Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Question for Pretty Much Everyone

Recently, at work, I've noticed the boys, 3rd to 5th graders have been feeling their oats. I'm fine with that and I, more than most, understand there's a real difference between boys being boys and abuse. When they are alone, playing sports such as basketball, dodge ball or four square, that they are "playing with our balls." It was funny the first time, but in day 100, it's wearing thin. What I do not like, is when they make these jokes and any other innuendo around the younger boys or the girls; including staff.

This is where the question in my title comes from. Aside from this, I see them asking questions, making comments, disobeying or ignoring the female staff, much more so than they do the male staff. I should point out that while dealing with kids, over two decades, I don't use a whistle and I have yelled, maybe three or four times, ever. It's just not how I teach. The last few days, the disrespect for the female staff has increased and I've tried to nip it in the bud, but I'm hesitant. Here is why. I myself try very hard not to comment about anything at work that could be construed as sexist. I work with young, fit and to be quite honest, some beautiful young women, but I never do anything to convey that, because firstly, they are my coworkers, but also, I truly respect the job they do, especially one of them. She happens to be the youngest, but she's also the most hard-working and efficient person there. I definitely don't look at her as an equal, but above me, despite us technically having the same status.

So am I wrong to "stick up" for my female coworkers, by defending them, but also demanding that the young boys specifically treat them better? I feel, in this day and age, my singling out them as being mistreated demeans them slightly, because if the children's actions bothered them, they could discipline them themselves. Or, as I hope is correct, I am simply trying to reverse some cultural and societal norms, ones these kids may be learning at home, in school, or on teams or groups, that many adults, both male and female, are ingraining in them?

I fear I've been too wordy, too unclear and made a simple question into a more complex situation, but while I have no regrets from a teaching standpoint, I do find myself questioning whether or not, in my desire for equality, I myself acted in a sexist fashion.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Religion and School Shootings

Copied from a Facebook post I wrote earlier, because I'm exhausted from reading this same, tired argument, the day after every school shooting.

 Anyone who knows me, knows I'm the least religious person on the planet, but some of you may also know I was minoring in religion in college and I'm fascinated by it. Not so much the fictional tales, but the fact that religion, in most cases, is simply a set of common sense laws, with the threat of punishment, that may or may not exist. It was used to control the masses, in a time when education was lacking, so the idea of judgement was terrifying, so it worked. What is also interesting is that it wasn't viewed so much as a religion, but a way of life. Especially religions like Judiasm, Islam, Buddhism and for devout Christians, their branches.

 In today's America, most devout Christians, especially Roman Catholics, tend to be conservative by nature. We view this as a manifestation of political ideals, but in reality, it's true Christian values, which are inherently good. The real problem is that our world is a violent one, much as the world of Jesus was, and definitely the world of the Roman Empire. Over the years, the idea of dying for your country, your religion and your ideals, has grown into this scare tactic, as if the fight is more important than the sacraments or even the word of God. I have noticed that whenever there is a school shooting, people Christian Conservatives immediately point out that a possible reason is because we don't allow guns and The Bible into our schools. I've always found it fascinating that these people call themselves Constitutional Patriots, but ignore the separation of church and state, and call themselves Christians, but ignore the concept of non-violence, a staple of the Bible, especially in the teachings of the man their religion is named after.

 I respect everyone's belief system, as long as they actually comprehend the religion they claim to practice. I also respect everyone's love of this country, as long as they comprehend this country's Constitution and laws. I respect everyone's opinions about church and state, as long as the two never shall meet. What I don't understand is the need to use religion as a defense of personal infringement, while defending someone who chose, whether mentally equipped to know better or not, to shoot and kill seventeen people. That argument is neither constitutionally sound, or even remotely Christian. In fact, it's the polar opposite of the two most (mis)quoted documents on social media.

 I hope, because I do not pray, that nobody I know, ever loses a child to this type of tragedy, because I can't imagine what it must be like, in this day and age, to read people defending a maniac's rights, let alone to hear and read the leader of the nation enact laws to assist in this occurrence. I hope people on both sides of this argument leave religion out of it. I also hope they realize the Second Amendment has absolutely nothing to do with personal gun ownership, and definitely not an AR-15 or any other type of assault weapons (btw, they are actually called ASSAULT rifles). I hope people look at this from a single argument. Are our children safer with guns or without. It's actually that simple. Ask Australia!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Personal Paradox

I despise routine, but equally loathe change for the sake of change.
I love the snow, but old bones have made me hate the cold.
I hate the summer, but those same old bones have me embracing its warmth.
I am a morning person and an evening person.
I went vegan, because of my feeling for all sentient beings being equal, yet I'd argue no humans are equal, other than in their rights to equality.
I am lethargic when it comes to beginning a project, but laser-like precise with time management.
I love working with kids, but I've grown fond of those breaks from the little ones.
I crave intelligent conversation, but choose solitude.
I'm considered intelligent, but fail in all those things intelligent people usually succeed.
I am a family person, who rarely speaks to anyone, but my brother, and very rarely.
I am there for my friends, but shun those who try to help me.
I despise personal debts, but I am overcome by them.
I avoid repayment from others, but it's oddly needed at times.
I miss people I've never met, more than those I know well.
I love sharing sunsets and the evening sky, but prefer sunrises alone.
I crave companionship, but solitude is bliss.
I detest drama, but it seems to gravitate towards me.
I don't understand materialism, but am surrounded by it.
I've never understood those who speak to themselves, but have had long conversations about it with myself.
I look down on ignorance, but find it harder to manipulate than the wise.
I'd love to spread my wings, but the comfort of the nest is so appealing.
I in my life, I've spent more time in the house, than out, but less time at home, than within.
I don't care for admiration, but crave acknowledgement.
I have great love for some, but avoid the words at all costs.
In my silly blogs, especially as of late, I try to avoid, at all costs, starting sentences with "I."

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Trump's First SOTU Address - My Take

Copied from my Facebook page
As you can imagine, I'm not very popular on the complain about traffic, job, kids, friends, coworkers and life in general for attention website.

A few takeaway's from Trump's first State of the Union Address!

Trump praised all the right things to start

But to believe they are great, one would have to admit, that Obama made them great and Trump simply let them stay the course.

Trump praised police

But to believe this is sincere, you have understand that by attacking the FBI, ignoring gun laws and by antagonizing minorities and poor people, by increasing marijuana arrests, making moves to privatize prisons and kill public education, he is putting police in grave danger. If by praise, he's commending them on handling it, then yes, he is in their corner.

Trump was truthful and exaggerated his tax cut work

But to believe they are great, you have to ignore that 20% goes to the top 1%, 60% goes to the top 20% and within 10 years, 50% of the US will see a tax increase, while the top 1% will receive 80% of the benefits.

Trump is right about the Dow Jones

But to believe this is great, you have to own stock in one of the 30 companies that comprises it. 99% of the stock is owned by 20% of the investors. Less than 50% of American invest, so 99% is owned by 10% of the country. The average investor has less than $15,000 invested, so if there's been $8 trillion gained, well you figure out who has benefited. Also, if you accept the Dow as a positive for our economy, then Obama did a better job, by percentage, than Trump did and the Dow would have to reach 50,000 for Trump to match him.

Trump is right that auto factories are leaving Mexico

But to believe this is a positive, you need to understand that for every one factory moving back to the US, ten are being opened in China and other parts of Asia.

If you got through the first half and you're clapping

You have to realize, Trump's praising Obama's policies and Hillary's promises. So if you believe he was truthful, you'll have to say the previous eight years were pretty amazing, or you're simply biased.

Then came the second half, where he didn't mix words.

Trump believe all Mexicans are bad
He spoke more about MS-13 than he did about Dreamers
He spoke about border security more than Mexican influence
He spoke about crime and drugs, not agriculture and business

Trump doesn't think very highly of black people
He spoke about low unemployment, as if it wasn't low before
He spoke about respecting the flag, as if it's a black thing

Trump spoke about his VA bill, hailing the firing of 1,500 "bad" employees and calling for accountability.
This is a good thing, if not for the fact that those 1,500, plus 35,000 other positions have not been filled. Including 4 director's positions.
He mentioned the importance of mental health and veteran's now being able to use doctor's outside of the VA. This sounds convenient, but the lack of funding will create the need to privatize the VA, something every veterans committee is against.

Trump spoke about Unity, despite consistently using social media to call out people using terms like "Crying," "Lying," "Lil," and "Pocahontas." His speech, claimed to be bipartisan, but clearly spoke to his base. He ignored the achievements he inherited and put a negative spin, claiming his lifting of regulations was the cause, when in fact, it reverses what made things great. He ignored our energy growth, then claimed the use of some mythical "clean coal" is our future.

He mentioned Gangs
He mentioned ISIL
He mentioned North Korea
He made no mention of our single greatest threat - Russia

To believe Trump's speech was truthful, one would have to pretend the Obama presidency never occurred
To believe Trump's speech was meant for all of us, you need to pretend, we're all still believing in this mythical American Dream.
To believe Trump's speech was about unity, you need to forget his campaign, his twitter account, his leaks, and most of all, the words that he's uttered himself.

If you believe, Trump's speech was about the State of the Union as a whole, you need to have been ignoring the last two years of your life.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Starbucks vs Childcare

"I'll have a venti mocha soy skim latte and a buttered bagel. Oh yeah, and a bottled water." She asks him if that will be all, he confirms and follows her instructions to pull up to the next window. He hands her a $10 bill and she gives him his change. A single dollar and some coins. He places them in the car's compartments and drives off.

He gets home that evening and he and his wife argue about the cost of their child's after-school program. He calls it outrageous. The $200 for 17 1/2 hours a week bothers him. The $40 a day for 3 1/2 hours bothers him. The $11.43 per hour bothers him.

He leaves for work the following morning. Opens the door, grabs the quarter full cold coffee cup and throws it in the trash, sprinkles the plants with the remainder of the bottled water and places it in the recycling. Straps his child into the child safety, looks back and smiles. "If you only knew how much money I spend on you."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Sometimes The Message Is Lost On White People

Recently, I was at an MLK Day luncheon in Ithaca and the lunch itself was to raise money, awareness and activism in honor of the man many believe to be one of America's greatest, if not the greatest, activists. The room was filled with people of various racial, ethnic and religious backgrounds, but the majority, a far greater majority than which represents the country, was white.

There were folks singers, singing Arlo Guthrie's response to Francis Scott Keys' Star-Spangled Banner, the folk classic, This Land is Our Land to start it off. Then there was a Native American couple, speaking in their tribe's native language, telling us about their land and immigration. Then a group of angry high school kids, screaming about not getting parts, because of the lack of diversity. This all ended with different groups, all of different backgrounds, introducing their workshop programs, all to follow the luncheon. Very few people listen, as they ate their free food. Privileged people, listening to those on the "stage," speak of poverty, oppression and civil rights. They clapped furiously at first, then a little softer, their muttering soon matching the volume of those with the microphone. Then we took our kids and left, off to another center, where a choice of activities was given, ours choosing play, although it did consist of an urban game.

It dawned on me, especially after living in Ithaca for a few years, that white people, especially white liberals, love being connected to activism and what they feel is action directed at important social issues, but how much they hear, from those who are actually affected by the topics they choose to champion, is very little. Sympathy is not empathy, and old adages aside, most of these people, despite dressing in homeless-chic, are walking in their own designer shoes and always have. Poverty may inflict itself upon them, but there was no life of sorrow on their faces. Then again, those who have endured it, persevere, so they hide it from their white counterparts. Many of the speakers, especially the younger ones, had anger in their voices, apparently missing the point and the message of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many quoted others, seemingly forgetting his words. At one point yesterday, I asked my boss, who was there, "Did they even mention MLK?" She paused, though, then looked up, "NO!"

As I've said before, one of the reason many whites have a hard time embracing Dr. King's philosophy, is that it's so similar to that of Jesus. In The Bible, Jesus is a very different man, than those who follow are taught about in church and if one were to believe what is taught in out culture, Jesus is even further removed from how he's depicted in The Bible. Dr. King, like Jesus, wanted those to do for others, before themselves. To do for the cause, understanding they may never see the fruits of their labor in life. To understand that their children and grandchildren, and those of their neighbors, would prosper from their work. It's a tough pill to swallow for many and as someone who has seen the struggle of whites and blacks, who do, not for them, but for their children and their children's children, it's done similarly, but with a completely different understanding of why and why it matters.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

"Happy" Anniversary

Today, well today at around 6pm, it will mark one year since I've lived where I am currently living. To say it's a happy anniversary would be a lie, but it wouldn't be a stretch to say it's a happier anniversary.

Living in another person's home, especially a couple, is an odd situation and it's taken me a long time to get comfortable. OK, that is a lie. It's still uncomfortable. Not feeling as if the space is mine, is at times, depressing, but at others, just plain lonely. One of the hardest parts of being part of another's life is failed expectations. If there has been any lesson taken, it's that family dynamics are not universal. The things one person covets, another takes for granted. Some families crave material items, while others simply enjoy time. Without dissecting my entire existence, and that of my landlords, let's just say, if I had tried to chose two people less like me, with less in common and views on day-to-day life more opposing than mine, I would have failed. That being said, I've learned a lot about myself, and of others. To say I understand it, would be a lie. I also want people to understand, these are good people. People I like very much and would do almost anything for, but the little things (and some big), we simply differ on.

This year has been a trying one. In many ways, more trying than others, but in some ways more relaxed. I'm reading more. Having a few cocktails when I want, cooking and laughing more, and despite it being only slight, thinking less. This is a good thing.

I'll cut this short, because of the last point in the last paragraph, but just want those who have assisted during this journey, you are not and will not be forgotten. You held my hand, hugged me and kissed my forehead, even if through a screen. You were the rocks I needed, when I needed it most. You made me laugh, when I wanted to cry and you gave me that flicker, when it was pretty dark in here. But most of all, you were present. If I am able to be there this year, and years to come, even a fraction as much as you've been there for me, I will.

Thank You!