“The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words.” English Oxford Living Dictionary

Wow! Almost 200K words! That’s a lot! One would think that with all those words we would understand each other better, but we don’t. One might also think that words wouldn’t be able to hurt someone. I mean they are just words right? They’re not like guns, knives or swords. Those have bullets or sharp edges that pierce our skin or other organs and can make us bleed.

Words can’t exactly pierce someone’s skin. However, they can sneak into our heads, creating negative self talk that can be just as lethal. Some words can puncture a large, gaping hole in our hearts too. So how is it that words hurt us sometimes worse than other weapons that can pierce our skin and organs?

Imagine me saying any of the following to you. “You’re dumb, stupid, ugly and a loser. You’re a racist, a sexist, a misogynist, and a homophobe. You’re a Republican, a Democrat, a socialist, a liberal, a conservative, a communist, a nationalist, a nazi, a fascist, a right/left wing extremist. You talk/dress funny.” How do those words make you feel? Hurt? Angry? How could I say those things about you? I don’t even know you. Simple I don’t have to know you. You believe/say “this” about “that”. You do “that” because of “this”.

We throw words around like this all day, every day without thinking about how the other person feels. We do this at work, at home, in school, in the grocery store, and especially on social media. To make matters worse, we lash out at the person who said those things or we take it out on the next person we see whether it’s a stranger, a friend or a family member. All this does is keeps the cycle of anger and hatred going.

Ask yourself this question. Do you like being angry all the time? I don’t know about you, but I sure know I don’t.

When we throw these kind of words around we are also practicing something called identity politics. Identity politics is contemporary shorthand for a group’s assertion that it is a meaningful group; that it differs significantly from other groups and its members share a history of injustice and grievance. It’s a way of always reacting to some type of racism or inclusivity through division.

Now, imagine I say these words to you. “You’re smart, funny, beautiful, kind, and caring. You’re a darling, a sweetheart, an angel, a peach or a doll. I love the work you do, the things you say, and the beliefs you have” Those words make you feel pretty good don’t they? Why don’t we start using these words and others like this? Instead of tearing each other down, why don’t we begin to build others up for a change?

I have a challenge for everyone reading this, especially if you’re someone who throws around negative words all day. Starting today, I challenge you to say something nice to someone, or lots of someone’s. Watch that person’s reaction. See how it makes you feel. I bet it will make you feel as good as it would if someone said those things to you. Go ahead. Give it a try.

Thought for the day: Perhaps this quote says it best, “If you proposed to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?” ~Buddha

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Love is a Song

” Love is but a song we sing, fears’ the way we die. You can make the mountains ring, or make the angels cry. Though the dove is on the wing, and you may not know why. Come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, and try to love one another right now.” ~ Chet Powers

Some songs stand the test of time. “Get Together” is a song where the words and their meaning rings true even today some 50 years later.

You may have noticed that people are fighting everywhere these days. Whether it’s in another country or right here in our own communities. What is everyone fighting for/over? You name it. More land, more money, politics, religion, who did what to whom…the list goes on. What’s sad is that most of us were taught when we were young how to share and behave around others. Seems to me we that we forgot those things when we left the sandbox.

In a perfect world everyone would get along and there’d be no fighting, or we’d agree to disagree. We need spirited debates to make changes but not when it’s sister fighting sister and brother killing brother. If we’re not careful there will be no one and nothing left worth fighting for. When the fighting ends, we regret things we’ve said or done. By the time we decide to do something about it, we are to late. We never see the person or worse – they pass away.

Thought for the day: Don’t let pride get in the way of a simple “I’m sorry”. A friend once told me, “Swallow your pride, it contains no calories.”

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“Each moment, each person, is sacred and worthy of respect- especially you.” ~ Amy Leigh Mercree

I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but I really don’t get kids today. As a young child growing up until the day they passed away, I respected my elders, even if I vehemently disagreed with them. If I had spoken to my parents, teachers, or any elder the way kids do today there were consequences.

Problem is that far to many adults are acting the same way these days.

I was grounded or, on those rare occasions, swatted with a plastic spatula a couple times. And I do only mean a couple of times like when I dropped the “F” bomb by accident or took the Lord’s name in vain. I was busted once or twice sneaking out of the house and I was grounded for it. I skipped religious education class one time to go to a club with my boyfriend. Not only was I caught but I was also grounded AND I got a lecture from one of the nuns. Thank goodness she was the more lenient nuns but I still got an earful from her nonetheless.

As you can see I wasn’t an angel growing up but I certainly wasn’t the worst. My parents were somewhat strict, I’d dare say middle of the road strict. I learned respect from them. If I respected them, they respected me in return. It was later in my life I learned more about giving and receiving love, honor and respect. We learn many things from our parents, at least we’re supposed to. For whatever reason it doesn’t appear that anyone is being these basic principles.

Thought for the day: If you don’t have respect for yourself how can you 1) respect others let alone 2) demand respect be given to you?

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The Answer

“Let us not seek the Republican answer, or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.” ~ Former Democratic President John F Kennedy

“You don’t believe this? You’re a ‘-ist’!” “You think that way? You’re a ‘-phobe!’”

Every day, often numerous times a day, we are calling each other derogatory names. If we don’t like the way a person thinks, we call them racist, misogynist, sexist and numerous other names. Some are not fit for this author to print. In 90% of the cases, though, we are far from correct in the names we hurl at each other. That person is the opposite of those names.

Yes, there’s no doubt we have serious issues in this America and the world. Yes, many things that need fixing are things that are fixable, but first we need to get out of our own way. We need to find ways to compromise without completely compromising our values, morals, and principles.

No one person is right on all things in life. We can begin today to reach across whatever aisle that divides us and learn about another person whose thoughts and opinions are different than ours. Instead of name calling, ask questions and each of you give a little to each other. If we each do this, we can begin to agree on ways to fix some of our issues that plague our society.

Having different viewpoints is natural. Where our diversity is our strength is when we can come together and use those differences to bring about positive changes.

Thought for the day: The next time someone disagrees with you, instead of putting your fingers in your ears saying, “La, la, la, I can’t hear you!” try listening to understand.

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Questions to Ponder Part 2

This is Part 2 of Questions to Ponder. As i said yesterday…

I consider myself to be a reasonable person. When it comes to hot button topics and political differences of opinion, I like to look at both sides of the discussion, add in a little common sense, then come to a reasonable conclusion. After watching numerous debates between pundits on the news, I have to admit that I don’t understand how some people think.

Using some wisdom I’ve acquired, I have some questions and/or thoughts about some hot button topics that I’d like you, the reader, to ponder. I simply ask that you have an open mind as you read because if we are to discuss these hot button topics we need to look at both sides of the debate. If you don’t want to read another point of view, feel free to skip reading this, just know that we can never stop fighting and find common ground as long as we are closed minded steeple following the crowd.

Gun Control

We’re all well aware of recent mass shootings in the country, especially in schools. I agree 100% that we need to make some changes. However, in each tragedy, weren’t there laws already in place that could’ve prevented these people from getting a gun? Thinking of recent mass shootings and laws that are currently on the books, where did the system fail?

“Guns kill people.” This statement isn’t entirely true. By itself, a gun sitting on a table is a hunk of harmless metal. So is a knife and a car. When any one of them is put in a human’s hands, they become tools capable of killing a human or an animal. Wasn’t there an incident in 2017 when a terrorist ran over some people with his car then got out and started stabbing people?

Here are a couple of statistics. Every day people are killed or injured in motor vehicle accidents. Drunk driving is responsible for 28 deaths every day and texting while driving causes roughly 300,000 accidents every year. And, reportedly more than four times as many people are stabbed to death than killed with rifles of any kind.

Where are the chants or protesting to have cars and knives banned?

Something else that puzzles me. Anytime there’s a mass shooting, law abiding gun owners are blamed and punished first. How did a law abiding gun owner cause the mass shooting? If your response is that they didn’t cause it, then why are they blamed? How do you feel when you’re blamed and punished for something you didn’t do? I can think of numerous shootings where others were clearly to blame. Pertinent mental health concerns weren’t reported and addressed, concerned citizens reported their concerns to the proper authorities but the authorities did nothing, or someone else who could pass a background check purchased the gun for the shooter who couldn’t pass the check. Perhaps the most egregious incident was when armed personnel were outside setting a perimeter while the gunman was inside still killing people. If you had a gun and people were being killed, wouldn’t you confront the gunman and save people?

Why not blame the person that picked that hunk of harmless metal and turned it into a tool for killing others? Why are they blameless?

Finally, after you create all of these new laws, will criminal abide by these laws? If a criminal REALLY want a gun, will they not do anything to get one? Take a look at cities like Chicago, Detroit, St Louis, Oakland, Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Buffalo. Some of these cities have some of the strictest gun laws and they’ve got some of the worst violence in the country. These guns aren’t licensed, aren’t permitted, there are no background checks and they are never purchased legally.

The gun control debate wouldn’t be complete without discussing school shootings. Aside from my previous thoughts on obtaining a gun, there are other things we can do to prevent these from happening. Perhaps the best idea I’ve heard is to have trained armed people in the school. This can be retired law enforcement and/or retired military veterans because they are highly trained to use firearms. If teachers and school administrators want to be armed, great. They can be trained and licensed too.

Entertainers, politicians and other famous people are protected by armed guards, right? Airports, train stations and some stores are protected by armed guards, right? Why are we not protecting the most precious people in our lives with armed guards?

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” is true. Who can stop a bad guy with a gun? Someone using words to talk the gunman down? Someone armed with a slingshot and rocks?

Police Brutality

In recent years, there have been protests, some of which were violent, because police officers shot and killed a suspect – usually it’s a white officer killing an African American suspect. To start with, do you really think that all police officers are racist killers? Of the instances where this happens, are you getting the whole story? Is it possible that witnesses who are videotaping are missing the part of the story where that suspect also had a gun? Was that suspect in some way resisting the officers command to comply with their orders, particularly the order to stop running? Did that suspect do something to threaten that officer?

How about the witness who videotapes the situation. Did they record what happened before the suspect was shot or roughed up? Did they do something that they shouldn’t have like maybe punching the officer or threatening them in some way?

Are there bad police officers? Yes there are. Are ALL police officers bad? Not hardly.

Don’t get me wrong when I say this, because any life taken at the hands of another human being is tragic and (peaceful)protesting for change is a good thing. Where are the protests for the innocent people dying at the hands of violent people in their own communities by criminals with guns who, by the way, probably got their guns illegally.

For those who think that either the military and/or the police should be eliminated, consider this, who will you call or who will protect you when a bad guy with a gun hurts you or your family?

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Black and White

“When I was a little girl, everything [was] wrong or right. Black or white. Now that I am an adult, I…know that …most things in the world…aren’t black, aren’t white…we don’t have to try and make them black or white, we can just let them be grey…Now that I am no longer a child, I can see…the black and the white and the grey, too…Grey is okay”. ~ C. JoyBell C.

I have encountered many people in my life who believe that things are either black or white and there’s no grey. No middle road. Things are either this way or that way. A person like this is narrow minded. They lack tolerance or flexibility and they rigidly adhere to a particular set of rules. Today I thought I’d look at the example of lying.

Say J.Q Person is saying negative stuff about your friend or family member. If you don’t repeat what J.Q Person says, this would be omission of the truth. To some people it’s considered lying. However, is it really lying if you omit the truth because it would cause physical or emotional harm to that person?

When it comes down to it, life is not necessarily as cut and dry, or right and wrong, as it was centuries ago, tho today some people still think this way. Nowadays, in our interpersonal relationships, we need to take into account the motive, or reason, behind what others do. We need to see things from the other person’s view.

Thought for the day: To quote the Dalai Lama, “Our prime purpose in life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them”.

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The Time is Now

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that” ~ Dr Martin Luther King Jr

I’d like to start by offering my sincerest condolences to the people who lost a child, a friend, a teacher, someone they care about in the Florida school shooting. My heart goes out to each of you and the students and teachers who lived through it and the first responders who saw the crime scene. May my words be a voice of reason during this most difficult time.

America is dealing with the aftermath of yet another mass shooting. This time it was in a school nestled in an affluent community. In the coming days and weeks people will be throwing blame around. Heck, the blame game started before the victims were taken from the scene. Law enforcement will be blamed because they should’ve done more. School administrators and teachers will be blamed because they should’ve done more. Lawmakers will be be blamed because they should’ve done more. This person or that group of people will be blamed because they should’ve done more.

But really, will pointing the finger at everyone else fix anything? Probably not. “When you point a finger at someone you have 3 more pointing back at you.” Yes, we need to makes changes and there are reasons for these things happening, but is it really the guns? No. The gun is the end result. What happens before that person picks up that gun is what needs to be addressed.

I’d like to say that research shows an increase or a decline in violent crimes. Unfortunately, as with almost any topic you look up, there are conflicting reports. What I can say is this, we as a society have seen far to many events like this which has caused us to become somewhat numb. We hear or read about so much violence that it’s almost become a way of life.

There are a few things that I think we can agree on that have affected the trends we are seeing today. Social media, video games, Hollywood, and the media have all played a part in atrocities like the ones we’ve been seeing. Let’s briefly look at each of these.

In some video games, the player goes around shooting other people. This is is glorifying violence whether it’s a soldier killing the enemy or some punk going on a crime spree. If the game doesn’t involve killing people, they create a fantasy world for the user. To much of either of these games and the user detaches from the reality. They lose the rational thought that in real life there’s no reset button. People really die and their fantasy world is not real.

On social media, real life friends are replaced with virtual friends. Like video games, this kind of online life causes alienation – self alienation. The user loses human contact with other people which is something that we all need. Also, when we are face to face with someone who makes us angry, we’re more likely to stuff our thoughts and feelings. If someone says something nasty to us in real life, we’re less likely to be nasty back. On social media we feel a sense of empowerment to say whatever comes to mind. If a post or a comment angers us, we leave a nasty comment.

Hollywood glorifies violence on the silver screen. Actors play roles depicting villains committing outrageous crimes and oftentimes getting away with it. While war movies celebrate heroes, Hollywood often tends to distort, exaggerate or embellish the facts about events. I can’t think of to many movies that depict the real horrors of war or what the soldier goes thru when they return home from the war zone.

Mainstream media covers tragedies like this 24/7 causing the person who committed the heinous act to live in infamy. Starting about 2016 or ‘17 media outlets stopped or eased up on saying the killers name which experts advised at least 5 years earlier. Unfortunately, the events consume much of the air time.

All of these things have caused a massive disregard for life and a loss of basic concern for our fellow man.

There is something that each of us can do. We can look at our own role in these types of atrocities. I don’t mean our role in specific events. I mean our role in society as a whole. We can ask ourselves if we are being good role models for our children. We can also ask ourselves what or how are we teaching our children and are we “practicing what we preach”? Do we speak to others with kindness or condemnation?

After we do this we can work on our family dynamic. Do we talk to each other face to face or do we text each other? Do we sit down for any meal together at least once a week and use our gadgets during this time or do we sit down for numerous meals without our gadgets? Are we afraid of someone in our family? After we do this, we can bring what we’ve learned that works out to our communities and beyond.

Yes, as a society we need to do something to reverse current trends before another life is lost. The answer to these kinds of tragedies involves more than one approach. There are numerous things that happen before someone picks up a gun. Instead of making up new laws and policies, let’s first look at what we are doing or not doing that’s causing certain people to do such things.

At the end of the day, the victims of these tragedies don’t bleed black, white, brown or blue. The victims are Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal, etc. Let’s erase political, racial, religious and socio-economic lines and talk about real reasonable solutions.

Thought for the day: Inaction is action. Silence is indifference. Justice requires action and a voice.

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