Respect: Have it. Use it.

I haven’t written in weeks, perhaps months. I fear if I take my time and really think this through, my life will pull me away from the post, and it will remain (like so many others) in draft form. So I am sharing a stream of conscious with you. While I will try to write correctly and coherently, I am not trying to win any grammar awards or accolades with this post. In advance, I extend my apologies to the grammar police.

My name is Lenore, and I watch Big Brother. That fact is tough to admit, because my husband despises reality television – and when he finds me watching Big Brother (or Survivor), he expresses his displeasure with my choice of shows to watch, over and over again.

I’m not here to defend the time I waste spend watching Big Brother, instead I am here to applaud the producers/editors of Big Brother for showing what appears to be more complete conversations between the houseguests vs. the typical sound bites shared in the show. Plus, I am here to share my thoughts regarding racism and general lack of respect.

Surely you are in the know, right? Surely you are aware of the fact that there is at least one houseguest within the Big Brother house unafraid to share her feelings about the people around her. Specifically, this houseguest will openly disrespect her black and gay co-houseguests.

(Side note: Am I the only person to find sick irony/coincidence with the fact that this houseguest’s name is Aaryn? Her name is so very close to “Aryan”, as in the Aryan Nation.)

My friends will tell you – my black friends, Indian friends, Armenian friends, Jewish friends, white friends, etc. – I like to be of the opinion that racism does not exist. I like to be of the opinion that we all get along far better than the media implies. Alas, Aaryn’s behavior has made it difficult for me to “unsee” the truth that exists.

So, in addition to admitting I watch Big Brother, I will also admit that racism exists. HOWEVER, the bigger issue, in my humble opinion, is a lack of respect. Regardless of your race, religion, creed, nationality, stature, weight, hair color, etc., individuals seem to spew disrespect towards anyone that is different and/or disagrees with whatever is being said or done. Outward differences seem more easily overlooked when folks are in agreement with one another.

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Ducking to avoid all that will be tossed my way, I ask: Isn’t calling someone a dumb blonde similar to stereotyping a redneck or black person?  Easy. Easy. Yes, I understand – the history that exists between whites, blacks, slavery, and segregation makes the disrespect deeply personal and more hurtful. I get it, and I agree completely.

But…

At one point, Aaryn dismissed her lack of respect by saying her housemates call her a dumb blonde and judge her by her looks all the time.

Okaaay. So that makes it right? Heck no. HECK no.

But…

When we peel away the layers, isn’t it within our nature to pick on those different from us? Isn’t it within our nature to pull from stereotypes?

I realize the above statement may sound like I am defending Aaryn. I am not defending her. I am suggesting we are becoming desensitized to the lack of respect that is spreading like a bad rash.

The line between being funny and being hurtful is blurred and growing wider until – BAM – we are hit in the face with something that seemingly caught us off guard.

We are becoming more and more disrespectful as the years go by.  And, as my friends probably expect me to say- I blame part of this on social media and the no-filter and knee-jerk responses that fill Facebook and Twitter.

I won’t discuss the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman story, except to say that Trayvon’s friend who testified at the trial made me cringe when she used the word “cracker”. That word disgusts me, because it reminds me of the horrific treatment of the slaves. I am not a “cracker”, but because I am white and living in the South – it is a word someone could call me if they were mad or looking to hurt me. Dare I say, for those whites born after slavery, the word is as hurtful to us as the “n” word is to blacks. Both words conjure up an awful piece of history. Both words should be buried once and for all. As long as both words exist and are used in hate or in play (between people of the same race), an ongoing division will continue as a side-effect.

Can we get rid of “bitch”, too? I cannot stand how freely that word is used.

Folks, we lack respect for history, respect for elders, respect for families, respect for people, etc. We lack respect. Period.

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To the producers/editors of Big Brother I say “Thank you.” Thank you for bringing the reality of racism and disrespect into the homes of millions of viewers. May we walk away from this with a greater awareness of the need for respect, and may we provide the respect all people deserve.

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This morning during breakfast, my 8yr old asked me a question. Unfortunately, I don’t remember his question, but I do remember the dialogue that it sparked.

“You know, Joe. There was a time when blacks and whites
were forced to – “

“I know. I know. Blacks couldn’t do the same things whites could. I know this already.”
“Okay. Well, sadly there are some people that still have those ideas.
And –“

“Stop, Mom. You’re embarrassing me. I know all this.”
“Just promise me you will never treat someone differently because they look one way or another.”
“Mom! You know I won’t.”

I’ll make sure to continue to embarrass Joe (and Charlie) as they get older. Their embarrassment with my reminders is a small price to pay to know they will not judge a person’s outer-appearance. After all, they always show me respect, and I wear socks with sandals and flip-flops.

Shoes

Cursive handwriting – the new hieroglyphics

The family gathered in the living room waiting for our nephew to start opening his birthday cards and presents. He opened his first card and read it aloud. When he got to the handwritten sentiment, he had to pass it to someone else to read. “I can’t read cursive.” He said.

What?! What did my 14yr old nephew say? He can’t read cursive? What?!

Seeing my shock, my sister-in-law said, “They don’t teach cursive in school anymore.” Read more

Help Yourself

How many self-help books do you own? Need a minute to go count the collection you’ve created over the years? Or, have you passed your books along to others?

Lately, I seem drawn to book after book, promising me a better life. Please, don’t misunderstand me, I love my life. Still, with so many books within reach touting a better life – well, color me interested.

I think I am still coming off the “Eat, Pray, Love” thing. I never read the book. (Why does admitting to not having read the book take me back to my high school days and Cliff Notes?) I did – you knew this was coming – see the movie. And, though the movie wasn’t great, I find myself thinking about the messages portrayed in the movie. I have been accessing my library’s website daily, to see if a copy of the book is available. Hang on, I’ll check now . . . ARGH! Still unavailable.

Self-help books are destroying me. My over-analytical ways are only encouraged by the countless books out there claiming to help me. Who says I need help, anyway? Hush. I heard that.

“I’ll have to try that.” I hear myself say that statement time and time again, during conversations with friends and family. We are always offering our advice about this or that; assuming how we were helped will fit nicely and neatly in another person’s life. Though really, we’re all different.

Though written words and another person’s experience may inspire, I find more insight and inspiration by doing the most simple tasks. For example, when I am making and packing my son’s lunch for school, I find a peace making his peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Sometimes, I get lost in the spreading of jelly across the peanut butter, attempting to cover the peanut butter perfectly, while creating an artful spread of jelly.

I find self-help in the calming (and yummy) scent of freshly made cinnamon toast. I find self-help in looking out my living room window and catching a glimpse of a deer running through the yard. I find self-help in sitting down with Joe, mesmerized while he reads to me from the books he brings home from school. To me, self-help is easily attainable when you grab hold of the good moments in life. And, when the bad moments hit, well – perhaps that is when the books are helpful. The books give us something to read through, escaping our momentary feeling of madness, until the dust settles and we see the good again. Perhaps we’re not looking for answers in the book, as much as we are looking for a diversion.

I’m not in a state of madness at the moment. Although, if you know me, you know this could change at any second. Still, as I continue to wait for a copy of “Eat, Pray, Love”, I find myself becoming obsessed with the countless self-help books being released daily. With so much help available, I may need to find a self-help book on how to learn to need more help. And, to make non-significant matters worse, next week begins the last season of Oprah. ACK! Oprah’s last season!

I wonder how many books will be released helping folks deal with Oprah’s final show: “Oprah: How to Live After the Show Ends”. Hmm . . .  Anyway, I’ll continue to check the status of “Eat, Pray, Love’ at my the library; and, in the meantime, I’m willing to bet I could find a self-help book to help me deal with my obsession of self-help books.