Category Archives: Uncategorized


Exceptional and Courageous Teachers Inspire and Lead

American schools are suffering. Reeling for many reasons: misguided governmental policies, a devastating pandemic, inadequate funding, mismanagement that allows organizational priorities to supersede academic excellence, and a misunderstanding of what quality learning is and why it is important to the health of our nation.

Most egregious is the diminishment of the teaching profession from a dynamic force for guiding students toward authentic and multifaceted achievement, to a group of civil servants expected to comply with expectations from special interest groups, lawmakers, and bureaucrats.

Ken Weaver, Executive Director
Carol Strickland
Immediate Past Executive Director

Many organizations recognize those problems and attempt to find ways to solve them. The most influential is the National Teachers Hall of Fame. The rationale behind that declaration is the fact that it attacks today’s issues not by starting with top-down structural reforms like better funding, higher salaries, more enlightened laws, and other kinds of administrative tinkering.

Those changes ARE necessary. But the essential kind of rethinking must focus on who teachers are and what they do. The Hall of Fame does that by recognizing and honoring exceptional career teachers, encouraging excellence in teaching, and preserving the rich heritage of the teaching profession in the United States.

The Hall of Fame also enhances the public’s awareness of the vital role of education in society by working collaboratively with national education organizations. Building linkages with other national teacher recognition programs. It recognizes and celebrates the accomplishments of exceptional career teachers. Preserves their careers in museum and virtual formats Utilizes their skills and experiences to elevate teacher quality and student learning through integrated programming.

The book, The New Learning Infrastructure: Educators with the Courage to Reform Local Schools (scheduled for publication, Spring 2023), is an effort to examine schools from the inside out. Looking at school reform as a people endeavor, not just organizational restructuring. The book’s format is meant to convey that idea. The author gives the background of challenges schools are encountering. But uses key characters in a fictional story to show how their transformation is essential to upgrading educational effectiveness and quality.

While the story is fictional, the plot is based on over thirty years of working with real public schools and educators throughout the nation. All remarkable and inspiring people. Much like the teachers selected as members of the National Teachers Hall of Fame. The book is dedicated to those classroom-based leaders. To what they have done and continue to accomplish as models of active service to their profession and students.

To illustrate why the book is dedicated to the 150 members of The National Teachers Hall of Fame, check out these examples of what these extraordinary career teachers continue to do inside and outside the classroom:

Jennifer Williams (Class of 2016), a high school art teacher from Nampa, Idaho, created a classroom to inspire creative thinking, self-discipline, dignity in work, doing something well, and promoting curiosity and respect. She relates the knowledge to the lives of her students while planting seeds that giving back to society is important and art is the perfect way to do that. Her “Project Van Go” has taken art lessons to thousands of students in rural schools in Idaho for four decades. She allows students to be teachers of the day, using art to bridge age and ethnic barriers. Even after retirement, Williams and her former students, now art teachers themselves, continue to share the joy of art to a new generation.

Christopher Albrecht (Class of 2019), a fourth-grade teacher from Brockport, New York, infuses his classroom with core ideas: Creativity allows for the expansion of ideas, breaks the rules of conventional thought, and prepares students for complex problem-solving. Students must take productive risks as failure is an effective pathway to learning. Productive learners will come to have faith in themselves. Learning should build a student’s willingness to work hard. The focus of effective teaching is focusing on how students learn best rather than teaching the standards. Working together is a valuable way to learn.

Andrew Beiter (Class of 2020), a middle school social studies teacher from Springville, New York, and his students started the Springville Students for Human Rights in response to the genocide in Darfur. This group was the catalyst for the Summer Institute for Human Rights and Genocide Studies for Buffalo area high school students. The summer institute over the years has morphed into the Academy for Human Rights (, which focuses on putting knowledge into action for students and educators in western New York. In addition, Beiter co-founded the Educators’ Institute for Human Rights (, devoted to supporting educators who rebuild communities around the world.

Dr. Melissa Collins (Class of 2020), a second-grade teacher from Memphis, Tennessee, and her students have educated the community through active engagement such as Carnival Physics. Participants, dressed as marchers of the Civil Rights era, learn about physics through carnival rides and a civil rights march from the Civil Rights Museum to the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was assassinated. Dr. Collins has collaborated with teachers around the nation and the world. She has brought the world into her classroom through Zoom sessions with teachers and student-to-student exchanges.

Donna Gradel (Class of 2020), a high school environmental science teacher from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and her students have been change agents in their school district and around the world. Based on student research, the board of education approved a district-wide energy policy and installed energy-efficient lighting and a new ventilation system. In Kenya, Donna and her students brought clean water and protein to orphans. They constructed an aquaponic system to raise tilapia for food. After learning the food for the fish was too expensive, they obtained a grant from MIT and invented low-cost sustainable fish food and the system to produce the ingredients. Subsequent classes have created affordable designs for chicken coops and cost-effective chicken food to provide protein at a school in Kenya that rescues victims of sexual abuse. Gradel and her students have traveled to Kenya to build the coops and the system for the food, extending the classroom across the globe.

Kareem Neal (Class of 2022), a high school special education teacher from Phoenix, Arizona, transforms his classroom into a strong community of learners. He builds on his student strengths and inspires them to give their full effort as they make progress toward the goals of the Individualized Education Program and learning employment skills. For fourteen years, Neal has also sponsored a student organization that aims to eliminate the biases/pre-judgments that prevent people from connecting with peers and fellow humans. His belief in his students gives them the skills and confidence to be employed and not have to be cared for by others. His goal is to make all his students feel welcome, wanted, and valuable.

Robert Fenster (Class of 2022), a high school history teacher from Hillsborough, New Jersey, creates “labs” in his classroom where students are given a set of learning goals and a variety of options about how to achieve them, including working individually and in groups. The option gives students choices about their learning. At one of his labs, Bob teaches mini lessons to help students struggling to grasp a subject. At another lab, students are creating podcasts about race in the US. One of Fenster’s collaborations has resulted in an exchange program with teachers in Sierra Leone to create global connections between students on topics around slavery.

Gary Koppelman (Class of 2014) taught fifth grade for forty-six years at Blissfield Community Schools in Blissfield, Michigan. His classroom, which he called the “World of Wonder,” featured challenging, creative activities connected to the BELL, a climatically controlled greenhouse at the cutting edge of life science investigation. He envisioned and raised the funds to create a hands-on, minds-on approach to learning, and he continues to oversee its care and growth, even after retiring. The BELL lab has challenged young minds to explore new worlds of plants, animals, and habitats, resulting in many scientists and science teachers added to our society. Koppelman received the 2013 National Science Teachers Association Shell Science Teaching Award. He continues to serve the 4-H community in Blissfield.

Dr. Rebecca Palacios (Class of 2014) taught for thirty-four years in early childhood, dual language education in Corpus Christi, Texas. She now serves as the Senior Curriculum Advisor for Age of Learning, Inc., the premier online learning tool for pre-school through high school students. She also mentors area teachers and is a co-founder and former Vice-Chair of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She is a nationwide professional development presenter and has served on committees for the National Science Foundation, the Education Development Center in Boston, and Scholastic, Inc. Palaciosis a published author, with her latest book entitled Being Your Child’s Most Important Teacher: A Guide for Families with Young Children. She retired from teaching in 2010, but she has not retired from the education profession.

Linda Evanchyk (Class of 2010) taught English and Journalism for thirty-eight years at Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. After retiring in 2017, she decided to continue her dedication to the district that provided her own education as well as her teaching career. She ran for the Okaloosa County District School Board and was elected in 2018. Evanchyk was recently re-elected for another four-year term. She was one of the first Okaloosa County teachers to attain National Board Certification. She was designated as a Master Journalism Educator by the National Journalism Education Association, and she was named Florida’s Journalism Teacher of the Year in 1995 and 2009. She co-authored the book Those Who Teach Do More: Tributes to American Teachers. The community appreciates her passion for making the district everything it can be, as she attends school activities, supporting the students and staff. 

Dr. David Lazerson (Class of 2008), more affectionately known as “Dr. Laz” to his colleagues and students, is still in the classroom after forty-five years, as a Special Education teacher and music director at The Quest Center of the Broward County Public Schools in Florida. He is one of the founders of Project CURE the World, a racial harmony group that has become a force for positive change regarding racism and stereotypes. Dr. Laz and the group were selected as the recipient of the 2022 National Education Association’s Rosa Parks Memorial Award, awarded each year to an individual or organization who inspires others to champion the cause of human and civil rights. The Showtime original movie “Crown Heights” is based on Dr. Laz’s book Sharing Turf, which documented the New York race riots of 1981. How he helped to bring the people together with music. He continues to perform and use music to enrich the learning process for his students with autism and Down Syndrome. His latest project, the H.E.ARTS Project focuses on empowering individuals with special needs through the Expressive Arts. 

Norm Conard (Class of 2007) taught high school Social Studies for thirty-one years in the small town of Uniontown, Kansas. His hands-on, minds-on approach to learning history challenged his students to explore history through the eyes of unsung heroes. His students inspired him through their research to find little-known names that had changed the course of history. When a student found the name Irena Sendler in a footnote, she became interested in the woman who had saved Polish children during the Holocaust. Discovering the woman was still alive but living in poor conditions in Poland, the students and Norm worked to bring attention to what a heroine Sendler was. The Polish government took note and provided for her until her death in 2008. The story brought attention to the difference one person can make. That led to the creation of the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes in the nearby city of Fort Scott, Kansas. Today, the Center trains teachers to help students explore all facets of history, features a museum and a new park. Under Conard’s direction, the Center has reached three million students in its fifteen years of operation through virtual and on-site presentations. Since retiring from teaching, Conard’s classroom has grown exponentially.

Dr. Francis Mustapha (Class of 1994) taught Biology and Life Science in Fort Wayne, Indiana, for twenty-seven years. He believes all students can learn and should be life-long learners. He confronted students who did not have confidence in themselves to succeed in science classes. He also helped to ignite the love of science in young women who felt it was only a man’s world. He mentored dozens of aspiring science teachers to pass along his love of the subject matter into good hands for the future. Born in a small village in West Africa where no one could read or write, Mustapha’s life changed when he was able to attend a new school that opened in a nearby village. His dream of providing a building for a new school in the village became a reality in 2013. He now serves as the Executive Director of Madina Village School in Sierra Leone. He and his wife Bobbie, now residents of Sierra Leone, are building a hospital in the village to further the idea that teachers can, indeed, change the world.


Recognizing selected teachers for their outstanding contributions to students and the profession is important. There will always be such teachers, and they deserve recognition. They are excellent models for what the practice of teaching should regularly be.

The education system must systematically close the gap between exceptionality and standard practice, making stories such as those above closer to the norm. To show how a new learning infrastructure can help make that happen by removing bureaucratic hobbles and limitations on teacher professionalism that are a disservice to our nation and its students.

©2022 Stu Ervay – All Rights Reserved

With acknowledgment to the contributions of Dr. Ken Weaver and Carol Strickland.


AARP is a worthwhile organization founded on altruistic principles. To help retired educators and others survive and find meaning in their advanced years. I am pleased to be associated with its work at the state level. To provide service within categories in which I am qualified and interested.

My service preference in AARP has been and continues to be building bridges to the education world. Which was AARP’s birthplace through the efforts of Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus, the first woman high school principal in California. Who founded the National Retired Teachers Association. Then AARP two years later.

AARP’s current CEO is Jo Ann Jenkins, who wrote the book, Disrupt Aging: A Bold New Path to Living Your Best Life at Every AgeThe organization now sponsors projects to advance the book’s principles, particularly in post-secondary education institutions.

Before the coronavirus pandemic I outlined a possible lifespan planning course for college students based on Jenkins’ book. I shared it with the Executive Committee of AARP Kansas.

Because of pandemic-induced turmoil, attempts to promote the course in Kansas’ higher education were curtailed. Campus decision-makers already had their hands full with day-to-day challenges.

A similar challenge remains today. The pandemic’s effect on university enrollment and program purposes is causing a retrenching and redirection of curricular content. Strategic planning in higher education might open the door to implementation of a lifespan planning course. But most efforts are to reformat curriculum to meet high demand careers. 

I continue to believe a lifespan planning course is a good idea. Both now and in the future. If four-year universities are not currently interested, implementation might first occur in community colleges and technical schools. They have a strong focus on the trades and development of applied skills. Those students also need to plan their lives around making good lifespan decisions.


I am gratified to see that AARP is also concerned about what is happening in public schools. With special attention on the epidemic of student depression, anxiety, and suicides. No doubt Dr. Andrus would share that concern and support our responsibility, as elders, to do something about it.

In a Special Report appearing in the September, 2022 issue of the AARP Bulletin, Stephen Parrine and Jo Ann Jenkins explain the scope and seriousness of the problem: “Our Kids in Crisis.” Both the article and Jenkins’ commentary are incisive and dive deeply into the root causes of the despair experienced by so many of our nation’s youth. They make clear our responsibility as elders to find ways to help.

Parrine points to multiple reasons for the crisis, focusing primarily on the pervasiveness of social media and effects of pandemic-induced isolation. He also suggests that the prevalence of mass shootings in schools and intense political rancor in the nation are ongoing perpetrators of anxiety and concern about safety.

Both Parrine and Jenkins suggest ways to start mitigating the problem. Legislation to better control the variabilities of social media and its bad actors. More intense family intervention on the use of smart phones and other devices. Contacting and making use of community support services. Giving young people more attention and love. Improving the quantity and quality of mental health services in the schools and communities.

My proposal for a lifespan planning course at the post-secondary level does not specifically address the issues mentioned by Parrine and Jenkins. The crisis they discuss is most acute among those in middle and high school. However, since the course is based on Jenkins’ beliefs about disrupting aging, it does incorporate the importance of our developing a strong sense of purpose for our lives, undergirded by a powerful belief system.

Those aspects of disrupting aging are often soft-pedaled. They seem less important than financial and health preparations. Two elements both practical and clearly essential, often mentioned in the commercial and political world.

But they are, in the larger scope of things, just survival techniques. How to live longer, comfortably, and in good physical health.   

As an octogenarian, I think back on my early years. Acknowledge the extreme importance of having made decisions that included but transcended mere survival techniques: a dedication to a life of service and beliefs about who I am in the context of religious convictions.

One more point that must be accepted as important. And can be found in Jenkins’ book and the course on lifespan planning: the feeling of being part of something bigger than we are as individuals. It is hard to explain why that is so critical, but successful human societies in history have always included rites of passage. Culminating with a sense of belonging within the individual, being accepted as part of the family, community, or tribe as an essential contributor.

My hope is that Jenkins’ Disrupt Aging initiative results in a substantive national movement that does more than just play around the edges of the issues and recommendations for change. That it delves deeply into understanding who and what we are as we move through life. That it gives us a philosophical AND psychological roadmap for continuing growth and feelings of living a life well lived.

In the meantime, my upcoming book, The New Learning Infrastructure, examines deficiencies in our nation’s public schools. How they should and must be overcome. Suggestions in the book align with points made by Jenkins, but are also reflected in the work of the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Its inducted teachers are honored for their exceptional creativity, leadership, and methods for engaging students with imagination and a powerful sense of purpose. The teacher/members of the NTHF show what true education is, thereby building young people into a new kind of reality. A reality that underscores student inclusivity, purpose-filled dynamics, and a sense of accomplishment that goes far beyond the acquisition of a good grade point average.

All human beings need a strong sense of purpose and meaning in their lives. Restructuring our society and its education institutions is a way to acknowledge that truth. Then do something about it.

 ©2022 Stu Ervay – All Rights Reserved


In the late 1950s I was a journalism major at Phoenix Community College. I edited the college paper one semester and wrote my own column. It was a pleasure to be among the young men and women who shared my enthusiasm for writing.

The professor who taught us and served as advisor for the paper was eccentric and opinionated. The atmosphere —both conversational spice and a freewheeling anything-goes.

To this day I enjoy movies that depict the dynamics of a newspaper office. Blessed that I lived many years in the Kansas town made famous by William Allen White during the early part of the 20th Century. The progressive editor of the Emporia Gazette and outspoken advocate for governmental common sense.

After graduating from Phoenix College, my career path diverted away from journalism. Because of a growing interest in the field of education.

But there was another reason.

Journalism has a hard edge to it, an underlying cynicism. Writing for publications could be and often was a positive way to provide service. But two aspects bothered me.

One was the fact most big city newspapers were overseen by dictatorial publishers who forced their staffs to be in alignment with their political and economic biases.

The other issue had to do with internal competitiveness that motivated writers and reporters to be masters of one-upmanship. To crave bylines and the attention that comes to those who enjoy controversy and influencing public opinion. 

Controversy attracts attention. Especially if it is scandalous or outrageous.

Influencing public opinion induces feelings of power.

Constitutionally protected freedom of speech can be a slippery slope. Especially now with the current media climate. In the 1787 era books, pamphlets, political speechifying, and community newspapers ruled.

Today’s internet-fueled media platforms, combined with cable and streaming outlets, make the media seem like the center of the universe. Delivered in convenient handheld boxes we euphemistically call phones. Possibly the device you use to read this blog.

Controversy and strongly conveyed opinions generate usership. Usership stimulates commercial and political entities to buy advertising time. Lots of it.

Commercial priorities insist on capturing our attention as much of the time as possible. Which is why journalism has been buried in the larger world of communications. Marketing, information technology, social media, and all the rest of it.

A repertoire of messages that scream, “Watch or listen to me! My information and opinions are most important, requiring your constant attention and follow-through.”

“Breaking news” is an attention grabber because it is brand new stuff, just coming into the newsroom. Always made to seem important, even if it only involves a fender bender in some small town. 

Tragedies, whether natural or human caused, are typically punctuated with extended interviews of people suffering the loss of loved ones or property. Human relations material to which we can all relate.

We are being managed by the communications monolith. Fed by the swirl of popular opinion. Interspersed with beliefs of those deemed important enough to quote or interview. It is pervasive and intrusive, active 24/7. To gain our attention, dollars, votes, or some other kind of support. With interludes involving sports and entertainment specials that capture our enthusiasm and fascination with the possibility of winning. Or being enthralled by amazing performances.

Years ago a popular play was titled, “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.” A 1961 musical with book, music, and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley. It was about a man who lived an indulgent life. Only to realize at its end he should have been more accepting of what he had in the way of love and family closeness.

The main character was thrown off track by the influence of a capitalistic and hedonistic world that dictated the meaning of a successful life. Property and pleasure. He did not know the value of what he had until it was too late.

Principles of supply and demand make a good economic system in the larger sense. We produce things or activities people enjoy and are willing to pay for. If things or activities are no longer desired, they are replaced by products and services people like and purchase.

Creative marketing and communication make it all work. Overpowering the quiet and reflective aspects of life.

That phenomenon is also changing our politics in ways that damage us not only as individuals, but as an American society. People who use the media to propagate false narratives and ego-centric feverishness are making us lose sight of what is really important in life.

Historian Jon Meacham wrote a book titled, “The Soul of America: The Battle for Our Better Angels.”  The book’s title was influenced by the writings of Abraham Lincoln. Who was well acquainted with the conflicting influencers in our nation. Our struggle to balance American ideals with the reality of our basest selves.

Prejudice based on fear and the possible loss of status associated with an overblown definition of freedom.

The soul of America is perpetuated by a better sense of responsibility for the welfare of each other. Our better angels. It exists in millions of us. But many others believe our nation was founded on the idea of unfettered liberty to do as we wish. Using whatever means necessary to accomplish that goal.

Breaking news. Who and what we are depends on responsible professional media. To temper extremist outbursts with careful monitoring and adjustment. Not censorship. Not redactions.

Just an ongoing view that liberty and freedom depend on moderate and informed discourse. One that results in a society that matches our American rhetoric

©2022 Stu Ervay – All Rights Reserved


In my quest to provide service I occasionally encounter a challenge hard to navigate.

Some people make stereotypical assumptions because of my profession. That anyone in higher education is guided solely by scientific evidence. Which some think is manufactured knowledge of questionable origin.

That those who work with secular scholars must be the enemy. Who reject faith and religious teachings as guideposts for living.

C.S. Lewis tried to overcome that misperception through logic and fantasy. With the use of metaphor and worlds beyond our understanding of reality.

Narnia is Lewis’ invented society full of symbolism associated with good, evil, and sacrifice. The creatures who populate his mythical earth are eventually saved. Through courage and the self-sacrifice of one who advocates love, empathy, and emotional understanding.

Lewis’ friend, J. R. R. Tolkien, played a key role in convincing him that Christianity must be the source of our devotion to God and each other. That such devotion can indeed be hard, requiring both suffering and sacrifice.

In my mind, devotion and faith are close to being synonyms. Lewis and Tolkien believed they were, but with understanding being the linchpin. To them, blind faith had no substance. Uninformed allegiance to something or someone was both dangerous and shallow.

Tolkien’s ring bestowed great power on the one who possessed it, but also infected that person with a maniacal obsession. To dominate and subjugate all creatures, human and otherwise, to glorifying and serving the ring holder’s desires. Eventually the ring was destroyed, and middle earth was ruled by a wise and beneficent Christ-like king.

Informed faith results in reasoned conclusions. Lewis worked from that belief much of his adult life. Like a lawyer builds a case, proving with logic and evidence there is a benevolent God. That Christ brought his admonitions to us on earth, deserving our devotion.


Most of my professional life has been associated with applied scholarship. Systematic study that improves something in the real world. Not just fodder for academic discourse. My preferred kind of scholarship is called “qualitative.” It requires measurements that cannot be proved quantitatively through numbers. Rigid statistical analyses that draw conclusions tempered by probability and margin of error. 

Since the beginning of the 21st Century I have seen the growth of two worrisome trends. The first is governmental micromanagement of schools. Operating on the premise that effectiveness can be measured statistically. Improvement caused by data-fueled competition. 

The second trend is an almost reverential regard for technology education, usually referred to as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

My reasons for concern do not include a rejection of learning effectiveness or technology. My worries are associated with teachers being reduced to the level of civil servants. Curriculum narrowed to the point of excluding or minimizing communications, social sciences, and the fine arts. Creative and critical thinking essentially excluded from intended student learning goals.

Students are the ultimate victims of an education that over-emphasizes technological knowledge and performance. Measured by standardized tests that assess the quality of robotic understandings and skills.

I am pretty sure Lewis and Tolkien would share my concern.

The root of human existence is like a stand of aspens. They come from a single root that functions as their main life force. Each tree is closely related. Their existence and maturation are not dependent on competition, but on how well each member of the stand relates to the other.

Human beings depend on a root system that is relational, therefore supportive of each individual. Truly effective schools create conditions in which teachers and students interact intellectually and emotionally. Encouraging each student to feel part of the group.

Growing, becoming, maturing, thriving.

Faith that emerges from the relational root environment is inclusive. Even inquisitive in the sense it seeks more ways to believe. Shares an expanding set of interrelated truths.

Faith that is multidimensional includes a growing self-assuredness that makes us feel worthy and validated. Not pompous or overbearing. Just an internal strength that opens doors to a more complete life.

One God intended us to have.

Education should advance this way of believing and living. But that is not happening enough today.  Instead, there is an almost slavish devotion to media-fueled or politically charged opinions. Admonitions that tell us we must have faith in the strength of a particular leader or self-proclaimed pundit.

To obey. To serve. To follow.

History is repeating itself. Each day I pray we do not again succumb to the power of Tolkien’s evil ring or Lewis’ White Witch of Narnia.

That we put our faith in God’s design for us, as revealed by Jesus. Supported by love and the full acceptance of our own potential for good.

One way to do that is for our education system to work in concert with other institutions. Forward-looking churches and families. To teach young people the real meaning of faith and devotion. 

Teachers and the communities in which they work must support each other. To build local curricula and teaching strategies that enhance communication skills, critical thinking, and the self-image of each student.

Reaching that goal will not be easy. Rethinking education and significantly modifying what we do and how we do it.

My suggestions for accomplishing this goal can be found at And an upcoming book based on that blog titled The New Learning Infrastructure: Educators with the Courage to Reform Local Schools.

©2022 Stu Ervay – All Rights Reserved


In 2012 my granddaughter and I visited London and Paris. She was 14 and I was 74. We thoroughly enjoyed both cities as we visited the usual tourist venues and roamed through historical sites. Sometimes with a group but usually by ourselves.

When we visited Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, signs everywhere celebrated the structure’s 800th birthday. Although completed in 1345, construction actually started 200 years earlier. The 800-year mark was a kind of rounding of the depiction of age. 

Our visit was years before the devasting fire that destroyed the cathedral’s roof and other defining features.

Those who have studied the history of Paris are amazed at how the city evolved. In ways so haphazard it almost defies description. Early tribal influences are evident, as are the dominance of Rome and the devastation caused by frequent wars and plagues.

Through all the cycles of power building, construction of monumental institutions of learning and faith, and influences of various monarchies and political and economic elites, Paris has somehow emerged as one of the more culturally interesting places on earth. Contributing to human legacies associated with literature, the visual and performing arts, medicine, food, architecture, even philosophical thought.

The city is also well known for the Reign of Terror and later emergence of Napoleon. Other leaders who claimed royal authority. Those who controlled the populace in ways that caused them to participate in self destructive behaviors.

After my granddaughter and I were suitably awed by the grandeur and majesty of Notre Dame, we walked outside and pondered the meaning of it all. As a young adult, I taught world history. I knew that Paris in the 1300s was nothing like it is today. While a few other large buildings were present, most of the city was not much more than a shanty town.

Filled with disease and human misery. Most people were lucky to live to age 30. Horrible pandemics, wars, and famines killed people by the hundreds of thousands.

Notre Dame, like the dozens of other European cathedrals of that era, was built by the church to cement its power over the people. The contrast between the real world and soaring walls and stained-glass windows of the magnificent edifice convinced the uneducated masses that it was a depiction of heaven.

The clergy were therefore agents of God on earth. Their pronouncements were tantamount to being directives from the Almighty. Since death was just around the corner for many Paris residents, they readily acceded to the demands of priests. In terms of behavior, payment of indulgences, and allegiance to approved theological principles.

It did not take much to convince uneducated peasants they were indeed depraved creatures full of sin and unworthiness. Living in a harsh world only heaven could relieve.

A couple centuries later began an enlightenment that started changing the customs of thinking and acting. Resulting in the Renaissance and the growth of humanism. Human beings did not need to live under the control of ecclesiastical or monarchial authorities, bowing to their power and edicts.

That change of belief was gradual, sometimes resulting in warfare and other forms of revolt. The Reign of Terror was possibly the most extreme rebellion. Tens of thousands of people were either executed, died in prison, or succumbed for other reasons. Members of the clergy were among them.

The tyranny of power is still prevalent. It showed its face throughout the 20th Century. Again, it resulted in astronomical death and suffering through war and the side effects of conflict.

Adolph Hitler oversaw the construction of many glorious monuments to his megalomania. All were destroyed after his death. And the deaths of millions of his followers.

That same tyranny of power is now being displayed in Russia. By a man who believes he is the protector of a certain belief system, cultural destiny, and national imperative. Televised pictures from the Kremlin, his seat of authority, reveal another kind of majestic structure.

Lovely architecture, high ceilings, sparkling chandeliers, and uniformed guards goosestepping their way back and forth. All while he orders subordinates to kill and conquer territory he believes belongs to his nation. To him.

As a Christian and believer that human beings are born good and worthy of God’s grace, the reality of our history on earth mystifies me. Walking the streets of Paris, my granddaughter was transfixed by the wonder of it all. Enchanted by the artistry found in the Louvre and the magnificence of the Eiffel Tower. The majesty of Versailles and picturesque vision of the Seine River. Young couples strolling along the shore. 

I tried to see the cityscape through her eyes. But it was hard.

My upbringing was in a family that respected societal rules of order when they made sense and served the good of everyone. But arbitrariness was another thing entirely.

Both my parents and other members of my family were quick to dispute what they believed to be nonsensical edicts. No matter the source. Government, church, or some official who believed himself to be sacrosanct and gifted with special powers of insight or intuition.

They had no patience with any kind of tyrannical power exercised by someone exuding haughty self-importance. That family legacy remains with me today.

It causes me to become furious at the rise of men and women who find political or financial success through conveying an overinflated ego and so-called strength of conviction. All in the guise of leadership applied to protect us from forces they define as an evil surrounding our culture and well-being.

Paris is known as the “City of Lights.” A center of culture and liberal thought. But the pathway to that status is strewn with the debris of human missteps.

Mistaken allegiance to the tyranny of power. Maybe that is the lesson to be learned today. So we can avoid the suffering of those who lived in centuries past. 

©2022 Stu Ervay – All Rights Reserved


We have no say as to when, where, or to whom we are born. Nor can we dictate the circumstances of our upbringing, the quality of our physical development or the culture that envelopes us. Our lives unfold in accordance with the cultural values surrounding us.

We learn to adjust. To cope with challenges and learn how to manage our lives within that milieu of existence.

King Charles III is ten years younger than I am. Born into a British family enveloped with cultural significance and assigned historical roles that today seem archaic and superfluous. By the time he was five years old his mother became queen. And Charles was acutely aware of the symbolism associated with being a royal and heir to his mother’s position when she died.

His most influential early-day family mentors were his father, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and uncle, Louis Mountbatten. They oversaw his initial education, making sure he was shaped into a vigorous youth. Capable of enduring mental and physical rigors. Later he was guided into naval service and became a jet and helicopter pilot, as well as a ship’s commanding officer.

Charles is also well-known as Diana’s husband and father of their two children, William and Harry. Also for the tragedy that surrounded the marriage and Diana’s death. The media attention given those aspects of Charles’ life sublimates something else about him that is infinitely more significant.

A characteristic I hope emerges more distinctly now that he is King.

During his late teen years to the present, Charles developed an intense interest in anthropology and our human relationship with the spiritual world. That interest made him seem like an oddball to members of his family and the national press. He was criticized for hanging around scholars and others who advocated a closer connection to our ancient roots and cultural underpinnings.

To many, Charles seemed like a looney vestige of a long-lost past, seeking to develop a modern society based on a cultural myth. Of a time when people lived in small villages and interacted with each other in ways that were mutually beneficial.

When empathy and caring prevailed. When the world was not dominated by economic and political juggernauts that controlled our thoughts and behaviors in ways dictated by those in charge.

Unlike those of us who can only talk or write about such ideas, Charles has money to make things happen. Projects designed to make a difference in many categories of human life. Just a few of his projects almost boggle the mind.

They cover everything from saving the environment to sustaining the economy. He has given considerable attention to saving and sustaining Britain’s rural communities. The nation’s enduring traditions are high on his list of priorities, and he is a major contributor to the visual and performing arts.

Charles initiates and leads projects rooted in the belief that the culture we live in must have more depth and meaning. Wealthy Americans who sponsor charitable foundations also give away money based on their priorities. But I have rarely seen the kind of philosophical depth behind those projects that Charles exudes.

Maybe the difference has something to do with vision.

For years I administered a university research and development center that depended on grants from government and foundations. We were successful in acquiring grant money because we had people in the office who knew how to respond to “RFPs” (requests for proposals). 

My grant proposal writers could figuratively get inside the heads of those administering the money (bureaucrats or foundation personnel). They used the right catch phrases, pushed the right psychological buttons, and made our proposed project seem like solid gold. Even when it wasn’t.

Some foundations did not release RFPs, but instead initiated contact themselves if they believed a project aligned with their priorities.

University administrators always encouraged the seeking of grant money regardless of the project’s quality. But too often I found the funded projects to be superficial. A waste of time and money. They were either trivial or redundant. They lacked substance, because the vision underlying them was too shallow.

Shallow vision is the kind that provides short-term answers for long-term problems. Or offers solutions that have already been tried and failed.

True vision always involves system modifications which eliminates tinkering around the edges of something.

When Charles talks about bettering the environment, he is not suggesting we plant a few more trees or drive fewer miles. He insists on a larger, more systemic commitment. The same is true with enriching the culture.

Cultural enrichment is more than opening a museum or building monuments to the past. It requires a kind of values examination and growing awareness of who and what we aspire to be as a collection of people. Getting to that point requires ongoing and multifaceted education. Institutionally based and incorporated into the daily activities of a community.

Plato believed in the philosopher king form of government. That our leaders should be reflective and intellectually rooted in the best of human wisdom.

Charles comes close to meeting that criterion. A ruling principle vastly better than allowing ambitious and shallow dictators force their will on the nation they lead.

Or depending solely on democracy’s sponsorship of contentious debate that promotes fear or the application of popular quick-fix solutions.

King Charles III is mortal and will eventually die. It will be interesting to see what legacy he leaves Great Britain and the world. Or how he serves the culture into which he was born.

©2022 Stu Ervay – All Rights Reserved


Adaptation is nature’s way of allowing living things, animal or vegetable, to become different within a life cycle. To change as rapidly as possible to survive existence on this planet. In an environment that kills if the new lifeform does not adjust quickly.

Changes are often caused by a natural biological evolution. Think caterpillars becoming butterflies or moths. Mixed with an inbred instinct to move and behave in ways designed to perpetuate survival through a specified life cycle. External factors such as climatic conditions or predators can interrupt the metamorphosis.

Like animals, thousands of plants are born and go through a similar pattern of change.

Biologists continue to be intrigued by the fact most animals are born with inbred instincts or protective qualities that keep them as safe as possible during their formative period.   

But all living things die sooner or later. Regardless of how successfully they find accommodation with their new environment.

Human beings are not wired like other living things on earth. Unlike the lamb that can walk just hours after birth, people require months. Unlike other animals with instinctual abilities to care for themselves in a few weeks or months, we require years. Even decades.

It is therefore remarkable that we, of all earth’s creatures, have dominated the planet. With very little in the way of instinct to nurture our growth and ability to survive.

Anthropologists say it is our eventual ability to walk upright, grow a large and powerful brain, communicate through spoken language, and use our high intelligence and opposable thumbs to manipulate tools that can modify our environment and way of life.

We are also much more Sensient or self-aware. With the ability to create complex cultures that govern, nurture, entertain, and protect us.

And we have relatively long lives. Which is both a blessing and challenge. The blessing is evident. The challenge is complicated.

Human metamorphosis is, at the very least, multifaceted and multidimensional. It wears many faces and includes many personalities. Our evolution has at its foundation survival strategies, war, conquest, and social mechanisms to control our behavior physically, morally, and religiously.

We use our highly developed brain to override limited and baseline instincts that have the power to destroy us when applied on a macro scale. Instincts that otherwise work in micro terms. Within small communities and tribes.

Sociologists and psychologists analyze our behavior and draw conclusions meant to explain or control any abhorrent tendencies. Biologists and medical experts continually study our bodies and brains to determine how they work, or not, and what to do when things go haywire.

When the biological and physiological systems within us become less compatible with our environment, we create and apply strategies to overcome those disorders, diseases, and pandemics.

Religions examine the human condition and draw conclusions about who we are and can become. If we are open and accepting of spiritual direction emanating from the work of a divine presence.

Constant renewal is sought and received through contemplation and reflection on the purpose of our lives. Individually and collectively. With awareness coming through insights gained from study, introspection, and steady connections with God. 

Through writings and teachings of those who previously examined, created, or revealed the means of interacting with our maker.


An easier and more comfortable way of thinking about human metamorphosis starts by using a less scientific term: becoming.

As with metamorphosis, becoming is the kind of change that seeks to make us increasingly better. But in our case, it is not simply a blossoming of lovely wings on a butterfly or the colorful hues of a flower as it shows its face to the sun.

Rather, it is a complex array of emotions, behaviors, and thought processes that vary widely with each individual.

That complex array of human characteristics includes knowledge, skills, beliefs, relationships, and introspection. Characteristics not qualitatively uniform among human beings. Which make some knowledge areas and skills marginal.

Beliefs misguided. Relationships tenuous. Introspection shallow.

The act of human learning through formal or informal means is designed to overcome deficient characteristics. To improve dimensions of our “becoming” that are detrimental to ourselves and others. 

Such learning is propagated by teachers of some kind.

Informal types of teaching are usually family or community-based, the prevalent process for centuries. In more recent eras we collectivized the education process through religious organizations and schools.

As our cultures become more advanced, teachers in whatever category must be more than mere information givers. They must be sensitive and intuitive.

Helping their students “become” in truly transformational ways involves thorough engagement. With sought-for outcomes being a sophisticated set of insights that help young people become more in many ways.

American Schools and Colleges are Poor Agents for Becoming

For most of my 84 years, I have been an educator. Trying to help young people manage their own metamorphosis or becoming. Attempting to help them become more than what is offered by ordinary activities.

We live in an era dominated by the notion that formal education is to create a well-prepared workforce. In earlier eras schools were established that centered their curricula on religious studies. With other forms of schooling focused on scientific or technological pursuits. A few were created to prepare clergy and military leaders.

Workforce and domestic preparation often occurred on family farms or in apprenticeships. Community schools were developed later, first for children between seven and eleven. High schools and junior highs emerged. Afterward came the comprehensive high schools offering vocational programs.

School curricula were designed to inculcate students with economic and commercially viable values and skills. With enough social studies to help students understand governmental decision-making. Exceptions to that systems approach were usually within preparatory programs stressing the importance of service and leadership.

Often in military and faith-based schools, somewhat working under the common umbrella of service. To encourage young people to enter a life in which their own prerogatives are less important than those of the people they serve.

Today’s public schools, influenced greatly by state and federal micromanagement, are focused almost exclusively on the idea and practice of factual inculcation. They do not typically help students become more of what their human metamorphic potential is. 

Such as:

  • honorable pursuits,
  • relationship building,
  • pursuing and using knowledge in multiple and diverse settings,
  • strengthening their own resolve to serve,
  • building feelings of empathy, or
  • seeking ways to become part of something greater than themselves to be a force for good.

Instead “becoming” is more akin to robotic and unsatisfying behaviors among our young people. Our so-called millennials and the succeeding group sometimes referred to as Generation Z.  Who may not see the core of their lives as being anything more than existing in a metamorphic vacuum.

©2022 Stu Ervay – All Rights Reserved


Like all animals, we human beings have a herding instinct. It is built into our DNA for many reasons, but the most important reason is survival.

We are vulnerable when alone. Physically, psychologically, emotionally, and intellectually.

Being or feeling totally alone causes panic or despair. Either condition brings on an acceptance of death as a reasonable option. Ceasing to exist is the ultimate cure for psychic or physical pain.

Death is not always caused by a violent or drug-induced kind of suicide.

Among elderly people who feel isolated and alone, they simply shut down by allowing themselves to cease caring. About themselves. About anyone or anything else. By achieving a kind of ennui and despondency, which triggers the fragile body’s other systems to respond accordingly.

Young people with feelings of dissociation or rejection can do much the same. But their healthier bodies are not as quick to respond to the anguish emitted by the brain. Which makes the suffering much worse. Until they place themselves into a position in society risky enough to likely cause their demise.

Or resort to a more direct way to extinguish the pain.


My 60 years as an educator and researcher into ways people live, learn, and thrive has taught me many lessons. The most important is that human beings must be positively and continuously engaged with each other to have a purposeful and happy life. To avoid the cataclysmic outlook that leads to the ultimate disengagement.

Achieving that status requires a social catalyst, a stimulus that makes everything else happen. In ordinary words, people must feel REALLY part of a group. Not just a member, contributor, or supporter. But essential.

As in, “Without me the group and its purposes would be difficult to achieve.”

Essentialness is not the same as feeling special. Or superior. It is a quiet dedication with no reward expected. From someone who can be depended on. Even if unique or eccentric.

In fact, unique or eccentric behaviors are often the spark that energizes creativity and success in meeting a group’s mission. Groups that recognize and even nurture that eccentricity benefit in both planned and unplanned ways. A two-way street. Both the group and unique member become better, fulfilled in both tangible and intangible ways. 

Older people usually know how to become engaged with others if they are willing. And if given the opportunity to do it. Groups want to be open and inviting but must actively show how one can become essential.

Then prove it by providing real opportunity for an involvement that means something. That actively recognizes and takes advantage of the individual’s talents in ways that are mutually beneficial.

As a man in his mid-80s, I know how to reach out and become engaged with a group and develop supportive relationships. I also accept the reality that some groups and individuals are more responsive than others, which prompts me to always carry around alternative plans.

My basic criterion is that the group with which I affiliate has a solid purpose and sense of direction. An enthusiasm for existing that is invigorating and dynamic. A kind of esprit de corps.

That term resonates with me because of my past affiliation with the military, and because it is the core of good group dynamics. All for one and one for all. With a personal caveat that the group’s mission is moral, worthy, and well thought out. That loyalty to the group is reciprocated with the group’s genuine loyalty to its members.

My motives for reaching out are not based on an overdeveloped kind of neediness, but rather the desire to expand my interests and talent in providing service. If, after honest attempts to become engaged with a group under those criteria fail, I go to that second or third plan.

I am also cognizant of my years and feel blessed to function reasonably well at an advanced age. Realizing my current condition will not last forever. Future adjustments will be required.


Young people still forming their personalities and self-awareness are more tentative and emotionally fragile. They may not know how to become authentically engaged with others. They may be confused by the constantly changing mores of our era. Do they know how to protect themselves from their own vulnerability, which makes engaging with others feel risky and sometimes dangerous?

Boys and girls need family and a sense of being an essential part of something bigger than they. A community. A school. Church. Anything that expands on and engages them in a sense of nurturing human service. An activity or association that surrounds them with the aura of essentialism. Their lives as human beings transcending the animal-like existence based only on survival.

Esprit de corps. Being part of something with a kind of universal meaning. Even spiritually uplifting.

I recognized that need when young. Sports activities were an option. But I could not then, nor even now, think of sports or games as being anything more than diversions in which one can excel if physically and mentally capable.

For most of us, any essentialism in the context of sports is fleeting. Something to excite us vicariously while seated in a stadium or watching television. A recreational activity that produces joy in spending time with others in a celebratory or interactional setting. Incidental fun.

This opinion is not a criticism. But esprit de corps attempted through vicarious connections seems shallow and brief.

True esprit de corps is never shallow. It resides in the human soul, not in the temporal regions of our being. It is the foundation for cultural meaning and connection to eternal relevance.


I recently completed a book titled The New Learning Infrastructure. In it I criticize today’s American schools for being micromanaged by those who believe schools are solely for the transmission of information and skills. I strongly suggest they do not uplift students in ways that merge their personas with culturally based depth.

Impersonal facts and skills taught in mechanistic and piecemeal ways are dehumanizing and robotic. None of the creative and inspirational drive that produces meaningful living. Or encourages the feelings of esprit de corps needed to feel truly part of our national or communal culture.

There is nothing to stand for at the end of that educational process. Except to become part of the faceless community of workers, consumers, and those who subsist. Given entertaining diversions and a life without much meaning. And that is not enough.

In The New Learning Infrastructure, I provide a model for how to overcome that inadequacy. The model includes teachers who act with a different motivation and are treated differently. A richer and more engaging kind of curriculum with assessments that are ongoing and multifaceted.

A model that involves serious intellectual and scholastic engagement. With curricular outcomes that make it possible for students to seek out and be qualified to be part of a meaningful and purposeful life.

Making that kind of change will not be easy. But it is necessary for our future citizens to be and feel part of anything essential. Anything that builds individual and collective feelings of esprit de corps.

©2022 Stu Ervay – All Rights Reserved


The queen is dead. Long live the king.

Queen Elizabeth II ended her reign and service to the British people like she started it. With no pomp and circumstance until the English penchant for pageantry kicked in. First with a resplendent 1952 coronation and 70 years later with an elaborate funeral.

Elizabeth was born into a royal family. Next in line to the monarchy. Brought into the world as a clueless and helpless infant.

But quickly acceptant of what tradition and citizens expected as she grew to adulthood. To be a dignified exemplar of the culture and steadying influence in chaotic and even dangerous times.

To sit atop a governmental structure that is an amalgam of both aristocratic oversight and democratic dynamism. A system that accepts its parts as mutually supportive. An aristocrat who is maternalistically wise working with a family of those who represent the partisan wishes of the people who elect them.

Generally referred to as a constitutional monarchy. Lofty wisdom reinforced by a love of the people mixed with the turmoil caused by their political preferences and demands.

Our nation is roughly modeled on that British parliamentary form of government. With major differences.

George Washington rejected the chance to be an American king and head of state. Which caused us to combine the positions of head of state and chief executive of the government into one popularly elected presidency.

That modification made sense in 1787. It makes sense to us today.

But merging those two functions causes our democracy to be overwhelmed by political rancor and petty disputes. With no prevailing aura of national purpose other than our Constitution, flag, and traditions emanating from historical highpoints.

No calming influence coming from a loving parent figure within a monarchy.

A monarchy is not a guaranteed way to modulate the governing process and avoid political acrimony. Kings and queens are human too. They can be stupid, misguided, biased, petty, and even wicked.

But they are more inclined to assume the mantle of tradition founded on ancestral principles. As in what it means to be British. Historically and in terms of customs and allegiances.

If the monarch is smart and sensitive, with a deep desire to serve the people as a voice of reason and expression of need, something transcends political debate and the advocacy of extremes. That something is undimmed vision and belief in moral continuity. Sometimes misguided and even flawed. But nonetheless present and powerful.

Then there is the quality Elizabeth II had in spades: dignity. Dignity is a characteristic politicians rarely demonstrate because their governmental systems make it hard to achieve.

Even our most esteemed political leaders lack dignity when running for office. Extreme partisanship, contentious debate, campaign missteps, and impatient or agitated temperament can extinguish dignified behavior.

And modern media has made the melee even worse than it was during the “yellow journalism” days. When powerful publishers could sway public opinion with editorials and biased reporting.

We badly need dignity in our leaders. A behavior to emulate as we navigate our own challenges in life. Dignity in the guise of authentic caring for others, respect for the opinions of everyone, the giving of credit to those who deserve it, and always telling the truth.

Believing in the value of democratic discourse, with a demeanor of reasonableness and acceptance when it is deserved.

Dignity is not pompous or selfish. It is accepting and complimentary, with a curiosity that seeks ideas and opinions of others. And incorporates them into better ways to lead. Acknowledging the worth of everyone.

Dignity is not the characteristic of a perfect human being. Christians believe that happened only once. But it can appear to be present in a few more contemporary people not possessing such celestial connections.

Among American political leaders, Dwight Eisenhower came close. As did Colin Powell.

Catholic popes have too. Certain American first ladies seem to qualify, such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Barbara Bush, and Michelle Obama.

Not to be overlooked are Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, and the Dalai Lama. And a long list of others.

All icons of the warmth and graciousness known as dignity. A demeanor that invites reflection and dedication to a higher form of human interaction.

It is time for us all to demonstrate dignity in our everyday and ordinary lives. Not to just hover above the fray, but to accept each other as being worthy and valuable. Allowing political disagreements to remain in that arena of debate. Then to enter a temple of contemplation that opens insight and deeper understanding.

©2022 Stu Ervay – All Rights Reserved


Ukraine is on my mind. And its people are in my prayers. As well as in my reflections on serving the purpose of human life.

A recent news report on the death of Mikhail Gorbachev gave me an opportunity to reflect on his life and what he attempted to do with it. He was the last leader of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), with titles such as General Secretary of the Communist Party, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, and President of the Soviet Union.

Gorbachev was responsible for dismantling the USSR and opening Russia to the world as a positive participant in the community of nations. That action brought him both admiration and disdain. Admiration from the world’s democracies. Hatred from many citizens of Russia.

Those outside Russia were relieved that a large and menacing nuclear empire had finally accepted an accommodation with nations that were once enemies. Including the United States.

But that era of good feeling did not last long. A friend of mine explained why.

Dr. Zoya Malkova was once equivalent to the American Secretary of Education within the USSR. After the USSR fell, she traveled the world to explain why that event was traumatic for Russians. In speeches while in the United States, she said that dismantling the USSR was equivalent in America to losing the Constitution and our entire system of government.

Even worse, it was like losing our history and great leaders, along with an intense diminishment of our religious institutions. Losing everything and everyone we once believed in as an American culture.

That kind of disintegration is what was happening in her home country. The Russia she even fought for as a fighter pilot in World War II.

What was left for Russian children to believe in? What was left for schools to teach beyond the basics?

To be sure, Russia’s history included excellent achievements in the arts. Composers, writers, ballet, and other symbols of achievement were enormous contributions. Its military defeated the Nazis after losing 20 million people doing it. And, partially through use of Nazi scientists, the USSR was first to send a satellite into space.

Even so, Russia as a culture worth revering and living in became nothing more than a shell of its previous stature. It had no reverential depth. Nothing that allowed people to proudly salute what had become a nondescript flag. Or identify with a cultural foundation on which personal achievements could be built.

Russia to many of its citizens became a shrunken facsimile of what was once a great power on earth, with its famous czars and czarinas fading into an irrelevant history. An intellectual and emotional vacuum.

Russians learned to cope with that reality. But had difficulty living with it.

Aristotle is thought to have said, “Nature abhors a vacuum.” I don’t know if that is accurate, but human beings have a hard time with vacuums. Both in terms of atmosphere and emotional survival. Breathing is necessary to live. Believing in something is essential for leading a full life.

The vacuum Russians felt and still feel was noticed by leaders following Gorbachev, including Vladmir Putin. Their answer, particularly Putin’s, has been an attempt to recapture what was. At least in territory and military dominance. To gain back the USSR using whatever techniques necessary.

Regaining the country known as Ukraine is a start, at least in Putin’s mind. Portions of that country were known as historically Russian in language and culture. But that smaller nation had moved away from its previous history, so Putin decided to just take Crimea and then everything else through military force.

Because of Putin’s actions many people are having to cope with unnecessary and horrendous losses. Their lives, homes, infrastructure, economic security, and peaceful living they once enjoyed are going up in smoke. Military personnel serving both Ukraine and Russia are being sacrificed daily, all in the service of one man’s ambitions.  For a nation that once existed but exists no more.  And never will.

I served the United States as a tank company commander. But was never deployed to a shooting war such as being fought along the border with Russia and inside Ukraine. However, it takes very little imagination for me to know what is being endured by both military and civilian personnel.  The terror must be inexplicable.

All done in the name of something that is nothing more than the figment of a man’s imagination and longing, to make Russia great again. A man who gives his followers and supporters the same kind of fervor. Thereby taking many people over the precipice into oblivion.

An evil service we already know too well. Of the kind emulated in too many other countries of the world.

Mikhail Gorbachev tried to educate his nation and bring its people to an acceptance of a new way of thinking and acting. That their national pride could be restored in time through peaceful actions and cooperative attitudes. He spoke, wrote, and tried to convey a message that many heard. But others did not, mostly because they refused to listen or believe his ideas.

To them, war is an option. Even if it means disaster. Coping with the unthinkable. Extinguishing life along the way.

©2022 Stu Ervay – All Rights Reserved