“If you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves.” ― Junot Díaz

Below is a link to a video of a young girl who receives a doll with a prosthetic leg. This is significant because the young lady has a prosthetic leg as well.
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FGhAcBwwpo0)
The young girl’s reaction is priceless. She opens the box and immediately begins crying because she has a doll that looks like her.
The crux of this statement emphasizes how important representation for all people is, specifically minorities.
We live in a society where the majority of people are white straight cisgender people and dominate pop culture. This is natural and makes sense that a majority is well represented in the society they live.
However, collectively we should always be working towards a more inclusive society. One way to do that is by representing all people in that society. This may mean through media, politics, educations, and other outlets.
It is imperative that children see people like them excelling in a happy and healthy way. This is one of the building blocks for developing positive self image and identity.
The little girl from the video doesn’t have many role models that represent her. I don’t know many celebrities or influential people in our society that have a prosthetic leg. So for her to receive a doll with one was a major deal for her. The same is true for People of Color, the LGBTQ community, women, and others.
By representing minorities in popular culture we are providing our youth an accurate depiction of all peoples that live in our society. Our media representing those communities should illustrate them as authentic three dimensional beings. We tend to think of people in only one way; usually the label we place on them. If our TV shows, books, and music provide depth to these minority characters it expands our youth’s ability to develop a positive self image.
The LGBTQ community, People of Color, women, immigrants, and other minorities don’t have much representation in government, academia, pop culture, and other aspects of life. By providing youth that is more inclusive and more like them we are cultivating a generation that feels more free to live genuine and more authentically than ever before.
If you this concept is new to you or you don’t understand it, count yourself lucky. You have had impactful person in your life that you could identify with. Not many of our youth get that opportunity. Working to be more inclusive of all others is a goal we should all work toward.
For the sake of the young lady in the video or others like her, we owe it to them. For the next generation.

“Choices made, whether bad or good, follow you forever and affect everyone in their path one way or another.” ― J.E.B. Spredemann

We walk a tight rope when it comes to the first amendment. One must balance the ability to say anything with the responsibility of saying anything. I am thankful we live in a country where our government cannot penalize its citizens for its speech. However, society may do with the speech giver as it wishes. I always remind folks you have the freedom of speech but not the freedom of consequences.

Every one of us has a responsibility for what we say. Some of us have bigger platforms but we all have a voice and people listen to it. As an average twenty something male I recognize I have a responsibility with my speech.

I have two younger sisters that are affected by the things I say. I have a reputation that I wish to hold intact. I have friends and family members I have a responsibility to. I also have my employer and coworkers to consider when I make my thoughts public. Lastly, my speech, on a small scale, affects society.  At this point some of you are rolling your eyes.  But think about it. The above people mentioned are my world. I socialize with these folks on an everyday basis. For better or worse, they affect me and I affect them. In turn those folks go home to their family, coworkers, and friends and they affect them. People change people. This is why society is an ever evolving collection of ideas and norms. It’s quite astounding if you think about it. You where ever you are in some small way are affecting someone you don’t know half way around the world. Our interconnectedness is often astonishing. And we are lucky enough to live in a time when all of it is recorded and put on the internet. While I hate internet fad videos, it’s a perfect example.

I believe this illustrates my point about the responsibility we have with our words and speech. I love social commentary. I see myself as a social observer. I then write how I see the world. Some of today’s TV shows are a great source of social thought provocation. Criminal Minds had an episode from 2012 where a politician was speaking hateful rhetoric. He was campaigning on the notion that crime is committed only by nonwhite folks. This fueled a deranged man’s murderous plot to stage the murders of upper middle class white families preformed at the hand of minorities. I get it. It’s a TV show.

However, put it into perspective.  Two and a half weeks ago a white man opened fire on nine innocent black folks who were worshiping God. One of the most people acts a person can commit and they were hunted like animals. Its alleged that the murder was involved in several white supremacy groups or at least believed their ugly beliefs. As I watched this episode this was all I could think of. Those poor folks are victims of a sick twisted individual that was indoctrinated by evil vicious thoughts. I soon thought about the responsibility we all have for our words and to each other. Whether you like it or not you are an example to someone. You change someone and they change you. People change people.

Once we realize this we can work together to become more cautious with our words and thoughts. In no way am I affirming we do not have a right to say what we want but only reminding ourselves that we have a responsibility for what we say as well. May we use our words to build up rather than tear down.

This In Itself Is Humbling.

“This Too Shall Pass” -Unknown

Rarely do I ever need to remind myself of this quote. I have had this mentality as long as I can remember. I tend to be optimistic about things. I am not naïve about the world. I see reality but I have lived long enough to know that most things are temporary.

That includes the good things, not just the bad. Life seems to be a balancing act of good and bad events and everyone of them has not lasted. It passed.

I have this unyielding belief that things get better. I believe I was born with that disposition but chose a long time ago to nurture it.

You can chose to see the world two ways:

1) Life is good with some bad events.

or

2) Life is bad with some good events.

Every human falls into one of those categories. Obviously one is more  harmful than the other. And it is all temporary.

It bring comfort to me to know that the negative events that happen to me are not forever. The sun will really come out tomorrow. Metaphorically at least. I know that a few bad days strung together might make a terrible week but my month can still be good. Its all about perspective.

Asking yourself questions like “Why Me?” only perpetuates a negative attitude. It also demonstrates the thought process that you are above hardship. No one is above hardship. Everyone will suffer. Instead ask “Why not me?”. I do not mean that in an excited way but instead mean it as a way to put things into perspective. There are over seven billion people on the planet. Negative things are happening to someone somewhere. Its bound to catch up with you sooner or later. But on the same side of that coin, good things happen as well. Life’s pleasures happen to you as well. Humans tend to only focus on the negative events, which reinforces our beliefs that negative things are always happening to us.

It is my opinion that we focus more on negative events largely because it feeds the innate insecurity that humanity has. Obviously there are more things in play than insecurity but I believe that is the most driving force in all of humanity. Even love.  However, that is for another topic at a later time.

The proverb “This Too Shall Pass” should be a reminder that negative events do not last. They are finite. They appear for a small time and then vanish. Sure the effects may be felt long after they are gone but healing may occur. Life goes on; as Robert Frost pointed out. Also, “This Too Shall Pass” should help us understand even good things do not last. We should be appreciating them as we have them. The people in our lives. The time we spend with those people. Even our material blessings.

I read a meme once that affirmed if you count her blessings and material things are among them then you do not know what blessings are. While I agree material things are not the most important of blessings, I believe they are still blessings. Any good thing in one’s life is a blessing and maybe some of the bad too.

It is my hope that we remember that bad things happen but not forever. Good things come into our lives and also leave. We should just be thankful we have the experiences that shape who we have become. For even those awful experiences add to ourselves. You can learn and grow as a person. You can work towards being better for it. You can choose optimism.

This In Itself Is Humbling.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” -S. G. Tallentyre

This past weekend a protest was held outside of a Phoenix mosque. The protesters were composed of motor cycle gangs and anti-Muslim demonstrators. The protesters were encouraged by the organizers to bring military style weapons and wear military gear. From reports on the ground this occurred.

No one is questioning there right to protest peacefully. Not a single person. Often in situations like this I refer to the following quote:

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”

Voltaire is credited with saying it but upon further investigation it was actually a female author writing under a pseudonym.

So S. G. Tallentyre should truly receive the credit. Now to the point.

I find the protest disgusting, despicable, and disrespectful. I think it is attention seeking and sad the lengths people will go to be cruel. The Muslims that attend that Mosque are not terrorists.  They are not responsible for the carnage of ISIS. Yet, a group of people felt the need to be ugly with these folks.

If you do not like/believe in Islam fine. Don’t become Islamic.

I’m Christian. I believe Jesus is the one and only way to go to God. -John 14:6

Yet, in no way do I feel the need to be hateful to others. So I do condemn the protest.

I find them vile. However, as much as I am repulsed by the hatefulness of the protests, I do recognize that thankfully in this country we have freedom of speech.

That is about as far as I will go in condoning the protests actions. They simply have a right to do it.

Furthermore, I’ve read several articles about media bias towards the mosque protesters and the Black Lives Matter Protests.

I’m not prepared yet to say there is bias just yet. I do believe there is misunderstanding in the terms and which groups are being discussed.

The media as a whole has not condemned the peaceful protesters in Ferguson, Baltimore, or anywhere else.  The media has rightfully condemned the violent “protesters”. Which really are not “protesters”.

Those individuals are known as rioters. The rioters are thugs, antagonizes, and opportunistic thieves. There should be a bias towards those criminals. They are the ones who have killed, looted, and destroyed property in the cities they have occupied.

It’s simply wrong.

You cannot compare the protesters in Phoenix to the others. Or at least you cannot yet. They have been peaceful. They have not been violent. They have not looted, destroyed property or even killed anyone.

That is the difference.

I saw an argument for where they were coming to the protests dressed in military gear and bringing military style weapons and how that was thug like behavior. It was also said that these folks are being as offensive and acting much like the rioters.

Personally, I think it’s a bit much. I think it’s misguided to bring those types of weapons to the protest. Again, it’s to make statement. It’s for show.

However, as long as they are not breaking any state laws or city ordinances they have a legal right to have their firearms. The second amendment prevails.

They are not using their weapons in any harmful ways. They are not killing, looting, or destroying property.  That is the difference. It’s a big difference.

Again, I’m not supporting these folks. They are attempting to make statement. I believe it’s all for show.  But they have a legal right to do so. As long as they remain peaceful and law abiding.

That is the great thing about freedom of speech. Whether its tasteful or right we can say it. With little to no consequence. Thankfully, freedom of speech includes religious exercise.

Often while in church we offer thanks to God for the fact we can congregate together to worship God without fear or molestation. It’s our right. However, by protesting outside of that mosque those individuals are not being afforded that right.

They are not being able to practice their religion in peace. I believe that is the definition of hypocrisy.  We must extend the same respect we demand from others.

I hope that we grow to become a nation that understands this concept.  May we work to make it a reality.

This in itself is humbling.

“Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.” ― Rabindranath Tagore

Tomorrow will mark the first anniversary of the Boston bombing that occurred on April 15th, 2013. Honestly, it feels much longer than a year since that terror attack. Unfortunately these attacks and evil plots seem to becoming common place. We are given daily reminders that the world is often cold and cruel. Acts of terror are littering the twenty four hour news cycle. I take no pleasure in that. However, with each evil plot carried out we quickly are reading and hearing about acts of hope, kindness, and bravery. Those are the things I take solace in. Those are the things I like to retweet, reblog, and share on social media sites. Those stories are constant reminders that the world is a great place to live in. They are a testament to the human spirit.

Instead of focusing my time on the two evil brothers that plotted and orchestrated such calamity I will discuss the stories of hope, fearlessness, and love that exuded that day. Yes, that day is forever marred with the terrible acts of those two young men but the acts of kindness, unselfishness, and benevolence screams louder than what those brothers could have ever done. 

You see the human spirit instinctively wants to fix, help, and solve horrible situations. The following stories highlights all that is right with humanity. We defend. We protect. We love. Those things help us provide meaning to calamity that otherwise would have no meaning at all.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2014/apr/14/boston-marathon-bombing-survivors-pictures

The article, from the above link, discusses several of the survivors from that day who had to have a limb amputated. It is true that their lives were forever changed. They can no longer experience life the way the used to.  However each person has something in common. They over came. They are persistent. They did not let the bad guys win. Every single one of these survivors have worked hard to learn how to live with a prosthetic limb and live their life again. Some even plan to run the marathon again. That is winning. That is vanquishing the cowardice that was displayed by those evil brothers a year ago. Picking yourself up from the peril and moving forward. Not letting the evils of this world keep you from living your life. That is what these folks want. Thank God we haven’t let that happen. They have not won. Every day the survivors get up, push, and live a new day the bad guy’s cause dies. Thank God for that. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/15/heroic-first-responders-a_n_3088369.html

The above link’s article discusses the brave men and women who risked their own lives to save the many people suffering in the streets of the marathon. They are amazing men and women. They are extraordinary people who are combating the effects of the evils in the world. The police, firemen, and paramedics all leaped into action and saved countless lives. They were comforters, mourners, and friends in many of the survivor’s perilous time of need. Not only did first responders help but average citizens did what they could. Doctors, nurses, and others stayed with victims, dragged them to safety, or simply shielded them from debris. These individuals are heroes. They are selfless. They are amazing people. I thank God for their courage, bravery, and honor. May they be remembered as the extraordinary people they are. 

The following link will take you to a site that has images of survivors displaying quotes of strength. Their words are few but profound.

http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/04/dear-world-boston-marathon-photos/

Image

 

Human nature is flawed. We mess up sometimes. However, we are doing a lot of things right. We as people pull together in times of despair. We defend. We protect. We love. Evil may do everything it can to dominate. People will attempt to cause destruction in their wake. However, as long as we remain like the extraordinary survivors and first responders we will prevail. Good will triumph. I could not have written about the majesty of human nature without the wonderful examples of perseverance of the Boston Marathon survivors. They are all that is right with the world. The anniversary is fresh on my mind and reminded me of the goodness each one of us possess. The survivors and the first responders of the Boston Bombing highlight what humanity is doing right. We persevere. We live. We grow.

We become Boston Strong. 

This in itself is humbling.