Category: Do The Right Thing

Oh Say Can’t You See what’s going on here?

To pray

To propose

To show reverence

To beg

Every single one of these activities involve getting down on one’s knees, and not one of them is associated with arrogence or disrespect.. In fact, just the opposite. Unless you’re not white, then how dare you envoke a humble gesture to respect a symbol of our country while drawing attention to it’s illness.

It seems the powers that be are still more comfortable with black men kneeling in front of cop cars than on the football field. The NFL has now reinforced that message by banning the practice of taking a knee on the field. Instead, players have the option to stay in the locker room during the anthem If they can’t bring themselves to stand.

If you consider yourself so patriotic as to believe the stance so commonly used to talk to GOD Isn’t even good enough for the Stars & Stripes, then you should be sad and disgusted by that ruling. An elite collection of wealthy people have once again taken it upon themselves to “solve” society’s problems as quickly and conveniently as possible, leaving the consequences for someone else.

Protests are not about entertainment. They are to shed light on things we have to fix. It’s hard to get people concerned about a problem if they don’t feel its direct impact. There are SO many facits of this issue that should incite action. Unarmed men dying at the hands of authority disproportionately by skin color wasn’t enough to get us going, so they had to make some people squirm a little at a sporting event. You should be uncomfortable!

 

You probably know by now, dear Reader, that I’m not in the habit of excusing bad behavior, but I am a fan of mercy and second chances.

Most NFL fans (and owners, etc.) are probably not racists. They are not so caloused to the blight of police brutality that the players’ protests are nothing more than an unacceptable annoyance. I suspect it’s quite the opposite. Like most of us,they see horrible things happening  and feel helpless because the are just one person. They’re overwhelmed because they lack the knowledge, resources and support to make a difference. This has become such a divisive topic, they fear reaching out will hurt more than help, and those fears are not unfounded.

It’s human nature to avoid action when we’re not sure how to proceed or what the consequences might be. We all do it every day, but stakes are way to high on this one.

It’s way past time for those of us who fear for anything less than our lives to responsibility for the kind of people we want to be. We have to get honest with ourselves, and our children, about difference between the great potential of this country vs. its current reality.

You’ll never read anything more honest than this.

We don’t have political problems, Friends, we have human problems. We are privileged with the responsibility of choosing our own leaders, so doesn’t it stand to reason that our leaders reflect the kind of people we are? That should scare the hell out of you right now.

The overt hate, selfishness, ignorance and general shamelessness that permeates American politics right has so many of us pointing fingers at our neighbors. The powers that be are well served by the distraction created when we turn on each other instead of turning toward them to see where the blame truly belongs.

What we must first do is turn inward, and evaluate the moral and ethical shortcomings within ourselves that not only allow this wretched state of the Union to exist, but nurture it like a favored parasite.

We have to get really honest with ourselves about the lies we’ve decided to get comfortable with because they support a prejudice or a grudge that we want to justify.

We have to jump off the bandwagon of discrediting the experiences of people who are of other colors, ethnicities, religions and social classes, and own that our denial of the well-documented, systematic injustice and that holds them back makes us complicit in their oppression.

We have to acknowledge that America does have a class system, and that what we think we know about those different from us, may be based on a convenient lie.

We must stop pretending that our hatred and prejudices are some kind of code of ethics, and realize that morality is something we are to measure our own character by, not something to impose on others and then excuse our bad behavior with their perceived failures.

We have to stop degrading our neighbors who depend on government assistance, as though they don’t pay taxes or have anything to offer society, as though everyone in this country actually has equal opportunity to improve their situations, and that sexism, racism and greed never contribute to poverty.

We must discard the notion that our country is inherently superior, and realize that it merely has the potential to be. It’s up to us to insist that potential is reached. This self-delusion will only make us blind to the problems that will ultimately destroy us, like doting parents ignoring the misdeeds of a beloved, spoiled child. It’s easier to be defensive or offended than it is to admit you just don’t want to acknowledge there is something wrong.

Those of you who are still insisting that this country was founded on Christian principles have to get serious about the glaring discrepancies between what you honestly know of Christ and the policies and politicians you support.

The only way things will ever get better is if decided to be better people, and take responsibility for making sure our policies, and the people who make and enforce them reflect that.

It’s like peeling a snail from its shell.

Unless you’ve been under the same rock some of our lawmakers undoubtedly crawled out from under, you can’t help but have a strong opinion on the state of the healthcare system. I’ve got a lot to say about it myself, but for now I want you to see this video. It’s not an easy watch, but it is important

It’s not unusual for the police to restrain protestors, but what’s the equivalent of handcuffing or shackling a wheelchair user? I suppose I removing them from their chair gets results, but it’s NOT the same. It’s not restraint, it’s dismemberment. It’s excessive force, and a gross abuse of power to further reduce our weakest citizens, especially when they’re exercising their constitutional right to peaceably assemble. I thought the GOP was all about the Constitution! Denying the poor and disabled access to healthcare is just slow genocide.

I’m a red state refugee.

I have a vivid childhood memory of playing under a table at the local burger joint while the adults discussed what I now understand to be politics. That’s when I learned I didn’t want to be a Republican, because they’re mean.
I spent the next couple of decades or so (and maybe the rest of my life) trying to reconcile what I was taught in Sunday School, and the fairly ….some might say strict…standard of conduct set forth by my family and teachers with the exclusiveness, misogyny and judgement I saw in the world around me, and by world, I mean the 3.6 square miles of Iowa Park Texas, pop. 6,000ish. I’ve had to separate myself from everything I was certain about to be the kind of person those same people taught me to be.
My world is much bigger now. The distance and years have allowed me some perspective. I’ve come to understand there are categories of Republicans. Of course there are your “Mr. Burns” types; greedy, self-interested business people and the standard bigots, but then there’s this enormous chunk of people who are simply trying to make it to Heaven.
You see, in the Bible Belt it’s hard not to absorb the idea that you are inherently evil, and need someone to instruct you on the straight and narrow path. The respect for leadership that’s so intrinsic in their values also makes them susceptible to manipulation, especially when it’s been twisted to not only discourage questioning authority but trusting one’s own motivations.
Even among the nonreligious, being a respectable, honorable person is deeply rooted in the culture. It’s obvious to me at some point, many years before now, an evil politician realized how easy it could be to say just the right words to activate the powerful loyalty of a large demographic whose desire to do the right thing would keep them voting against their own interests for generations. For you see, some people feel they deserve to be on top, and for there to be a top, they have to create a bottom.  It’s a fallacy that has perverted everything pure about their faith and way of life, and it’s so insidious they can’t even see the major moral conflicts that are so glaring to the rest of us.
I want to be very clear that I will never make excuses for anyone’s bad behavior, especially the mistreatment of any other human being. I just want to offer some insight. I want to do my part to promote the practice of, not only researching the opposition’s agenda, but trying to understand WHY they feel that way, and where our common ground might be. That cultivates empathy, without which there will never be peace.
I hate that rest of the country will miss out on the good things about my culture because the bad has become so pervasive. I continue to mourn the stability, community and relationships I’ve lost because I can’t make peace between my values and the current political climate. There are no words to convey the intensity of my frustration in this matter, but if I lose my empathy and compassion, then I’m as complicit in the problem.

5 Suggested “Value Tales”

My Grandmama read “Value Tales” to me when I was little. There’s a whole set of them. Each story is about how real, historic figures and their theme-appropriate imaginary friends demonstrated a specific value like honesty, kindness, determination, etc. I’ve lived a little now, and had the chance to apply some of those lessons and a few others the books didn’t mention. Here’s some suggestions, in case they ever decide to expand the series:
1.The Value of Self-Awareness – You are entitled to every single one of your own feelings. You are also free to express them however you deem necessary, but as we know, to every action there is a reaction. So before you act or react, take a minute to name what you’re really feeling and evaluate what really made you feel that way. For example, maybe there’s somebody you think you don’t like. If that guy has done something to legitimately earn your hatred, you should be able to draw some pretty straight lines to why you feel that way. Do you actually dislike the person, or do you dislike the way you feel when he’s around? If you land on the latter, are you reacting to something that person did, or to some insecurity about yourself? It’s quite a labyrinth, and emotions often disguise themselves, but having that knowledge gives you power to construct your life! In the end, out lives aren’t made up of what happens to us, but how we FEEL about what happens and how we react.
2. The Value of Empathy – For better or worse, everybody filters the world through the lens of their own baggage. Every experience adds a layer that either clarifies or blurs everything that happens next. IT’s impossible to really communicate with someone without putting yourself in her shoes. I’m certain that would go a long way toward dissipating some of the world’s most insurmountable problems. We’d all be a lot nicer if we stopped to consider how it feels to be the other guy.
3. The Value of Personal Responsibility – OWN YOUR STUFF! What you love, what you hate, what you believe, how you feel, ALL of it. It’s your privilege AND your responsibility. Blaming others for your emotions and actions eats away at your integrity and hands them control over your life. It says a lot more about you than it does about them. Nothing in your life will improve until you take responsibility for it.
4. The Value of Trouble Shooting – Learn how to figure things out. Look for clues. Read the instructions. Ask questions. Seek information and put the pieces together. These steps translate to problems as minor as unjamming the copy machine to scarier situations like finding a job. There’s a lot of freedom and confidence to be gained by knowing you have some tools to help solve whatever you’re up against.
5. The Value of Discernment – We are living in a time of unprecedented access to information. Along with that comes exposure to the agendas and opinions of all kinds of folks who have no shame about twisting the facts in their favor. The trick is to develop a set of mental filters to help you sift through the baloney and get as close to the truth as you can. What the world needs now is way less deceit and misinformation. You can be part of the solution by refusing to accept everything that’s fed to you. Learn how to do your own research, and verify your sources. Don’t spread that stuff around; it’s quickly junking up the world…and that’s where I LIVE with the people I LOVE. The people you love live there too. STOP IT!
The difference between living a reactive life where you’re a slave to your circumstances, and having a deeper, more meaningful, productive experience is developing these tools.