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National Editorials & Columns

In 2013, resolve to help those around you become more literate

New Year’s Day has come and gone. Did you make New Year resolutions or have you given up on them? 

I hope you made some, but I encourage you to look at the world differently and make some you might never have thought of making. Decide to look for everyday heroes. They are everywhere and they aren’t looking for glory or praise or recognition. 

They are thoughtful and caring and give lives of commitment. Some are professionals such as firefighters, police and road crews, while others are volunteers. They go about with a quiet strength. Don’t let the hero in yourself get lost.

Resolve to dream more and sometimes to put feet on those dreams. Dream privately and dream with others. Public dreams are important if we want a vital community, state, nation, and world. Don’t let legendary monsters eat your sense of wonder.

Model literacy and help others become aware of its importance. Do you know someone older than age 10 who can’t read? If so, help them learn, if not expand your horizons. The need for heroes has never diminished. 

Find someone to help with survival literacy and maybe inspire them toward enjoyment literacy. After food, clothing and a warm, safe place, people’s basic needs are: security, affection, recognition and participation (interaction with others).

Take an inventory of various literacy resources in your home that encourages learning. Resources are not just for children, but for you. How available are: computers, newspapers, fiction and non-fiction books and articles, almanac-type resources, television public broadcasting (especially the History Channel), radio, magazines, maps/atlases/globes, telephone books or listening adults.

A good test is to answer questions like, “I best help myself learn and my child become literate by … ,” “I have an open attitude and encourage and support my interests and I look for new interests by … ,” “I encourage myself by regularly answering … ” and “I believe the purpose of education is to …”

The truth is if we don’t have an active picture of literacy development in our mind, it probably isn’t happening.

Take every opportunity to help people learn to respect knowledge and to respect those who have knowledge. Maintain a questioning spirit. If you are a parent or grandparent you have so many opportunities.

When a note from the teacher comes or a report card sit down with your child and look each over together. Don’t allow other children to see or hear the conversation, unless it is a completely good report; respect your child’s privacy.

Make big over good things, minimize the bad (but be sure to note in your mind the problem areas.)  If the report is bad say, “We need to talk to … and see how the three (or four) of us can work on this together.”

Never criticize a child’s teacher(s). If you think there is a problem talk directly to the teacher, not through the child. Do tell the child, “I don’t know if … is fair or not. Sometimes adults aren’t. Think about it. If, … isn’t fair we will go and talk with him/her together.”

Give the child a chance to be honest with self.

Make wise investments, both in literacy and in spiritual ways. What is an investment? It is a commitment of time, resources, and concern with the purpose of receiving some type of benefit in the future. Whether we think of ourselves as investors or not, we invest our time, resources, and concern wisely or unwisely.

Wealthy people may have not always been rich. They may not have had any more opportunities than the poor. They may have simply been wiser investors.

Many parents encourage their children to invest in education, music, sports or other things. Loving parents want what is best for their children.  A community wants what is best for its citizens and develops resources.

It is false to think that we have nothing to invest. Spiritually we can be as rich as we choose. We can also be rich as a community. Perhaps in our busy world we are more greedy about our time, than we are even about our resources.

We invest all our time into ourselves. We may share it with family and even with friends, but basically we invest in ourselves. Sporadically we may invest in our community, but investing in others is important too.

Being rich is more than wealth of money. We can say we are too busy and build barns in our lives to store our goods, our time, our energies, but unless we share these things our legacy will be harmful. Too often we have a warped sense of values that are distorted by our greed for money, fun, and “being free.”

Our biggest investment is to develop character and skills which inflation, a Great Depression, a thief, or even death cannot steal. For me, faith calls us to make wise spiritual investments. 

Wise investment of our labor, our money, our time, our energies, and our talents grant us the necessary security and belief that we can make a difference. Investment in others pays rich dividends.

Until next week — Christine Pauley

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