Talk to Each Other.

Anger is not getting anything done. I’m angry and I haven’t done anything. Over the last few days I’ve been watching, reading, posting and writing. Has it done anything? Well, yeah, it has (contrary to previous sentence). It’s deepened the divide. It’s widened the wedge. I’ve watched my “friends” lists shrink. Instead of engaging in meaningful conversation, I “have been part of the problem.” We ALL have. I’ve emulated what our leadership has become. I am a hypocrite. I can fully admit complacency in the past. I’ve let my voice be silenced by my own fortitude. Meaning, that I didn’t want to piss people off with my views of the world, so I said nothing. However, the message boards are not where things get done. Reposting, posting and writing scathing articles that offend others is not the way. Getting out from behind the keyboard is the only way. Being able to talk to someone and disagree and then talk some more has been lost in the fold that has been created by both leadership and our own technology addicted brains. We are so willing to just let go of one another instead of listening and perhaps learning. I’ve been called out by 3 friends over the last two days. All conservative, middle country, white; their views are everything you assume; anti NFL protest, pro Trump, American first and I assume Christian. I did something crazy. I talked to them. Albeit, via text and message but the conversations were meaningful and powerful. Common ground was struck in all three relationships. Were our minds and values changed? No but understanding, recognition and some appreciation did. What? How? Those are questions that you need to figure out for yourselves.  They are uncomfortable but surprisingly therapeutic. I understand that there are people that won’t and refuse to participate in meaningful conversation about these issues from all sides of the spectrum and that’s unfortunate. That’s like the children in government. They will continue to separate themselves into the TWO CAMPS.  But there are those amongst us that can and we are the ones that need to change things. I’ve been crucified in the past for being in the middle, complicit but maybe my role is one of a moderator. We, the few in the middle must act like glue and heal our country.

So, I put out into this space a CHALLENGE (no ice bucket needed) to all who find themselves on a side. You know someone of opposite view, instead of ripping into their comment threads contact them and chat. Try. It may not turn out like mine have but it might. What do you have to lose? Then do something even crazier. Write about that experience and post it. PROVE THAT IT’S POSSIBLE. More than ever we need people to speak, to connect. It’s not happening from the top like it should. So let’s change the narrative. Let’s reverse Physics and make the shit roll up hill. WE THE PEOPLE. REMEMBER?

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To Take a Knee

That escalated quickly. Everyone take a big deep breath. Put all your energy aside for a moment. No matter your position, sit and read. I want to offer a different point of view. I won’t try to change your mind. Most of you have decided that nobody can do that. Most of you are passionate through your eyes. So this is for everyone.

As previously stated I’m not watching football this year. I could not avoid the wreck this Sunday and carnage that followed.  I understand both sides of this argument (albeit completely different points of argument and way different levels of understanding). I get that certain patriots feel like they are being disrespected. Perhaps a family member has perished in battle, you’ve wept long and honor them every time you hear that song or bear that flag. I get the young black point of view. Colin first knelt last August. He did it because he thought it would bring attention to the struggle of the black male against the way they are policed. It’s understandable how both sides are outraged. I read a lot of posts, blogs, articles and threads on this topic over the last few hours. Only a few are amicable or even sympathetic to the opposition (or what they view as the opposition). In most of the messages it’s pure denouncement of the other side. It’s “my way, our way or get out.” It’s you “fucking white people don’t understand.” It’s “thug millionaires.” It’s “do it on your own time.” It’s “Hillary lost, get over it.” It’s “you are raping the honor from this country.” It’s “libetards.” It’s “fake patriotic fucks.” It’s “sons of bitches.”  These are direct quotes. These are Americans in present day America. If you said one of these things, in your brain I’m sure you have reason. Have you lost empathy? Have you lost compassion?

I scrolled through the still shots and watched a little video of these silent demonstrations. There were two images that struck me and I thought “that’s it, that’s a message that maybe ALL can understand!” The first was one teammate kneeling in between two that were standing. The second was a video of one teammate kneeling, when the song is over, a “standing” teammate helps the other up and embraces him. It struck me because these are men that disagree with each other but have agreed that the other has this right. They may even think that it is disrespectful but they accept their teammates’ point of view. They accept his difference. They recognize their difference. They empathize.  They then do to work for a common goal, together.

Then I head to the political realm. It typifies not working together. It wedges hard between two sides. I think to myself, “these are brilliant minds, yet they think they are on different teams?” A thought runs into my head, starts as a trickle and then burst like a damn. We need leaders that are more like the NFL players that stood and knelt next to one another. These “thug millionaires” have figured out how to work together better and more graciously than our elected officials. These “brilliant minds” that are put in place by us act like 4th graders. They draw hard lines in the sand and say to the American people, “they are wrong, we are right. Do not give. Take!” The American brain is forced to “choose.” You are “washed” one way or another. You’ve lost empathy.

“They should do this on their own time.” Google, “NFL players donate to charity or NFL players give to society.” I’m really surprised by the millionaire rhetoric. These young men do quite a bit for their respective communities but most of them like to stay out of the news. Even the one’s that are perceived at “thugs” give. “When former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh isn’t busy on the field, he’s equally aggressive about donating to charity. In 2012, Forbes ranked Suh highest among NFL players on the top 30 most generous celebrities for his $2.6 million donation to the University of Nebraska, which included $2 million for the athletic department and another $600,000 to a scholarship fund for the College of Engineering. Suh also runs a number of his own charities, such as the Ndamukong Suh Family Foundation. With a new six-year contract from the Miami Dolphins worth over $114 million, Suh has plenty of capital to maintain his spot as the most charitable player in the game.” Remember him? He’s the “thug” that kept stomping heads on the field. I’m sure you had a name for him. My question to you is “what do you do?” I hope it’s more than a filter on Facebook. Can you empathize with his cause?

What are they kneeling for? Well, when Colin knelt it was in protest for police brutality. I’ve heard people say that this isn’t an issue, that police officers are just doing their jobs. Killing unarmed young men is not their jobs. They are protecting their own lives? I’m here to tell you it’s mostly not the men in uniforms fault. There are “rotten apples” within but mostly it is a systemic problem. Policing is not adequate. Training is not adequate. Community based policing does not exist in cities.   The judicial system is rigged against the poor. Did Colin’s protest do anything? There have been over 200 black people shot and killed by law enforcement in the year following Colin’s protest. You’ve seen video of unarmed kids just arguing with cops put down with extreme force. Training is not adequate. I’ve argued with police officers before. I’ve thought I was wrongly accused. I am alive. Can you imagine (empathy) being harassed everyday, just for walking to work? Can you put yourself in those shoes, because of where you are born, that might decide your life span? Can you speak with someone that has grown up there and try to understand? Can you empathize? Can you take action? Can you stop the frivolity of meaningless social media posts and actually face it? Can you fucking empathize?

This recent protest wasn’t about that though. These were colleagues of Colin’s taking a stand, a knee against the highest office in our country. A man that can’t seem to separate ratings from his job. A man who is calling out his own citizens. A man who called some people at a violent demonstration “good people” and these young men are “sons of bitches” that should be fired. A man who pushes an agenda against a person like Steph Curry, a family man, a Godly man. A man who thinks if you think or act different that he, you should be “out” or gone. I CANNOT EMPATHIZE.

I’m sorry that your brothers/sisters, sons/daughters, husbands/ wives died protecting this country. I truly am. I’m also sorry that a young black man feels like his life could be in jeopardy when a squad car rolls up. I truly am.

I applaud Colin. A dialogue has begun. It’s ugly at first, very. Over time we need to keep talking. I don’t know what the answer in the end is. Maybe it has to do with empathy and compassion for all people; in the neighborhood, in the county, in the state, in the country and God willing, GLOBALLY.

Suicide;

September comes to a close and hardly a blip on your radar was Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It scrapes the periphery of the main stream media. Besides an awesome performance by Logic at the VMA’s (anyone still watch that?) pop culture could care less. Beautiful people’s lives are destroyed by this, there’s a few moments of reflection and then it’s gone. There are foundations and programs across the country that help with prevention and awareness everyday but you don’t know about them. They are funded by private donations. You won’t but I ask anyway. Donate. It sounds harsh and will rub you the wrong way but if it were a dog charity or a kids cancer benefit you wouldn’t hesitate. The number of people that are being personally affected by this scourge grows daily and yet we do nothing. I’m angry.

How about some Statistics. There are more than 1,000 suicides on college campuses every year! More than 395,000 people are treated every year in hospital ER’s for self inflicted wounds! Less than 25% of people affected with depression seek adequate treatment! Unwillingness to seek help is a leading cause of suicide! On average almost 20 veterans a day, die by suicide!

Get help, seek treatment, find a way. You can’t beat a beast like this alone. September is almost over and you’ll have another year to ignore.

Mom, I am not.

I’ve written about the plight of the stay at home dad a little bit I think. I’ve written how the world of parenting is not set up for these beasts of burden. I’ve told stories of odd looks and “mom approved products.” I’ve tried to match the ferocity of my female counterparts. I work hard. I’ve put forth great effort and not so great.  I’ve cried. I was all wrong. I am not a mom. I will never be as good as a mom. I am dad. Dad’s suck at being moms or at least this one does anyways. To all the Moms out there, I’m sorry I thought I could step on your territory and thrive. I kneel to your greatness. Is this satire? I’ll let you decide. For now, I concentrate on being dad. Fuck you societal norms. Fuck progress, let’s go back to the terrible ways of the past or as you call it, America.

Beer.

Going to the store. Going to make beer. Homebrew is good for you.

Football.

I played it. I lived it. I love it. I can call it (not impressed by Tony Romo highlights calling a game). I could probably be a damn fine coach.  I don’t watch it anymore? I’ve given the excuse that we cut our cable (direct TV actually, red zone and all) but the reasons for tuning out go much deeper. No, I’m not boycotting because of political virtue. No, I’m not ghosting because of the violence and head injury prone nature of the game. I’m not going to lie, not paying an enormous bill is a part of it. Direct TV has no loyalty to long time customers, but that’s a whole different post. The 2 main reasons for not watching or even paying attention are my kids and my friends or lack there of. When I think about football its the relationships that come along with it that are in the forefront of my mind. Playing high school ball was about me and my buds competing on the practice field and then going into battle with rivals. When I tried to play college ball, there were a few people that I loved being around and learning nuanced offensive play calling. Watching the game, I always think about friends that I no longer am close with or don’t live near. I have a very difficult time making new friends, so this has touched some nerve that is very uncomfortable. My kids have taken precedence for the last couple years and they have zero interest in sports TV. Oh yeah, this article applies to most sports, not just football.  It’s a strange place I find myself in. Not knowing anything about something that I’ve been watching and enjoying my entire life is bizarre. I don’t know if it’s temporary or not. I don’t know the next step. I don’t know a lot. For now, I’m actually enjoying my time away from sports. I have more time for other stuff and don’t get miffed if I miss a game. I know they don’t miss me.

Smiles?

The continual hardening of American faces is a disease. I want to be in a good mood. I want to laugh and smile without reason. Smiles are infectious and more powerful than the army of frown but they are in short supply. The smile palace is being decimated by negative ion bombs. Human beings are destroying each other from the inside out. Mother nature has nothing on the inner turmoil of the conscious being. I smiled at a girl this morning and she gave me the “fuck you and your dog” look back. Out loud I said, “I don’t have a dog…” Here’s the good news. There are people out there that combat bitch face everyday. There are happy people. I must find them. I am happy but it’s mostly contained within my household. My perma-frown grows a little by the hour. I must change. I plead with my insides to get out of my way. I beg my wall to come down. I’m scared of making friends. The mere thought gives me anxiety. I don’t know how or what to do. My suggestion box is open and available. By the way, I appreciate humor and the art of sarcasm but it’s not always the way.