Category Archives: attitude

How do you know when it’s dark?

This is Suicide Prevention Month. We have to have a whole month dedicated to keeping people from killing themselves.

If you see someone that’s down, offer them a hug. Ask them how they’re feeling. Offer to help.

Killing yourself is selfish. You hurt the people around you.

Count your blessings! Look at all you have to live for!

This is BS.

Normal people will look depressed and it’s temporary. It’s an easy fix. Depressed people have been depressed for a while and suppressed that look. Who would have known that Robin Williams was depressed? Increased alcohol and drug use? Addicts are really good at hiding those things. So if you see someone that’s normal and happy, there’s a good chance they’re not. They’re good at acting normal because they don’t want to be a burden to anyone. Oh. Well, that complicates matters.

When you’re depressed, you think you’re already hurting the people around you. You want to stop failing those that depend on you. You want to stop causing them pain. You want to remove your foul influence on your family and those folks unfortunate enough to hang around you. The most unselfish thing you could do is take yourself out of the picture. Yes, they’d be sad for a bit, but ultimately, they’d feel relieved, wouldn’t they?

Count your blessings? Are you kidding me? When you’re suicidal, you believe that all the good things that come your way are undeserved. You have received things you didn’t earn. You feel guilty for anything good in your life. You didn’t do anything to deserve that spouse, that friend, that child, that job. You can’t possibly live up to their expectations. What do you have to live for? Constantly falling short? Disappointing everyone you know. Disappointing everyone you don’t know! Trapped in a situation you hate and have no control over…bad job or health situation or bad relationship with relatives or family members. This list can be as long as your arm. The future looks hopeless.

The first thing a depressed person might do is isolate himself so he doesn’t ruin someone else’s day/week/life. It brings his little world more under his control. People make the decision to end their lives with a feeling of hopelessness, an emotion they do not think they can control. They defend this decision logically. So even if the logic makes no sense to someone who isn’t depressed, it makes sense to the person. They have their arguments all lined up and prioritized. So they self-isolate and close off connections to “stop the bleeding” and protect those people around them. They do not realize the consequences of this type of thinking. They just make their world small enough to accommodate their worldview.

What if you’re forced into isolation? You don’t have that social network to keep your spirits up and keep you connected to people who care about you. Then you notice that people you thought were close do not extend their connection to you. People you thought were friends do not text or call or Facebook with you. You begin to wonder how much they really cared. You may not even consider reaching out to them because you think that it is something they should initiate. Your world gets smaller.

The product of isolation, especially now that we have internet and instant communications is that we no longer have to see facial reactions and body language. You don’t need that filter between your head and your mouth. Things you NEVER would have even brought up in polite conversation are spewed all over your profile. When people you thought were friends suddenly block you, you may think that it’s their fault. Not yours. You know it’s a two-way street, so you also know you share the blame. Your world, again, grows smaller.

You begin to think about the extreme behavior you now see in the news, the vitriol spread through the media, the rampant paranoia, and the injustice, and gradually, the conspiracy theories become more palpable. You begin to abandon those social niceties you had to adopt when in public. Pants become optional. (This is a metaphor… Things you would have kept private and to yourself are now on display to anyone with whom you make contact.) You can see how this isolation has affected normal people. Now imagine if it was self-imposed.

What steps can we take to consciously reduce that feeling of hopelessness?

  1. Be kind to each other. I know this sounds like a poster, but it’s such a simple step. I don’t mean to belabor this point, but being kind goes deeper than patting someone on the head saying, “It will be all right.” Go out of your way to make the people around you feel good about themselves. Show appreciation genuinely. Praise in public and critique in private. Never call names! Never Bully someone! It is the cruellest thing you can do to a person.
  2. Be grateful for everyone and everything in your life. Even if it isn’t ideal. This change in perspective is also simple, but not easy. Gratitude has to be practiced. But how does your gratitude help someone who’s depressed? You are modeling a behavior that shows a different perspective. You may express gratitude to a person that doesn’t feel noticed, whose work gets no appreciation, whose circumstances seem hopeless. You might be a source of hope and help to someone you may not suspect needs it.
  3. Take the time to connect with those around you who may feel more and more isolated. A postit note with a cheery message or a thank you note can brighten someone’s day. A text that says “I thought of you and wanted you to know how much I value your… (fill in the blank.)” A hand-written thank you note is unexpected and always appreciated.

It sounds like so little, but it also sounds like it would take much time for unnoticed results. What’s weird is that when you do any of these things, they also bring up your mood as well.

The fact is you cannot tell when someone is experiencing that darkness. In fact, if you are on that slippery slope to the darkness, you may not even know it until you’ve slid in a distance!

If someone confides in you about their feelings of suicide, do not argue with them! It makes them feel more guilty and more likely to defend their actions.

You find someone in the bathroom sobbing… “What’s wrong?”

“My girlfriend just left me! I can’t go on without her! I’d rather just die.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. But there are lots of fish in the sea. She didn’t deserve you. Just get back on the horse. You’ll be fine. Well, Nice talk.”

Um…That would be disastrous.

If, instead, you replied, “I’m sorry to hear that! How long were you together?
“What did you like about her?”
“Where did you meet?”
“How did she make you feel?”
“Was this a surprise?”
“What did she say?”

You see? You are encouraging this person to talk, not listen. At this point, you can direct them to a counselor or a pastor who can help them recover. You are not making judgments on their choices. You are not trivializing their problems. You are not prescribing behavior that they know they cannot incorporate.

In these times of trouble, when threats to our security, our health, and our freedoms seem overwhelming, if you treat everyone (including yourself) with the utmost care, you can alleviate some causes of depression in not only yourself but those around you. Let’s work to reduce these suicides.

Do you trade help?

If I help you, do you feel obligated to help me? If you help me, should I feel obligated to help you?

What if we’re not trading services? What if we help each other because that’s what friends do?

Ah, but what if we’re not friends? Would you help me if I asked you? I would help you, cautiously, if I could see you needed it. If you were stranded at the side of the road and were waving people down, I would see how I could help. If you had fallen and were injured, I would definitely help. If you were hungry or cold or too hot or thirsty, I’d be there for you. If you needed shoes or a blanket, no problem. If you just needed a shoulder to cry on, of course. If you were starting your business and needed someone to believe in you, yes, but with the proviso that you weren’t in it because “squirrel” and you weren’t trying to profit on someone’s weakness or ignorance.

About this time in August of 2016, I went to Orlando for a John Maxwell Conference. I almost made it into the lobby. There was this revolving door and an exit that wasn’t an exit. I walked into the glass and stopped. The revolving door didn’t. It knocked me down and I broke my hip. Some guy I didn’t know but who might have been a guest at the convention center blocked the revolving door so people wouldn’t run into me. I never even got his name. The concierge as well as the security guy checked on me and called the ambulance. I didn’t get their names either. I cannot repay them for their kindness and willingness to help. I remember them fondly. When I see someone who needs help, I will more likely help just because I remember how grateful I was for the assistance I received.

If someone reminds me that they’ve helped me in the past, it’s because they showed a willingness to be as open-hearted and giving as I’m trying to be to those I’ve helped. It gives me a connection I can relate to. No one owes me help, and I don’t owe anyone either. I help because even though my Savior knew me and what a flawed person I am, and even though I never deserve help, he stepped in and helped me anyway. I should do that for those that need me here, so my obligation is not to the people I help but to my Savior.

I asked a friend of mine to help me in a business venture. I reminded him that I supported him in his venture simply because I knew him and was hoping for his success. He said he almost turned me down because he doesn’t trade help. What? He said all I had to do was ask and not bring up the fact that I had helped him before. I will not consider us “even” if he helps me. I will consider us closer, more comrades than acquaintances. I consider trading help with my friends as just something friends do. I will watch your cat. You will loan me sugar. We will chat over the fence. You will recommend a good restaurant. I will recommend a good movie. We help each other and don’t keep tabs.

Not trading help makes no sense to me. How would you respond to a request from me for help? Would I be obligated to you? Would I be a closer friend? Would you help me at all?

Do I have to turn this car around?!!!

How many of you are parents to elementary age kids? Have you ever used this phrase during long trips?

The difference between long trips and being at home is that everyone is in a confined space and going someplace. When you arrive, there is adequate space to run around and play and hang by your knees from some terrifying precipice. But while you are in the car, you can play car games or listen to music and that’s it.

Since we had 3 kids in the family, I, as the oldest, would sit in the middle of the back seat to separate my brothers. This did two things: it mitigated my cigarrette-smoke-induced car sickness, and it kept my brothers from beating each other to a pulp. By the time they were in upper elementary school, they’d graduated to “He put his fingernail on my side of the car,” (hence putting me in the middle to prevent that) and “He looked at me funny!” You could predict with 98% accuracy that this would begin about forty-seven minutes into the car trip. If left unchecked, the animosity would escalate into name calling and tears. Why tears? Because if they started threatening each other, my dad would attempt to paddle them while simultaneously driving the car and he wasn’t specific on his targets. If he did not, I would ball up my fists and hit each boy in the chest in a single move that would impress Chuck Norris. Either way, there would be tears. (Because I never got caught doing this, I rarely got in trouble at the same time as my brothers.) Nevertheless, my dad would pull the car over and tell them to be quiet before he gave them something to cry about. He had a technique of spanking that was somehow related to his skill as a percussion instructor. There was this snap of the wrist that would sting…

What did my brothers call each other? Booger-head, ugly-face, stupid, meanie, nose-picker… They had limited vocabularies.

We find ourselves in a confined space, going nowhere, and having differences of opinion. Of Course, we have differences of opinion! We all have different cultures, different growing environments, different experiences. We have the benefit of having lived through our own private hells. We have seen the beatific and the horrific. We are now adulting. (Adulting never used to be a word. Adult was what you aspired to be as soon as you discovered you could walk from here to there but had to hold hands when you crossed the street.) We do not have the luxury of being “sent to our rooms” because our rooms still have modes of communication. So we find ourselves in an enormous car as part of 328 million people in the back seat.

What brings this up? I’m seeing people who are parents and grandparents NAME CALLING! That’s right. But now they have bigger vocabularies, though, in most cases, not more extensive imaginations. We see people bullying others who don’t agree with them. We are seeing people shoving and pushing others and threatening violence and not a clue what they’re fighting for or against.

Remember when we misbehaved and we got grounded? We railed against the total injustice of it and tried to sneak out the window or send messages to our friends to break us out. There was always someone like the Fonz who would influence the “bad” side. Well, we got grounded because we did something stupid that endangered us or the people around us. Well. Duh! If you had the flu, didn’t you stay home from school and everything else? If the only thing you had to do was put on a mask to go out, wouldn’t you have done that? Well, we went out in the middle of a pandemic with no protection and no sense and got grounded, and the first thing we did was rail against an all-powerful government. Doesn’t that sound like teenagers? Yeah, throw those books on the floor and stomp around your room. The adults are watching the news and drinking wine while the kids are locked in the bedrooms.

Oh and our parents would tell us what to think when we were young, too. “Danged WPA! Look at these political cartoons in the paper! The country is going to the dogs I tell you!” Then we’d listen to the news and get a running commentary from our folks. After graduating from high school, we were expected to listen to the news and make our own decisions.

Well, now the commentary is coming directly from the newsmen. You tune into whatever politics you like and get their version. You find the same facts as every other news provider, but you get a completely different interpretation. We don’t ask questions regarding what we hear, we just want to know is that news or fake news? How can there be fake news? Isn’t that against the ethics of the news organizations? What escalates the situation is that people are NOT doing their own thinking and are lashing out at everyone around them with no big sister to chest punch them into submission. They are using unreliable sources of information. They’re taking rumor for truth. They’re ignoring rational thought and logical debate and have descended into elementary school behavior! You are ADULTS!

You WILL get along and you WILL be nice to each other or I WILL make you VERY uncomfortable! Don’t Make me turn this car around!

I’m Depressed

And the first question that comes up is this: “Why?”

Depression doesn’t need a reason. It is an emotion that doesn’t necessarily have any tangible relationship to an event or a time or a person. When Ann Frank was hiding, every morning she had a reason to be depressed, and she chose to be happy. Nobody Chooses to be depressed. We search, in vain, for a reason why we’re depressed and think, might be SAD–Seasonal Affective Disorder. We could believe that we miss our relatives and friends that have passed away. We could be discouraged that we couldn’t find presents for everyone, or that we didn’t get the presents we wanted (or thought we deserved.) But when you really look at it, depression comes; it stays; it messes you up; and then it leaves.

Well-meaning people try to distract us from this feeling by asking you, “Why are you depressed? You have everything to live for!” Then they list all the things you should be thankful for. Now you’re GUILTY and depressed. Or they get out the Dad jokes to try and lift your spirits. Now you feel ungrateful and your brain hurts because of the bad puns. They try to take you out on the town, but you don’t feel like putting on pants. You can’t get up the enthusiasm to do anything. You can’t even get into your favorite book. The worst is when they put on some sappy Hallmark movie so you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Mocking is the first thing that comes to mind.

Why is “Die Hard” considered a Christmas Movie? Why do people consider Hans Gruber’s drop from the top of the building the beginning of the Christmas Season? Was Hans’ great, great grandfather Franz Gruber–the man who wrote Silent Night? No? It’s because the only cure for depression is murder and mayhem and/or music by the Blues Brothers.

If you know someone that is depressed, do NOT tell them how they’re supposed to feel. It’s an emotion that is not easily directed. It’s like love. You cannot direct love in a way that you end up with the prom queen who happens to be a millionaire or toward the Stunt double for Dwayne Johnson. Telling a depressed person how to feel adds to the depression. Don’t force them into jolly devil-may-care activities because they Don’t Care. They don’t want to get out of bed or go through the effort of Going Someplace to Do Something. Don’t make them explain themselves. Do you think that depression has a cause and can be “cured” by getting rid of the cause? Depressed people don’t know why they’re depressed. You wake up with a malaise like you wake up with a stuffy nose. You can’t go back to the instant where you breathed in that virus. You have no idea where or when it was. Same with depression.

Watch some murder and mayhem and mock the characters or the action or the continuity. Listen to some rock and roll or jazz or blues or classical music. Be there with the person. They’ll be all right.

What a stupid response!

Do you ever find yourself responding to a friend who has been sucked into some bizzaro conspiracy theory? Now if you’re like me, I tend to hang out with people who are roughly in my intellectual range. I question everything, I redo the statistics, I do independent research (not just wiki…) and I think things through. I therefore assume that my friends have also done their due diligence.

For instance: in the 2016 election, Mrs. Clinton beat Mr. Trump by 3 million or so votes and the dems were screaming that we should go directly to popular vote and eliminate the electoral college so the rightful person would be in charge of the country. But, of course, we adhered to the established voting practices and the winner of the electoral college ballots won: Mr. Trump. The Republicans were smirking since they won the round. But Mr. Trump did not have the populace behind him. He had some very vocal supporters and he did everything controversial you could imagine, and history will have to judge how he affected the USA during his presidency.

Then, in 2020, Mr. Biden beat Mr. Trump by 7 million or so votes. In addition, he won the electoral college votes. Now the republicans are saying there was something shady when Biden only won 16.7% of the counties and still got the highest popular vote in history. Won? Well, on the map, it only shows those counties where he got over 80% of the vote as “winning” and they don’t show the counties that Mr. Trump won at all. The counties that Mr. Trump got 80%+ were low population counties. So if you consider the charge that the percentage of counties won by Biden was lowest on record, it doesn’t take the raw data into account. Counties don’t have individual votes, so the percentage of counties means nothing.

States have electoral votes based on the population of the state. So even if Mr. Trump had 80% of the most counties, if the raw population vote was insignificant, then the state’s vote for Trump would have no measurable impact on the final counts. The Electoral college was 306 to 232 in both elections. Trump got the 306 versus Clinton in the 2016 election, and Biden got the 306 in 2020. Where’s the controversy in that? Why is this so impossible to believe. Biden won the popular vote by 7 million votes, and won the electoral college 306 to 232. How is this stealing an election?

The election was in November and now it’s December. Why is this still an issue to discuss? If this next 4 years is anything like the last 20, congress will be in an adversarial relationship with the president and nothing will get done. They will whine and cry and conspire and drag their feet and things will not get done. You remember they spent 8 years debating his right to be president. (He was twice elected to the office even though the opposing party’s main focus in the first term was to Guarantee that the president didn’t Get a second term and they failed.) They insulted him and his family and fought him tooth and nail on every single issue. Then the moment Mr. Trump took office, he started reversing all the work that the previous president had done. I imagine they will be doing this for the four years Mr. Biden is in office instead of thinking of the citizens first. They insulted Mr. Trump and his family all four years and fought him tooth and nail on everything HE did.

This is not how a democracy works. This is how it locks up and gets paralyzed by inaction and infighting. They are not serving us at all. We have checks and balances…Executive, judicial and legislative branches to make sure no one has too much power. Well they left out the media–news and social and that skews everything.

Get this straight: Whether you voted for the winner or the loser, Mr. Biden IS your president. He is not going to send the National Guard into your bomb shelter to take away your guns, assign all your money to the lazy-assed Millennials and those drug-crazed welfare scammers. It takes too long for there to be noticeable changes in the fabric of society. The stuff that HW Bush did is just now being noticed, same with Clinton, George W, Obama…Delayed effects. Anything that Biden does will not be significant for much later in this decade. Oh, and scary thought: Those Millennials will be running the country soon. Better train them up. They shouldn’t think that the President is the person to whom everyone must rise against as an evil dictator that must be dethroned in his first 90 days in office.

Fracas and Round Green Vegies

That would be War and Peas

“I always eat peas with honey
I’ve done it all my life
It does make them taste kinda funny
But at least they stay on the knife.”

After 40 years as a mom, I learned something: some of my kids don’t like peas.

What? I LOVE peas! It’s funny since every time I served them, my kids ate them. They also ate carrots, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, asparagus. Whatever I served they ate. I always used fresh or frozen and the only time I used canned peas was in a tuna-macaroni salad. Now, I have some picky in-laws. If they don’t like something, they just don’t eat it. My kids may not like something that is served, but they eat it anyway. I was going to experiment and invite my kids over and serve only their least favorite foods. But I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

Did I ever sit at the table while a kid stared at his food watching it get cold for 2 1/2 hours? Of course. I warned the stubborn child that if he/she didn’t eat it now, I’d have it creamed on toast for breakfast, and ground-up with mayo and pickle relish for lunch, and in the salad the next night until it was alllllll gone! I didn’t have picky eaters at my house.

I remember once we invited a kid over for supper. I was serving spaghetti, and he announced he was having a hotdog. My kids thought that was really funny. I put a small serving of spaghetti on his plate and gave him the option of just cheese and butter or sauce and he looked at me as if I had eels on my head and asked, “Didn’t you hear me? I asked for a hotdog.” I told him I heard him but ignored him. He grabbed his stuff and went home. My kid was devastated. “How could you embarrass me like that?” It’s not my fault that the kid mistook my kitchen and dining table for a restaurant.

I probably damaged all my kids irretrievably that day.

But they all ATE PEAS when I served them.

 

 

The Plot Sickens

Whatever happened to basic human decency? Neighbors caring for neighbors? People helping out in causes bigger than themselves?

News flash! Oh wait, we don’t trust the news. Instagram flash! Oh drat. Check the source. Minions bearing a large “Illumination” sign. That’s the ticket… HUMAN DECENCY IS NOT BASIC! If good behavior wasn’t unusual, would it be news?

So now we have people stuck in their houses with their families. At the 2-month mark, we’ve discovered that many people don’t even LIKE their families. They don’t like being cooped up with them, working from home with distractions, schooling them at home, entertaining them at home! But we don’t want to get sick. However, there comes a point where the need to escape becomes more urgent than the need for safety. We can’t just go bowling. What would get people out on the street that would make plausible sense? OOOH! Protest marching! We used to do that in the 60s. What can we protest? Um. Something involving freedom? Sure! “You can’t make us wear masks! You can’t make us stay home!” That doesn’t get enough people into the street. TADAAA! We have an injustice we can protest. We have global support! The French in Paris are supporting this cause of cops versus black people in Minnesota. Now let me ask you. If you knew that the French police were targeting a group of people for trumped-up charges and murdering innocents, would you protest in the streets? I wouldn’t. What is this protest supposed to accomplish? Being Shamed by the French, albeit embarrassing, is not something to be taken seriously.

So now we have a legit reason for leaving the house and congregating in large crowds of people we don’t know, some of whom might have contracted the virus and are asymptomatic. Are you ready for Round Two in the pandemic?

Now there are more potential carriers in public. You don’t know that the people that you deal with don’t know who of their friends were in that protest. They don’t know that someone that was negative for corona yesterday is positive today. But we all enjoyed that little vacation from isolation, didn’t we. Open up the country! Re-open the businesses! Open the bars and restaurants and movie theaters! It’s safe now! Is it? Are you ready for another 2-4 months stuck with your crazy family?

If you want to destroy a society, you break down the family unit. (What better way to do that than to make them stay at home with them for 6 months?!) We’ve already made the word “family” ambiguous. This is a good thing! It has allowed people to be in “family groups” that are outside the norm and family ties are still fairly strong. We can have 2 moms or 2 dads, or 2 sets of parents including the step-parents in addition to the nuclear family. And with the advent of basement kids, the family is now including live-in grandparents, much like what life was before the nuclear families we grew up with.

The problem we’re facing is legislative definitions of families, and agencies that determine if the home is suitable for families can split families apart instead. We’re also facing domestic abuse on a much larger scale than was previously thought. This is a morale problem, not a moral problem. Hope and optimism are taking hits every day. Unemployment and underemployment take parents out of the house in order to make enough money to survive on. Children are getting socially trained by people who are paid to be surrogate parents. They may not care as much about the children’s development as the parents would. Our religious groups are by default considered houses of propaganda and ridiculed as narrow-minded and inflexible. Without spiritual training, how can we best discuss and adopt a perspective on good personal behavior and personal relationships? Yes, it can be done without religion, but when you think about it, where better to practice than a place where everyone is an active example of the best behavior and attitude?

Then there’s the effect of the SmartPhone on the public. The advent of instant communication without filters is breaking down civility. You have seen the rants and the short sound bytes and memes that announce a person’s entire philosophy. Who could communicate a belief system in 7-10 words? And yet… Well, if this is the default communication, how do families relate to each other? We are less and less able to use colorful, descriptive language and our deep thinking is much more shallow. Have you ever read anything by Mark Twain?

“Each of you, for himself or herself, by himself or herself, and on his or her own responsibility, must speak. It is a solemn and weighty responsibility and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government or politician. Each must decide for himself or herself alone what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man, to decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor. It is traitorous both against yourself and your country.
Let men label you as they may, if you alone of all the nation decide one way, and that way be the right way by your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country, hold up your head for you have nothing to be ashamed of.
It doesn’t matter what the press says. It doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. It doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. Republics are founded on one principle above all else: The requirement that we stand up for what we believe in. no matter the odds or consequences.
When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move. Your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the whole world:
“No, you move.”
― Mark Twain

The signs of excessive indulgence in this destructive pastime are easily detectable. They are these: A disposition to eat, to drink, to smoke, to meet together convivially, to laugh, to joke, and tell indelicate stories— and mainly, a yearning to paint pictures.
― Mark Twain

Look at that vocabulary! Can you see pictures in your mind as you listen to these words? We now seek for the shortest, most ineloquent utterances to describe the most banal of events. “Ya, that’s daft.” But in that pursuit, we often sacrifice a deeper meaning to situations and that can cause a problem that repeats itself until someone DOES assign a deeper meaning to the event.

If we then disrupt the family with so little time together; if we allow our children to grow up without our good example; if we don’t foster good relations and better character and don’t seek people of character; if we don’t communicate except by electronic means; then the family as a unit will start to disintegrate. We now have accomplished step 2 in undermining our society.

We aren’t being attacked by a foreign country or inundated by evil forces. We’re doing this to ourselves. Stay tuned to another episode!

 

BLM

How many of you have black friends? How many of you are black? This is why I love blogs. You have no idea what color the person is by their writing. Unless they include a picture on their profile page it doesn’t really matter does it! Here, we’re all equal. All of our thoughts and words matter.

I have black friends, so I’m not a racist. I meet every one of my friends, regardless of color with smiles and hugs or a hardy handshake. I’m happy to see them and interact with them. I don’t care what color they are.

We’ve all felt like this. We’ve all heard people say this.

Here’s the thing: my friends that are black I have met in a controlled environment. I was in school with them. I go to church with them. I work with them. They’re clients of mine or students of mine. I control the environment. I get to know them on a personal one-on-one basis. I don’t see my black friends as representatives of a whole race. I see them as individuals that I know and like. They do everything they can to keep things easy between us. I never thought they were having to compromise to keep our friendship. I assumed they acted the same way with their other friends. I had an occasion to see them with their friends at church. They act completely differently! I was surprised.

What compromises do they make? What kind of adjustments do they have to employ to make me feel comfortable? They make an effort to speak in a way that I don’t have to translate. Let me give you an example.

My friend Jon was a Math major taking Music Appreciation classes. I was a music major taking Calculus and we were in the same class. When the teacher got carried away and I couldn’t keep up, I’d raise my hand and say, “Music Major!  Translate please!” Jon thought it was funny and approached me and asked for my help in his Music Appreciation class. We would meet in the music library and listen to and analyze the music for his assignment. While we were talking, we had no problem communicating. One day, his friends saw us in the library and came in to visit. He switched his language to something that sounded like it came from an alien planet! He slurred his words and used terms and some vocabulary I had never heard before. He changed pitch, he changed the rate of speed, he changed his references and his gestures. When his friends left, he switched back to my language. I was flabbergasted! He was, in a sense, bilingual.

I grew up in a college town. Kids came up from Kansas City to this school, and though they were in the minority, they were music majors they were in the band my dad directed. I got to know them when I hung out after concerts and football games. So when I found myself on a floor at Illinois State where the black women’s sorority met, it felt weird that they were using some of the same words my Kansas City acquaintances used, and sounded like white people using them. I had to open my door to check to see if they really were black. Picture Maggie Smith saying, “You go girl.” Picture Helen Mirren, her hands on her hips and head tilted, yelling, “Say What?” It was comical. They were from Chicago! Now I think, after talking to a couple of them that if any of the slang they used was spoken by the Kansas City kids I knew, they’d sound equally bizarre.

Why do we have to have separate languages? Every culture has its “tells.”

In no other culture did people refer to their slaves as anything other than servants. They were still people. In the US, they were considered machinery. They weren’t even endowed with sentience. If they developed sentience and asked to be treated well, or tried to escape, they were captured and “fixed!” If a person wanted to survive this situation, they had to stay subservient and “insentient.” They were to remain uneducated to protect themselves from abuse. No one would treat an animal like these people were treated.

Then they were given freedom! and the VOTE!!! Why would you give rights to machinery? By now this approach to these former slaves was ingrained. This whole race was considered living machinery. They weren’t real people! To survive, they had to adopt unthreatening language and behaviors. Don’t speak intelligent English because that makes white people nervous. The machines might get angry and retaliate for abuses.

See? This is mental abuse. There’s this woman in this crime show who is continually belittled because her house isn’t clean, the food she cooks is awful, and she’s clearly stupid. Her children even say that. They’re mad that she doesn’t attend their events. When asked, the woman says she couldn’t come because she might inadvertently embarrass them. She kills her husband. Admits to it. Cleans up the blood on the floor so that there wouldn’t be a mess when the police came to arrest her. She knows her house is a mess. One of the hangars in her husband’s closet is 1/4″ too close to the next hangar and it throws the rest of the closet off. There’s too much pepper on the macaroni and cheese. It’s a wonder her family doesn’t starve. She knows she’s stupid. She knows that she’s ugly, and wears old, patched clothes because you don’t dress up a pig. And yet, she kills her husband.

Now imagine that on a large scale. You’re treated like a machine. You aren’t allowed a good education. You aren’t allowed to socialize with anyone who’s not on the property. You develop survival behaviors to avoid the abuse and the compensating behaviors that keep you sane and ward off punishment. It becomes ingrained in your behavior.

On the other side, you know these black people ARE people. You’ve never had slaves. They speak like uneducated poor people. You Know you are superior to them because you don’t have a poor-person culture like they do. (All of them.) They tend to act out against getting treated like poor uneducated people, which makes no sense since they are poor uneducated people. Except for Bill Cosby and Diahann Carroll, no black people can think or act in a civilized manner. You don’t socialize with them, you don’t want them in your business, and you couldn’t imagine them in your church or neighborhood. Smart, well-educated black people tend to make you nervous. Everyone fears sentient machinery. That’s one reason why when Azimov created robots in his stories, he had the 3 laws:

  • A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm
  • A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law
  • A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws

He was allowing people to be comfortable with the machinery that served them. It gave them the inability to harm their masters. You could be as abusive as you wanted–mentally or physically. It would allow you to do this as long as the abuse didn’t threaten its existence. But it is still the attitude of white people that black people are essentially sentient machinery–flesh and blood robots. In other words, they are Robots without The 3 laws.

You see this in the comments on some of the events. “Do what the cops tell you! Don’t resist! Don’t reach for your cell or your wallet. Don’t talk back if you don’t want to get dropped!” See? “It’s YOUR fault that if you are black they will shoot you if you do the wrong thing. Don’t you dare protest your treatment! You’re probably guilty of something so be compliant!” They don’t shoot white punks that insult police and fight them and struggle and resist arrest. But if you’re black, they will restrain you with a knee to the neck because you’re inherently an evil machine that has broken the first and second laws. And if you defend yourself they won’t recognize the third law–you do NOT have the right to protect yourself.

So see? If you’re white, you can have black friends and still be racist. Your black friends are the exception rather than the rule. If you’re black, you can have white friends and still be racist. If you have to change your language and behavior so drastically to maintain the relationship, you are making your white friends the exception.

Differences Exist! You cannot look at a person who’s a different color than you and not see the color. But here’s the most important thing: You must not assume certain characteristics based on the color of a person’s skin. Skin color doesn’t give you any information other than the place of origin for ancestors long past memory. It tells you nothing of the character or the education level or the ambitions or the dreams of anyone.

We CANNOT get to the point of saying “All Lives Matter” until we stop associating skin color with a whole set of behaviors. You have to see people as people before you can treat them equally. No adjectives. No white people, black people, brown people, yellow people, red people, tall people, short people, slim people, fat people. Just PEOPLE. So we start with Black Lives Matter until they do.

ADHD or Autistic

Isn’t it strange that every little kid in elementary school is on drugs to BECOME autistic? No, the teachers don’t want to teach autistic kids. That would be really hard! But if the 5-year-old can’t sit at his desk and quietly do his school work for 6 hours a day, he needs drugs. If your kid is daydreaming, we need to get him on drugs. If he’s laser-focused and suddenly starts rocking back and forth and jumps when someone touches him, he needs drugs.

All the genius detectives out there are slightly autistic or OCD or Sociopaths. If there are as many genius villains out there, YOU WILL NEVER CATCH THEM! They’re all smarter than you are! And yet…since we don’t want ADHD kids or Autistic kids in school, we try to drug the ADHD kids to focus more and the Autistic kids to focus less. They’re the anomalies. But remember how I once said that there is no normal? Where do you draw the line? Well, in the Normal Curve, 68.27% of people should be considered normal, about 14% are above normal and below normal, and the tiniest sliver (2%) are genius-level and way below normal. Kids are expected to act autistic and not be autistic, and Autistic kids have to learn to act ADHD to keep from being ostracized by “normal” people.

According to APA (American Psychiatric Association) the number of kids who are ADHD is in the 5% range, but the CDC puts it at 11%. The number of geniuses is about 1-2%, but they don’t know for sure because geniuses are ostracized and bullied and ignored by teachers because nobody knows what to do with them. There should be about 6 million geniuses in the US. How many do we know about?

I have had to work with a variety of students…from painfully shy and withdrawn to bouncing off the walls, from IQs of 60 to IQs of 140, from painfully dull to technicolor imaginations. Everyone learns differently, and yet, I haven’t run into a single person that couldn’t be taught.

I’m teaching 2 brothers. One is 8 and has been taking lessons for 4 years, and his little brother is almost 5 and just starting. The older one has a laser focus but only for a short time. But he didn’t use to be able to finish a song during his lessons. He would stop in the middle and ask me if all the planets were round. He’d stop on the next to the last note of the song and have to tell me what he learned in his history lesson. He plays Beethoven now. The younger one believes that any note that he plays with his thumb is a C. Each note in his book has a weird-looking alien that represents it. The green alien is C, the Blue is B, the Red is F. He remembers all their names but not the names of the notes on the page. He doesn’t focus on position, he focuses on color and facial expressions. Do I teach him using the alien method? No, but he will remember the aliens long after I’ve finished teaching him in 20 years. He will learn auditorially faster than visually. His ability to focus will get better and he will be able to focus for longer periods of time.

I have another student that will sit down to practice 15 min every day, and find that 2 hours have gone by. He’s always surprised that he’s lost time. See? I am glad I have these students on a one on one basis rather than sitting like little dolls on boxes. We don’t want to teach them to be JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER LITTLE KID. Because there is no “normal” type of behavior. We don’t want them medicated to act like “normal” kids because that is impossible. Enjoy them just the way they are. Why? Because that kid you bully may be the next serial killer, and he’s coming after you first.

What do we do now?

How do we go back to being civil with people?

How can we bounce back after such a crisis?

Down the road, will anything we accomplish during this quarantine be significant?

How do you handle the fear?

How do you face this new tomorrow? Where will your energy come from?

Spotlight books

Funny you should ask.

The books we’ve written are rather diverse and so are our authors. There are between nine and 13 of us at any one time. The youngest is 28, the oldest in the 70s. We are housewives, social workers, grandmas, grandpas, single, married, PHDs, Bachelor’s degrees, Black, White, Brown…You get the idea? We shouldn’t even be friends, but here we are writing books together.  Why? Because we all have these same challenges but a huge number of perspectives. Am I fearful because of uncertainty in the leadership and unforeseen circumstances over which I have no control? No, but one of the other authors is. Am I finding it hard to get off my couch after all this turmoil? Yes. But not everyone has that perspective.

  • What will it take for you to get to a point where you don’t feel stressed?
  • What would you read to get your head straight on your circumstances?
  • Where would you look for direction?

Can you identify with at least one of the authors of the books? Probably. If you could figure out how someone like you not only survived but thrived during these interesting times, wouldn’t you at least be curious?

The books are available at the Book Worm in Omaha (the same place Warren Buffett shops) and Amazon.

Spotlight on the Art of:

  • Grace
  • Resilience
  • Significance
  • Fear
  • Generating Energy

I confess: I looked into my crystal ball and KNEW 2 years ago that we’d be in a situation like we now face. Every one of those books has a nugget or 12 of insight that will help you cope.

You can see us at Alternative Book Club