Thursday, August 6, 2009


This turned out to be a free association post. I start with sharing a personal video of my son before he was my son. My pride in his accomplishments with a video he produced, edited as a high school project in Latin class, winning a Bronze Chalice Award. I am so pleased with the young man he is ~ as he has shown me in his young adult years.

I talk of spanking and beating children. My own experience and the aftermath of being beaten with a leather belt by people who were supposed to love me. And why I think it is wrong to hit children.

I always feel ambivalent about this type of a post. Being the big ugly world and baring my soul, including my son's - it is questionable that I should cross this threshold. The last time I did it, I came back a few days later and deleted most all of the post.

Here . . . . .
for now

This is the very first video footage of Jonathan. I met him at the end of October 1995. At the time, he was in Mrs. D's second grade class and living with one of several foster families that he was placed with over the course of two years. He was one of hundreds of music students that I was teaching in a public school that year. On this day, he was visiting our home and I got out the huge video camera that I owned. Since March of that year, I was giving him free piano lessons and helping him with his speech lessons with the blessing of the foster family. On this day, we had planted a bush in the front yard and named it after him. That bush didn't survive and thrive, but Jonathan has! He is wearing Mark's sweater, here, which I now use for work in the yard when it is cold. Although the video tape was defective since the the day I shot this, my video teacher helped me in June 2009 with his great equipment in video class, to transfer it from my VHS video tape.... so that I could upload this on my computer and then I could share it with Jonathan on youtube. It came out much better quality than how it had deteriorated on the tape. So I am thrilled as Jonathan is so adorable in these few minutes. It has been for "private" viewing only until now, as I share it here.

Jonathan dances
Jonathan's First Video Footage - May 27, 1996
Music: "Starting All Over Again" by Hall and Oates.
Uploaded by lovemylifesblog originally on June 23, 2009

March 8, 1999

We adopted Jonathan March 8, 1999. He is getting his undergraduate and Masters degree simultaneously in engineering in Boston - one of the top engineering students at Northeastern University. I slightly modified the text above which is from my Youtube page. I ended the Youtube text with these words . . .

Enjoy, Jonathan. You are something special.

Love, Mom

Lyrics to the song:
Starting all over again is going to be rough
For us, we're going to make it
Starting all over as friends is going be tough
On us, we gotta face it

We lost what we had
That would hurt us so bad
Set us back a thousand years
But we going to make it up
Though I know it's going to be tough
To erase the hurt and fears

Starting all over again is going to be hard
But I pray to the Lord to help us make it
Starting all over again is going to slow
But we both know, we gonna make it

We gotta take life as it comes
Never fuss about it, what's right or wrong
It's an uphill climb, to the finish line
We gonna try, we gonna try, just one more time

We gotta take life as it comes
Don't make any fuss about it, what's right or wrong
We gonna make it up, though I know it's gonna be rough
To erase the hurt and fears

Starting all over again is going to be rough
For us, we're going to make it
Starting all over as friends is going be tough
On us, we gotta face it.

The words are somewhat appropriate...what do you think?

End of text from my Youtube page

When Jonathan was in his third year of high school, his Latin teacher had him use his digital still camera that had a feature of shooting brief video bits on it. And he was asked to enter a contest with a video of the project by his Latin teacher. He produced and edited this video. http://ablemedia.com/ctcweb/showcase/Hammel%20Caesar%20Movie.wmv
He won the Bronze Chalice Award

The following text is from the Able Media website:

Veni, Vidi, Vici: Caesar vs. the Helvetii

John Hammel, Moses Brown School

Movie Presentation

Assignment Parameters

As described by teacher Ruth Breindel: "Some background on the project: every year we stage the battle between the Helvetians and Caesar, concentrating on Book I.21-29. Usually we do it in the field house, but this year, because we couldn't use it, we did it in a new part of the building. I always take still shots of the battle, but by chance John had brought his digital camera this year. It also makes short films, so after he filmed everything, he put it together with the music and brought it to class."

As described by student John Hammel: "It started off as a learning experience, hands on learning. I decided to use my digital camera to record the class reinacting a scene from Caesar's Gallic War. I went home and began to create the video. I learned of the assignment after I began creating the video, which was to create something to represent Caesar and what we had translated of his Gallic War."

Technical Information

Movie was shot with a Kodak Digital Camera and edited with Roxio Video Wave Movie Creator. Some of the translations included on the video were original while others relied upon the Forum Romanum website http://www.forumromanum.org/literature/caesar/gallic1.html

Veni, Vidi, Vici: Caesar vs. the Helvetii

by John Hammel, Moses Brown School,
Providence, RI

Original Movie © 2005. John Hammel. All rights reserved.

Edgy camera work merges with ancient Latin script in Hammel’s Veni, Vidi, Vici to evoke the Götterdämmerung wrought by Rome and the steely generalship of Julius Caesar in Book 1 of Julius Caesar's De Bello Gallico. Hammel combines heavy metal music, model soldiers, and gritty commentary in Latin and English to dramatize Caesar’s crushing defeat of the Gallic tribe, the Helvetii.

Veni, Vidi, Vici: Caesar vs, The Helvetii

Source: http://ablemedia.com/ctcweb/showcase/hammelindex.html


The website had Jonathan answer the following questions after winning the Bronze Chalice Award

In Personam: John Hammel

To which classical figure do you most relate and why?

Hercules because of his childhood.

What book has been most influential to your career?

A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide by Samantha Powers

If you could travel back to ancient Rome, what five items would you take with you from the present?

Aspirin, Monopoly (I may be able to finish the game for once), Toilet paper and Kleenex, and I would also take a lot of books: Latin Dictionary, Ancient World History Texts, Science books (Chemistry, Physics [so that I can make money being a magician.]) and every other book that I could possibly think of.

What book are you currently reading?

The Great Gatsby and The Millionaire’s Dinner Party (as a part of Latin Class)

If it were possible, with whom, dead or alive, from the world outside of Classical Studies would you like to have dinner?

Leonardo Da Vinci.

What albums would you want to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

Pearl Jam – Greatest Hits; Guns N’ Roses – Greatest Hits; Aerosmith – Greatest Hits; Red Hot Chili Peppers – Greatest Hits; ACDC – Back in Black

If it were possible, with whom, dead or alive, from Classical times would you want to deliver your eulogy?


What trend in Classical Studies do you see as positive?

Hands on learning in classroom; learning by doing rather than being taught at.

John Hammel is a student at Moses Brown School in Providence, RI. Hammel is the winner of AbleMedia's Bronze Chalice award for his submission of Caesar Video.

Who has been the most important mentor in your career?

All of the teachers that I have ever had. They have all affected me in different and unique ways

How would you like to be remembered?

As a good person - Caring, Compassionate, understanding and above all a great friend

What is the best advice you have ever received?

“Never take your work too seriously.” - friend

What law, rule, event, or custom from Classical times would you like to see reincarnated today?

Community leisure - Resuscitations of Stories and being together, Community Entertainment.

What is the most interesting thing in your car right now?

Lounge Chair.

Summarize yourself in the title of a Classics paper?

"The Ancient World in Modern Form."

What would be the title of your autobiography?


What trend in Classical Studies do you see as negative?

My personal problem would be memorizing vocabulary. Although I do regard memorizing as an important aspect to Classical Studies, it could be made much more interesting through games and PowerPoint presentations, Interactive.

Humiliations, spankings and beatings, slaps in the face, betrayal, sexual exploitation, derision, neglect, etc. are all forms of mistreatment, because they injure the integrity and dignity of a child, even if their consequences are not visible right away. However, as adults, most abused children will suffer, and let others suffer, from these injuries. This dynamic of violence can deform some victims into hangmen who take revenge even on whole nations and become willing executors to dictators as unutterably appalling as Hitler and other cruel leaders. Beaten children very early on assimilate the violence they endured, which they may glorify and apply later as parents, in believing that they deserved the punishment and were beaten out of love. They don't know that the only reason for the punishments they have ( or in retrospect, had) to endure is the fact that their parents themselves endured and learned violence without being able to question it. Later, the adults, once abused children, beat their own children and often feel grateful to their parents who mistreated them when they were small and defenseless.

This is why society's ignorance remains so immovable and parents continue to produce severe pain and destructivity - in all "good will", in every generation. Most people tolerate this blindly because the origins of human violence in childhood have been and are still being ignored worldwide. Almost all small children are smacked during the first three years of life when they begin to walk and to touch objects which may not be touched. This happens at exactly the time when the human brain builds up its structure and should thus learn kindness, truthfulness, and love but never, never cruelty and lies. Fortunately, there are many mistreated children who find "helping witnesses" and can feel loved by them.

I was raised with being whipped by both of my parents with a leather belt. I believe it is wrong to spank or whip children. I believe it is wrong to humiliate children. I believe it is our job as parents to build their inner strengths, a belief in themselves, a trust in their own wisdom and nurture their natural talents and strengths of character. My son had all of these things - beatings, humiliations, neglect, witnessing others being beaten... happen to him and worse. But before he was adopted. Never once since he was adopted.

It has always taken a huge amount of courage for me to speak up to my authoritarian, over-reaching parents even as an adult. However, I spoke up once to my father when he was striking my young niece at his house when he was watching over the grandchildren when I was visiting from Rhode Island.

I had learned from a principal that hitting was not the way to carry on and found other ways as a teacher to deal with a child's correction needs.

I told my father that he could choose to sit my niece on the sofa for a time and not strike her any more. Dad made a comment later to me that she responded appropriately with this manner of correction. I believe it made a difference.

I know I am affected as an adult by these leather belt episodes in my younger life. I was affected also because I couldn't protect my older brother from the terrible beatings that I witnessed him getting. Years later I experienced a draining memory of one of these episodes of witnessing my brother bear the "acting out" of our dad. Even when I was in college and my sister was in high school, I took her to the living room to huddle in the corner during another time of outrage being carried out on our brother. The effects will never completely go away.

Consistency is the key to correction. The spanking and beatings need to stop.

If you strike your children or humiliate them, ask yourself what kind of relationship do you want with your adult children? Because spanking , humiliating them - provoking their fears as children - will affect them, their relationships throughout their lives and your relationship with them now and in the future when they are adults. I know my putting up with an abusive boyfriend in my thirties, would not have been acceptable to me had I not had the acceptance that I could be hit by someone who "loved" me. Everything has its foundation in our childhoods. Adult anxiety, reinforced fears and depression.

And if your son sees you hit your daughter, what is he learning from you? He is learning it is okay to hit a woman. And he is learning someone who loves you can hurt you and it is supposed to be all right.

It is not all right.

When you are elderly, and your adult children could take advantage of your vulnerable state, do you want it to be acceptable for them to hit you? Elderly abuse happens. A lot.

Abuse is a cop out versus being wise, patient and putting yourself in someone else's "shoes". Do unto others as you would have them do unto you ~ that line is the most important thing my parents ever said to me from their Christian values. Sad they didn't live it.

Especially when I was a child.


On Children by Kahlil Gibran

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, "Speak to us of Children."
And he said:

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit,
not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.

For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

On Teaching

Then said a teacher, "Speak to us of Teaching."
And he said:
No man can reveal to you aught
but that which already lies half asleep in the dawning of our knowledge.

The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers,
gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.
If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of wisdom,
but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.

The astronomer may speak to you of his understanding of space,
but he cannot give you his understanding.

The musician may sing to you of the rhythm which is in all space,
but he cannot give you the ear which arrests the rhythm nor the voice that echoes it.

And he who is versed in the science of numbers can tell of the regions
of weight and measure, but he cannot conduct you thither.

For the vision of one man lends not its wings to another man.
And even as each one of you stands alone in God's knowledge,
so must each one of you be alone in his knowledge of God
and in his understanding of the earth.

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