Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Can we talk straight for a minute?

There are a lot of trends these days relating to fear, even more as we traverse into the darker days and the cold winter nights.

People have been known to fear a lot of things:

Clowns. Spiders. Ghosts. Change. Differences.Truth. Bridges. Airplanes. Failure. Falling.

The unfortunate byproduct of society and fear is that our fears of the abstract and intangible: Change, Differences, Truth, Failure -- that fear brings out the worst in humanity. It shelters us from the reality that we are all living on the same planet and it would benefit us all to try and set down our fears.

The most alarming and destructive fear I am witnessing, that we are all witnessing and perhaps participating in, is the fear of those who are different.  It seems in the United States, our political race, our entire political system and climate has become a fight amongst us all, based in fear. 

Some of us may say that we fear nothing, but the anger, hate and vitriol that is viral, and the candidacies that have stemmed from them show us that underneath that anger, that hate, that disgust... it's all fear. Fear of change. Fear of truth. Fear of difference. Fear of loss. Fear of failure. Fear of admitting that we are wrong.  The collective angst of our nation and even within our world is all operating on that one terrifying and controlling emotion.  Fighting, flying or freezing, we are all seizing in the face of collective societal change.

In doing so, we are allowing our fears to control our nation, our world, our future. WE are contemplating some bad choices that we cannot seem to back away from because we have gone too far.

I digress.

I want to talk about the fear that I am seeing, the fear that I have studied as part of my educational journey. Fear of differences. Whether that is cultural, intellectual, political, or ideology.

Can we talk a little bit about religion?
There are far too many people fighting over God and what they say he is, and what his word is, when we have lost sight of the collective reasoning that we all share the planet.

If you believe man is the creation of God... why are you so bent on hating or fearing the person who defines their relationship with God differently?

I have seen this meme going around, where a mother refuses to allow her child to participate in a lesson that includes education about a religion that is not Christian. She is irate that Christianity is not taught in schools, but there one lesson in the educational curriculum  that has included the Quran and teaching about Muslims.

The problem is, this lesson pointed out general information about Islam without introducing fear or bias. There was no indoctrination for extremism, or hate. That mother was within her rights to refuse to have her daughter participate in the lesson, but it was not a lesson that was forcing a religion at the hands of the state, it was an opportunity to inform a child about something they may not know or understand.

Does that mean that teaching that lesson would be asking school children to sympathize with terrorists who attribute their religion to Islam? No. It does not. What that lesson was, was an opportunity to begin a discussion at home, and to minimize the fear of a different culture religion.

Yet, that  same fear has carried on and perpetuated the agenda of the extremists far better than any schoolbook lesson in the United States could. You see, the looming threat of a terror group, under any name, is made larger when we embrace fear and allow that fear to fester into hatred.

What many Americans do not realize is that by ignoring the similarities and ignoring an opportunity to be educated or shown a different perspective, we are allowing ourselves to become intolerant, hate ridden, and are pushing into the same territory of thought and ideology as the exact groups we claim to oppose.

When we fight over differences in religion, and a God, by any name, we lose sight of our human connection, and the world we share. We allow fear to distract us from what connects us.

It seems counterintuitive, to fight over religion, which is supposed to be a community builder... but only if you're like us, right?

There's a saying that goes, "Believe in nothing and you'll fall for anything."

But when one holds so tight to one's beliefs that it blocks one's abilities to see one another on a human level, as brothers and sisters on a shared planet; when we seek to eradicate those who are not like us, believers and non-believers alike, we are not saved, we are not holy, we are not vindicated, we are not enlightened, we are not being honest.

We are being egotistical.

 When we, as a human race, enslave ourselves to the collective ego of what our chosen religion (or atheism ) or belief is, while choosing to to hate or mistrust others because of difference of opinion or religion-- rather than seeking common ground, we are only ensuring self destruction.

That is exactly the goal of ANY extremist group --to cause confusion, fear, mayhem, destruction, and eradication of humanity that is dissimilar from the ones they know, the ones they like, the ones they are a part of.

Sound familiar?

To all who are believers: Pray how you want to pray. Or don't. But isn't the point of prayer or meditation to surrender oneself to the collective or higher power? What if that collective or higher power just wants you to calm the heck down and love your neighbor?

What if that collective power just wants you to set aside your ego and your possessions or your thirst for money to be a better human being?

What then?

Who is your God then? What is your higher power?

What if we have allowed fear to become a guiding light? What if our collective consciousness has been blocked by the fear masks of hate, prejudice, power-mongering, the desire to win, the desire to be RIGHT?

That's not God, that's not collective consciousness, that's not humanity. That's not, "surrendering to the power or prayer." That's not "Namaste'." That's not "Letting Go and Letting God."  That's not, "Inshallah ."

That's ego. That's fear. 

Isn't it time we stopped being afraid?

Friday, April 29, 2016

I am a Feminist, and I Don't Like That Lawmakers are Willing to Draft My Children

Today, I opened my News Feed and saw this: 
"Selective Service System: House Panel Approves Proposal Requiring Women to Register for Draft."

As a woman, as a mother and as a feminist... I have had a really hard time with this. I do believe women should be paid equally in the workforce, seen as capable and allowed to pursue the same paths as men as long as they can maintain the same standard. 
I do believe in equality in pay, opportunity, voting rights, personal rights and the law.

I also believe that certain women are capable of killing a person or fighting in battle when it is required of them, just as certain men are capable of doing the same. But I also believe that requiring registration for the draft is wrong. 

People are going to say that I cannot have it both ways. I understand that logic.
What bothers me about this is that I am a mom, and I became a mother at the age of 20. I cannot imagine being a mother facing the potential ramifications of war, a draft, and leaving my children to fight a battle I didn't agree with. Look at all of the single mothers in the United States who would be facing a serious dilemma. I personally would never agree to go fight a war that put me in the line of leaving my children behind motherless. 

I also do not care if you don't like that I said that. When I became a mother, my children became my mission. Any other job, mission, objective, want  or need that would take away from their safety or support  comes second. Period.
Additionally, if our representatives are going to institute a system that places women in  the position to be in the military, during a time of war, then they also need to spend a hell of a lot more money on training everyone from the top brass to the lowest scrub on rape prevention. The military needs to make sexual assault a severe crime... instituting a policy that not only punishes those who commit the crime, but also those who look the other way. Conscripting us to war and then subjecting us to sexual harassment is not an effective way to promote equality, or to teach us feminists a lesson. It's just another way to oppress women under the guise of good policy. So, if leaders want to do this right, they need to make sure they have systems in place to change the way the military treats those of us who volunteer for the job.

People who argue against women in the military and women in combat will use the above paragraph as a means to argue against women being in the military. This is also an argument that is unfair. We should not have to gird our loins and guard our vaginas in order to defend our country. When a woman is in uniform, she should be seen as a fellow fighter. If a woman has elected to crawl in the muck, run the miles, kill the enemy from afar or up close --she should be respected and her vagina should have no bearing on how people perceive her ability to fight.
A woman who voluntarily joins the military understands the risks and challenges that women face in an environment that has long been a duty and privilege reserved for able-bodied men. She understands that she will face harassment, scrutiny and even sexual brutality at the hands of an enemy that will use any form of punishment against the enemy. Just as any man who volunteers should (and most do) understand the same thing. That's the beauty of having an all-volunteer military.

I guess for me, as a mother ---I just don't like the idea of anyone, woman or man, forced to go into a battle they do not agree with. Vietnam veterans who were drafted but who were too young, immature, or just did not want to be there, came back changed, hated, ignored... and lives upon lives were wasted. Congressional leaders and children of the rich were given passes, and men whose parents could not afford to get them out of the draft were sent away, some never returning home. 
The draft is a system that we should not need.
As a spouse of an active duty volunteer service member, and as a mother to both a son and daughter, I don't agree with involuntary service in general. I personally feel that the draft is a system that actually can endanger the goals and lives of those who want to fight in the military, of those who WANT to fight for this country, and who volunteer to be of service to the nation. 
Forcing a person to go to battle and fight a war they do not agree with, or that they do not understand can lead to mutiny among the ranks. How do you protect the ones who are there to fight, from the ones who are desperate to escape? How do you lead an armed  person, responsible for lives, into a battle they do not want to fight?

It's not just that I don't want you drafting my daughter (if you did, you would have to enlist  her as an art therapist to rehabilitate those you broke, because that is as close as she would be willing or able to get to the front lines -- not because she is weak, but because she is emotionally deep and complex). It's that the draft is an ineffective way to support any war effort unless you are looking for bodies and  numbers.
I don't want you drafting my son, for that matter. Drafting for the front lines would take an effective battery of psychological and mental screenings, because it takes a certain person who can compartmentalize, rationalize, and who can both lead and follow directions.

So, my problem as a feminist, isn't that you want my daughter to be included in the list of  names you could pull if we ever go into a large scale war, or our leaders decided they were going to need bodies more than a good representative military of volunteers. It's that you want to force my children to sign up for a lottery where there are no winners.
Sound familiar?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Y'all want some crackers with this sweet tea and lemonade?

As a white woman from the South, I am going to serve some truth to those who may not know: 

I hate to tell you this honey, but Racism still exists. In the North, in the South, on TV and in many hearts. It's still there, alive and kicking.

 Just because you don't see it in your own heart doesn't mean it's gone. 

Angry people of color are angry because it's not fair. While there are misguided acts of violence that are perpetrated during these movements regarding race inequality, and race relations, it does not diminish the fact that there is a reason to be angry.

AS AMERICANS we should be angry at all the hate and regression we have seen lately.

 It means we need to do better.

As long as people are dying because the color of their skin is different, or because the culture they grew into has oppressed them and left them without options because the majority keeps it so, racism still lives.

For that matter, let me tell you something, until the very last person of color or minority can look around and say, "No, my race has no impact on how people treat me or the way I have been able to live my life," RACISM STILL EXISTS. 

Before my white friends get their panties in a twist: Stop thinking this is about you, personally. You never had to grow up black. You may not be racist, but you have no place in telling a person of color or minority that they need to settle down and stop being angry. 

Have you ever in your life tried to tell a woman, child, or man who is pissed off because they are suffering some sort of injustice  that they need to calm down? How'd that work out for you?

You do not need a sign to see that racism still exists. Look at schools across the country, segregated by community numbers, allocation funding, and gerrymandering.

(I'm sorry was that too big of a word for you? Here I googled the meaning...)

Maybe you should listen, maybe we as white people need to pay attention, and speak up when things are not right. We grew up with the privilege of never having to be judged for standing around in groups (let's forget about the times when the teachers knew we were up to no good in the parking lot, I'm talking about life, not testy adolescence). 

Here's the simple truth, unless you have woken up every morning knowing that the world is stacked against you because you have more melanin in your skin, and people will fear you because of the culture that they allowed you to stagnate under, you can't tell people to calm down or to stop playing the race card.

I would go so far to say that racism seems to have gotten worse since the 90s, or maybe my eyes are more open as an adult who has taken her white-colored glasses off.

What happened? Did President Obama fulfill the fear that a black man (how soon we forget that he is also white) would master the former masters and ruin the remnants of the confederacy?

(Check out that bottom ad for the platforms that existed during Lincoln's time... hurts a little bit, doesn't it, David Duke?)

Furthermore: Until men stop thinking that women enjoy being seen as sex objects only and not full human beings, sexism also still exists.

Let me say that again: Sexism also still exists (and thanks to instant porn access from the phones in our pockets, it has gotten worse... generations of young men and women are growing up thinking our place is on our knees, but t that is a different blog...) and feminism doesn't mean man-bashing, as a feminist I believe in equality among sexes, genders and races. 

It means wanting the same things men are allowed to have, be and do-- for your wife, sister or daughter. It also means letting people live their life without being hated for their gender, sexuality or sexual preference.

I bring up women along with race because I believe that the current state of affairs in the United States is still an issue of equal rights. People of color and women of all races need to stand together.  In elections, in policy, in changing conversations about the way we as Americans are allowing a hateful minority take us so far into the pain of the past that our  previous generations of protesters stood against.

 If love is still a problem for you, if race and skin color and gender identity are a problem for you, maybe you need to find out the best way to correct the hate in your heart and stop telling me how your feelings are hurt.

If this offends you, you don't know me as well as you thought you did, and I've sat here quiet long enough.

 I love you, but if you have hate in your heart, I don't have to agree with you. And I don't agree with you.  

Judge me if you like. 

If you're basing your judgment off of the bible, do me a favor when you die, make sure to ask Jesus how that worked out for you. 

If you are judging me because you think I am being soft or a "libtard," you're just being an asshole. I'm being a human. 

You want some ice with that tea and lemonade? 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Ok Ladies Now Let's Get in Formation

Superbowl 50 has come and gone, and the internet is lighting up and cleaning up in the aftermath.    We are seeing less commentary on Cam Newton's reaction to his team's loss, or speculation as to whether or not  Manning will retire now that he has walked away with his win-- and more commentary on the half time show featuring Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Beyonce'.

As I was watching the show, I was struck by the magnitude of such a short performance and the impact it would have, the commentary that would be unleashed.

Here's the thing, I am from the South, and I am white and many people who are white,  Southern or conservative may object to what I am about to say next. And that is that Beyonce' has every right and responsibility to use her fame and her influence to speak out on behalf of those who are either powerless to speak and be heard or who lack support because of the polarization of our nation.

First let me say that I am tired of hearing people who are white, misinterpreting our privilege as a platform to tell others to move on from the struggle they still face. Those statements do nothing to elevate and support the people who want to rise above. Statements that come from a place of judgment or dismissal are often those which come from a place of ignorance, misunderstanding, and even more insidious, designed to keep the people who are struggling, separate from a society where they wish to be recognized as equal.

When you say that, not knowing the reality of someone else's struggle-- You. Are. Wrong.

If you were not born into poverty, you cannot know the struggle of what it means to be poor. But you can speak on behalf of the poor and seek to support them in society.

If you were not born a minority, you cannot know the struggle of what it means to be oppressed. But you can speak out on behalf of those who are oppressed and stand for their freedoms.

If you were not born gay, you cannot know the struggle of what it means to be judged for your sexuality, but you can honor that they deserve to have the same rights as any other human being.

If you were not born transgender, you cannot know what it is like to struggle with the social definitions of gender roles, but you can walk with them and seek to understand their pain, and love them for who they are, where they are and help them figure out where they want to go.

If you were not born a woman, you cannot know the struggle that comes with growing up in a society that treats you as a sex object first, and everything else, second. But you can stop blaming us for being born with the baby maker parts-- the parts that carry the generations of the future into life. We are more than our bodies. Yet we should be honored and respected for what we can do with our bodies, our minds, our personalities and our drive, not merely minimized to only being seen for what we can do with those baby making and baby feeding parts we have.

So when people get angry and say it is time to move on from whatever struggle that is being met in society by a group within the human race, why are they not seeking to at least understand and open the way to move forward?

Back to Beyonce'.

There are people who are saying that Bey is attacking the police.  I don't agree. Not one of the lyrics in Formation says anything about police brutality. In all honesty, without the video, Formation would be a catchy tune scattered with random lyrics about Bey's  personal cultural identity, self actualization and a Beyonce' girl power anthem.

Not all police officers are bad. There are many examples of good, like the officer who bought a father formula when he couldn't feed his child; or the officer who responded to a nuisance call with a friendly game of basketball; or the police officer in Albuquerque who helped feed the homeless. There are everyday examples of the good done by the men and women who choose to serve and protect that go both noticed and unnoticed by the media.

  Beyonce' knows that, just as most Americans know that, but she also knows the anxiety that comes with being black and living in an area where one cannot be sure if they are being pulled over by one of the many many good police officers, or if they will be targeted by one of the people who joined the force for power rather than service. As a woman, I do understand this anxiety, but far less than what I would probably endure if I had grown up black in the South.

Beyonce's performance was not an attack on the police forces of the United States, it was a protest against the wrongs that American society is still trying to overcome 50 years after the march in Selma, Alabama... we are still trying to come to terms as a nation whose race should not matter, and whose culture is so diverse that we should embrace it.

Beyonce is calling to the people of her race, and the people of her gender, to stop standing aside and to speak out against the things that are wrong in our society.

What last night's performance (By ALL of the performers) was about was a nod to the need for Black History Month, and the need to choose love, to be global citizens, to celebrate diversity and culture and embrace, respect, accept and LOVE that there are differences among us. We are still equal in humanity.

The United States is standing witness with our emerging adult generations who are tired of "the establishment." Unfortunately,  tiresome politics are showing more division among those who are still following lines of drawn race, class and social strata, and those who want to TRULY move on and be more of a society.

Beyonce is using her voice as an influential and popular black songstress to highlight the problems she sees in her society, and she wants to make it known that we can speak up. Unlike Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit, or Coltrane's Alabama,  Bey's lyrics were less prominent in spoken words about the call to attention.  It was Beyonce's performance and earlier video  that spoke to imagery that needed to be remembered and evoked against the divisions that are reigniting in the United States.

The thing we need to remember is that Bey isn't standing against us "white folk," she is standing against corruption and aggression towards people who do not have a voice.  While she has supported Black Lives Matter (and justifiably should), she also has supported gun control measures after Sandy Hook, and rebuilding Haiti, and even seeking to create assistance funding for the Flint Water crisis.

I stand with her reasoning and what her performance called for, just as I gathered Coldplay was standing for love and acceptance, lifting up the next generation as Global Citizens.

I am not going to sit here and make idiotic commentary like the white comedienne who commented that her freckle was the color of her soul in her latest video, "Dear Black People (I am also not going to link her because her message is more about her, and less about equality and it panders)." Because I care about the human race.

That's the color of my soul, human colored.

When we start to see ourselves as being attacked because we are different, we have to speak out and call to remind one another that we are equal and fight back against those who are trying to force any one group of us into a classification... that is what these movements are about. We might have differences in body type, sexual orientation, social class, but on the human level, we are all equal and deserve respect, not derision.