Letters to the editor (09/05/12)


Teacher is grateful for opportunities in LL
As the children of Los Lunas begin another school year, I would like to thank Deborah Fox for the nice article she wrote about my recent retirement.
In the 23 years that I have had the honor of teaching Los Lunas’ children, I have been blessed with the chance to work with many wonderful professionals.
My colleagues, past and present, represent a strong commitment to the children we taught. I have witnessed tireless, passionate and dedicated professionals who when asked to do more would go the extra mile because it was best for “the kids.”
The passion that my colleagues bring to their job was a source of great inspiration for me as I developed as an educator.
I would like to thank my longest serving principal, Mildred Chavez.  Mrs. Chavez gave me the opportunity to create and develop a nationally recognized physical education curriculum that was developmentally appropriate and researched based.
The freedom I was given, allowed Katherine Gallegos, and then Sundance Elementary, children to experience a program that encouraged lifetime physical activity as well as health and wellness.
Winning was minimized and self improvement was stressed.  Special events like Turkey trots, Friday fun runs and Family Fitness Nights allowed us to include family members in the pursuit of wellness.
Lastly, but most importantly, I must thank the thousands of children who have touched me in ways I am only now starting to realize. As a physical educator, I could watch children evolve physically, socially and emotionally, some over the course of 8 years.
This humbling evolutionary experience has made me truly appreciate the wonder that is the child! It is these Los Lunas children who collectively pushed me to refine my skills to be a better educator, and have provided me with more than enough memories to last a lifetime.

Dave Hinman
Retired physical education specialist
Los Lunas Schools

It appears that there is no right or wrong
I found Robert Sanchez’s letter of Aug. 8 interesting because of his first paragraphs’ introductory questions and suggestive statements: “I’ve been wondering — wondering for a long time. What’s the answer? Is there an answer?”
“Value judgments and faith statements (story narratives) can’t be evaluated the same way as are statements about physical events (that which is real on planet earth). They aren’t true or false.”
Plus, grasping Robert’s thinking (intellectual activities) about beliefs and why the beliefs.
Also, because Robert’s letter involves world views versus earthly reality, and because I am no longer burdened with a fixed world view, nor burdened with the necessity of pretending a false reality or lying to defend one, perhaps I can be of some aid  with further thoughts.
Robert, humans are intrinsic storytellers, with staggering imaginations. Likely, human’s first words were sound-uttered verbs like “run” or nouns like “lions” or, later, short sentences with a direct object, like, “Lion ate John.”
I truly doubt the complex language for storytelling (narrative creation) existed until humans controlled fire and used the protective campfire for the safety and leisure to develop adjectives, adverbs and, especially, the prepositional phrases needed for expressing limitations and emotions.
Those humans were bothered with the same questions used in your first paragraph (around for a long time indeed). I am rationally certain (not by faith but by expectation) that those humans did not have any idea of scientific methods as a tool to answer those questions — but they did develop storytellers in an attempt to explain the natural world’s realities (including the visible cosmos).
Let us call them shamanic stories told by a shaman for lack of a better word, most often using narrative storytelling built upon revelations from all sources, types, and non-visible places/dimensions and, hypnotics, etc. (for instance, Martin Luther mentions the throne in the water closet).
You can use your own imagination to understand that, even in today’s reality, those same types of storytellers still exist, with lots of new titles, greatly multiplied in numbers, and many still adamantly insist that all reality can be explained with storytelling, that, that which is real on planet earth (science/education/critical-thinking) are unnecessary impediments.
Robert, if you  are familiar with my previous letters you have noted I mention that three words: truth, fact and reality are one and the same and may be expressed as truth/fact/reality. Robert, there are three more words that can be so expressed, you mentioned only two, but those words are opinion/belief/faith, and those words are embarrassingly absented by shamanic reality storytelling from the scientific methods centered around skepticism and falsification.
In science, opinions can be best expressed as hypotheses, beliefs expressed as observed results and faith as rational expectations due to repetitions generating the same results. Whereas, statements like “in my opinion and I believe and I have faith” are roads that lead into perpetual intellectual circles, always defended by even more circles, including pretension and direct lying when believed necessary.
Finally Robert, be careful in such questions because humans have another quirk, identified by use of the scientific method, that of cognitive dissonance, a sort of defense mechanism (sometimes quite dangerous) which makes it hard for most human brains to simultaneously hold directly opposing information about reality, especially when in direct opposition to firmly adopted, fixed world views, with religious opinions/beliefs/faith topping the danger list.
For examples Robert, on one side of your letter was a letter by Gilbert Ulivarri Jr., who often writes and defends his insistence of the perfection, through history, of his beloved, “the one true” Roman Catholic Church; however, he must also pretend that during the church’s long history, that same church, sometimes corrupt, did not either directly or indirectly perpetrate the early deaths of millions of human beings, including countless numbers of the innocent (those others/heretics).
And on the other side a letter by Dorian Preston, which contains a mixture of politics and religion, while rowing the boat of opinion/belief/faith. And search as I may in the ripples left by the oars, no evidence exists for any of the claims stated in Preston’s narrative. Humans can almost, in extreme mental cases, exist intellectually within narratives alone.
And yet, if anyone noticed, I created a storytelling narrative for the fun of it, containing opinions and beliefs about how human language developed over the ages.
Of course I do not need to prove the narrative because I also know there is not a single human that can disprove the story — Robert mentioned it — handy, huh! Robert ended his letter thusly: “We also accept them as a matter of faith (we don’t even ask the question.)”
“It appears that we have no beliefs that do not ultimately rely on faith. Or am I somehow asking an illegal question? If so, how so?”
Did I help any Robert? Welcome to the world of non-fixed world views, a reality seeking search with infinitely more questions than answers — a rather tribe-less and lonely, increasingly fact/truth/reality world without circles within circles of story-telling opinion/belief/faith!
Reality, 100 percent, an endless search, it either is or it is not!

Terry Mehaffey
Los Lunas
Governor makes mistake with books
I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!
In the news recently has been the effort by Gov. Susana Martinez to give every first grader in New Mexico a book of their own.
The effort cost about $200,000 for 28,829 books and was passed by the New Mexico Legislature. All good.
What is bad is that two of the three publishers selected to sell books were not New Mexican.
UNM Press was one and that is fine and the way things should be but the other two companies were not in New Mexico – Raven Tree Press of Illinois and Salinda Bookshelf in Arizona.
The last time I looked, Illinois and Arizona are not in New Mexico. I am sorry to my Arizona publishing friends but Arizona Gov. Brewer has not bought books from New Mexico book publishers to hand out.
Gov. Martinez relied only on really bad information from a very clueless person. The excuse could be that they want award-winning books to give to kids.
But I know of many award-winning New Mexico children’s books that were not selected – LPD Press/Rio Books has some and there are many more out there.
The argument could also be made that for Navajo books they went with an Arizona company.
I know for a fact that other publishers in New Mexico also publish Navajo books for kids.
This is a slap in the face.
I want all of you to send a copy of this message or one you write yourself to your New Mexico representatives and the governor’s office. They may be able to read them.
I also want every publisher and author of kid’s books in New Mexico to send it to the media. I have done both.
In these hard times we don’t need our own elected officials to stab us in the back.

Barbe Awalt
Los Ranchos