Time to Get Uncomfortable


Well, you don’t exactly have to be a scholar to know that the world is in a bit of a tumult right now.  Maybe more than a little bit, to be honest.  With the news of the death of George Floyd at the hands of some obviously corrupt & evil police officers last week, Coronavirus has finally taken a backseat.  I’m writing about this today for a variety of reasons & I hope I can be at least somewhat eloquent as I rush to finish this while my daughter is napping.  Here goes . . .riot

First off I want to apologize to the black community for any hand I, as a white person, may have had in racism over the years.  I’ll be the first to admit that I have not always been as sensitive as maybe I should be.  Furthermore I’ll be the first to admit that there have been times when I was more vocal about my anger over rioting & looting than I was about my anger over police brutality or other injustices wrought against African Americans.

I’ll also freely admit that I’ve always had mixed feelings about Colin Kaepernick & the kneeling protest he started.  On the one hand I’ve always felt like it was their first amendment right to free speech & that the matter they were protesting had merit.  Yet on the other hand I was always taught to respect the national anthem & the military & since so many people saw the kneeling as disrespectful towards them- though in my heart of hearts I’ll admit I’ve never been sure WHY- I confess it left a bad taste in my mouth, so to speak.  But the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realized the REAL reason why it left a bad taste in my mouth.  The real reason is that I didn’t want to face the inconvenient truth that our nation is still struggling with systemic racism, particularly in the police force.  I was always taught to respect LEOs but the cold hard truth is that there are some seriously corrupt & evil folks hiding behind a badge, & it’s our responsibility to stand against the injustices wrought by them.  If we don’t- & if good LEOs don’t- we are complicit with the problem.

I want to sincerely apologize for all of this because I realize now how insensitive & wrong I was.  I realize that so much of the time we don’t want to admit that maybe we aren’t as “color blind” as we like to think we are.  As white people, it’s very easy to think “Well, I don’t hate black people, I’ve never been overtly racist, so I’m ok.”  But the truth is that if we don’t examine our own internal prejudices & speak up against police brutality & other racial issues, these injustices will never go away.  And the rioting that follows won’t go away either.  There is a reason people are rioting- it’s because THEY AREN’T BEING HEARD! 

Secondly, I’d like to say that I don’t think rioting & looting is the answer- especially when it’s directed at random people or businesses that have nothing to do with the police.  But let’s be real- most people don’t.  We don’t all need to constantly talk about how appalling this is.  I think most of us can agree on that, regardless of race.  Violence begets violence- it breeds a vicious cycle that never ends & rarely- if ever- causes people to be sympathetic with the “other” side.  But truthfully I think most of us get that.  We just aren’t the ones on the news getting all the attention right now.

Thirdly- & this is really my most important point- what’s more appalling to me than rioting is that so many white people seem more upset by the rioting & looting than they are by the murder of George Floyd.  Or Ahmaud Arbery.  Or Breonna Taylor.  And the list goes on . . .  They are more upset by black people stealing a TV than they are by the fact that police have been caught dispersing tear gas on PEACEFUL protesters.  There have even been white people caught inciting violence & rioting so that black people can then be blamed for it.  Y’all, something is seriously wrong with this entire picture!  Yes, everyone has a right to be upset by the violence that has erupted over the weekend.  But if you’re bothered by that kind of violence, shouldn’t you also be bothered by the unnecessary violence that was wrought against Mr. Floyd & so many other black Americans?  The answer is unequivocally yes.  If you suddenly think that the case against police brutality is completely invalid because of the way SOME people are reacting, then frankly you need to examine yourself.

So before you post about how terrible the riots are, please stop & think about how that comes across to your black friends & neighbors, especially if that’s the ONLY thing you’re posting about in regards to this whole situation.  Please stop & think about WHY people are angry.  Please stop & think about the fact that no matter how black people protest- even something as simple & peaceful as taking a knee- they are always told they’re wrong.  Yes, it’s inconvenient.  Yes, it’s difficult.  Yes, it means admitting that maybe your parents & grandparents were wrong about some things.  And, yes, that is HARD.  But the truth of the matter is there is still systemic racism in our society today- perhaps most notably in the police force- & if we as white people don’t admit that & work on it, the violence & injustice from all “sides” will never end. 

I hope that this has come across as compassionately as I intended it.  I hope that anyone who reads this can see that my heart is bleeding for all of those who are hurting right now for so many different reasons.  Most importantly I hope that we’ll all take a moment to react with love, compassion, & empathy rather than with judgment, hate, or anger.  

 

Maintaining Peace of Mind in a Violent World


Well, you don’t even need to watch the news or read a newspaper religiously to know that the world has been a violent place this past week or two.  Actually, to be fair, I’m not convinced there has ever been a time in history when the world wasn’t violent.  It just hasn’t always been as well reported as it is now.  But that’s not my point right now.  The point is in times like these, it’s easy to feel like the “world is coming to an end” or society is “going to hell in a hand-basket.”  So how does one maintain one’s sanity, one’s own peace of mind in the midst of all this chaos?  Well, I don’t know how other people manage, but I’ve been surviving largely off of music . . . basically my usual coping mechanism, but an extremely effective one nonetheless.music speaks

As an effort to help spread peace & sanity during these turbulent times, today I thought I’d share some of the songs that I have found particularly encouraging lately.  Before I do that, however, I’d just like to make a few simple statements.

First of all, why does it seem like so much of our society cannot comprehend how a person can support both policemen (& women) & black people?  This is just common sense to me.  I don’t know nearly enough about the matter to definitely say if we truly have a problem with police brutality in this country, but I will say that the recent case in Minnesota involving Philando Castile seems to me to be the most suspicious & egregious case to date (that’s gotten media attention, of course).  And I just can’t help but wonder if so many of these other cases would have ended differently if the suspect in question had been white.  Of course the answer is we’ll never know for sure, but nonetheless I can’t erase the thought from my mind.  Regardless, I think those of us who are not black need to remember that those who are have legitimate reasons to be a bit less trusting of cops in general.  It might have been over twenty years ago now, but the Rodney King tragedy is not easily forgotten.  Remember, not only was the man treated unjustly but the police officers responsible for his death were never punished & were in fact found innocent of wrong-doing.  Such things are not easily dismissed from one’s memory.  police brutality

Just like any other profession, I think there are both good cops & bad cops.  Expecting law enforcement officers to be held accountable for their actions in no way means I don’t appreciate their sacrifices & bravery on a daily basis.  It’s the same with any other profession that has the responsibility for making life-altering decisions.  For example, I’m a nurse, & I can say first-hand that most nurses I’ve met are truly wonderful people who are doing a great job serving the patients in their care.  However, I will also be the first to advocate for nurses being held accountable for making reckless or negligent decisions that negatively impact patients.  That in no way means I don’t support nurses.  It just means I want us to use our power & responsibility wisely.  The same goes with police officers.peace quote

Alright, I’ve run out of steam. On to the real purpose of today’s post, the music.

I’ll start off with this touching song from Black Stone Cherry.  The band was kind enough to share this on their Facebook page this week which reminded me of just how timely this song really is right now.  Lyrics below:BSC barn

Something about our world today
That makes me wanna cry
There’s too much anger & too much pain
Too much money & too many lies
If I could have one wish tonight
I would beg of us to forget our pride
If we could do just one thing right,
We could help each other to love our lives

[Chorus]
All I’m dreamin of is good times, good friends, & somebody to love
All I’m dreamin of is no fears, no tears, & blue skies up above

There’s people around us everywhere
Who need help like you & me
A family was taken by a storm
And we just watched it on TV
If I could have one wish tonight
I would beg of us to forget our pride
If we could do just one thing right
We could help each other to love our lives.

[Chorus]

When one thing’s right another is wrong
But in the end love will always keep us strong

All I’m dreamin of is a house on a hill & somebody to love
All I’m dreamin of is the sun to shine & blue skies up abovepoynte band

Next up is great encouraging song from an awesome band out of ATL called Poynte.  Check out Hold On here, lyrics below:

Life Is Racing
Always Fading
We Are Left Standing Here
We Can’t Live With Our Regrets

We’ll Keep Holding
Onto This Dream
We Can Forgive
But We Can Never Forget

You Feel It Now
You Can’t Let Go
It’s In Your Heart
It’s In Your Soul

Every Day It’s All The Same
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way
Hold On
To All Of Your Dreams
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way

This Is Our Time
Can’t Push Rewind
We Can’t Hold Back
And Make The Same Mistakes Again

We’ve Been Fed Up
From The Neck Up
We Will Fight For
Another Chance To Make It Right

You Feel It Now
You Can’t Let Go
It’s In Your Heart
It’s In Your Soul

Every Day It’s All The Same
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way
Hold On
To All Of Your Dreams
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way

Will You Give All That You Can
Will You Give All That You Can

Every Day It’s All The Same
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Way
Hold On
To All Of Your Dreams
There’s Got To Be More To Life Than Living This Waybrent smith

I’ve posted this Shinedown song before but the message is too good not to share at a time like this.  Check out the inspirational video too.  Lyrics below:

I found a note with your name
And a picture of us
Even though it was framed
And covered in dust
It’s the map in my mind that sends me on my way

They say it’s never too late
To stop being afraid
And there is no one else here
So why should I wait?
And in the blink of an eye the past begins to fade

So have you ever been caught in a sea of despair?
And your moment of truth
Is the day that you say “I’m not scared”

Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I’ve been looking for you day & night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
‘Cause I’m not gonna leave you behind

If I told you that you’re not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time

I’ve seen a million miles
Met a million faces
Took all I knew
To reach all these places
And I’d do it again
If it brings me back to you

So have you ever been caught in a sea of despair?
And your moment of truth
Is the day that you say “I’m not scared”

Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I’ve been looking for you day and night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
‘Cause I’m not gonna leave you behind

If I told you that you’re not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time

Put your hands in the air

Put your hands in the air
If you hear me out there
I’ve been looking for you day & night
Shine a light in the dark
Let me see where you are
‘Cause I’m not gonna leave you behind

If I told you that you’re not alone
And I show you this is where you belong
Put your hands in the air
One more time
Put your hands in the air one more time

pageant material

Lastly, this song is probably my favorite ever by Kacey Musgraves.  The lyrics, below, are just so perfectly poignant.

We’re all hoping, we’re all hopeless
We’re all thorns & we’re all roses
We’re all looking down our noses at ourselves
We’re all flawed & we’re all perfect
We’re all lost & we’re all hurting
And just searching for somebody to love

We’re all liars, we’re all legends
We’re all tens that want elevens
We’re all trying to get to heaven but not today
We’re all happy, we’re all hatin’
We’re all patiently impatient
And just waiting for somebody to love

We’re all good but we ain’t angels
We all sin but we ain’t devils
We’re all pots & we’re all kettles
But we can’t see it in ourselves
We’re all livin’ ’til we’re dying
We ain’t cool but man, we’re trying
Just thinking we’ll be fixed by someone else
We all wrangle with religion
We all talk, but we don’t listen
We’re all starving for attention, then we’ll run
We’re all paper, we’re all scissors
We’re all fightin’ with our mirrors
Scared we’ll never find somebody to love

We’re all good, but we ain’t angels
We all sin, but we ain’t devils
We’re all pots & we’re all kettles
But we can’t see it in ourselves
We’re all livin’ ’til we’re dying
We ain’t cool but man, we’re trying
Thinking we’ll be fixed by someone else

Just tryin’ to hold it all together
We all wish our best was better
Just hopin’ that forever’s really real
We’ll miss a dime to grab a nickel
Over-complicate the simple
We’re all little kids just looking for love
Yeah, don’t we all just want somebody to love?ghandi quote peace

I hope these songs will bring you some peace of mind amidst the chaos of our world today.  Furthermore, I hope they will encourage each of us to be more loving & understanding to each & every person we meet.  With incidents like the recent shooter in Dallas  & the Orlando nightclub tragedy, I’ve been forced to remember that there are some truly evil people in this world.  Is it possible that such tragedies can be prevented in the future?  I wish I could say yes, but honestly I think humans will continue to find horrific ways to kill each other, regardless of what kind of weapons it requires, as long as we inhabit this planet.  But I also believe that there could be fewer of these tragedies if we as as a society learned to embrace love & understanding more than fear & hate.

 

A Plea for Logic


I’ve got a lot of frustration & angst coursing through my veins right now, so I will forewarn you that today’s post will not be the most optimistic or warm & fuzzy thing you’ll read today.  Nor will it be particularly organized or coherent (at least at times).  But I do promise that it will be inspirational; it’s just that inspiration sometimes has to come in the form of a swift kick in the rear.frustration 1

In case you should find yourself becoming offended at any point while reading this post, please remember the following things:

  1. These are just my opinions, & no one is under any obligation to agree with me.
  2. I write these posts as much to myself as to anyone else.
  3. I really do care about people, & my goal is to inspire others to achieve their fullest potential in life, but I’m slowly becoming more & more aware of the fact that doing so sometimes means being very blunt & risking offending a few folks.

Anyhow, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts & hearing a lot of things lately that just grind my gears to no end.  Everywhere I look I feel like the world is running completely counter to what is logical & sane (at least in my mind).  I like to think of myself as someone who is capable of balancing both logic & emotion to live a fulfilling & enjoyable life; that is certainly one of my greatest goals in life which I seek to pursue daily.  While I learned long ago to stop expecting the world around me to be logical, it still irks me to see how completely illogical so many folks are in our world today.  To be fair, I seriously doubt society in general is any more illogical now than it ever was, but all I know is the world as it is now, so that’s all I can truly address at this time.

logic cartoon

Anyhow, here are some of the things that have been particularly irksome to me lately:

  • College students begging for/demanding free education
    • Ok, I’ll be the first to admit that college tuition has risen drastically in the past few years & is clearly out of control. However, expecting college education to be free is just ludicrous.  Unless you want to pay well over 50% of your income in taxes, expecting to pay zero tuition is just absurd.  There is no such thing as free healthcare or free education anyway.  It’s all paid for in taxes.  Duh!  Is it fair that so many college graduates end up in loads of debt that they can’t afford to pay off because they can’t find a job that pays more than minimum wage?    No!  But life’s not fair, & no one forced you to get that liberal arts degree that you should have known from day one wasn’t worth the paper on which it was printed.  Sorry.  This isn’t the 1950s anymore.  I know when we were kids we were told we’d be sold for life if we just got a college degree, regardless of what the degree was.  That was a lie.  It might have been true 40 or 50 years ago, but it isn’t true now & really hasn’t been for quite some time.  If you aren’t willing to put in the extra years in school to get an advanced degree that actually makes your undergrad years useful, then don’t even bother getting some kind of worthless psych or sociology or women’s studies degree.  Just go to technical school & learn a trade that allows you to actually have a decent career & won’t land you in loads of debt for the rest of your life.  You’ll be far better off in the long run.  Another great way to avoid massive student debt is to work your butt off so you can get a scholarship(s).  You can also strategically apply to schools to which you know you’ll be an outstanding candidate which further increases your odds of obtaining a scholarship.  (P.S. That’s exactly what I did, & it worked.)nothing is free
  • People who either demonize all police officers or worship them all as heroes
    • I don’t see why it’s so difficult to admit that there are plenty of good police officers while there are also plenty of corrupt ones. I think it’s pretty obvious that we do have a problem with police brutality in this country, much of which is directed at minorities.  However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to treat every cop I meet as if he’s some deranged psycho.  Why is it so difficult for people to understand that you can support justice by demanding that police officers be held responsible for the actions they take & prosecuted if they truly act outside the lines of duty without hating all police officers everywhere?  This isn’t a black or white issue, guys.  We need to take each case on a case by case basis, rather than making blanket judgments about all cops everywhere based on one or two sensational cases that wind up in the news.police brutality
  • Our society’s continued acceptance & even promotion of obesity
    • As a nurse I’m continually confronted with the horrible health consequences of obesity, from diabetes to heart disease & so much more, so this is a subject that has a lot of personal value to me. Once again, I don’t see why it’s so difficult for people to understand that I can speak out against obesity without hating or being rude to all obese people I meet.  Would I ever treat an obese patient as somehow less than human just because of their obesity?  Absolutely not.  That should go without saying.  But does that mean I have to support the continued acceptance & even promotion of obesity within our society?  Absolutely not.  While I’ll gladly admit that the average fashion model is scarily skinny & likely unhealthy because of that, I don’t think that means we need to swing the pendulum the other way & demand that current models be replaced with truly plus size models who are easily 50-100 lbs overweight.  I don’t know why moderation is such a difficult concept for Americans (& people in general) to grasp.  To me it seems obvious that men & women can be healthy at various sizes, & some folks are going to be naturally a bit skinnier while others are naturally a bit plumper.  But it all has to be WITHIN REASON.  Trust me, I’m not some paragon of fitness virtue.  I recently got my body fat tested, & it was 26.9%.  That places me squarely within the healthy range for a woman my age, but my goal is to get down to 22%-25% so that I can be even healthier.  I’ve lost 3.5 inches off my waist since August, & my goal is to lose 1-2 more inches in the next few months.  I’m not perfect, but I do hold myself to certain standards, & I take action when I see that I’ve gained a few pounds/inches & don’t look or feel as good as I’d like.  What no one wants to talk about is that no one has ever become obese overnight.  No one has ever gained 50 lbs while they slept!  These things happen gradually.  And, yes, I know that is why some people say it’s so easy not to notice, but that has never made sense to me.  No one goes from a size 8 to a size 14 overnight.  When your clothes get tight or no longer fit & you have to buy new ones, how do you not notice that?  It is always possible that I am just an asshole, but those who know me in real life can attest that my actions speak otherwise . . . My point is I’m really not trying to make anyone feel bad about themselves here.  I’m just trying to be a voice of reason in a world that seems to have lost all sense of logic.  The truth is I really do care about people, & when I see how many of us are quite literally killing ourselves with obesity, I cannot be silent about that.  I want people to be healthy & happy & feel good about themselves.  I certainly don’t expect everyone to be a size 2 or a size 6 or to look like a VS model.  I’m not any of those things myself.  But when I see that 2/3 of Americans are overweight & 1/3 are obese, I know that this is a problem I/we cannot just ignore.

      Graph showing world obesity rates by country.

      We’re lying to ourselves if we say we don’t have a problem.

  • People who stereotype all Muslims as terrorists
    • Since I’m being blunt today, I’ll just say it exactly how I see it. ISIS sucks.  They are a true personification of evil.  HOWEVER, just because a small group of radical Muslims has acted in such astoundingly inhumane ways does not mean that all Muslims everywhere are terrorists or potential terrorists.  Throughout history, horrible injustices have been carried out in the name of every major religion.  Fundamentalists & radicals of all religions can become dangerous terrorists.  It just so happens that at this point in history a lot of them are Islamic.  A thousand years ago, it was a different story.  And a thousand years from now (if we haven’t all killed each other off), it will once again probably be a different story.  The point is we need to stop making assumptions about people based solely on race or religion or any such factor.  As I said earlier about police officers, we need to take each individual on a case by case basis.  I don’t know why that is so hard for some folks to grasp.terrorism
  • People who refuse to accept the consequences of their actions
    • I think this is the bottom line of what really annoys me about so much of modern society. So many people refuse to accept the consequences of their actions.  I know it sucks to admit that you might be to blame for certain bad things that have happened in your life (not all bad things because obviously some things are beyond anyone’s control), but until you accept that, you’re not going to have the power to overcome the obstacles you face.  You’ll constantly be stuck playing the victim.  As one of my favorite high school teachers said, “Life’s not fair.  I’m not nice.  Get used to it.”  It sounds harsh, but it’s true.  Life ISN’T fair.  But there’s nothing to be gained by harping about it forever & ever.  This absolutely does not mean we should not work to repair some of the injustices in the world.  Of course not.  But if there is anything I hope to teach my future children, it’s this: you alone are ultimately responsible for the actions you take & thus you must accept any & all consequences of those actions.  If you have unprotected sex, you might get pregnant or contract an STI.  If you do poorly in school, you won’t get accepted to college.  If you choose a worthless major, you probably won’t get a good job out of college & you’ll end up in debt up to your eyeballs.  If you drink & drive, you might get a DUI & worse yet you might injure or kill yourself or others.  If you try cocaine or heroin or any other such drugs, you will probably get addicted & run your life into the ground.  If you choose to hang out with people who have no life goals & generally make bad decisions, you’ll probably end up doing the same crappy things with your life; you’ll still be responsible for those choices, but both positive & negative influences are real & should not be ignored.  The list goes on & on, but I think you get the point.choices

If there’s anything I hope to convey in this post it’s this: stop blaming others for the mistakes you’ve made or for the bad things that have happened in your life.  Own up to your failures & realize the power that lies within you to improve your own life.  To be clear, there’s nothing to be gained in self-flagellation, for none of is perfect & we’ve all had our fair share of screw-ups.  But until we accept that each of us is ultimately responsible for our own lives, we’ll be forever stuck in the cycle of victimhood & we’ll never reach our full potential.  It’s scary to realize how much power we have over our own lives, but it’s also invigorating & exciting & the best thing any of us can ever do for ourselves.lamb of god

I’ll end this post with a link to a song I found last night that helped inspire this post.  My husband is a big fan of the Richmond, VA-based metal band lamb of god.  Thanks to my husband playing their albums over & over in the car, I’ve slowly started to like some of their music as well.  When I came across this song last night, the lyrics struck such a chord that I felt I must share it with y’all today.  Listen, enjoy, & be inspired.

In case heavy metal isn’t your thing, I’ll share my favorite lyrics below which are spoken towards the end of the song:

“Now is the moment when everything can change

You are completely responsible for your own life

And no one is coming to save you from yourself

So stop blaming your problems on any & everything else

It does not matter one tiny f—ing bit

How unfair you think the world is

It’s only what you do right here, right now,

Right this f—ing instant that matters

It’s your choice to sink or swim”randy blythe prison

(Just for some background, Randy Blythe, the vocalist & lyricist of lamb of god, spent over thirty days in prison in the Czech Republic in 2012 for a crime for which he was eventually found innocent & acquitted.  Despite knowing that he could face up to 10 years in prison, he chose to return to that country to stand trial because he felt that it was his responsibility to do so.  He has also overcome a long history of severe alcoholism.  The point is this is a man who definitely has the right to say these words to us because he has lived them out over & over again.)