Friday, January 24, 2020

You Might Have An Incurable Disease!

Let me ask you a few questions. Have you ever considered yourself a writer? Have you ever stayed up later than you planned because you wanted/needed to write? Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night with words slamming against your skull trying to escape your head? Have you ever felt anxious or depressed because you didn't have time to write? 

If you answered yes to any of these questions I have some good news and bad news for you. The good news: you are a writer. The bad news: without proper care this chronic condition can destroy the other parts of your life that seem to be working. Don't worry there is a cure and because I care about you I will share it. 

Queue the drum roll..........the solution to (y)our problem is to WRITE. Write lists. Write jokes. Write love letters. Write your plans for the upcoming week. Just write. If you've ever felt tortured by writing, WRITE!

There are a ton of legitimate reasons not to write. There are instances when our creative time belongs to other people. There are times when it seems like there aren't enough hours in the day, but there are. Writing is self care for those of us who can't escape the power words hold over us. We need to prioritize our happiness and mental health. This isn't selfish. This is therapeutic. We are allowed to pursue our happiness. 

If any of this resonated with you, spend 10 minutes alone with your thoughts and some instrument capable of transmitting those thoughts into shareable words. Get into the habit of writing in small bursts. If you are rusty, your first few drafts may be "trash", but don't throw them away. If you commit to doing this in a few weeks it will be a part of your daily routine. In a few more weeks you will notice that your 10 minutes turned into 15. In a few months your first short drafts will be a good metric to use to judge your progress.

Thoughts to remember: 

1. Writing isn't a sugar high. If you are a writer, you will never cure the itch. 
2. The highs are amazing. You won't need any recreational substances to accommodate you. 
3. Take care of yourself. If you feel the strong urge to write: write!

Friday, January 17, 2020

They Can't Hurt Your Character!

Hey, hey you! I want to remind you of a simple fact: your character isn't affected by what people say about you. Your character is far more valuable than your reputation. How you feel about you is more important than any validation you can get from society. 

There will always be people who don't understand you. That's life! All of us are vulnerable to the pit falls that make clear speaking and plain understanding impossible. The Rorschach test is a great example of this. Every time you see a butterfly someone else could be seeing a bat. This is an honest mischaracterization, but we know there are people who willfully attempt to destroy our character. 

We have to come to grips with the fact that there are times when we will be misunderstood, falsely accused and/or unfairly judged. This hurts! There's no easy way to deal with this, but we can overcome it. Your reputation is a derivative of your character. What people say doesn't matter nearly as much as what you do.

Here's a few things to always remember:

1. Be consistent: your daily actions are a truer reflection of who you are than gossip or innuendo.

2. Be real: authenticity isn't always appreciated, but it's so rare people notice it.

3. Be fair: leave as much room for the humanity of others as you expect.

4. Be nice: avoid insulting people who misunderstand you; it's​ a form of confirmation bias.

5. Be forgiving: life is hard enough without adding revenge, restitution or retribution to your daily to-do list. 

When you close your eyes at night the only validation you need is in between your ears. Once you have done your best the rest is out of your hands.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

America is Devolving and Civility is Dying

Photo: Rebecca Florence Miller 
Over the last decade I've become just as troubled by the way our country handles controversy as the controversies themselves. I don't know if this means I'm maturing or getting "soft". The pleas we hear for unity are drown out by the noise of hostility.

People are looking at each other with malice in their hearts and distrust in their eyes. It saddens me to see us devolving. I read social media posts everyday from people who are actively rooting for the further unraveling of our social fabric. There are people preparing for an actual war. Ironically, many of the people pushing for a new "Civil War" are the same ones who found themselves on the losing end of the cultural and ideological wars. 

America changed. America is changing. America will continue to change. The train of history doesn't have a pause button. The future doesn't care if we are prepared for it or afraid of it. We are never going back. This reality is triggering for some.

Much of the pushback against diversity and social justice movements I've studied is rooted in fear and anger, but more fear than anger. 

Fear and anger, from a neurological perspective, are very similar. Someone afraid of you will hurt you just as quickly as someone who hates you. A lot of people spreading hatred do so out of a lack of understanding. It's easier to hate someone than address the preconceived notions and prejudices inside ourselves. Hatred in the heart and mind has a way of manifesting itself in the real world. 

We have regressed as a society and the causes are many. Truth has become our enemy and comfort is too often found in narratives that fit our world view. We use to have utopian dreams of everyone loving each other, now we should push for just tolerating each other. 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Impeachment Means Nothing!

For the better part of four years rational conversations about politics have been almost impossible. Part of the problem is the deep distrust and dislike large swaths of America have for each other. The other big problem is our collective inability to agree on a set of facts. We can't agree on anything.

I've written over fifty articles about Donald Trump. They've been published in newspapers, magazines and a variety of online publications. With that said, I've read and written more about him than I've ever wanted to. This has been exhausting. There was a period of three months where I stopped writing about politics.

I admit that I find him to be loathsome. I despise him. He's a habitual liar. He's one of the most disrespectful and arrogant people I've ever covered. I dislike him. I can't believe someone so disloyal and vindictive continues to be the recipient of all the forgiveness and protection bestowed on him.

Donald Trump has been forgiven for saying and doing things no person of color could ever get away with. Many of the same white Evangelicals who never forgave Barack Obama for wearing a tan suit or having black skin have forgiven Donald Trump for blatant racism, sexism and xenophobia. 

Donald Trump has been credibly accused of sexual harrassment and assault by almost two dozen women: forgiven. He has admitted to grabbing women by the pu$$y: forgiven. Donald Trump admitted to paying off an adult actress he was having an affair with while his wife was pregnant: forgiven. He was recently held culpable by a court for defrauding charitable donations for kids with cancer: forgiven. Donald Trump has trashed John McCain and John Dingell: forgiven. 

He was right when he said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and get away with it. There are people who could watch him put a baby in a microwave and ask what did the baby do first? 

Impeachment won't move the needle. There isn't anything Donald Trump could say or do that will turn his base against him. Half the country is celebrating while the other half is plotting revenge. The Senate will acquit him. This had to be done, but it does nothing.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

A Practical Response To Sanctuary Counties

In the last few weeks I’ve seen numerous social media posts soliciting online support for the creation of 2nd Amendment sanctuary counties. Many of these posts are shared out of sincere concern over potential restrictions to the right to bear arms. Some are purely partisan vitriol. Either way, this is another issue in which well intentioned people end up screaming past each other.
For the record, I support the right to bear arms; as Malcolm X once said, “A man with a rifle or a club can only be stopped by a person who defends himself with a rifle or a club. That's equality.”
However, I part ways with the idea of creating 2nd Amendment sanctuary counties. This isn’t personal and I don’t think people who support these petitions are bad. I have practical reasons for my opposition.
First, the Second Amendment already has limitations that have been codified into law. Fully automatic weapons haven’t been available in this country for over 30 years. We should move forward with this fact squarely in our minds. Any debate about future limitations should be rooted in the fact that the door to limitations has been open since the 1934 National Fire Arms Act.
Second, the creation of 2nd Amendment sanctuary counties does not protect businesses or citizens. This is a feel-good form of activism. There is nothing in any of these petitions that grants immunity to any of the signers. In essence, this is protest without action. You showed up said you were upset, but didn’t do anything to affect real change.
Lastly, the consequences for not following any legislation passed in Richmond would fall squarely on the shoulders of local elected officials. None of the signers of these petitions would be forced to make the decisions or face the consequences elected officials, Commonwealth Attorneys and/or Sheriffs would face.
Hypothetically speaking, imagine a piece of legislation is passed in Richmond calling for the ban of semiautomatic weapons in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Who honestly believes our political class would risk their livelihoods, pensions and/or freedom to oppose any law deemed Constitutional?
The next time you see your elected representative, sheriff or commonwealth attorney ask yourself: would this person risk their mortgage or go to jail for my right to bear arms?
The majority of candidates in local races run for office without declaring their political affiliations. We’re supposed to believe politicians too politically calculating (or afraid) to tell us their political beliefs would stand in the gap for us with something more important than their next election on the line?
I’m glad to see so many people engaging in the public square. I believe in protest. Successful protests have broken the back of some of the most egregious evils in our country’s history. However, every protest that’s ever bore fruit required sacrifice. Signing a petition without any practical or actionable plan isn’t sacrifice.   
I wish more of you were concerned about Constitutional Rights when the 4th Amendment Rights of your fellow citizens were being trampled by stop-and-frisk policies. I empathize with the distrust many of you now feel towards government and law enforcement. I stand in solidarity with you, but this isn’t the way.