The Chance to Learn; the Chance to Thrive
April 17-18, 2018
Leonore Zweig grew up the daughter of a bricklayer. She grew up in a village called Lusatia and upon graduating from what we might call high school, she continued her studies. She eventually received a doctorate from Heidelberg University in 1921 and worked as a teacher in both England and Berlin, Germany. In 1923 she married a lawyer named Ernst Goldschmidt and they had two children.
Upon receiving an inheritance from a murdered cousin, Leonore established her own school in 1934. Leonore had lost her job the year before she opened her own school. Working for eight years at the Sophie-Charlotte-Gymnasium in Berlin, she was fired in 1933 because of her religious preference. You see, Leonore was Jewish.
The Private Judische Schule Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt or the Private School of Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt as it would have been known in English was granted a license to hold official examinations in 1936. In 1937 Leonore’s school became an examination center for the English University of Cambridge. This meant her students could enter universities in the rest of Europe and North America if they scored high marks on their examinations. The school was shut down by the German government in 1939 and the Goldschmidt family, along with many students and teachers, immigrated to England.
Leaving their German home was not easy for the eighty children that accompanied their school’s founder. Most left behind parents and many never saw them again. Those that returned to Germany after World War II found a very different landscape and homeland and many discovered their parents had been victims of concentration camps.
A roll call of the students of Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt is something like a Who’s Who of professional and influential people. Clearly they had potential and all achieved it. They made contributions to their world and the world was a better place because they lived in it.
The purpose of today’s post is to ask you to think about how we limit the opportunities of others simply because we might have a “perception” about them. The legal definition of the word discrimination has nothing to do with statistics or science. It does not involve theology or proven results. It simply is “disparity of treatment”. Like the Golden Rule that has been around for almost as long as there have been beings that walked upright on two feet, it refers to the treatment of others as we ourselves would like to be treated.
The Golden Rule, reflections of which are found in every code of conduct known to mankind, is an ethic of reciprocity. It is a moral directive that relates to basic human nature: Treat others as you would like to be treated; do not treat others in any manner that you yourself would not like to be treated; be careful because what you wish upon others you also wish upon yourself.
The so-called Golden Rule makes all of mankind inclusive in acknowledging that we feel and receive things similarly. It is not the same as another maxim of reciprocity, “do ut des”. That states “I give so that you will give in return.” The Golden Rule is giving without any expectation of something in return.
Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt taught her students without knowing what their lives as adults would be or how far they would go in their studies. She willingly helped them escape a Nazi regime that would have put them to death simply because she was devoted to creating a chance to learn for all who desired such.
I recently received a recipe that touted itself to be the healthiest brownie recipe ever! Since I am human and like brownies as much as the next person, I was thrilled. A healthy snack with chocolate is like winning the lottery! The recipe contains only four ingredients and even a vegan would love it. With almond butter, protein powder, cocoa powder, and bananas, the recipe would seem like winner, right? Unfortunately, it is not for me.
The perception and headline for this recipe stated nothing incorrect. I completely understand why their perception that it is healthy would seem an accurate perception. The problem is that it is not healthy for all people. The number of people allergic to cocoa powder is low, very low. Less than four percent of people have actual food allergies and of that four percent, less than half of one per cent are allergic to the cacao bean, the source of cocoa. A brief note here is probably in order. The bean or fruit of the cacao plant is called cacao. Once ground into a usable powder, the name changes to cocoa.
Generally speaking, people who are allergic to chocolate are allergic to something added to the chocolate and not the actual cacao bean. Fortunately for me, I am not allergic to chocolate although my waistline might like it if I was. I am allergic to several, make that, many things, however, and one is included in this recipe. I am allergic to bananas.
The perception that the recipe is healthy is correct. It just is not healthy for me. As someone who is in that four percent and having severe allergic reactions, I have to be a wise consumer of what I eat and put into my body. IN other words, I have to be a food detective before opening my mouth to consume.
We all need to be fact detectives when it comes to deciding what we like or don’t like or what we feel is not in keeping with our beliefs. Yesterday’s post about Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt is proof that the Jewish are capable of many great things and the Nazi regime’s claim that they held no benefit for mankind was false.
Nannie Henry Burroughs was a woman who also opened a school. Her school was in Washington, D.C., the capitol of the United States of America. Nannie’s father was a free man but her mother was born into slavery. Born in 1878, Nannie was born free but had few opportunities being a woman of color. Her father was a Baptist preacher and Nannie herself gained national recognition speaking at the National Baptist Convention at the age of twenty-two years. Her speech was entitled “How the Sisters Are Hindered from Helping”.
Nannie Burroughs founded the National Training School for Women in 1909, a school which continues today. She also established the National Association of Colored Women. Thirty years later a world war would be fought, in part based upon racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination even though Nannie Henry Burroughs had already proven such to be ridiculous.
Nannie Burroughs is proof that the perception that race determines ability is false. She valiantly worked for all wage earners but especially for those of African descent because their discrimination continued even after the War Between the States, commonly called the Civil War. She would later be appointed to a national position by President Herbert Hoover.
The perception that religion calls for us to divide mankind based upon skin hues is an incorrect perception. No true religion or spirituality embraces such. The fear that propels such beliefs is just that – fear, not fact. It is nothing new. In her book “Jane Eyre”, Charlotte Bronte wrote: “Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones.”
In deciding who to feature for this post, I purposely elected to feature women who invented schools and created the chance for education to be received. I agree with Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who said: “It’s an universal law– intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”
“What we need are mental and spiritual giants who are aflame with a purpose . . . We’re a race ready for crusade, for we’ve recognized that we’re a race on this continent that can work out its own salvation. When [one] learns what manner of [man/woman he/she] is spiritually, [he/she] will wake up all over. [We] will rise in the majesty of [our] own soul.” The words of Nannie Henry Burroughs ring true even today.
Recently several states within the United States have or tried to enact legislation that goes against the chance for all to experience the same opportunities. Similar legislation has been introduced in other countries and many terrorist groups advocate the same or similar beliefs as those supported by these laws.
When we single another out and label them in such a way that prevents them from having the same chances as others, we discriminate. Sometimes such discrimination leads to people being fired, refused service or even being captured and killed in concentration with ovens designed to murder those “different” people.
Such actions do not give anyone an advantage and they restrict the future of us all. The students of Dr. Leonore Goldschmidt and the workers helped by Nannie Burroughs are just two examples of how important it is that we recognize the inclusiveness of mankind and not look only at our differences. When we open up opportunity for one person to learn, we create the opportunity for better living for all of us. If we want to continue the chance to make a better world, we need to live smart and live with kindness and equality towards all.