Mr. Rudy Bell

"It is not our differences that divide us. 
It is our inability to recognize, adapt, and celebrate those differences." - Audre Lorde

I grew up in rural South Jersey where we grew silver queen corn, tomatoes, and asparagus. Growing up in an extended family environment, I only knew blood relatives until I went to school. In Kindergarten my Mom was the teacher. She taught love and respect to and for everyone.

I first met people from other cultures when I played Little League baseball. We had baseball, play, and fun in common. My primary concern was being the best I could be and helping my teammates be the best they could be. I found a common goal can bring people together.

When I was a little older I moved to Babe Ruth Baseball. I was on a very good team that was coached by Mr. Bell. Mr. Rudy Bell was a beloved early role model in my life. Mr. Bell was a black man. He was kind, caring, and a great teacher of baseball. One day while sliding into home plate, I opened a significant deep gash on my right leg. The scar is still prominent at the age of 68. Mr. Bell took me or should I say carried me, to the neighborhood doctors office. In those days small town doctors did everything. I was a frightened kid who loved that Mr. Bell stood by my side until my parents arrived. Later, as I healed, I remember saying to my dad "If you weren't my father, I would want Mr. Bell to be my father." The innocence and truth of youth.

Remember this is the early 1960s. The civil rights movement is in full bloom. People are dying for their freedom, as they still are today. My Dad wrote an article in our local newspaper. He wrote about Mr. Bell, how much he admired him, appreciated what he had done for me, and what a role model he was for our community. My father ended the article by writing, "If I was not my son's father, I would choose Mr. Bell to be my son's father." That was the beginning of my passion for diversity and equity. I know that acceptance, understanding, and celebration of diversity will heal our troubled nation.

We are all part of Gods loving creation. We are all an essential part of our exquisite diverse humanity.

We must rebuild community

I am deeply concerned by the divisiveness, anger and hatred I see in the nation that I love.  My Father was a patriot, serving in both the Coast Guard and as a Navy Pilot during World War II.  He was also my first role model for equity and diversity as he wrote articles in support of the Civil Rights movement.  I feel that what my Dad courageously stood and spoke for was being challenged by voices of fear and hatred. 

There is so much fear.  Fear of those we "perceive" to be different than us.  I have come to learn that we don't know someone until we know them.  We need the courage to build connection, build relationship, and build community.  We must stop the dehumanizing narratives that tell us that women, the poor, those with darker or lighter skin, the disabled, the old, the young and the non gender conforming are all less than. 

When we speak of "they" in derogatory terms, we undermine our collective humanity.  We must focus on "we."  We must rebuild community.  Community contains Unity.  Community needs to be diverse to be healthy.  A single perspective leads to destruction and death.

"No one thing or place has a privileged point of voice, that is, no one point of view holds the entire truth.  The primacy of any one point of view is not only invalid, but damaging and disrespectful to the inherent unity of life." - Einstein, Zajonc, Nepo

Community only exists when we know each other's story.

Honoring Black History Month

Black History Month honors generations of men, women and children who were brutally taken from their homes.  We honor all those who were treated inhumanly.  We seek forgiveness for our ancestors who tore families apart in slavery.  We pray in honor of those who gave their lives in post slavery hatred, violence, cruelty, and atrocity. 

We acknowledge that the wounds still linger.  We honor the lives of African American men and women who shine as beacons of nonviolence, courage, compassion, and human greatness.  We all must continue to honor diversity and work for equality and equity. 

We must continue to facilitate deep dialogue about racism, and justice for all.  The work is heartbreaking and inspiring.  The power to overcome is deep within each of us.  Courage and commitment is required every day.

We must remember the Divinity in everyone.  We must listen with our hearts to the stories of each others truth.

"Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all." - Aristotle

One of the principle concepts that motivates me to still be working full-time as a teacher at 68 years of age is the truth.  I love to share, reflect and search for the truth.  I find that in my authenticity and vulnerability, I find my truth and can better listen to your truth.

In my teaching, I love to create a safe emotional environment where we can create community.  In an emotionally safe community, the truth can be revealed, spoken and experienced. When we share our truth with each other our perspective, understanding, compassion and empathy grows.  As we share the depth of our truth we open ourselves and each other to the spiritual.

"I am a ripple in the ocean of God, and I want to be able to see my reflection in the face of everyone I meet, to understand that even people I will never know are reflections of my undisguised self." 
- Mark Nepo