On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, I, Earl Wallace, attended the “Saratoga Conversations” meeting that was sponsored by the School Board and Mediation Matters – which seems like a George Soros sponsored NFP-NGO, whose mission is to undermine America’s Biblically Based Constitutional principles. Their literature boasts they serve six counties and have three offices, with one in Schenectady, Albany and Saratoga Springs.
Here is an article the Saratogian published on-line about the event. I am in the center of the 2nd picture, wearing the blue and flowered Hawaiian shirt.
I brought one of my black childhood friends with whom I was raised in Saratoga Springs. I also had called two others, but one had to work and another had to accompany his mother-in-law to surgery, so only two of us were able to make it. Two of the Conservative Chick moms who were on Fox News, introduced themselves to me, having recognized me from videos of the Ballston Spa event.
Mediation Matters used the Delphi Technique, which involves breaking audiences into groups, each of which is populated with people who see things the same way as the moderators or facilitators, and pretty much will have the same talking points.
My impression is that the goal of the meeting was to position the community to believe it must implement “safe spaces” and “protected speech zones” that the Saratoga School Board (SSB) and its agent/partner Mediation Matters (MM) say are more “inclusive and supportive” apparently than the first amendment free speech rights codified in the U.S. Bill of Rights.
The entire evening was geared toward victimhood. We were supposed to see ourselves as victims and also to identify other people throughout the community, especially students, as victims whom are in need of the interventions recommended by MM and the SSB, both of whom assert that “Everyone doesn’t feel safe, so we need to do some special things so they do.”
One of the several things I learned is: These people want to treat “feelings” as the ultimate reality and objective truth. They are not considering that just because one says he/she feels safe or not safe, doesn’t mean that anyone else actually is doing anything to make them feel that way.
My group moderators/facilitators were Mediation Matters employees/volunteers Sarah and Lamara, who is on the board of MM. I’m estimating both are in their mid-twenties – and we all know how worldly-wise we were at that age! Sarah’s stated goal is to create safe spaces for us (whom I guess are those they identify as victims, whose feelings have been hurt?).
Sarah and Lamara (S&L) said “The Restorative Practice Process is the model the school should be using to address people not feeling safe – as opposed to the punitive culture that has not worked well and needs to be looked at differently.” I did not get to ask them to qualify what they meant by this statement, and what are we restoring, and to what it is being restored? Three to four others in the group heartily agreed with S&L’s statement.
Our session started with S&L asking us, “What is a value you have and why?” I stated that I valued Eph 4:11 Speaking the truth in love. Others said they valued “honesty, openness, sharing, family and service.”
During that first round of responses a lady sitting next to me said, “I am so angry and so sick and tired of people calling the real news the fake news that I am going to hit over the head with my tennis racket the next person who says – anyone who says – the real news is fake news!” I asked the facilitator, “Can I move my seat, because if I disagree with her, am I going to get violently assaulted?” S said, I do not have the little stuffed puppy in my hand which designated whom could speak. But I stood my ground, and spoke up saying, “How am I expected to feel safe, sitting next to someone who has premeditated that she is going to violently assault someone who doesn’t agree with her.” Others seemed to defend the threatening lady by saying “Since the November election they have been feeling so poorly about the country.” My only solace was to scoot my chair a few safe inches away from my would-be-assailant.
Throughout the evening, I was able to reiterate that “People act on values. Values drive behavior. If you violate one of the 10 Commandments in the name of supporting your so-called good cause, you really just are participating in doing evil in the name of good.” I also reiterated 2-3 times, “Thomas Jefferson says we have inalienable rights that come from our Creator. Those are the rights that are called ‘natural rights’ and are reflected through The Ten Commandments, which express we each have a right to not be murdered, sexually molested, lied to nor about, nor have our persons, people, position and possessions coveted by people who would use government power against US – meaning ‘we the people’.”
A grey bearded man and the lady who had threatened violence, interjected “anti-wall statements” into their comments, such as “That’s as silly as wanting to build a wall” and “Who needs walls built that separate people?” which I perceived were attacks towards Pres. Trump. Both seemed determined to prove that walls are not needed and necessary in any aspect of our lives.
The man also said,” I never lock my doors at home, and my daughter can come and go all hours of the day or night; makes no difference to me because we’re in a safe environment. I would like to see the whole community be like that.”
The lady who threatened violence, also said, “I have realized for the first time in my life how wonderful and safe an environment I am in. My neighbors are all friendly and helpful. Why just a couple of nights ago one of them, when she woke up in the morning found a strange man sleeping on the sofa in her living room. Well I guess that’s what one can expect when one lives three blocks off of Broadway.”
When the lady who had threatened violence said this, almost every woman in the group stiffened, which I believe is a sign that they were feeling repulsed by the idea of a strange man being able to enter a home uninvited and just sleep on someone’s sofa. Visions of opportunities for sexual molestation were running through my head – and also perhaps the other women in the group were thinking the same thing. I did not get a chance to ask the lady, “Are you sure that so-called ‘strange man’ was not a friend of the woman’s son? Because it is hard for me to believe that a stranger would find it reasonable` to think he could enter into someone’s home, unknown to the occupants and just flop down and sleep on a stranger’s sofa— unless he was inebriated on alcohol and/or drugs.” But I did not get a chance to address that issue.
Two parents said their child and others were asked to leave a class because they said their parents voted for Trump. Another parent said her kid was bullied the previous year for being an Obama supporter. I asked, “What do those things have to do with learning subject matter, which is the mission of the schools?” I told them that as a former school teacher I would not take sides on any topic that elevated issues of personal preference to the point that one group of kids against was pitted as the enemy of another in one of my class rooms. I was teaching English and learning it was our common denominator that I never lost sight of, nor let the students lose sight of, in a classroom.”
A parent said, “English teachers should teach English and not use class time to bash the Republican party.” Another parent said, “Teachers need training on how to handle conversations with people who have different opinions than they do.” I said, “Those teachers are mistreating students because they have a value system that says, “If you don’t agree with me, I can violate the 10 Commandments against you. We need to elevate those Commandments in the minds of people. We are barring them from court house walls, yet judges still have to tell people they are guilty of violating them, and sentence those violators to jail for doing so. Why are we not telling people, especially children in advance to not violate the 10 Commandments against others?” Someone said, “I don’t think we should have religion involved.” I said, “I am not talking about religion, but values. There only are two value systems in the world, The Ten Commandments and everything else— all of which in some way shape, manner or form end up violating that most perfect and essential code of values.”
At the end of the evening two adults in the group said, “We need to admit that we adults have been behaving very childish, since the November election, and we need to take a step back and dialogue like this some more. How are we expecting children to perform any better when we are acting out this way?” Another woman said, “From this discussion, I can see how we need to learn to respect ‘view point diversity’ — especially in this very emotionally charged political environment.”
That phrase – “view point diversity” – was my take-away! I’ve been trying to work it into conversations, ever since that night!
My other take away is that “Restorative Practice Process” is really bad because while it touts it “is a collaborative effort where solutions are mutually agreed upon” by “considering a broader collection of stakeholders in the process than criminal justice procedures do,” it lacks defining the following:
- Who are the broader collection of stakeholders, and what is their value system and motive for considering themselves as such? (Who are the stakeholders wanting to stick their noses into the private matters of others?)
- Criminal justice procedures rightfully lock people away, so society is protected from they heinous acts and harm some sinners want to do to others.
- The so-called “mutually agreed upon collaborative effort of Restorative justice seems to me to lend itself to Mob Rule. For any type of collaboration in the absence of people having a firm Ten Commandments value system, opens the door to an “Anything goes, as long as a majority of the mob (or a perceived majority) agrees to it mentality,” which departs from objective standards regarding right and wrong!
Two other people at the event told me that as the evening went on, their groups continually swelled with the ranks of late comers. The group I was in only had one new comer admitted to it.
I did notice, early on that the “The Saratoga School System Superintendent and others hovered around the group I was in, and overheard my comments, so I figured they were going to keep as many people away from me as possible. But that just may be a paranoid delusion from my conspiracy theory that I was in a meeting that deployed The Delphi Technique to bring about a predetermined result.
Both my childhood friend and I, who had split up and sat in different groups, recommended that I be accepted onto the committee to as they say, “Keep the process moving forward by taking the next steps.”
People in my group recommended that representatives from these organizations get on the committee for further discussion:
- The Saratoga Human Rights Committee,
- School administrators and teachers
- “Media Matters of course must be involved.”
- A panel of representatives from religion (Catholic priests, and Muslims)
- The Educational Community Engagement Committee has various tasks forces whose members should be involved in this.
As the groups were brought back to the large group meeting, a well-spoken conservative man came up front and read a document he’d written protesting this event. He stated that Mediation agreements may undermine the constitutional rule of law.
I too see improprieties with bringing disparate and perhaps random people together for a discussion that does not include a true cross-section of the community, and yet the outcomes are going to be presented as mandates the community wants implemented.
I believe Mediation Matters and the Saratoga Springs School Board do not want any alternative view points that are in opposition to the perception of victimhood they want to ascribe to the community as justification for making their version of “safe spaces.”
I, nonetheless, am praying that God opens doors for me to get on that committee, so I can provide some much needed “view point diversity”.
For Christ and Country,