social commentary

Kids these days…

We all remember being hard-headed as a kid. Having to learn some of our major lessons through experience and not through the wisdom of others. It’s one of the things that, as an adult, I’m now learning how to sit back and let it happen.

Working with kids can be both amazing and frustrating. Sometimes, all rolled into one moment. Working with them in a challenging sport just maximizes both ends of the spectrum. These kids put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect in this sport (competitive gymnastics) that adding pressure as a coach runs a fine line. Especially if there’s a parent on the back end complicating it.

I got lucky as a kid. Gymnastics was my sport, just as Hockey was my brother’s. Sure, my dad was a coach in his own right, but neither of us felt pressured by him so much as we learned patience from him. Neither of my parents put pressure on my performances. In fact, whenever I questioned whether or not I wanted to continue, they led me through the breaks, the restarts and let me process the frustrations. In the end, I pushed through to my first year of college and ultimately made the decision that it was time to retire and move on to my next sport.

But what I find interesting, is to see the development of where a child’s psychology comes in, as I get to see the generational intersection at competitions. There’s an extent to which I do become sad, because I’m one of those people who firmly believes in self-reflection and not passing on my bad habits to those who come after me. And in some of these cases I see that the internal work wasn’t done (or no one ever called them on the habit) and the issue just gets handed down like great grandma’s formal china.

When I see these habits, I do what I can to provide an alternative view point, counteract where I can, and hopefully stop that habit in its tracks by teaching a method of self-reflection and encouraging that. But I also have to let go when the idea doesn’t root and hope that the continuation eventually hits a point where the fact can’t be denied – whether it becomes from a positive or negative experience.

Ultimately, our goal as adults in a child’s life is two-fold: provide guidance where and when we can and be an example to strive beyond. Instead of raising them in our image, we should be teaching them how to be better than ourselves.

As winter arrives…

The weather is finally starting to commit to winter around here. As I’ve lived here for the last 20ish years, winter has been an elusive beast that tempts you into thinking that the season exists right as it morphs directly into spring.

But that seems to be shifting, as more and more winter comes out of its hiding place and firmly displays the 20 degree temperatures and the copious precipitation that comes with it.

It starts with the rains, they come heavy for days. Then the temperature drops, and the water begins to crystalize and the scent of outside begins to give off that pure scent that says “snow is here”. This is how we renew, casting off the things that die and no longer serve us, so they can become the nourishment for the new things allowed to grow in the space where death once roamed.

I think this is one issue we have in our society. We no longer have an acceptance of death. It’s more of something we either seek to hide away in hospitals or communities of elder care facilities and cemeteries. We look to modern medicine and “fountain of youth” treatments to avoid the natural progression of life. In our great progress to treat our disease of self, we’ve created a new bug. Not one created from a virus or bacterium but one that is in our heads and our social structures.

It makes us immune to the effects our words and conduct have towards others. The “sticks and stones” rhyme made real. Failing to see the consequences of our thoughts made real. And if we do, see those consequences, they’re shrugged off with simple dismissal that it’s someone else’s problem.

Ramblings…

So I have a new non-fiction book (well, fiction if you consider that the topic is about fake news and smear campaigns) that I seem to not shut up about. I love reading stuff that is a bit off the wall but grounded in analysis – maybe that’s the Sherlock Holmes wanna be in me that gets stoked. At any rate, The Smear, by Sharyl Attkinsson (sp?) is my latest reading binge. It’s taking me away from Turn: George Washington’s spys on Netflix.

I’m ranking it up there with Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches by Marvin Harris. Mainly because I love perspectives that make me rethink how I look at things, as well as possibly gain an insight that I tend to miss being an anti-social hermit.

The main reason I’m devouring it has more to do with what I’ve been seeing on my FB feed and the various stories propigated by friends and acquainences. It also lends an interesting perspective to the fallout I’m seeing from the recent Gillette commercial addressing “toxic” masculinity and the debate that has been sparked. I followed the rabbit hole and read through the comments on the YouTube post, and if you can’t tell the majority of the comments are the same, or just slight modifications of the same post.

It half makes me wonder what would happen if all of us ceased posting, what would the bots and the humans paid to write the reviews come up with, if all of us just didn’t pay attention to it. It really reads like those article transcripts of people who set up a couple of AIs and let them talk to each other. The only difference is that AIs will debate, argue, and discuss their subjects. These things just regugitate a single talking point.

It half reads like a modernized theatrical production based off Huxley’s Brave New World with some Fahrenheit 451. The only difference is that we’re living it, instead of reading and discussing it in our Senior year lit class in HS.

Art imitates life, which imitates art…

On a plane to Paris, and I manage to pull up 12 Years a Slave. Thanks to my parents, I’ve always been one to seek out the art that pulls some type of emotion out of me. Stirs my thoughts in ways that my environment might otherwise not let me explore.

There was a point, where Fassbender’s character has a conversation with Pitt’s character, about how there will come a day where there will be a reckoning. It echo’s me back to Lee’s White Man’s Burden, where the societal rolls are flipped in order to explore the human experience.

That brings me to our current events, in the States, where I do believe we are on the precipice of a reckoning. First Nations are no longer relegated to the “out of mind” position that the reservation system sought to contain. Voices are now being heard, that should be heard. They’ve been drowned out by the arrogance of those who think they know best. And now, those who have consistently been trampled upon and shouted down have the opportunity to rise.

But…and there’s a big one…we run the risk of just letting the pendulum swing back the other way instead of stopping it in its tracks. So the choice is ours, all of ours. Will we return the favour and punish all for the sins our predecessors committed, or will we – as T’Challa found – find a better way forward for all by recognizing the failures of those who came before us and recognizing that we are not them. We are better. We can be better. We can listen to each other, learn from each other, and grow into a better society.

The phoenix must be consumed by its fires before it can be reborn, renewed. All of our myths talk of this. And now, we must be part of it, without letting the chaos consume us and burn us with its hatred.

Grab your humanity!!!!

So I’ve been watching, because I do that kind of thing, and the one thing that I’m noticing about a good chunk of the discussion is the lack of humanity. This primarily came up because there’s a bullet that likes to remind me that I dodged it. Every time I listen to this person open their “mouth” I find the absolute loss of empathy and humanity coming out of it. There’s an extent to which it saddens me, but that’s not my responsibility nor did I dig the hole that keeps getting deeper.

Then I reflect to the grander picture. Our society is a very, very fine balance; as any society is. Law attempts to be humane but there comes a point where Lady Justice has to put her blindfold on and decide based on what we’ve decided, as a society, is guilt or innocence. Being on either end of that spectrum doesn’t determine the presence or absence of humanity, but how we dole out the consequences does.

In our current climate we’ve subsisted on soundbites and half stories for decades, which for the folks my age was the whole premise behind Reality Bites. We love the tidbits, we love filling in the gaps and making new stories out of them, but we really hate having to own up to the fact that we jumped the gun. This leads us to the whole false narrative issues we’re starting to see play out in our media. Our need for “right now” not “wait and see”.

This is where I’m going to tell you – grab your fucking humanity. Put yourself in a mental situation that doesn’t include whatever bubble you were cushioned by growing up. Consider it a thought project safe space, if you need those. Imagine being in a situation that many people these days are finding themselves in – in our multi-ethnic society – that seeks a specific individuality that is based on a specific group ideal. How and what would you do in that situation? Do you have all the facts? Could you truly make a decision based on what you do know?

Our human experiences are all different. We may not be able to know exactly how someone else feels based on our individual environments, but we can relate and we can imagine to try and find that point. It really isn’t that difficult. It’s just easier to default to hate because it doesn’t require any real rational thought or discussion. When we do that, and when we approach from that direction – that is where we find the points we can make a change for the better. And I would really like to see us do better.