Sunday, May 6, 2018

Z = Zone

The new or more recent way to aid people is to create a zone.  We have parking zones to keep us from creating chaos with our vehicles.  It works, for the most part.  Then there is always that one individual who parks in their own private interpretation of their zone.  Oh, well.  We also have zones where we are warned not to trespass due to danger of one sort or another.  Then there are quiet zones, such as in libraries and hospitals.
But these do not stand out, and are standardly accepted until some individuals see certain zones that they find offensive.
The zones I speak of now are safe zones.  Safe zones are established to protect people, offer sanctuary.  Who and why are safe zones offered?  First the “who” offering these safe places.  The “who” people are trained to offer sanctuary and respite without judgement  or bias.  They are people who actually care about other people and their safety and mental and physical well-being.
Second, the “why” of safe zones.  Personally, before I retired from teaching at CSUB, a memo was sent out that those who wished, could receive training in offering safe zones and then have stickers and posters to post on their individual doors, signifying they were a safe zone.  But that doesn’t tell you “why,” does it?  The “why” is a sad revelation.  It was because people were being harassed because of their sexual orientation, mainly.  But there were less obvious reasons for needing a safe zone.  It consisted of students and those threatened and harassed for being Different.  And who objected?  Those who wanted to bully, demean, even attack the people they deemed Different.
This is such an affront to our culture on so many levels.  Here we were, on a campus of higher learning, having to offer safe zones for being Different!  College and University campuses once offered education so that 
Different ideas, different philosophies, different viewpoints and lifestyles could be accommodated, explored, discussed, understood.  Some parents chose to steer their young people away from campuses known to foster critical thinking, opposing ideas, freedom of thought because they were afraid of what their potential “student” might learn—to THINK FOR THEMSELVES!  And now?  The appalling fact is now that these campuses of ‘higher learning” are simply one more institution where those who dare to think critically, dare to question, dare to put forth ideas opposed to the general populace are threatened!  Sadly, often the ones who are to teach them to think either join the prescribed mode of thinking that should be allowed and ignore or shut down that which is “inappropriate” or “unacceptable.”  So the “why” of safe zones is monumental in its implications and the depths it reaches into our society in general.  It should also be noted that some faculty and staff who offered safe zones for those Different people/students, knew they would also receive subtle signs that their very act of helping or aiding the Different would put some of them on the fringes with their peers.
It is so very heartbreaking that the prejudice and bias of ignorance requires safe zones for what I would deem “Free-thinkers” and people brave enough to not fall under the societal pressure to conform.  If enough people who claim the United States pledges …Liberty and freedom for all…
would stop mouthing it and start showing it in actions towards their fellow persons,  there would be no need for safe zones.  Churches USED TO OFFER SANCTUARY, but they got caught up in dogma and hell fire ideologies.
This is the last blog of the challenge.  This is my last chance to speak my heart.  We won’t need safe zones if we see people—not color, lifestyle, sex, or whatever the determining factors are that separate us into Us vs Them.  Maybe we should foster that human goodness that says, “I will treat you as I want to be treated—with respect and the idea you have as much right to your life choices as I do.  We will not harm each other as we both know we will suffer on all sides for that.”  We have to get past hate and disparagement because of outside factors.  See the person, hear the person, know the person.  Then decide whether you want them in your life.  Walk away, without harm or hate if you want to.  Or pull them closer.  But don’t look and judge without the knowing.
Until the hate and judgement cease, more and more of us will have to seek out safe zones.  It is not something I care to do for what years I have left on this planet.  I hope there are others who share this feeling so we can exude vibrations of Safe Zone to those we meet and deal with.

Thank you.

Y = Yeats, W. B.

Sometimes, a poet whose words linger long past their mortal lives, speaks to us with profound insight and we realize that many things, including the hearts of men and their actions transverse the years and that it is so very true that “history repeats itself.”  

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
W.B. Yeats  (1919, 1921)

There it is.  Words of life almost a hundred years ago, read today, meaningful today.  Remember?  WORDS ARE POWERFUL!

Friday, May 4, 2018


Well, there you have it—X marks the spot!  So what does triple X mark?  Three spots?  Or how about we X something out?  yeah, just X that sucker out.
Place an X in the correct box.  Mark your choice with an X.  Look for the X to forbid something—rat poison, nuclear waste barrels, drinking Liquid Plummer—you know, the things you always wanted to try but were afraid to?
Poor X.  X has really gotten a bum rap.  But…X does get the great signs by the railroad tracks!  Gotta love those!  EVERYBODY knows those signs!
Okay—so triple XXX refers to porn or stuff only the very brave will go for in watching on TV or whatever.  And why do we say “Brave?”  Because if you get caught watching that stuff you will not walk away without some repercussions.  Personally, one X is as far as I have ever gone and that was to see an X rated movie that I got sick during and hurled pizza and coke all over the theater so I would have to eat at a buffet to stomach a XXX movie.  But, seeing as how it was not one of my more pleasant memories, I think I’ll pass.
One time, we passed an adult movie store with one of the kids and the comment was made, “Oh, Look!  Little fences!  What kind of animals are in that store, Mom?”  Do you dare to conjecture here what the answer was?
Obviously, I was stuck for an X word to blog about, so I will stop here and say that I personally believe X gets a bad rap generally and the only good Xs are the ones attached to those fantastic X-men and the super fantastic mutants!  Always felt an affinity with mutants, anyway.  

W = Wrestle

Wrestling isn’t just an amusement or athletic event.  Wrestling is something that goes on daily within everyone alive.  You wrestle with your anger, your frustration, your choices to be made, your innermost self and sense of values.
Some get so exhausted from wrestling that they try to numb out or find an escape.  They can hide behind numerous tasks to be done, behind a shield they fear to let down so that others will see them as they are, behind anger.  And if they choose to acknowledge this wrestling match going on inside, they usually must bear it alone and do the best they can with what they know and have learned.  Unfortunately, it is a one on one battle that is won or lost in the mind and heart.
The wrestling match can become one over good vs evil and the individual’s role in advancing or stopping one or the other.  It can be a project that needs to be accomplished with unfamiliar territory looming ahead and a lack of faith in oneself to be able to do it.  Then it is a matter of does one forge ahead because effort is worth something in itself or cower at the enormity of said project and all it entails.
The wrestling match can be over truths, opinions on truths, perceptions of truths.  Chasms can occur in relationships, even in careers as differences arise to be wrestled with.
However, isn’t the most devastating and yet monumental wrestling match the one that has to do with being true to oneself?  Once you cross the line and betray your own beliefs, tenets, very essence that makes you you, the ensuing wrestling match can make or break you.  And worse, if you care about others and their feelings and opinions, the match certainly has no guaranteed outcome.

By realizing each person is engaged in their own wrestling match, our words should reflect our empathy, not disdain and disregard.  Who knows?  Maybe aiding someone in their inner wrestling match will help us resolve our own.  I’s definitely something worth considering, isn’t it?

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

V = Vote

Ever heard “I don’t vote because my vote doesn’t count anyway” said when asked to register to vote or to cast a ballot?  If you haven’t, you probably have not asked someone to vote for a particular issue or person.  However, this excuse/reason is heard over and over.
Let me say, right to the point, Voting is a privilege that many right here in the United States do not have.  Many things are done to make voting unavailable to certain populations, certain parties, certain races.  This makes it even more important that those who can vote do so.  Your vote has to speak for you and for those who share your beliefs and values when they cannot speak for themselves.
I will not presume to sway you to vote one way or another or for one political party or another.  I simply beg you to exercise your right to vote and to do so without fail.  When we do not vote, we give up the right to speak about laws, enactments, heads of the government, Congress, our representatives, our city council people, everyone elected to an office.  Our not voting implies consent  to what anyone elected does.  Worse, not voting relates to an apathy that says, “Who cares?”
Please VOTE!  Show you care, you want to help create and enact laws and governance that is fair to all.  


U = Understanding

We all want to understand things—the world around us, the “whys” of different behaviors, but especially ourselves.  When we don’t understand something, we rationalize our way out of our dilemma with phrases like:
“No one understands everything!”
“Some people/things defy understanding.”
“Not everything is able to be understood.  Some things just have to be accepted.”
Or the infamous—“It is what it is.”

Yep.  When we are having trouble grasping something and it throws us into a regular frustrated tizzy, we take the defensive position or try to shrug it off.  The following is a true example. 
Our Black Literature instructor told us to pick a hate group to write a paper on for our final college term project.  We had to research, show the pros and cons of the ideology of said group, and offer a valid argument for or against the group.  No one in the class was too keen on this, so he proceeded to assign a hate group to each of us since we avoided picking our own.  I was assigned the KKK.  I was appalled.  Cons about the group?  No problem.  Pros?  He had to be kidding!  I left class stunned.  After the initial shock, I started digging for other topics so I could get out of researching the KKK.  The next class, I presented him with my list of topics, i.e.., slaver owners, presidential slave owners, southern racists.  He smiled at me and said, “Sorry.  You are assigned the KKK.  And I suggest you get started since it is due in three weeks.  Remember, 15-20 pages with bibliography and works cited.  Later.”  I stayed, begging to not have to do it and pleading my case.  He listened patiently and said, “I hear that you hate them as a hate group.  I hear all your arguments against writing it.  So I ask you, don’t you want to fight them? Their ideology?”  I adamantly gave him a resounding “YES!”  He leaned back in his chair, seemingly amused, and said, “You’ll never adequately stand against or fight something you do not understand.  Once you understand, you know HOW to fight, where the soft spots are, where the fallacies lie.  You want to see them go under?  Understand where they are coming from and show them they are wrong.  You can’t defeat an enemy you know nothing about except they anger you and you want them gone.  Got it?”  I threw in one last plea and he shook his head no.
Well, though I hated what I was doing, I wrote that paper, meeting all his requirements.  He, my teacher, was a wise and knowing man.  The more research I did, the more I began to understand the ideology of the KKK, the more intelligent and heartfelt arguments I could present against them.  AND I could see where their refusal to try to understand their faulty logic left them as nothing but an empty shell of hate with little hope.  In a much larger sense, I saw that to understand was its own empowerment.  Like I said, true story.
But then something came into my life where I couldn’t understand and realized I didn’t want to even try to understand.  It had to do with a child molester.  Advice was given to try to understand what motivated a child molester.  My mind threw up a block simultaneously with my heart.  No part of me wanted to understand what pain and grief the child molester caused because of background or personal quirkiness or even biological bent toward molesting children.  I didn’t care about it being projected blame or revenge or a power struggle the molester was going through.  At that point, understanding was simply a word with no meaning.

Conclusion?  It is a truth that some things can be understood and that we can better work with or against them through that.  It is also true that we can be so overwhelmed with pain caused by others that we no longer care to know the whys, the instigating reasons, or experiences.  We simply want it to cease to be, to exist in any form.  In some respects, this, too, can be good.  It creates a system of right vs wrong with right striving against wrong.  But understanding has a long term effect on the one trying to learn and the one who is striving to be understood.
We each have our own limitations, our own barriers, and our own goals to reach with our fellow persons…how far will we reach beyond ourselves to understand?  I will always respect, admire and even love that teacher who forced me to understand.  It has helped me in the current state of our country.  Some things I still have no desire to understand as I rail against them.  But people change, enlightenment happens.  I do believe that it is through understanding that our world and its people and animals can be saved, as well as our earth.

I’ll try.  And I hope you will, too.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

T = Trust

Trust is something that is truly personal as an abstract concept.  It is often linked with words like faith, respect, even love.  But TRUST is something that has to be acquired, much like its accompanying words.  
We want our friends and our families to trust us.  It is often something we teach our children, especially as they begin to be more independent in the tween to teen years.  We stress we need to be able to trust them to allow more privileges, more advantages appropriate to their ages.  And if, say, the curfew was midnight, and they wander in at one in the morning, the first words are often, “How can you expect me to trust you now?” to the wayward curfew breaker.  Dilemma time.
Another example would be the wayward spouse, caught in an extra-marital affair.  Suspicions usually are a precursor to the offender being caught, breaking down trust incrementally, if not completely before the “last blow.”
Those are both trust breakers.  So what are trust builders?  Examples of trust builders are one person telling another they will meet with them on a certain date at a certain time and showing up.  That starts the trust ball rolling.  It continues as things that are not of great importance being shared and not being gossiped about with others.  Then the sharing becomes more personal, braver, and still it stays between the two persons.  Trust becomes something important and binding.  It becomes personal and creates an atmosphere of acceptance and belonging.
Trust also encompasses truth and respect.  The faith in the trust that you will not be lied to nor “played.”  Once lies are told, it erodes trust to the point that sometimes it cannot be regained.  If we cannot trust because of lies, we will not respect the liar.  So what happens then?  One is less likely to trust again, to even try to trust again.  So much is lost and to be grieved.
But trust maintained is the greatest gift known because it does create faith, respect, and a deep and lasting love.  It allows the freedom of saying what is on the heart, of being your true self, of knowing that you are accepted, loved, and matter.  Trust says that though you may fail, someone trusts you enough to believe in you to eventually make it.  It says that you have backing, help to accomplish your goals and dreams.  It says there is not an expiration date on caring, believing, backing.  Trust lets the love remain after the person is no longer there that you trust.  It is that abstract feeling and inspiration that keeps you going.  You shared, you loved, you respected, you trusted and it was returned.  

TRUST is an earned gift.  It is a treasure that you hold tightly.  Once you trust, like love, it can never be taken from you, only broken.  Keep it safe, use it wisely, cherish the person who earns it.  It is your gift to them.