Month: July 2016

Hype & Ignorance

As I write these words we are in between the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention.

We have had plenty of people talk about how wonderful and terrible Hillary/Donald are and how the only answer is moving to Canada.

But the topic of Hype & Ignorance applies to many hot topics unrelated to our current Presidential race.

I’m not aware of the bias of the news media when I was a kid in the 60’s and 70’s but I’m guessing there was less than we have now.  Walter Cronkite was Uncle Walter, the legendary CBS Evening News Anchor that told my family what had happened in the last 24 hours.  You watched it at 5:30pm, because that’s when it aired.  Catch it live or miss it was the only option.

The 24/7 news cycle that began with CNN and has grown to include other cable news channels needed to fill 168 every week with news and so more than what Uncle Walter could squeeze into 30 minutes each day was needed.

Eventually with the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, the doors were opened for more opinion oriented broadcasts on radio and TV, because the Federal Communications Commission did not require broadcasters to provide equal time to opposing views.

This ability to present just one side in broadcast media grew even further with the accessibility of the internet and eventually social media which has given anyone with a smart phone the ability to share their views with everyone.

No longer do we have a standard of truth to hold people accountable to present just the facts without bias.

This has led to both hype & sensationalism along with stubborn ignorance.

The polarization of the people on issues is a natural occurrence.  I’m not saying it’s right, but it develops naturally.  We tend to hang out with people we agree with rather than those we disagree with.  It feels better to be friends with someone you have something in common with versus someone you have nothing in common with.

The reality is that we really have plenty in common we disagree with, if we just have meaningful conversations that don’t dissolve into name calling.

  • The only way to resolve this is to learn what the bias is of the person or media that you are listening to/reading/watching.
  • Once you know the filter that the information is being presented through, you begin to see the Hype that is also going on to magnify and justify that position.
  • Then seek out the opposite or opposing view and see what they say about the same issue.  This is how you can combat Ignorance in your own life.

There is plenty of Hype on both sides of any issue along with individual Ignorance because of staying in our “safe zones”.

I urge you to do your homework and stop blindly agreeing with what others are saying. Become informed and determine your own opinions.  Or you may also find yourself with simply a greater understanding of the various issues and pick up some new friends along the way like I have.


Wanting To Understand

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is one that has been talked about, debated, and mostly misunderstood.

I have heard other white people talk about the concept as if it is a competition…

What skin color matters the most?

Wrong question.

We can not and should not ignore the past.

Nor can we ignore the present.

It’s only by looking at the past and present that the future will be different.

My city is populated by a majority of white skinned people.  We also have a sizeable African-American and Latino population.  Neither is as big as Detroit or Miami.

Our city schools are immensely diverse. High school E.S.L. classes (English as a Second Language) often have over 100 different languages natively spoken by those students each week.

I thought we are a melting pot.  But we’re not.  At least as much as I wish.

In the past couple of years I have had neighbors who were black and Hispanic. But they were the minority and the intermingling of families hasn’t happened.

30 years ago when I worked in Detroit, I had more friends, co-workers and neighbors who were black than I have now.  I had hope for a color-blind generation (my kids) who came home one day after playing with the neighbors kids and remarking that, “Josiah is black.”  It wasn’t a racist comment or even a judgement.  Her comment was simply an observation, like “7 is a prime number.”  She doesn’t remember the conversation because it was no big deal, but her parents remember it.

I recall thinking that I was raising my kids to be non-judgemental and un-prejudicial which I believe they are.

But despite this outlook, they have had different life experiences based solely on their skin color.

My kids and I myself will never be judged by the majority as suspicious or inferior because of our appearance.  If we are afraid of the cops, it’s because we were driving too fast or some other legitimate reason to be pulled over.

I really never thought of white privilege because I’ve had to work hard for stuff.  But as I look around I really don’t need to defend myself that way because it’s not a competition.

There are no laws or rules that can change human hearts.

It has to happen one at a time, person to person.

(There are some laws and rules that need to be revoked that allow or promote division.)

My saying #BlackLivesMatter is simply to promote a fairness and equity that I wish people of all skin colors believed… that skin color is not a way to judge someone.   Yes, #AllLivesMatter but that’s often used to counter the #BlackLivesMatter concept.

In every movement there are going to be extremist and unfortunately the bad ones get all the attention.

You and I have a power we did not have before in communicating on social media and not simply having to remain left in the dust when injustices happened to us or around us.

I really want to understand, but I also want to be part of the solution.

I believe that each generation will make improvements in race relations, but it takes both activity and time to change habits and attitudes.

One last thought.  A correction on something I used to say and I mentioned earlier in this article.  The concept of being color-blind pertaining to judging people by their skin color isn’t really the concept I want to promote because that use of color-blind is often mis-characterized as not seeing the differences.

Embrace the differences instead.  Learn from our differences.  Accept the differences, just don’t judge based on ethnic background.

Politics, Guns, and Prayer

Sometimes it is hard to stay positive.

We have the ability to expose ourselves to the news and opinions of others in such a manner that wasn’t possible a decade ago.  Some of the technology changes in the past year have given us exposure to stuff that wasn’t available in 2015.

I’m thinking of the live video feed on Facebook where a woman began broadcasting a police stop that went horribly wrong as her boyfriend is dying right next to her, her little daughter is in the car seat in the backseat and we see the police officer pointing his weapon and yelling.

I’ve only watched it a couple of times and it was on a cable news show Thursday night, but it is sickening.

The peaceful protests and marches around the country Thursday evening when I went to bed turned deadly after I was asleep and it was the gasp of my wife Friday morning when she turn on the news to hear about the police shootings in Dallas that prompted me to grab my phone and check the news.

We live in a country where there are lots of guns.

Most are owned by law abiding citizens or capable, trained law enforcement officers.

Then there are those that make the news because they broke the law and/or are not fit to carry a weapon.

It’s the second group, a much smaller group that paints such a grim picture of life in America.

The reality is we have always had this mixture of good and bad.

Taking away guns from good people is not the answer because then only the bad people will have guns and the rest of us are their prey just waiting to be shot.

I don’t know the answer to all of this because if it was easy to create a fool proof way to know the good folks from the bad, we would have done it by now.

There are plenty of simple cases of mistaken identity along with criminal activity resulting in having your identity compromised that has made this a complex problem.

By the way, for those that think this kind of thing only happens somewhere else, look around.

At last count, Fort Wayne has had 19 homicides in the first 27 weeks of the year.  Yes, we have a gang problem and that is part of the reason for those deaths.  But there are families and loved ones connected to each of those murders.

Another crime spree has been occurring in a neighborhood I used to live in on the northeast side of town as an arsonist(s) is targeting vacant homes and setting them on fire in the middle of the night.  Clearly not a good person.

As a person of faith as a Christian, I understand that this world we live in is filled with both good and evil and that ultimately I get to escape this chaos on earth to spend eternity in a perfect heaven.  In the meantime, I pray.

When nothing else makes sense, or you don’t know what to do… pray.

That’s been my method of coping with our government too.  I’m not looking forward to the next 4 1/2 years with either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as President of the United States.

For either one, it’s a power grab and while the Executive Branch has limited power according to our Constitution, I am not impressed that the other two, the Judicial Branch or Legislative Branch are doing much better.

I pray for our government leaders at all levels that they will earnest seek to do God’s will in their personal lives and in the responsibilities they were given.  I pray the same for our first responders and military.  I pray the same for business people and my neighbors.  I pray the same prayer for friends and acquaintances.

I pray for each member of my family, for my wife and myself, to earnestly seek God’s will in our personal lives and the responsibilities we are given.  And I take the time to thank God for the simple blessings along with the complicated blessings too.IMG_20160702_213304713

That’s how I regain a sense of positivity.  How about you?

Citizenship is the Gold Standard

On this 4th of July weekend in the United States there is plenty of talk about how we are a nation of immigrants and well, quite frankly, that conversation is one that is true but it’s the wrong conversation.

We all have hearts that go out to those around the world who are needing help. The question is what do we do about it?

Instead of having a conversation about legal or illegal imigration, perhaps we should be talking about citizenship.

Look at this:

The Value of Citizenship

The United States has a long history of welcoming immigrants from all parts of the world. America values the contributions of immigrants who continue to enrich this country and preserve its legacy as a land of freedom and opportunity.

Deciding to become a U.S. citizen is one of the most important decisions in an individual’s life. If you decide to apply to become a U.S. citizen, you will be showing your commitment to the United States and your loyalty to its Constitution. In return, you are rewarded with all the rights and privileges that are part of U.S. citizenship.

Want to know where I got that? It’s from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, last updated 3 years ago by our government.

We have a system of immigration that allows people from other countries to come here.  Granted not everyone who comes here wants to be a citizen.  Some are here for a visit, the way Americans like to visit other countries.  Others are here for business, some are here for educational purposes.

We have some who are here for work and others who want to actually become a full fledged citizen of the United States with all the rights and responsibilities mentioned above.

If there is someone in the United States that is not a citizen of the United States, we need to know why they are here.  I just mentioned several legitimate reasons and if there is a reason that fits the criteria, fantastic!

But the undocumented combined with those that have gone underground after overstaying the terms of their visa, those are the ones that we, as citizen of the United States need to be concerned about.

When I was 20 year old I was not legally allowed into bars.  Yet that was the year I drank the most.  I lived in Kokomo, Indiana and went to a couple places with older friends and my age was never an issue.

Except when I went with my over 21 year old friends to a couple of nightclubs in Indianapolis.  The bouncer wouldn’t let me in.  Who was right. me or him?

My legal to drink friends had a plan and as I sat in the parking lot wondering what to do now, I heard one of them call my name from a side door and they snuck me in.

I was an illegal and in order to stay, I had to avoid the bouncer at the door which I managed to do until closing time.  As I walked out he glared at me and said something threatening.

We have a hard enough time determining who the bad folks are who are citizens.  Just like the night club has enough challenges taking care of the over 21 year olds to worry about underage drinkers.

Think about it and let me know your thoughts…