Thursday, April 28, 2016

The "solution in search of a problem"

"A solution in search of a problem" is likely not a new line but caught my attention when it was delivered recently by Fox New's Chris Wallace.
When actions are taken to fight against a problem that doesn't exist, we have "a solution in search of a problem". ID laws are a very good example. These laws were proposed to prevent voter fraud, however, voter fraud is practically non-existent in the United States. When we follow what these laws actually did, we get to the real reason for their existence. It made voting more difficult and costly for anyone who does not have a driver's license. Poor, urban dwellers, minorities, and elderly women were the most affected. My own step-mother had to pay over $80 to obtain a series of documents to get her driver's license renewed in Florida due to these ID laws. Even though she already had a Florida driver's license, she had to obtain a copy of birth certificate. But she had been married twice. So, she needed her first marriage license to verify that name change. Then she needed her divorce documents to verify that change and then she needed the marriage license to show her last name change. In this case, the fraud is not at the feet of voter's, it's legislators creating a problem for a select group of people. Their goal was not elimination of non-existent voter fraud.
De-funding Planned Parenthood to stop abortions is another "solution in search of a problem". No government funding pays for abortions and hasn't in decades. The actual result of this is to decrease programs that help prevent un-wanted pregnancies and provide other health care for those in need. The actual intent of attacks against Planned Parenthood is to send women back to a time when they had no control over what happened to their own bodies. The laws passed to thwart the work of Planned Parenthood are another example of legislative fraud.
The most recent "solution in search of a problem" that Chris Wallace was referencing is the transgender bathroom laws. There have been no reported instances of a transgender person sexually assaulting anyone in a bathroom (or anywhere else that I've read about.) NONE. Recently a story floated around about a a guy who wore a dress so he could put cameras in a women's restroom in 2013. He wasn't transgender and likely these laws would not have helped prevent this. If you want to pick a population with a very high incidence of sexual deviance, you'd be better picking Catholic Priests than picking transgender people. The fact is, white males who identify as straight or celibate are the ones committing most sex crimes, not transgender people. The actual result of these laws is not about SOLVING a real problem, it's meant to create a problem and it's a backlash against LGBT people in general. For transgender people, the issue is life threatening for them, NOT us.
Most transgender women look and act like any other woman. Most transgender men look like most other men (but some behave much better than most men). It's actually a very ridiculous notion that someone is going to be enforcing these laws somehow. The purpose certainly isn't about a real problem, it can only be about creating one.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Look for Brilliance!

Quite often I feel like the luckiest person in the world because I'm surrounded by very incredible people. Today, I stopped what I was doing, walked into the other room and sat down. "I work with 4 geniuses." I thought and said something similar aloud. They laughed but I was not kidding.
And they are not the only geniuses in my life. I'm surrounded by them! Dozens of them!
Brilliance is all around us. All around us people are doing big things in big ways, big things in small ways, small things in big ways and small things in many ways. Brilliance! Excellence! They are engaged. We need to celebrate one another more.
This day - stop a moment and look around you. If you don't see something wonderful, you are either in the wrong place or not seeing something. Perhaps you are not engaged yourself. It's happening around you. Don't let it happen without you.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fighting Injustice

Sometimes we are filled with utter frustration as we witness injustice in the world. "This cannot - should not - continue!" We want a solution and we want it now. In fact, it should have been yesterday.
We turn our attention in the direction of someone who "should have" "could have" or we believe can solve the problem for us.
To understand, perhaps we should be asking ourselves what we could have done, should have done or can do. If we cannot answer that for ourselves, quite likely the ones we seek to solve the problem are struggling in the same way we are struggling.
In fact, sometimes we look to someone else to fix it because we feel we failed. When justice is not served, in fact, we all fail. All injustice is our battle too.
There are those who seem to be able to do greater things and overcome the impossible. Look a little deeper and you will see that they had many hands lifting them. They had many struggles and felt many frustrations and moments of doubt. They held the front line and faced the greater risk but they could not do it without others risking for them and with them.
When it comes to issues of injustice, many will turn a blind eye or take a neutral position in the wake of conflict. We cannot expect others to fight the battles for us if we cannot stand tall beside them. We need to know what we can contribute to the cause - "skin in the game".

"In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends." Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Gender questions and the bathroom

Growing up in the 60's and 70's, I was a "tomboy". My mission was to run faster, climb higher, build bigger and jump my bike farther. Entering my teenage years, I didn't "grow out of it" and one day Dad asked why I didn't "act more like a girl." I wasn't interested in make up, dresses or high heels. In his question was the answer - I did not care to "act" based on anyone's definition of my gender role. I just wanted to act like me. I wanted to do what I could do and do the things that interested me.
Fortunately for me, I grew up in an era where many women were breaking free of gender roles and seeking their own identity.
I wanted to create my own identity. I simply wanted to be me. It wasn't easy and people often expressed their vision of gender identity. Breaking into broadcasting and video production at a time when few women were in the field, I heard "the broad in broadcasting does not stand for women." Twenty years ago as I lugged video equipment underground, the mining industry was just opening up to women and I was often the first woman to have ever entered certain mines. "It's considered unlucky to have a woman underground," I was told. So I ran faster, climbed higher, built bigger and jumped further.
There have been times of frustration wondering why I had to work harder just to prove myself worthy of being treated equally. At times it was challenging to avoid a sense of paranoia or developing a defeatist attitude. Add the dynamic of not identifying as a straight woman and the challenge grew even larger. Some would argue that I made my life difficult by refusing to conform. I thank my lucky stars, the divine, and my guiding angels that I never conformed to an "act". Through all my mistakes and misfortunes, I have been me - just me.
In 1972, during many study halls, I talked about life's frustrations including gender roles with an older student; a girl I most admired. She was smart, pretty and about to graduate so I thought she had the world by the tail. One day she said the most baffling thing; "I feel like I am a man trapped in a woman's body. I want to get a sex change." I thought she was perfect the way she was and I had never imagined wanting a different body. After she graduated I called her number - a number I had called and talked with her before - and they told me no one by that name lived there. I wish I knew what happened to her.
Not feeling right in the body you were born in - your gender - is difficult to understand for those of us who have not experienced it. It's not our experience. But I can readily identify with being expected to "act" like something other than what I know to be true for me. I know what it feels like to be condemned for refusing to conform to what makes others comfortable. I fully understand what lengths people will go to in their attempts to drive non-conformists to "act" as they may visualize one should "act". They will say it's just "not right", "sinful", and name every extreme fear they can name to try to put pressure enough to make you go away. And they will try to eliminate your ability to work, to live in certain places and to be part of an extended community.
Know this - once a person discovers that there is a path to be true to themselves, they will follow it. No amount of obstructionism will stop them. Truth - Truth - Truth - prevails. I won't wear heels. I don't wear dresses and I don't wear make up (though I may regret not knowing how to hide the wrinkles I'm noticing.)
Passing bathroom laws will not make Transgender people go away. Actually, we've been sharing bathrooms with Transgender people for years and didn't even know it. Why not? Because it's not an issue! I fully embrace my transgender friends right to use the bathroom that fits their identity. If that frightens you, please get to know a transgender person. Really, they have much bigger concerns to have to deal with than trying to figure out if they are safe to use a bathroom or not.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Defeating the Bogeyman

In October 2014 I wrote these word....
'Basically as I see it, the argument against marriage equality is that there is a bogeyman under the bed that certain people are sure God sees and certain God following people see under the bed. But once described and once scrutinized, the bogeyman disappears to all but the most imaginative God creative engineers.
I hope people stop imagining the bogeyman. He ain't there folks.'
Sadly, some people are still focused on the bogeyman. There's still a fear that treating LGBT people with respect and dignity will unleash that bogeyman. Now it's a fear that people may go to the bathroom for demented purposes. There are no actual reports of such incidences. There is no "real and present danger" except in the minds of those who wish to deem themselves better qualified to discern "right from wrong". They see the bogeyman and that bogeyman is REAL.
These are the same people who reported that there was a "gay agenda". These are the people who believe there is a "gay life style". They have been creating and chasing a bogeyman for a long time. Somehow, they alone can see right and wrong and somehow, they have special bogeyman glasses. 
As I think about these people, I suddenly feel quite sorry for them. The bogeyman is hiding under their beds and it is chasing them. Demons are chasing their thoughts, gripping them with fear, and driving them to act in the most irrational and unflattering ways. They are burdened by mythical creatures and mythical creations of reality.
It will, unfortunately, require great effort to break them free. But I would urge those of us who know they are fearing a mythical being to act in kindness and understanding in much the same way we would with a child in fear of danger under the bed. They are convinced the danger is real, even if there is no evidence of it. It will take time for them to get over their fears but we will have to convince them that the magical spells they speak are not the reason for their safety.
Sometimes it's easier to believe in magical spells than to believe there was no danger in the first place. How can we help them defeat the bogeyman?

Friday, April 8, 2016

The path to truth

It can be difficult for anyone, seemingly impossible perhaps, to accept certain ideas that are outside of our experience. If we have deeply held beliefs that are completely outside of some new information presented or an opposing perspective, we will be particularly resistant. It becomes a matter of cognitive dissonance. We won't alter our information folder structure. The information or perspective simply does not fit and we will not make room for it.
We see it time and time again with predictions of the end of the world or "second coming". Believers will lock onto a date, sometimes sell everything they own, and the time comes. The world does not end and the second coming has not happened. A few abandon the belief but most simply alter the belief somehow to fit the new reality. But the core belief will still be deeply held and the fact that it did not happen as predicted will be explained away.
We see it when minority populations begin to find a voice and express their experience. We see it when cultures begin to clash.
We need things to fit what we believe. Some of us are more in need of things fitting nicely and to fit directly with our personal experience and beliefs. Imagining another person's experience - being open to the notion that it may be different but is equally valid - takes a bit of work. It requires grace and humility. It requires self discipline, self confidence and a level of self containment.
The more we seek external validity to sustain our beliefs, the more difficult it is if our beliefs are challenged. The more we believe everyone must share our beliefs, the more we seek external validity.
Through grace we seek the divine and see the divine all around us - even in those who are different.  It drives us to act in kindness. It drives us to be gentle. It smooths our rough edges and calms us. We seek to be one with the divine that is all around us.
Humility helps us to see that we are not better than anyone else. We humbly accept our station in life as a gift. As my friend and mentor said while we were in remote regions of China "We could have been born here." Humility and grace may be best summed up in these words; "There but for the Grace of God, go I."
We need self discipline, self confidence and a level of self containment to avoid feeling threatened by opposing thoughts and beliefs. If we are walking in grace and humility, there is no need to feel threatened. There is no need to be angry. Speak truth in kindness. Be resolute. Be strong.
Never loose sight of grace. Never loose humility. They will lead our experience to more common understand and are the path to truth.

Friday, April 1, 2016

The World according to Snark...

The world according to snark is a smack down world. It's that place where we use words to set someone straight about something - "tell like it is". Most of us can venture into that world from time to time. Something gets under our skin and we just have to snipe about it. When we do, it lacks information, context or real thought. It's just a sound bite - a snarky way to let our feelings out and get attention.
Is there any time in your life that you were impressed with someone "telling you like it is"? Usually you walk away feeling the person didn't care about you, didn't understand you, or worse that they hadn't a clue about what was going on.  When a person is in smack down mode, there is no interest in listening.
We all can benefit from greater context, a deeper understanding of one another, and a lot more information sharing. The soundbite world of snark isn't going to serve any of us well. Let's dig a little deeper, explain a little more, and listen a lot more. It will be worth the effort as it helps all of us achieve more.