Archive for the 'humanity' Category

08
Jan
15

Let’s get busy!

let's get busyMake any New Year’s resolutions?  I did.  Actually, I’ve been thinking of it for quite some time and began it with my last post made in December.  “What was it?” you may ask.  It was to get busy!

The book and motion picture “Wild,” has been getting a lot of attention.   Society’s response to a strong female and her journey through grief to self-discovery has been encouraging.  It’s also been an awakening to the media for the need for more pivotal female roles on the page, stage and screen.  During a radio interview with Reese Witherspoon, the star and producer of the film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s book, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” Witherspoon referenced the lack of complex roles for women and responded by not only saying, but putting into action her comment:  “…nobody is doing this work.  I might as well get busy and do it myself.”

Obviously we don’t all have the resources like Witherspoon, but we do share the same perspective.  As a result, instead of expecting others to address the needs which have already been identified, I have decided to join Witherspoon and “get busy.”  What does this mean?  I believe that in each of our lives in our own way, we can make a difference to bring about change for gender equality.  From standing up for ourselves or others when confronted by sexism or working to make more opportunities for women available, we all contribute to society’s transformation.  No action is too small, so we must not minimize our efforts.  It’s changing our very way of thinking as a community; embracing our egalitarianism.

Awareness, education and recognition are vital.  However, without following that up with action in our daily lives, our society tends to find contentment with labeling gender discrimination as simply one of many issues which need addressing.  “Issues” tend not to have the same concern as crisis.  Why is it not a national crisis that women do not receive equal pay for equal work?  Why is it not a global crisis that women are surrounded and trapped by violence, rape and sex trafficking?  When perceived as an issue, it weakens the urgency of our condition.   This is nothing less than a crisis which demands action.

So let’s get busy!

Read interview with Reese Witherspoon

 

Support women artists by buying the book “Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed and see the movie.

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17
Nov
14

the right to be you

the right to be youI have been on a hiatus of sorts.  It’s not because I haven’t had any thoughts, concerns or opinions about life.  I guess I just found myself coming up against the same roadblocks, questioning the source, perhaps a common one, of these consistent struggles.

Just the other night I was out with a beautiful artist.  I have seen her work many times and she is a kind-hearted, loving individual.  Yet I hear her say the very words which plague my own heart: can I do it?  Do I have any talent?  Am I beautiful?  I know the answer to all of these questions, but when we are alone with ourselves, we tend to create a comparison which always leaves us feeling less than.  Our society, especially American society, thrives on doing and results.  The expectations placed on us, especially women, make it almost impossible to find satisfaction and pride in oneself.

Society tells women that they must achieve an idyllic beauty which requires youth.  Obviously, this is impossible as we all age, but because so many others strive to reach this imposed rule, we do everything in our power to fulfill it.  Countless, beautiful, brilliant women of all ages with whom I’ve had the pleasure to know, have shared their fear of aging and remaining physically attractive.  The constant fear of gaining even a few pounds or showing signs of a wrinkle plagues their existence.

Then there’s the expectation that women should have it all; if they don’t have both a successful career and children, they disappoint someone.  Many women work hard to obtain an education and use it to compete in an unequal marketplace which not only expects them to give as much, but for less compensation.  Simultaneously, society also places pressure on women to have children whilst making it virtually impossible to maintain the same level of job performance.  Meanwhile, if they do give attention to their work, they may feel guilt or anxiety over their parental role.

As a result, society continues to place women in positions which inevitably cause them to seemingly fall short of its expectations in one area or another.  Personally, I’m tired of never feeling like enough.  No matter how much personal fulfillment I may find apart from society, as soon as I step off my island, I am reminded of my failures.

So how do we break this pattern?  How do we defy these expectations and create ones which build us up rather than tear each other down?  It is hard to walk this path against the grain alone and I don’t believe we are meant to go it alone.  Life is short.  Can we come together and simply claim the right to be ourselves?

23
Jun
14

depend on it, not me

depend on it not meAre we more dependent on things than on people?

Our society is becoming more and more dependent on things: computers, cell phones, cars, starbucks etc.  However, if one does not have all of those things, does that mean they are not part of society?  Are we excluding humanity in exchange for access to material goods?  Technology is not necessarily a bad thing, but when it is only available to a certain group of people, it no longer connects but divides us.

This morning I heard a story about a homeless family who were living in the woods in a camper and some tents.  They did not have running water or electricity, besides that which the camper provided.  The family managed together until the threat of winter approached.  The administrators of the school which the children attended had concerns and didn’t realize “how bad things were” until they visited their camp site.  A principal said with great emotion that she was so moved by how happy the family seemed to be despite their living conditions.  In response to this, the school took action and the community rallied around the family, eventually providing enough money to secure a home.

Great story, right?  It is always heartwarming to hear about the power of compassion, generosity and community.  But this story made me question the societal norm of the American dream.  Frankly, I admired the family for being so resourceful.  I mean, when’s the last time that we had to make it out in “the wild” without the luxuries of running water and electricity, let alone our cell phones or laptops?  Please don’t hear what I’m not saying.  I’m not saying that homelessness is not a serious issue and problem which our society needs to address.  However, the irony is that a large population of the world lives without running water and electricity all of their lives.  It is their way of life.  However, in American culture, this is quite unheard of and looked down upon.  Not having these things may even be considered irresponsible and separates/classifies us.

I suppose I’m just asking if the way of life which the American media is selling us is best for humanity or for technological advancement?  We think they go hand in hand, but are we leading ourselves into a trap in which we become so dependent on technology that we don’t know how to relate or live without it?  This family not only lived without and admitted that they became even closer because they were forced to interact and work together.  Seems like a side effect which we could all benefit from.  Why do we need to have things to connect us?  If we’re communicating so much more, than why do we seem more dependent on the things themselves than on each other?

 

 

31
May
14

time for patience

time for patienceWhy is it so difficult to have patience?  Or is it just me?

I’m a strange one.  This is no new news I’m sure to you all.  But I guess I’m finding that I’m one of those people who likes to make plans and know what’s coming while also enjoying the mystery of the unknown adventures that lie ahead.  I don’t need security enough that I want to live in the same place all of my life, but I also need a safe, stable place to return to in order to re-energize and renew.   It’s a balancing act I suppose.  Part of me wants the extreme while the other detests it.  And then there’s the practical side of me that just says to be responsible.

So I’m in a transitioning period of my life.  In my head I know this should be a beautiful time; it is a gift really.  A time of anticipation, reflection, rejuvenation; but it can also be one of anxiety, doubt and grief.  If I allow myself to believe that the best or even the worst is behind me I surely deceive myself.  I merely need to be present.  Use the time not to pressure myself into doing for the sake of doing.  To give myself time and make wise investments and choices; understanding that things that are worth doing take time.

It sounds as though I’m going in circles in my head, and I probably am, but I think it’s that I’m just not accustom to doing things I actually like to do.  I’ve always equated work with something I don’t want to do but need to do for someone else.  Now I’ve been given an opportunity, a time to do with what I please.  I’m still working towards something, but because it’s what I am passionate about, it doesn’t feel like work.  Hence the guilt.  Strange to be wired in such a way, but it’s what I’ve known for most of my life.  Perhaps what most of us have known.

So how do we make a society in which more people can work without feeling like they’re working?  How can we make jobs that fit people instead of people fitting a job?  Isn’t that the kind of society we want to live in?   Perhaps there would be initial compromises which would cause some financial loss, but I would think that in the long run it would be an investment worth making; not only in humanity but for capitalism if that’s what we also want to preserve.  But how do we get there?  Maybe we make some plans while also leaving things open ended and flexible for change; forcing us to become better problem solvers and more compassionate human beings.  Maybe we need more patience.  With others.  And with ourselves.

28
May
14

it’s a big world after all

it's a big world after allIt’s a small world when we consider our degrees of separation shrinking as a result of technology.  However, despite all of the information and communication highways, it can be easy to remain enclosed in a community without allowing anything beyond to penetrate it.

Then all of a sudden the doors of reality burst open multiplying the size of the world.  For the past four years I’ve been consumed by a place which simultaneously opened the world to me.  In many ways it introduced me to new ideas and possibilities while at the same time directing all of the stimulated energy back into that same community.   Now, peering beyond, I find the world not so small after all.  Wondering how can I, one small person make a difference on a planet where people kidnap hundreds of little girls and threaten the life of a woman for being greeted by an elderly gentleman with an innocent kiss on the cheek.

It would be much easier to turn back inward to that safe community which makes more sense than this big, challenging world.  But upon launching from the society I’ve been part of for the past several years, I was given one last lesson which prepared me more than anything for which I’ve been tested.  The final lecture did not overwhelm with numerous facts or outline clear cut instructions for success.  Instead, it posed a question: what do I believe?  An inquiry not in the religious sense, though that could be influential in the answer, but one that digs deeply into our souls in order to uncover our true identities: not simply what we do, but who we imagine ourselves to be-the vision of the future.  The bottom line: what does one believe is possible?  For ourselves, for our community/society, for the world?

If we can’t even believe that something is conceivable, do we even have a chance?  I’m beginning to understand that what I believe is just as important as what I do.  And I don’t even know if the truth has anything to do with it.  For so long I pursued the truth, finding that the reality of the truth can be more painful and discouraging of hope than choosing to believe a falsehood.  Not that I condone lying to anyone, especially oneself, but how does one learn to dream and see beyond the surface if not to believe in something that may be perceived by others as impossible?  Things like world peace and an end to starvation and inequality-we’re working towards this end but it is not our current reality.  So how long will it take for it to become a reality?  Never?   What would happen if we stopped believing it was possible?

Are we shutting out possibilities with our lack of belief, hope or possibility?  Is it what you do as important as what you believe?  Isn’t one an outflow of another?  So what do you believe?

11
May
14

helping or hurting?

helping or hurtingDoes America really help or hurt refugees?

After recently watching a documentary on the Lost boys of Sudan, I couldn’t help but question if America is really helping them?  There seems to be a miscommunication between what the boys expect and what is being offered.  Most of the boys are encouraged by their peers and elders to get education in order to bring it back to the rest of their country.  However, that is not what they are given.

Instead, they are set up for a few months in order to find a job.  Because of their need to learn the language and lack of marketable skills, their eligibility for jobs which pay more than just the rent is difficult to secure.  They find themselves stranded in the area they are assigned due to no mobility both figuratively and literally.  In the end, they end up more alone here than when they were back home in the refugee camp.

One of the primary comments the boys had about life in America was that one has to make it alone.  There is not sense of community which they used to have, despite losing their parents.  How unnerving is it that a parentless child feels more alone in America, the land of opportunity, than in a war torn land.  What does that say about our country?   What opportunities are we giving them?  Ones that help them barely “make it” in our world and culture or those that they can take home and make the life of their people better?

Who are we really helping?  Do we just want to make ourselves feel better about a situation which we do not control?  Are we taking the time to really listen to what they need?  Are we helping or hurting them?

 

06
May
14

looking for an escape

looking for an escape050514The death penalty.

Not that we should need a reminder to re-evaluate the death penalty, but the “botched” lethal injection in Oklahoma is a not so subtle reminder that this whole death thing is not humane.  In fact, it should make us question our whole system of incarceration.

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit in on a seminar with a man who takes theatre into prisons.  It was very compelling and inspiring to hear how so many people were touched by the works of Shakespeare in very personal ways that transformed their lives.  What stood out to me most though was the fact that he learned a whole new language from his work at the prisons.  One word he refused to use was “rehabilitate.”  He explained that human beings do not need rehabilitating to be human.  What he discovered was that most of the men in jail were never habilitated in the first place which is why they were where they were.  Instead, he preferred using the word habilitate for what he was helping to do for others in need.

This perspective brings a whole new light to our way of approaching those who break the law.  We cannot view them as merely projects that need fixing.  The fact that there are so many incarcerated reflects issues in the society which need attention.  But instead of overhauling the system, we want to do what has been deemed as easier:  giving an injection.  How this can be easier or what more people are willing to do than helping protect the lives of their fellow man is beyond me.

Don’t we all need to be habilitated?  Aren’t we all suffering from the social ills which influence our lives every day?  Some more than others may be exposed to these ills and respond in the only way they know how in order to survive or escape.  Perhaps the death penalty is their ultimate escape from society rather than the other way around.

For more information see:

Botched Oklahoma Execution Prompts Questions About Lethal Injection

 




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