Put Some Clothes On

The other day, I read an article about a woman who is angry about the way she was treated by her apartment management in relation to her attire at their community pool. This woman, who was accused of wearing an inappropriate bathing suit at a pool visited by the families in their apartment building, claims her one-piece bathing suit was perfectly decent and that the apartment management is “body shaming” her. You see, this woman has a larger posterior and the suit appeared to others as a thong-style bathing suit. The other families in the apartment community complained to management, and this woman is outraged and considering a lawsuit because, of course, her rights have been violated. Which right is that? The right to bare skin in front of God and country?

Please forgive me if I am being too snarky. I, too, am a curvy woman, in both top and bottom. I understand the nightmare of bathing suit shopping. I remember when my much smaller friend tried to get me to wear one of her bikinis to the pool. It was obscene. There was no way I was going to go out in public dressed in this fashion. You see, I looked in the mirror before I went outside and plainly saw that my bathing suit was inappropriate for a community pool. My sense of modesty, I understand, is not the way of the world these days. Other women see no problem in revealing all to anyone and everyone.

I do see a problem, though. The problem I see is that women feel like, not only is it okay to show as much skin as possible, but that it is a requirement. This is not about body-shaming. This is about respect for ourselves and the people around us. There is no reason why any woman should feel compelled to wear clothing that is immodest. And, taking the attitude that others should just look away if they don’t appreciate what they see is simply self-centered and inconsiderate.

If you are walking around your home with the curtains drawn, completely naked, that is your prerogative. Once you take it outside your walls, you are now infringing on the rights and comforts of others. I certainly do not want to see your naked behind or uncovered breasts as I lay at the pool, and I sure as anything don’t want the young men in my family to see it either. The goal is to get the next generation of men to look at women as equals, valuable for our intellect, ingenuity, creativity, and perseverance. Instead, we continue to fuel the cycle of female objectification at every turn. Magazines, television, movies, etc. all encourage women to disrobe to gain attention. Not only is this humiliating to women, but it is fleeting as these women who succumb to this method become just another body in the crowd.

Please, can we try to distinguish our gender by the advances we make in science, art, teaching, technology, and not the extent of our flesh. We have become a society focused on bodies and beauty instead of brains and talent. We are worth more than our bodies and it is time we send that message…to everyone! Men will not stop objectifying women if we don’t stop objectifying ourselves.

 

Donald Trump IS the President of the United States

On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was sworn in as the President of the United States. It is done. It is fact. You can’t change it.

But, for the past four and a half months there has been nothing but protests, over-analyzation of how this happened, disrespect, and down-right ugliness. I am ashamed of the celebrities, who act like they represent everyone, inciting rage and further division with their half-crazed speeches, vulgar tweets, and simply disgusting photos.

Regardless of your political opinions, the President of the United States deserves our respect and should be treated with dignity. You may hate the actions of another, but you should not show hatred for a fellow human being. When we initiate or encourage derogatory language and disrespect of our President, we show the rest of the world that it is allowable to treat our President, and ultimately our country, with disrespect. We make fools of ourselves and our ability to govern as a country. We also further the gaps between us, as those who use such tactics continue to alienate those who disagree. The outside world views us as a country of people who have no unity and are in chaos, when this is truly not a valid portrayal.

President Trump has been in office for less than six months. He has been continuously blocked by revengeful politicians, and been the target of Hollywood and the media. The President and his family have endured countless attacks by so-called tolerant Americans who demonstrate nothing of the kind. Just because we have the ability to do something (as with freedom of speech), does not mean we should use it. We, as a country, would do well to exemplify all the good values we constantly preach of tolerance, unity, equality, and brotherly love.

I, for one, am going to support President Donald Trump and continue to pray for him and his administration every day. I see no future for the United States in hoping for his failure. In fact, if he fails, we all do. Like it or not, Donald Trump holds the highest office in our country. We need to join together in condemning the vulgar language and actions of those who choose to disrespect the President of the United States of America. Our country depends on it.

Fault-finders

I have a co-worker who finds amusement in calling out other people’s faults. She will talk at length about anyone and everyone, from what people are wearing to who is falling off the diet wagon and from who skips out of work early to who would rather be bar-hopping than home with their family, and so much more. I have never heard her admit that anyone is doing anything right, except of course herself.

I used to try to interject with some positive discussion about people’s accomplishments, which were usually dismissed.  I then tried to subtly say that I didn’t know the person she was speaking of, so I couldn’t comment. When this failed to curtail the endless commentary, I not-so-subtly avoided meeting my co-worker anywhere outside the conference room. I got tired of her never ending judgements, and I certainly didn’t want to be guilty by association of bad-mouthing everyone in the office, and frankly anyone who came into her mind.

I may not be the most positive person in the world, but I really don’t want to be trudged into negativity every day. I prefer to think the best of people and, if they must, allow them to sink themselves without my help. When I was younger, my favorite movie was Pollyanna (still love it). I loved the part where Pollyanna is speaking with the reverend and he reads the necklace given to her by her father. It contains a quote from Abraham Lincoln, reading “When you look for the bad in mankind, expecting to find it, you surely will.”

I am certain this is a philosophy we are seeing in action in our country daily. From nasty social media posts to offended college students, and from humorless monologues to self-serving politicians, we hear, down to the minutest detail of everyone’s perceived failings, yet very few are able to concede when someone does something good. We are a nation of fault-finders. We look for the bad in people and are only too happy when we find it, and can let everyone else know about it. Scandal is the news that turns our world.

Fault-finding is an immature way to gain attention. People, who want the spotlight, will say whatever they can to diminish others in effort to benefit themselves. Rarely do these fault-finders ever have anything positive to contribute. They just want to make sure that everyone else knows who or what has been bad. It’s childish. Instead of lending a helping hand and contributing to solutions through constructive conversation and action, fault-finders focus their attention on spreading negativity and burying the person or people with whom they found fault.

We see it every day in the rants on social media, the finger-pointing and ugly talk of the politicians, and the often-offended college crowd (students and faculty). We live in a country where everyone is expected to be faultless, or they are not worthy of respect and dignity. We drag people through the mud and destroy their reputations.

No one is without fault. We all make mistakes. Get over it. Learn from them and move on. If you want to make a positive difference, reach out your hand to help. Lift people up. Help those around you see their strengths. Give people a chance to do good.

Look for the good in mankind, and you will surely find it.

It’s Not Civilized!

On a cold, rainy day, I am more than happy to be in my home, with the heat on, watching a movie on my smart TV while making an online purchase on my tablet, and drinking hot chocolate made with milk I bought from a store two miles from my house (which, of course, is open 24 hours a day). Oh, and please don’t forget that I drove to said store in my car, while listening to satellite radio. We enjoy so many luxuries in this modern age. Many people would say that this is what makes us civilized. We no longer have to trudge through dirt walking great distances, keep fires burning in every room for heat, or head to the outhouse every time nature calls.  We benefit from ever-advancing technology and manufacturing, as well as an ability to share ideas across the globe. But, is this all that makes us civilized? I propose that this is only part of a civilized society. Our treatment of one another makes the definition complete.

The way we interact with each other, whether in-person or online, gives great insight into our level of civilization. With the disappearance of many of the formalities of decades past, we have also lost the decorum that marked a civilized society. No longer do we bow or curtsy when entering the company of another, but we also don’t make eye contact, listen, speak with respect, or value the dignity of others. We don’t often write long, flourishing letters telling of the events of the day, but we also don’t use kind words in the modes where we do write. We hold our own opinions very high, and this has become the reasoning for one person to demoralize another. The Internet is teeming with videos of people screaming at one another, violently fighting, or humiliating another person. Social media is being used to bully, insult, prey on, and demean people who have differing opinions. Television and movie stars are using their influence to insult and belittle people who don’t share their political and personal beliefs. It has gone so far as to become a regular occurrence to see news of a person being removed from a public place for angrily attacking another person who dared to see an issue from another point of view.

It is absolutely all right to have firm beliefs and opinions, especially if they were formed through study and experience. It is not all right to attack, in any way, people who don’t share in them.  If you feel strongly about your opinion, why is it that you can’t listen to the opinions of others? Are you afraid they may be able to prove you wrong? Listening to the opinions of others doesn’t mean that you agree with them, it just means that you are civilized enough to engage in a polite discourse. Having a debate should not include raised voices, violence, threats, or insults. If you are civilized enough to listen to others, you may learn something you didn’t know, or realize another point of view. If this doesn’t happen, you have simply solidified your already established opinion. It’s a win-win.

So, while we will probably never go back to the days of carriages riding through the streets or men wearing coattails, we can definitely bring back a polite society where people speak with respect and kindness.

 

True Friendship

I am writing this blog post after speaking with a young girl, who is having trouble with friends. I know she is not alone in this. Many young people struggle with self-confidence, and perhaps a little encouragement would help them from making decisions they will later regret.

It is better to have one or two true friends than to have an abundance of false friends. I see the wisdom in this more and more as I age. When I was younger it seemed mortifying to be on the outside of the popular group. I did have a few very good friends, and we had a great time together, but I always somehow thought there was even more enjoyment to be had with the popular group.

After graduating from high school, I moved across the country and found myself in a new group of friends.  We were definitely considered the equivalent of the popular group. It was very different from what I had known, and I admit it was exciting at times. I never did feel quite comfortable, though. It was a lot of work emotionally and mentally to stay in step with this group. I had a couple of close friends, with whom I felt like I could be myself, but I often felt like I had to play a part, like acting, with the others. As much as I learned about myself and the world during this time in my life, I often wish I hadn’t felt like I needed to pretend to be someone I wasn’t.

Now that I am older, I can look back and see clearly the mistakes I made in trying to make other people like me. It is important to have friends who will be honest with you, help you to grow, and even challenge you, but it is destructive to be around people who want you to change who you are to be more like them.  I no longer have the effort in me to pretend to be someone else. I love to spend an afternoon with a good book, I hate horror movies and movies with a lot of swear words (it’s my opinion that if they have to use the “F-word” every other word, the script is just bad), I am not an “outdoorsy” person, I believe in God, and I enjoy spending time with true friends. This is me. I am not going to think less of myself because I don’t fit in with some groups. We all have different interests, beliefs, and desires. We all fit in somewhere. When we find the group where we belong, we will find the truest of friends, no effort required.

What’s on Your Mind?

A penny for your thoughts. This phrase is used by curious individuals to encourage a person to share their thoughts, which are considered to be of some value to the inquirer. Notice the person who will serve as the audience must ask to hear the thoughts of the other.

I noticed, when on Facebook the other day, which I rarely visit anymore, that the prompt when opening the news feed is, “What’s on your mind?” So, apparently Facebook cares what is going through our minds, but does anyone else?

This brings to mind another little phrase, If you only knew what I was thinking. It used to be that people would keep their random thoughts as just that, thoughts. Whether these thoughts were flattering, insulting, inane, or clueless, they stayed in our heads as little secrets no one else knew. Now, we have a medium that allows us to voice all those secrets, but should we? Many people use social media platforms as an outlet to share their every thought at every moment of the day. They seem to think that their comments are funny or profound, or even that they are entitled by some authority to call out and/or correct another person’s thoughts or behavior, whether they know that person or not.

I, personally, think this is a dangerous precedent. I’ve heard people say in a positive tone that we have come a long way from the stiff rules and mannerisms of centuries past, but I think there is something to be said for behaving with decorum, manners, and restraint. We have replaced being helpful and courteous to one another with being critical spectators. We think we are being honest and open, when really we have become callous and hurtful. Insulting another person in a public forum, or posting an unflattering video or photo of some random person experiencing difficulty (or even someone you know) is just plain childish. Instead of posting a video of someone struggling, try helping him or her. Instead of ranting about someone else’s political views (because that will never get them to change their mind, and may encourage them to keep their own opinion), try understanding their viewpoint.

Not everything needs to be said, or written. Some thoughts should just stay in our heads. Uphold the Golden Rule, treat others as you would be treated. Or, how about this profound thought, If you don’t have anything nice to say (or post), don’t say anything at all!

 

Test Your Theory About God

Last night, I lay in bed with the television off, eyes heavy and burning with exhaustion. The past few days have been draining and I felt like I had been defeated. I found myself uttering a weak prayer that was simply a vague request for God’s help. As I silently prayed, my thoughts became stronger and my words more precise. I prayed for exactly what I need and became very specific. As I felt a release of anxiety, I realized I was more awake and aware than I had been in a few days. I felt peace and hope enter my heart. I could feel the Lord Jesus envelop me in his love. The frustration and fear that had crept over me was replaced with the reassurance that God was taking care of me. He knows my circumstances, and He will provide. I awoke this morning with new determination and the knowledge that God will guide me and give me the strength I need.

For anyone who doesn’t believe in God, or who questions His existence, I ask you to pray. What can it hurt? Treat it like an experiment. You have a theory that God is not real. Now test that theory. Find a quiet place, remove the doubt from your mind, and ask God for His help in whatever you are facing.  Be sincere about it. Feel the peace that comes with knowing that the weight of your problems doesn’t have to lie completely on your shoulders. God will answer your prayer. It may be a feeling, a realization, or a response in a way you never expected.

God has a plan for each person. Although there are struggles, if you put your faith in Him, God will provide everything you need. It is the goal of the enemy (Satan) to tear you down and to make you believe that you are not good enough. Don’t fall for it. You are perfect as you are and you can make a positive impact on the world around you. Just put your faith in God and amazing things will happen.

Know the person, not the stereotype

Yesterday I read a post on social media that angered me. I tried to close the app and walk away, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the words written by a man I don’t even know. This man, in his effort to support a particular group of people, completely tore down another group of people, of which I am a part. It is possible, almost certain, that there are people who belong to both groups. I wish I knew why we feel the need to insult, make negative implications, and belittle one group in support of another. There is good and bad in every designation. Christians, blacks, whites, Muslims, Jews, police officers, lawyers, stepmoms, Italians, Irishmen, and just about every classification imaginable, have been assigned their stereotypes throughout time. I happen to fall into several of those categories. However, I would be devastated to be identified by the horrible, degrading, hurtful names that some people would use to describe me based on these designations.

When I was a young child, I went to my mother crying because another child had made fun of me. My mother told me that often people will make fun of others to make themselves feel better. He or she will find something to pick on about another person to deflect attention from his or her own shortcomings. This person, the bully, usually has very low self-esteem. My mother told me not to listen to the insults of someone who is so miserable that he needs to make other people feel bad, too. I wish it was that simple with grown-ups.

Stereotyping is not only dangerous, it’s often inaccurate. People, who accuse an entire group of people of acting or thinking a certain way, obviously have not taken the time to get to know people outside their own circle. Yes, there is bad in every group. There are angry, hurtful people of all colors, creeds, vocations, and life situations. There are also people who are hard-working, nice, caring, generous, educated formally or by experience (or both), and who want to contribute to their community in positive ways.

I know there are people who will read this and immediately think of groups which have no redeeming qualities. They do exist, but that is not the point of my writing. My goal is to shine a light on the practice that so many of us, including me at times, do without even thinking. We judge people based on a characteristic. Some of us picked it up from family, friends, or media. Some people may have had a bad experience and now attribute the negative qualities of one to the entire demographic. However it has happened, we need to retrain ourselves to remain open-minded. This does not mean we should ignore red flags. This means we should look for the best in people regardless of their religion, race, political party, or other background information, because that’s what it is, background information. These things contribute to who we are, but it is not all that we are.

It is not necessary to attack one group in support of another. It is not necessary to label an entire group based on the actions of one individual. It is entirely possible that one individual, or a faction, does not hold the same values as those in the core of the group. My suggestion is to learn about other groups and do not rely on the information of others, no matter how educated they proclaim to be. Do the research, get the facts, and then make an informed decision, still understanding that most groups have a varying level of dedication from their members, who have their own degree of understanding and faithfulness to the cause. Just because someone says they are a member of a group does not mean they follow the philosophy completely. Think about your own experiences in religion, politics, and hobby groups.

Most importantly, be introspective. Take a look to your own experiences and faults before condemning someone else. No one is perfect.

Before You can Heal the World, You Have to Heal Yourself

When I started this blog, I swore to myself that it would never be a raging, angry rant about everything I see wrong in the world. I personally believe that the words we speak and the thoughts we have are a reflection of our heart. I want to provide a positive, uplifting perspective to the problems we all face. Angry rants never lead to solutions, but facts and good manners just might. People whose words are more often than not negative, demoralizing, destructive, and hurtful are people whose hearts are full of pain, negativity, cynicism, and fear. Many people in this world are holding on to things of their past, and the emotions tied to the negative events have changed who they are and how they treat others.

We all have events in our past that we wish we could have skipped. I was a terribly insecure young girl and I made a fool out of myself on numerous occasions. I embarrassed not only myself, but sometimes my family, too. When I am feeling particularly down on myself, I dredge up all the stupid things I did and said and I feel the same surge of embarrassment and self-loathing I did when the event happened. As I have gotten older, my faith in God has helped me to realize that making mistakes does not make me a mistake. I have learned to let go of the past. I am not the same person I was then, and I won’t let those events define who I am.

We often hear that bullies attack other people because of their own problems. Sometimes making others feel as bad as they feel gives them a sense of control or power. Sometimes misery simply loves company. For this reason, our country is facing serious divides. There is so much anger, hurt, and fear among us that we can’t see our way to peace. The only way to heal the world is to heal yourself. You must let go of the wrongs you have faced, the pain that you have felt, and the indignities that you have survived. That’s the key…you have survived. You no longer need to be bound by the past. You are not who you were at that time. You are strong. You are full of love. You are filled with purpose. When you embrace forgiveness on a personal level, you can heal not only yourself, but you can contribute to the healing of this country. Until then, you will continue to speak the negativity in your heart and our divisions will grow.

I wish everyone could embrace this fact. No matter what has happened, or who caused the pain or fear in your life, you are worth more and you can do more than what that event has done to you. Holding on to past wrongs keeps you from reaching your potential. You will continue to feel hopeless, useless, angry, and even antagonistic.  Your words and actions will become a reflection of the negative emotions you have allowed to bind you. Release yourself from these bonds and feel the freedom that comes with not carrying the weight of the past around.

It is my prayer that all the people in this world who have been hurt will find a way to forgive. Your life is worth much more and you should not allow yourself to be stifled by the past. Make an audible declaration to forgive and to move forward in positivity, love, and purpose. Then let the healing begin!

Social Media is Not Credible

I just finished reading a mystery book where the main character has been accused of something she has not done. All arrows point to her and no one believes she is innocent. Of course, she is vindicated in the end and all her friends kick themselves for not believing her in the first place. While reading this book, I couldn’t help feel a sense of outrage on the main character’s behalf. Her so-called friends and co-workers turn on her based on evidence and hearsay provided by other people. They completely disregard the fact that they have known her for years and that her personal character has always demonstrated that she would not have committed the act in question. The accusations were completely unjustified, which became clear in the end.

This story reflects what we have been seeing in social media today. Social media began as an easy way to keep in touch with friends and family we don’t see every day. Photos and reports of children playing sports, family vacations, outings with friends, and even what people are making for dinner, were the mainstay. These light-hearted diaries slowly morphed into rants about equal rights and political candidates, religious debates, and analyzations of public figure’s remarks.  It’s this last one that correlates to the book I was reading.

Anytime a public person writes or says anything, it is immediately spread to the masses through social media. Sometimes it is like playing a game of telephone (remember that one, where you sit in a circle and whisper a statement in someone’s ear around the circle to find out if the last person says the same thing the first person said? It usually isn’t even close). The reports on social media are usually only a fragment of what was said, if they are true at all, and you get no essence of tone, volume, environment, or extenuating circumstances. You are left with the bias of the person posting, who most-likely did not hear the words first-hand, but instead believes what he or she heard or read from someone else.

This is dangerous. There is no research being done into these claims. There is no evidence. There is no first-hand knowledge. The Poster usually doesn’t even know the person they are writing about, and may not even know the person from whom they received the information. They are simply re-posting, and maybe adding their own comments. This is not credible information.  But, many people will form an opinion based on this incredible information. I can’t tell you how many times, during the last election, we saw outright lies being posted, which were easily discredited with a little research. People’s reputations and livelihoods are at stake. It doesn’t always become clear in the end.

No one should take anything they see on social media seriously. Just think about your own Facebook page. How often do you post the complete truth? No filter, no leaving out the dirty details? Look at your friends’ pages. Would you think they are what you know them to be based solely on what they post? With this realization, why would you believe what some random person writes about a public figure? Not that the news media is so unbiased these days, but at least they usually have to have at least two sources for their reports. With social media, you can write and forward whatever you want regardless of its accuracy. Don’t be deceived. Don’t believe everything you read. Do the research and find out what really happened.