Thursday, July 26, 2012

The High Tide of Morality?

All this talk about Chik-fil-A is getting me riled up, so we have another rant in store today.

Let me start out by saying, their statement is in no way an affront to homosexual couples.  Personally, I am happy to see a company who doesn't hide behind the popular thought of the day.  I agree with them, it does not mean I hate homosexuals.  It means I believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman.  I also believe that homosexual couples should at least have the same perks of marriage if not marriage.  Power of attorney, being a medical proxy, filing taxes.  That's fair and if we're not going to give them those rights through a civil union, I believe they should get them in some form.

That being said, all of you on the "equality" side seem to think you're all the "moral authority".  But the fact of the matter is you judge us because we don't share your opinion.  I'm pretty sure the first amendment protects our ability to speak our minds.  If you think we're closed-minded, show us how to be open-minded.  If you think we're judgmental, stop judging us.  You are the moral authority aren't you?  Secondly, the ability for homosexuals to get married will end the same way heterosexual marriage ends.  At some point, they won't want it anymore either, the divorce rate will be above 50% for them too, and kids will always be destroyed by that.  So what are we really fighting so hard for anyway?  Things will always get progressively worse as time goes by if we don't avoid the pitfalls that we seem to jump into.

Now, every generation in the history of history has had this problem.  I think it can be best illustrated by discussing the hippy generation.  But, please remember, this is not an affront to the hippy generation.  The hippies were looked down upon because of their radical ideas for peace.  Now the idea doesn't seem so crazy but it was not popular outside of hippy culture.  They grew their hair out, they staged demonstrations, and they generally had all kinds of detached sex.  To the previous generation, they seemed like the scourge of the country.  Now look at us.  How much has changed?

We still decry the war we just had, even though it accomplished it's purpose and had much support at the start, we still have all kinds of detached and meaningless sex with people we don't know or only know for a short time, and the hair, well, the hair is a small issue these days.  We still scream for equality, this time for a different demographic, and don't do the work to earn it.  So at the very least, the only things that have changed are the hot button issue of the day, and the ones who carry the prevalent opinion.  And with everything that's going on these days, the rising crime rates, the rising divorce rates, the rising number of people who don't believe in God, and our give-nothing-but-take-all mindsets, I wouldn't be able to say that we are at the high tide of morality these days.  Would you?

Let me ask you, if you are all about equality and not judging people, then why do you instantly judge Christians?  Because you generalize them, just like you've been generalized.  So if you really want equality, we're all generalizing each other and that sounds pretty equal to me.  Ghandi said we have to be the change we want to see.  You want to start seeing change?  Be it.  If what they say is true, then the best revenge is living well isn't it?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Friends or Enablers?

I'm going to preface this by saying that what you are about to read contains a lot of hard truths. Be prepared to get upset or change your mind.

I've noticed lately that accountability seems to have gone on an open ended vacation. I see people all the time who talk to me about their bad choices, their misdeeds, they all talk about it like it's normal. They are caught off guard by the fact that I am put off by these things. I ask some of them if any of their other friends counseled them against it. Shockingly, the answer is no. Why?

Tolerance. Or what people call tolerance. Tolerance actually means: a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward opinions and practices that differ from one's own.

Tolerance does not mean that people should be able to do whatever they want and everyone else's opinions be damned. People are allowed to have opinions, but the false idea of "tolerance" hinders that. The only allowable opinion is the popular one. Here's the truth.

You have a community. Your community is your group of friends and family that you trust that has the experience to know better, has the desire to help you, and has the objectivity needed but also has the love for you that allows them to know what's best for you. As we all should know, sometimes, knowing what to do is difficult because in some situations, we are too emotionally involved to make a good decision. That's where the community comes in.

We all have at least one person in our communities, know it or not, who has the ability to separate the emotion and know exactly what to do. Who has the experience and the wisdom to counsel. What's stopping them? Our misguided definition of "tolerance". I don't agree with the use of the word these days and I don't live by it. But for the simple reasons that I study psychology, I show people that I truly do care, and I believe God has given me the ability to relate to people in just about any situation, I can reach a point of understanding that allows me to have an impact.

That's the other reason. Most people don't know what to do, don't trust themselves or God to lead them to a place where understanding can be received and used. And even if they do, they're not confident that the wisdom can be received. So they enable. Frankly, it's a crock. If it makes them hate me, I'm not willing to disagree, which means that I can't seem to care. That attitude is cowardice. As is the attitude that you don't need to listen to anyone.

The only exception I have encountered to doing this job is when people are far too blissfully ignorant to know. It seems far fetched to some of us that that would be the case. I know of a couple people right off the top of my head. I have tried and tried and I still haven't given up, but how difficult it is to reach someone who's blinder than Stevie Wonder! I share the same values with some of these people, the only difference is that I know that God has sent us into the world to share the message of love and truth and some of them just want to live they way they want. Life is not a free pass to be selfish, nor is it a pity party. Life is meant to be enjoyed, yes, but that doesn't come without the sense of fulfilling your purpose.

I've heard it said once, that if you don't tell people the absolute truth when absolutely necessary, then you must really hate them. It's as true now as the day I first heard it ten years ago.

And that's one thing that will be the same in the face of changing times. The absolute truth.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Closet of Armor

Trust is a very delicate thing. For a lot of us, it's as easy to open up to someone as it is to perform our own surgical procedures. It seems that people are constantly breaking our trust more often than not. But the hurting and the healing begin in the same place. Childhood.

For those of you who don't know, I grew up with an alcoholic father and a mother who did what she could to keep the family together, though sometimes that meant enabling him. My father drank himself to death when I was nine years old. My grandfather had died two years before that of an aneurism. I grew up in a house dominated by women with very little male influence. A lot of my years were spent trying to win acceptance by being a doormat. I've had bouts with depression. I've had bouts with bottles of Jack. And I use that as a frame of reference. I'm not saying things were all bad, but Life has a way of making you reflect more on the bad than the good because somehow the bad is more memorable. Hmm.

At some point in my life around the age of 23, I started changing some of my personality traits that I was noticing and didn't like. Some of those things like being honest, holding myself to my word, things that I saw in other people that I didn't like seeing and didn't want to be a part of. Around that time, one of my uncles, one of the last important figures in my life, passed away. I got into a bad relationship because I tried to convince myself that I needed someone who could push me in another direction in my life. I quit my band, kept drinking heavily, and held all kinds of grudges for those people that had ever wronged me. Ever. But you see, keeping things inward destroyed everything else. I suddenly found myself alone, with no relationship, no band, no idea what to do next.

I had a rough time with trust because I had a rough time with God. I had a closet full of suits of armor and I was trying on different ones everyday to see which one "protected" me the best. The armor of course, not letting anyone too close and not letting anything out, started to rust around me. And I realized that keeping everything to myself was destroying my relationships. It was killing my work ethic. And I had always been the kind of person to lead by the example of word and deed. Now it was just word. I was letting those suits of armor weigh me down like an anchor. And when you're weighed down by your problems, it prevents you from moving forward. It prevents you from growing. Especially if you try to carry all that weight for years.

If we're honest with ourselves, a lot of the blame for a lot of the things that scar us falls right back on us and I say that because we can control what we perceive and how we perceive it. We dictate what we will wear our armor for. And a lot of it is just being human, but a lot of it is also because we haven't learned that forgiveness means we can really let go of the weight and begin to start moving.

Here's another thing I learned: You can't spend your whole life living in the past. Living in the pain. Living in the flames that have burned you. It's worthless and it steals the joy from your life. If you're not living for that joy, I can see how some people can work up the courage to get on a ledge and threaten to jump. It seems hopeless, it seems desperate. It seems joyless.

I have lived with a lot of that hopelessness before. But one thing I came to ask myself was if I am so unloveable, then what am I doing wrong? If the answer is something you can fix, fix it. Because a lot of getting past your demons is being honest with yourself, even when it nearly kills you. And during the whole process, we may feel like dying, like giving into the fatigue of the day in and day out trying. But that's a good feeling. It's a sheep in wolve's clothing.

It means you are truly changing. Your old habits are dying and your new habits are finding their bearings. I'm not saying that changing is ever easy. But it is necessary. Part of the reason people rarely change is because they recognize how hard it is and don't think they're cut out for the work. But no change is ever worthwhile without the work, and all that work is truly worth the change. And one day, we will all forget why we even had those suits of armor in the first place and throw them all out.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What We Put it Through...Part 2

Another argument I hear a lot about why people choose not to marry is how marriage seems to change the way we treat each other. This argument is crap on a stick.

Of course marriage should change the way you feel, the way you act, the way you carry yourself. It should change the way you interact, it should change the way you relate. It should change everything about you, for the better. But mostly, it should intensify your commitment to your partner. So why doesn't it? Well, simply put, we are becoming worse and worse people by the year. By the day, even.

Let me explain.

As the years go on, for some reason, we stray more from the conventions of wisdom. We become convinced of our own wisdom. We've come to a place where, because of the way we have continued to "advance", we have become less honorable. Think about it. People break up over text or Facebook. We have people constantly cheating on their partners. We have become a society that takes the easy way out. Why would any of us think that we have anything right?! Because, as I have said before, we have erased the guilt. The guilt used to be a guard in the tower purposely missing, but coming close, to let us know we were overstepping our boundaries. But guess what, we fired back, took the guard out, and now the warning shots have stopped. Which is a relief to most of us. As we have become more politically correct, more technologically advanced, and overall more lazy, we have become stupid.

And, yes, I mean to offend. Why do we think that a commitment that is smaller (in terms of meaning) is any less of a commitment? Because of the legality? That's why you're supposed to take your time. Because of something else I'm not aware of? What is it? Will we continue to trick ourselves into thinking that not trying our best in every aspect of life is good enough? Guess what? It's not!

The only end we are achieving is settling for what we can get, not what we deserve. We are all deserving of at least some love and some self worth. But there is a large percentage of the population that don't feel that they are worth anything. Why? Because our parenting has failed. I believe it has been failing for years, and I believe that it has reached the point of failing when parents want to be their child's friend. I don't believe that being your child's friend is a bad thing as long as it is coupled with actually being an authoritative figure. Whether they like it or not, kids need discipline and structure. When they don't get it, they make up their own rules. Rules that never quite grow out of the childish stage. Then what do we have but children living as adults and scheming to create a world with child like rules.

I've grown quite sick of people not taking responsibility. Or not taking charge in their roles. I don't even have that many roles compared to some, and I feel like sometimes I take on too many roles for too many people. That's really the whole point of this rant anyway. To say that in the last 50 years, we have declined so rapidly as people, and our marriage statistics and current attitudes are very telling of how awful we have become in comparison.

All of that to say that we need to take more responsibility for ourselves and the people underneath our charge. Let's raise our kids to be respectful and productive members of society. Let's return to a time when what we did and how we did it mattered. Let's start paying what we owe and making this place better, not by some 70's hippy slogans, but by actual effort.

I'm challenging you all to do something better. Better than what we know of ourselves. I know that, for myself, there are a few people to whom I have been shirking some responsibility towards. I'm working on that. Let's say you help someone you might not otherwise help or go the extra mile just once in the coming week. Let's see what that does to our conscience, collective and individual. But it starts with the individual.

Monday, February 21, 2011

What We Put it Through...

I feel compelled to write something about the subject of marriage. With so many people I know either dead set against it or having already been through the life crushing nightmare that is a divorce, maybe some of this aimless rambling can help some of you in one way or another.

Recent statistics are hard to come across for 2oo9. I'm sure 2010 stats aren't done being figured. There's no constant figure that I seem to be coming across but the latest figure from 2008 that I come across frequently is around 40 percent divorce rate. Jumping from about 18 percent in the 70's. That is quite a jump for only 40 years. So, is marriage an overrated and outdated institution? Well that is for each individual to decide, but I aim to present an argument explaining how people have, do, and always will make excuses to avoid it.

It's no surprise that marriage is a huge commitment. You have to want to do it, you have to want to struggle sometimes. You have to know that it's largely about compromise, and you must know how to compromise. So what's wrong with a less serious form of commitment? I will now pick apart the cohabitation argument.

When two people in a relationship live together, it allows for you to see the other person in a fairly new light. There's no more impressing them or hiding anything from them. Unless you're really good at that. There is often no more doing what you want, or going where you want when you want. Cohabitation, however, is the popular choice for people who don't want to deal with the legality of marriage. But, let's look at the downsides.

Regardless of opinion, living together is a commitment. It is something with which you will have to compromise. You have to consider another person's opinions, wishes, feelings, etc. So, this is different from marriage how? Well, no divorce proceedings, no lawyers, and less money lost. But in my experience, most people who cohabitate before marriage expect the relationship to fail. A friend of mine had once told me that he set aside money for when he knew the relationship would be over. This is just ridiculous. Nowadays, we EXPECT relationships to fail. And this is a cause of trying to take the easy ways out. The messed up thing about it is that we know the other person could leave at any point, but so could we. It's kind of an illusion of control or a reactionary upper hand. But illusions usually look better than consequences.

Now, everybody seems to think their relationships will stick. Even with no real intent to commit. Why do we think that because we want it to, yet we refuse to put effort into something, it will succeed? Another friend of mine asked me if I thought love really existed. I, of course, said yes. The truth of the matter is that love does exist, because there is proof of it in the world. Real, true, life changing love exists. The only reason some of us don't think it does is because we think that love should be able to survive what we put it through.

Would you like to know the true thing? Love absolutely CAN survive what we put it through. It's us who can't survive what we put each other through.

Maybe we should be considering this when we start a new relationship or work on keeping an older one more fresh. In a sense, the institution of marriage is just a piece of paper, in the sense that we should be treating our relationships like they will last forever. But when we consider that marriage is really a living, breathing, organism that needs to be nurtured, it brings a new perspective to an old idea.

An NYU student did a local study about people who cohabitate before marriage and how long the relationships last. She also cohabitates, mind you. She discovered that within three years, 50 percent of those couples will marry, with most of them ending in divorce. The remaining 50 percent end up lasting, or dissolving. I would say that statistics local to NYU would be the same just about anywhere. It's not a geographical problem, it's a stupidity problem. And there's no shortage of that. Living together puts your relationship on a fast track either to break up or to marriage. But why rush either of those things? The popular saying that life is about the journey, not the destination applies pretty well here.

In conclusion, marriage is, to me, an institution worth respecting. It is something worth reaching for. And those of us who don't see it that way usually have poor excuses to justify that. Without marriage, what we're left with is a huge percentage of the population who cohabitate serially and will never really commit because it's too hard, or because people don't want to try. Why don't we try? Why don't we want to prove our worth? Because of the prospect of failing? That is weak, and those of us who harbor those opinions WILL fail. Those of us who want to try at life may actually succeed. Sounds like trying has the better success rate.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Comfort is For Blankets or Couches.

How many of you would agree with the statement that leadership is a starving art? I believe it one hundred percent. There are several leadership roles. Leader at work. Leader in the relationship. Leader of a family. Spiritual leader. You get the point. I am a workplace leader myself, and it's why I wrote this.

At work, I mostly see nothing but followers. The "leaders" in my workplace are anything but most of the time. It seems like no one takes responsibility in their roles. They are there to try to get away with doing as little as possible (as most do in a grocery store) and try to make it to Friday to collect a very much undeserved paycheck. Some of these individuals have been around for 20 years and make twice as much money as I do with half the work.

In life, some people that I know don't take the initiative to go for a better job or get out of a bad relationship. They only say to themselves, "Don't rock the boat."

In relationships, I see leaders abusing trust, abusing substances, or abusing the body or the mind. Why do we stay there?

Comfort, my friends. Sometimes self loathing, but usually comfort is the answer. Don't rock the boat = Comfort. Go from one bad relationship to the next = Comfort. Do as little as possible so as to not move a hair out of place = Comfort. Comfort has it's chains all over us.

Is it bad to be comfortable? Not entirely. The problem with comfort is that it's nice at first. After a little while, you get used to the plush or microfiber (or whatever fabric you enjoy) and become complacent. Not too long after, you become stagnant. No growth. No motion. No motivation. This, folks, is where Comfort has his evil grips on you. I've been there before. Just lay still and they'll stop shooting at you. Guess again. You become easy pickings. After Complacency has his way with you, you're pretty much worthless where you are.

We have enemies, people! And they have rented your sense of urgency with no intent to return (or rewind, for those of us old enough to have rented video tapes)! I believe there are only a few ways to stay out of this path. Out of this habit:

1. Accountability. At work, I have the guys underneath me keep me accountable to the standard I hold them to. It's important for me because at any moment, I could knowingly or unknowingly slip below my standards real quick. It also lets them know that I am serious about always performing at the highest level possible.

2. Photosynthesis. Just kidding. I don't convert light to energy.

3. Avoid. Avoiding situations where you could become too comfortable. If you're one of those people with little self control, this one is probably for you.

We are all, in one way or another, leaders. We really should all care greatly about what we lead. You never know, being too comfortable can lead you to inaction or bad decisions and you could lose a job, a relationship, trust, or ultimately, respect. And trust and respect are vital traits in a leadership. You kinda need those.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Omission of Ambition

I just got done watching an episode of one of my favorite tv shows, How I Met Your Mother. An episode about one of the characters potentially taking a job in another city, away from her friends, and away from a guy she was dating and really starting to hit it off with. And the question entered my mind: Are we so stupid that a job will infringe on our friends, and even our relationships? You may be questioning my use of the word, Stupid. Yeah, it is. Here's why:

We have been fed from birth the lie that we are supposed to make all kinds of money. As much as we can. Why? Because that is what it means to be successful and the aforementioned "success" is what will make us happy. Wrong. There's an old saying that goes, "You become who your friends are". Why could that be true if "success" is what defines you? In the end of that argument, if all you care about is your career, you will be a lonely person. If our friends define who we are, then connection is the most important thing about us. Not what we do for a living, but who we associate with, and sometimes who we don't associate with.

You know what, the real problem with ambition is that we put our careers ahead of all else, so we stop trying. We stop trying in our relationships, we stop trying in our friendships. And yes, we're all a little guilty of this, I myself have scoffed at those very words I was typing. The turnaround for me was being dumped by someone who wanted a career first. I'm not sorry for saying this, but there is not a career that could make me want to give up on any relationship that I deem important. Not one. Because when we make our community unimportant, we grow apart. We become alone. And we retreat into ourselves. And it's that dangerous combination that leads to bad decisions.

I would rather have people who build me up. People who I can bounce ideas off of. People who can show me love, and I can show love in return. Let's take care of our relationships, we never know how long they may last.