Taking risks with talents

first_img 8 Views   no discussions Share Tweet Sharing is caring! Image via: mong17.wordpress.comThe parable of the talents has always appeared to sanction a lack of fairness. The servant who receives the least and takes precautionary steps to keep it safe gets a thorough dressing down for his trouble; and the parable itself ends with the cryptic saying, that those who have will be given more, and from those who don’t have, even the little they have will be taken away.What was so wrong of the servant to play it safe? Perhaps he had little faith in banks or the stock market. He may have told himself: putting my money there is a risky business – who knows if the bank will fail or the market collapse (and of course both have done so): at least, in the ground I know where my money is, and I’m the one in control. This option is entirely risk-free.The real import of the parable lies just here, I think. It’s not really about finance or investments. In that world, prudence may be better than gambling, but what talents here refer to is our human potential, the basic endowment each of us receives from God. This is a matter of variety and diversity. Different people receive different things in different measures, less here, more there; one has this, another that. The real question is: how is any human potential actualized, whatever the amount received?It’s not by burying it or playing it safe. Human potential is realized by risking. The mostcommon risk that most people take, for instance, is getting married. What’s the risk here? They do not know what form the future will take. Speaking very strictly, the future is both unknown and unknowable. Why play around with it therefore? Isn’t it imprudent to mortgage one’s life to a future one can have no idea about? Isn’t it safer to hold back, to say yes, I know I love you, but I can’t tell what or where I will be in ten years time, whether I will be healthy or paralyzed, or a host of other things. Given that indeterminacy, isn’t it more prudent not to get into anything that speaks of permanence? Perhaps so, but if that’s your choice, where does it leave you? You remain solitary not only now but prospectively. A shadow is cast over the life you’ve had till then. In the words of the parable, that life is “taken away.”Consider again, someone feeling called to do something significant for others, to serve some cause larger than their own interests. We have had several examples of this in our own lifetime. Before embarking on their summons, perhaps even during the course of it, they must no doubt have asked themselves: why am I doing this? I have no idea where it will take me; I have no idea who will take it on; it may be just my private obsession, quite possibly a huge waste of time.Before you venture out, before you risk, you can’t see (you don’t see) anything. Or rather, what you see is in your heart – a location that’s equally invisible. So the temptation is to say: why not settle for a safer life, why put oneself through all the struggle, all the inevitable frustration? The person who feels called to something, however, and backs off, is like the man who put his talent in the ground. He’s playing it safe. Often such persons remain forever haunted by a road not taken, a dream unfulfilled, a possibility unexplored. And when they are, at such moments, the life they chose instead, that life is taken away.When the summons is obeyed, on the other hand, they find heightened life where they anticipated only frustration and trial. To him who has, more is thus given, and he will have even more than before. And from him who has not, even what he has is taken away.God gives us the human potential we’re all initially endowed with. This is our vocation in the most fundamental sense. We increase our endowment by risking, that is, losing ourselves (giving ourselves away), not by playing it safe. When you play it safe you think you have a handle on things, but things slip through your fingers; indeed, your own life slips through. When you risk on the other hand you find an amplified life, and the increase is always proportionate to the risk, twenty or fifty or a hundred fold. By: Father Henry Charles Phdcenter_img Share Share LocalNews Taking risks with talents by: – November 14, 2011last_img read more

Cox collects career first Modified win at Cottage Grove

first_imgBy Ben DeatherageCOTTAGE GROVE, Ore. (Aug. 9) – Cottage Grove Speedway hosted Cottage Grove Area Chamber Of Commerce/Pepsi Night at the races Saturday night.In the IMCA Xtreme Motor Sports Modified feature, Kinzer Cox was the car to beat. Despite six cautions throughout the event, retained the lead after each restart.Although he has spent only a handful of nights in a Modified, Cox paced the field for the entire distance to collect his first career victory.last_img

Judge dismisses discrimination & retaliation lawsuit against individual defendants, but trial will continue against Mason City school district as a whole

first_imgMASON CITY — A district judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the superintendent, the current human resources director and the school board president of the Mason City Community School District, but a former employee’s claims of discrimination and retaliation against the entire school district will move forward.Former human resources director Jodie Anderson filed the lawsuit last July against the school district, superintendent Dave Versteeg, board president Jodi Draper and human resources director Tom Drzycimski. Anderson, who served the school district between July 2015 and when she resigned in June 2017, claims she complained about the school district paying male employees more than female employees, and that there was retaliation against her.Anderson asked to have Drzycimski removed from the lawsuit last September, and now District Judge DeDra Schroeder has ruled that Versteeg and Draper are dismissed as defendants in the lawsuit. Schroeder in her ruling says that Versteeg was not hired by the district until a month after Anderson’s resignation, and Draper as an individual member of the school board cannot be held liable for the actions of the school board as a whole.A trial date for Anderson’s lawsuit against the school district has not been set.last_img read more

U.S. Court Declares Tom Woewiyu ‘Flight Risk’

first_imgJucontee Thomas WoewiyuThe U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, who arrested Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu last week described the former Liberian Minister of National Defense a ‘flight risk,’ meaning he would escape to Liberia if the bail was accepted.This latest development followed a decision by a U.S. judge to deny him (Woewiyu) bail. This also means that Woewiyu will remain in detention until a new motion is file by a reputable lawyer on his behalf; but no date was set for any motion, this paper has learnt.The former spokesman of the disbanded rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) was arrested last week at Newark Airport upon his return from Liberia.He was subsequently charged with ‘perjury’—lying on his citizenship application by failing to disclose his alleged affiliation with a “violent political group in Liberia” during the height of the country’s civil crisis, which lasted over a decade. Woewiyu served as Defense Minister in Charles Taylor’s former rebel NPFL, during Liberia’s civil war. Upon his arrest, his immigration lawyer, Raymond Basso, said his client amended his citizenship application to include his participation in the Taylor regime.  But Linwood C. Wright, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Philadelphia, said Judge Judith Faith Angell denied bail, “because she believed Woewiyu might try to leave (runaway) from the U.S. should he be bailed.“There was a detention hearing and Woewiyu was ordered detained by a U.S. Magistrate.  The magistrate found that he (Woewiyu) was a ‘flight risk,’ and so she ordered him detained pending his trial,” Wright said.Raymond Basso, Woewiyu’s immigration lawyer, told VOA last week the case against his client was purely an immigration matter, and that it was a “misconception” (mistaken belief) to suggest that he was being charged with war crimes.Basso said he was confident his client would be exonerated because, although he made a misrepresentation in his first citizenship application, it was later modified to include Woewiyu’s participation in the Taylor regime.Wright said the case is an immigration issue based on Woewiyu’s misrepresentations and non-disclosures under oath regarding his background.“For instance, one of the requirements was that he names all the organizations that he’s been in, political organizations, and he did not report that he was a member of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia,” Wright said.According to him, Woewiyu also checked “No” when asked in his application whether he had ever advocated, either directly or indirectly, the overthrow of a government by force or violence.“Another question was whether he had either directly or indirectly persecuted any group for a number of reasons, including political opinion and social affiliation and he said “No” to that. Of course, the grand jury determined that he was the minister of defense for the NPFL. There was a question with regards to persecution of groups that supported former President (Samuel) Doe when Doe was in power in Liberia,” Wright said.Woewiyu pleaded not guilty at his detention hearing to all counts against him, including perjury and four counts of fraudulent misrepresentation in immigration applications.As the case stands, a barrister in Liberia has told the Daily Observer that Woewiyu would eventually be charged with ‘war crimes’ and be prosecuted accordingly.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

The Real Problem with Education

first_imgEducation is back in the headlines, marred by the Ebola-sized interruption, and by government’s hasty missteps to fill the classrooms after a long, unproductive year. But the Ebola effect is just the tip of a massive iceberg. At the base of this iceberg are thousands of ghost faculty members, in whose names bank accounts are being filled with thousands of taxpayer dollars. Further up the food chain are middle managers at the Ministry of Education who remain lost on the true number of Government teachers, and who don’t care to know, as long as they get their paychecks at month’s end. At the top is a succession of PhDs and Master’s degree holders who could not seem to handle this mess of a sector, even if they wanted to. As with the Titanic, which sank on its maiden voyage, it only takes the tip of an iceberg to sink a ship. That is exactly what Ebola did – to our education system, our health system, and the economy as a whole. But the fact is, disasters happen. The key is employing the right strategies to rebuild. The trouble is, our President seems indisposed to make any real headway in the sector. Whether to fill her quota of political appointments; or to avoid protests by angry students or parents; the President has, time and again, compromised the quality of Liberia’s education system. Take, for example, the decision to reopen schools, while Liberia had not yet been declared Ebola Free. While this decision put students and teachers at high risk of encountering another outbreak, angry parents, anxious to salvage what was left of the 2014 academic year, won the fight to reopen schools. And reopen they did… for a few months. Now the same parents are indignant at having to pay full tuition twice this school year.Another example: students rioting at the University of Liberia. The Brownell saga made it clear that Liberia’s flagship university needs to overhaul its admissions process, and scale down student intake to accept only the emotionally and intellectually qualified. As it stands, though, UL is a breeding ground for many a two-dimensional sycophant who talks big, knows little, and fans around Senators calling, “Chief, chief!” Still another example: two successive Nimbaian Ministers with PhDs, hired to be sitting ducks floating easily over the filthy pond that is the education sector. We embrace their tribe, but sadly, it should not have been a criterion for their appointment. And another: the usual story that keeps Liberia in the chokehold of corruption: personnel who refuse to name and shame those who exploit the system.Let’s not forget the occasional protests over salaries by teachers who barely speak enough English to justify their employment. How does the government respond? By paying them… after a payroll cleanup exercise that only massages a problem that requires sandpaper. On the flip side, the new Minister, swelling from his success at the small Civil Service Agency, seems overly confident in his ability to turn the system “from mess to best.” He may impress some with this goal, but we are amused. Firstly, he has only two years to work this miracle – if he lasts that long. Secondly, he is already making all the wrong enemies by snubbing his first budget hearing, and playing hardball with the legislature and students, when he has not yet built the political capital to do so. This is a recipefor disaster. Our only question to him is this: if Mary Broh could not win, what makes you think you can?Evidently, the real problem with Liberia’s education system rests in the politics. Our President, Education Ministers and the personnel further down the chain all fall on the two extremes of the political spectrum: on one side, you have those who cower in the face of public dissent; on the other end are those who have courage but lack wisdom or political acumen.To restore balance to our education system, the leadership in the sector must grow a spine and make the tough decisions; kill their egos and develop partnerships that lead to positive results; stop lamenting about textbooks, just shut up and get the job done, because our future depends on it. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more