I’m going to take a moment to do something I don’t often do on this blog, be serious. Obviously today is an important day in American and, more importantly, world history. I doubt anyone who lived through September 11th, 2001 will ever forget where they were and how they felt as the day’s events unfolded.
I was in a Chemistry lab at the University of West Florida. It was before news was delivered instantly to our hands via smart phones. The instructor was called out and we all knew something was “up”. She returned to tell us that the campus was closing for the day and that we should all go home. It took me nearly 30 minutes to get off campus (as opposed to the usual 5). I sat, stuck in traffic, listening to the news on the radio and sharing glances of shock, disbelief, and horror with my fellow students through our car windows.
Looking back, have we come so far? Is the world better? Are our borders safer? Is the thought of another 9/11 still looming? Hard questions to answer. Because folks, there are no easy answers and there are no quick fixes.
And I’m not going to make an attempt to answer them in this post. No, this post is dedicated to speaking what I see as the truth of the world today and how I believe we can all do a bit to make it better. These three thoughts aren’t geared only toward 9/11, but terrorism, hate, and mistreatment in general.
People have been hating other, different, people since the dawn of time. Racial and religious intolerance are not new. Hate crimes fill the pages of history books from page one. The bad guys change. The “coo-coo” religion changes. The catalyst for intervention change. But war and hate are part of the world.
What can we do? Not contribute to the problem. Disagree with a belief, hate an action, but don’t dismiss an entire country of people. Don’t dismiss an entire religion, because some nut-job sect perverts it into a way to justify hate-mongering. Condemning all members of a religious group (be it Christian, Muslim, Hindu) for the ridiculous actions of their fringe is the same as condemning an ethnicity based on the actions of a few. Do you fear/despise all young, black males because you read about gang shootings and robberies in an urban area? Do you fear/despise all whites because a minority participate in the KKK? Do you think all women are incapable of jobs that require “true grit” because they can’t cope emotionally? If you say yes, please get out into the world and open your mind and heart up a bit. It seems like such a miserable way to go through life. At the end of the day, treat others with the respect, understanding, and acceptance you’d want for yourself, friends, and family.
that being said-
Stereotypes exist for a reason. All stereotypes have some basis of truth. They’re exaggerated generalities of the worst potentials of a group of people (race, age, sex, religion). Group A are lazy. Group B are bad drivers. Group C have no manners. Do you know what the stereotypical American is? How others might view us? Obese, intolerant, entitled, greedy, ignorant. I see fine examples of all of these walking around me everyday. Shit, I’ve been guilty of one or two on occasion. But while I can’t control how others view our entire country; I can control what I present to the world daily.
What can we do? Don’t be the stereotype. Be better than what some simple minded person is going to see on the surface. How would someone else view your actions? Are you causing anyone harm? Are you making the most of life with whatever resources, small or large, you may have? So essentially, constantly strive to be the best version of you; self improvement should never cease.
Everything comes from somewhere. That gas you pumped into your car, your morning cup of joe, the shirt on your back, your food, it all came from somewhere. Do you know where your food was grown? How are the laborers treated? How are they compensated? Is it good for you? How about the outfit you’re wearing; where was it made? What conditions does that person work in daily? What are their lives like? The stores and the companies that you frequent, what are their environmental records; how do they treat their employees? Money makes the world go ’round and sometimes this money isn’t made in the best of ways.
What can we do? Educate yourself. I’m not saying you need to go full-hippie. I get that growing your own food or buying completely fair-trade isn’t really feasible for many people. I understand that researching every little aspect of everything you purchase or consume each day isn’t practical. But know something. Start with one thing. Learn. Get angry and then vote with your dollar.
I’ll leave it at that because I promised my Dad at the very start of this blog that I’d never get “political”. And if you’ve read this far, you may think you have my politics all figured out; but I can guarantee that your guesses are most likely wrong! Don’t be so sure that everyone can fit into a nice little box. Our current political climate has left many of us walking fairly dead-center, with the occasional veer into one lane or the other.
If you’d like to read a quick piece my dear friend Sebas wrote this morning, click here. It certainly ties up how I feel in a nice little bow.
And I’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave them (as long as you can subscribe to the three thoughts above and be respectful).
Stay positive & love your life!
Listening to: Daft Punk – Instant Crush
Random fact: It will take 3 1/2 hours to read all of the names of the people lost on 9/11. While I will never forget, there is some pain there that I will never know. My thoughts are with the friends and families who are still missing their loved ones everyday.