Posted by: Jim E | August 25, 2010

America…Something Good About It…imjustwalkin…

Here I am sitting at my desk…and following Matt Green in his final miles to the Pacific Ocean at Rockaway Beach, OR…he probably is already there…his posts come in a little behind his actual position…but his trip has been mesmerizing to me and lots of other folks…people from all over America…and the world really…some who when we wake up, they are going to sleep…and we just keep the “seat warm” until we go to bed and they wake up…and there are folks everywhere inbetween…

You may ask why must we go through another post about this Matt Green guy???…well, first, I guess I choose…and second, what he has done is really something…walking over 3000 miles in about 5 months…from one coast to another…meeting many different people…taking pictures of many things most of us would never have taken…because he was walking, one foot in front of another, picking and choosing based on his interests…(and maybe our response)…but his humor and pictures sent have been great…and the comments of all his followers have been wonderful…positive, interesting and many times uplifting…and I need all of that I can get…

And I really don’t know how he survived from day to day…he quit his job…I’m sure he put some money away for this and his parents have helped and some that he met on the way helped him out…many of them fed him and gave him a place to shower and sleep for the night…and maybe some funds were given…but on the whole he has been on his own from day to day…that in itself has interested me and given me some insight into Matt…though I really know little about him and certainly don’t know him well…

But proven by Matt and his walk, there is a goodness to America…it came through Matt and his pictures…his stories about people he met and places he visited (really, when I say “his stories” he didn’t tell stories…then where did the stories come from???…that is a one of the mysteries of this whole thing)…and also from the comments made on his site…something happened there that was good…something special…

In my former life I was a high school principal…it was a large high school in the Northern suburbs of Minneapolis…I loved that job…it was hard and stressful I suppose…but I loved it…the kids, teachers, community…I was there when the shootings at Columbine High School near Denver happened in April 1999…at the end of that year I spoke to parents and seniors on Senior Recognition Night and reflected on what happened in Columbine…and our school…and a little about how I feel about the kids and thus about America…let me give you an edited version:

“We have gone through some things this year…I will mention one…when the incident in Littleton, Colorado occurred…it effected the whole country…Coon Rapids High School too…all students, parents, community and staff were overwhelmed by it…

The day of the tragedy, I knew I would have to say something to the kids…I just didn’t know what to say, because I was devastated too…the next morning before school, Judie and I were at Caribou for coffee…I was broken over what happened, feeling the responsibility for the whole school…two of our teachers came in and asked if I was going to say something…I said, “Yes.”…I had been writing notes on my napkin and like so many others, tears came as I thought about the stiuation…

Coming to school I was still uncertain what I would say…as I reached my office, I knew I would have to speak from my heart, because I had no magic answers…but what I realized then was that it was the heart that needed to be healed and spoken to….

I told them it was a sad day for all of us…that I didn’t want to be emotional…but, I said, “When people die, and people hate, how can we sleep, how can we not weep!”…I told them I loved them…and my message to them was simple, it was of love and acceptance…we needed to call on those virtues…not with anger or hatred…to make this school a place of love and acceptance…a place of safety…

Because in a world that sometimes makes no sense, I told them love and acceptance still does…

This tragedy tell me something about kids today…and about our kids…I am touched and inspired at the basic goodness, courage, decency and faith of kids today…raised right here in America…we can’t overlook the evil that is around us…but it is still the minority…I just don’t want to overlook the overwhelming good in the majority…

Did I tell you I have great faith in America and it’s young people???..I wish you could have experienced the hundreds of responses from your kids during this year…they stood for RIGHT…when it was not popular…they stood with their principal and that’s never popular…there is a goodness about this group I can’t explain…Seniors, that goodness, I urge you to continue…choose to not be afraid to stand up for what’s right even when you are alone….

And one more thing…remember what you have learned here…not only the things you have learned up here (head)…but what you have learned here (heart)…those two things will take you through all the things life will bring to you”…

You know, Matt is of that generation…those kids are adults now and in positions all over this country…this is the America I love…I find good everywhere I look…I am not blind, I see things that need fixin’ but there is so much good about us…I’m not ready to give up…

Matt’s walk and the video (below) from a Minnesota choir concert of a couple of years ago will pick us up…4 high school choirs and a choir of 4th-6th graders singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”…it is memorable and moving…play it all the way through…if it doesn’t move you…check your pulse…not a person is over 18 (except directors) some 10 or 11…”If they haven’t given up, why should we???”


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