Too many cooks in the kitchen, not enough dishwashers

We hear and learn of people with things to say, and we see how many people they sway. Their words are so meaningful, powerful, moving, that we have been swayed too. Many of us want to sway others like that; we want to be inspirational too.

Even years after they are spoken, those words ring true in our hearts and those leaders inspired millions of great acts by ordinary people and although those who followed may have only done a small part, or disagreed sometimes, they had something different from today’s unhappy protesters…

they worked together.

It was not reviewing or discussing or commenting or responding,

and that work was not summarizing or highlighting inspirational words, nor quoting them,

not necessarily even sharing them (in part or in all).

When someone like MLK Jr spoke, people actively listened, and followed. They did not interject, clamor to be seen and heard too, shouting from the rooftops his self-same message in half a million variations. They didn’t pick apart his message and distribute their opinions on the minutiae of every detail believing that it was a tangible contribution to the cause. They didn’t run out to write overly critical articles about how he wasn’t revolutionary enough and then sit back feeling accomplished because of it. They did not constantly question each other’s commitment or sincerity or critique others’ level of participation.

People still thought for themselves and did not just follow blindly either – they decided when and how to provide each other the support needed to orhcestrate a united front with solutions in hand to the specific issues that were problems in their lives. They held meetings and came to agreements about what to focus on and how to approach challenges together.

 

Those people were inspired and with that inspiration they built systems together to replace the ones that did not not serve them:

when hiring was not fair, protests where specific
– striking picket lines had signs reading “Don’t eat where they won’t hire you”

when bus segregation kept the front for whites only, protests were collaborative
-months of rideshares and carpools coordinated despite stress and strong adversity

when schools where divided, protests were leading by example
-parents registered their children and sent them to school even with a police escort

when people were openly mistreating other people, protests were non-violent
-others stood with the victims in solidarity and took the same treatment without resorting to retribution

when business reinforced discrimination, protests were unified
-organized boycotts denied business significant income and reputation

 

These actions drove monumental change, up to Amendments to the Constitution.

Rallies, songs, marches, and demonstrations get a lot of attention. Awareness alone is not enough.

Each of us is the one to take action – we can’t all call each other to action and then wonder why no one is acting.

Turning our own attention into action that drives meaningful change is our challenge. Take the next step, and the one after that.

 

The Better Friend

There are always differences between people, and no one is easily quantified. We all have different talents, skill sets, experiences, and knowledge. Many of us are fairly matched when it comes to our friends. The relationship is mutually beneficial as each has valuable contributions to offer. Many times, however, there is a wider gap in abilities or sensibilities between the two parties involved. Essentially, one person simply has more to offer, while the other person has more to gain. 

For the person who has more to gain, the relationship is extremely rewarding. In this role we get someone we admire and respect as a friend, and we get to learn or grow just by being friends with them. They often help us out with challenges that we must meet. They are an example of what we strive for or look forward to in our dreams. We often try to find ways to help them in return, even if it’s obvious that we’re not in a position to do so effectively.

For the person who has more to offer out of the two, the relationship may still benefit us. We like feeling magnanimous and benevolent, being respected or even revered. Receiving gratitude and respect is wonderfully fulfilling. Whether we are older, smarter, wiser or more skilled, it can feel good to be the better friend. 

Honestly most folks would rather have a friend with more to offer than themself. The benefits can be more tangible, and the experience more enjoyable, than the other way around. We may understand the benefits of being the better friend, but filling that role takes more work and offers less reward in the end. As much as we might know it’s best, we always hope that someone else will be the better friend. 

So many folks decide that being the better friend is not worth it for them, eschewing those relationships entirely. They dislike anyone who doesn’t have enough to offer them. This friendship qualification is quite difficult to meet. However, this isn’t just about setting a high standard in our relationships. There comes a point at which some people miss the impression this requirement can give. 

If each of us is the lucky benefactor of the gifts of superior friends, it begs the question who is left to be that better friend? All of us are at different developmental stages, and there is always someone out there who is better or worse. If we each refuse to engage anyone who is not significantly better than us, we’re missing out on more than we know. Those people may still have a wide variety to offer us, but if not, we must then ask ourselves: what kind of friend feels the need to be the only one to benefit from the friendship? 

Being the better friend means we give of ourselves a little more. But recognizing our chance to be that friend for someone else is the perfect way to repay the kindness of those who helped us out when they had nothing to gain.

You Know; Dads Are Lazy

In the American landscape, there is a creature that has attained the most delicate balance. It has essentially been able to achieve a dual identity that straddles almost exact opposite themes. This creature is a cultural icon that enjoys a well established reputation cradled by media and perpetuated throughout society. It is described in a gently mocking yet warmly accepted way. This creature gets the best of all worlds, while branding itself an incorrigible failure.

The American “Dad” role we have come to know and reinforce in our daily lives is one of many facets.

In one way the Dad remains the provider and definitely holds the final say in family matters. Regardless of how strong an adjacent female character may be, she will at some point refer or defer to the father figure. He is the one who “puts his foot down” and “means business”. Dad retains claim to the most resources as well – and that’s seen as earned or justified (this refers to food, control of TV or travel choices, etc). Dads are still widely painted as the strongest and most productive member of the family.

Somehow, despite being the strongest member of the American family, Dad has some supposedly inherent weaknesses of character. These are apparently not his fault, and not on purpose… they are shortcomings that appear to arise despite Dad’s best efforts. He’s strong enough and powerful enough to make final decisions, and protect the family in cases of emergency, yet he seems unable to carry out daily tasks at all. Any sort of chore, errand, or obligation of any kind manages to be avoided entirely by Dad – and that’s endearing. He can save everyone, but he just can’t seem to remember to get the recycling in the right bin.

We like Dad’s fanatical devotion to avoiding responsibility at all costs, largely because it’s played off as being child-like. This childishness is not exposed as hypocrisy or selfishness, immaturity or lack of respect for Mom. Instead, she reinforces that he doesn’t participate in family duties. She treats him as one of the children, refers to him as such, and in no way holds him accountable for behaving like a child. She parents him and makes open references to that, and the hardship it places on her. Despite that hardship, she endures it and even excuses him for it. She shrugs it off, maybe rolls her eyes, and then proceeds to do not only her own work but his as well – and apparently we can rely on her to do all that work, yet we have no support or credit for her accomplishments.

Dad is even so child-like that he encourages the children to avoid participation in family support and to build resentment around the practice as well. He teaches the children to do an inferior job if he does take action, sometimes even explaining and employing a tactic of doing a bad job to be excused from responsibility in the future. Dad is a bad example for the children, and although Mom may lightly chastise him for it, there are no real consequences for his disrespectful behavior, and the dynamic continues to reinforce itself.

Dads’ laziness is well established and exalted. Mom wishes she could act like Dad, but she is trapped not only by her role in society, but by the obligation to engage in moral and ethical behavior that somehow does not apply to Dad. It is up to her to teach the children to abide by these moral and ethical standards, and since he’s lumped in with the kids, she has to teach him that lesson too. If Dad is magnanimous enough to learn a lesson today, he does so very begrudgingly, overtly displaying his dissatisfaction with being forced to comply with Mom’s demands (it’s painted as her demands rather than mutual responsibility for the family’s welfare). He will not go quietly – he is only being responsible under protest.

This Dad simultaneously being our last resort for strength, while otherwise leaving us to provide for him and ourselves is akin to the male of the lion pride who does not hunt or rear children (that’s for females) but who does take the “lion’s share” of the food, and proceeds to enjoy the rest of his time unless circumstances are ridiculously dire – only then may he deign to come to our aid. Oh, but he’s proud of his family and feels deeply connected with its members, despite his outward displays of indifference.

Women have long allowed this type of behavior to continue and flourish – even perpetuated it themselves. This role is shown to us in the media, talked about between friends, and obvious in public. It doesn’t take very much for anyone to recognize this pattern if they spend a few moments gathering memories. Most folks immediately come to defend Dad’s honor though – explaining and supporting his actions. If they do admit this is what he’s doing, they justify it or downplay it as some insignificant tangent.

No one seems to realize how damaging this is to men’s identities and self-esteem. People don’t seem to recognize that it makes men out to be manipulative, deceptive, uncooperative and dysfunctional. It tells men they don’t respect their partners, their families or themselves. It tells them that they don’t want to do what’s right, and that they don’t want to participate in their own commitments. It tells them that they don’t want to or have to strive to support their partner or their family.

Worse, this depiction of the modern Dad is one that teaches men that they are not even capable of mutual respect, compassion or true commitment. It tells them that they aren’t capable of achieving maturity or stability. It tells them that even if they wanted to accomplish those things, they can’t achieve them.

How can men ever achieve greatness if we constantly cut them down to a child’s level? How can they ever fulfill dreams or build a future if they are forever at the mercy of their own whims and shortcomings? How can Dad ever really be a Dad that we can count on? How can a boy grow up to be a man who can handle business or make tough choices if he is forever pegged as a miscreant?

Until we show our children and ourselves a Dad who does the right thing without being nagged, he will remain in a state of uselessness. Men are not useless or inferior; they are not incapable or even unwilling. They simply need to see that every day great men stand up and make healthy decisions on their own, while supporting those they care about, because it feels great to be the guy people can count on.

Title Origin

Who me? Elite?

Liberals or the left wing (using them interchangeably in this post-apologies if you are bothered) have come to act as though we somehow own intellectualism, or elitism for that matter. It is absurd to behave as though one must be educated to be liberal, considering liberalism’s basic tenets. It is confusing to me that intellectual lefties could even have trouble recognizing that fact. Liberalism calls for social services and support for the uneducated. Liberalism calls for inclusivity, shared responsibility and mutual respect regardless of background, or at least that’s how I have always known it.

Somewhere along the way, conservativism became associated with a lack of education too, which is just as absurd.

The uneducated and disenfranchised proletariat should be squarely in line with left-wing ideology, but that population has been simultaneously courted by the right-wing and shunned by the left. It has been turned from its own interests to self destruction through emotional manipulation. It is not just unfortunate” as this is not a case of fortune frowning on these proceedings alone, but rather it is unconscionable that the left has essentially turned its back on the very members it claims to protect, leaving them to the devices of the predatory right-wing.

When intellectuals dominate the left-wing culture and punish the uneducated for their lack of knowledge, they should expect those people to run to the right, where they are validated and reassured that they don’t need it and that education is for elitists. Intellectuals are behaving elitist more these days – have become completely insufferable, derisive and judgmental. With know-it-all attitude and superiority, intellectuals are making the left-wing not just inhospitable, but downright deplorable.

If left wing intellectuals want more people to get educated and become liberal, they’re going to have to find a way to actually allow other people to learn about new things without chastising them for not having already known everything, or for believing something that they were told by a source they trust. Intellectuals cannot expect rave reviews for angrily demanding that others suddenly and completely agree with them, wether or not they are right by any means.

If the goal is to push people on the fence as far away as possible, well done intellectual lefties. You’ve ensured that anyone who might be unsure decidedly falls on the right side of the fence. If you want them to climb over, you’re going to have to make it a whole lot more enticing than you are now, and if you don’t want them to come over and play, then stop spending your time trying to convince them. Attacking, antagonizing, patronizing and instigating will never win over hearts and minds – and is not an attempt to convince them; it’s all overt punishment.

It is despicable, unethical, and a waste of resources to punish the uneducated for not having achieved education yet, and it will never get their votes either.

More than a feeling

It is a travesty that people have attributed some behaviors to simply being “dramatic” “overreactive” “stressed out” “irresponsible” “character flaws” or even seeing the person as a “jerk” in general, when in fact:

The person is suffering from a mental health disorder.

This is not to say that there are no people with these shortcomings that are unhindered by mental illness – but it remains a travesty that those who have mental health disorders are written off as assholes or desperately needy types without hesitation.

People suffering mental health disorders still have the same types of thoughts and feelings that healthy people have. They are simply disordered or in the wrong frequency. Thus, most folks at one point want to throw their hands up in the air and give up on everything. But those with depression want to do so far too often to be considered healthy.

Depression is easy to feel sympathy for, because we all experience those feelings at appropriate times : extreme loss, dissapointment or failure. It’s not as easy for average folks to relate with a bi-polar mood swing that makes the person seem motivated and excited. They don’t see that those are also the days of teeth grinding (that don’t stop during sleep) or the way thoughts batter themselves against the inside of our minds until we can’t remember our day’s goals and priorities. They can’t relate with being terrified to go grocery shopping or try to meet someone in a crowded place. Healthy people don’t know what it’s like and therefore they end up comparing others to their own healthy standards when those who are ill deeply, genuinely want to live up to that; yet they can’t.

Regular folk tend to rely on their thoughts on feelings to be accurate reflections of the world around them, but the mentally ill have no such comfort. Especially since we’ve been told for so long that we’re “just overreacting” or “paranoid” or “exaggerating”. We may be, and we need to talk with healthy people to gauge things like that – we don’t need those people to respond unkindly when we’re trying to determine if our assessment is correct or not. We’re often looking for guidance or insight while others think we’re espousing beliefs and making decisions.

The very worst part is trying to get help. I cannot describe to people how deeply damaging it is to try to ask for help with a mental health disorder. The moment we bring it up we are automatically written off as incoherent and uncooperative when we haven’t even begun. We immediately discredit ourselves and risk being categorized as unstable or unfit to perform responsibilities. We are patronized and condescended to, dismissed outright and sometimes even put down- by health care providers themselves (not to mention professional misconduct on the part of providers that is very real). We have been turned away and hung up on when we don’t have insurance information ready even though the reason for that is that we need help with our mental health disorder so we can figure out how to fill out the paperwork or stop feeling overwhelmed long enough to find it. Being treated as a fascinating specimen can be just as upsetting, or sometimes providers seem to be using our therapy as a way for them to work through their own issues.

Already feeling shame for having to ask for help and risking heaps of social stigma as well, the last thing we need is to be reduced to a nuisance or disruption to others as we try to drag ourselves through this life feeling devastated by most everything that happens. People with mental health disorders are people. We have hopes, dreams, plans, and goals. We wish more than anything that we did not think and feel the ways we do, yet wishing and wanting are not enough. Worse, loved ones can engage in denial and try to convince us that we don’t need help, that we just need to make some sort of personal change that they expect will magically solve a lifetime of dysfunction.

Oddly enough, many mental health disorders such as ADD, anxiety, depression and bi-polar come with increased intelligence. I’ve been told I am too smart to have a mental health disorder, and wouldn’t it be fantastic if that were remotely true (denial rears its ugly head again). Sadly, being smart while having a disorder only serves to punish us. We know exactly what’s wrong with us but can’t do that much about it. If we do succeed at getting help, sometimes it does more harm than good. The only times I’ve ever wanted to kill myself or felt on top of the world was taking medications (as directed) for my mental health disorder. Trying to convince myself to ever seek help again has been the hugest of struggles in the face of those types of previous experiences.

People don’t hate themselves, drain bank accounts in wild sprees, ruin relationships, lose jobs, destroy their own things, refuse to wash themselves until they are infected or kill themselves because they actually want to deep down inside. They are subject to dysfunction that needs compassionate, respectful treatment and support. They need a safe space to exist without obligation or ridicule. They need ackowledgment that they can and should seek treatment and that they can have agency in that treatment as well.

We cannot assume we have correctly assessed someone’s character flaws or shortcomings vs their real, serious problems.

If you wouldn’t leave a friend behind who had a gaping, bleeding wound, then you shouldn’t leave behind a friend who has a gaping mental health problem. It’s up to you to help them as any friend would help another, not just dismiss it all away.

 

 

Be(Come) the good ones

We all know the good ones when we see them. We know them, often thank them, and are generally grateful for them. They’re the truly special ones that seem to somehow help this world a whole lot more than the rest of us. We know they work harder, sacrifice more, and put up with more issues than the rest of us do by far. They are the kind that make the rest of us feel almost inadequate in comparison to the sheer volume they can handle by themselves.

 

We have seen too many good ones pass on before their time.

We have seen too many good ones give up and let go of trying.

We have seen too many good ones never start for fear of losing something or everything.

We have seen too many good ones leave the most important things to those who seek only to serve their own interests.

 

I’ve seen how tired the good ones are because we have not been coming with them. We have forgotten that the good ones need to feel not just the love and support but the participation of those they serve – their fellows in service.

 

It is time for us to become the good ones, and encourage the good ones to step up with us again. If we continue to leave the long, hard work, authority, management or control to those who seek it, we always be rewarded with those  in power whose ambition is not rooted in compassion, but in self serving.

 

It is time for us to become

good HR representatives – hire and fire fairly

good cops – follow procedures and de-escalate to work toward resolution

good bosses – review, reward and remonstrate respectfully

good teachers – de-escalate, model respect, and be inclusive

good lawyers and judges – ethics are vital to the purpose of law

good neighbors – offer help without intruding, build community engagement

good family – be supportive and compassionate of things you disagree with

good parents – provide positive and meaningful interactions and experiences, minimize judgment and control, encourage differences from your own teachings, expose offspring to varying points of view, model patience and flexibility

good people – be one of the good ones – cultivate relationships, assist others when you can, know your limits, take care of yourself, encourage and support others by participating in their events and activites, volunteer, organize, coordinate, advocate

 

Let’s stand up and be the ones that  are good.

There aren’t enough good ones in the world but there could be.

We could populate this world with people who realize that it feels good to be a part of something together that makes things better for everyone.

 

 

Time for Action

It is time to join together in meaningful action.

When we say stand up and fight in the struggle, the fighting we mean is not arguing with opponents.

Arguments feed no one.

It is up to each of us to do the right thing.

The right thing is to Coordinate, Advocate, and Participate in real change!

Let’s mobilize support to

meet basic necessities by gathering what we can and distributing freely to those who need it

care for the elderly through home care visits and offering support in communities and facilities

assist the ill and injured that need compassion and support to heal – like rideshares and meal trains

help parents who need child care by coordinating co-ops and volunteers

advocate for legal support to help those who need the second chance so many others get

solicit assitance from organizations and entities to fund programs that enrich our communities

organize mutually beneficial knowledge sharing and skill development

build communication networks and get community groups working with each other

grow schools and shared gardens and community events

connect those in need with vital services

We can come together to get people the help they need to be able to live healthy, happy and productive lives.

No more waiting! Get out there and put your hands where your mouth is.