Double Standards

“I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I’ve known people in my life who’ve said things like, “Don’t lie to me,” and then turn around and do just that. Lie. Then, that same person gets mad over a small white lie. That person may also get mad if parts the story is omitted. An omission is when only parts of the truth are told.

I recently had a conversation with a close friend who told me about someone we both knew named, Roger, who had divorced his wife, Susie. In the years before their divorce, Susie unintentionally put Roger thru the ringer. Roger was a straight shooter and believed in the values and morals that he was raised with. Susie liked to walk the line between good and bad but apparently violated to many of these morals and values. Even tho Susie tried to make amends to him, Roger strayed from Susie and into the arms of another woman, Nancy.

Now this “other woman” was causing her ex husband similar grief that Roger had gone thru before his divorce from Susie. Nancy also goes against many of Roger’s morals and values, but he stayed with her anyway.

Roger is the definition of a hypocrite. A person who preaches one thing, but does the opposite. They pretend to be a certain way, but really act and believe the total opposite. Hypocrites usually talk a big talk but fail to walk the walk.

Thought for the day: When you are judging other people or when you are pointing a finger in judgement at someone, you still have 3 fingers pointing back at you.

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All Lives Matter

“I, (name), do solemnly swear that I will be alert and vigilant to enforce the criminal laws of this State; that I will not be influenced in any matter on account of personal bias or prejudice; that I will faithfully and impartially execute the duties of my office as a law enforcement officer according to the best of my skill, abilities, and judgment; so help me, God”

In case you weren’t aware of this, the quote I chose is the basic outline of the Oath of Office for Law Enforcement Officers. Each state has their own variation.

As of today’s date, June 3rd, 2018, there have been 28 police officers who’ve been killed in the line of duty. In 2017 alone, 35 police officers were killed. At this rate, with six months left in 2018, we could potentially see 46 officers killed by the end of this year. That is far to many in this writers mind.

I’ve heard and seen a lot of outrageous things in my life, but the current trend of police officer disrespect and murder is out of control. “But cops are bad! They arrest or shoot unarmed people of color all the time!” Look, I’m not going to pretend I know all of the statistical evidence that proves that statement right or wrong. I’m not even going to pretend I know every situation where an officer uses more force than necessary. No, my purpose in writing this is to show the side of police officers that many people don’t see. Their human side.

In this country, each state, county and municipality has laws. These laws were made to protect you and me regardless of our race, creed, religion or socio-economic status. Police officers are the first people in the line to enforce those laws. After you are arrested and maybe put in jail, you see a judge where you plead your case. Then the judge decides your punishment whether it’s jail time, a fine, or let off the hook.

For centuries, if not longer, it was simple. If you violated a law, this is what happens. Yeah, you’d have the occasional criminal who hid from the police or maybe have a shootout but that’s not the case these days. Today, police officers are fought by criminals who are clearly in the wrong or they are outright ambushed and shot. There are also protests against them which are sometimes violent. They have all kinds of stuff thrown at them. Why? Because they are enforcing the laws that were created?

I think we forget something. We forget that police officers are people too. They put on a uniform, like many of us do, go to work and expect to go home – just like you and I do after we work our jobs. These officers also have families just like you and me.

With the inventions of social media and video recording capabilities at the fingertips of everyone with a cell phone, we see all kinds of videos of what “appears” to be police brutality. I say “appears” because we don’t see what happened before the recording started. Who’s to say the person under arrest for a law they clearly violated didn’t punch an officer in the face or threaten them some other way?

Are there police officers who are racist, use excessive force or are corrupt in other ways? Yes, and I don’t defend them, but to paint all police officers bad with a broad brush is not accurate.

In the same way that police officers are videotaped doing bad things, there are many who are videotaped doing good things, even heroic things. And they do these things for people of all colors, creeds, religions and socio-economic statuses. Saving babies, going into buildings that are on fire, pulling people from car wrecks, handing gifts out at the holidays, playing ball with the neighborhood kids and much more.

Finally, I’ve heard reports of people saying that they don’t want police officers in their communities. I have two simple questions. Do you realize that by saying that and the police not coming into your community that you are inviting criminals to come and take advantage of you? Who are you going to call when, not if, you get robbed, shot, or hurt some other way by a criminal?

Thought for the day: Before accusing all police officers of being bad because of one bad apple, I ask that you reread today’s quote. Also, remember that they are human beings just like you and me no matter what your skin color, creed, religion or socio-economic status is. They have families that they want to go home to just like you.

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Taking Freedom for Granted

“The human ego is the ugliest part of man. We lift up men who only show us darkness, and put down those brave enough to show us the light…We abandon those fighting for us to cheer behind those fighting against us. And, we only remember good people and God when it is convenient for us, and take them for granted because their doors are always open – only to chase after closed doors and personalities void of substance and truth.” ~ Suzy Kassem

“It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you.” ~Author unknown

“We have enjoyed so much freedom for so long that we are perhaps in danger of forgetting how much blood it cost to establish the Bill of Rights.” ~Felix Frankfurter

“Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again, poor fools.” ~D.H. Lawrence

I had a difficult time deciding on a quote for today. Each one of them speaks volumes.

There are a handful of countries that enjoy the same or similar freedoms as we do in America. Freedoms like speech, religion, press, opportunity, and assembly to name a couple. You have the freedom to be or do whatever you want in life. Want to be an athlete, a police officer, a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, an actor, a mechanic, a factory worker, a construction worker or a road/highway worker? You can. You can even be a bum and live off the system if you want to. You want to protest, go to the movies, eat whatever you want, post or comment whatever you want to on social media? You can do that too.

Do you see a pattern here? In this country you can be or do anything you want whenever you want. However, it seems to me that with all this freedom, we take much of it for granted. We forgot what it took to create this country.

To get a better appreciation of our freedoms, I put together a list of some countries that show a few examples of racism, prejudice and oppression in the world today;

You may have heard or read about the recent protests in Iran. These protests are against the government and the economy their leaders created. Did you know that it is illegal to protest in that country? Those who do dare to speak out and protest against the government have done so under threats of death or persecution. In response to the recent protests, the government tried to shut down social media sites and anything that had to do with negative views of the government. Iran is not the only country that suppresses freedom of speech or assembly. Similarly, Venezuela citizens are protesting their government. Other countries include North Korea, Burma, Turkmenistan, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Cuba, Uzbekistan, and Syria.

Many Middle Eastern countries also oppress women. They are not allowed to drive cars, initiate a divorce or go to certain places. They are forced to obey dress codes and are considered second class citizens. Other countries have laws regarding women too. In China there’s a law limiting families to one child and female babies are sometimes killed. In some countries “female circumcision”(the removal of certain female parts) is a common practice so that women cannot enjoy pleasure from sexual activity.

Christian minorities are frequently intimidated, murdered and suffer from discriminatory practices or badly invoked blasphemy laws. Churches can be burnt to the ground with little official protection or justice. In other places new churches cannot be built and the penalty for becoming Christian is punishable by death.

August small, secluded country, called Burma, has a small Muslim minority who live in the northern state of Rakhine. These Muslims, known as the Rohingya, have been dubbed, “the most oppressed people in the world.” In 1982, the government enacted a citizenship law which removed the Rohingya from a list of minorities which are recognized as citizens of the country. This left the Rohingya being illegal immigrants – in their own country.

The Rohingya also live under threat of extortion and bribery from local government officials, especially when the Rohingya try to attain marriage and child licenses. Yes, they have to have a license to be able to have children. It is difficult for these people to obtain a permit to have a child which is required by law. The current law punishes women bearing “illegal children” with fines or imprisonment. Also, cohabitation without an official marriage license is punishable by imprisonment. Over 500 men currently sit in prison for this type of violation.

Yes, we truly do live in the land of the free and home of opportunity. It’s is also home of the brave – the brave few who sign up and go to war with the countries that threaten our way of life. The brave men and women who sacrifice their lives and their families so that we can do, be or say whatever we want, whenever we want. We also help other countries similar to ours preserve their way of life.

As citizens there’s not a whole lot we can do for these countries besides showing support for those citizens that want freedom. We can, however, learn from these countries. We can learn what not to do. We can have a new appreciation for the freedoms we have in America. We can also have an appreciation for what it took to make this the greatest country to live in. We can show appreciation for all of the blood, sweat and tears that it took so we can live free.

Have we had a perfect history? Of course not. One thing I think we can all agree on tho is that we’ve come a long way from the days of persecuting Native Americans, African American slavery and many other dark times in our country’s history. “We aren’t where we want to be, aren’t where we ought to be; but thank goodness we aren’t where we used to be.” ~ Lou Holtz

Thought for the day: If I could make one request today. While you’re out and about, if you see someone from the military, thank them for their service and their sacrifice. Otherwise, as you enjoy the days festivities, take a moment and reflect on what it took for you to enjoy the life you live today in the greatest country

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Choices

“Humans are powerful creatures. Life is full of choices. We can choose to use our power for the good of mankind, or we can choose to destroy mankind. What will you choose to do with your power?” ~ Me

While this may be directed to young adults, this also applies to everyone -young and old – who is reading this.

Believe it or not, each one of us has a power inside. Even if you think you don’t, trust me, you do. Whether you’re a victim or a warrior, you have a power. You just may not know it yet. No, to my knowledge, none of us has powers like Superman or Wonder Woman, but we are all powerful in our own way. Each one of us also has the ability to choose what to do or not do with our powers.

Right about now, schools are getting ready to close down for the summer and some kids are getting ready to graduate from high school or college. Each one of you has the power of choice. Will you look for a job? Will you continue on for more education? Will you drop out of school? Will you move out of your parents house? Will you marry the one you love? Will you start or continue to use drugs?

I know, I know. I hear the moans and groans. “Who does this old lady think she is? I know what I’m doing. I can handle it. I only use ‘X’ on ‘Y’ days. I’m not going to be an addict.”

Really? Are you that confident?

I remember being in your shoes once upon a time. I was young and dumb, rather I did dumb things. I graduated from high school, hung out with my friends, partied, moved in with the man I thought I loved, barely graduated from college, moved back in with my parents for a few years, yadda, yada. I even thought I was invincible. Come to find out I wasn’t. I had a power inside of me back then. Instead I chose to not to use that power for good or be good like I had planned. However, today I have found my power again. It has changed a little bit but I have chosen to do good with it.

I know I’m not some hip young person who’s even close to your age trying to share my wisdom. No, I don’t know everything you are going through at your age and I’m not going to pretend to. I do remember, though, what it was like to be your age. “Yes! I’m finally free to do whatever I want, whenever I want! I can finally drink. I can text/drink/get high and drive if I want. I won’t get into an accident. I can handle it. I won’t become some dirty drug addict.”

What you don’t understand is that you may get away with any of your bad choices today, but tomorrow may be different. Tomorrow you could do one to many hits/pills/shots/whatever get into a bad accident or worse. You could die. When I say tomorrow, I don’t mean it literally. Tomorrow could be next week, next month, next year or numerous years down the road.

Another thing you may not know is that when an addict chooses to use drugs, there are three, and only three, ways that life will end; jails, institutions or death. I know this. I’ve seen this happen in the lives of people I once loved like brothers and sisters.

Each and every one of you reading this, young and old, have so much potential. Yes, even you, the one who doesn’t believe in themself, you have so much potential too. Don’t waste it by making a choice today that you’ll regret tomorrow. And that goes for the young lady I spoke with a few nights ago.

Thought for the day: Break free from the voices that tell you you’re unworthy – whether their internal or external. Make today the day that you choose to use your power. Choose to live up to your potential.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Words

“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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This too Shall Pass

“Nothing lasts forever – not even your troubles.” ~ Arnold H. Glasow

So many times when we’re having a rough time in life, we hear words like “Keep your chin up.”, “Everything happens for a reason.”, “Fake it til you make it.”, and many other platitudes like that. A lot of times those words can help and we can put on that happy smiley mask for the world to see for the short term. Sometimes we lie to others around us so they don’t see our pain. But what about in the longer term when we are crying and dying inside?

I had gone thru a very rough time in my life. Between the divorce, my ill parent, finance problems, and temporary homelessness I was ready to give up the good fight. Some of those platitudes I repeated to myself and when I couldn’t tell them to myself, my friends told them to me. I had to remind myself that I had been thru worse times. I needed to call on my ancestors and ask for their strength to hold me up. In all honesty I found this very difficult to do. I had times I hated those words and the things my friends told me. Eventually I made it thru my darkest hours.

Thought for the day: Life, and those bumps and potholes we hit in the road along the way, do get better. Maybe not in the way we hope, plan, or expect, but they get better in the way our Higher Power feels is right for us. All that He asks of us is that we are true to ourselves as well as others around us.

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