Reflections of the past

Reflecting on this past year, I’ve gained a lot and lost a lot.  I think we all have and the end of the year lets us capsulize it into a memento; a token of a bygone era.    For some of us, we never reflect on the past, and for others, all we do is live in the past.  Past decisions, regrets, mistakes, victories, triumphs, and defeats.  For those that live in the past, they want to dwell in the memories of something intangible, while those who can’t face their past dwell on trying to suppress a memory that has become intangible.  And yet for both, they remain stuck, like an insect imbued into the essence of amber, becoming a relic for those to find later.  We so rarely have the tools to process our own emotions, and we have even fewer to help others process theirs, and as such, we continue on as a society that simply accepts this as a truth.

I believe things are going to change, but it has to start with the realization that we do need instructions on how to be a human being.  We have become factories unto ourselves, swallowing whole what is spoon-fed to us and spitting it back out to those who come after us.  We leave no footprints behind and expect them to follow.  We have to realize that the rules we live by are malleable and can be changed if we so chose to.  Agitation for change comes not in agreement, but divergence.  Divergence and disagreement is what will lead to a new way of thinking and possibly a new way of doing things.  For if we keep agreeing with how things are, things will keep on keeping.  Each new year allows for us to see farther than we did the last year, but the most important thing I have learned is that the top can only progress as much as they let those at the bottom do.  If we don’t take care of each other, we will forever be trapped by the cycle of greed, and it will be greed that will be our downfall.

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Just because you’re right doesn’t mean that’s the right way of going about it.

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You’ve probably been in a situation where you know you’re completely right so you aggressively push your view because you know you are right. Well, that’s probably not the best way to handle a it.  A lot of times, those who are right really try to assert their positions because they know they are right.  And then there are those who believe they are right as well and try to assert themselves, but that’s another story.  The two are intertwined, but not synonymous.  Personally, I have a pretty logical thought process, so when I know I am right, I tend to refuse to listen to other voices of dissent, which can work to my detriment sometimes.  Once, I had a discussion with a coworker who was not familiar with a process that kept insisting they were right when I knew they had no clue of what they were talking about.  Because I knew I was right, I tried to show them how to get to my line of thinking, but didn’t really take into consideration their feelings.  Because I didn’t do that, the person tried to sabotage me later because they felt as if they weren’t properly listened to.  This is what happens when you try to steamroll people without listening to the opposition even if you are right.  It will come back to bite you.  What I failed to recognize was that the person absolutely hated to be wrong and called out for it in public, which caused them to hold on to their hard feelings and try to ruin what I was working on to satisfy their own feelings.  You can say that people shouldn’t do that, but that doesn’t stop them from being human and acting out their feelings.  A lot of times in academic , political, and work settings, people don’t really assess feelings and how they play into situations, but when you don’t assess them, they will topple you as in the recent election.

Many intelligent people went into the election on the soundness of the polls, but never took into consideration how people felt.  A lot of working-class Americans were fed up with the state of government.  Democrats who fought for Bernie Sanders felt slighted and were not properly brought back into the fold, causing them to vote third party or not at all.  A lot of Republicans didn’t like either party and decided not to vote, and then the political elite wondered where they went wrong.  A lot of times, things are rolled out in government that aren’t properly explained to people and as such, the people resent that and question why the programs were implemented in the first place.  One of those projects is Affirmative Action.  I’ve heard white people express dismay at it because they see people of color who seemingly had the same socioeconomic level as them surpass them and only know that it was due to the color of their skin.  Programs such as this are worthy, but if they are not explained to the masses, they will face opposition because those in the elite know it is right, but think there is nothing more to do because they are right.  It even took me a long time to come to understand the purpose of Affirmative Action.  To summarize, everyone is biased.  Each race is predisposed to favor their own based on cultural, social, and economic cues.  That does not mean it applies to everyone and every situation, but it is prevalent.  Look up race blindness, where someone can recognize those within their own race, but have face blindness when it comes to other races different than them.  There are all sorts of biases out there that may or may not benefit you.  As such, if you are one race and go to an employer who is the same race, you may have a slight advantage over others who are not the same.  Now imagine that on a large scale where the majority of employers are white.  The results are going to be the same, but on a larger scale.  There is no racism involved, but slight biases do exist that no one ever noticed.  AA tried to correct this, but it cannot work if it is not explained.

On a personal and social level, this attitude can lead to the failure of things that are completely righteous and well-meaning, but just because they are right doesn’t mean it can be forced on others without considering their feelings and opinions.  Recently, I’ve watched videos of the  Black Pete, a blackface figure, from the Netherlands and how the people there have vigorously fought against the political correctness of this long-held tradition.  Those who are agitating for change are correct in their estimations of the character being a racist emblem of a time gone by, and they are correct in protesting it, but they must also think about the opposition.  When you question the validity of this tradition, these people take it as an assault against their heritage and who they are.  When they feel assaulted, they will fight for what they feel is the disintegration of their people, when in actuality, it is just one racist aspect that can easily be changed.  How it should be handled is not an easy answer, but it is easy to see that you need to take into consideration the feelings behind the character and what it means to the people.  So the next time you know you’re right and the other party is completely in the wrong, try to consider not their position, but their feelings tied to their position instead.  You don’t have to change their minds to see the rightness of your way of thinking, but you just have to acknowledge their dissent and how they are feeling.  That is enough to open an honest dialogue of what is really operating beneath the spoken words and actions that you do see.  Because it’s what you don’t see that will kill you.  Am I right, Hillary?

A Hmong Woman’s Place

Cheating yourself out of your own life

The Distractions We Face

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I find myself more and more disconnected from my life and more plugged into social media.  Even when I have no need for it, I reach for it because it is mindless and fills in the time.  To be honest, it’s become an addiction to know the latest thing even when it doesn’t concern me.  I’ve recently had a very tiny bout of depression about it because I feel as if it’s consumed my life lately.  I feel as if I have no time for anything else, when that is not the reality.  I’ve retrained myself to be more mindful of who I am in this digital age; for when I neglect my own wishes, I’m only wasting my own time.  Whenever I feel as if my life is out of control, I try to put things into perspective to take control back.

I’m trying to limit my time on social media and really structure my day more so that I can fit in what I truly want to do like reading Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, catching up on episodes of Netflix’s Peaky Blinders, and writing my novel.  I’m a realistic person and I know I can’t magically make more time in the day, but that I must work with the time I have.  We sometimes get into a rut where we want to attain something, but we also are scared of the hard work that goes into it, so we do nothing and hate ourselves for doing nothing, causing a cycle of depression and guilt that spirals down.  My boyfriend was just remarking that he didn’t want to turn out like his hermit uncle who had no girlfriend, but did nothing to remedy his own situation before me.

What’s worse?  Finding out you didn’t get what you want or never finding out at all?  There’s work to be put into this life and everything else is merely a distraction, albeit glorious distractions.  There is a drive that propels us to want more, and some of us are born with it and some of us are not, but it can be developed.  If it is not developed, unfortunately, it results in a lot of unhappy people with unfulfilled wishes.  We’re all living in cocoons where we have goals in mind, but are also afraid of the pain we must endure to reach that goal, so we satisfy ourselves with distractions in the meantime.  Sometimes, we just need a reminder that we must work with the time we’ve got and do our best, for time comes for us all.

Strip away a man

Is your salmon shirt gay?

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My boyfriend asked me if I’d heard of the color term ‘salmon’ being applied to women’s clothing, and I replied that the term was invented strictly for men’s clothing for these situations:
Guy 1: Hey, bro, why you wearing a pink shirt?
Guy 2: Nah, dude, this is salmon. Not gay
He then proceeded to tell me that two guys at his work had almost the same conversation except for the gay part, but it’s pretty much implied.  It’s been ingrained in our heads that pink is for girls and blue is for boys, so much so that some guys have gay-panic at the thought of being accused of being one simply for wearing a pink shirt.  And some people thought it was stupid Target was no longer separating their toys by gender.  That stuff stays with you and it is not so simple as letting boys be boys and so forth.  The sexes will always be different, but each individual should have the choice to choose how they portray themselves.  The same goes for race.  Each race has their own cultural differences and we need to stop spouting the mantra of ‘we are all the same,’ because that doesn’t celebrate diversity and assumes someone had the same experiences as you.  However, that doesn’t mean every individual of that race encompasses those cultural differences, for they still can choose how to portray themselves.
And then there’s the gay part.  To be called gay is to be called weak, inferior, and different.  And in this society, to be different is unnatural and so some of us shun that term.  Society has always shunned  the different because different means anarchy and the unknown.  To be different means society has to conform to you, so what does society do when they fear you and the unknown?  They make you conform to them.  It is an innate fear, but to recognize this fear is to recognize we can rise above it.  Sometimes, you don’t have to change the world, you only have to acknowledge the cultural, gender, and sexual-orientation differences that exist and know they apply to a group, but not individuals.