Monday, September 19, 2011

10 Years Later

     I know there are 1 million blogs and postings about September 11th. Here is number 1,000,001. I think I slept as poorly last September 11, 2011 as I did September 11, 2001. Over these past years, I managed to put the emotions of the day somewhere in the recesses of my mind. I had come to the point where I would pretty much drag those feelings out only for the anniversary date, and then pack them away until the next 9/11.

     I just took it all so personal. It was an event that happened in my adulthood. It scared me and altered my view on everything from parenting, to friendship, and even initially, trust. I am ashamed to say this but in the interest of transparency I will admit; In the immediate aftermath I actually found myself a little bit nervous around anyone of Middle Eastern dissent. I'm not proud of that. As an African American with parents who where in the trenches of the civil rights movement of the 1960's, I am very sensitive to prejudging and racial profiling. At the time, I was in graduate school. My classmates were extremely diverse. I met and associated with people from China, India, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Mexico and all over the United States. I was very excited to have my hand in a melting pot of scholars interested in making leadership in the workplace diverse.

     We spent quite a bit of time just trying to sort through this horrible act after it occurred. I really tried to hold on to my principles and continue to deal with people on an personal level and not make sweeping judgements about groups. I talked tirelessly with intellectuals about the ambiguity of a "War on Terror" and the frustration in including an entire religious sect into an extremist minority's Jihad. I honestly think these types of candid discussions are necessary for disseminating ignorance, and the fear that is often times coupled with it.

     As I look back on my views about how I felt about people before versus after the attacks, I really don't think it's changed all that much. I still feel that all people are capable of the same loving acts or the same evil acts. Am I proud to be an American? Sometimes. I like the ideology of freedom, democracy, and equality. But we fall woefully short all to often. I don't look at the terrorists attacks as us (Americans) vs. them (Arabs) I don't see people based off of their borders, customs, traditions, or religion. People are people to me. Although we may express ourselves differently based on the previously mentioned characteristics. We all feel love, and sadness, and rage, and fear. We sometimes excel, and sometimes fail. We're sometimes good, and sometimes bad. We're not all that different. We just express ourselves differently.

     There is a patriotic phrase that I hear so often in the Mid-West. "God, Family, Country" I understand it. It's a concept that I bought into once upon a time. Certainly I strive to put God first always. Sometimes selfish ambitions or impatience impede that philosophy. But, I certainly strive to do such. My view on family has changed tremendously over the years. Family now goes so far beyond bloodline in my experiences, I can hardly recognize the definition I originally came to know. In fact, I would say that I have had an entire paradigm shift as to what family is. For me family is no longer rooted in blood or genetics. Those two factors undeniably draw and tie us to people in life. That I cannot deny. And, the emotional ties that are connected to "natural" family members is strong I must admit. However, family...that is the family that counts in my book is rooted in loyalty, and "love in action". My current definition of family now surpasses genetic factors in importance to me. And then there's "Country".  Disclaimer: I LOVE America. That being said, this is a land full of hypocrisy. We don't do a good job taking care of the most vulnerable in our society. We support dictators and tyrants in other countries, if it benefits our interest. We are becoming less educated, more greedy...I could go on but you get my point. I haven't given up though. So long as we keep our foundational principles in place, there is always hope.

     Here is a fundament shift for me that has has only strengthened since the terrorist attacks. I am more concerned with people in general. Not only people from my country. The world is my home and it is without borders. In my opinion, we have lost view of humanity outside of any group of people that we are "affiliated" with. Perhaps that's why it was ok for a group of Neo-conservatives to cheer on the death of uninsured people during the last political debate. We have lost sight of the fact that "all men were created equal". If that statement is true, then it's true for all people. Not just the people who live close to you, or agree with you, or are a part of your group.

     The invent of the world wide web, and the continued sophisticated development of social media continues to make the world a smaller place. Six degrees of separation has become five degrees or perhaps four degrees. And personally, the more I get to know people from across the globe, the more I care. They have no longer become a distant ideal, they are real people.  I hope to evolve into a progressively empathetic person who can connect, empathize with, and respect all people. I know that it may be an unpopular stance with many Americans who feel that patriotism involves specialized treatment for the people in your county. But in my opinion sanctity of life and respect for everyone should be more than a U.S. concept. In fact, I think upholding that standard is even more patriotic.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Soul Mate

There is a void in my soul 

Only YOU can fill

With one touch of your hand over my heart

I inhale deeply...slowly and breathe YOU in

Then, and only then is balance restored

I am not half a person waiting for my other half

I am a whole person, whose life is incomplete without YOU...

Friday, September 9, 2011

You Are What You Blog

     I really like the concept of blogging. It took me a while to decide whether or not I wanted to do it. However, I really feel like it's a forum in which I can cathartically express myself. Starting one was a good choice or me.

     Don't get me wrong I really enjoy social media. But, I look at Facebook as a way to stay in touch with family. Twitter is a cool way for me to interact with strangers. And, Tumblr seems like little more than on online diary, and stomping ground for the celebration of randomness. I plan to dip my virtual toes into Tumblr very soon, as I love all things random.

     Blogging for me seems to be a forum in which I can just be myself. I put things out there from my very own perspective and leave out there for people to embrace, reject, or ignore. But it's mine. It's all mine. No one else can have it. No one else is responsible for it. I just sit down and start typing often times with no clue as to where I'm going, or where I'll end up. I just want to get what I'm thinking out. No politics, no pretenses, my terms, love it or leave it.

     As I negotiate my way through the blogosphere, I have observed that many bloggers feel the same way. It makes many of us kindred at least in philosophy though the topics and perspectives be so diverse. You can tell about a person by what they blog. The thing I acknowledge about my self and it very evident in my writing is that I am a complete BEOTCH. I can no more change that trait, than someone who is shy can turn himself into an extrovert.  I'm strong willed and aggressive. It's a part of my personality whether I am happy or sad. Heck my blog name kind of clues you in on what I'm all about.

     I can say that as I get older, I am learning how to be more diplomatic and wise. I count my ability to bridle my personality and express myself in a way that can be at least heard if not received as maturity and wisdom. I rather feel sorry for brassy individuals who never establish credibility or influence because they spend their life blurting out their opinions. They are generally socially isolated because they don't account for the feelings of others. Where often judged as know it alls, disrespectful, ignorant, and or trouble makers.

     Blogging has been a way for me to get out all of those feelings productively. Then, literally turn around and address some of these very issues out loud in a much more productive way. The day I  got a box that was smashed to Hades from UPS, I got on here are sounded off on the importance of customer service and pride in your work. Afterwards, I was able to turn around and call the company and let them know in very direct, yet more constructive way that their service was not acceptable.

I think Hamlet got it right when he penned the phrase. "To thine own self be true." If I thought about it hard enough I'm sure I could come up with a scriptural reference along the same vane. My virtual soapbox gives me the ability to do just that.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Walmart...You Could Pay More...AND SHOULD!!!

I am very sympathetic to the working poor. There are way too many people out there, who work as hard as humanly possible and simply cannot make enough money to support themselves. I have heard every argument concerning how people are able to pull themselves out of their situation through education, motivation, etc... There is at times validity to that line of thinking. But riddle me this? Who is going to do those jobs if nobody is willing to work them? Someone has to work those low paying positions. I do my best to treat everyone with dignity and respect. I don't care where you work, or how much education you have. If you aren't out to hurt others you are OK in my book.  So when I come across a person who is working what some would consider a menial job, it makes no difference in the way I will treat them.

I just got home from grocery shopping at Walmart. It was such a depressing sight. The workers there truly are the working poor. They look absolutely terrible. I mean the vast majority of workers literally had on poor quality clothing and shoes. Their overall appearance was simply stated, unkept. It made me insufferably sad. But right now,  I'm getting angry about it. Why in the world would a multi-billion dollar company choose to keep their employees in poverty? Corporate greed has gone entirely too far.

Walmart spends more money in China than the US government by the last stats I'd heard. And your workers can't even get a livable wage? Shoppers can't get an open register? Out of 20 -30 registers even on a holiday weekend and the first of the month, Walmart won't open more than 5 registers? I am starting to feel a moral obligation to frequent other businesses that do a better job of taking care of more then their executives. No I don't think that anyone should live a lifestyle of waiting for handouts. But I do think that when it comes to corporations, they need to compensate the people that are in the trenches working hard.

The commercials state: "You could pay more, but why?" Hopefully I just gave you a couple of good reasons to consider. I'd rather pay more to a company that is not purposely taking a loss to put fair priced companies out of business. That is better than supporting improperly contorted definitions of capitalism! THAT'S WHY!

Friday, September 2, 2011

It Takes a Village....Idiot

Hear ye! Here ye! (That makes this official):

Anyone - ANYONE at all who has influence over a child and does not take that responsibility seriously is an IDIOT! I may be channelling my inner Whitney Houston here...if that's even possible since she's not dead....I digress. My point is, I too believe the children are our future. The lessons we teach them knowingly, and by example when we're not even paying attention, directly affects the way the world will be run tomorrow. None of us get it right all of the time, but I am noticing a trend that is beginning to concern me.

Junk science and popular theories currently have parents, teachers, and youth leaders in general, working towards two goals that in all actuality oppose each other. First, the notion that children will develop low self esteem if they fail at something. And secondly, that winning is of absolute importance. Now, I am no mathematician, but I recall some rules about how a positive + a negative still = a negative. And, that's exactly what I am seeing with our future generation. I can't be the only one who is sick and tired of crybabies with entitlement issues. "Man up Bobby you lost. Better luck next time." I can't tell you how many times those words have almost slipped off my tongue.

I am of the opinion, a little bit of friendly competition will challenge a person, and motivate them to work harder. When they work harder, they are made better, as are the people that are playing/working/associating with them. I believe that a sense of accomplishment can be felt by seeing one's self improve, even if winning is not the end result. I even think that not winning will cause a person to set a goal of trying to win next time. And, if they want it bad enough, they will initiate some type of action plan to get it done.

Someone out there hoped and dreamed that one day man could take flight. That thought spiraled into mankind voyaging through space! We live in the information age. Knowledge continues to increase. But safety guards, like no letter grades so the children won't feel to bad, will hamper progress. How can it push them to try harder when there is a sliding scale of success? There are children that can learn to run faster and play more strategically to break records. But, where is there motivation to do that when everyone gets a trophy?

It's time to stop coddling. It's time to raise the standard on what we expect from little people. It's time to be amazed at what they can do with out handicapping them with safety guards in the name of self esteem development.