Don’t Talk About It!


It is interesting to me that when I post articles here that are upbeat and positive, I get a lot of “likes” and comments. But when I post about subjects that are uncomfortable like gun control or politics I get very few comments and likes. I’m not pointing fingers of blame. I love my readers and always encourage people to be themselves, but it is a pattern I’ve noticed and the answer as to why delves into many areas. Plainly said, people don’t like to talk or think about uncomfortable subjects. As an unwritten rule many of us learned that you were never supposed to talk about religion and politics in public. Mostly I think, because people have strong opinions on those subjects and arguments are started by bringing them up. But if people do have strong opinions about subjects like that, why don’t they talk about them and voice those opinions? Because it’s uncomfortable.

And we don’t like to be uncomfortable. Because being uncomfortable is well, uncomfortable. We don’t like being seen as having any faults, or biases or prejudices. But the fact is, we do. We all do. This is not a popular thing to say and I’m probably not going to get many “likes” for this. My thought on this is, if we don’t talk about uncomfortable things, how do we ever get anything resolved? How do we solve our problems if we don’t talk about them. People spend millions every year telling their problems to therapists but not talking to their friends about them for free. Why do we do this? Maybe because we want to seem like we have it all together in front of our friends? We don’t want our faults and biases to show? We want to be cool and hip and yet we’re an emotional wreck behind the scenes. If we let our guard down, someone will get inside and see what we’re really like. And then what? People will really know us. That’s what.

We need to talk about uncomfortable things. Maybe not personal things but things like racism, bigotry, politics and religion. We need to talk about the pervasive gun culture. About brown people locked in cages. About Native American rights. About Palestine and Israel. About Fascism. We need to talk about these things because they are problems for us and the world, and they won’t resolve themselves. We have to somehow get over the uncomfortableness of talking about things by just doing it. Sticking your neck out, as is said, and talk. Get it out there how you feel. After the initial stickiness you may find others joining in. You may find a lot of people agree with you and then you have something important to talk about. Social media is a great platform that a lot of people use for superficial things. Not that that’s bad but it can be used for so much more. It’s actually easier to talk about uncomfortable subjects on line because you’re not face to face. But we need to do it. Now.

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What Can We Do?

Three mass shootings in two weeks. Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton. All by angry white men with assault weapons. The media reports on it, the country grieves, flags are at half staff. We go about our lives wondering what the hell is happening, wondering what can be done, and no one does a goddamn thing. Words get tossed around: mental health, anger, fear, white supremacy, terrorism. Solutions are suggested, protests are staged, blame all around. And no one does a goddamn thing. We will go back to our lives, our jobs, saddened by our current state of affairs. And nothing will change.

The question of the hour: What can we do? I’ve heard plenty of ideas but almost no one is suggesting that we vote legislators out of congress who allow these shootings to continue. The ones who take money from the NRA as bribes for not voting for stricter gun laws. Our president uses fear and hate to divide us and surely this is part of the problem. Looking at the killers social media more than suggests that it is. Racism, misogyny, and other forms of bigotry contribute as well. Toxic masculinity from hundreds of years of raising boys to believe they should hide and fear their emotions. Hundreds of years of not talking about mental illness, of treating it as a taboo subject. You want to know what’s wrong? These things. These things right here.

“Don’t cry Bobby. Crying is for girls. Are you are girl? Well then, stop crying. Boys don’t cry.” Toxic masculinity. Countless millions of boys have been raised this way. To be tough, to be strong. To be stoic. Don’t let anyone know you feel terrible inside and whatever you do, don’t cry. Like adding pressure to an airtight bottle. Eventually it’s going to blow.

Fear. What are you afraid of? Well, if you’re American, you’re afraid of almost everything. Brown people, coming to take your jobs. Muslims, coming to take your God. LGBTQ people turning your children gay. Socialists coming to take your freedom. And when these fears are fed a steady diet of Trump and Fox News well, any thinking person can see what happens. And when our Congress refuses to act, refuses to do their jobs, it adds fuel to the fire. Like adding pressure to an airtight bottle. And when we refuse to demand that Congress does its job, that our president does his job, we are complicit. We are at fault.

There’s no point making a list, a “What can be done list.” There’s no point. We know what to do. We know what needs to be fixed. We were once a Democracy. Our country has become what we have allowed it to become. When you turn on the news and see another mass shooting, that’s your fault, and my fault. We have allowed this to happen. Through direct action or inaction, we have allowed our country to become what it is. No one I know of is suggesting this. No news agency, no individual writers that I have read are saying this is our own fault. Through our own action or inaction, it is. And we know how to fix it.

Fear Is The Enemy

angry crowd
we are human
If you follow the news these days like I do, you undoubtedly have noticed a rise in racism, bigotry and hate in America. It seems to be coming from all facets of society from the common worker to the (so called) elite, and from our government, congress and one presidential candidate in particular. The problem that we face in combating racism, bigotry and such is the same as combating terrorism. These things are constructs. They are ideas, emotions. You can’t fight them. You can kill ISIS fighters in the war on terror but more will take their place. You can oppose hate with love but more hate will rise up. What is needed is to understand why there is racism, why there is hate. Racism, hate and bigotry are symptoms of other problems. Find the problem and find the cure. Sounds easy, right? If it were, we would already have it licked. But we don’t and it seems to be getting worse. People are becoming more comfortable with public displays of some of the worst feelings and emotions humans can come up with. But, why?

Our society is geared toward finding happiness. Advertising tells people to acquire more stuff to be happy. People have to have the latest phone, car or clothes. T.V. commercials tell you that you will be happy if you get the newest products. Or try the latest diet. Book store shelves are packed with self help books. All this stuff to improve our lives and make us happy, but is it working? No. It’s not.

We have become a nation of shamers and blamers. We shame people when we think they’ve done wrong and hand out blame like a free ham at Christmas. We thrive on division and demonize differences. What this does is create minority groups for people to verbally attack and look down upon and for radical individuals to go further with physical violence. But again, why? Why do we need to look down on others? Why do we need someone to hate? That is the real question. Simply enough, people are dissatisfied. They are simply unhappy. And most don’t know why. If you’ve ever listened to people gossip you quickly understand that they do it to put those they gossip about at a lower level than themselves. They do it to feel better. If I can believe that you are worse than me, that means that I’m not so bad. My life doesn’t suck nearly as bad as yours so I must be doing alright. We need someone to hate, to feel better about ourselves. These are the roots of racism, bigotry.

Yet again, the question is, why? Why can’t we feel better on our own without hurting others? Part of the problem that brings about racism, hatred and bigotry is fear. We are afraid. Of what? We are afraid of the unknown. We are afraid of people who have a different skin color than us. Of people who speak a different language. Who worship a different God, but why? Why are we not secure enough in ourselves to not be worried about others? What makes us fear other people? Two parts of this problem are media and government. They make money from fear. Fear fuels the Military Industrial Complex; the machine built by a combination of government and industry that makes and sell weapons for war and creates the conditions for war. If they keep us afraid, through media bombardment, expecting the next terrorist attack, then we won’t squawk about how much is spent for the military. We won’t complain when we invade another country because we’re “doing it to keep the world safe.” People are just plain scared. Scared of dying, of losing what we have, or what we think we have. So, differences are demonized and we fear them. Then our government tells us it will keep us safe with more government, more war, more weapons. The NRA tells us we need more guns. Why? Because, they make money off that. Gun manufacturers pour millions into the NRA to keep pushing guns. To keep shouting about the second amendment.

So fear means money for government, for weapons manufacturers, for insurance companies and banks. For the NRA and media. And when we are afraid, we are not secure. When we are not secure, we fear. And that’s when racism, bigotry and hatred rears its ugly head. When we fear something long enough we resent that thing for making us afraid. Resentment turns to hatred and hatred to racism and bigotry.

Religion is another component of the fear complex. Televangelists scream hatred for the LGBTQ community. They tell us that our only salvation is through their brand of religion. Other religions are false and should be feared. Atheism should be feared. What kind of person are you if you don’t believe in God? How can you have morals if God is not steering your ship? Send us your money, and we will pray for you. They have people believing things that have nothing to do with what that religion was originally based on. One of the ways in which religion does this is by getting you to stop thinking for yourself. If you put your faith in your church to figure things out for you, you stop thinking. When you stop thinking, you’ll believe anything they tell you.

So how do we stop the fear? That’s a question that’s hard to answer. It may be different for each person. One of the ways we can stop fearing other people is to realize that we are equal. Even though there are lots of skin colors, lots of languages, and lots of religious faiths, underneath all the trappings we are just human. We all have the same human qualities. The sexual orientation of another human may be different from yours but all that means simply is that that person is different than you. We have to realize that differences need not be feared. Gay people having the right to marry, means that they are being treated equally. Gay marriage will not ruin straight marriage any more than straight marriage will ruin gay marriage. People who have a different religious faith will not cause your faith to falter. Speaking another language is not wrong, it’s just different. That’s all. Just different, and different need not be feared.

Isolationism breeds fear. People that don’t have gay friends or relatives are often found to be afraid of, or bigoted toward gays. The same goes for skin color, language, religious faith, etc., etc. If you don’t know any Muslims then chances are, you know little about them. Fear of the unknown. In my work I have come to know a few Muslim people. I have found that they are warm and interesting people and they welcome questions about themselves and their faith. Muslim refugees in America have often gone through HELL before they were forced into refugee status and found themselves coming here. When they get here they find an unwelcoming people who fear them because they have been trained by the government and the media, church, etc. to believe that these people are all terrorists. Muslim refugee’s lives have been utterly destroyed by war in their home countries and they leave everything they have ever known to come here for a better life. And here they are faced with racism, bigotry and hate.

As a people, we need to change things. We need to stop the fear. We need to vote new people into public office who are not afraid of the status quo. Women and men who will look to the future as a better place than today is. We need to change the media. We need to stop accepting the lies they tell us to keep us hiding in our bedrooms. The Military Industrial Complex needs to taken apart and scrapped. We need to stop making money off of war and fear. There is no other way to do it than by grassroots movements. Black Lives Matter, is one such movement. They bring attention to the fact that since our country’s inception, black lives have not mattered. The Gay pride movement is another. People need to understand that different is not wrong. Different is just different and need not be feared. We need to stand up to the way things are and believe that they can be better. We need to know that individuals can and should make a difference. How about if we start right now?