“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.

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“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.” -Andy Rooney

TV Land is introducing a new dramadey called “Younger”. It is about a forty-ish recently divorced mother who is wanting to rebuild her life.

Not an original concept right? There is a twist. Their is always a twist.

In order to rebuild her life she obtains a new job and friends. In this new life everyone believes she is a twentysomething. I get it. Its a TV show. The producers needed a hook and a reason for the audience to watch.

What will be telling is how receptive TV watchers will be.

Society has a preoccupation with youth. Its no secret. I’ve just never gotten that mentality though. I suppose its easy for a twentysomething to make comments like that.

I don’t long for youth due to the fact I’m in my prime. I’m the definition of youth and twentysomething-tude. However, I have never understood being nostalgic for the past.  I have always said I never want to wake up in twenty years and desire the old days. I had a great high school experience, college experience, and now young adult experience. But I do not wish to go back to those days.

I understand the appeal. Why would anyone not want to go back to a time when he/she had limited responsibility.

I have always affirmed I wanted to live in a way that every faction of my life is good. I want to be happy everyday of my life. I want to be so happy with where I am in life that I do not long for “glory days”. Up to this point I have been able to do that.

I believe its normal for everyone to have a few days every once in awhile to pine for a simpler time. However, there are folks who think of those simpler times and stop living for the present and focus completely on how good they used to have it.

Here are a few characteristics that can help a person to stop living for the past and enjoy the present.

1) Stop acting like a victim. Understand that things happen. You weren’t singled out. Life isn’t fair.

2) Life and no one else owes you anything. Stop thinking you deserve something for nothing. Work for what you want.

3) Appreciate the people in your life. Accept that everything in your life can change at anytime. Loved one’s aren’t with us forever.

4) Thinking on positive things will help you have a positive outlook. Your outlook dictates your ability to handle your situation.

5) The present is the only time we have. We shouldn’t waste it on the past. Good or bad.

Often what we think about a situation will determine how we react to that situation. The present time can be as good as the “glory days” one so desperately clings to if one attempts to change his attitude about it.

At times its normal for one to think about past good times. However, it becomes unhealthy for one to dwell on the past so much he/she cannot live for the present.

We must love our life in all aspects. We must want to be so in love with life that we do not dwell on better days. If you find you could use better days, you should work towards them. You have the power to change your life and make improvements as needed. Isn’t that a lovely thought?

That in itself is humbling.

“Self-absorption in all its forms kills empathy, let alone compassion.” -Daniel Goleman

Self preservation is a powerful thing. It is not singular to humans. Animals do it and even plants do everything in their ability to preserve self.

It is a basic survival instinct. It is innate. Everyone implores the skill of self preservation. Adam was the first human to apply one of the tenants of self preservation. Adam blamed his sin on another human, Eve.

Self preservation comes in many forms. At times it looks like lying. It can mask itself as stealing, self defense, and even coping.

Everything we do is a form of self preservation. However, most forms of self preservation are rooted in selfish behavior.

One of the most common forms of self preservation is living above the law. People who choose to believe that the rules do not apply to them or their situation.

Oddly enough, this behavior is associated more with wealthy people who have connections. After all, it is easier for them to bend rules as they need them to. However, this attitude does not discriminate. Rich folks, poor folks, everyday common folks, white folks, black folks, and any other type of person can have this attitude.

I cannot say what makes a person feel entitled to break the rules. I would wager familiarity in a particular situation would aid in the sense of entitlement. People will take more liberties when they feel comfortable. People attempt to get away with more when they are in a familiar setting.

I suppose that is normal. Quickly, we find our little ways of justifying our actions. We introduce those little thoughts. “I do X so I deserve Y”. We may even think “Well Mrs. Y does J so I can do T”. Our justifications are what help us make our decisions.

However, some people have a sense of entitlement without familiarity. These people do not ask. They just do. Most likely they subscribe to the belief of “Its better to ask forgiveness than permission”.

This belief sadly reflects many people within our society. It bolsters the premise of “let’s do as much as we can and see what we can get away with”.

Many people have a disregard for the rules. People attempt to get away with everything they can. Lying, stealing, and cheating become the norm for these folks.

And their justification is always the same. I am owed this. I am a good person. I’m not hurting others.

Whatever excuse can be thought of is used as their justification for their behavior. I believe this is where self preservation comes into play. People lie as to not face consequences. People steal for many reasons but gain for self is usually the leading reason.

We should evaluate our behaviors and motives of why we participate in different activities. Self preservation is a powerful instinct. It is innate. But it doesn’t mean we cannot rise above our selfish desires.

We all have the ability to do good. We all have the ability to change the world for the better. We should always strive for “us” preservation instead of self preservation.

This in itself is humbling.

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals.” -Laurence Sterne

I’m never sure where to start when writing this particular blog topic. So, I’ll start with what prompted me to write.

I’m sitting on my bed listening to the radio and Pitbull’s number one single “Time Of Our Lives” starts to play. Anyone who knows me understands I have a distaste for Pitbull. If you hear one of his songs you have heard them all. Each song is like, insert: random city, a few Spanish words, and “Mr. Word Wide” and you have a Pitbull song.

I digress. This isn’t what prompted my blog. I hate the song “Time of Our Lives”. There isn’t anything redeeming about it. I especially hate the message it promotes to young people. I’m long past sounding like a prude. I get it. Its just a song. However, lyrics such as:

“I knew my rent was gon’ be later ’bout a week ago, I work my ass off, But I still can’t pay it though, But I got just enough,To get off in this club”

“I’m not talking ’bout love, I’m talking ’bout lust, Now let’s get loose, have some fun, Forget about bills and the first of the month”

“Go ahead baby let me see what you got, You know you got the biggest booty in this spot, And I just wanna see that thing drop, From the back to the front to the top”

promote irresponsibility, anything for a good time attitude, and objectifying women as sexual objects. Pitbull is not the only culprit. Frankly, our culture is saturated with this pollution. This garbage is being pushed at young people from every possible outlet. Its scary. Pitbull’s song is a good representation of what is wrong with our culture.

I will give the writer of the song props. The song is written as an excellent narrative. You have the ‘club goer” who explains why he is going to the club. He is frustrated/upset he cannot pay his bills and must have a release for his problems. So he goes clubbing to get his mind of his problems.

I’m all for a good time. This, however, is not what will help the “club goer”. The song is promoting irresponsibility. When you can’t afford your rent. You should be looking to understand why. Are you spending too much in another area? Where can I save money so I can afford basic amenities?

Truth is, if you cannot afford your needs you can’t have your wants. Its a simple concept and sadly the family unit doesn’t teach it. People want what they want when they want it. So the “Club goer” spends his last twenty dollars on a good time. Forget that heartache that will cause at a later date.

If the “Club goer” was under distress about the situation he should have been looking for a way to make some extra cash to pay his bills. Legal ways mind you. There is nothing like working for an honest days pay.  That should be the message that is promoted in our music and culture. Not something for nothing.

If you can’t afford housing you shouldn’t be going clubbing.

The second lyric I have highlighted illustrates the desire for a good time. Its something we should all want but unfortunately our culture’ s idea of a good time is meaningless sex. The “club goer” is only interested in lust. He doesn’t care about love. He only desires the here and now. It doesn’t even matter with whom he has the sex with. This attitude is rampant in today’s culture.  Why do people go to bars? To meet other people. Where are they hoping it leads? To bed. It is sad.

A good time can be had by committing yourself to the right people. I haven’t met a single person who actually favors going to the club, getting sloshed only to not remember the events of the previous night as opposed to spending an intimate evening with close knit friends enjoying each other’s company.

Give me a few friends, good conversation, and coffee and I’ll show you a good time. People perpetuate the myth that young people need to have crazy times to be happy. People want young and crazy days so they can look back and say “look at how stupid I was when I was younger”.  Some of us never needed to go through that phase. It isn’t necessary.

I grow tired of society perpetuating the myth that something is wrong with you if you aren’t interested in doing things deemed as “cool”. What are we, in 7th grade?

Lastly, Pitbulll and every other male artist is awful about objectifying women. I have always found it interesting feminist tend to be quite when the Liberal Hollywood elites are participating in anti-feminist behavior.

This song details what is wrong with our culture. The woman in the song is seen as a sex object. She is told to get her booty low. Because the “Club goer” wants to see her get down.

Why is she being gawked at for her looks? Why is the “Club goer” not appreciating her for her intelligence?  He only sees a conquest.

Unfortunately, today’s culture perpetuates the idea of over sexualized women. The woman in the club is not there for your sexual pleasure. She isn’t there to ensure you have  good time.

Yet, music such as this perpetuates this thought. It is sad.

Our culture is saturated with these issues. It isn’t just one Pitbull song. Young people are being bombarded with these concepts from every orifice society has.

Our goal as well rounded adults should be to combat this thinking. We should help young people learn responsibility, the good in an honest day’s work, and  dangers in seeing people as only sexual objects and not humans.

This in itself is humbling.

“Privacy is not something that I’m merely entitled to, it’s an absolute prerequisite.” ― Marlon Brando

Disrespecting a person’s privacy should always be considered a misdeed. However, over the weekend an internet hacker decided to invade the privacy of some of Hollywood’s starlets.

I’m sure we agree the person that did this is a criminal. He has broken many cyber laws that most likely will have him serving many years in federal prison. As the perpetrator should. He committed criminal acts.

Honestly, we shouldn’t be having this conversation. Folks understand its wrong to take another person’s sense of security, safety and privacy. Unfortunately, the internet provides for anonymity.  People believe they can get away with crimes simply because they have a username like: badA$$88

News flash, hacking into someone’s personal online accounts is an egregious act and sharing with the world what you find furthers the demented act.

Frankly, whether what was shared were nude photos or bank statements, medical records, or a personal diary its still wrong.

I don’t want the fact that what was stolen were nude photos to detract from the seriousness of this crime. The man behind the crimes against Scarlett Johansen’s hacking has gone to federal prison for nine years. Rightly so but this impresses upon the seriousness of the crimes that were committed.

After reading many online comments and tweets one will find that the victims are being blamed. Many folks think the starlets  are wrong for taking those photos and putting them on the cloud. Therefore, they blame the victims for what happened.

I don’t take that position.  It is my opinion that the people’s whose privacy was violated are victims. The Hollywood starlets weren’t out sharing these pictures. They weren’t “leaked” by a person who was an intended recipient. They were on a personal electronic device and uploaded to a private storage system. These storage systems were supposed to have state-of-the-art security measures.

This brings me to my two final points.

1) Some people believe this crime was the fault of the women taking the photos.

2) People sharing these photos or viewing them online are apart of the problem.

There are a number of people who feel that when you take risqué pictures you are asking for what happens. Some believe that its the fault of these Hollywood starlets. I disagree.

The pictures were on a personal device and shared with no one. A person had to take criminal actions to get those photos.

I believe people are only dwelling on the fact that what was stolen were naked photos. If these were bank statements or medical records we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Simply, this act was a breach of expected privacy and all who have committed a crime should be held responsible for their actions.

Also, if you are searching for these photos on the internet you are contributing to the problem. You are perpetuating the cycle of criminal activity. Depending on your age, you may not be breaking the law but you are taking part of robbing a person of their sense of security and privacy.

One should have enough respect for these people to not view these photos. The victims are people. They do not exist for your personal pleasure.

It is irrelevant that the people involved are celebrities that have public personas. Their consent was not given. This criminal act was not their choice.

Also, whether the victim is male or female, I believe the above outlines how everyone should behave when anyone’s privacy has been disturbed. These acts are serious criminal acts and will be treated as such. Eventually, justice will be served.

This in itself is humbling.

 

 

“It takes a lot of effort to win back credibility after having lost it so heavily.” – Giorgio Napolitano

There will always be fables that will be relevant. Fables are used as an avenue to teach moral lessons. There are many wonderful stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. The most famous fable may be The Boy Who Cried Wolf. The overall story is about a young boy who believed it would be fun to trick the town’s people into believing the local flock of sheep have been eaten by wolves. He did this repeatedly until they no longer believed him. Eventually, wolves did eat the sheep and he tried to warn everyone and no one believed him. His credibility was shot. The story of the boy who cried wolf will always teach children to value truthfulness and the importance of being credible.

It is very important for people at a very young age to learn this life lesson. It does not matter what you are saying if your behavior does not reflect what you are verbalizing you have lost your credibility.

The sayings “put your money where your mouth is” or “you better walk the walk” are further testaments that people expect others to behave in which they say they behave. Why should we accept that a person has “changed” if their behavior doesn’t reflect that change.

Its true, “Talk is cheap”. No one is interested in hearing what you have to say if you are not altering your behavior to reflect that change.

This all relates to credibility. To be credible we have to be reliable and confident in our words and behavior. Both our words and deeds must be in one accord.

You cannot ask someone to believe you have changed if you are still in your old habits. Making that change is crucial. Too often people want the benefit of making a change without actually doing anything to change. Or they may start the process of changing old habits and immediately expect others to fall in line and praise them for said changes.

Often they do not receive those accolades right away and become angry. However, why should one expect to receive the benefit of change so quickly. In most cases it took months or years to become the way they are or develop those old habits. Shouldn’t one expect for others to acclimate to this change. Or at the very least wait it out to see if this change is in fact real.

Unfortunately, some folks believe announcing to the world that “I’ve changed!” is enough. They don’t want to make the behavioral changes that need to take place.

It isn’t fair to expect people to believe you have “changed” without any evidence.

Here is a short list of things to look for in a person that has “changed”:

1) They aren’t going to announce it to you every time you see them. If they do, its possible they are attention seeking and only doing it for their benefit. If this person has truly made a change, you’ll notice it and should acknowledge it.

2) They have stopped engaging in old habits. Its pretty straight forward. You will visibly see their behavior altered and their pattern broken.

3) Other folks will give them credit for their change. Unfortunately, we live in a world where everyone talks. However, if you have made improvements for the better it will quickly get around. You won’t have to brag on yourself. Others will be doing that for you.

Credibility and reputation could be one of the most important characteristics you own. Its a lot like trust. Once its broken its difficult, if impossible, to fully repair. There will be times when our credibility is tested. Being as honest as possible with others will help us avoid a blow to our credibility.

Thankfully, we all have the ability to be a credible person. We must always strive to be positive and honest. Even when its not easy. We should always follow our words up with action. Our behavior must match our speech.

So always be prepared to “Put your money where your mouth is”.

This in itself is humbling.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood” -Robert Frost

This week an abandoned building was torn down near my home. This abandoned building used to be nestled in the fork where two roads converge. It actually was one of those types of land marks we locals used for directional purposes. However, the owner decided to tear it down. I am unsure of the reasons behind this. In the past few months it had been vandalized. So the owner’s may have found it more of a liability rather than an asset.

This particular building had a rich history. It had been many things in its life. It was a small local church and a car garage for its owner. In the place it stood also set a convenient store. For me the importance of the building wasn’t necessarily what it used to be but the fact it  existed. This building had been in its current location longer than I have been alive. Albeit, twenty-five years isn’t that old relative to other ages. However, in my mind this building had always been and would always be. I was wrong.

This got me to thinking about change. In fact, if you were to poll people about change you may get the sentiment that change is inevitable.
This is certainly the prominent theme with life. Life happens whether one is ready for it or not. You cannot always be ready for change. Often its abrupt and senseless. Other times it’s calculated and purposeful.

Change brings about two types of attitudes. People can either hate it or embrace it.

People who hate change often question why changes are being made. Their sense of normality and comfort is being disrupted and they find it legitimate to find out why. They may oppose it, fight it, and ignore it. However, it’s always nearly impossible to do any of that.

However, there are people who embrace change. They love everything about it. They like new places, people, and things. These folks often like change for the sake of change and believe things can always be improved. They may feel less inclined to follow tradition.

I suppose I fall into the first category when discussing change. Initially my first thoughts are usually negative. When change occurs it has to make sense to me. I believe there has to be a reason for the change. If a legitimate reason isn’t presented I’m less likely to find the change favorable. Personally, I find that logical. However, others may disagree.

I believe a person’s attitude about change can reflect deeper traits of their personality.

As an example, someone who favors constant change may hold less to traditional views. They may be convinced to seek alternative methods before they attempt tried and true techniques.

Likewise, a person that doesn’t like change my be more staunch in his or her beliefs. He/she may hold more traditional values as opposed to new age ideas. They like concepts that are reliable.

Obviously, that is very generic and doesn’t hold true for everyone. But for a fun social experiment poll your friends about change. Ask if they think it should be arbitrary or calculated. Their answers will give you more insight into their personalities.

I for one have never been the type of person to have change for the sake of change. I have always believed “If it isn’t broke don’t fix it”. Why mess with a good thing?

I knew a lady who believed in putting things on its head. She believed in change for the sake of change. She often baffled me.

So as we have discussed change is inevitable and is in unavoidable. Here are a few key steps for dealing with change:

1) If it feels overwhelming, talk to someone. Go to a parent, friend, coworker or professional. We aren’t meant to handle desperate situations alone. Always ask for help. Change can be terrifying and letting someone help you with your issue can certainly make it more manageable. There is strength in numbers.

2) Sometimes change just has to be embraced. If you have been getting unwanted results in a certain situation its time to make a change. Einstein said its insanity to keep performing the same methods and expecting different results. Mix it up and realize sometimes change has to occur for situations to reach a new climax.

3) Always attempt to control the ebb and flow of the ever-changing winds. This certainly can’t be done all of the time but calculated change can be effective. Don’t let life happen to you. You should happen to life. Set goals and priorities and work towards those goals. Again you may not be able to control the actual change but you have given it direction. Much like a sail boat.

4) Lastly, understand that just as quickly as this change has occurred another one could happen just as quickly. The thing about change is its inevitable, unavoidable, and rarely controllable. Don’t stress about your situation. You may not be in it for long. The mind-set “This to shall pass” is very accurate. Nothing stays the same forever. Those dark nights will turn to bright days. The change will occur.

Ask yourself; Do I need to make a change?

Change is important. We can measure our growth as a person because of change. We should look for events in our life that will yield change. They will test us. They will make us weary. They will make us stronger.

This in itself is humbling.