Samantha with an inspiring friend,
a Woman of Wisdom Tete Guru is one of the Chapungu sculptures by N. Mukomberanwa honoring the Shona tribal elders. This photograph was taken by Beth Wignot at the Denver Botanic Garden in August 2004.
• A Marriage Counselor or Mediator?
• An Engineer?
• A Medical Researcher or Practitioner?
• A Philosopher?
• An Artist or Writer?
All of that, and perhaps, none of that.
Well, who is she? And, perhaps more to the point, who does she think she is?
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We tend to think or believe that we know something about the future. We often speak of the future as something "out there," distant from us and approaching. In our inquiry, we intend to distinguish where the future is located, and if, perhaps, we can create a place to stand in it that may make a difference.
Education is a real challenge. Under the onslaught of hitherto unseen extrinsic forces, and with its previously undistinguished intrinsic weaknesses becoming blatantly evident, education is now fully open to question. The content of education has been continually changing -- with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the newly reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) -- and it will continue to change at an ever-increasing rate. Any attempt to either resist or keep up with these changes in content will certainly leave even the most resourceful educators hopelessly muddled. Going forward, it will be valuable to examine our currently unexamined and unintentional context for education and possibly create a new, powerful and intentional context for teaching and learning (and perhaps unlearning).
Our deepest, closest, most intimate relationships -- strange as it may seem -- often become an area of dissatisfaction, sadness and disempowerment in our lives. The divorce rate in the United States is now above 50%. Cold as that fact may be, it is just the tip of a ponderous iceberg, when one considers how many people are complaining and suffering in their relationships.
Perhaps it is time to take a fresh look at the Being of being married (or in any committed relationship). This inquiry began as an approach to divorce and extended back to marriage and eventually has something useful and valuable to say for any relationship. If you are interested in starting, preserving or ending a marriage or relationship, this is your inquiry.
Over 160 years ago, the Emancipation Proclamation became law and ended more than two centuries of slavery in the United States of America. Or did it? No more than Brown v. Board of Education ended segregation fifty years ago. No more than the Civil Rights Act or Affirmative Action have ended racial discrimination. We now inquire into the persistence of slavery, which continues in our unwillingness to free ourselves from our self-invented conversations about race, ourselves and each other. This is a conversation whose time has come.
...a self-declared Futurist. Samantha Thomas has had the privilege of working in many diverse fields in the circuitous course of her career. Her endeavors up to now have included engineering and industrial design, medicine, higher education, illustration, cartooning, music and philosophy, but none of that is really who she is. Ultimately, she is yours to create.
By now, we have a acquired a lot of familiarity with the World of War. It is so relentless and ubiquitous that it is now simply the World in which we live. Strange that it no longer seems strange to us. For most of us, however, the war is just something on the news -- a body count or a video clip -- and it doesn't seem to have much to do with life as we live it. Whether we realize it or not, we are neglecting Peace. By failing to inquire into who we are, we are unconsciously and unintentionally Being War. It shows up all over the place. In our relationships -- even (especially) with the people closest to us -- we relate dramatically with each other and demand validation.
Will we begin to be responsible for the World we share? If we will not, and we continue to ignore the question of who we are Being and who we could Be, the ongoing existence of Human Being in the Universe is at risk.
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Samantha Thomas Is ...
Samantha Thomas has followed an unconventional and circuitous path to arrive at a new future-directed context for dispute resolution in marriage and divorce. She is not an attorney, not a mediator, not a psychologist, not anybody that one would expect to be working in this field of expertise. So how can she contribute to people in their most intimate relationships and in the breakdowns? Who is she? And, perhaps more to the point, who does she think she is?
Samantha was born on July 6, 1957 in southwestern Pennsylvania. This may have been the last ordinary occurrence of her life. She began teaching herself to read before she reached her third birthday. By the time she was in the first grade, her interests had expanded to include Classical Greek, Latin, the works of Shakespeare and pretty much everything except “Dick and Jane.” This reflects her lifelong passion for self-directed learning, and refusal to succumb to the numbing effect of public school indoctrination.
While still completing her undergraduate studies in Engineering Science (Mechanical) at the Pennsylvania State University, Samantha was already beginning graduate medical courses, which including cadaver studies, at the Hershey Medical Center College of Medicine. This was a very eccentric thing for an engineer to do in the 1970’s. Favoring natural, organic forms over the sharp edges of machinery, she was intrigued by the idea of applying engineering principles to treating the “human machine.” Later she used what she discovered by inventing several minimally invasive surgical devices that are currently being used in surgical practice, saving lives. She considers herself more of a“humaneer” than engineer.
After seventeen years in the work of engineering design and invention, Samantha chose to expand her experience of humaneering. For six years, she practiced as a Physician Assistant in Family Medicine. She had a sensitive, holistic and educational approach to her patients, and was especially successful with diabetic and hypertensive patients. They learned that the course of the disease was up to them. Their lives did not belong to doctors or the disease. Their lives were still their own. They had choice.
One patient, Forrest Bayard, provided a new direction for Samantha's inquiries. The two became friends and partners, and for six years, Samantha listened intently to Forrest, a renowned divorce attorney, as he spoke about the possibility of non-adversarial, non-acrimonious divorces. Meanwhile Samantha was inquiring into what constitutes a committed relationship, based in genuine promises. What does it take to have a relationship that works for everyone? Can a marriage ever be whole and complete and perfect? On Christmas Morning 2002, Samantha presented her new approach to marriage, divorce and dispute resolution to Forrest.
Four days later, Forrest died. Samantha continues to carry his interests into the future, just as she had promised him years ago. It is easy and joyful for her, as they are her interests as well. She is committed to making a difference in people’s lives and their most intimate relationships.
Samantha continually expands her inquiries, and has recently written on philosophical topics, including ontology and epistemology. As a member of Special Thinkers (the Special Education Think Tank) and the Council for Exceptional Children, she is working to eliminate the force and violence that is inherent in the current system of education. She is also committed to bringing about the end of racism in America.