Posts Tagged ‘social issues

05
Jun
15

Justice in the Justice Department

Justice in the Justice DepartmentHas justice been achieved in the Justice Department?  With two women in the top leadership positions, perhaps we’re coming a lot closer to equality than ever before.

One can argue both ways.  For example, it could be either encouraging or offensive that a news story entitled, “No. 2 At  Justice Warns Growing Prison Budget Detracts From Public Safety,” should end focusing on the number of women in the room during a staff meeting.  On one hand, bringing it to the attention of the world that America’s current Justice Department is led by women and that there are more women “in the room” overall is a huge step.  Even Yates herself admitted that she didn’t even notice the gender numbers.  In fact, Yates shares that “Maybe, actually, that is the strongest statement of all, is that it’s just not as a big a deal today as it was when Janet Reno and Jamie Gorelick were running the department.”

However, the reason this article caught my ear was the fact that this gender disparity issue came at the end of a story regarding the federal prison budget.  Why is the gender of those discussing this topic even an issue?  One could also make speculations regarding the fact that the gender difference in the meeting was brought to Yates’ attention by her male staffer.  Yates said, “I was in a meeting and one of my staffers, at the end of it said, ‘do you realize I was the only man in the meeting?’”  My question is, had the tables been turned, would this news story have concluded with a male leader commenting on the gender disparity brought to their attention by a lone female staffer in a meeting?  Both this news story and Yates’ remarks paint this incident as a positive move in gender equality.

And it is.  The discouraging fact of the matter though is that the societal norm does not maintain women in the majority or even equally in many areas of leadership in this country.  We are making progress.  It is empowering to see that the Department of Justice has brought justice into its own home.  Now let’s tackle the rest of the country and the world!

Read the article:   No. 2 At  Justice Warns Growing Prison Budget Detracts From Public Safety

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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.

03
Aug
14

I’ve got you in my pocket!

i've got you in my pocketCan the pockets of our clothes reveal our self-perception and society?

Sitting in a movie theater watching the pre-show reel, my husband voiced his concerns for my cell phone.  All possible pockets on my person were bulging because I did not want to bring a purse for this event.  As a result, the only optional home for my cell phone was my back pocket.  This was quite worrisome for my husband who keeps his phone in his front pocket.  When he suggested that as an alternative in order to avoid crushing or breaking the phone (of course he assured me that this was in no way a reflection on the weight or size of my buttocks), I told him that it was impossible.

How is it possible that it should be impossible?  After all, he was able to put his phone in his front pocket.  When I revealed that the front pockets of my jeans were not equipped with large pockets like those on the back, he appeared shocked and confused.   In fact, he stuck his hand in my front pocket to see/feel for himself.  Scandalous, I know.  However, we were not thrown out of the movie theater and continued our discussion.

“Sexist pockets,” I said jokingly.  Can such a ridiculous thing exist?  But it got us thinking about why clothing is made the way it is made.  Everyone’s body is different; shape, size, age, function, etc.  However, designers have discovered a way to classify and label clothing according to a specific standard. The questions that follow are:  who chose the standard, how was it determined and why?  Throughout time the ideal form for the human body has changed.  Has the human body changed drastically over time?  If so, have bodies changed due to some form of adaptation to the environment or in order to accommodate or mimic the trends imposed by society?

Whatever the answers may be, the clothing of our present society reflects certain expectations of different kinds of bodies.  Why do some bodies need or deserve large front pockets and others do not?  Or one can take the opposing perspective and ask why are some bodies are burdened with large front pockets and others are not?  Why are some fabrics used for one body and not another?

Perhaps the most important question to ask is this:  are we allowing society to fit us into their predetermined pockets or are we choosing to fill whatever size pocket we want with who we are?

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.

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

 

18
Apr
14

clean slate

clean slateHow does disrespecting someone build a relationship?

This was a question I was asking myself as I listened to someone tell a roomful of people that they don’t know anything about what they do.  For me, I immediately shut down, realizing that even if I should speak or try to have a discourse with them, they would not hear me.  The irony was that the purpose of the meeting was to learn about how to collaborate and build good working relationships.

Once I recognized that they just needed to feel like they had a voice and needed to be heard (not necessarily by me, but by what/who I represented-a wound from their past), I was able to let go and be silent.  However, does that give them the right to immediately through me into the same category as the other negative experiences they had?  And also disrespect me without even taking the time to get to know me?

All of this brings me back to the simple desire for us to be understood and empathize with one another.  Our world would be a much better place if we could all see things from more than one perspective.  How do we do this?  Listen.  But also share with respect and patience.  However, there are also times when one needs to be noisy and act with immediacy; this too needs to be done with respect and specificity.  Once we start throwing around generalities at a large majority, we will most likely not be heard.

So how can we share our wounds in a respectful way which does not negatively impact new and potential relationships?  How can we start each relationship with a clean slate?  We need to figure this out because our future depends on it.