“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.

“Social work is a band-aid on the festering wounds of society.” -Alexander Chase

The above quote was on a white board we have in our office area. The quotes change everyday, due to a diligent coworker, but not all of them catch my attention the way this one did.

This quote speaks to why I chose Social Work as a profession. I simply want to do good.

It is idealistic. I think most folks who choose this profession are idealistic. Perhaps starry eyed about changing the world.

I seek to leave a better world than I was given. That actually was a principle I was taught at church camp. I never forgot it.

Society has many ills; Homelessness, Addiction, Suicide, Disease, Alcoholism, Poverty, and Loneliness.

Each one devastating in its own right but usually found co-occurring amongst individuals suffering even one of these afflictions.

I have my degree in the Human Services. I have been working with a mental health facility for about four months and I’m in the processing of pursuing an MSW (Masters of Social Work).

You can consider me a novice. I have just gotten my feet wet. I am only beginning what I hope to be a life long career of service to others.

However, I have encountered every above mentioned issue and then some. My first month on the job I had two separate client’s attempt suicide. In month three I found another client emergency housing in about an hour. Currently I am assisting a client without health insurance, and no way to afford health insurance, find treatment for Hepatitis B.

One of the observations I have had is that some of these issues are cyclical:

For instance, a person has anxiety. They are unable to leave their home due to the extreme anxiety. They cannot have a job and struggle to come to their therapy appointments. They cannot work due to the extreme anxiety. Since they cannot work they cannot afford their medications. Since they are unmedicated they have no control over their social anxiety. Therefore they cannot go outside much less pursue a job opportunity.

There are possible solutions. Ideally a strong support system should be put in place to assist the person until he/she can become medicated and taken to therapy to work his/her issues.

Not everyone is so lucky. Not everyone has a support system. Sometimes a person only has himself.

I see more of this than I care for. I see people so starved for attention. I know that I am possibly their only regular contact with another person. Its disheartening.

A person can become so wearied and worn that they become a shell. They are no longer who they once were. I want to give that person the tools they need to rebuild their life.

Everyone in this field has a particular population they prefer to work with. Some folks like to work with children, adults, elderly adults, people who suffer from various disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, veterans, and so on.

I prefer veterans and specifically veterans that suffer from addictions. This stems for my love of country and respect for the Armed Service. These folks give so much and come back with invisible wounds. I want to spend my life serving these amazing folks.

Yes, I am idealist. Yes, I believe I can make a difference. Yet, I know I cannot do it alone. It is a collective effort we all must accept responsibility for.

Some days are tough. Heck, some weeks are tough. But it really is worth it because of the one person you have helped. Often we hear that and question a person’s sincerity by that statement. I’ve felt it though. The bad days can’t compare to the good days. The days I have found housing for folks. The days people have gained insurance and now can seek treatment for their medical problem.

Those are the reasons why I do what I do.

This 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.

“Marines—you beat them down and they come back for more.” -Chris Kyle

I have not yet seen American Sniper. I plan to watch it. I look forward to watching an American hero’s story told.

Chris Kyle’s story has been made into a movie by director Clint Eastwood. It has been met with praise by many. The movie has six Oscar nominations. It was nominated for, Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role (Bradley Cooper), Adapted Screen Play, Film Editing, and Sound Mixing.

The movie broke records on its opening weekend. It has grossed $105,000,000 so far. However, not everyone loves this movie.

On Sunday Seth Rogan tweeted a couple of statements appearing to compare American Sniper to Nazi Propaganda.

American Sniper kind of reminds me of the movie that’s showing in the third act of Inglorious Basterds.

I just said something “kinda reminded” me of something else. I actually liked American Sniper. It just reminded me of the Tarantino scene.   — Seth Rogen

What gets me about Seth Rogen’s indignation is the hypocrisy of his tweets.  Seth Rogen was associated with the most buzzed about movie of 2014.

I’ll beit the movie was a comedy and certainly doesn’t reach the cinematic standards of American Sniper. However, the premise of his movie involved two American journalist assassinating a nonfictional evil dictator and enemy of the United State of America.

How is the subject matter different? Both movies depict good forces, the United State of America overcoming evil in the world, regardless of whether the stories being toward are fake or real.

Seth isn’t the only Hollywood elite who is up in arms. Hollywood fundamentally doesn’t understand mainstream America’s acceptance and appeal of American Sniper. There is no exaggeration when I say Hollywood doesn’t get it. Hollywood has long been out of touch with main street Americans.

Believe me Jane Fonda or Sean Penn don’t get you. Then again Hollywood is no stranger to hypocrisy. See any Hollywood elite who calls for gun control yet stars in a shoot’em up blockbuster movie.

Here is what makes American Sniper great and why main street folks appreciate American Sniper.

American Sniper tells the story of an American Navy Seal. Chris Kyle served in the Navy from 1999 until 2009. Chris Kyle’s job wasn’t easy. He served his country and did things others wouldn’t do so our freedoms would be protected.

Kyle, had 160 confirmed kills which was included in 255 claimed kills. He is the most successful sniper in the United States military. The lives he took were of people who wanted to see harm to America. He and his brothers and sisters in the Armed Services did what had to be done in order to preserve the very fabric of America. For this I will not apologize for counting Chris Kyle among America’s heroes. Just like every other service person.

Without these people we wouldn’t be able to quibble about topics of these sorts.

Kyle was awarded some of the US military’s highest honors. He became so good that terrorist called him “Devil of Ramadi”. There was even a bounty placed on his head. May all our service men and women place that much fear in the nonexistent hearts of terrorist every where. I want terrorist to become sick at the very thought of a United States service member coming after them.

I won’t apologize for that.

Kyle’s life after the military continued to be brave and valiant. He worked with service people suffering from post war effects. Even after giving everything he could while in the military he came home and continued to serve other American heroes.

Tragically, his life was taken on February 2, 2013 by a fellow veteran Kyle was trying to help.

Kyle was quoted as saying “MY REGRETS ARE ABOUT THE PEOPLE I COULDN’T SAVE.”

Kyle was brave, tough, and the essence of what an American hero is.  It is okay if you disagree. You can even believe he was none of what I’ve described but it is important to remember you couldn’t have your stupid opinion without this man’s sacrifice. Something Hollywood will never understand….

This in itself is humbling.

“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” -Brad Paisley

Today I posted a fairly snarky Facebook status about New Years resolutions. It was directed at no on in particular.

“In case if anyone was wondering, yes it’s to early to start posting “New year new me” statuses. The appropriate time is never.”

It was meant to represent my thinly veiled contempt for New Years and the annoying habits/beliefs we have for the first day of every year. Of course, I would want to further explain my disdain for the dreadful, despicable, disorienting holiday that is New Years.

For most folks New Years represents a new beginning. A second chance. The start of an adventure. I simply do not feel this way.

Firstly, my personal dislike of New Years stems from my love of the holiday season. For weeks we build up one day. We put so much thought into what we want to get our loved ones. We search for the perfect gift. We shop for hours. And then its all over in one day. All of that effort exuded in one fell swoop.

I would describe that feeling as letting air out of a balloon. I’ve always felt deflated. Its the mark of the end of the holiday season. For me New Years was that reminder and that all of what I described was over.

However, I’ve grown to hate New Years for other reasons. More substantial reasons. Its quite simple:

People put off today what they can do tomorrow. Too many folks use January 1st as their excuse as to why they do not start a resolution. One will hear “I’ll wait a few weeks. In the New Year I’ll……(Insert task).”

Personally, I think its lazy. Why do you need a New Year to do something? Is it really more convenient? Would the task truly be easier to complete simply because the date  on the calendar changes?

No. No it wouldn’t.

People are lulled into most PR firms’ marketing. People love the idea of a “New Year, New Me”.

Truthfully, the majority of people that express a desire to change simply do not. Their goals are too unrealistic. They have a lack of motivation. Or they are swept up in the excitement of a New Year.

I’ve always felt if you wanted to accomplish a task there is no time like the present. I wouldn’t put it off for weeks or months. I’d do it now.

Our actions dictate the change we want to see in the new year. Not the fact it is a new year.

I would advise to make a new resolution every day. Have a goal for yourself as often as you can. Dream a new dream daily.

Maybe its cynical but I live by the philosophy that every day is a new day. Heck every minute is a new minute. Change can happen at any moment. To affirm the statement “New Year, New Me” means one believes change can only happen because a date on the calendar changes. I’d like to think I’m more optimistic than that. I’d like to think changes, adventures, and new beginnings can happen every day. Even multiple times a day.

Its quite a thought. Possibilities are endless, spontaneous, and abundant.

That in itself is humbling.

“If you have ten thousand regulations you destroy all respect for the law.” – Winston Churchill

We have seen in the last week two major grand jury decision that involved the deaths of two unarmed black men and white cops. Like most people, I have my opinions.

Honestly, I am not going to write about Ferguson. It has been highly publicized and people are probably sick of hearing about it. However, the other case involved Eric Garner and the NYCPD. This case was less publicized and not as sensationalized.

Probably because the mainstream media could spin Ferguson as much as they did and Eric Garner’s case wasn’t as “rating getting” as the head line “Unarmed Black Teenager Gunned Down By Cop” or “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”.

I will say this, my opinion of Ferguson is cut and dry. Brown made very poor decision that led to his death. Brown chose to rob a store. Brown chose to not follow the polices’ orders. And Brown chose to attack a cop. Office Wilson used legal force to protect his life.

Police officers should have that right.

I respect law enforcement. I affirm a police officer’s right to protect themselves with whatever level of force that is necessary to protect that officer’s life. I believe all individuals have this right but in this situation, especially police officers. I have the utmost respect for police officers. I know many fine law enforcement officials that put their lives on the line so they can serve and protect. Their loved ones are great people. I wouldn’t want any of those people to suffer at the hands of a criminal because they didn’t have the right to defend their lives.

With that said, unfortunately police officers can use “excessive force”. I do not think the majority of police officers do this. But it does happen. I do not think that was the case in Ferguson. As I stated Officer Wilson had a right to protect himself.

However, I have reviewed the available evidence for the Garner case and I disagree with the grand jury’s decision. I do not think the grand jury allowed race to play a factor in their decision. I believe they worked hard to come to the conclusion they did arrive at. It is very possible they had in possession some evidence that we have not seen. Not all of the evidence has been released.

Yet, after watching the video of the incident, researching the available evidence, and listening to smarter folks than myself, I cannot help but think that the grand jury got it wrong. I respect the decision and believe it should stand but I do disagree with it. I also do not believe that race played a part in the initial attempted arrest of Eric Garner.

It is my opinion that excessive force was used and that at the bare minimal an indictment of manslaughter could have been given. In the video you can hear Garner affirm that he could not breathe. It was obvious that Garner resisted arrest but not to the level that would warrant excessive force (i.e, Death). Furthermore, its clear none of the officers lives were in danger.

Though, I believe there are bigger issues in play. Yes a man lost his life to what could be excessive force from police officers but what he was being arrested for was ridiculous. In New York it is illegal to sell single cigarettes.

Let me state, just because a law is stupid doesn’t mean you can break it. We should be following the laws and the police were right to arrest Eric Garner.  It is illegal to buy a single cigarette and not illegal to buy a single can of beer. Its just dumb.

This law is a representation of a bigger problem. Big Government.

NYC, and state, is a good example of what liberally minded big government can do to a population. People who affirm a nanny state wanted to make it more difficult for people to engage in not so healthy hobbies therefore a higher tax was added to cigarettes.  Literally ten dollars in taxes were added. Its divided between the city and the state. Due to the higher taxes people start selling the cigarettes singularly. This cuts into the government’s money and therefore a law is passed that mandates individual cigarettes cannot be sold.

A stupid law is passed by a bloated government and enforced by police officers that mostly likely disagree with the law but must enforce because its their job.

A part of me wants to blame the people who enacted this stupid law but I do think that excessive force played a part here. Even if Eric was Breaking the law he should have not been killed on the streets

This sums up my attempt at making sense of the chaos  that is our  world.