Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Using Your Voice

Over the last few days I physically lost the ability to use my voice. Some sort of virus and trying to make myself heard while coaching hockey combined to where I couldn’t actually create sound without pain. Everyone I know thought this was very amusing and it must’ve been extraordinarily hard for me to not talk for a few days. 

While I did miss conversing and talking, the silence for myself was actually very nice. Being forced to slow down how I communicate and look for simpler ways to express myself, was amazing! This experience has truly driven home the message that communication is about so many different aspects. It’s not just about what I say, it’s about how I say it, the environment I see it in, who I see it too, my demeanor, and the words I choose.

Coming back into my voice today, I now have two new goals to work on in my life.

The first is to make sure I take that extra pause and really think about the message I’m trying to communicate and how I communicate it. I know this will be hard for me, and I will fail a lot at the beginning, but in the long run it will be better for how I interact with everyone around me.

The second stems from the first. Only by expressing ourselves can we truly make a difference in our own lives. Before we can ever help others or make a difference in their lives, we have to learn to use our own voice for ourselves. I do not mean simply speaking up, or talking to others. I mean understanding who you are and expressing this in what, where, when, how and why you choose to speak up. To speak up on behalf of others, you need to have a very clear understanding and confidence in who you are and what you believe then. Otherwise when the inevitable pain comes, you will be unprepared to sustain your voice.

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Stand Up and Stay True

Due to our turbulent times, I needed to take a month off from expressing myself publicly. I found my writing far too sharp and angry. I am now ready to share my voice again. 

I have taken a quote from a famous movie and changed it to make it more inclusive. We must all fear evil. But, there is a specific kind of evil we should fear most…the indifference of good people.

We cannot be indifferent and assume someone else will stand up. We cannot think, this too shall pass. Make sure your voice is heard, make sure you are expressing your dissatisfaction with the direction the country is heading. Because I can guarantee you those who like what is occurring, will continue to make their voices heard.

When we oppose the hateful and hurtful behavior, and language, of the current administration, we must avoid falling into a very specific trap. It is paramount that we remember those we are in opposition to are still human beings. Many times these are people we have relationships with, or would have relationships with if it wasn’t for our political differences. Dehumanizing someone because we disagree with them, even if we disagree 100%, does nothing to help our argument and in fact puts us on the same level as many of those we oppose.
I, you, we can engage in contentious conversation and stand in opposition to those who would take our country back and disenfranchise so many Americans. Even if they are not willing to accept our humanity, we cannot treat them with equal disrespect. We will win this struggle for the hearts and minds of America over the long run only if we stand up and have our voice heard while staying true to our ideals.

When you are overcoming the indifference of good people, and the anger of those we oppose, never forgetour  shared humanity.

Open Mind?

When you ask me to have an open mind, what are you really asking?

Are you asking me to not be an obstructionist? One party has had the slowest rate of approval, and most open positions, for judicial and administrative appointments since the Civil War/Reconstruction Era. Post reconstruction (1881) was the last time a Supreme Court nominee had no action taken by the Senate.

Are you asking me to withhold judgement? Should I not judge a Party that has thousands of comments on record espousing hate and discrimination? 

Or, are you asking me to wait and act until after you have destroyed all I hold dear, and my children are physically or emotionally harmed because they are mixed? 

NEVER ON MY WATCH

I can and will oppose your hate filled, anachronistic and hurful platform. I will however, unlike many, never call into doubt your humanity becuase we disagree. If you really want to discuss open-mindedness moving forward, join me in recognizing those who disagree with you are equally human and American. Then, I am sure we can have a contructive conversation on our differences. 

Do It, But Without Hate

Part of the divide we have in this country, is a stark difference of opinion in what is acceptable discourse. On both extremes, there is a believe that if your speech offends me, then it does not have a place in the discourse. This perspective, I believe, promotes a lack of understanding and demonization of our counterparts in opposition.

I say if you’re wondering if you should say it, Do It. As long as you’re not doing it with hate or to promote hate. This advice goes to my friends on the left and the right.

You don’t agree with immigration, great, it’s America, feel free to tell me that. However, don’t feel free to dehumanize immigrants and myself when I disagree with you. You think those that oppose immigration are wrong and close-minded, great, it’s America, feel free to tell me that. However, don’t feel free to belittle or dehumanize those with whom you disagree.

Also, if someone doesn’t want to discuss these things with you, don’t force the conversation on them. Free speech does not equal the right to force a conversation. Free-speech does equal the right to publicly express your thoughts on any topic without government interference. However, free-speech cannot be used to incite violence or purpose he used to share knowingly false information.

Why It Matters

In the last couple of years before she passed, my great grandmother was fond of telling stories of her youth. Most of her stories were funny and upbeat, or even if they were a little more somber, she made them funny. Every so often, however, she would share stories of her family being refused service, lodging, and any other form of discrimination you can think of. The key takeaway I had from the stories, was the fact that people saw her and her family as human first when they chose not to discriminate against our kind.

At this point, I’m sure a few readers are asking, why does this matter? What point are you trying to make?

As we struggle with discrimination, hate, and by us moving forward, we should always remember these things have a impacted all of our families at one time or another. Even if we’ve chosen to forget.

Most of Irish side of my family has never forgotten. And for those who have, shame on you. No one, for any reason, deserves to be not denied basic human civility, empathy and the capacity to do what’s best for their family.

I for one will not standby if I am witness to such inflammatory language or outright discrimination. Simply saying that people can be safe with us is not enough, we would make sure that they are safe anytime we are around. We nust be a barrier between those who have chosen the path of hate.

Never On My Watch (NOMW)

Days In Front

Tears are dried, sleep won

Focus now on future need

Hate each other, mutual ruin

As one country we bleed

Empathy for all, needed soon

No more will we cede

Strength of spirit, love human

Opposed to hate we lead 

BiNaration

I know it’s a little behind schedule but I just finished reading Outliers and years of responses to it; as well as many articles   proving/disproving some of the ideas within. I was most struck not by the book or the ideas (which I did enjoy and liked) but by the standard American response. Instead of discussing the nuance of the ideas, we either jumped on board or firmly denied with little or no middle ground.

There were no fewer than five really thoughtful ideas on why people are succesful, yet we seem intent on the 10,000 hour idea. So much so that there is a whole industry now around 10,000 hours and all else in the book might as well not exist! What about the idea that Harvard should just do a lottery of their applicants (which by the way would be fair becuase it would remove the inherent bias in the admission process)? Or the idea that being lucky enough to be born in a specific month or year are key contributors to success?

Instead most Americans became fixated on a binary approach to an extremely complicated question. An approach by the way that the book clearly says won’t work by itself!!! 

Why is it that Americans so often respond with the emotional maturity of a 14 year old to these pressing societal issues? Why are we so intent on quick fixes or something having to be 100% correct or incorrect? Hasn’t life kicked each of our individual asses enough times to know this is rarely true?

I didn’t wrote this post today to tell everyone why we are a BiNaration. I wrote it so next time you became engaged in a new process or idea, you stop and think before you fall into this all in or all against mentality. 

Cheers and Rock On


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