Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Progress, or back into the dark?

My mom told me, “Never trust anyone who complains too much; they're up to something.”

She must have read Shakespeare. He proposed a way of cutting through the minutia of an argument — it's called finding the hidden agenda. Remember in “Hamlet,” when Queen Gertrude says, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”?

I thought of Shakespeare when I saw Protect La Cañada Flintridge's print advertisement concerning the master plan construction project of Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy. The intent of the school's master plan is to modernize the campus to ensure its educational viability. However, the hyperbole of the opposition, with their banter and images, is contrary to the reality of what is proposed by FSHA's modernization project.

Shakespeare was a smart guy; he engineered Queen Gertrude's phrase to mean that one can insist so passionately about something not being true that people suspect the opposite of what one is saying. Such insistent claims raise a potential red flag.

I'm from the Bronx, and that makes me skeptical. We call it street sense; maybe it's common sense. Bronx boys have an uncanny knack of reading between the lines.

Do you think the opponents of FSHA's modernization give a darn about protecting La Cañada? If you do, I'm going to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. It's clear to me that their altruism fails before the imperative of self-interest. Under the guise of stewardship, they are intent at impeding the progress of an institution that has been a good neighbor to this community for 81 years. It's always the same argument: Once I've built my home, nobody else can build above me.

Where's the compromise? Without compromise, one is chained to a narrow vision. The roads to righteousness and arrogance are parallel and it's often difficult to decipher which path you are on. However, the path to righteousness is paved with compromise and the road to arrogance is paved with self-interest.

I understand that those most vehemently opposed to FSHA's plans may not exceed 12 individuals. I learned at the University of Dayton, in Father Leo's statistics class, that 12 is not a representative sample of the aggregate. We are a constitutional democracy. Therefore the opposition deserves its day in court. Well, they've already had it.

Self-interest should never impede progress. Without change there is no progress, only stagnation. In science we learn that life generates itself through change. Sacred Heart is intent on change, to create a better institution to continue the noble work of educating young women. When will rationality prevail over those who would impede the natural progression?

Sacred Heart has been a good neighbor, accommodating to the will of the community, fostering honest dialogue and respecting the process. They have been open and transparent throughout. John Milton said, “the best apology against false accusers is silence and sufferance, and honest deeds set against dishonest words.”

Margaret Keen, chief development officer at FSHA, explained, “We believe the process is good and if we follow the process, the outcome will be good.”

However, life is not always fair, as it's adjudicated by fallibility. Thus the city council must decide. Leaders do the right thing.

The strategic master plan at Sacred Heart is a multi-phased modernization of facilities that are many decades old. It has a distinct purpose. With the advent of technology and the commitment by the school's leaders to insure that FSHA graduates walk confidently, competently and securely throughout the world, they seek a modern campus. Change! Change brought mankind through the dark ages. However, it takes only a few misguided individuals to take us back to the dark ages.

JOE PUGLIA is a practicing counselor, a retired professor of education and a former officer in the Marines. Reach him at Visit his website at

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