I’m not sure why…

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

I’m not sure why I’m thinking about Anne Frank, one of my inspirations and heroes since I was in the fourth grade and discovered her diary for the first time. “Santa Claus”, at Dad’s Carpenter’s Union Hall Christmas party way back in the 1960s, laid out a bunch of wrapped presents and I randomly selected Anne’s diary and a black, gold-embossed journal. Those donated gifted to a doe-eyed child of working class parents, changed her life forever.

Today, tomorrow, yesterday, and weeks to come, my colleagues at the middle school where I used to teach, are sharing Anne’s story. They recently went to the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles for a PTSA-funded field trip. Apparently, it didn’t go so well. Today’s generation, it seems, weren’t that engaged. A couple of students were downright disrespectful.

Checked out.

Checked out.

How can anyone not feel immense sorrow, shame, and how-do-we make-sure-this-never-happens-again-outrage to Anne and the millions of individuals who experienced the repulsive consequence of discrimination? Compassion, where is it? Connection, when did it get lost?

I did my best when I was a teacher of eighth grade English Language Arts students to help students understand the back story, the reasons why the individuals we read about were often the target of hate, misinformation and jealousy. We examined who, what, when, why and how the events in both history and present-day occurred through the lens of language arts writers and researchers. Years, and years and years ago, I realized that my students seemed to be swaying from a lust for learning and a desire to be of-service, to an unhealthy preoccupation with cultural dribble, i.e. Kardashians/TicTock/fake “reality” realities.

My colleagues and I wanted to better engage young people, so we created a curriculum that was standardized-based, yet challenged students to dive deep and pay attention to patterns, sources, and misleading messages; we encouraged students to develop vital, critical thinking skills to help them discern nonsense from facts.

Damn, we did our best. As are all of my teacher friends.

But times are different.

Things are COVID-ized.

Our young people are lost.

I can see it in my former colleagues’ eyes, who very, very sweetly, dropped by last week to pay a sunset balcony visit. They’re young, talented, hardworking, and care so very much about the kids and the teaching profession; but even they are losing hope.

I tried to reassure them, but honestly, I’m at a loss; that’s why I’m reaching out to you; we are at a critical juncture. We either stop, acknowledge our kids profound brokenness, or we crash and burn. Not an overstatement. Reality.

In my opinion, here’s what needs to happen:

  1. Teachers are at the front line. They are our soldiers in this battle called: The Future. Let’s assemble teachers from across the U.S. and beyond and document what they’re seeing.This needs to happen NOW at the local, state and national level.
  2. Students: They’re the shrapnel. We need to roll up our sleeves and figure out what’s going on and how we can help.
  3. Stress: We need to immediately address our crumbling internal infrastructure. Give folks access to counseling—at no cost.
  4. Once the evidence is gathered, we need a national strategy. Think Finland after World War II. How can we make America organically better? Not with yelling. I‘m right, he’s wrong malarkey. We have to come together at the same table and determine positive next-step solutions. We are ALL feeling it. We know something isn’t right.

I know I’m just a blogger, a random person with no power or influence, thinking about bigger issues; the worrisome direction of young people and our troubled world that appears to be spinning out-of-control. But so was Anne, a little person with a gigantic message. Had it not been for Anne’s 1940s version of a blog, we might not have understood that “in spite of everything,” as she wrote on July 15, 1944, less than a month before she and her family were captured and everyone, expect her father, murdered, “I still believe…that people are truly good at heart.”

On this day, this average Tuesday before Super Bowl galas, the State of the Union speech and GOP rebuttal, and all the other news and family events that will saturate the remainder of the week, I continue to be inspired by my dedicated teacher colleagues, my daughter who’s teaching fourth-graders in NYC, and all the other purveyors of hope who keep digging, who fail to stop trying.

Anne, at 14, said it best: “I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness; I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too. I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”

I encourage everyone, right now, to email your local, state and national legislators and insist that they place healing America’s kids at the top of the national agenda. Share your stories, what you see, as parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, neighbors, employers and educators. This is not a one-person, one-teacher, one-classroom, one-parent job: it’s going to take the entire village screaming at the same time, “Help!”


I just emailed four legislators. It took about 15 minutes. I encourage you to share your stories; no doubt, you speak on behalf of countless others who sadly believe that whatever they have to say won’t make a difference. But it will. And it matters. If Anne Frank can believe in positive change, “Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness,” so can I.

Postscript 2:

Within two hours, I received two responses, one from the White House, the other from a California senator. I’ll let you know in an upcoming blog what happened next.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: