You know I’ve been asking myself this question a lot lately. It seems that despite all the trillions of words published on the Internet, uttered on television and exchanged between people on a daily basis there is really very little genuine communication happening in the world. Oh, the words are coming out fast and furious but is anyone really listening or noticing if anyone is listening? It seems to me that these bagillions of sound bites are just forming a collective blog of white noise that has just become a constant hum in the background.
How’d we get here?
How did we get here? Did we all just wake up one day and realize that there was some sort of spewing-out-words competition going on worldwide? We have to write our blog posts, write our comments in forums, brag on social media channels, and be the first to have 20 affiliate sites online? We have to text about every stupid thing somebody said or did or wore? We can’t put down our phones for one second to even acknowledge the grocery store checker or coffee house barista? We can’t even cross the street without a phone or iPod stuck to our ears? Methinks, yes. That does seem to be the case.
Thanks to technology, we no longer need to leave our homes to get what we want. We can order anything from furniture to diapers online. We can work from home in our pajamas, via the computer. We can stay in touch with family via social media, iPhones, Skype and email. We never actually have to be face to face with another human being. Ever.
What’s wrong with that?
Well there is nothing wrong with technology, in fact, it’s great. However, it does make things too easy for us. It makes it too easy to be disrespectful, mean and rude. It makes it too easy to see people as numbers, opposites, enemies, competitors and rivals. It brings us together but it also tears us apart. And there is one thing that technology can never give us and that’s humanity. We are living, sentient beings capable of incredible things. Kindness that no machine can ever replicate. Caring that no social media outlet will ever express. Love. Companionship. Understanding. Loyalty. Sympathy. Empathy. Joy. We humans really rock. And sadly, we don’t seem to value each other nearly as much as the latest release of our favorite gadget.
Hug your favorite human today
For certain, technology is not going away. And no doubt, better and better gadgets will be developed and embraced. Politicians will come up with more and more classes and categories to put us in. Dueling groups will duel into infinity and beyond. But I challenge you to hug your favorite human today. Put down the phone, the mouse, the iPad and talk to your mom. Sit on the porch and ask your granddad about what life was like when he was a boy. Go out to your garden and dig around in the dirt with your kids. Have a sit-down family dinner and talk about what happened today. Smile and ask the young kid at Starbucks how they’re doing. You may be surprised. You may find that humans are great fun to talk to and have ideas and dreams and wisdom to impart.
I don’t know about the rest of you but when things go wrong in my life I find it ever so easy to lay the blame elsewhere. Maybe it’s a natural inclination, we don’t like to think of ourselves as less than perfect and so when things don’t act accordingly it must certainly be someone else’s fault. There now, doesn’t that feel good?
Not really. You see, I’ve found that by laying that blame elsewhere it has a number of ill effects on me including:
- Feeling powerless
- Feeling victimized
- Feeling stuck and unable to move on
- It doesn’t change anything for me
Sure, in most situations there are other people involved. One doesn’t have a falling out with oneself. So, of course there are others to blame or fault or who have more responsibility. It’s easy to believe that your actions were a result of someone’s actions and therefore not really your fault if it goes ass over teacup. However, conflict cannot occur without at least two participants. Even under the best of circumstances both parties are equally responsible. But I’ll go one better – I think in the long run it’s better to just assume it’s all you. That you caused it, it’s your responsibility and others’ participation is irrelevant.
If you can take that view then at the very least you can do something about it. You can change your mind. You can adjust your point of view. You can vent and move on. You can change your approach. You can pretty much do anything when you make yourself in charge. And the truth is, about the only thing anyone is really in charge of is themselves. Because beyond that, there are always others involved. When others are involved, you don’t get to have your own way. You don’t get everything you want. And really even if you did get everything you wanted you might discover that you really didn’t want some of that stuff. Maybe you didn’t really want any of it.
Case in point – some time back I had a relationship that went terribly wrong. It was an utter shock to me and it took months for me to get over it. I was on a merry-go-round of ‘why’ questions that I asked myself daily. Why did he, why didn’t he, why can’t I….blah blah. But you know what, I realized just today that the problem was that I was asking myself the wrong questions. Because the questions I was asking were questions I could never get answered – so they could only be irrelevant. Then I started asking myself the right questions, ones I could answer. The questions centered around my actions and my motivations and I have to say I wasn’t too pleased about the answers. At least at first. But after I got over my self disappointment I just kind of shrugged and thought, ‘oh, I see.’
And I ended up relearning a truth I know and have known all along. The answer begins with you. If you don’t like your life you can change it. If you don’t like a situation, you can change it. If you don’t like anything, it can be different. You just have to ask yourself the right questions and be ready for the answers. And it’s a funny thing, when you change your mind, often magically others do too.
How do you explain something that is not? A non…quality, characteristic or state? A thing that should be there and you expect to be there that startles and confuses by it’s absolute absence?
I have grappled with this phenomena for some time now. Trying to discern error, find my mistakes and understand my utter misconceptions.
Through the internet we can find the best of worlds and the worst of worlds. We may encounter the truest of friends and the craftiest of tricksters. Though as a rule I think largely we encounter fair weather friends. Nothing wrong or unusual about that because in normal non-virtual life we encounter such people constantly. That aside, there were a few people of whom I was absolutely certain were the stuff of profound friendship. And it was these people after literally hundreds of hours of phone talk, thousands of emails and regular exchanges of gifts and cards, I ventured to meet in the real world.
Not much of a risk really because it seemed we all knew each other so very well that in fact we were all dear old friends. I truly believed that and approached the meeting with great enthusiasm. However, within moments of meeting the first ‘old friend’ something told me I was terribly mistaken. The not-there was so not there that I felt disoriented and incredulous at once. Which was immediately followed by copious amounts of denial. I had to be imagining the lack of warmth, the indifference and lightly veiled antagonism. It was travel day after all and we were tired and not ourselves, right?
And so planes were boarded and eventually landed. And baggage problems greeted us at the airport which served as a useful distraction for a time… And then onto the next friend – the one whom I’d known the longest and the best and once again the not-there appeared and that void left me scratching my head in wonder. And then the next and …. And after everyone settled in, got rest, food and sunshine the not-there did not relent.
What made it worse for me was that I could see there were connections between the others – making me wonder what awful thing I’d done to be excluded. To inspire such indifference about my presence on a trip I was encouraged greatly to take.
The week was one of the longest of my life and though I was crammed into a house full of people it seemed I was utterly alone. And I didn’t think of much else than being home among friends. I couldn’t sleep, nor eat – hell I couldn’t even make a phone call because my cell fell into a water trap at the mini golf course – effectively cutting me off from everyone.
And when the big good bye finally came it was little more than a lift to the bus station with a wave and a ‘see ya.’
For weeks afterward I told myself I imagined it or must have misunderstood. Things would soon return to normal – but no, they never did. The void simply kept growing. And eventually I had to accept that the friendship, warmth and love I’d felt simply wasn’t mutual. And that was just the truth it pure and simple. As the saying goes they just ‘weren’t that into me.’ And the reasons and explanations that might have been offered were irrelevant because it wouldn’t change the truth.
For a long time I was hurt, angry and confused and part of me wanted some sort of vindication or validation. But eventually I realized there was no point in that kind of thinking either. You cannot make another person care about you – it cannot be done (and even if it could, what value is there in that?).
So…I let go and walked away. Not an easy thing to do when you feel so invested but under the circumstances certainly the right thing to do. For all of us. I wish them all well and bear them no malice. Perhaps just a tinge of lingering sadness over it all but this is life and life is full of interesting lessons.
And make no mistake, I don’t write this any kind of cautionary tale. I have made many wonderful online friends whom I hope to meet someday too and will approach those meetings in the same way. And even if I never do, my life is better for the presence of these people.
I think I just write this to so I can put it all to rest and finally move on.
People think that L.A. is
all smog and movie stars
chatter and multiple piercings
freeways and condos
tinsel and glitter
But they don’t know about
night blooming jasmine
orange, lemon and grapefruit trees
endless green hills
canyons in camouflage
cool ocean breezes
They don’t know that
we wait for the sunsets
The certain bruising and inflaming of
the evening sky
and its wheel of never-ending colors
Until night’s curtain
pushes aside the day for
the background music
that emerges us in restful
christine’s sun sets here
clancy is watching the sun here
Back in the 90’s (I think) the term moderation took on a mantle of respectability and desirability in politics. Perhaps it was Bill Clinton who made the idea popular, although since Bill stole every platform he ever used I doubt he is the originator, but I digress…
So somewhere during the slick willie days (funny how that term has pertinent meaning today) being a moderate or approaching issues with moderation became important. Yes, moderation was goooooood – whereas sticking to political core principles was baaaaaaad.
And as is often the case, pop culture took on the mantle of moderation too. Exercise in moderation, eat in moderation, one must never over-do things. Because employing moderation is safe, everybody will like you, you won’t risk injury to your body, nor seem extreme to others.
And lately of course the non-moderate media (NMM) hails the current nominee for the Supreme Court as a moderate. A true moderate. As opposed to what? A false moderate? A pretend moderate? A moderate with exceptions? Again…I digress… Anyway, here’s the question that keeps roiling around in my head: Why is being a moderate good? Seriously, what’s so damn wonderful about moderation?
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines moderation:
transitive verb 1 : to lessen the intensity or extremeness of (the sun moderated the chill)
2 : to preside over or act as chairman of
intransitive verb 1 : to act as a moderator
2 : to become less violent, severe, or intense (the wind began to moderate)
So, essentially we see that moderation speaks to less intensity. Hmm…and this is good why? To me, intensity speaks to passion and passion speaks to commitment. A true belief or desire in what one does or says. I can certainly see why one would want to moderate electricity or water flow, because then we humans can control the darn stuff. But when it comes to people, to beliefs and to principles is moderation truly that desirable?
Isn’t moderation what got us into the whole politically correct approach to language, achievement, education, and everything. Hasn’t moderation modified us all and I mean that in a not a good way.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to address food with moderation. I love food. I don’t want to be moderate I want to embrace it with passion and enjoyment. Same with love. And really with any activity or endeavor. Otherwise why get involved at all. If one addressed everything in their life with moderation who would invent things? Who would create wildly new and exciting innovations in science, medicine, art, music, literature, technology. Do you think iPods, the Internet, automobiles, movies, and great works of art came about through moderation? Do you think that great leaders are born out of moderation? Do you think cures for diseases came from moderate individuals? Is the SuperBowl won by athletes who approach the field with moderation? How about the Olympics, are we celebrating moderation or excellence and passion?
So, then why would we want a Supreme Court Justice who was moderate? Who was dare I say it, almost bored at the prospect of serving their country and the most sacred of our documents the Constitution? Why would we want someone who would put fairness above the law?
Contrary to popular opinion, we are not a democracy. We are a republic and we use a democratic system of government – meaning, we allow individuals to participate in government and legislation and to have a voice through their individual vote.
Again I turn to Merriam Webster:
(1) : a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law
1 a : government by the people; especially : rule of the majority
And if you don’t see the difference let me point it out. A republic is governed by the rule of law – a democracy is governed by majority rule. A fine distinction perhaps but a distinction nonetheless. And that my friends is why our Constitution is so important because it is in fact, the personification of the rule of law. And thusly, that is why nominees to the Supreme Court are so important. Because we want someone who understands and adheres to the rule of law. Not someone who seeks to modify it, to make it fairer, to level the playing field, to add to it, to make it a living breathing document. What document can be that? Living and breathing? If the founders wanted the Constitution to be a living breathing document as some would have you believe then why would an entire process of amendment be included in the document itself? It is the amendment process that enables the Constitution to be changed/expanded, not some yahoo’s idea of what the document should be. And those who promote this concept of living breathing also seek to deny you your rights and the protection of the Constitution. They seek to bypass the law of making amendments which again must be ratified and agreed upon by the majority of the country – you the governed.
Whether you like it or not, our government serves at our pleasure and with that concept comes grave responsibility. If we do not insist on our government following the rule of law, we will soon be following their rules and this country will cease being a republic.
And speaking for myself, I have no interest in moderates. To me, a moderate is a person who cannot decide, who does not have any passion in their life or activities and who seeks to destroy that in others. Who seeks to nullify any personal excellence and achievement in others and prefers to force us all to be the same. All average. All boring. With every ounce of passion and individuality bred out of us.
So moderate? Exuse me while I yawn. Give me someone who is passionate about what they believe and do any day of the week.
In case you missed it, the president was quoted as saying rather than criticizing him, the tea partiers should be thanking him for lowering their taxes. Hmmmm….methinks he hasn’t been keeping track of his own broken promises. This article from Investers Business Daily does a nice recoup of all the taxes that somehow slipped the notice of the prez. Emphasis mine.
Thanks For What?
Downsizing: Rather than protesting the greatest expansion of government in U.S. history, Tea Party attendees should be thanking Big Government for all it’s done. At least, that’s what President Obama thinks.
As the Associated Press reported Thursday, the president said he was “amused” by the Tea Party faithful gathering in cities across America to protest soaring government spending, ballooning debt and the explosion in taxes that will be needed to pay for it all.
“You would think they’d be saying thank you,” he said.
And why should they be thankful? As the president himself said on his weekly radio address a week ago, “one thing we have not done is raise income taxes on families making less than $250,000; that’s another promise we kept.”
In fact, that wasn’t his promise at all.
Here’s what candidate Obama really said in September of 2008: “Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase. Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.”
Got that? “Not any of your taxes.” The claim of no tax hikes on those below $250,000 as a result of the current administration’s policies is completely and utterly false.
A report from the House Ways & Means Committee’s GOP members notes that, since January 2009, Congress and the president have enacted $670 billion in tax increases. That’s $2,100 for each person in America. At least 14 of those tax hikes, the report says, break Obama’s pledge not to raise taxes on those earning less than $250,000. Roughly $316 billion of the tax hikes — 14 increases in all — hit middle-class families, the report says.
This comes in addition to recent data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office showing U.S. spending and indebtedness growing at an alarming rate. Government spending now totals 25% of GDP, a quarter above its long-term average. By 2035, it will hit 34% of GDP at current trends — a 70% increase in the real size of government in just 25 years.
More spending means more debt. In 2008, total federal publicly held debt was about $8.5 trillion — an amount Uncle Sam took 220 years to accumulate. By 2020, that will soar to $20.3 trillion, a 139% jump. No surprise the Government Accountability Office last week said the U.S. is on “an unsustainable long-term fiscal path.”
So let’s see: The administration and its allies in Congress pass what can only be called the most financially irresponsible series of bills in our nation’s history, imposing a crushing tax burden on our children and our children’s children, while lowering all Americans’ standard of living, and we should thank them for it?
This is the delusional thinking that’s led to the Tea Party Movement’s soaring popularity. The hundreds of thousands that turned out around the country on April 15 were objecting to the systematic ruin and loss of liberty that massive fiscal irresponsibility brings.
Given all this, no one should be shocked that 52% of Americans in a recent New York Times/CBS Poll said President Obama’s policies are moving the U.S. towards socialism. It’s that serious.
The president can belittle people all he wants. That’s his prerogative. But he ignores Tea Partyers at his own political peril. They will not go away or be mollified by the usual prevarications.
Democrats ridicule Tea Party followers as yahoos, racists and illiterates, a mob willing to be led. They are anything but. Indeed, they have shown their seriousness by putting out their own “Contract From America.”
It’s a common sense document, proposing 10 concrete steps to bring sanity back to our government and make it accountable once again. Sadly, the mainstream media won’t cover it. But if you’re interested, go to http://www.thecontract.org, and see if you don’t agree.
So much for hope and change and no taxes on the middle class. WC
Back in the day of being a 9 to 5 working stiff, I found that frequently my job made me feel sick. Or perhaps it inspired me to feel sick. Thank gawd for sick days, without them there would have been no relief. Even unpaid sicks days were better than paid work days that made you sick.
On the other hand, having frequently worked in HR in my corporate (so to speak) career I sure heard some interesting sick day excuses. Real whoppers. Some of them even knee slappers.
But let’s face it, in this economy most of us grit our teeth and tell ourselves that any job is better than no job. And too, some of us are lucky to have sick days. In case you are short on possible sick day excuses I offer the following:
I’m calling in sick because…
- My stigmata is acting up
- I think I have food poisening (always a good one because it’s practically impossible to disprove)
- I think I have that 24 hour bug (I’m convinced that there really is no such thing as the 24 hour bug but rather it’s an urban legend developed by savvy sick day caller inners)
- I cracked a tooth (dicy because you’ll have to go to a dentist and they may want to know details)
- My dog, kid, spouse is sick
- My allergies are kicking up (workable only in spring and fall)
- I think I’ve been exposed to chemical warfare, toxic waste, mold (careful with this one, since employers are wary of worker comp claims)
- I have a migraine (again, good one because they come and go and nobody knows how to fix them and they aren’t seasonal)
- I injured …pick your body part (again a little risky because you’ll have to return to work in a sling, cast or brace, however, if you’re a good actor go for it)
- I’m having car trouble (this one is pretty workable, although it can backfire if someone offers to come pick you up)
- Weather (flooded streets, earthquakes, blizzards may all help in this excuse, however, if you are the only one who couldn’t get to work because it was raining, your boss probably won’t buy it)
Conversely, following are some excuses that probably aren’t recommended or believable:
I’m calling in sick because…
- I need a break from the back-stabbing blood suckers I work with.
- You people make me want to scream
- My boyfriend/girlfriend is in crisis
- My hard drive crashed
- I’m hungover
- I’m interviewing at another company
- I don’t have that project done that’s due today
- I’m going to the beach to get a headstart on my tan
- I broke a nail and need an emergency wrap
- My mother-in-law is coming for a visit and I have to clean the house
- If I take one more customer service call I’m going to puke
- I didn’t get any sleep because I was clubbing all night
- The voices told me that I should stay home
- My horoscope warns against travel today
- It’s my birthday and I’d rather have fun
- I need to go to a political rally
- I need to catch up on my tee-voe’d shows
- I’m meeting with my lawyer
While there are probably countless excuses both acceptable and unacceptable these are the ones that come to mind. Feel free to add to the list. WC
What kind of sick day is Christine having?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about depression and what drives people to it. I’m not talking about clinical depression and this is no reflection on what some people consider a serious disease. It’s more about garden variety depression, that feeling that you cannot change a circumstance no matter what you do. That things haunt you and are hard to get over. That kind of depression. Or maybe you would call it something else—no matter what you call it, it can sure be confounding.
We go through life, for the most part minding our own business and doing our best to pursue our goals and dreams. Large and small. Those things that we believe will make us happy. Of course without setbacks and obstacles, life would be rather boring, so we encounter stops and slows along the way. Sometimes, we encounter those stops in a deeply emotional way.
Someone we care for betrays us. Hurts us. Messes with our heads. It’s deep. It’s emotional. It makes you want to crawl into a hole and stay there indefinitely. After a while, it starts to affect other things, other parts of our lives—things go downhill. And suddenly it seems everything is just a big pile of shit and each day brings more shit to add to the pile.
We have searched our souls. Sought counsel. Prayed. Tried to forgive and forget. Because…well, because that’s what society expects of us. Whether through some religious philosophy or a military attitude, life tells us to suck it up and move on. Much as we’d like to, we can’t seem to. No matter what remedies are employed, logical or illogical, we simply can’t move on. We can’t forgive and forget. Why?
Certainly most of us try to be a bigger person. A better person. The lessons of Christ teach us to turn the other cheek. To bless those who trespass against us. To open our hearts with love and see that the perpetrator of our pain is also in pain. Perhaps lost. Doesn’t mean to do what they do. Is just acting out of fear or pain or something… Even the non-religious philosophy seems the same, though perhaps more crude. “Suck it up.” “There are plenty of fish in the sea.” “You’re too good for them.” “They are just jealous of you.” “Don’t waste your time and energy.” “Stop worrying about things you cannot change.” A whole litany of catch phrases designed to make us feel better and empower us. Restore our self esteem. Enable us to move into tomorrow.
Does it work? Sometimes. Maybe half the time. And sometimes just through sheer perserverance we get through it. Past it. The impact and power of the thing fades and we become immersed in other things. Though I don’t think it ever goes away. It lurks back there, in some ways affecting your future actions. Affecting how you deal with people and situations in the future. Perhaps curtailing your trust or belief in people or things. Changing you maybe in small ways, maybe in large ways but changing you.
What’s the alternative? Seriously, what choice do we have? Society prohibits us from causing bodily harm to another, no matter how much they may have hurt us. We aren’t allowed to have duels when we are insulted or hurt. We can’t punch out somebody’s lights. In short we can’t fight back. Too bad, because I believe therein lies the problem.
I believe that one of the reasons we can’t let go. Can’t move on. Can’t get past certain things is because our hands are tied. Because we can’t fight back, or at least we feel we can’t fight back. Hence the reason for lawyers? (Okay, just kidding).
Seriously though, imagine a world where when someone hurts you, you could challenge them to a duel. You could punch their lights out without being punished further. You could loudly and freely object. Doesn’t that feel better?
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t advocate violence. I honestly don’t think it solves anything. But I guess I also don’t advocate forgive and forget. I think you can fight back, retrieve your self respect and self esteem without issuing blows or black eyes. I think you can fight back with the truth.
Telling someone who had done you wrong that you forgive them, when they have done nothing to deserve forgiveness, in my opinion only acts to enable the person to continue doing wrong to others. You included. On the other hand, telling that person the truth, the unvarnished truth, without worrying about how they will respond or sugar coating anything is good for the soul. Again, no need to be violent, but honesty I think is the best weapon of all. Forget societal rules, forget about how you might sound or what others may think. Tell the truth. Tell that person or group, or whatever exactly what you think of them. Exactly what they did that was damaging. Let them carry the burden of their actions. Don’t let them get away with it. If they have any integrity, after the shock they may truly make amends for any hurt they may have caused. And if so, then you probably could quite easily forgive and forget.
You may have helped them change their ways. But even if they don’t, at least you don’t have to own what they did. You can move on. The bible even says that the truth sets you free. It’s my opinion that it does.
What do you think?