Inner Michael » Make that Change with your “Voices”

Make that Change with your “Voices”

Michael went to Front Page at Voices Education Project

 Voices has a Vision: Acknowledging that conflict is inevitable, we envision a world in which nations, communities, and individuals move beyond polarization and destruction, instead viewing conflict as an opportunity to create understanding, empathy and positive change. Through education, the arts, and self-expression, Voices aims to transform how we respond to, engage in, and recover from conflict. By working directly with instructors and students we strive to model pedagogical methods and social processes that challenge and enrich the arts, humanities and social science curricula.

If you went to Voices you became part of a worldwide community of peacemakers, visionaries, social scientists, educators, filmakers and generally people who care and are also out to “simply change the world.” And you saw that they decided to feature the ‘Spiritual Messenger Hiding in Plain Sight’ well… in plain sight and on the front page. 

And they gave space, attention and thought to ‘The New WMD- Weapon of Mass Destruction” article that talks about destroying the messengers or potential future messengers of this planet.

Voices is to be congratulated for their boldness and courage in bringing to light those things that should see daylight. They are not just social scientists, they are social engineers. Marilyn, who is the Executive Director has agreed to my proposal to design a curriculum that addresses “The Violence of Words.” That is wonderful news for us and for the children of the future who will be more aware of words and their potential for harm. 

The Tribute to Michael Jackson was handled in the most respectful way you can imagine. And Voices assisted every step of the way. I said it before but will say it again here… if you like what these people do for the world, make a donation to thank them in Michael’s name. 

Now there are more people who have asked to be involved in the curriculum development who are not educators: a librarian, an interpreter, a physician. There may not be room for all those as authors, but there is room for everybody to participate and I will make sure you are recognized for your contribution to this project.

I sent an email to Voices saying “Yes” to the invitation to co-author the curriculum. And I told her there are lots of people in line behind me who want to help.

So I sent some thoughts and ideas about what I would like to see. And I told her about the emails I received: the ones where people were delighted and the ones where people raised their hands to help.

I heard from teachers, librarians, physicians, marketing people, translators, and professors who asked “what would you have me do?” So I have saved those names and emails. And you will be hearing…

And in no particular order the list of my ideas appears below and you are invited to send me your additions, corrections, whatever you’re thinking…

Ideas for “Violence in Words”

Military metaphor- weaponry, war of words, words have started wars (examples),
How the human body responds to assault (real or imagined- effects of Adrenalin, heart, brain, etc.)
Words as weaponry
Forms/tpes of communication
Bullying with words
Motivation (what’s behind the words)
How to tell if someone is lying (there are some face reading and body language resources)
The Voice as power
The power of words
Can words inspire? Defeat? Kill?
Power of the pen
Before you speak- reflect, consider, assess the potential damage (develop a “catchy” 3 step law that appeals to contemporary youth sensibilities)
Slander, libel
Name calling, ethnic and racial slurs
Yellow journalism, tabloid press and mainstream trends toward medialoid
“Drinking the Koolaid” (this means taking in something that one reads or hears as gospel without checking it out for accuracy- or swallowing the party line. It also means that if you hear something often enough, it begins to be “truth.”)
Ethics in communication
Hip Hop and Rap
Misogyny and violent lyrics
Subliminal messages
Advertising and Marketing
Machiavellian: Does the media “herd” people? Is that Machiabellian? Who does it? What does it mean? How is it used?
The Internet and information
TV, truth and reality (Are reality shows or are they staged?)
TV viewing (How clean is your brain and do you want to get it dirty- what food are you feeding your mind- where do you want to hang out in your mind- in the garbage heap or in the lofty regions? “Don’t walk through my sparkling brain with your dirty feet!”)
How to check out information for accuracy. Where to go, whom to ask. Find resources.
Questions are the answer- Question the: source, accuracy, slant. politics, motivation, etc.
How money can “change the story” (How tabloids and mainstream media pay big money for people to tell “stories.”)
What to do when under attack with words Eight Ates (Retaliate? Pontificate? Excoriate? Detonate? Agitate, Expatriate…)
How to be heard- effective speaking and dialogue instead of spewing
Inflammatory speech
Anonymity on the web bends the rules
Steps to take to insure safety

Experiential and Role playing:
The course would have to include some experiential exercises for impact.

One way that produces insight is to divide a group into two sections and give them name tags like “person”: and “nobody” or “thing.”
Group one becomes “persons” and group number two becomes “nobodies” or “things.” Then group one is allowed for a number of minutes to hurl insults at the number twos (“things”) or ignore them, talk over them, command them to be quiet, call them ignorant, stupid, etc.)
This could be adapted to include whatever the popular “slur” is (“nerd,” “dork,” “slimeball,”  “Nazi,” B…..,” S…..”)
They then change nametags and the “things” become “persons,” the persons become “things” or “nobodies” and the exercise is repeated.
Then a debrief is held with questions like:
When you were a person, how did you feel? What happened? What thoughts did you have?
When you were a thing how did that feel? What happened? What thoughts did you have?
When you went from being a “thing” to a “person” were there any thoughts of retaliation?

The classes could even include playwriting and performance and an annual national contest could decide the winner and the cast be invited to perform in a well known venue- perhaps the Apollo Theatre would support this (That is where the Jackson 5 first performed professionally)

Young musicians could be recruited to create songs whose lyrics address this problem and perhaps a musician friend of Michael’s might be recruited to perform it (Usher, for example)- he had many admirers among his peers. His choreographer from This Is It has gone into prisons and taught the choreography for his songs to prisoners- and he might be recruited for the program.

A parent’s night could be included in the curriculum.
(Michael Jackson used to have to walk ahead of his children as they entered hotel lobbies, etc., in order to turn the tabloid magazines and papers around toward the wall so that his children would not see their father slimed by the “press.” I wonder how Diana handled this and how we might find that out.)

Role play with students and parents might be interesting.
I could see a book of poetry… anthology of essays…

The possibilities are endless

And here is an invitation: If this brings up any school stories for you, any ideas, thoughts, suggestions… please email me with them.

So here is how, with words, we begin to “Make that Change.”

One Comment

  1. Debbie Jackson said . . .

    A way of teaching children and teens how their fellow man should be treated and how to approach certain situations in life without bringing religion into it. So many children are not getting this at home.

    Posted April 7, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

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