Monday, March 6, 2017

The Current Year Really Doesn’t Matter That Much

Over the past several years, when important social rights issues have been discussed, debated and voted on, I often hear people say “It’s 201_ and I can’t believe we are still dealing with X.”  I used to say that myself – example “why in 2016 are people still making a big deal about gay people being in love or getting married.”  I completely get where these people (and formerly myself) are coming from.  In this day in age – 2017 A.D. – one would think that the thoughts and beliefs of humanity in general would have moved beyond caring how other people live their lives or what color their skin is or what their religious beliefs are etc.  

But the other day, I think while reading some dialogue about LGBTQ rights, someone said something like “why is this still an issue in 2017?”.  And it struck me quickly like a lightning bolt (a tired metaphor, I know), “what does being 2017 have to do with anything?”.  The advancement of thousands of years going by, adding to our annual trip around the sun, does not necessarily assure enlightened progression of people’s understanding of the human condition.  People will be small-minded, racist, prejudiced, hateful, rude, spiteful, vengeful, merciless and unforgiving for as long as there are people to walk this earth.  I cannot say I have done much research, or even light reading on this, but I would bet that people have been this way since the progress of evolution brought about the human race. 

Painting with a broad brush stroke here, but I feel that as long as humans have the ability to think and feel, have free-will and choice, and the ability to decide upon which thoughts they will act, the whole of humanity will never end racism, bigotry, chauvinism, xenophobia, sexism, dogmatism or the desire to control others.  It is a very nice thought to believe that as the years continue to go by that all people (current living and future born) will fill their hearts with decency, unconditional tolerance of others, helpfulness, total acceptance, peace and have no judgement.  But as long as there is at least one person around spreading hateful ideas, there will be at least one person to openly/actively listen and accept those terrible, wounding views in their cold hard hearts.

It has been said time and again by studious persons that “people are afraid of the unknown – things they don’t understand.”  That is one of the truest statements ever realized and taught.  Many people are afraid and embarrassed to be seen as uneducated and/or vulnerable, leaving them to be stalwart holders of ignorance and hate.  They can also be fearful of having family and friends think ill of them, which continues the cycle of closed-mindedness and unacceptance.

One part of the human condition directly and indirectly taught is that we want people we love and care about to think positively of us; and we dare not go against the grain we know.  So we sometimes hastily take up their beliefs and opinions as our own and usually don’t give them much thought or scrutiny.  We don’t want to be left out in the cold or become one of those that our loved ones loathe.  Humans (some, not all, naturally) don’t want to be seen as weak that can be easily convinced to join the “other side”.  The “other side” being people who do offer acceptance, love, and tolerance of those different from themselves.  We’d rather keep the peace around the dinner table and back yard barbeque than to try and help those persecuted find peace. 

So many foibles easily and quietly slither their way into peoples’ views, and eventually show up in their actions.  2017, 2018, 2020, 2025, 2035 etc – no matter what year comes along, harshness, intolerance, refusal to empathize & show compassion, and being unkind will always be a part of the human experience.  Just like people have the option to choose which feeling/attitude they will act upon, they also may pick and choose which parts of some constitutionally guaranteed freedoms they want applied.  They want these freedoms to apply when it positively benefits them and will utilize these liberties to stoke the fires of hatred and bias. 

People appreciate freedom of religion as long as others practice the same religion.  Heaven help them if they don’t believe/practice in the same way!  Some of the populace use freedom of speech too liberally in some instances – as in speaking before fully understanding about what they are speaking when it comes to major social/economic/government issues and rights or spreading alternative facts. (!)   And with freedom of the press, some will quickly believe just about anything presented as news if it lines up with their views without doing any research to learn if what is being reported has any amount of truth to it or if some of the truth was twisted to entice and enflame its readers.  **These are just my thoughts.  Possibly not well-reasoned ones!**  Don’t get me wrong here!  I really do appreciate these freedoms and the others that we so fortunately have here in the USA.

So I realize I have been rambling on here and may have gotten somewhat off topic.  I guess overall what I am trying to say is that humans will be humans with all of the emotions, feelings and beliefs that are available for them to have - no matter if its back in the Middle Ages, Age of Discovery, Napoleonic Era or Post-Cold War/Postmodernity Era or any of the Eras and Ages that have come to pass since the beginning of humanity.

Anyway these are my (probably irrational) opinions and feelings on the often said “I can’t believe it is (current year) and we still have to deal with (social/economic issue).”

Two clarifications here to keep in mind:
1)    I am not a historian, philosopher, psychologist or psychiatrist or any other scholar.  So I am just kind of making this up as I go along based on what I have heard, read and observed over the years; and
2)    I do not have any answers on how to make all of human race loving, kind and peace-filled.  The best I can do is be kind to others and help where I can.  And if I am brave, call out other people who are being mean to those who are different – whether different in skin color, sexuality, religion or any other factor.

Today’s pun courtesy of the interwebs ---
An umbilical cord is a navel vessel.

Absorbed In Our Phones

A few months ago I saw a post on Facebook from a lady, who was sitting in an office, and saw most people on their phones rather than read the magazines offered.  This struck her as people maybe being slightly selfish, and wanting to be more absorbed in their own worlds than in the immediate world around them.  And when I read that, I thought momentarily that she is right.  But then I quickly changed my mind.  Why you may ask?  Well, the answer is simple.  I want to know what is going on in the world of other people.

Someone commented on that post about people missing out on the beauty of the world around them – like watching squirrels scamper across yards gathering nuts, listening to birds sing or just in general seeing all the people who may cross their paths. I can totally understand this point of view.  While at the office, I sometimes look out my windows to see squirrels going here and there across the parking lot looking for nuts to store up for winter and watching birds fly to and fro.  I miss out on some much of nature being cooped up in an office.  *But I am extremely happy and grateful to be in an office on really hot & cold days and days of bad weather.* 

But back to my last statement in the first paragraph.  I am an extremely curious person.  I love knowing what’s going on around me and around the world.  I enjoy listening to the news on NPR; I am not a huge fan of local news, and have not been for a long time.  I enjoy reading people’s blogs - specifically of people who travel around the world, either for a living or just about their vacations to foreign lands. I genuinely love seeing pictures from around the world – gorgeous beaches, majestic mountain ranges, luscious rainforests, food & craft markets in large cities, wild animals, beautiful valleys, mesmerizing rivers lakes & oceans, and so much more. 

By watching videos online & tv shows, looking at pictures and reading blogs, I get to see parts of the world that I may never get to see.  And if I am fortunate enough to travel to more of our own country or other places around the globe, there is no guarantee that what I view now online or on tv will still be the same whenever I may get to visit.  For example, I watch some travel and food shows and they highlight some really cool food & craft markets around the world; but if I get to go there someday, then the markets may change to something unrecognizable or may even be non-existent.  The oceans, lakes and rivers could become more trashed or lakes and rivers could dry up in the future.  

So, yes I will freely admit that I am one of those people seen playing on their phones when in public – for instance: in the waiting room at a doctor’s office or waiting for a table at a restaurant.  And yes, sometimes I am playing around just wasting time – checking up on Facebook, reading celebrity news and other non-useful, brain-deadening stuff.  But I try not to make all my time on my phone to be mind-dulling.  I try to learn new things, catch up on serious news or read about peoples lives – like how women are defying the religious and male-dominated societal customs in middle-Eastern countries, people who’ve invented cool things, had incredibly interesting lives or had great adventures.  With the immediate availability of information from around the world and its people, I love learning about things going on globally.

However, I am not absorbed in my phone all the time when in public.  If there are magazines offered in a waiting room, I will sometimes pick one up to browse.  I sometimes like losing myself in something – a book, crafts, etc – that cannot connected to the internet.  And in the occasional places where I cannot use my phone or read a magazine, I am pretty good at keeping myself amused – my thoughts alone are enough to keep me stimulated and captivated.  Ha!  J 

So in my posts, I usually try make a point – whether it is a reasonable sounding point or may sound plain crazy in the eyes of others.  But with this one, I am not sure if a point can actually be made.  After reading the Facebook post mentioned at the beginning, I felt I had to defend myself even though the woman was not talking to me directly.  I wanted to say that is ok to sometimes be absorbed on our phones or tablets or other such device.  And that is ok to not read magazines.  It is ok to be sucked into the social media world or gaming or mindless reading sometimes.  This is one beneficial tactic that our busy, over-worked, over-tired brains need sometime – time to completely chill out and zone out.  This time can be kind of refreshing and restful.  So however, you spend your downtime, I hope it is pleasant and maybe a little constructive.

Today’s pun comes courtesy of the interwebs ---

If Apple made a car, would it have Windows?