Tag Archives: activism

Why I should stay off FB

I declared myself off of FB…should have followed my own counsel…but I popped in and learned something important about a friend, which caused me to pop in again, and spinning deeper into the vortex that is FB, I found the following recurring themes begging comment. So, here are the comments – all in one spot.

RE: “the red cup”: you’ve heard of bait, right? why are people on both sides still biting??

Continue reading Why I should stay off FB

Patrick Speaks

Patrick Speaks is a short video about a deaf young man in Uganda, and others like him.  They have a unique opportunity, thanks to one person who chose to learn, then return home to make a difference.

At the end, Patrick is granted a sign name…the sign they use means “Smile” in one or more sign languages.

It turns out this video is an excerpt of a 25 minute video titled “15 and Learning to Speak” from the UK channel “Unreported World”.  The longer video has an interpreter using British Sign Language (different from American Sign Language).

Enjoy the smiles, and understand the story that is at the heart of deaf culture – the essential need to communicate, and the experience of being alone while surrounded by loved ones.

On That Day

In March of 1981, I was sick enough to stay home from school.   Mom had made plans to visit a friend, and when it comes to laying on a couch with a box of tissues & a bottle of cough syrup, a friend’s couch is the same as the one at home.  One of the big songs at the time was ‘Call Me’ by Blondie, and whatever was on the TV was suddenly interrupted with breaking news: President Reagan had been shot.

They say you remember where you were when such events of national interest occur.  In this aspect, ‘they’ are right.  Continue reading On That Day

The votes are in – now what?

November 7th, 2012, the day after… Voting in America has happened once again, and I have been more involved in it than ever before.  No, I didn’t march with banners or knock on neighborhood doors to encourage people to agree with me, I did something that’s apparently becoming rare – I was on the front lines of vote collection.  For a week, we went to hospitals, nursing homes, and private homes to make sure noone who wanted to participate in this activity lost their opportunity to do so.

Then, I set the alarm for 4am, hit the snooze one time too many, and dashed off in the cold dark almost-morning to be one of 5 people in our precinct who would work 13 hours straight checking id’s, collecting signatures, and handing out ballots, one per customer.  We knew early that we would have more voters than ballots, and we called in to say so, a good two hours before the fateful moment arrived and we had to tell a group of tired voters that they could not yet record their choices.  Turns out, as one voter learned by calling the local news station, that 14 precincts in our area also came up short on those precious pieces of paper.  It begs for a better system, or at least the faith and preparation for a higher voter turnout, especially when the stakes are long declared to be so high, no matter which side you’re voting for.

I was pleased, all week, to find once again that the dreaded ‘us’ and ‘them’ who are so often depicted as pure good or pure evil are frankly just humans…all a bit of both.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not given up on the theology of fallen man, the critical need for salvation, the only Savior, and the priority of becoming more Christlike in character… but when it comes to politics, we need to have more dialog and less dogma, because both sides have their good ideas and their bad ones, and both have proven themselves equally susceptible to greed, corruption, lust, and favoritism.

For example, I did a little internal huffing and puffing at the lack of response and support the Inspector received from the, ahem, ‘other’ party, and began to fret about how the votes couldn’t be collected if there was not representation from both sides.  At nearly the last minute, the delegation showed up (they had been waiting at a different location) and I was forced to swallow my thoughts as I realized that I was the only member of my party who would be supporting the Inspector’s efforts and responsibilities.  I served two roles, because the people who were called on decided to make other plans rather than follow-up and follow-through.  It’s not glamorous and not high-paying, but it’s very necessary if we’re to keep our civilized system of government selection operational.

We’re keeping the president that has held the title for the last four years.  I’ve heard from people of both parties that this is not the preferred result, but nevertheless, it is the result we have.  From here, we move forward…it’s the only direction life and history move.  Perhaps some of us will take this result as a call to action – not action in the upper echelons, as that will not be changing for 2-4 years unless there’s another tragic event (may it not be so, for several reasons), but action at the ground level, among the ‘normal’ people who live day in & day out with the need to feed their families and the scarcity of options to earn income without selling body & soul to the corporate machine.

If you don’t like that your children are graduating without the capacity to write, spell, think rationally, or deduce cause and effect from the evidence provided, don’t bother Washington with it, get yourselves to some PTA meetings.  Arrange a lunch for principals and administrators in your community and express your concerns – along with proposed answers, and counter-answers for the concerns your proposals might generate.  Invite people who hold more than one perspective, and have an honest civilized discussion about what would be best for your children and the society they will inherit responsibility for.  Commit a place and a little volunteer time on a regular schedule to tutor students who are struggling in a subject. Not only will it help them to learn the material, it could reignite the joy you once had in science, history, literature, or math  – subjects you don’t get another chance to explore in most careers.

If you don’t like that your community resembles a war-zone or third world trash-heap town, don’t call on the Armani-suited Senator who drives by in a parade every 2-4 years schmoozing for votes. Instead, roll up your sleeves and grab a box of trash bags, some brooms, and the local teenagers looking for something important (or at least interesting) to do.  Pick a street or corner that will be renovated this weekend, and another one next.  Tell your mayor and police what you plan to do, and trade in your picket signs for paint brushes.  Talk to each other as you work, reminisce about the days when there was a grocer who knew his customers by name, and the neighborhood families of every heritage carried food to their grieving neighbor’s family when the mother was sick and dying.  This is the country we once were, and the country we could be again – 9/11 and hurricane damage have proven it. Now prove it in the day to day, stop waiting for disaster to give you an excuse (or remove excuses, whatever the case may be).

The point is, we can find reasons to be divided, and we can find reasons to be united.  It’s all in what we focus on and what we look for.  There are critical issues, monumental issues, and of course I believe in the positions and proposals I espouse, but darn it, there’s more to human society than ‘perfect us’ and ‘evil them’.  Can we start acting like it???

Voice of Which People??

Day one of the new schedule, sort of…  I was up & out this morning to join my neighbor and her dog for the “morning constitutional stroll”.  On my doorstep was a pair of fliers announcing a group promoting freedom and the voice of the unheard.

So, I’ve given them a little more than an hour of my morning, checking their site to see what they believe in and how they promote those beliefs.  It was rhetoric, double-speak, and new vocabulary that really didn’t define the bottom line.  We’ll start there – that’s annoying.  If you believe in something to the extent that you want others to agree and/or join you, it’s rather important to be able to put that belief into a clear statement, not muddled circular arguments.

I believe that God created the world and all elements and creatures in it, thus He has the right to establish and declare laws and standards, both natural and moral.  I believe that every person has value from single cell to last natural breath, that heinous acts are worthy of forfeiting that life but not that value.   I believe that government has become too large and personal responsibility has become too small.  I believe that we should pursue correction of that balance, starting with ourselves, our homes, and our communities, while using civil and legal means at our disposal to curb the intrusion of government into our private lives.   I believe that responsibility includes keeping private things private and shielding the young and innocent from mature matters until their responsible guardians (generally parents) determine appropriate levels of exposure.

There – it’s still a bit open ended, but it’s quickly clear whether we agree on the basics and whether you would be inclined to follow up on the details.  It took about 20 minutes.  This group has been established for several years, citing news program interviews from 2007.  They’ve had time to clearly define their objectives for recruiting purposes.  I have a hard time trusting an established group that can’t say what they’re about.

Next, they’re very careful about remaining an elusive ‘they’ – a hidden force that rises up and shows itself behind masks when it deems appropriate.  There is actually a part of their agreement indicating that being a member of their group requires not revealing one’s actual name or face.  Hmmm…about that…

There’s a time and place for remaining unseen…  Admittedly, I don’t have my mugshot on my blog, I may (or may not) change that.  If you’re reading, it’s probably because you already know me.  When I’m ‘in uniform’ as one of my two clowns, I don’t answer to the name my mom gave me – it’s Clown Culture, keep the mystery, keep the magic.   Since I’m just as vulnerable as any other average person in America, I tend to take security into account – locking doors, looking both ways, and not publishing my contact information…it’s common sense.  Likewise, there is necessity & wisdom to keeping a very low profile if one is involved in activities such as underground railroads, witness protection, abuse shelters…  There’s a time & place for staying invisible.

There is another dynamic, however, to having a group dedicated to bringing about public change from behind a mask.   Cowards & coverts do that, and public change is no place for cowards.  If you believe it, stand up for it, with boldness born of conviction.   Hiding, for an organization, tends to be the first clue that something’s not on the up-n-up.

Well, I followed up by seeing what other sites had to say about them – it became a bit more clear.  According to lists of interviews & activities, it turns out that this group believes in anarchy, to the extent that they will aggressively pursue anarchy through interruption of others’ attempt at order.  Not my style, so I won’t be joining them, nor promoting them.

Before someone raises the ‘extreme circumstances call for extreme measures’ defense, let me assert that I’d have been proud to march with Dr Martin Luther King, based on the whole of his faith & philosophy, not just the popular sound-bytes.  I’ve attended a few demonstrations, where the objective was to have numbers of people representing an ideal, peacefully.  I salute the Patriot Riders who respectfully enforce the boundaries of funerals, protecting grieving friends and family from the obnoxious absurdity of a few.  The key here is not maintaining status-quo, but speaking up with order and respect, giving dignity to that which you believe in, and asking reasonable people to consider it as a valid public change.  Anarchy and disruption are a completely different approach to change, and I will clearly oppose it, without a mask, respectfully.

The obvious next question becomes, why blog about them??  To encourage others to thoughtfully explore groups and rhetoric before diving in with both feet.  We are a marketing society that lives on sound-bytes – we put labels on ideas and groups, then rally for or against the label, without digging into the quality and/or consequences found beneath.  On the surface, with the initial advertisement, this group seemed like something worth exploring – so I did. Many others will jump on the first opportunity to sign up, then find out later what they’ve gotten themselves into.  Results of good marketing.

In this, I agree with them – speak up – find others that agree with you and seek to improve society.   Just make sure you know who you’re agreeing with, and what else they believe.