Respect: Have it. Use it.

Standard

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.

###

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.

###

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.

###

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

Advertisements

That thing called passion

Standard

What follows is a re-post (of sorts), originally published in April 2011. The purpose of the re-post is to participate in Monday’s Listicles, a weekly creation started by Stasha at The Good Life. The idea for today’s list comes from Jackie at  Not Wifezilla. She recently lost her friend, Marilyn, to an illness. Jackie’s friend was full of passion, which is exactly what Jackie wants us to write about today. In memory and honor of her friend, Jackie asks the question, “What are your passions?”

I was asked a similar question during a job interview in April 2011. The question stumped me, and I was not prepared to answer.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, I thought I would share my original post again, in honor of Marilyn. Plus, I added an update at the end of the original post. Continue reading

But we do – we do forget.

Standard

Generally speaking, anniversaries are cause for celebration. Whether gathering together in honor of someone’s birthday or honoring another year married, anniversary celebrations are filled with smiling faces and the sounds of laughter. However, anniversaries can also mark a time in history when neither smiling faces nor the sound of laughter exist.

Throughout the world, anniversaries exist and remind us of a specific time when governments, terrorists, dictators, etc. killed innocent people. As the date nears, conversations grow, pictures and videos resurface, and people recall their own memories of the tragedy. Continue reading

If it looks like a duck . . .

Standard

Dear Blogary,

I did it this time. I really did it. Yesterday, I said I was a Republican. Suddenly, those who pegged me as one thing, are now thinking something else. And, those who wrote me off, have come back after learning I am a Republican.

Oh Blogary, I crack myself up. I didn’t MAKE friends by mentioning I was a Republican. That’s just crazy talk.

So, I let my political party slip;
And now I am catching some lip.
We bicker; we judge.
We refuse to budge.
With a hand on my hip,
I will now let ‘er rip.

Not all blonds are dumb and not all Republicans are like Rush Limbaugh. Well, okay, maybe what I said isn’t entirely accurate. All blonds are dumb. Blogary, I’m kidding. Though giving birth changed my hair color, I was born a blond. Not all blonds are dumb, and I hope I didn’t offend any blonds.

I’ve had people cross my path who I found to be disrespectful to various kinds of other people. And, out of respect for the other people, I distanced myself from the disrespectful ones. I’ve also had people question me and distance themselves from me, because I befriended various kinds of people. Rest assured, when someone decided not to be my friend because of their ignorant prejudices, I made sure the door hit them on their way out.

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of Prejudice is “preconceived judgment or opinion : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.”

Prejudice is not an ugly word, generally speaking. We prejudge things all the time every day. And, prejudging can be used as a survival skill in some cases. However, sometimes we get it wrong, and sometimes we throw the baby out with the bath water.

One afternoon, while walking with a girlfriend at a popular park, I was spat on by someone who passed us. The person spat on me deliberately. And, the only reason(s) I could think for having been spat on by this person was that he (yes, it was a ‘he’) thought I was gay, or he did not like my AIDS awareness t-shirt.

That mystery person – aka jerk – prejudged me based on my appearance. Too bad for that jerk, because I’m a great person who makes a great friend. And Blogary, some of my friends are – Dun dun duuunnn – Democrats!!

Now Blogary, I’m not claiming to be perfect; after all, I am a Republican. I prejudge, and sometimes my snap judgments are wrong. In fact, sometimes I have prejudged people incorrectly, assumed s/he was ‘a good people’, only to find out s/he was really a bigot (“a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices” Merriam-Webster).

Blogary, with age and experience comes wisdom – you hope. When someone shows you who they are on the inside, believe them. But, try to give the person a chance to show you who they are on the inside. Don’t close the book on the person without flipping through a few pages, first. Remember, you can’t judge a book by its cover (or label).

Love,
Me, A former-blond and current recycling Republican who is heterosexual, wears AIDS awareness t-shirts, supports many charitable organizations, wears turtlenecks and socks with sandals, doesn’t like red meat, hates peaches and has family and friends in every shape, size, color, etc.

A bit snarky

Standard

My word today is ‘Snarky’. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of Snarky is as follows: 1 : crotchety, snappish 2 : sarcastic, impertinent, or irreverent in tone or manner <snarky lyrics>. Snarky is a fitting word for today, as I continue my PMS battle. No worries, this is not going to be a rant about PMS. Instead, I am writing about the word snarky, because it is a word I hear with growing frequency. I don’t consider myself to be a snarky person. However, I am known to be sarcastic. And to me, there is a distinct line between sarcasm and snark. Be warned, I’m probably going to come across as a little sensitive in this post.

With social networks like Facebook and Twitter, friendly chit-chat can to turn to disrespectful rudeness pretty quickly. The word ‘friend’ has changed with these social networks, too. One can have over 500 Facebook friends, but what kinds of people make up the over 500 friends? Are they real friends? Are they friends that you go to great lengths to stay in touch with through the years, or are they merely friends you are curious about every now and again? And, if you are snarky to these friends, do they take it as innocent and playful sarcasm? Or, do you they find it to be irreverent and rude? Frankly, do you even care how they take your comments? Truth be told, the real friends you have are the ones you interact with the most, whether it be via Twitter, Facebook, telephones, gatherings or email. And, you can check out anyone’s “Wall” on Facebook to determine which friends are real friends versus the ‘social network’ friends.

I admit, I’ve had my feelings hurt by snarky ‘friends’ on Facebook. I don’t know that they meant harm; instead, I think the distinct line of snark vs. sarcasm is blurred in the world of social networks. I cannot believe everything that is said or typed on Facebook would really be said out loud to people. It’s just not how the world works. In my opinion, the reason these social  networks became so successful was due, in part, to the fact that people could pretty much say whatever they wanted or felt with little to no filtering or backlash. Blogging is another example of how filters seem to evaporate, as folks spill there guts while offering their take of the world. And please, pardon me while I spill my guts, as I am an active participant of the named social networks.

As a participant in social networks, I am not trying to sound judgmental. In fact, I believe a great deal of good comes from social networks. However, I worry about our filters, and I worry that our filters – which serve a respectful purpose – are evaporating at an alarming rate. Much like the Ozone layer is becoming smaller and the greenhouse house gasses are (allegedly) overcoming our Earth, our filter of respectfulness is also becoming smaller. My nieces and nephews are not aware of a world where people only communicated by corded telephones. My younger relatives are not aware of a time when you actually put forth an effort to have conversations face to face vs. the corded phone. They don’t even recall a world where you actually played outside and had to pretend to be a good guy, shooting a bad guy with the coolest stick you could find. They do not know of a world before XBox, Nintendo, etc. This younger generation doesn’t know what it is like to be patient – deliberate – thoughtful. With social networks and electronic mail, everything is instant – reactive – not filtered. And, when one is responding in an instant and without a filter, snark is sure to show itself. Sarcasm is everywhere, and sarcasm is in your face. Sarcasm is in daily face to face conversations, on television, at home with the family and online with friends. But snark? Snark seems to lurk in world where you can hide and have a sense of anonymity or carelessness. Snark is mean. Snark is personal. And, in my opinion, snark is ruining our conversation, even if the conversation is virtual.