ROMANTIC MUSINGS: My Wandering Star

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“You know that when I hate you, it is because I love you to a point of passion that unhinged my soul.” ~Julie-Jeanne-Eleonore de Lespinasse, Letter; 1774

How often must I cry for you, my love?

I have loved you from the first.

In truth, I did not feel my heart beat until you drew near.

You, my wandering star, brought me to life.

You set me in motion and put me on a path to pursue you through the cold desolate universe. I’ve endured everything for you.

I wander through the darkness, lost without your presence.

Knowing I was born to love you, my life is without purpose in your absence.

I divide my time between memories and tears.

I turn back the clock to relive our past, because the present is no gift and the future means nothing without your love.

My conversations with God end in broken breaths, so that He knows what I am incapable of saying.

I stand at the edge of space and time not daring to find you in my dreams, because I know I’ll only be seeing a ghost.

You, my love, are the phantom of my heart, but without you on the stage our opera is incomplete.

There are no words worthy of you. You are a goddess whose true name is unknown.

I can find no truth without you, and so I linger in a world of lies.

Sleep offers no comfort, and simply existing is not living.

The depth of my pain has run so deep that it has pierced my soul. My well of tears has nearly run dry and I shift from sorrow to anger at the prospect of losing you forever.

It’s as though I stand at the border of heaven and hell, teetering on the edge of a blade where bliss and torment lie on either side of tomorrow.

The next beat of my heart might break me.

My sanity could be lost.

My longing leaves me in the purgatory of affection and I struggle to cope with the ache that leaves a void in my heart.

I could die a thousand deaths without you, and not know what it means to truly feel alive. This is how much I have loved you, though I cannot count the number of times I have cried.

I only know that I loved you last.

I’ll continue to do so, until that moment in some far away place and time, the horizon of my life where I’ll be incapable of knowing whether I am day or night, asleep or awake, love or hate.

You, my wandering star.

ROMANTIC MUSINGS: Inescapable

F24BDB0F-EDDE-4512-B913-EBB6C3DA34F2She wandered into the darkness leaving a trail of her tears in her wake. Pedals from her heart fell with each step, so that if he chose to follow he would know the path she took.

The labyrinth of her heart silent, save for the echo of their whispers and the words never spoken. Though their bond did not require for anything to not be left unsaid, for they had already memorized the unspoken words that rested on their lips.

A kiss is never just a kiss.

A memory is never just a moment trapped in another time.

These are the links that keep two hearts bound to one another for eternity.

She followed tomorrow, and he followed her.

Together they pursued destiny.

Though, in the forest of forgetfulness she had wandered onto a path where time was irrelevant and the trees did not look familiar.

He followed her, still, but not for the sake luring her back to the clearing she already knew, rather he shadowed her steps clinging to the stems she left behind to keep watch over her and protect her from the dangers lurking in the dark.

The thorns punctured his skin, the blood dripped from his fingers, but he refused to let her go.

Not for the sake of refusing to accept his fate, but for the sake of the promise he once made.

”I will love you, forever.”

That is a destiny no one can avoid.

ROMANTIC MUSINGS: Wine of the Gods

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I like to think of love as the wine of the gods.

Like any wine it can be sweet or bitter, which depends on age or taste.

The etymology of the word Ambrosia comes to us from Greek and Sanskrit as a potion of the gods, and in both cases from the Indo-European words that mean: undying.

I dare say it will alter your frame of mind and change the way everything else tastes, for better or worse, but it is a hangover humans are incapable of recovering from by any other means than time.

Akin to food or drink, it sustains us.

The absence of it becomes a thirst we cannot quench by any other means.

Oh, but to have it, my friends is to consume that which is undying.

Immortal.

Love.

HER PUNISHMENT

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A dark erotic novelette from Readers’ Favorite award-winning novelist, Felix Alexander.

Majica is done.
She has waited five years for Ricardo to marry her.
She will not wait any longer.
After several weeks of being away, she returns home for her belongings.
She thought he would not be home.
She was wrong.
He intends to punish her for leaving him, and for the lie.
Trapped alone with him, she is lured into their private chamber.
He wants her to himself and refuses to believe she doesn’t love him anymore.
Ricardo always gets what he wants.

Though Majica resists, she struggles to reconcile is passion with his love, but she remembers their agreement: once inside the private room there is no protesting, only submission.

HER PUNISHMENT on Amazon Kindle

HEARTBROKEN – A Short Story

I still remember it like it was yesterday. The day my dad sat me on his lap and told me that he and mom were getting divorced. I was five, my brother was three, so he doesn’t remember, but I still feel the pain. I still don’t know why they divorced, but it still hurts and I would like to know why it happened.

Angelo blinked away the tears that welled in his eyes. He cleared his throat as he finished reading his daughter’s narrative. The assignment called for a personal expression, and for a parent to read it.

“Well done, baby girl,” Angelo handed her the laptop after he signed the form. “Your sentences are tight. Your message was conveyed effectively, and punctuation was perfect.”

He always reviewed her homework on visitation days, and monitored her grades through the school’s Home Access Center. It was a co-parenting effort he and his ex-wife had agreed to for the sake of the children. They maintained a unified front and worked as a team despite their differences.

As for the reasons behind the failed marriage, Angelo knew he would have to own up to his decision. He knew he would someday have to elaborate on the reasons he left. What he didn’t expect was for his decision to have impacted his little girl so profoundly.

     I can’t believe she still remembers that day so clearly, he thought to himself. But she raised the issue and deserved a response. He wasn’t going to hide from his decision, and he wasn’t going to dismiss her feelings.

She re-entered the room after placing her school-issued laptop in her backpack.

“Come sit with me,” he patted the couch cushion next to his.

She plopped herself down and rested her head on his shoulders.

“I suppose it’s been long enough,” he wrapped an arm around her shoulder.

“Long enough?” She turned to him perplexed.

“It’s been seven years since that day you wrote about in your narrative. As you recall, I had originally told you that mommy and I needed some time apart.”

“That’s when you moved out,” she added. “You moved in with aunt Cecilia.

“Yes,” he nodded.

“And you never moved back in,” she muttered, the sadness evident in her eyes. “A few months later, mommy said you two got divorced, but that you would visit every week.”

“We’ve had some great times over the years, haven’t we?” Angelo reflected.

“Yes we have,” she smiled.

“Fishing and swimming in the summer, pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating on Halloween, Easter Egg hunts, movie nights, hide-and-seek,” Angelo added.

“Don’t forget the scavenger hunts on our birthdays,” she reminded him.

“Those are fun too, aren’t they?” Angelo thought of the riddles he wrote for them about the myriad of topics he taught them: mythology, history, and astronomy to name a few. The answer to each riddle contained a clue to the location of the next gift.

“I can’t wait for my birthday next year!” Her eyes lit up.

“I can,” Angelo teased.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” She turned to him incredulously.

“Oh, Anjali, you’re my baby girl, and you’re growing up too fast!” Angelo pulled her in close. “I need you to slow down, so I can keep up.”

“Well, now that I’m all grown up, why don’t you tell me about why you got divorced?”

“I wouldn’t say you’re all grown up, but you’re old enough to hear what I’m about to tell you.” Angelo shifted in his seat, and she in hers, so they faced each other. “There are three things that make a marriage: friendship, trust, and love.”

“I’m surprised you didn’t say love first,” her head tilted.

“That’s because love isn’t the first aspect of what leads to marriage. First, you need friendship. When you become friends, best friends, you formulate a bond stronger and more important than all others. That’s because it’s a lifelong connection. Through that friendship you develop trust. Trust is key, because it’s the one thing you must have before love, and the one thing you need in the years after passion fades. Without it, however, you have nothing.”

“Why is that?” She wondered.

“Do you remember the legend of Cupid and Psyche?”

“Yeah, I think so,” she nodded.

“Do you recall the moral of that story?”

She stared absently at her feet, which she had crossed before her on the couch. Realization dawned on her face. “Isn’t that where Cupid told her that without trust there can be no love?”

“Indeed, it is,” Angelo smiled. She’s retaining the things I’m teaching her.

“Is that what happened between you and mommy?”

“Between your mother and me, we had friendship and we had trust, but the love she deserved, the kind of love every woman deserves: passionate, patient, faithful and unconditional is something I could not give her. So, I decided it was best to set your mother free to find happiness rather than to keep her in an unhappy marriage.”

“She wasn’t happy about that, at first,” Anjali muttered.

“I bet she wasn’t, and that’s because heartbreak hurts. It’s not just emotional pain. The pain is physical too. It shows in the sound of your voice and the look in your eyes.”

“Is that what you’re feeling now?” Her eyes met his and she stared at him intently.

He didn’t avert his gaze, but he did not answer at first. He hadn’t talked with anyone about his current dilemma. He didn’t have anyone to confide in, because his confidant had been his girlfriend, Jocelyn. They had parted ways several weeks ago, and though he hadn’t said anything to anyone, he hoped his pain wouldn’t show.

“An astute observation, baby girl. Clearly you’re a writer.”

“And you’re avoiding the question,” she crossed her arms.

Angelo sighed. I suppose I couldn’t avoid this conversation either, he rubbed the bridge of his nose.

“Why hasn’t Jocelyn been here the past few weeks?” Anjali finally asked.

“Jocelyn and I have decided to go our separate ways.”

“Why? Don’t you love her?”

Angelo pursed his lips. “Well, baby girl, it comes down to matters of trust. When two people are building a life together, it’s imperative that they’re on the same page about the important things like: finances, home life, raising children, and they must be able to trust each other about these matters.”

“Because without trust…” she began to say, but her words trailed off.

“It runs deeper than that, too,” Angelo continued, “because you can have trust and love, which we did, but secrets and lies—regardless of how harmless we believe them to be—lead to arguments. Those arguments cause resentment and breaks the trust. Eventually, it chips away at the love, and distance grows between two people who were once inseparable. God, we were inseparable at one point, too.”

“Can you fix it? Do you want to fix it and become inseparable again?” Anjali removed her hair-tie and twirled it around her fingers.

“You can fix it, yes,” Angelo nodded. I’d want more than anything to do so again, but how often must we fight about the same thing? “Think of trust as a vase. If you break it repeatedly and glue it back together, can you ever trust it to hold water again?”

“Not likely,” she lowered her eyes.

“Perhaps it is possible to repair it one more time and like a broken bone it heals stronger than ever, but it takes work. Marriage requires equal effort on both sides to make it work. It’s never easy, but both parties have to be willing to be on the same page about the important things, and willing to do what is necessary to make it work. Without that commitment, what have you got?”

“Yeah, I understand what you mean,” Anjali nodded without lifting her gaze.

“I’m sorry about this, baby girl,” Angelo whispered.

She stood and went to her room. The door slammed shut upstairs with a clap like thunder.

Angelo sat in silence as he stared through the large living room windows. Damn it! In the early years of his relationship with Jocelyn, they refrained from public displays of affection, so that in the eyes of his children she was just a friend. He was unsure how they would adjust to the new paradigm, but first and foremost he wanted to protect them.

Perhaps divorce had made him cynical, but the potentiality of her leaving, and the children being affected by another break up is something he wanted to spare them. After their third year together, and everything they had endured as a couple, he gradually opened up to the idea of being affectionate in front of the kids.

She’d spoil them on their birthdays and Christmas, despite Angelo’s insistence that they didn’t need an abundance of gifts. She read them bedtime stories in his absence, took them to school so he could sleep in, and kissed their cuts and scrapes when childhood injuries were sustained.

Angelo’s ex-wife had even told him she appreciated Jocelyn’s presence in their lives. “She loves the kids and they love her. Besides, she’s the right girl for you,” she had once told him. “Her gentle nature is the perfect balance to your lion’s temperament.”

He agreed that Jocelyn completed him in ways he didn’t know were possible. The way she snuck the kids treats, or snatched away their vegetables when he wasn’t looking, but he saw it happen anyway provided them with a sense of security all children need.

But the discord between them had taken its toll. The constant secrecy behind where she was and who she was with, even if she was with her sister and mother at the movies, why lie about it? They’d discussed plans for marriage and buying a home together, but their efforts for saving to that end had been undermined when she hid money to pay bills for her parents and siblings, or lending them money that they never paid back.

Month after month, Angelo had to adjust their budget for the unexpected expenses. Be it for gifts for friends and family, or additional bank fee’s for over-drafting her personal account. Angelo managed to maneuver money to cover the costs, but their savings were eventually depleted.

“When are we going to get married?” Jocelyn would insist.

“With what money?” Angelo would counter. “Weddings cost money. A honeymoon will cost money. A princess cut diamond costs money. How can I afford that when you keep spending money we don’t have?”

She’d sigh, but wouldn’t respond other than to say that her parents would pay for their honeymoon.

“With what money? They never paid us back the thousands they borrowed for their house and vacation.”

“Well, I told them they didn’t have to pay us back.”

“Why the hell would you do that?” Angelo had shouted. “How are we going to be able to buy a house and make a home with all this debt? We need to pay off what we owe, and improve our credit to qualify for a house.”

In the years that followed, Angelo had noticed that Jocelyn mirrored her mother’s behavior. She’d spend in secret, because she didn’t want her husband to get upset. And when the banks came calling, she’d lean on Jocelyn to pay off her debt. Jocelyn kept it from Angelo to avoid upsetting him, but that philosophy did not sit well with him.

“If you’re lying to me about the little things, how will I be able to trust you about the big things?” Angelo had asked often. “Here’s the thing, let’s say you’re in the habit of hiding something as trivial as spending, because you’re concerned about how I’ll react. The secrecy escalates. Next thing you know, you’ll hide certain friendships or interactions from me, because you’ll be concerned about how I’ll react. What happens when those friendships and interactions become flirtatious? Will you hide them from me, because you’ll be concerned about how I’ll react? Call me paranoid, but flirtatious tend to escalate into affairs. Will you hide an affair from me, because you’ll be concerned about how I’ll react? That’s usually what happens when people engage in that pattern of behavior.”

Jocelyn promised she’d never hide anything of that nature from him. He believed her, until he didn’t, because in the heat of an argument she let it slip that she’d been in touch with an ex-lover, whom she had referred to as “love.”

Angelo’s heart dropped.

His jealousy got the best of him, and with a lump in his throat he stormed out of the house. I need some air, he blinked away tears in the still of a cold winter night. The tightness in his chest made it difficult to breathe. The lump in his throat nearly choked him as the swell of emotions surged like lava in a volcano. He clenched his jaw as he fought the urge to cry.

     Why did she feel the need to have her ex in her life? The question circled in his thoughts. It was the same ex who had betrayed her on more than one occasion . The same ex who had left the state to be with someone else. The same ex whom she had chased after only to be left disappointed. There were times when Jocelyn’s flirtatious behavior made him feel as though his admiration was never enough. They’d fought about it often, but he still held on. This time she had gone too far.

The more he thought about it, the clearer things became. The emotional distance. The lack of affection, both physical and emotional. The daily jumping out of bed to take her sister to work, and the morning jog afterwards. Though she never returned before getting ready for work, because she claimed she simply went to her mom’s to shower and change. Suddenly, it all came together. Except he couldn’t understand why she had often said she wanted to get married to him, if she felt the need to have her ex in her life. Then to keep it from him only made things worse.

     Trust, he thought to himself, without itthere can be no love.

“Dad!” Angelo heard his son call from the office to bring him back from his contemplation. “I’m finished with my homework.”

“Bring it here, so I can check it.”

Angelo reviewed the three pages of word-problems with diagrams. After having his son re-do two equations, and re-write a sentence to be more legible, he instructed him to grab a book from the shelf for reading time.

His ten year old son, Leo, returned minutes later with a book in hand and curled up beside his dad to read. “Where’s Anjali?” He glanced around the room.

“She’s in her bedroom,” Angelo replied.

“Oh, okay,” Leo shrugged and proceeded to read. The twenty minutes of reading time passed in the blink of an eye. After his son closed the book, and set it aside, he turned to Angelo and asked about Jocelyn.

Angelo rubbed his forehead and sighed. I can’t keep using the same excusesshe’s working overtime, or she’s visiting her mother. He’d already used those same reasons to deceive himself. He couldn’t go on continuing to live a lie.

“Well, champ, the thing is,” Angelo paused, “sometimes people have different philosophies about what makes a relationship work, and they decide to go their separate ways.”

“Oh,” was all that Leo said before he buried his face in Angelo’s chest and began to cry.

“I’m sorry, kiddo,” Angelo whispered.

“Can’t you work it out? Why can’t you work it out, daddy?” Leo continued to sob.

“Aw man, baby, I wish I had an answer for you,” Angelo shook his head as his throat tightened.

They sat together on the couch. Only Leo’s sobbing broke the silence.

“It’s okay to cry, buddy, it just means your emotions have overwhelmed your body and they escape in the form of tears.”

It took several long minutes before Leo calmed down. He wiped his tears with the back of his hand and sat upright. He turned to his father and asked, “What happens now?”

“Now, we take things one day at a time,” Angelo said.

“Can I go play?” Leo asked.

“Yes you may,” Angelo smiled at him and kissed him on the forehead.

He debated with himself whether or not to share the experience with Jocelyn, but figured it would be unfair to keep it from her. She deserved to know how much Leo loved her, since she often thought he didn’t adore her as much as Anjali did.

When he relayed the details of what had transpired via text, she merely replied: OMG. She said nothing more and nothing less. He didn’t seek to pressure her for anything else.

The evening passed with an air melancholy. The children showered while Angelo prepared dinner. They ate together and discussed school, moving, and the snow that was expected to fall the following week. The children occupied themselves while Angelo washed the dishes. Each coped with their sadness in silence.

When it was time for bed, they brushed their teeth and each child went into their separate rooms. Angelo prepared the night lights, turned on the fans, and tucked Anjali into her bed first. They exchanged a hug and a kiss before Angelo turned off the main light.

“I love you,” he whispered.

“I love you too,” she said.

“Sweet dreams, baby girl.”

“Sweet dreams to you too.”

He pulled the door closed behind him and walked into Leo’s room. He found Leo playing with his toys on the floor.

“Hey, you, up in bed, chop-chop,” he clapped.

Leo climbed into bed, grabbed his stuffed animals and pulled them in close. Angelo spread the blankets across the bed and asked Leo if he wanted a bedtime story. Leo nodded. Angelo grabbed the book off the nightstand and sat on the bed beside his son.

“Scoot over, bud,” he adjusted a pillow.

Leo started crying again. Angelo placed the book back on the nightstand and turned to his son.

“Hey, hey, what’s wrong?” he asked gently.

“I miss Jocelyn. I’m going to miss her forever.”

“Oh, baby boy,” Angelo leaned in.

“I’m probably going to cry for weeks. Can’t she come back? Tell her to come back.”

“Come here,” Angelo embraced his son.

“She makes half of being here fun, and you make the other half of being here fun. You can’t let her leave, daddy. Tell her to come back.”

     I don’t think she wants to, Angelo reflected on the silence that echoed between him and Jocelyn in the days after the argument. They hadn’t said much to each other, but when they did they only argued about that one detail that changed their lives. He made the mistake of crying in front of her, and without saying a word she turned and left to never return.

“Nothing is ever going to be the same now, daddy,” Leo continued sobbing.

“I know baby, I know. It’s okay to cry. Just go ahead and let it all out.”

“Can I talk to her?”

“What?” Angelo cast his son a curious glance in the blue glow of the nightlight.

“Can I talk to her?”

“I don’t think she’s awake right now, buddy,” he lied. He didn’t want to burden her with their pain.

“Can we please try?” Leo begged.

Angelo sighed. “Okay,” he relented, and sent her a text that he was going to call her because Leo wanted to speak with her. Angelo dialed her number when she acknowledged his message. Her face appeared on the screen.

“Hey, sorry, but here he is,” Angelo said before he turned the screen and camera to face Leo. “Okay baby boy, go ahead and tell her what you wanted to say.”

“Please come back. Can you please come back?” His eyes flooded with tears.

Angelo broke down, dropped his phone on the bed and embraced his son. They cried together for several long minutes. The call disconnected. Angelo fished for the phone among the twist of blankets when it vibrated.

Jocelyn had replied with: You’re killing me. I wish I was holding him right now.

     He needs that right now, Angelo replied before he set his phone down on the nightstand and embraced his son.

“Is she coming over?” Leo looked up with reddened eyes.

“I don’t think so, baby boy,” Angelo shook his head.

Leo continued to cry in his father’s arms. He wrapped his arms around Angelo’s neck and squeezed tight. Leo heard his father sob, and pulled away to look his father in the eyes. “We’re going to be okay, right daddy? We’re going to be okay?”

“Yes, baby boy, we’re going to be just fine,” Angelo reassured him.

Leo curled up against his father, pulled the blankets close with his stuffed animals and cried himself to sleep. He hadn’t cried himself to sleep in his father’s arms since he was an infant. Angelo lied there with him, listening to him breathe for close to an hour. A million thoughts ran across his mind. Her silence and unwillingness to apologize were nothing knew, but her unwillingness to do so in this instance sent a pretty clear message to him. Jocelyn had chosen to cut Angelo and his children out of her life in order to maintain her friendship with her ex, but would not cut her ex out of her life to have Angelo and his children as her family. Then it dawned on him that his son’s first heartbreak came as a result of his father’s last.

 

ROMANTIC MUSINGS: Heartbreak

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Though heartbreak is as predictable as death, providing symptoms and hints of the inevitable, the difference is that the pain ends with the finality of death, and heartbreak echoes through our lives.

Heartbreak kills you in a way that perpetuates the pain. It haunts you with the ghosts of passions that faded into the shadows of memory. Whereas death only haunts the living for a brief period, heartbreak haunts you with tears amid the echo of silence for as long as you long for the magic of what once was, and may never be again.

Some loses come at the behest of distance, a chasm filled with the things that were never said. Others are the result of infidelities, omissions, secrets and lies. Measuring the pain is futile, for it is merely a fool’s endeavor akin to describing color to a blind man.

Though the shades of love come in many colors, heartbreak exists in only one hue. Sadly, it doesn’t matter how you paint the picture, because your tears will cause the colors on the canvas of your heart to run like a painting left out in the rain.

What is it about heartbreak that stays with us longer than the jubilation of love? What causes the violation of betrayal to loom over us longer than the light of affection? What causes the echo of lies to resonate longer than the whispers of love?

We believe the former and forget the latter, and as a consequence we believe no one who promises happiness, while we cling to the cynicism that anticipates the pain.

Regardless of how much we brace ourselves for the impact, we are never truly ready for love, and even less adequately prepared for the inevitability of heartbreak. This is why life is full of surprises, and why we must live life for the moment!

There is no rhyme or reason to it, but even though life and death, or love and heartbreak will not be part of your plan, there is bound to be someone who will drive you made with love and make you feel alive. And that makes it all worth the memories.

LEADERSHIP V FOLLOWSHIP – Knowing the Difference Makes a Difference (3 in a 5-part series)

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“It is for the elder man to rule and the younger to submit.” ~Plato

Though the ancient Greeks were not the first and last to adhere to that mindset we must ask ourselves if it is time for a paradigm shift.

Have we arrived at a juncture in our evolution where Old-World opinions must be substituted with ideas more appropriate for the modern mind?

For if we are to raise our children to be adequately prepared to make the world better than we will leave it, then it is incumbent upon us to divert from the philosophies of our elders that have hindered progress.

The Cold War is over.

The animosity we collectively had against Russia dissipated in the public consciousness for the better part of the past two and a half decades after the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union.

Referring to Communist Russia, prior to the collapse of the U.S.S.R. would be beneficial for us to review because there are parallels with Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s rule, which remind us of the dangers of Socialism.

Not for the purposes of fueling the flames of propaganda, but because history is a great teacher.

Saddam, a Socialist, patterned his form of governing after Joseph Stalin, the Russian leader who ruled under the concept of “Socialism in One Country.”

Let’s assume, for a moment, any criticisms of Capitalism are predicated on greed, and hunger for power.

I will concede that is a harsh reality.

Greed and hunger for power though are not exclusive to monetary gain, and the moment we compromise the protection provided under the Constitution by foregoing a Republic in favor of a Socialist form of government, we are in danger of being powerless against any leader who assumes that role.

Is Britain an ideal country to migrate to?

They tax their people through the nose.

Should we choose to move to Germany?

There’s a limit to personal freedoms like choosing your vocation and educational path and being stuck with it, which also limits employment options beyond your educational training if you get laid-off, or fired.

France?

The Socialists are currently falling out of favor with the public. The Socialist government has failed to prevent French automakers from outsourcing factories, and now thousands of workers are not only left unemployed, but there now exists a rift between the staunch left-wing Socialists and the pro-business Socialists.

This on the heels of a controversial move to loosen France’s labor laws…

Yet, some claim these countries have far better systems than the United States?

Not to mention that all of the aforementioned countries are members of the European Union, which is on the brink of collapse.

Where do we go from here?

Honestly?

With all the ranting from celebrities who stand on their soap boxes and claim they are leaving the U.S. what choice do the rest of us have?

As much as celebrities claim they relate to us, we do not possess the means to simply move our families to another country, and truth is, despite their demands that wealthy Republicans part with their fortunes for the poor they themselves wouldn’t spend a dime of their own fortunes to help us move.

Do we truly expect to find a solution elsewhere?

Why would we even consider it when we frequently share memes about “working through difficulties?”

Or do we merely post such statements to appear committed to our cause?

What do we hope to teach our children by fleeing when we must lead by example?

For several hours a day we trust our children to an educational system that has scarcely evolved in over half a century.

Before I proceed, let me make it clear that I do not fault teachers for the following facts, because in truth it is the government’s mishandling of the educational system that crippled progress.

In 2015, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released the results of its global rankings on student performance in mathematics, reading, and science, on the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA.

The PISA is a worldwide exam administered every three years that measures 15-year-olds in 72 countries. About 540,000 students took the exam in 2015.

The U.S. ranked 35th in Math (well below the OECD average), 22nd in Reading, 25th in Science…it serves to note that in all three categories the U.S. dropped from its previous rankings in 2012 (the last time the test was administered).

Do we continue to allow the government to interfere given the most recent failed experiment, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which passed Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2001? (Both Democrats and Republicans are at fault for that disaster).

It emerged out of concern that the American education system was no longer internationally competitive­­—significantly increased the federal role in holding schools responsible for the academic progress of all students, and placed a special focus on ensuring that states and schools boost the performance of certain groups of students, such as English-language learners, students in special education, and poor and minority children, whose achievement, on average, trailed their peers.

A noble cause, to be sure, but how did our elected officials determine they were going to make this a successful campaign?

Among the myriad of blunders, the Federal government did not force States to comply with the new requirements, but later threatened them with the loss of federal Title I money if they didn’t.

How was this even logical?

Though States were required to bring all students to the “proficient level” on state tests, each state was permitted to divergently determine their own definition of “proficiency,” and which tests to use.

After a series of waivers, such as no longer being required to meet prior mandates, and no longer being required to meet the deadline for proficiency standards…

…the government instituted teacher evaluation systems, while failing to raise and allocate the funds necessary for schools to improve their ability to provide students with the necessary tools and resources to succeed.

The goal, as I understand it, was to bridge the gap between high performing students/schools and low performing students/schools.

Though when it became evident that this endeavor would not be achieved, one solution presented was to lower the bar of proficiency by hindering the progress of high performing schools/students to minimize that gap.

How does this adequately prepare our children to be competitive in an ever-globalizing marketplace?

Which brings us to our current conundrum, the Bill to Abolish the Department of Education.

Let’s be honest, that is not going to happen.

I repeat.

That. Is. Not. Going. To. Happen.

In truth, the presentation of this Bill is merely political posturing by politicians on both side of the line. Yet, once again we are afforded an opportunity to learn from the past.

History is a great teacher.

The Cold War is over, but the mentality instilled in us during that time has permeated the collective consciousness of the American people of the new millennium. It was during the era of the Cold War when we were indoctrinated with the notion that freedom was exclusive to America. We were raised to believe in our own superiority, perpetuated our condescension, consumed this potion of pride that has us intoxicated on narcissism, and it is these misconceptions that have skewed our perception of reality.

This, I daresay, is a consequence of an educational system guided by the manipulative hand of politicians who are more concerned with preserving our memory of the past rather than learning from it.

Akin to Socialism, the power of individual teachers—who are committed to our children—is limited by government officials who prefer a system that perpetuates false notions and perceptions of the world rather than to adequately prepare us for competing in it and changing it for the better.

As long as our educational system remains under the yoke of the federal government it will remain an archaic institution limited by the powers bestowed on it by politicians who would prefer to divert funds into the pockets of lobbyists in lieu of investing in our children’s future.

Could we—like the Communist Russia—have entered an Era of Stagnation without having realized it?