luxembourg; and Israel.
Career: Executive Secretary at the Department of State and the U.S. Information Agency.
As the executive secretary in these offices, I was exposed to members of the press covering Europe in the 1960's. Europe was quite active in the 60's. It was a period of persona non-grata; Czechoslovakia fell to Communism; the Russians were caught spying at the UN, etc.
In the Office of Cultural Affairs, I was exposed to people in show business representing us overseas. Character and integrity were important in choosing and sending entertainers abroad to represent the U.S. Educational exchange among countries was top priority.
In the Office of International Visitors, I was exposed to visitors touring the U.S. for a period of time who came to view the Great Experiment. They met their vocational counterparts here in the States; looked at our society in general; and, by their mere presence, were given a close-up glimpse of our personal lives. They were supposed to go back home and try to implement the successful elements of their vocations, found here, in their societies.
In the Office of Policy and Programs, I worked with citizens and organizations here in America and Foreign Service personnel in our embassies.
Personal Life: Grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland in the same community. Have lived here for 57 years with my family. At present my mother and sister are here in Maryland. My father is deceased.
Was a member of a United Methodist Church for approximately 35 years. During that time, I was a Sunday school teacher; Sunday School Superintendent and Choir member.
Peter and Helen Evans, "http://www.peterandhelenevans.com". This husband and wife team - freelance writers and speakers - teach a philosophical approach to conservatism. They are also real estate agents in the Washington, DC area.
Copyright © Peter and Helen Evans, 2005. All rights reserved. Read this article on the Peter and Helen Evans website (new window will open). Reprinted with permission of the authors.