Tuesday, August 18, 2015

End of an Era

Before anyone asks, this isn't a personal affront to anyone or any particular time in my life. Just something I've noticed lately.

Now that that's out of the way, to the task at hand. I have a question about life, and in particular, interpersonal relationships. When did we get so bad at interpersonal relationships? I'm not talking about being nice to people. I'm talking about accepting and trusting in someone who is being nice to you. I know, that's a weird question. It seems as if lately, people have stopped accepting kindness, but what happened?

I'm going to go somewhere that may offend people, but I'm allowed to say whatever I want on my blog until you pay my Internet bill. I think the rejection of kindness started with the Feminist movement. I truly believe that Feminism basically shut down the idea of a male being genuinely nice to a female. There was a belief among Feminists that when a male showed any kind of kindness, there were ulterior motives, imagined or otherwise. It's unfair that a certain sect of people can dictate how other people are perceived.

Another reason is that there are jerks out there that are untrustworthy. We think of the Bill Cosbys, Darren Sharpers, and other men who have used substances to take advantage of women. It's come to a point where no one trusts a nice person anymore. There's a feeling that someone wants something else. It's kind of bothersome.

I think the evolution of the family has a lot to do with things. Stay with me on this one. Way back when, the father stayed with the family. There wasn't nearly as much divorce or even cohabitation as there is now. Families are doing things backwards: having kids, moving in, then maybe marriage at the end. Anyway, when a father was in the home, they taught their sons and daughters to ask about intentions. Fathers would sit down with their daughters' dates, after they knocked on the door and were let in the home, and asked, "What are your intentions with my daughter? I want her back by 9:30, 10:00." That doesn't happen anymore. When you don't know someone's intentions, you really have no clue what to expect. The result is being taken advantage of to the point where you don't trust.

Also, the stigma of being alone isn't helping. This generation cries about being single so much. Being single doesn't make you a bad person. However, because being single is such a terrible vice nowadays, people aren't diligently researching potential partners. When potential partner hurts them, they lose trust. When someone comes along that is trustworthy and kind, they again dismiss them because of all the other times they were hurt.

Ego is a huge factor as well. What happened to humility? People are so egotistical that when someone just says hello, opens a door, or is just genuinely kind to them, it's automatically chalked up to that person wanting more than is being presented. I'll put it this way: you could be the most gorgeously baked, crispy peach cobbler with the most decadent of whipped cream. There are still people that don't like peaches. You have to stop assuming that your attractiveness is a factor in why people do things for you. Maybe for some, but not all. Take it on a case by case basis. Makes life easier.

My point in all this is that we as human beings have to stop shutting down the notion that people are nice for the sake of being nice. People have to stop judging people based on other people when it comes to kindness. If someone is being nice, it doesn't mean they want to take advantage of you. I think we have to stop thinking that we're so amazing that everyone who wants to be respectful to us is being phony. We also have to do a better job of teaching people how to understand intentions. We also have to do a better job of being trustworthy. We have to stop giving people reasons not to trust us.

Kindness doesn't have to be the means to something else, it can actually be the end. 

Friday, July 3, 2015

Just Thinking Out Loud

Lately I've just been fascinated by people. Some people are jerks. I guess I shouldn't be surprised by that considering we all are born with sin in our lives. However, it's just so funny how people who claim to love others and want everyone treated fairly gets so hostile when someone doesn't particularly agree with whatever stance they're taking. I guess if people feel passionate about it, I can understand. People, though are getting much worse at understanding why someone feels the way they feel.

I fell into the trap of commenting on a news story about the Confederate flag. I asked a simple question, "what heritage does it truly represent?" I didn't get a lot of feedback from the supporters of the flag. The ones that did respond simply said that it was a part of the celebration of the Southern way of life. I asked what about the Southern way of life did they love the most. There really wasn't much of an intelligent answer after that. Just a bunch of "it's not slavery", "don't be so sensitive" and the like.

This has been how I've been responded to any time I've had a discussion about the flag. It's fairly annoying how folks can't truly discuss this without being defensive. I've learned that the more defensively hostile someone gets about a subject, the more they know they might be wrong about it. The best thing, or not, is when someone tells me it's like my African heritage. News flash: wasn't born in Africa. My heritage growing up consisted of pro wrestling, Voltron, and string cheese. My point is that it's silly to get this defensive over a flag, particularly a flag of a country that doesn't exist anymore. I've seen more Confederate flags these last few weeks than American flags on my Facebook. That's troubling considering it's almost the 4th of July.

Now, I'm going to put this out there with little to no care how you feel about it. The Confederate flag is stupid. It's a waste of cloth and dye. When it was flown in the late 1800s, it was a battle flag for a treasonous group of people. Forget the slavery part, the fact is the Confederacy committed treason against the United States of America. They attacked the United States in hopes of getting their way of life to be adopted by the entire country. There was a changing of philosophy that the South wasn't interested in.

Part of that change was the fact that folks realized that owning people and treating them like second class, inferior citizens wasn't what the Constitution meant when it said "all men are created equal." The South particularly would have suffered the most from the sudden drop of property value and personal equity with the freeing of slaves. If there is one thing that everyone, misguided or otherwise, is motivated by, it's the loss of money.

After the war, the flag was adopted by white supremacy groups who thought it would make a good intimidation tool to the suddenly free black people. The same white supremacists who declared that they were seceding from the Union because they wanted black people to remember their place below the white man. I digress. They waved the flag during the lynching of black people and when black people were attempting to do anything of significance in America. It was raised again during desegregation. Now South Carolina claims that they first raised their Confederate flag on their state house to commemorate the beginning of the Civil War. However, I do find it fairly convenient and coincidental that the Civil Rights Movement was happening at the time. If you really want to get a grasp for when and if the flag was a part of an effort to squash the desegregation of schools, look at some of the schools in the south with the mascot of "Rebels" or even in a case of a school my school played against in sports, "Confederates" and figure out when they adopted said mascot. If it was in the 60s or later, pretty good chance they didn't want black people there. Hence the flying of the Confederate flag at their games and even flying them at the school itself. Point being, this flag is divisive. No need for that.

Now people are getting upset because certain entities are distancing themselves from the Confederate flag. As far as government places, I'm all for it. A government can't be married to something divisive. I feel the same way about them jumping on the gay flag bandwagon too. No need to align yourself with a divisive symbol. And before you ask, the Ten Commandments tell us not to kill, steal, or lie. If you're against that, there's no help for you. Anyway, as far as private companies, it's their prerogative. If Viacom doesn't want to air Dukes of Hazzard, as much as I'm against that because I enjoyed the show, it's their right. If NASCAR wants to separate themselves from the symbol, by all means. It's not fair to boycott and dismiss companies because they want to make everyone feel comfortable being there and expand their market base. When you're a business who wants to make money, you have to think of everything. Now, if not making money is your thing and you're just willing to serve to a particular fan base, then you can do that too. I'm not going to stop you, and no else should either.

My point in all this rambling is that the hostility over this particular flag is useless. People are going to feel how they feel about it, no matter how much you try to dress it up as heritage, hate, controversy, or indifference. I have people I'm very good with that like that flag, and that doesn't bother me because I know their heart. And I've shared my thoughts with them, and they're cool with it. However for those of you that feel like it's your place to tell me what I should and shouldn't be feeling about the flag, kick rocks. I go with what I see, and I see a flag that can hurt people. I see a flag that causes division. I see a flag that brings terrible memories to folks much older and wiser than me. However, I also see a waste of cloth and dye.

Pledge your allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands, ONE nation under God, INDIVISIBLE with liberty and justice for ALL.

Always remember that just because you may not sign off on it, it's a fact that most people don't see that flag as doing anything particularly good for the country. The country that most supporters claim to love...

Saturday, June 20, 2015

My Feelings on My Town

I know it's been almost forever since my last blog. I apologize. I'm a busy person. I do stuff. Anyway, I figured today would be a good day to share my feelings. However, I feel I need to lay down some ground rules. These are my feelings. You don't get to tell me how I should feel. You don't get to tell me that my feelings are wrong. You don't get to give me grief about my opinion and feelings. I'm being completely reactionary.

My first feeling was absolute fear. I called my mother immediately after I heard the news. I hadn't spoken to her in a while. We're both busy people, it happens. I was scared that there was a madman on the loose in my hometown. I worried about my friends. I worried about my family. I worried about other landmarks that I've seen and visited in Charleston since I was seven years old. What about Market Street? How about the Harbor? Was Waterfront Park on this kid's list? I was scared.

When I first heard the story of him targeting this church, it turned to confusion. Why would you go to a church to shoot people? Was there less guilt in sending Christians to Heaven? I was confused about what may have been his motive. I didn't want to believe the ultimate motive, but considering it was a very historical A.M.E. church (the first one in the South), it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility, which led to me next emotion.

I was pissed. I was angry that a person would target black people. I was angry that someone thought so little of black people that their only option was to shoot nine of them dead. After being welcomed into the fold by said black people. After being loved on enough to open the Word of God to him, he felt the best way to repay them was to spew some hateful garbage and then shoot them. It angered me that my Christian brothers and sisters were slaughtered like they were in a Muslim country. However, the anger didn't just stay with this situation.

I became angry at responses. People dismissing this man's sin and hatred as "just another case of mental illness." People even blamed Obama for this man's sin. I'm sorry, but I don't believe the President of the United States of America would encourage violence towards others. In fact, he made it a point to say that he's had to address a mass murder of some sort 14 times during his two terms. Think about that, then tell me that it's his fault. I was mad at Fox News for telling us that we shouldn't consider this a race crime because it might make some people upset. I was mad at some of my Facebook friends for their undying allegiance to any opinion that was similar.

I then became proud. I was proud because I watched on Thursday morning/afternoon a mass of Charlestonians singing "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand." It made me so proud that I bawled. I bawled like a baby. I have no problem admitting that to you. It was a mix of pride in my city, love for my Lord, and sadness in my heart. I was proud of the Facebook friends that posted constantly about prayer, love, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and pride. It made my heart glad that there were people who felt like I felt.

I then became confused again. During those news reports that I watched vigilantly, a state politician made this eye-opening statement: "If we can't be black in church, where can we be black in America?" It was a good question. Church is supposed to be kind of a safe haven. That place where you can share your love for God, your struggles with life, and your support for your Christian brothers and sisters. It disappeared for those fleeting moments. I saw in my mind and in my heart black folks being terrified, nervous, or confused about church and the banner of love Christ puts over us. I could totally understand that. However, I was still confused as to how a place like that wasn't that place.

I then felt relief. When I heard the news that the shooter was captured, it calmed my spirit down. It's okay to be nervous. It's a natural emotion. Thank God for Debbie Dills and her quick thinking. She says she's not a hero, but she is certainly someone we can take an example from. Do the right thing, no matter what. God knows the right thing, He'll tell you if you let Him. She did, and he's in jail.

I then was angry again. I was angry because I saw an image that frightened me, but didn't overwhelmingly surprise me. I saw the Confederate flag flying high while the American flag and State flag of South Carolina was at half mast. It made my blood boil that the one thing that most black people consider to be the most offensive, divisive, evil symbol in America was flying high and proud as their people were in complete mourning over the atrocity that happened. You would think that the General Assembly (state law prohibits Governor Haley from any say in when and if the flag comes down, so she gets a slight pass even though she should use some executive powers, throw up deuces to the racists, and tear down that flag) would have some class about them. That flag flying high tells every black person that even when the worst happens to you, your feelings don't matter. They may not have said it, but it's a sentiment. That angers me. What angered me more was that there were people defending that flag. They say that it's a defense of a way of life. That way of life included going to a foreign country; either brokering a deal or flat out kidnapping people; dragging them on a boat and shipping them thousands of miles away from their home; parading them like farm animals at the county fair; selling them; and forcing them to do backbreaking work all because you'd rather sit on your front porch and drink lemonade. That's the right that the states flew that flag for. I'm sorry, but that's evil. Dragging people around, beating them, forcing them to work, bathe you, or have sex with you is fricking wrong. That flag tells black people that they are less than a person. The Confederate flag that was put on the state house in 1962 was a blatant middle finger to desegregation and the Civil Rights movement, case closed. My anger is geared towards anyone who defends dividing the country. And telling me to get over it, it wasn't you so don't worry about it, stop being offended, or anything like that is a one way ticket to me considering you dumber than mayonnaise. That's one of those opinions I'm asking you to let me have.

However my anger multiplied even more when I see Judge Idiot Face (stole that from WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins) demanding the victims' families to feel bad for the alleged shooter's family instead for themselves for just losing someone. I'm going to hope that this judge doesn't ever preside over a case again. He used the n-word during a bond hearing. I'm pretty sure he's one of those dumber than mayonnaise morons. How can someone say those kinds of things at that time. And it wasn't like he softly professed that this family was sad, I'm sure they were, but to demand that people just coddle the shooter's family is ridiculous.

However, now I'm at peace. I'm at peace because my God is strong. My God showed Himself in my hometown. My God is being magnified and glorified in the darkest time. I've had terrible feelings about Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, Jonesboro, and many other places. However, seeing the streets I've walked, rode past, or driven past affected by a tragedy is a special kind of hurt. However, I know my God is bigger than anything. I cannot hide my bias, Charleston just wrote the book on "How to Come Back from Adversity Before Sharpton Shows Up."

I said it before, I'll say it again. He shouldn't have messed with buckle of the Bible belt. Wrong church, wrong city.