Me

Me

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

America's Dignity

        As the dusts tries to settle from a tumultuous weekend, one in which the likes I never thought I would see in my lifetime, I am stricken by the number of fellow American's who continually insist there are more "sides" to the story. We keep saying that, about everything and I will admit most of the time that is true. But we keep getting stuck on this stupid "sides" thing, a childish tit for tat thing that is used to exploit our current condition, or situation. Yes, sometimes there are two side, both deserving of attention, of explanation, of justification. Sometimes in all the kerfuffle between the "many sides" there is one clearly in the wrong, sometimes one is clearly misunderstood, sometimes, both are making the wrong moves. But, BUT, in Charlottesville this weekend there was only one side. There was a group of monsters met by one side, the American side. And because so many of you are so insistent, so intent, so complacently okay with the narrative that there were two sides, it feels positively important that I try, at the very least, to lay down a logical framework as to why that is NOT the case. Why so many felt betrayed by President Trump's initial remarks and why these wounds are not only scary, but why they will not heal. Not until we get on the "right" side of this, regardless of political affiliation, ideology, religion, skin color, gender, or sexual orientation. When you are up against Nazis, Fascists, and white supremacists, I repeat there is only ONE side to be on.

         First of all, the first amendment nowhere states that when making your speech, ideology, public gathering, opinion front and center, that you have the right to not suffer the consequences of said usage of the first amendment. You do not get a soapbox to spout without a rebuttal, whether it be immediate, or forth coming. You do not get to rally your troops for some grand march, or violent display of rage, without having to come face to face with the general public. Some of those in the general public might not appreciate this display, especially if said rage is directed at them. And what's that saying, "don't come to a gun fight with a knife"?? Don't come to your rally dressed in paramilitary gear, with automatic weapons, home-made pepper spray, and display your irrational hatred and expect everyone to roll over like a yellow lab when confronted by a giant mastiff. Most likely because rational people realize, that like little yapping dogs, many of these people's bark are no where near a slight nip. It makes it easier convey they are not wanted, the monsters have no place in our society. Uncivilized miscreants who probably simply cannot get laid, do not deserve an unchallenged voice, ever.

       Secondly and probably most importantly, when you lump all these people into "many sides" or "different sides" or "both sides" and when you say they have a right to peaceably demonstrate, "they went through the proper channels" "they have the first amendment right like everyone else," yada, yada, yada, more complacent bullshit. The only thing you are doing there is NORMALIZING their ideology. By treating them like they are just out to say their peace and move on you are being COMPLACENT. They do not have a normal conservative or right-leaning ideology. What they are saying is not normal politicking.They are advocating for the demotion of human beings, your fellow American citizens, into a sub-human species. They are DEMANDING your fellow citizens rights be TAKEN AWAY. They are advocating for the lesser treatment of American taxpayers. STOP NORMALIZING THIS MESSAGE. Standing up to them shows it will not be tolerated. Why is that so offensive to people? After scratching my head all weekend I have come to the conclusion that y'all are just confused or you secretly like/agree/(GASP)benefit from their message so why not continue on with the whole, "Well if the Anti-Fa wasn't there this wouldn't have happened." Well that is just a convenient lie, especially since the American, Heather Heyer, lost her life in a peaceful counter protest where there were no ninja dressed Anti-Fa. You know why she lost her life fighting for the rights of others.........BECAUSE NAZIS, FASCISTS, and WHITE SUPREMACISTS are CRAZY, NOT NORMAL, HORRIFYING. The list can go on and on, but they are anything but a normal American political party with a message worth spreading.

        Lastly, I got brown family members, brown and black friends, LGBTQ friends, female friends, I am a female. All of these groups are thought of as less to those who "rallied" nay tried and failed at a show of  intimidation on Saturday in Charlottesville. This is PERSONAL, and it is, has and always will be for a majority of Americans. I am proud at those who showed up to counter this utterly disgusting display of weak male-hood in our society. Had we had this kind of participation during the civil rights era, a bunch of young kids probably would not have been murdered by the likes of those KKK, Nazi, Fascists a-holes. Despite how they, and they are a they, they are THE OTHER, perceive their reality, they must know that it will never go down without a fight. Some fights are just worth fighting period. I will NEVER unite with these people and I am having a hard time uniting with those who will make excuses for them. We are one America and that one group who showed up to display that to those people/monsters in Charlottesville was the only side in this story. The end, period. So, if you find yourself ever saying, "but," or "if," or "what about," in a desperate attempt to paint a different "side" of what happened in Charlottesville, just remember who you are defending, Nazis and the KKK. Remember who lost their lives, and remember that America's dignity is at stake.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Nuances: They are Important

    What a whirlwind weekend! I got to spend a ton of time with my family for my Dad's and niece's birthday, took my nieces and nephews to the Shedd Aquarium, hit up dinner with some good friends for the first time in a long time, watched the Packer game at a neighbors, and on top of all that was the Women's March and the inauguration of the new President. The last few items on that list created a proverbial shit storm in the media and on Facebook that had me wondering, what the hell is wrong with everyone. From the whole political spectrum. From the anarchist on Friday at the the inauguration to Richard Spencer's presence, as well, both of which just makes everything worse. (That is their point, Get it?) But, what really got me was the aggressive nature of discourse. The feeling that people are spoiling for a fight, for whatever reason. Decency gone out the window, along with the hopes and dreams for so many, or, decency gone out the window to revel in the new hopes and dreams of promises made. People are increasingly talking about an echo chamber, and for the most part it is true, we are surrounding ourselves mostly with like minded people. But, I haven't unfriended anyone on Facebook, which was made clear this weekend, despite the mild manner nature and non partisan idea behind my statement, I now get why people are surrounding themselves with like minded people. It doesn't feel good to have people insult you, to constantly be talked down to, and it shouldn't happen in the first place with discourse. So, it also had me thinking some more. I am mostly fascinated by the aggression, hoping it is not the new norm. Maybe we just refuse to "get" each other because it is easier that way, but that is such a disservice to everything that America is about.

     If you know me, you know I have been essentially unemployed for a year. A WHOLE ENTIRE YEAR. I have applied for so many jobs, tweaked my resume so many times, created so many different cover letters, have had so many different interviews. Now, I am not stupid, half-way through the year, I just decided to open my own business and I have been happily working on that. However, it would just be nice to be productive and make some money while I am waiting to get things going. So, I get why American's who struggle in the economy are angry. I understand how hard it is to live in an area where it is difficult to get a job. I understand how bad it sucks to spend so much money on healthcare when you are not making any yourself. I get how lousy it feels to have such limited options open to you. I understand that things need to change and they need to change drastically. But, and this is a big but, I no more blame Rep. Paul Ryan for my predicament than I do our former President Barack Obama. I know it is partly my fault, but not totally my fault. My life decisions have been made to the best of my ability, using the best of my knowledge, doing what I thought was right since the age of 18 when I pretty much left my parents house for good. And another but. But, I get that you want to blame something. None of us are as bad as we feel we are made out to be, all of us cannot be as talent-less as this feels, no one is as useless as we may perceive in ourselves. We cannot always be entirely to blame for our predicaments in life, sometimes we are just dealt a bad hand. But, sometimes we also need to evolve. It sucks when your life doesn't always go how you want it. So, trust me when I say that when you have a chance to do something, to make a change in your life, you have to do it. All I want to say is that we have to be careful of the cost.

    For me, I cannot sit back and watch a whole entire religious group take the blame for a few bad men, because there are consequences to that sort of rhetoric. I do not want to sit back and see a whole neighboring country be disparaged because the richest of our economy have been taking advantage of their labor for decades, because there are consequences of that rhetoric. I do not want to see productive members of our society forced to hide or sit on the fringes because their lifestyle is different, because there are consequences to that rhetoric. I also do not want my ability to decide my fate, make choices for myself, be left out of the negotiating table because of my gender. The consequences to that last one are grave for me, not everyone, but for me and a few other it is. Not everything is black and white. We must make concessions to the nuances that govern our every day life. You do not put the same amount of salt in cookies that you would a pot roast. Salt requires different amounts depending on what you are cooking. If we cannot compromise on how much salt we are using in our food would be destroyed or inedible. It might be a stupid comparison to you, but we got to this ugliness because compromise became a bad word. We started playing a zero-sum game, and now the consequences are playing out and I for one do not like how this world is turning. There is too much effing salt out there and people need chill out. I am a big proponent of having political parties. Understand this. WE WOULD NOT BE A DEMOCRACY IF WE DID NOT HAVE MORE THAN ONE POLITICAL PARTY. I tell my own mother that on a weekly basis. If we are going to have a working democracy we need to stop thinking someone who has different ideas, unless they are anarchist or Richard Spencer, are inherently evil or want the worst for people.

     For example, abortion. I get how abhorrent the idea sounds, especially when hearing the awesome emotional terminology people use surrounding the issue. Despite that, I am very much pro-choice, as are most people I roll with. But, I guarantee most of them would never get one. What I fear most, is dying because of complications with the fetus and not having that as an option. Which happened here  http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-20321741 and here  http://www.cosmopolitan.com/sex-love/a7025177/italy-woman-doctor-abortion-refusal-death/ And that for me is two deaths too many because we are incapable of having nuanced ideas about this topic. I know a handful of women whose lives become at risk when they become pregnant, by choice or due to failed birth control. Do their lives not matter? When do we stop? So I dislike, that one prominent conservative blogger, whose hatred I despise and every time his blog is shared by someone I know I shutter with literal pain in my heart, grouped the millions of people who march around the world on Saturday under the umbrella of horrible women's rights abortionist who, are "whining" and "incoherently" demanding rights. That blog was about as valuable as Madonna's expletive laden speech. Meaning both of them were utterly worthless. This is what we have to work with people. These are the people who get the attention. These are supposed to be the voices that represent both sides. These are the voices who rally us to hate, to vitriol, and worst of all these are the voices who validate the worst of our emotions. I am not saying we have to love each other like some damn hippies, but if you cannot see a problem with this then just ignore everything I have written here, because right now you probably are angry and refuse to believe there is a problem.

    So, as a result we are all forgotten men and women, all the time, no matter who is President. We always have been. Study the history of the world and you will understand our insignificance on this planet, in this world, and in our own lifetimes. It is why people turned to religion, which is now often used as an excuse to exclude. It is why people formed communities, which are now just stopping points on our hours long commutes every day after working ridiculous hours for pittances. It is why we clung to our families, who now half the people are not talking to each other because we are all participating in this stupid zero-sum game in which we allow our emotions to over take our logic when forming our ideologies. So now, we are still forgotten but we just aggressively dislike those who disagree with us. We attack peoples character instead of discussing ideas. But, as long as we keep doing that, then we will remain forgotten and the same people who have always been in power will continue to be in power and nothing will change. Rights will be eroded for people you probably love, but because we will not compromise, because this is zero-sum, right or wrong, black and white, we will all remain forgotten. While we continue to fight each other in battles that mean nothing to us, but everything to those people who benefit them, we will be forgotten. It doesn't matter if it is the 100 Years War, the Crimean War, or the Vietnam War. We will be used as distractions and fodder for those who benefit. But, who is all to blame in this?? Is it the politicians? The rich? Both? Us? Our desire for more, our needs and wants? Our entitlements? I do not know, but we are now just seeing this cycle play out more aggressively than normal because we are allowing our tightly held convictions be used as validation to attack those we know. We are trying to put each other into place, but we refuse to acknowledge the only place we are all headed is down.    

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Damn Year in Review

    It is that time of the year again. The time where Facebook comes out with their, "Year in Review" videos. All it does is remind me that another years passed without much accomplished. Which of course had me reminiscing about probably one of my weirdest years yet. And it wasn't necessarily a good year, but it also wasn't necessarily a bad year. 2016 just felt like a year where I didn't go anywhere. Like I sat in a glass snow globe and watched the world turn without me and life go on, on the outside. This, of course, led me to start thinking about what it was that was off about my year and oddly enough, I thought about my yoga class last Friday morning. Clearly weird, but then I stumbled across a word that helped me put my thoughts into perspective.

     Last Friday morning in class, the instructor asked for two super hard poses to work towards. My back has been messed up for months, seriously putting a damper on my life and my right leg is now smaller than my left and it is freaking me out, but getting back to the point, for lack of a better term I have been taking the old lady classes. So when someone, another instructor, shouted out "bird of paradise" I was stoked. Not sure if I was ready for that pose, but figured I could at least try to get to a pose that a year ago was no sweat to me. Then it hit it me, it was going to be more difficult because I was in the back the row, meaning, I had to look forward and hopefully avoid looking at the wobbling figure in front of me. But, I put myself in the back row, purposefully. My confidence is low, fitness lost and I have been wanting to hide. It is just in general hard for me to get focused on me these days in a classroom full of loud breathers, moaners, and wobblers. I was nervous that I would have a hard time BALANCING if I watched the lady in front of me shake her way into some sort of modified "bird of paradise." But, I put myself behind her on purpose, it was a frustrating thought. So today, as I sit here thinking about what made 2016 so odd, I go back to that pose and think of the total and utter lack of balance. Not only did I have a hard time with balance, it seems our world did as well, and since I am always effected by those around me, I let other off-balanced people effect my balance, just like in yoga. I have been doubly off-balanced by things I can control and things that I cannot.

      It has been a year of learning and realization. It has been a year of disappointment, self struggle, loss of love, missed friendships, physical and mental setbacks, and of multiple steps backward. However, it has also been a year of new experiences, new friendships, new adventures, hard work, and most of all a little acceptance. What this year hasn't been is quiet, steady, or even keeled. But, that lack of balance has helped me to understand me, my faults, and my strengths and it is hard to be mad at that. (Though it still feels like 2016 had a dark cloud over it.) If we know ourselves better, maybe we can be more forgiving, not just of ourselves but of others. The chaos created by being out of balance is a quiet chaos, but now that I see it everything just feels manic for lack of a better term. Everything is either/or, politically, economically, culturally, in our daily lives. You are either in, or you are out. There seems to be no room for anything but. This year seems to be about the overall creation of a zero-sum game. With that creation we are robbing ourselves of balance, which leads to anger and general malaise.

       As the year comes to an end, I can't help but think of a quote from a book that I recently read called Shantaram. Long, a little too fantastical to be based on real life, but an okay book overall. This one idea really got to me, because as I struggle with my lack of balance, some melancholic feelings about things and people, it struck me as not only true, but okay. It is a concept that is pulling me back into balance, because I cannot help be anything other than me. I cannot control anyone else's balance, but I can control how much their balance effects me by focusing what I have to offer to remain in the game of life. As Lin says, "Love, like respect isn't something you get; it is something you give." As I looked for the indulgences known as affirmation and reciprocation in 2016, I lost my balance and it hurt. But, I am good at loving, and being vulnerable, and being open, and since I am literal, genuine. The realization that those are not necessarily going to be reciprocated actually feels peaceful and surprisingly, not personal. With that in mind, I am looking forward to friends, family, and new experiences in 2017 and to giving without expectation. I am just sorry it took me so long to realize that :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Stop It

         Listen, being unhappy with the results of the election does not make you anti- or un- American. It doesn't make you lazy, it doesn't make you a sore loser, and it doesn't mean that many of us do not have fair grievances for what happened last night. Just like if you voted for Donald Trump it doesn't necessarily mean you are a racist, or a misogynist. It probably means that you just wanted change, despite not much change happening in the senate or the congress, but that is a conversation for another day. Just like I can recognize that not all Donald Trump supporters are as mentioned above, racist or misogynist, people need to understand that for many of us, Donald Trumps message of change did NOT resonate louder than his, well, "other" message. What I wanted from this election is.....

            I want to live in a nation where it is okay to be Muslim, or Jewish, just as much as it is okay to be Catholic or Episcopalian. The real and threatening language that has been directed towards those groups deserves to be addressed and not swept under the rug because people on Facebook want this to be "over." The very real fear that has been instilled in both groups is undeserved and for many preserving their daily life felt dependent on this election, and they are still living in uncertainty. People of different faiths deserve to live their lives in peace in this country.

            I want to live in a nation where journalist can cover events without fear of retribution. Where journalist, even if they lean right or left, are respected and allowed to be included in the conversations that shape this nation. I want the press room in the White House to always be full, I want newspapers to always have the scoop, I want the network anchors to always be able to tell the story without the threat of censorship. We deserve to have a strong and active press corp who upholds and reflects our right to free speech, always.

            I want to live in a nation where LGBT kids are not threatened with bogus conversion therapy. Because, for one it is not a real thing, and two, there is nothing wrong with them. I want my friends and family who are married to partners of the same sex be able to be by their side in times of need. To always be recognized as who they are, live every other married couple living their lives. I do not want them to fear that the sanctity of their unions can be wiped away. People in this country deserve the right to love who they love without question. They have a right be treated with equality and respect.

           I want to live in a nation where my life is not threatened by an non-viable pregnancy. I do not want women to be punished, physically, mentally, or emotionally for making a choice about her health and body. Even one woman who dies because of abortion bans is too many. When women are dying in places like Italy, Ireland, and Poland despite having amazing medical care, but the inability to have a life saving abortion performed, and American's continue to avoid that part of the discussion, I and many other women will live in fear. No one has a right to my body but me, when that is taken away what will we as women have left?

          I want to live in a nation that recognizes it was founded by immigrants and continues to be welcoming to immigrants. Our immigrant community, be it Somali, Syrian, Hmong, or any other nation, contribute to our vibrant country. They deserve our compassion and kindness, not our hatred or disgust of another. I do not want people fleeing from war, hunger, or political strife to have to carry that fear with them here. It does not seem right that children of immigrants fear being sent back. My heart broke last night when my seven year old nephew asked if he is going to have to live in Pakistan now. No one should ever have to feel like they are unwanted despite being citizens.

       I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the new President-elect that he can govern for everyone like he promised this morning. But, these are very real issues to very real Americans. Things have been said, innuendo has been made and in some cases action unfortunately has been taken. A little empathy could go a long way with "healing the divide" that everyone talks about. If we as a nation are unwilling to even acknowledge this, to discuss that what went down, too many people will be living the next four years in fear. You many of voted for him in an effort for change, but many did not vote for him out of fear that they will not be able to go about their daily lives. The travesty remains that people do not want to talk about this, or think we should sweep it under the rugs. Again, I am not going to remain silent about it. I do hope for change, I hope that these fears are unfounded, but I cannot and will not remain silent.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Word

   

So, when I was in high school and undergrad I loved those class discussions about World War II. They always fascinated me and the older and more studied I became there was always something about the events and circumstances that I just could not understand and it always stemmed from the same idea that has ruminated in my head since I first thought it in eight grade. So it was with that idea rattling around in my brain that I went about studying the subject. It was with great relief when I realized in my first graduate seminar on the topic, that it was an actual academic issue that colored many scholar's study of the Holocaust more specifically than just World War II. That issue being, who was at fault. The German government or the whole country, every person. What always fascinated me in earlier classes was how quickly other students would feign disgust at the idea that people could so idly sit by while their neighbors were being massacred. And I always refrained from giving my opinion on it, because there are many circumstances involved and the one thing you cannot ever do use hindsight as justification in determining your moral fiber. The honest truth is that no one knows what they would have done in 1933 Germany, 1937 Germany, 1944 Germany and so on and so forth. We can be disgusted about what happened, we can question why opposition was so low, (Gestapo was effective, people ratted out their neighbors, as American's we do not give enough credit to resistance fighters because it takes away from our own narrative as the hero, and so on and so forth) and we most certainly can be abhorred that people participated. But, there is one thing no one can say with certainty and that is, "Well, I would never have stood for/done/accepted/participated.....in said event." The only thing that you will ever know is what you are doing in the present and what you personally did in the past.


That being said, we are on the last day of our current presidential election cycle and for me, speaking out against someone I think is truly dangerous, not only to my family, but to our democracy, to our history, to our rights, and to our freedoms is pretty damn important. I keep seeing people on Facebook being upset that people are vocal about this election. That politics is just politics and people need to relax. And yes, that is usually true every four years and in all honesty the president actually has relatively little bearing on your every day world. However, and this is a giant HOWEVER, we have never had a presidential candidate so close to winning that continues insult women, demonize Muslims, harass immigrants, debase handicap people, threaten the future family of our LGBT citizens. At the very least this person will represent the American people to the world, and I for one am appalled that this rhetoric is accepted by one of the most influential political parties in the country. I am appalled that now, not one but two or the world's most popular religions are being insulted, since the Jewish community has been added to the list. We are a country with freedom of religion. I am appalled that the journalist of this country are being threatened, despite our freedom of the press which is our assurance that we will be informed, and that our government HAS to be transparent. I am personally angered for my Muslim family members, my immigrant friends, and anyone else who has been treated as a second class citizen by Mr. Trump. This is the time to speak out and it is my right. Sorry, but this is more important that showing pictures of my dog, food, husband, or whatever non-important thing I did last Saturday.


If you think it is OK because Mr. Trump is anti-establishment, think again. He has continually benefited from being a white, rich male. There is nothing anti-establishment about that, zero. He has never been on the outside looking in. He has benefited greatly from our political system, tax system, justice system, economic system, and popular culture form of entertainment. We do not get to throw human decency out the window because we feel like we are getting screwed by a government your friends and neighbors voted for 2, 4, or 6 years ago. But what I can tell you, what is an immediate threat for me, is this nugget of knowledge that effects me personally EVERY DAMN DAY. It is why I feel the need to speak out and it is why many others do as well.


             "The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, found at least 260 hate crimes targeting Muslims in 2015 ― nearly an 80 percent rise from 2014, and the greatest number of such crimes in any year since 2001.

              Researchers in that report also found an 87.5% increase in hate crimes against Muslims in the days directly following Trumps proposal to ban Muslims from entering the U.S."


*(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lawyers-blame-alt-right-for-clients-death-threats-against-muslims_us_581c9e9be4b0e80b02c93e24)


What bothers me immediately is that despite being 2016, we still live in a nation that still espouses a certain type of rape culture where men feel permitted to even comment on a woman's body. (ahem Harvard Soccer team) To the point where it is just peachy keen that we have a presidential candidate who does it on a regular basis and it is dismissed as nothing but a boys will be boys mentality. A mentality that makes it A-okay for rape victims to be blamed or dismissed because, "they drank too much," or "wore slutty cloths."


Because, here is the deal. WORDS HAVE POWER. Words have the power to vilify, words have the power to shame, and worst of all words have the power to act as agency in the expression of anger, real or manufactured. A shift in our culture is not a license to suspend the rights of minorities, religious or color of skin or sexual orientation. A shift in our demographic population does not give us a right to harden our hearts against our fellow citizens casting aside a group of people as second class citizens. The only person who made this election personal is the one on the ballot tomorrow. So yes, with so much at stake, I will speak out. I will post about it on Facebook. You should feel uncomfortable with him, we all should feel uncomfortable with this. Listen, we need a working Republican/Conservative Party. That is not the issue here. This is not about being a conservative or a liberal. I am disgusted for my die hard Republican friends who are suffering through the agony of this election cycle knowing they cannot vote for this man. At this point it is about human decency. What is the issue is the fact that right now a narcissistic demagogue is the face of that party. We cannot allow any more hate to permeate our great experiment. We cannot let this man become the suicide of our democracy. My family deserves better and so does yours. And I can live with myself in 2016 and the fact that I did speak out against Donald Trump's hatred. I know where I stand today in the face of someone threatening my family, friends, and fellow citizens.

Monday, October 17, 2016

To be or not to be: In Control

       Everyday most of us strive to live the life that best suits our needs, be them immediate or long term. I need coffee to wake up. It is immediate and even though its a normative, minuscule task, I still only exert a certain amount of control in my even being able to complete the process in order to make sure I get coffee. There could have been some accident rendering my water supply contaminated. My dog could have jumped up and broke my coffee maker, the Starbucks or deli down the street could have burned down. There are things beyond my control that could totally paralyze my ability to meet my need for coffee. Now, it probably seems like a stupid example, but if our tiny needs through out the day are not 100% in our control, the bigger ones are even more complex. And this is what has been rattling around in my brain. How much control do we actually have, and furthermore, how much do our desires to control our own outcomes effect other people?
 
     I get the concept of control and how appealing it is psychologically. You can decided what happens, avoid the bad, be better, do better, have better. Get what you want when you want because you are in control. It is safe, it is easy, and more importantly it is something that you wholly own. It is yours. Your own concept of control is enacted by your own definition of it. But, the dichotomy of control and controlling is often put on the back burner, mostly not even realized. Because, as I stated from above, how much does our desire for control effect other people? Our relationships within the family, marital, friendships, and so forth. If we are each and solely in control or our lives, then when we intersect there are two independent forces fighting for control. No matter how much we refuse to admit it or realize it. It is scary for many to acquiesce their control. Look at backseat drivers, people who criticize the most mundane tasks like cooking. How does one reconcile the big ones?

     Admittedly I think about this a lot because sometimes control is over rated. It makes us too hard on ourselves and too hard on other people. "If he could just control his feelings he wouldn't be in this mess." "All she has to do is exert a bit of control and she could have what she wants." When dealing with other people the idea of control lets us off the hook, we get to write off their failures as their own fault. Why should we be bothered with feelings of sympathy or empathy because someone was lax in their control. On a personal level, and especially in America, we are saddled with expectations of perfection. Ideologically individualized, constantly driven by the concept of not having anyone to blame but ourselves. I think its utterly preposterous. We want to control our lives but we have to be careful. At the same time we have to display effusive amounts of gratitude for "what we have," in total spite of how we might be feeling at that moment or years down the road. This renders the idea of real control utterly mute, and it is even more glaring when we are intersecting with other people. Control as a double edge sword sucks, and is especially susceptible to sucking depending on who is wielding it. Despite desiring control of our lives we are still help up to normative standards of our society, which makes us desperately cling to our control even more, scaring the shit out of people who feel out of control and so on and so forth. Fast forward to anxiety and a host of other problems.

       Is control a useful tool in holding ourselves accountable? Very much so. Does it help us to reach our goals and stay on track? Absolutely. All I wish is for us to remember the downsides when we hold on to it too rigidly. When we rest on our control like it is some sort of Puritanical laurel of achievement. Ironically too many Americans consider our nation to be a Christian one, if that were ultimately the truth, the need for control would diminish. We wouldn't need it because we have faith. What amuses me about the idea of control is that fact that I have a pretty total lack of said faith, but no strong desire to fight and push for my version of control. It is probably lazy on my part but I want to be forgiving of myself and those around me. I see the world as so interconnected there is just no way that my own actions will ever solely effect just me no matter how hard I try or how little I think about the effects of my actions. I also want to see life changing and I want to give myself permission to change with it and those around me as well. So as Ralph Ellison said in Invisible Man, “Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.” We can try to be the most perfect human being, the best versions of ourselves, exert the utmost amount of control in the process, but after all, we are only human beings. We are all on the precipice of defeat because that is what it means to be human and fallible. 

To be or not to be: In Control

       Everyday most of us strive to live the life that best suits our needs, be them immediate or long term. I need coffee to wake up. It is immediate and even though its a normative, minuscule task, I still only exert a certain amount of control in my even being able to complete the process in order to make sure I get coffee. There could have been some accident rendering my water supply contaminated. My dog could have jumped up and broke my coffee maker, the Starbucks or deli down the street could have burned down. There are things beyond my control that could totally paralyze my ability to meet my need for coffee. Now, it probably seems like a stupid example, but if our tiny needs through out the day are not 100% in our control, the bigger ones are even more complex. And this is what has been rattling around in my brain. How much control do we actually have, and furthermore, how much do our desires to control our own outcomes effect other people?
 
     I get the concept of control and how appealing it is psychologically. You can decided what happens, avoid the bad, be better, do better, have better. Get what you want when you want because you are in control. It is safe, it is easy, and more importantly it is something that you wholly own. It is yours. Your own concept of control is enacted by your own definition of it. But, the dichotomy of control and controlling is often put on the back burner, mostly not even realized. Because, as I stated from above, how much does our desire for control effect other people? Our relationships within the family, marital, friendships, and so forth. If we are each and solely in control or our lives, then when we intersect there are two independent forces fighting for control. No matter how much we refuse to admit it or realize it. It is scary for many to acquiesce their control. Look at backseat drivers, people who criticize the most mundane tasks like cooking. How does one reconcile the big ones?

     Admittedly I think about this a lot because sometimes control is over rated. It makes us too hard on ourselves and too hard on other people. "If he could just control his feelings he wouldn't be in this mess." "All she has to do is exert a bit of control and she could have what she wants." When dealing with other people the idea of control lets us off the hook, we get to write off their failures as their own fault. Why should we be bothered with feelings of sympathy or empathy because someone was lax in their control. On a personal level, and especially in America, we are saddled with expectations of perfection. Ideologically individualized, constantly driven by the concept of not having anyone to blame but ourselves. I think its utterly preposterous. We want to control our lives but we have to be careful. At the same time we have to display effusive amounts of gratitude for "what we have," in total spite of how we might be feeling at that moment or years down the road. This renders the idea of real control utterly mute, and it is even more glaring when we are intersecting with other people. Control as a double edge sword sucks, and is especially susceptible to sucking depending on who is wielding it. Despite desiring control of our lives we are still help up to normative standards of our society, which makes us desperately cling to our control even more, scaring the shit out of people who feel out of control and so on and so forth. Fast forward to anxiety and a host of other problems.

       Is control a useful tool in holding ourselves accountable? Very much so. Does it help us to reach our goals and stay on track? Absolutely. All I wish is for us to remember the downsides when we hold on to it too rigidly. When we rest on our control like it is some sort of Puritanical laurel of achievement. Ironically too many Americans consider our nation to be a Christian one, if that were ultimately the truth, the need for control would diminish. We wouldn't need it because we have faith. What amuses me about the idea of control is that fact that I have a pretty total lack of said faith, but no strong desire to fight and push for my version of control. It is probably lazy on my part but I want to be forgiving of myself and those around me. I see the world as so interconnected there is just no way that my own actions will ever solely effect just me no matter how hard I try or how little I think about the effects of my actions. I also want to see life changing and I want to give myself permission to change with it and those around me as well. So as Ralph Ellison said in Invisible Man, “Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.” We can try to be the most perfect human being, the best versions of ourselves, exert the utmost amount of control in the process, but after all, we are only human beings. We are all on the precipice of defeat because that is what it means to be human and fallible.