Fracturing

I haven’t spent much time on social media lately. I don’t have the energy. See, my newsfeed is falling apart, becoming factions more and more specific to a particular mindset. No one is listening anymore. The media certainly doesn’t help. They get viewership by creating conflict of some sort. CNN recently upset an entire nation, mentioning the POTUS’s trip to his father’s homeland as a trip into a terrorism hotbed. Why did they do that? Because it’s what they think people want to hear, because it’s scary, because people are far more likely to tune in if the news is bad. Once again, I remind you, Ted Turner tried a good news program, and no one watched. Oh, everyone thought it was a good idea, but no one watched. No, instead people want to see trauma and tragedy, violence and sex, and feel better about their own lives or own decisions, on why they arm themselves to the teeth, and think everyone else (just like them, of course, can’t have the wrong people getting armed – just don’t take away MY guns*) should do the same. All teachers, all medical professionals, anyone who has to deal with the scary people in those places where they themselves don’t live, they should be strapped at all times, in the event someone who is on the news all the time as a dangerous criminal (i.e. everyone else) comes along and starts shooting. Sure, that makes perfect sense. Just shoot ’em all and let God sort ’em out. Of course, there’s always the belief that this country was founded on Christian values, and that any special laws that exist should support that, especially since they are taking over, whenever they is a group that is considered The Enemy (homosexuals, Muslims, atheists, progressive Christians, the Pope, et cetera).

Oh, the other side isn’t immune to this stupidity, make no mistake about that. It’s just right now, the groups who support this brand of inequality are in charge. It changes, of course, although I don’t recall a time in history where it was quite this extreme in the other direction. Yes, there are those who would disagree, who point to laws that level the playing field for the disenfranchised, to social support nets and the odd person who makes a lot of money on them. Many of them appear to be the ones who now believe the Pope is a tool of the Left. That equal rights doesn’t mean everyone has the right to be who they are in public, because it’s icky. That it’s okay to refuse service to someone that you don’t want in your establishment, for religious reasons.

Fear, ignorance, and hate. That’s what those things are. I’m tired of seeing it on my newsfeed. I don’t unfriend those people, though, because I want to know what the fringes – either side – are thinking. I don’t rely on Fox news any more than I do The Huffington Post; neither have the best track record for unbiased reporting. I want to see what they’re saying how they’re pandering to the fears of their viewership/readership, because I want to know what stupidity will be spewing out of the mouths of those who wish to be told what to think.

So, I’ve spent less time on Facebook than I have in the past. And it’s getting worse. Why? Because others who are tired of it are also taking a vacation from it. So that leaves those who wish to be heard, who are “right” while everyone else is wrong, although they certainly don’t mean to divide, as long as everyone agrees, we’ll get along, free speech and all, you know.

I don’t have the energy to deal with it. I have enough on my plate. I make appearances, but I don’t spend anything like a significant amount of time there anymore. People who I thought were rational (on either side) are becoming less so. There are still those who are capable of thought, who express their opinions with supported facts, rather than twisting them to their liking, but they’re leaving, too.

It’s easy to find an opinion that supports your own, easy to find someone who will be happy to use facts to show just how right they are, perhaps leaving out little tidbits that might prove otherwise. I’m sure there will be those who’ve decided I’m picking on one side more than another, and there’s some truth to that. I’m not perfect, I have my own biases. Not my stance, necessarily, but my willingness to listen to other sides, other points-of-view. Mind you, I already make an effort to do that. My opinion on certain issues has changed, too, because of it. It’s also become strengthened in other areas.

Remember when you were a kid and your parents yelled at you for something? Did it change your behavior? Why? Because you knew it was wrong, or because you were afraid of making your parents angry again? Now, remember a time when someone calmly explained to you what behavior they don’t like, and for what reasons, and you changed? Why? Because they appealed to your sense of fairness and trusted you to be able to think for yourself. Did it work every time? No, of course not. But it was a decision based on information, not fear, not ignorance, and not hate.

Listen to each other, okay? Don’t confuse waiting for your turn to talk with listening. Deciding exactly what’s wrong with the other person’s point of view is not listening; you’ve already made up your mind. Just listen. Doesn’t mean you have to change your mind.

Think before you speak or type. Maybe we can stop this fracturing before it’s too late.

2015-07-22 Party in the Park_0075a2
Reflections along the Ohio River

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*These overreaching gun laws that the current POTUS is supposed to have passed, that disarm everyone…where are they? Since 2008, how many people have had their arms taken away, hmm?

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Family Reunion

Summer finally showed up. It’s been raining for days and days, not really getting up to 80 degrees throughout the month of June and half of July. Monday and Tuesday even included some pretty nasty storms that knocked out power. I lost power myself on Tuesday, although only for a few hours. Some people hadn’t had power since the night before. Friday, the thunder was loud enough that it felt like a small earthquake. Houses shook all over the city. That was a weird one. Earlier that day, however, it was oppressively hot and humid (gotta have the combination). So was yesterday. When we had our family reunion at the park. Miserable and fun at the same time. I took pictures, of course, but it’s family, and they haven’t seen them yet, so sorry, nothing here.

2015-07-04 Family Fourth_0062b01
Timing is everything.

The 4th was a Saturday this year. That means I didn’t get a day off that week. Sure, I have a floating holiday to do with as I please, giving me 3 weeks vacation this year (whoo hoo – ya’ll over there in Europe are jealous, aren’t you?). Fifteen days of my very own, three of which I bought, well, four, actually, if you count my ArtsWave membership, plus holidays. Which are about impossible to get off unless you ask early. And often. The 4th was at my father’s house, watching the displays of others who’d driven to Tennessee or further to get the good stuff. Much cheaper than getting our own. We had our own, of course, but still…

For vacation, well, I did get to take more than a week off for the family vacation to Myrtle Beach, so that was nice. Didn’t get to spend as much time with the whole family as when we were in Daytona, which made me a little sad, but still, it was Myrtle Beach and not here. Work was, predictably, a nightmare when I returned. We were already overloaded; my co-workers did what they could, of course, but there’s only so much a body can do with their own work, much less someone else’s. Been in recovery mode ever since.

So much has happened in the world, although I’ve not been a part of it lately. The ESPY awards were on, with an apparent focus on cancer. Lauren Hill’s parents accepted her award for best moment of the year, that November evening when she went out on the court for the first time as a Mt. St. Joseph basketball player. Not the last time. She made sure of that. I was so proud of her parents. I bet she would have been, too. And Devon Still…oh man, if you weren’t at least sniffling a little, trying not to cry, you’re not human. The audience was a wreck. With Lauren Hill, it was a little different. The audience was still very moved, but she was an adult. There’s something about a sick child that hits every caregiving gene we have. Just about no one wants to see a child suffering. There are some sick bastards out there who do, sadly, but they aren’t the majority, not by a long shot.

And of course there’s Caitlyn Jenner, with the Arthur Ashe award for courage. I’m still a bit torn on that one. On the one hand, coming out like that, becoming her true self, that took tremendous courage. I can’t even imagine the amount of strength of character it took. Her family supports her, too, and I know that helps. Actually, you know what? I think I’ve just decided where I stand on this. Not that it matters one way or the other; I’m not on the committee who decides who gets what award, but I suppose I’m just telling myself.

As Army Behavioral Specialist, Joey Vicente says, what if her speech saved a life? I should listen to my own arguments. Not sure if it’s something I believed from a previous life, or what. Probably something to do with my own past biases. No one’s perfect, after all, wouldn’t be human. Caitlyn Jenner is a hero. Period. and whomever ESPN chooses to honor with which awards, well, that’s their prerogative. The fact that it was so well advertised for a solid month points to a bit of courage on the part of ESPN and their majority shareholder, Disney. Can’t help but think Walt’s spinning in his grave or freezer or whatever.* He wasn’t a fan of those light in the loafers, as they may have said back then. The concept that gender and sexuality are not the same thing was probably beyond him. Neither here nor there. Disney is now firmly in the human rights support camp.

The Confederate battle flag came down. The SC statehouse flew that on public grounds for a long time. That flag may represent heritage to some, but to many others, it represents segregation, separation, slavery, white supremacy, Jim Crow, inequality, lack of justice, and only being counted as 3/5 of a person. An awful lot of people use it to represent exactly that. Far as I’m concerned, this recent protest says it all. I’m not saying that Confederate memorials should be torn down, rather that as a symbol of division, one of the worst in our nation’s short history, it doesn’t belong on the state capitol grounds. Keep the memorials. Keep the state flags that were inspired by, in part at least, that flag. That’s part of our history. Choose carefully, with thought and reflection, how best to display it. The speed with which southern politicians, republicans in particular, acted to comply tells me an awful lot of them were looking for a way to separate themselves from that flag, to get it off the grounds. There wasn’t much fight in them. Not for that.

It’s been a long summer, and it’s only half over. Back-to-school sales are beginning, though, and the days are growing shorter. This summer will end, and all the controversies will be buried by other controversies, real and manufactured, in time. Right now, though, I’ll just keep away from the news. I have enough stress in my life.

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*Yes, I know good old Walt isn’t actually frozen.