It is Not About the Volume

My father used to say of music from my generation, “If you can’t play well, play loud.” Paying attention to current events through television, radio, and Internet news, I see that many so-called civil rights activists, politicians, and commentators use a very similar mantra. If you can’t put together a factual, truthful argument, just argue louder. Too often we allow people to shout us down, criticize our beliefs, and dehumanize us just because they are louder, not because they are right. I have seen upstanding, moral people back down from their opponents, or retract their words because the other side is making so much noise, and they will keep doing it as long as we allow them. We are afraid of what will come from their angry words and violent actions, but what we really need to be afraid of is what they are doing to our world (both personal and global). It is time to hold firm to our beliefs and our sense of self. We cannot allow others to shout us down, make us feel inadequate, or intimidate us.

I learned this lesson the hard way, as most good lessons are learned. In my mid-twenties, I worked with a very difficult boss, who belittled most of her employees and created a generally crappy work environment. To make matters worse, she knew nothing of my field of work. Each day I struggled to make myself go to work and ignore her snide comments, threats, and criticisms. She obviously had never taken a leadership course in her pursuit of the Ph.D. she touted to everyone. You know, the course where they teach that employee productivity increases in a positive, encouraging environment. Instead, we all just consoled each other and went out of our way to avoid her.

I tolerated this toxic work relationship for almost a year. I was stressed and I hated my job. This all changed one day when I finally got up the courage to tell my boss that she was out of line in her criticism and her manner of speaking to me. I did this professionally and with a respectful tone. It was a tense few moments, but it was worth the effort it took not to dissolve into my chair as she glared at me. From then on, things were different. She spoke in a respectful manner. She asked my opinion and reasoning. She even smiled once in a while.

I believe that this woman only showed respect to people who showed respect for themselves. As long as I was willing to be belittled, she was willing to be the belittler. If I was going to let her shout at me and call my work inferior, then she was going to do it. I realized afterward, if she really didn’t like my work she would have fired me long ago. She just wanted to feel like she was on top, and she did that by making the rest of us feel like we belonged on the bottom. By standing up to her, and I emphasize that I did this professionally, I showed her that I had respect for myself and my work, and that she could no longer treat me poorly. I believe we can apply this scenario to conflicts in today’s society.

Unfortunately, there are people who feel better about themselves when they can make someone else feel bad. It’s a power trip. It usually doesn’t last long, so these people need to find more and more opportunities, both with the same target and new ones. They are intimidating and will use any method to get the result they want, which is fear. Fear on the part of the target that this person can somehow cause them harm. This, of course, is the usual threat, that the target will lose livelihood, reputation, assets, and even safety.

Now, take a step back and consider the amount of harm this bully (and that is what these power trip-driven people are) can possibly cause. Make a rational decision about whether or not living in fear, anxiety and lack of dignity is worth whatever they may or may not be able to take from you.

In my case, I could have easily lost my job, which could have had a domino effect in my life. However, continuing to allow myself and my work to be criticized and my reputation to be ruined, was not a healthy option and made it worth the risk. If I can’t stand up for myself and my convictions, no one else will, and I leave myself open to these bullies, who can shape my life and society in a very bad way.

It is not easy, but by demonstrating respect for ourselves and our own beliefs, by not backing down and tolerating ill-treatment, we can gain respect from others. Calling out disrespect, untruthfulness, and fear tactics can send the opposition running. We must remember, it’s not about the volume, it’s about the message.

 

Give Kids Family Not Gangs

I read a news report a few days ago that has stuck with me and I feel compelled to write about both the report and what I feel is the most important take-away from the interviewees in the report. First, I would encourage you to read the story and watch the accompanying video. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/02/17/chicago-gang-members-say-more-police-wont-stop-murders.html

The words of the young men interviewed by journalist Michael Tobin have stuck in my thoughts. One of the gang members stated that “Half of these guys don’t got no mom…They moms or fathers was lost to the same gang that we getting ourselves into now.” Kevin Gentry, another young man interviewed said, “We are more like a family than a gang…brothers.”

It’s not a new piece of information that gang members usually don’t have strong family units. It’s a fact that has been talked about by former gang members and depicted in after-school-special-type television shows. Most of the time, gang members are looking for a family experience, where they feel loved, appreciated, and cared for. If we, as a society, can refocus our attention on the importance of the family unit, we could possibly change and save lives. There is so much attention paid to the aftermath of the actions of a wayward child instead of on the child’s beginning. The only way to stop the gang violence is to stop the reasons for it, such as the lack of a loving, safe home for each child.

The violence in Chicago is staggering. There were 762 homicides in Chicago in 2016, most of them gang-related, according to a report by CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/01/us/chicago-murders-2016/). These young men and the girls who become associated with them are looking to fulfill the basic needs that we all have: shelter, safety, love. They are not getting this from a mother and father.  This is where it all starts.

It is not easy to be a parent. It is especially not easy to be a single parent. Children need role models. They need to see a mother and father working together to set a good example. It can be done with one parent, but I know single parents who would gladly have a partner to help. Each parent provides a vital role for the child. Parents together give a child a sense of continuity, protection, love, and emotional balance. A child needs good examples of both male and female roles in the home and the community. The children who don’t have this type of example in the home are going to look for it elsewhere. Hopefully that will be with another strong example, such as an uncle, grandmother, coach, church leader, etc. But, if the child can’t fill their basic needs this way, they may turn in the wrong direction, like to a gang. One of the men Tobin interviewed described how touched he was that one of his fellow gang members gave him a gun because it made him feel loved that this person wanted to protect him. That is a feeling that should come from a parent and I am saddened that he does not have that.

A strong family unit, with upstanding parents eliminates the need for violent gangs. It is the parent’s responsibility to teach these young men right from wrong and to ensure that their child knows the consequences for doing wrong.

A Need for Good Fathers

While a mother is so important to shaping a child’s character, a good father is equally important. A father sets the standard of what a young boy should strive to achieve. If he sees a hard-working, honest man, then that is what he will want for himself. A young man needs a father to teach him to be strong and loving at the same time. A good father sets rules and follows through with fair disciplinary action. He teaches his son good work ethics, responsibility, and to hold strong to his beliefs. A good father also teaches his son through example how to treat women with dignity. He does not allow his son to degrade a woman for any reason.  A good father takes an interest in his son. He talks to him, plays with him, and listens to him. He is there as a guide showing love and affection.

If the father is in jail or otherwise absent, he leaves a void in his son’s life. A void that must be filled in some way.

A father is vitally important to a young girl, too.  He provides an example to his daughter of what a good man is and how she should expect to be treated. As a young girl, my father made sure to spend one-on-one time with me, taking me camping and to the ballet. He took interest in my activities, and listened when I told him how some boy was the cutest thing ever. When I started listening to music he didn’t like, he talked with me about it and explained the reasons why he didn’t feel it was a good example for me. He always opened doors for me, encouraged me in school and in activities, and he still buys me Valentines cards. He taught me to expect respect from the men I dated and to set standards for myself in every area of my life.

If a girl does not get the love and affection she needs from her father, she will turn elsewhere to find it. The girls who associate with gang members are looking for affection and are willing to do whatever it takes to get the attention of these young men. It makes them feel loved and wanted, even if it is fleeting. These men also provide for the basic needs of shelter, security, and means for food and clothing, for as long as the men are around. Then the girls may be left with an unwanted child and the cycle starts all over.

It is often said that women marry (or date) men who are like their fathers. Apply that to the situation of these girls who get involved with gang members.  They either have no father or a father who is a bad example so they gravitate toward a man who is unstable, disrespectful, and surrounded by violence.

So how do we fix this? It is not an easy answer. The first step is always education. Education not only in terms of school, but in terms of life. We have to stop the cycle of broken homes and focus on the importance of the family unit. Girls need to know that men in gangs will not provide a stable life for them and are not a substitute for a father figure. Boys need to know that gangs may seem like the only way to get the help they need, but gang life will only give them prison sentences, fear, guilt, and even death. Both the young men and women need to understand that raising a mentally – and emotionally-healthy child while still being a child, and without a proper home and steady income, is nearly impossible and will just result in another generation of children looking to gangs for the answers to their problems.

The young people in areas where gangs are prevalent, and that’s not just Chicago, will struggle with poverty and violence for the rest of their lives if they give into the notion that gangs provide what they need. The only way out of that life is to get an education and, once you are educated, help the community in any way you can. While this can take time to progress, there are steps that we, who are privileged enough to have grown up in healthy environments, can take to improve the conditions for these young people who have the capacity to do great things.

Mentor children who are struggling because they lack role models. This can be accomplished through community centers, churches, and non-profit organizations. Be the example these children need so that they understand there is another way of life of which they can be a part.

Provide resources to community organizations that help children stay out of that lifestyle. Making a donation is always appreciated, but there are other ways to help. If you work for a company that can provide materials for community centers, approach the executives with a proposal (include any recognition they might receive. Even though that’s not the point, they always like that). Put together a community drive to provide donations of sports equipment, art supplies, and books that can be given to the organizations who offer youth programs.

Were you good at math or science in school? Tutor children having difficulty in these or other subjects. Just letting a child now there are people who care and who are rooting for their success could give him or her motivation needed to continue their education. We all know education is vitally important to success.

You could also fund before and after-school programs and transportation programs so kids don’t have to walk through dangerous areas. Whatever you choose, you will be making an impact for the kids in that area, and for all of us. Less gang violence means a safer world, less children feeling abandoned and unloved means a healthier, happier world. Stop the cycle of violence!

We All Make Mistakes

No one goes through life without making mistakes. Hitting the mailbox while backing down the driveway, forgetting lunch on the counter, missing a deadline, putting the proverbial foot in the mouth, a temporary lapse of judgement; there are so many mistakes to be made. There are days when I feel like I have made nothing but mistakes. This is why I am so grateful that I have not been penalized for every blunder in my life. I am also glad that most of my mistakes go unnoticed by anyone else. When they are noticed, and when I have made life difficult for someone else, I am even more grateful for forgiveness.

We are not perfect beings and to treat someone as though they should be perfect is unfair. Many times, when we personally make a mistake, we say it’s unintentional or out of our control, but when someone else makes a mistake, we say it was intentional or the result of their inadequacies (there’s an actual theory all about this called Attribution Theory). We give ourselves leeway, but refuse that for others. It’s a bit hypocritical.

There are examples of this all over the headlines. We have seen an increase in the amount of attention paid to mistakes made by prominent people, some that were made years ago. These individuals are being skewered publicly while their lives and careers are destroyed. The media and the accusers are out for blood. The irony in all of this is that the people casting stones are far from perfect themselves. I often wonder if they are just trying to deflect from their own indiscretions.

It may be difficult to admit when you have made a mistake, but acknowledging the mistake and making amends to the best of your ability shows that you have learned something. On the other side, when someone makes a mistake that affects you, accept their apology and move on. Don’t drag their name through the mud, don’t hold a grudge, and don’t seek revenge. If it truly was a mistake, there is no need to make the person feel worse than they already feel. You will want the same consideration when the situation is reversed.

In situations where the person does not realize the extent of their mistake or does not acknowledge your feelings, still move on. The person doesn’t need to apologize; you can forgive without them being a part of it. Holding on to grudges and rehashing the events makes you feel as bad as, or worse than, the other person. Forgiveness leads to healing which leads to joy.

Give people a second chance. If I were still being judged by mistakes I made twenty years ago, I would be a mess. The same goes for mistakes I made yesterday. Everyone changes throughout their life. No one is the same person they were in their teens and twenties. I’m not the same person I was last year.

I don’t want to dwell on my mistakes, and I certainly wouldn’t want to see them debated in the evening news ad nauseam. So, unless you are perfect, and no one is, always remember, “To err is human, to forgive divine” (Alexander Pope).

 

Women, Choose Your Battles

I understand that women are angry about President Trump’s “locker room” talk. But I don’t understand why women aren’t angry about the plethora of media that objectifies females. Not only do women seem blind to it, but they participate in it.

Media is saturated with women played out as objects to look at instead of people with skills and talents worthy of admiration. Women pose nude, or nearly so, on the cover of magazines, fight crime in skin tight clothing in movies, walk the red carpet in strategically placed sheer cloth, and gyrate to their own music in nothing more than sparkly bathing suits. In interviews, women are asked tough questions about skin care, diets, and broken relationships.

If this is how we women allow ourselves to be portrayed, then how do we expect men to treat us with respect and dignity? Turn on any radio station playing top hits and you can hear all about how popular male musicians view the women around them. One singer considers himself a ferocious animal who “preys” on women like they are pieces of meat to be devoured. Many singers seem to think the word bitch is just another word for woman. Others sing about one-night-stands and the endless string of women they can conquer.

This isn’t the only area of issue. Just look at how women are portrayed in comic books and video games. Their boobs look like bowling balls suspended off their chests. I don’t know how they can stand up, let alone fight crime or mystical beasts. If women think that Barbie dolls are bad for a girl’s self-image, what do they think about how this portrayal of women will shape boys’ expectations?

So, why is there a huge outrage against what President Donald Trump said more than a decade ago, but nothing about these atrocities? Why aren’t there marches outside record studios or protests against video game makers?

Feminism is not just about a pro-choice argument. It is also about the right to dignity for women. We should be outraged by what has become an ordinary part of our culture. This isn’t just about one man’s words, but an entire industry that profits off of reducing women to nothing more than mindless bodies.  We can’t put all the blame on the media, though. We have to respect ourselves in order to be respected.

The first step is to demand more from ourselves and each other. Do not listen to music that is demeaning. Do not buy magazines or watch movies that portray women as objects. Do not allow your sons and daughters to play video games that proffer unrealistic expectations of women’s bodies. Do not purchase clothing for your daughter that encourages her to dress inappropriately, and explain to her why you won’t. Unfortunately, it may come down to a loss of revenue, but hopefully these companies will get the message, too. Once we set the boundaries, and stand up for our own dignity, we will succeed in making a positive change to our culture. Our daughters will be proud.

There is More Good Than Evil

When I was a child, around middle school age, I had a hard time making friends. I was shy, had low confidence, and spent a lot of time playing on my own. It was very difficult for me to put myself out there in hopes of making a connection. This is why I was so excited when, in seventh grade, through very little effort on my part, I made a new friend. We were instantly attached at the hip. We saw each other at school and she came to my house on several occasions. One afternoon, my new friend and I were talking in my room. She casually asked me about my background, saying her father was curious. I answered, thinking nothing of it. After that day, she would no longer speak to me in school and we never got together outside of school again. I knew why, but I was still confused and hurt.

I have rarely thought about this girl and her family since graduation. I haven’t harbored any anger or ill-will toward her. In fact, I forgive her and her father. I know that there are people in this world who believe that we are divided into a hierarchy based on race, ethnicity, religion, and other distinguishing characteristics. These people have hardened hearts and blinders on their eyes, but the worst thing we can do is to match their attitudes. Instead, we must soften our hearts and open our eyes to the truth. I truly believe there is more Good in this world than evil and that evil works very hard to make us think otherwise. If we fail to see this, to really focus on the good in our lives and around us, fear, anger and unforgiveness will take hold of us and destroy our lives.

In our current culture, there is so much focus on negativity. People agonize over all the wrongs we have faced, all the mistakes that have been made, all the hurt, confusion, anger, fear, and sadness. We are weighed –down by emotion and it is stifling.

It’s time to let it all go. Forgive. Forget. Reconcile. Be free. Be happy. Live without fear. Let the anger go. Feel the freedom. Let love into your heart. Improve.

Don’t let someone else make you something you are not. Be part of the Good in this world.

Not Everyone Thinks The Way You Do

The election is over. The inauguration is over. Yet, anger rages on.

News pundits, Hollywood-types, and politicians who think they are Hollywood-types are saying things like, “we have no hope” or “we’ve hit the bottom of the barrel.” The phrase “Not My President” has been shouted and tweeted as a mantra of people who just can’t face facts. The general consensus by the liberals is that we need to hunker down, hold our breath, and wait out the next four years in fear. And, while doing that, they will spread messages of doom, continue to protest in anger and violence, and rip the divides between us even bigger and more jagged.

In the past months I have seen people, who have the luxury of being heard, say and write the most terrible, inciteful words against their fellow citizens simply because they don’t like their viewpoint. I understand and I am grateful for the right of free speech, especially as I sit here typing this post. What people fail to understand, however, is that free speech applies to everyone, not just people who think alike or people in positions of power. Not everyone has the opportunity to speak, so consistently we only hear one opinion. But, make no mistake; there is definitely more than one opinion.

When I was about 20 years old, I learned a very simple, but valuable lesson. I was in a training meeting for work and was expressing my opinion on policies. The trainer looked at me very pointedly and said, “Not everyone thinks the way you do.” Unfortunately, that message took some time to sink in, but when it did, it was like an epiphany, and all the sudden I understood. It’s OK to have opinions, but it’s so very important to listen to those of others. Listen to the opinion, and also the reasons behind the opinion. We all have different backgrounds and different goals for ourselves and our families. No two people have had the same experience and we can all learn from one another. If we just listen.

People by human nature like to make connections. We do this through communication, often by sharing opinions about the situations around us. The key is to ensure the proper time and place and to maintain a productive, civil conversation. It is not OK to be hateful, judgmental, forceful, demeaning, or intimidating. Talking about tolerance while being intolerant, talking about love and inclusion while spreading a message of hate will only divide us further.  We have the right to free speech, and we have a responsibility speak with respect, dignity, and love.

As for the next four years, I refuse to live in fear. I will pray for our President and I will do what I can to support my fellow Americans. We have all worked with bosses, teachers, or other authority figures with whom we disagreed or felt were unqualified. We did what was necessary to succeed. If we had rioted, refused to work, or verbally insulted the leader we would have failed not just ourselves, but everyone involved. President Trump is our leader and we must, as Americans, support him and pray for his leadership, or we fail.

 

Less Talking, More Doing

There’s a whole lot of talking going on these days. Talk about women’s rights, talk about illegal immigrants, talk about gun violence. Talk, talk, talk. Oh, and some marching.

If people really want to change the world, or even one issue in the world, they need to talk less. Instead of writing guest editorials, being interviewed, spouting off on Facebook, and marching all over the country, concerned citizens need to take real action. Get involved with the issues you hold close to your heart by volunteering for, or donating money to, the organizations that are really helping. Take the responsibility away from the government, where it doesn’t belong anyway, and put it with the people. Raise awareness through participation.

If women’s rights are your passion, take time to volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center or teach an awareness class for teens at the local community center. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, giving girls and women education before they get pregnant could change the whole discussion.

If you have concern about gang violence, serve as a mentor for youth or help with after-school programs. Help keep inner city kids in school by volunteering in the school district, providing resources for teachers and students, and contributing to the build-up of community resources. Develop a community program to keep teens occupied after school and on weekends while parents are at work.

Another key area in need of real action is in the schools. Parents want the best education for their children, but there is a shortage in qualified teachers, especially in low-income areas. Teachers are grossly underpaid and many lose the desire to teach after facing growing classrooms, low parent support, and decreased student respect. However, these schools and the students in them need the most help. Volunteer as a teacher’s aide, support the parent-teacher organizations, spearhead school beautification projects, and donate funds for new technology, books, and supplies. Lift up the next generation to be educated, thoughtful, and responsible and we will see our future grow stronger.

None of these initiatives need to be taken on alone. Make volunteering a social event. Gather neighbors, co-workers, church members, family, or friends and work together to make a difference. Approach the human resources department at work to see about starting a charity fund(s) and see if the company will match what is raised. In lieu of the token gift card at Christmas, perhaps a suggestion to the bosses to let the employees choose between a few charities instead would be appreciated. Teach your kids while their young to be considerate and help others. Things like food drives, winter clothing collections, and serving at a food distribution site can all be done in groups and will all go much further than unproductive talk.

If you aren’t able to commit time or money, at least stop spreading negativity, and write or say something positive about a local organization helping your community so that others will volunteer or donate.

There are so many charitable organizations actively working to help the same populations all these people keep talking about. They need help. Not through talk, but through action. Most charitable organizations are desperate for volunteers, even if you can only give a few hours a week. It just takes a little research to find the right charities and to ensure that they are qualified and ethical (this part is very important). Once you find the charities that fit your goals, volunteer, donate, and watch the world change.

Women, Encourage Each Other

Most women experience low self-esteem. I would say “all” women, but I am sure there is some woman out there who is unfailingly confident (I’ve never met her, but I’m sure she probably exists). In my lifetime, I would say I have experienced a lack of confidence at least once a day. However, I don’t let that stop me from doing what I believe to be important.  I trudge on, over-analyzing everything, while trying to do my best, hopefully smiling a little along the way. Sometimes it’s harder than others.

I would like to blame Hollywood and supermodels for inundating the world with images of “perfect people”, but that’s just what they are, images. I know the women in advertisements and movies represent only a teeny-tiny percentage of the women in the world. I also know that they don’t look “magazine-ready” when they are sitting on their couch watching television and they aren’t the perfect people they portray in the movies. These women are not what keep me from feeling confident. Unfortunately, it’s the women I encounter on a daily basis, and I would venture to say it’s the same scenario for many other women.

So, I would like to put a proposal out to all women…Please stop judging each other. As a demographic, women are thought of as smart, beautiful, strong, capable and maybe sexy. Oh, and we are also thought of as catty, manipulative, judgmental, gossipy, and pushy. I like the first list, but the second one makes me cringe. So, I propose that we, as a group, stop giving each other the once-over when we meet (you know, the look of “I can’t believe she’s wearing those jeans” or “who did her hair, Edward Scissorhands?”), stop judging a mom whose car floor is covered in goldfish and French fries, and stop thinking every woman who does well in her career either slept her way to the top or could star as the wicked witch.

Instead, I suggest we praise each other, support one another, and encourage all women in whatever their endeavor. A compliment makes both the giver and the receiver feel good, so spread them around. Look for the good instead of focusing on the bad. We can have such a positive effect on each other. Imagine all the things we don’t do because we are afraid of what other people may think. Now imagine how incredible the world would be if women felt encouraged to do the amazing things they are not confident enough to try. We might have flying cars by now!

It starts with something little like a smile or a compliment. For example, usually when I go grocery shopping, I focus on my list and try to get out as fast as I can. I generally pay very little attention to the people around me unless someone really stands out. Then I find myself falling into the judgmental category. The other day, I made an effort to look at each person I passed and smile. I was amazed at how many people smiled back and how many people said hello and even made small talk. It was a small effort, but I felt great! Imagine what it would do for your attitude at work, or at the playground, or at church. You would be lifting the spirits of those around you as well as your own. These small actions can lead to bigger plans like mentoring a young woman in your career field or starting a scholarship program.

Women have the capacity to be passionate, compassionate, hard-working, and creative. We also tend to be harder on ourselves and on each other.  As a way of raising the collective self-esteem of women, which could change the world, compliment a woman today and see what a difference it makes.

Let Kids be Kids

When I was growing up there were two genders, male or female, and it was fairly easy to tell which gender a person was. Today, we are learning there are several genders a person can say they are. Most commonly, we hear about males identifying as females and females identifying as males, both labeled transgender. There has been much discussion regarding the transgender movement, especially in the past year. The news has been saturated with stories of so-called bathroom bills and colleges asking students to wear pins identifying which pronoun the student would like others to use when addressing them. I have some difficulty understanding these issues, as I still believe it is fairly easy to tell if a person is male or female, that is unless medical intervention has occurred. However, although I do not agree, it is not my place to judge an adult who chooses to be called by a gender they are not.

I do have concern when the actions of pro-transgender individuals negatively affect children. There is a current case of an eight-year-old girl who has been rejected by the Boy Scouts of America. The girl claims that she identifies as a boy. Her mother is quoted in several articles as saying that her daughter was acting like a tomboy by climbing trees and doing other “boy” activities. The mother also stated that she read a book on transgenderism and realized that must be what her daughter was experiencing.  So the mother allowed the daughter to cut her hair and dress like a boy, as well as join the Boy Scouts. However, at this time the Boy Scouts are sticking to their tradition and policies of only accepting boys into their organization.

At eight-years-old, I too enjoyed playing outdoors. My brothers were a few years older and I looked up to them.  I wanted to do everything they did, like ride bikes, play basketball and football, and go hiking through the woods. Now I live in a neighborhood with several families with young girls. I see them riding their bikes, tromping through the woods, and playing with lizards and bugs. At no time did anyone think of me or the girls in my neighborhood now as having male tendencies. We were and are just girls having fun.

Years ago there was a push to stop labeling toys and games as “girls” or “boys” in order to stop shaming young people away from what they enjoyed doing. Girls were allowed to play football and still be feminine. Boys could cook and bake and still be masculine. Now, the transgender culture is reversing this perfectly good mentality by saying if a female likes to do traditionally male activities that she must be identifying as a male. This is wrong, especially when talking about children. Young children have no idea what is “male” and “female” and they often go through phases where they like something for a while, then become interested in something else as their interests mature. Telling an eight-year-old girl that she identifies as a boy because she likes to climb trees is ridiculous both because climbing trees is not something only boys can do and because  her interests will change many times over her lifetime. And, even if she does like climbing trees for the rest of her life, she may also like dancing, fashion, cooking, painting, running, singing, and any number of activities that anyone can enjoy.

Labeling a young child as something they are not will only cause unnecessary and possibly life-long confusion, embarrassment, and torment. In the case of this child, and others experiencing similar labeling, the appropriate action for the parent to take is to love their child, support their healthy interests, and refrain from labeling their child. Allow the child to grow, mature, and explore their interests into adulthood, making their own distinctions.

As for the eight-year-old wanting to be a scout, the Girl Scouts are always accepting young, adventurous girls. And, they can climb trees, too.

 

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Intentions

I have decided to start a blog. Not because the world needs another person trying to persuade the masses to think the way he or she does, there are plenty of those. I am writing out of a therapeutic need in many ways. First, I just need to get thoughts out of my head. I tend to focus (or dwell) on something until I have an outlet. Sometimes, it’s through spirited conversation with my closest family members and friends. Most of the time my outlet is through writing. Second, I have seen a change in our country from civil, thoughtful exchange of ideas to uncivilized, uninformed, stubborn threatening. No one has ever swayed another person to their viewpoint through threats, yelling, violence, or lies. I would like to be a part of the movement for the return of considerate, constructive, and positive discussion no matter the topic and no matter the viewpoint.

This will not be a blog full of angry rants and threatening language. I am not a particularly confrontational person. I have never been one of those people who get an adrenaline rush at the thought of engaging in debate with someone. I tend to shy away from conversations that I know will end in disagreement. This blog will take me out of my comfort zone, as I know not everyone will agree with what I write.

While I do not like arguing, I do have very strong opinions. Some of them are the result of influence by my parents. Some of my opinions have been formed over time through experience. I have earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree, both in communications. I have studied in great depth the concepts of conflict resolution, persuasion, and interpersonal communication.  I have, also, had the privilege to live in several areas of the country. I have met people from diverse backgrounds and I have friends with beliefs very different from my own. I have learned from these people, both good and bad. I know there are differences between us, but I also know that we are fundamentally the same.

I have been reluctant in the past to disagree with my friends, and even more so with strangers. I now feel compelled to “speak” through writing. I do not wish to be confrontational in the negative sense of the word. I simply would like to share another perspective. I believe our country’s evolving culture has left behind some very basic principles of a kind and civilized society when it comes to communication. This blog is meant to remind readers of the value of give and take. It is good to have opinions and ideas, and it is good to listen to those of others. You never know what you will learn.

I hope my posts will resonate with readers and inspire positive discussion. Thank you for reading!