Announcement! A book is on the way!!

That’s right! I’m writing a book! The intent of the book is to share how I went from depressed, unhealthy, suicidal, anxious, hopeless and useless to energetic, clear, confident, healthy, excited to live, and created a life I don’t want to escape from. I’ll be sharing how others can do the same!

It’s about realizing how our lives are a result of our programming and our choices, and how we can change and upgrade both!

I have finished the outline and one chapter. The rough draft should be done in about a month. Then, about three weeks for editing and getting the cover done, then one month for pre-launch buzz. Three months, and then launch!!

About one month before launch, I will be considering interested people for a launch team to help with spreading the word. Please let me know in the comments if you might be interested. Those who are accepted will receive a free copy of the book and more!

I’m excited to finally get off my ass and write a book!

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Lack of Inclusion is Not Exclusion

A lack of inclusion is often conflated with being intentionally excluded. Somehow, society got the idea that there must be mandatory inclusion for everyone in everything. No one could ever be left out of anything, regardless of whether they were even capable of being included, or if it was appropriate or applicable.

In social media, this expectation of inclusion is everywhere. For example, if someone posts that a particular diet helped them in several ways, almost invariably, someone with comment that such a diet wouldn’t work for them due to their personal dietary restrictions.

If the shoe doesn’t fit, don’t try to put it on.

“A good rule of thumb is: if it doesn’t apply, walk on by!”

Why would someone feel the need to make such a comment? If it doesn’t apply to them, mentioning that is not only a waste of everyone’s time, but it’s pointless. It’s just a way to say, “What about ME?” A good rule of thumb is: if it doesn’t apply, walk on by!

Sometimes people get indignant on the behalf of others. “Well, what about the people who can’t eat that diet?” Well, then they don’t eat it. End of story. It’s as if not addressing every possible contingency, then you must be some kind of “-ist”.

Lack of inclusion is not exclusion. Not everything applies to everyone, and it is unrealistic to try to make things apply to everyone.

Of course, we shouldn’t arbitrarily or intentionally exclude anyone. However, if a situation naturally excludes you, it’s not personal. It’s not intentionally excluding you or singling you out. It’s not a way to keep anyone down.

If it’s not about you, don’t make it about you.

“You aren’t entitled to everyone taking your situation into account.”

If someone sends out an open invitation to a walk-a-thon or race for a charity fundraising event, it’s not ableist if some are unable to participate due to a physical disability. If you can’t race, it’s not a personal attack against you. The exclusion is situational, not intentional. You are not being ostracized. It’s not about you in any way. You aren’t entitled to everyone taking your situation into account.

Rather than making it about you by complaining and making accusations of imagined exclusion, do something constructive like share the info about the fundraiser so that others can attend in your stead. That helps the charity, and you’re doing a good deed rather than wallowing in intentional victimhood.

Other options are to start your own fundraiser that people in your situation can take part in. Or just donate to the cause instead of doing the race. You can also simply ignore the whole thing. Anything is better than acting like a victim because you couldn’t be included due to circumstance.

Exclusion is not necessarily discrimination.

Nobody can be included in everything. An alcoholic would not be able to go to a wine tasting. Should the winery provide non-alcoholic grape juice? Then, what would a diabetic sample? Plus, the winery is providing a tasting of their own products, not providing a general free beverage service. There’s no reason for them to take anyone into account except people who could potentially become customers.

I’ve seen people go up to food trucks that specialize in barbecued meats and complain that there are no vegan options, even when a vegan food truck was just a few feet away. As a vegan myself, I would never think of doing this. I’d go to the vegan truck or somewhere completely different. It would be just as silly for a carnivore to complain to the vegan truck that they don’t serve chicken.

Going up to a truck that specializes in things I don’t eat and expecting that they start making things I can eat is not only ridiculously selfish and entitled, it’s ignorant. Food trucks have limited space and limited funds. It would be a massive burden to them to add stuff to their menu, change their signage, buy the ingredients, and double their equipment so that they have stuff that isn’t in contact with meat. In short, the request would be monumentally stupid. It would be akin to going to a Taylor Swift concert and yelling, “Hey, this music isn’t what I like. Play some Judas Priest!”

What you want, what you need, and how you feel is your responsibility.

Whatever it is that you want and need in life, it is entirely your responsibility to seek out options that work for you, wherever you can find them. No one has to cater to your needs. If a place doesn’t have something for you, move on. If a conversation doesn’t include you, oh well. As long as it’s not a legal requirement for someone to provide what you need, people are allowed to include or exclude whoever they want.

Like the sign says at so many establishments: “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”. You also have that right. You don’t need to cater to the needs of everyone. It would be impossible to take every possible situation into account anyway.

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Convincing Is Not Educating

Educating is teaching someone a fact. Swaying someone to agree with your opinion on something is not educating them. It’s simply convincing them to agree with you, nothing more.

Facts don’t change based on perspective.

“It is not educating someone if you convince them of your interpretation. “

Facts are things that are not open to interpretation, perception, or perspective. Facts don’t change based on what you believe or think.

Telling someone that water is composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen is educating them because, no matter what you think or believe, it remains an unchanging fact.

Telling someone that an image contains messages that marginalize some group is completely open to interpretation.  There is no objective fact there. It is not educating someone if you convince them of your interpretation. It is simply convincing them to agree with your point of view, nothing more.

In this Age of Obfuscation, it has become rather commonplace for people to believe that, by spreading certain narratives, they are educating people.

The case of the cartoon.

“Even if a majority of people share a belief that a certain narrative is correct, it doesn’t mean they’re right.”

I had a friend who had a habit of declaring things as being “ableist”. It was due to the issue lenses she had created due to having a lot of extremely debilitating disabilities. She fell into the trap of seeing everything as a comment on disability.

Shortly after Stephen Hawking passed, a cartoon went around that showed him in the afterlife, walking away from his wheelchair.

She insisted that this cartoon was ableist. She felt that it marginalized disabled people somehow. She was not alone. She even posted a link to a blog that stated several reasons why it must be ableist as “evidence” of her “fact”. I told her that it can’t be inherently so, as there are a lot of people who find beauty in the idea that he is finally free of his disabilities. Also, as someone who has a few disabilities myself, I know that having disabilities sucks! If there’s an afterlife, I would sure hope to be free of them!

She and many others saw the idea that disabilities are something one might want to be free of as a judgment of disabled people themselves. When I suggested that her perception is a choice I didn’t remain her friend for much longer. I was not offended by that as I refuse to enable anyone’s intentional victimhood.

Even if a majority of people share a belief that a certain narrative is correct, it doesn’t mean they’re right. It just means they agree with each other.

You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

“No narrative that is about finding offense does a single thing to combat any social ills.”

Sadly, many people think their opinions hold the same validity as facts. This is objectively false. It doesn’t matter how fervently one holds a belief, it’s is only perception and not an objective fact. Perceiving something as offensive is a choice.

Many would make the argument that, while their opinion is admittedly not a solid fact, it is still important that they spread their narrative to “educate” people in the interest of fighting social injustice.

As we’ve learned, that’s not educating.  No narrative that is about finding offense does a single thing to combat any social ills. Gathering people together to declare something as offensive not only solves nothing, but it serves to further polarize people and ends up exacerbating the very issues that one is trying to address.

It only inflames one’s sense of victimhood, and when their narrative is shot down, they may narcissistically view themselves as a downtrodden martyr.

Opinions are fine, but are no substitute for education or action.

To have and share opinions is a natural human propensity. However, we must be careful not to fool ourselves into think that sharing our opinions is necessarily useful or important.

A more effective use for our passion for justice would be to fight for policy changes that help marginalized groups. Instead, many resort to some form of well-intentioned, but misguided form of censorship.

 

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Extremes Are the New Normal

Extremes have become the new normal. It is common for people to start phrases with “Well, if every time…” or “If every/all the X’s did Y…” This is a common tactic used to discredit someone’s statement or argument and it doesn’t deserve a serious response.

Extremes are not realistic.

“Suggesting a course of action for a certain situation doesn’t mean it applies in every instance”

We would be very hard pressed to find a situation where their purported fear would be a reality. Suggesting a course of action for a certain situation doesn’t mean it applies in every instance.

Let’s say someone says they are okay with giving money to homeless people. An extreme argument would be something like, “Well, if you gave money to every homeless person you saw, you’d go broke!” Of course, no one does that. It wasn’t suggested in the first place. To respond with such an argument is disingenuous because, unless someone has no grasp on reality, they are fully aware that situation is neither probable, nor is it being argued.

Extremism is a tool of bigotry.

“To claim that every person in any demographic is the same is a complete disconnect from reality.

Extremes tend to sprout from the minds of bigots. It’s a form of absolutist thinking. It is bigoted to claim that everyone in any demographic is the same, is equally responsible for whatever that demographic is often accused of, and that they should all be treated the same way. Some examples of this kind of absolutism:

  • Cops are corrupt and violent.
  • Feminists are misandrysts.
  • Men are oppressing women.
  • Liberals are baby killers.
  • Republicans are greedy perverts.
  • Rich people are destroying the middle class.
  • Poor people are lazy parasites.
  • Baby boomers took everything for themselves.
  • Millenials are entitled brats.
  • Cisgender people are callous assholes.
  • Transgender people are sexual deviants.
  • Christians have no grasp of science.
  • Atheists have no sense of morality.

This list could go on forever. All of these statements are false. Of course, some of each group is or does what has been claimed. To claim that every person in any demographic is the same is a complete disconnect from reality.

Extreme emotions lead to imbalance.

“It is not easy to provide the sense of equality for others that we feel is denied to us.”

When we are very passionate and angry, even justifiably, about some form of injustice, it is very tempting and easy to lash out at “them”. It can be very difficult to treat a group we view as harmful as dangerous or even evil. It is not easy to provide the sense of equality for others that we feel is denied to us.

If we are to have integrity and balance and avoid bigotry, we must make the effort to be as specific as possible. The easiest way to do this is to use qualifiers. Qualifiers are words like some, many, a lot of, etc. Just put one of these in front of the group every time you mention them. It’s not difficult and more importantly, it is accurate and not bigoted.

Taking this tiny step will help avoid unnecessary and misconstrued arguments. It will save you from having to clarify every time someone catches you generalizing. It will save you a ton of headaches!

Check yourself before you wreck yourself, or someone else!

“People are so busy playing gotcha that no reasonable discussion can be had.”

Consistently checking ourselves can be difficult and frustrating. Quite frankly, it’s a pain in the ass! Plus, it feels so good to verbally stomp someone! However, if we do, it simply dissolves into an endless game of “gotcha”. Playing gotcha can be very addictive. We get a little endorphin rush every time we do it. Why people do it is very understandable.

The problem is that it completely prevents any constructive dialogue. Even our news media has devolved into something akin to pro wrestling. It’s a lot of bluster, posturing, and put-downs with no substance. News, politics, and much else is basically what wrestlers call a kayfabe. It’s where they stage fabricated performances as if they are authentic or valid.

People are so busy playing gotcha that no reasonable discussion can be had. When something bad happens, rather than try to solve problems, people offer “thoughts and prayers” and then return to the fray, spouting extremist arguments and playing gotcha.

Many choose to pick a fight rather than solve problems.

“Resolving things requires having civil, reasonable, balanced conversations with people with whom we may intensely disagree.”

Sadly, it seems most people are more interested in picking fights than finding solutions. They’ll take a good gotcha rush over a better world. It makes one wonder if they would rather have their injustice and inequality than not have it. Without it, what would they fight about?

Each one of us needs to choose whether we would rather have an endless supply of gotcha rushes or if we would like to work towards solutions. Resolving things requires having civil, reasonable, balanced conversations with people with whom we may intensely disagree. It means remaining calm and rational even when others choose not to be. We must keep our cool even when the other person is trying to get you with their own gotcha.

Like most things, it’s not easy at all, but the results are worth it! Seeking balance in a world of extremes is a constant struggle. No positive changes ever happened without a struggle.

 

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Important! My Core Message to Everyone.

Your life situation is a result of your programming and your choices. Your choices are largely dictated by your programming. Your programming tells you what is possible and what is “right”. It defines your world and your potential. It comes from everything you encounter.

Your mental programming is like an operating system.

The core programs, your operating system (OS), is usually defined by your upbringing and culture.

The problem is that most people live their entire lives without ever changing their OS. They may change some important programs along the way, but the OS remains the same. To truly and effectively change your life or have any chance of changing the world, the same buggy old OS isn’t going to do it.

An OS is made up of a bunch of “system files”. These are the ones that tell you how things are. You need a good job. You need college to get a good job. You need to support a political party. You need to save for retirement, and then retire by age 65 if you can. It’s your culture, your religious beliefs, the things you “know” about life in general.

There are also a lot of programs we decide to download from society and other people. A lot of these are really buggy programs. They’re mental viruses and act as malware. They spread and infect many and really fuck things up. But, people like their programs and often aren’t even aware that there are other options. They especially aren’t aware that they can change their OS.

Even if an alternative OS becomes popular and solves a lot of problems, it comes with it’s own problems. When it comes to actual computers, Windows is the default for most people. It’s the oldest and it can be likened to old bigoted thinking, superstitions, religions, partisan politics, class struggles, and the like. It’s also comprised of some solid, practical common sense.

Then Apple came along and it was better in a lot of ways. Less buggy. But, it’s expensive and proprietary. Everything you do has to be the Apple way, and you have to buy their programs and their cables and their hardware or it will reject you. It’s somewhat enlightened, but really entitled, elitist and can be rather fascist. Plus, it’s hypocritical as hell, because, while it acts “woke” it’s built with slave labor. It hides its darkness under pretty, creative and modern trappings. Its users tend to be smug as hell about it.

Then there’s Linux. It’s open source, meaning that all the programs are created by regular people, not a central corporation. The programs are completely merit-based. When someone releases an idea, a program, out into the community, it’s worth is known quickly. If it’s buggy, inefficient or just plain sucks, it will be found out in short time.

It takes effort to learn, and a fair amount of adjustment time. It’s not familiar or nearly as easy. It doesn’t hold your hand. But, once you get the hang of it, everything runs cleaner and with far less mishaps. Because it takes effort and most people want an easy, no effort life, few people use it. But those who do swear they’ll never return to their old ways. You have to want to learn it. It seems to be most denigrated by people who never spent much time with it or put in the effort to learn it.

You have to make a choice between easy, effortless, problematic and often corrupt, to something that takes a lot of initial effort and learning, takes you out of your comfort zone, but has far more clean and efficient results. The learning curve may be a bit steep, but once you climb that hill, the rest is smooth sailing.

This metaphor applies to so much of life. People cling to easy, lazy, popular programming and shy away from results that require any investment or personal sacrifice. They want to be told what to do and how to do it and they like it to be flashy, distracting, and entertaining. They don’t much care about the functionality and are willing to endure all the problems that come with it. Convenience beats results.

When people start doing things in an unfamiliar and different way, the default world gets very upset. People have a lot invested in their old programming. Even if your programming doesn’t interfere with theirs, they’ll attack you for “doing it wrong”. Let them. While they complain about their problems, you’ll be getting rid of yours.

Some people will “dual boot”, meaning that they still use the old OS while learning the new. That’s fine. That’s still a step forward. I’ve found that the only thing my old OS is better for is games. Nothing essential.

I want to share the best “programs” I’ve found. I want to share what I’ve learned from others as well as what I’ve realized on my own. I’m sure a lot of them will be things you’ve thought your whole life and have been like “Holy shit! I thought it was just me!!” Some of them will piss you off and challenge your most dearly loved values. That’s fine. You can quit any time you like. You can talk about how wrong or difficult it is. It’s your life. Choose the programming that serves you best.

I won’t share anything that I am not using or doing myself. Any advice I give, I do my best to follow. Whatever I have learned, but not yet applied, I will refer you to the original source. Never take advice from anyone who doesn’t follow their own advice. It’s like taking fitness advice from Dr. Phil. The world is full of people who will tell you how to change your life using methods they don’t apply. They’ll get rich off of methods that didn’t get them to where they are. I resolve not to be one of them. And yes, I did switch to Linux. 🙂

I want to help you be the best person you can be. I want to see you be fulfilled and empowered. I want to see you change yourself and change the world! Let’s do this!

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Issue Lenses – Filters that Distort Everything

“When a pickpocket meets a saint, all he sees are his pockets”

Issue lenses take every expression and situation and filter it through a single issue. If somone was rude, “it must be because I’m a…” It assumes bigotry on the part of others while being a form of bigotry itself.

When one becomes extremely focused on a particular issue, they run the risk of filtering everything through the lens of that one issue. Things that are completely unrelated are seen as being anti-whatever you are. It creates a chicken little syndrome where the whole world is trying to oppress you.

Issue lenses kill conversations.

“Who wants to be around someone who is always thinking people must hate them for who they are?”

Having issue lenses prevents any rational, civil discourse from happening. Anything one says will be distorted through that filter. It a form of paranoia. Everyone’s out to get you. Others must hate you because you’re a certain demographic.

Such people will, of course, run into people who actually do hate them for what they are because there is no shortage of bigots. However, people with issue lenses will also ensure that people don’t like them not because of what they are, but how they react to everything. Who wants to be around someone who is always talking about how people must hate them for who they are?

People with issue lenses exist in a world of perpetual victimhood and narcissism. If something isn’t about them, they’ll make it about them. They actively seek things to be offended by, and assume the worst in every situation.

Trying to clarify your position when they make these assumptions is pointless. They’ll keep twisting and misconstruing your context, filtering it through their issue lenses, and they’ll find a way to make you the bad guy. They’ll jump through several hoops of logic twisting and context mangling to make everything about their issue.

Having issue lenses is looking at the world through shit-covered glasses.

Even if the issue itself is valid and of serious concern, they can’t see anything apart from it. Everything is somehow related to it.

Didn’t get that job? Must be because they’re black, or maybe it’s because they’re white and it’s that damn affirmative action.

Didn’t get a promotion? Must be because they’re a woman and the boss is a mansplaining misogynist, or they’re a man the boss is a “feminazi”. Didn’t get that date? Must be because they’re “plus sized” or a “nice guy”. Pick an issue and you’ll find those who think everything bad that happens to them is due to that issue.

I remember one job where I was asked to pick five people for an exercise. After I’d made my choices, a woman came up to me and said “Why didn’t you pick me? I know why! It’s because I’m a woman!” I pointed to a woman who I had chosen for the team and said “So is she. So how can that be it?” She sputtered and puffed up like a crack-addled hedgehog and said “Well, see! You’ve only got ONE woman! You’ve made her a minority, just like ALL men!” At this point I knew that nothing I could say was going to convince her otherwise. Her issue lenses were glued on so tight that you’d need a blowtorch to get them off. Not to mention she was being sexist as fuck by literally saying “all men”. I ended up saying “Well, that’s not the case. No one’s gender entered my mind. I just picked people whose skills seemed to fit the task. Yours didn’t. If you feel like being upset, have fun with that.” She kept trying to draw me in to the conversation and I said “If you think you’re right, take it up with a manager.” I never did end up hearing anything after that, but I did notice she stopped talking to me thereafter. I was just fine with that!

Sometimes right is not always right.

“If it’s a pattern in your life, maybe it’s not what you are, but how you are.”

Occasionally they’re right, and that only glues those issue lenses to their eyes more strongly. Sometimes you have a racist or sexist boss. But always? Get real. If it’s a pattern in your life, maybe it’s not what you are, but how you are. Maybe seeing everything one way and making an issue of it all the time makes you a disruptive person that gets passed up no matter how experienced and skillful you are.

People with issue lenses never give anyone the chance to be a good person. There’s no room for simple misunderstandings or nuanced context. There are no honest mistakes. No, people are against them because of what they are. That’s the only possible explanation for that look or that comment or for being excluded somehow. It can’t possibly be because they’re annoying the shit out of everyone with their exclusive focus on one thing.

No matter who or what you are, the world isn’t set against you. Look at Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres, George Takei, RuPaul. They all achieved success and they were able to do it because they didn’t wear issue lenses. They were acutely aware of issues, yet took responsibility for their lives and made success happen. So can you.

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Not Everything Requires Your Response

You see a post that is just messed up and wrong. Should you respond? What usually happens when you respond to a post you don’t like? Does the other person change their opinion or outlook? Does it solve the issue at hand, even a little bit? Does it do anything other than devolve into a useless argument or give you a quick “gotcha” endorphin rush?

Pick your battles.

Responding to everything is a huge waste of time and one of the most common sources of stress there is. It accomplishes nothing and tends to exacerbate rather than solve issues. It is anything but a solution.

I used to waste a lot of time on social media, just scrolling through and of course there’s going to be something dumb as hell that I just had to respond to. Oh look! A dumbass! I better go set them straight! And I’d lay into them with something clever and laugh as they’s reply with something even more stupid. I’d get my gotcha points and feel all smug. But the truth was, I was a douchebag. Sure, I one-upped some truly dumb people, but so what? How did that make me a good person? How did that live up to my personal value of “don’t be a dick”?

Plus, interacting with people whose grasp on reality was severely lacking just made me stressed out and I’d have a lot of imaginary arguments in my head, and it’s just not good for one’s sanity. Dealing with crazy will make you crazy!

It’s okay to let other people be wrong.

“If you care about an issue, do you want to exacerbate it?”

Do you want to socialize and connect with other people, or do you want to argue and be stressed out while accomplishing nothing? Most of the time, there is no point in responding to things you find offensive. It doesn’t mean you don’t care. If you care about an issue, rather than responding, see if you can find constructive, effective ways to be a part of the solution. Yeah, it’s not as fun, but it’s a matter of priorities. Do you want integrity, or do you wanna pick a fight?

Bickering only polarizes people and makes issues worse. If you care about an issue, do you want to exacerbate it? Sometimes you just have to let some douchebag be wrong.

Respond with facts, not arguments.

If you absolutely must respond, simply provide facts in a civil manner. Leave it up to them to accept or reject the evidence. If they seem more interested in fighting than facts, then you know the conversation is not worth continuing. Most people just want to fight and get their little gotcha rush and move on to the next target. Especially if they have their issue lenses on and are looking for “oppressors” to go oppress.

Be willing to be proven wrong.

If someone provides facts of their own, look up those facts! They might be right. It’s entirely possible that a fact which you have been absolutely sure of has been wrong all along! It happens surprisingly often. The internet is full of falsified information, bad studies, and statistics that don’t take enough factors into account. Besides, isn’t that what you want when you provide facts? Don’t you want them to look them up and learn something other than what they’ve thought up until now? If so, then don’t dismiss other people’s facts out of hand. Don’t be the irrational, stupid one. Be the balanced, smart one!

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Assuming the Worst Kills Communication

Assuming the worst is one of the most prevalent and frustrating traits there is. This is epidemic in social media, especially with people who claim to be fighting for social justice, but instead are just fighting people. It’s a symptom of having issue lenses.

It usually stems from when one believes that a certain demographic, or anyone who isn’t a part of one’s own, is their adversary and/or oppressor. Because they believe that anyone in the demographic they oppose is out to get them, they assume that any expression from them must be an attack. Anything they say must be an attempt to somehow subvert them. It’s a method of intentional victimhood.

Don’t assume, clarify!

“What a person is or believes is irrelevant. All that matters is how they treat others.”

Whenever someone makes a comment that you feel is against you or what you believe in, ask for clarification rather than assuming the worst.

This means you might be wrong. Oh noes!  If that is uncomfortable for you, then there’s some internal work on your mindset that needs to be done. There is nothing wrong with being wrong. It is a necessary step to being correct. No one is always right.

Assuming the worst is the quickest way to get a backlash, and victims LOVE backlash! It confirms their victim status. Unless you’re a bigot or a troll, you probably want to have a civil interaction with everyone you meet. It’s on you to keep your cool and get clarification if you’re not 100% certain of their context. A person being of a certain demographic does not constitute this certainty.

What a person is or believes is irrelevant. All that matters is how they treat others. That goes for you as well.

Assuming the worst is a form of bigotry.

“We must take people on a case by case basis if we are to avoid bigotry and divisiveness.”

Assuming the worst about someone because they’re a liberal, a conservative, a man, a woman, transgender, black, white, mixed race, old, young, rich poor, religious, secular or anything else makes one a bigot. Sadly, too many people fight bigotry with more bigotry and it’s idiotic. “Hey, how can I bring people together and make tings more equal? I know! I’ll just accuse them of being a bigot while I single them out for what they are! Hurr durr!”

There is no such thing as a demographic where everyone in it is the same.

Even in the most universally vilified groups, there are people within them who don’t agree with the majority of their demographic. There were Nazis who helped Jews escape. There was a daughter in the Westboro Baptist Church who realized she was being a ridiculous homophobe and left. There are people in fundamentalist churches who are secretly gay, and petrified to come out or attempt to leave because if they got found out, their former family and friends might beat them to a pulp. The Democrat and Republican parties both have a lot of people who are very disillusioned with their parties. Pick any demographic, and there are good people in it. Sometimes their situation is really sticky and they have to play along and pretend that they fit in. Not everyone has the resources or ability to escape.

Life is full of uncomfortable nuance. People don’t fit into neat little boxes. If you don’t want to end up a bigot yourself, take people on a case by case basis. The same goes for people’s arguments and opinions.

Opinions aren’t necessarily related.

“Assuming things about people based on a single opinion they hold is intellectually lazy.”

If someone has one opinion, it doesn’t mean they hold other opinions that are often related to it. Someone who says they can’t stand a candidate of one party doesn’t necessarily support the other candidate. It also doesn’t mean they belong to the opposing party. They may be of a third party, or they may be completely non-partisan.

I see this all the time. Someone hates Trump? They must love Hillary! Someone hates Hillary, it must mean they love Trump or they’re a “Bernie bro”.  People stupidly and immediately see things only in binary. “If’n you ain’t one, you gotta be the other!” If you suggest sensible gun regulations, you must be out to take all the guns! If you are against political correctness, that means you just want to be openly racist and sexist! Assumptions the worst leads to a lot of bullshit.

The only thing one should assume about the person who says they don’t like a particular candidate is that they don’t like that candidate. That’s it. Anything else is a projection.

Even if you know which party they are affiliated with, it doesn’t mean they accept everything their party does or stands for. They might be extremely dissatisfied with the way their party is and are hoping for or working towards it becoming better.

Assuming things about people based on a single opinion they hold is intellectually lazy. It’s bigoted and short-sighted.

Check yourself!

If you find yourself often saying that if a person is a (pick a demographic) then they must be (pick a negative trait), then you may wish to rethink how you think. It takes intentional effort to catch yourself and stop yourself from assuming the worst.

Society seems to promote that kind of laziness and prejudice. It’s a lack of thinking. It’s reacting rather than responding rationally. Many times, the best thing to do when you read or hear something you don’t like is nothing.

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How To Deal With Disrespect

Disrespect can be a difficult thing to endure. Ideally, everyone should have some basic human respect for everyone else, unless they act in a way that is not respectable. Many feel that respect must be earned, not given.

This makes sense because it provides a merit-based philosophy. You get the respect you earn through being respectable.

A hard pill for many to swallow is that nobody owes anyone respect automatically. Not for your title, identity, profession, or anything else about you. No one is automatically entitled to respect.

One can only treat others accordingly and inspire respect. Like love, respect can’t be coerced, forced, or demanded. Trying to do so would only earn a semblance of respect. It would be a lie.

The control is in your hands.

“Taking disrespect personally is a great way to disempower oneself.”

So many people love to lament how they were disrespected. They were “dissed”. So what? If it upsets you, that’s okay. You’ll survive. No one has ever died from being disrespected. The only harm that comes from it is an injury to one’s pride. It is merely temporary butthurt.

You can control how much butthurt you suffer. You can completely lose your temper, or you can find it to be a source of amusement.

Taking disrespect personally is a great way to disempower oneself. Those who are prone to taking things personally and seeing themselves as a victim can be hurt by anyone. Why give the whole world that much power over you?

The Wisdom of Tyrion

There’s a scene in the show Game of Thrones where the dwarf Tyrion is talking with a bastard named Jon Snow. Tyrion has spent his entire life being ridiculed and disrespected for being a dwarf. Jon Snow has endured the same for being a bastard.

Jon was feeling beaten down for yet again being excluded by his family, and wasn’t allowed to sit with them at a feast. His being a bastard was a constant sore spot. Tyrion gave him crucial advice: “Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you.”

Laughter is the best antidote.

Laughter is, in many cases, the best response to disrespect. If there is some aspect about you that has drawn a lot of ridicule or hate, you’ve probably heard all kinds of mean jokes. Come up with some of your own. I’m sure most of the things said to you have not been very creative at all. I bet you’ve heard a lot of the same things repeated so many times that you’re sick to death of them. So, get creative. Come up with some real zingers about yourself. The more brutal, the better.

Memorize these jokes. From now on, when someone trots out one of those tired old lines, laugh and say, “Really? That’s all you can think of? How about…” and then lay out one of your zingers about yourself. They suddenly won’t feel so clever.

If someone says something that’s actually creative, say, “Oh, that’s a good one! That’s almost as good as…” and then say one of your most brutal jokes about yourself.

If someone is so uncreative that they are simply calling you names, just laugh and say, “You say that like it’s a bad thing!”

When you laugh at yourself and joke more brutally about yourself than they do, you take the power away from them. Their attempted attack simply evaporates.

If you are having a hard time coming up with some self-deprecating jokes, find a funny friend and tell them you need some brutal jokes about yourself and explain why. Tell them to not hold back and that you’re not going to take it personally. Tell them you want to use it as ammo when people try to insult you.

Respect can’t be expected.

“There’s nothing respectable about suffering on purpose. “

When it comes to respect, if you are expecting it, you’ll generally be disappointed. There will never be a shortage of assholes in the world. It’s better to learn how to deal with disrespect then let it tear you down. The alternative is intentional victimhood.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but flipping the power dynamic is likely to earn you the respect that the other person previously did not have for you. Showing hurt or anger generally has the effect of attracting more disrespect.

If the type of disrespect you are receiving is not based on insults or ridicule, but is more situational or systemic, and there is nothing you can do about it, it’s still your responsibility to deal with how you feel about it. Laughter can be employed here, too, even if it is bitter. You can laugh at the sheer absurdity and stupidity of the situation.

Resistance simply causes more pain and stress, which will compound your suffering. There’s nothing respectable about suffering on purpose. Nor is there anything respectable about wallowing in whatever suffering you endure.

No on respects someone they can rile up. If you react with anger, grief, or hysteria, or if you try to act tough, then you are seen as easy manipulated, and therefore unworthy of respect.

Even, and especially if the person disrespecting you is someone whose respect you don’t want, you probably don’t want their disrespect either. So, the same tactics apply. Laugh it off, flip the power dynamic, and let it go.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it!

“Why seek from another what you can provide for yourself?”

One might say, “It’s not always that easy!” I know! I’ve been there. I was severely bullied all the way from preschool through high school and for years after. Sometimes you laugh it off in the moment only to cry alone later. There’s nothing wrong with that. No one enjoys being disrespected.

Every time you flip it around in the moment, you retain your power and self-respect. Self-respect is the most important respect to have. If you have that, you don’t need respect from an external source. Why seek from another what you can provide for yourself?

A life bereft of disrespect doesn’t exist. A life of total and complete respect also doesn’t exist. Expecting either of these scenarios is unrealistic. Instead, expect that you will be disrespected from time to time. Now that you know how to deal with it, you’re prepared. It’s no longer something to fear. It’s just another of life’s annoyances of zero consequence. A buzzing fly rather than a stinging wasp.

Go forth, and respect yourself!

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Solving Social Issues Forever

Social issues pervade our society. Racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, income disparity, ageism, you name it. The problem is, people pick the issue that most affects them and give lip service at best to all the rest. Even if one takes on three or four of these issues at once, they’re still going to have as much effect as treating cancer with an aspirin.

There are two main sources of social issues.

There are some very obvious things we need to admit and look at. All of these issues stem from two things:

1. Ideology – religion, politics, etc.
2. Money, specifically income disparity.

“By all of us working together on these root issues, we’re simultaneously learning how we’re going to deal with each other once things are more equal.”

Ideas about the inferiority of any certain race or gender stem originally from religion. They are enforced through income disparity. Nations that are more secular and more financially equal deal with far less of these social issues. When black people or women get very rich, they are not held back by the same issues that poor black people and women face.

We keep treating these things as separate issues, but they’re not. We create a secular and economically level society, and the social issues we face will vastly diminish. So, if we turn our focus from racism, sexism, etc. and focus our efforts on education, science and income equality for all, then we actually more directly affect these social issues. We deal with the root of the problem, not the symptom.

If we’re focused on our separate issues, we will always be working on them forever, because they won’t get resolved. If we unify instead and work together to focus on those root issues of ideology and money, then we’ll actually fix all those other problems simultaneously.

This is why I get frustrated when I see people dividing into their special camps for their specific issues. By all of us working together on these root issues, we’re simultaneously learning how we’re going to deal with each other once things are more equal. We become friends, allies, and supporters of each other all the way around. We’re living and embodying the equality we seek.

Treat the cause, not the symptoms.

“Racism, sexism, and various kinds of bigotry are the symptoms, not the cause.”

One doesn’t fight an infection by consistently applying bandages. The problem doesn’t get better unless you fight the infection itself. Racism, sexism, and various kinds of bigotry are the symptoms, not the cause. Kill the infection, and the symptoms heal. It’s that simple and that difficult.

Think about it this way: if we have a secular society where income is more or less equally shared, what reasons are left for someone to be racist or sexist? How can people continue to be held down if there’s no ideological basis and your livelihood can’t be manipulated?

We need to transcend religion and money, period. Not only will it resolve issues of bigotry and inequality, but it will also solve all issues related to the worship of profit, like poverty, ecological destruction, cultural destruction, etc. People destroy the lives of others when they think they can greatly profit from it. If they didn’t then why would they put forth the effort? Almost all of our ills can be traced to religious ideology and the pursuit of profit. Solve those and we literally save the world.

How? That’s the conversation we need to start having.

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