The Blind Eye

It occurred to me this morning that being an apologist is a frustrating endeavor. In fact, I didn’t know the meaning of apologist, until my mother labeled me one, and I had to look it up.

apol·o·gist

noun \ə-ˈpä-lə-jist\

: a person who defends or supports something (such as a religion, cause, or organization) that is being criticized or attacked by other people

I’m often making arguments on Facebook about political issues. Seems many of our country’s core values and institutions have been under fire these days. Mostly, I endeavor to use humor and “tongue-in-cheek” phrases to point things out but, once in a while, I just say it.

I don’t consider that I am anti anything. I am pro on lots of things, though. It’s no coincidence, in my mind, that protect, starts with pro.

I’m not going to alienate, or bore you, with my causes. I want to point out that there’s a recurring theme that arises in the comments from others whom, insist upon, defining me as an alarmist.

My status, today, reads:

That moment when you perceive a “train wreck” event on the horizon…shout a warning… and are told you are paranoid. It’s befuddling, at the least, because you want to avoid the tragedy and also hope, on another level, that it can’t happen. Makes a lot of sense, to me now, why no one wants to talk about our national debt and the bankruptcy of our country.

This is the trouble with sounding alarms about difficult subjects. The people, one wants to “wake up”, often don’t want to know AND the ones, pointing things out, really hope they are not true.

screenshot-med-27

Now I ask you, the reader, how will any of our “issues” be resolved if we let those who have a “blind eye”, when it comes to trouble, shut us up or call our ideas (dismissively) paranoid?

Seems to me, the labeling of arguments, people, even sources, as wrong, is at the core of everything stagnating our country’s progress. Fear of labels has brought discussion and brotherhood to a standstill!

Our media, in my opinion, is the biggest troublemaker in all of this. The second biggest, are the busy, “sound bite”, consumers of the news.

My alarm today is a “wake-up call” in order to protect and produce active problem-solving which will foster our country’s progress.

Ignorance Perpetuates Prejudice

crow
crow (Photo credit: crowdive)

There’s so much outrage these days. Something has stirred up our emotions and I’m at a loss to find one single cause. The overall theme of this simmering pot is misunderstanding with a big helping of mistrust on top. The visible combatants, via our sensationlizing media, in these divisions are claiming the ability to divine the intent of anyone who has a differing opinion. The core element to the outrage seems to be a misguided philosophy that assumes, those who differ, do so from a purely mean-spirited inspiration.

I’d like to offer a true story that helped me to realize that most prejudice comes from ignorance not an evil agenda.
A few years ago, I witnessed one of Nature’s violent “goings on”. I was alerted to a “bird battle” in my back yard by dozens of squawking crows. As I watched the commotion, there was a flailing of wings and seeming screams coming from a gang of large birds on my lawn. One red-tailed hawk emerged from that pile, and flew off, followed by more crows than I could count. My curiosity brought me straight to the, now abandoned, crime scene to discover three dead fledglings on the ground. My human heart was saddened but I returned to my daily routine.
A few hours later, my neighbor had taken up the task of burying the victims and joined me at my doorstep with his tale of the tragedy .
Before I tell you about his understanding of the bird “murders”, I’d like to point out that most people have a small knowledge of birds, and Nature in general. In fact, until my curiosity of natural things had awakened, I was among those folks who could identify only Robins, Crows, Blue Jays and the, occasional, Cardinal. These birds are of the highly visible type that most people come to know. With that commonness , there also comes wide-spread folk-lore about them. Blue Jays are brash and bossy, Robins are sweet, Cardinals are special and Crows are murderers. In fact, a group of crows is referred to as a “murder of crows”. (In defense of crows, they are actually primarily scavengers and highly intelligent to boot. I’m sure, the common place sightings of these fellows eating carrion was the impetus of the “killer” label.)

Now, back to the story:
My kind neighbor broke into a tale of murderous crows who attacked a red-tailed hawk nest, leaving baby hawks littered in our shared yard. It was true that we witnessed the same event but ignorance was there too.

I proceeded to tell him my version. The dead babies were crows. I showed him the straight beak of one of “the fallen”. It was easy to understand his confusion though. Crows are big birds and are about the size of many hawks. The dead babies were very close to leaving the nest, therefore, they were almost full-sized.
My tale continued with the murderous intent shifted to the hawk. By the time I had finished, his sympathy had done a one-eighty. My tale ended with an admiration for the community and brotherhood which had brought so many crows, out of nowhere, to aid in the rescue attempt.

So you see, my neighbor was not being mean-spirited in his inaccuracy. It was his ignorance that perpetuated the prejudice.

I’m hoping this story, inspires you to take a moment to explain yourself when someone has a different opinion and refrain from judging others as mean-spirited. Overall, the most important message, here, is to stay informed and curious.

Searching for Clues: Short Stories

The Oxford Book of English Short Stories
The Oxford Book of English Short Stories (Photo credit: dalcrose)

A well-written short story is ripe with clues.

In one of my more recent blog posts, (In Defense of BIG kids…) I make a point about how often people can overlook keywords and how it can be responsible for misunderstandings.

Today, I added a blog post to my category Random Word Stories. These are short stories that I create using random words. The fun part is that I create the stories as an exercise. I limit my writing to “one sitting” which has never gone on for more than an hour. When I polish my ideas for posting, I find the adding of details, as clues, to be the deciding factor between just a story and a good story.

It occurred to me, shortly after my exercise, how valuable short stories are when training young readers to recognize clues. This would translate very well to the greater purpose of kids learning to discriminate among clues and keywords they deal with elsewhere.

http://wp.me/pTYEI-1RM

I’ve provided a link, above, to my newest story.

There are poignant questions that could be asked about the story.

  • What may have clouded Mia’s judgement in selecting a roommate?
  • Did her occupation affect her judgement?
  • What might she have done differently?
  • What may have been warning signs of Holt’s problems?
  • The story ends on a humorous note…what may she have asked on the questionnaire?
  • What did bubblegum have to do with anything?

Certainly, there seems to be much material for discussion in such a short piece. Short stories make great homework assignments too. Their weight is not encumbering when it comes to time spent.

Perhaps I have stumbled upon a marketable use for my better stories? My new project will be to make them age and subject appropriate, of course.  🙂

The Silenced Minority

Januaryccc 021camp

There’s a division in the United States, of which, most people are unaware. It isn’t based upon race,wealth, or religion…it is logistical in nature. Country,or if you prefer, rural vs city. If you have lived your whole life in one or the other place, your priorities and principles are “at odds” with the other. There is only stereotypical evidence by which we judge folks from the opposite location and THIS is a dangerous and divisive truth, indeed.

A “city” friend of mine recently suggested that “Joe and Jane Country” are the primary obstacle to disarming criminals. That clinging to our guns is unhealthy for all. This person is obviously ignorant of rural existence. What I find most disheartening is the weight city dwellers have on public policies and opinion. Their numbers alone indicate to me that country folk will have little to bargain with as the minds and hearts, of the loudest voices, decide our future. Ignorance is one step from tyranny when opposing regards are silenced.

Alarmed would be too strong a word, at this point, but concerned and thoughtful I would say is my “state of mind”. I could make a case in favor of gun ownership, but I fear those who would listen would be the equivalent to the proverbial “preaching to the choir.”

This post is a plea for an adult, thoughtful discussion on the growing divide that may be at the core of the gun debate. Liberals claim to conscientiously speak for minorities. Country life is endangered by city policies on many levels. CAN ANYONE HEAR US?