tough but true

I’m really unsure of how the following is relevant. Maybe it’s not. Please know it is not meant to be disrespectful of anyone  — nor is my experience meant to equate to anyone else’s truth. We have that problem these days… equating individual experience with everyone else’s truth.

Nonetheless, I’ve remembered this often. It is true…

As longtime readers of the Intramuralist will attest, throughout my life I’ve been a pretty good athlete. My knees are a little slower now… perhaps also my eye in striking the ball as forcefully… but as close friends will acknowledge, one may still have met their match in me on the Top Golf, Wii bowling, or backyard-any-sport circuit. Thank God for the smaller backyard-any-sport circuit. Those competitive juices remain.

In college, arguably, I hit my prime. In fact, as inspired the mantra for this blog, you’ll note I used to enter pretty much each and every intramural competition. And I’d do great! … that is, until I met the one who had played that particular sport their entire (doggone it) life…

Weightlifting, racquetball, tennis…

Ping pong or a semi-friendly game of H-O-R-S-E…

And badminton. Yes, badminton.

I was an excellent badminton player.

I know, I know… some still think it’s the backyard game of birdies, barbecue, and those tiny little shuttlecocks. But to me it was so much more. I kid you not…

In my distinguished D1 school, I took one P.E. class each semester; it was a physical outlet — my relief — often in the midst of a demanding academic course load. One semester I took badminton. Friends, I was really, really good.

One of my dear friends at the time was a young man who grew up in Southeast Asia. The son of a prominent politician, Erwin was afforded multiple, far-reaching opportunities. One of those was growing up playing the equivalent of AAU (the Amateur Athletic Union) on the select, badminton, Asia-Pacific circuit. Erwin was excellent at what he did.

Thus, as close and competitive as we were, in between classes and conversations and doing life together, he mandated I meet him on the badminton court.

Timelessly, he would say, “Ann, hit it here!” … and we would not leave the court until twenty times in a row, I could hit that frickin’, feeble little shuttlecock into a 0.76m x 0.46m space in the midst of a competitive match. Twenty times in a row.

Erwin drove me crazy.

He also made me good.

During our actual class, the course cumulated in an end-of-semester tournament. It was a co-ed, single elimination, best of 3 games tournament. Per the official rules, “Each game is played to 21 points, with players scoring a point whenever they win a rally regardless of whether they served. A match is the best of three games.” The tournament was a series of those three games.

I sailed through my side of the bracket. On the other side, there was a young man named “Brent,” who equally sailed through his. Brent was on scholarship; he played on our university tennis team — playing men’s singles #1 or #2. So the showdown was set… the finals… Brent vs. me.

Oh, my… what a wonderful match that it was… back and forth… back and forth. The more we played, the more the crowd paid attention. It was a fierce, well-played, competitive match. I was giving everything I had. So was he!

I won game 1. He won game 2. I won…

Well, therein lies the problem… well, sort of a problem.

This badminton match was one of the best sporting events I have ever been involved in — certainly the best individually. I played great. He played great. It was back-and-forth and totally competitive… 

For years I have sincerely shared this story, telling of one of my most awesome wins.

But here’s the God-honest truth…

I actually can’t remember if I won or not. I know I played great. I know he played great. I remember the looks on the faces of those around us, astonished by what transpired… here this scholarshipped tennis player… and me, this seemingly athletic nobody.

I can’t actually recount this story and scenario in all accuracy. I can only, authentically share how I felt. I remember how I felt. 

For me, it was awesome.  

This was 30 years ago. It was a wonderful, incredible day. My point is that sometimes feelings are more prominent than details. Tough story. I get it. But true.

Respectfully…

AR

a sobering but important read…

On August 5, 2010, Elena Kagan was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. She was nominated by Pres. Obama, after previously serving in both his and Pres. Clinton’s administrations. Kagan was the first nominee with no experience as a judge since William Rehnquist in 1972. Ideologically, she is considered to be liberal. (She also hired current nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh when dean of Harvard Law School.)

In her confirmation process, a letter from Miguel Estrada was shared. Estrada commended Kagan for possessing a “formidable intellect” and “exemplary temperament.” Ideologically, Estrada is considered to be conservative. Estrada still believed a President has the prerogative to nominate judges who share his/her governing philosophies. Hence, different as they are, Estrada felt Kagan was “an impeccably qualified nominee.”

Move to today’s Supreme Court squabble, where many have referenced the former controversy surrounding Justice Clarence Thomas. Allow me to humbly suggest we should also look at what happened to Miguel Estrada — and to his family. He, too, was once nominated…

Having received a unanimous “well-qualified” rating from the American Bar Association, Estrada was nominated in 2001 by Pres. George W. Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. [According to Wikipedia] “Senate Democrats, claiming Estrada was a conservative ideologue with no experience as a judge, and unable to block his nomination in the Senate Judiciary Committee after the Republican Party took control of the Senate in 2002, used a filibuster to prevent his nomination from being given a final confirmation vote by the full Senate.”

More from Wikipedia:

“… Leaked internal memos to Democratic Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin mention liberal interest groups’ desire to keep Estrada off the court partially because ‘he is Latino,’ and because of his potential to be a future Supreme Court nominee. A spokesman for Durbin said that ‘no one intended racist remarks against Estrada’ and that the memo only meant to highlight that Estrada was ‘politically dangerous’ because Democrats knew he would be an ‘attractive candidate’ that would be difficult to contest since he didn’t have any record…”

Estrada was nominated in May of 2001. After 28 months in political limbo — including seven failed cloture votes, six months of filibuster use, and continuous political posturing — Estrada withdrew his name from further consideration on September 4, 2003.

Summarizing the account… “Numerous judicial nominees prior to Estrada had been kept off the courts, when the Senate refused to let the nomination out of committee for a floor vote… but the Estrada filibuster was different in multiple ways. Estrada’s was the first filibuster ever to be successfully used against a judicial nominee who had clear support of the majority in the Senate. Estrada’s was the first filibuster of any court of appeals nominee. It was also the first filibuster that prevented a judicial nominee from joining a court.”

Oh, how sobering this is. Can we not admit that political motivations are in play? … from all sides? 

… with the Democrats on Estrada… the Republicans on Merrick Garland… 

And now — regardless of whether or not Dr. Christine Ford is telling the truth — can we not admit that both the Democrats and Republicans are still playing political games?

This is disturbing. 

But sadly, it gets worse.

During the confirmation process of Miguel Estrada, his wife, Laury, suffered a miscarriage. Then, a year after her husband’s name was both damaged and withdrawn, Laury passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. She died of an accidental overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills. Persons on all sides of the proverbial political aisle could not help but wonder how much the unprecedented stress of those 28 months painfully impacted their family.

What are we doing? Who will be maligned next?

Can we stop for a moment, recognizing that both sides are playing games, and as the watching public, we are fueling the fight when we justify the game playing by one??

At the onset of the Trump administration, Miguel Estrada was rumored to be a candidate for the nation’s next solicitor general. Estrada released a statement: “I have only respect and best wishes for those who agree to serve despite the deterioration of the confirmation process over the years, but everyone who knows me in this town knows that I would never accept a job that requires Senate confirmation…”

The deterioration of the process… that’s it.

Regardless of what happens this week and next with Ford, Kavanaugh, and seemingly, “As the Senate Turns,” I pray no one finds cause to celebrate. The process remains deteriorated… that is, until we quit taking sides, tolerating solely the games of one.

Respectfully…

AR

a few more words on Kavanaugh & Ford

So allow me to humbly offer a few more words…

What I appreciate in the current #MeToo moment is the breakthrough of speaking truth to power, giving women an honored voice where for too long there has been a consistent none.

What concerns me in this moment is the breakdown of some key societal norms that have long been considered wise, such as being innocent until proven guilty and truth not discerned via gender, ethnicity, or other demographic.

Unfortunately, I feel we’ve lost our way somewhat. Our emotions have clouded our perspective.

How we feel is dictating our truth.

We have become biased. And most of us can’t see it in ourselves — only in others.

Every accuser deserves to be heard, friends. But every accuser does not deserve to be believed.

Again, allow me to reiterate my desire to humbly address this heartache; this is indeed a tough, multi-faceted subject. For those I’ve walked with who have severely struggled to recover from such trauma, I have grieved and cried with them… too often, gut-wrenchingly for years.

I have also walked and grieved and cried with numerous others — with no judgment whatsoever — who have lied.

I’m not really comfortable with the word “lied” in that sentence; sorry — it actually pains me to post it. In my experience, it hasn’t always been a boldface lie, but more a distortion of truth. Some women and men do distort truth… often sincerely, albeit knowingly or unknowingly. Having experienced that multiple times, it affects my current perspective.

The reality is that we often gauge our perception on whether a specific accuser is telling the truth based on our own experience.

Friends, with all due respect, that is an inaccurate gauge. 

We can’t tell whether Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanaugh is telling the truth based on their gender or our experience. We can’t tell without any sworn testimony or collaborating evidence. I am sorry we can’t immediately tell; no doubt that is currently a most inconvenient truth for a watching nation with far too constant, breaking news. But what we know is not enough. We don’t know enough to base a belief on fact; we only know enough to base a belief on bias.

What we also know — that also greatly disheartens me — is that many of our elect are politically motivated. That’s on the left and right, friends. And if Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh are each sincere in their perspective — which is quite possible — our elected politicians are doing a disservice not only to us, but also, greatly to them. I  am highly disappointed with the political motivations that are obviously in play… and also, by our narrow vision that only allows us to see those unscrupulous motivations on one side…

Of course, the Democrats want to delay this.

Of course, the Republicans want to be done with it.

Both parties are clearly, politically motivated.

And so I find myself not trying to find compromise, so-to-speak, but rather, attempting to best discern what here is good and right and true. 

That’s hard. Really hard.

I get tempted to base my perception of truth on how I feel…

… on my own experience…

… on my political leanings…

… on my sobering frustration with the entire Senate Judiciary Committee…

But that is not enough to discern truth.

Hence, with this situation seemingly only feeding the divisiveness that partisans on both sides continue to fuel, the only wise thing I know is for each of us to pause, humble ourselves, and pray. Pray for truth to be revealed.

Join me. 

Will you?

Respectfully…

AR

Kavanaugh questions

With the latest developments in the Supreme Court confirmation process of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Senate leaders called for a public hearing next Monday. At the time of this posting, accuser Christine Blasey Ford has not accepted the Senate’s invitation; hence, the hearing may not happen.

But assuming it does, according to Senate rules, the question-asking of those testifying before a committee can be assigned to any individual. Recognizing that unpretentious, respectful, truth-seeking questions are most necessary, the Intramuralist has been assigned to the task before us. Under oath, I’d sincerely like to ask the following…

To the accuser…

  • Is this true?
  • Is any part of this exaggerated?
  • Why do you remember specifically what happened but do not remember where you where, when you were there, and why you were there?
  • Why did you edit your social media accounts to remove previously posted progressive ties?

To the accused…

  • Is this true?
  • Is there any angle or aspect which is partially true?
  • How well have you known your accuser?
  • Did any of your friends have a relationship with her?
  • How have you grown or changed emotionally and spiritually since high school?

To the Senate Judiciary Committee…

  • Who leaked this story?
  • Why?
  • Sen. Feinstein, why did you wait 7 weeks before sharing this information?
  • Why didn’t you ask Kavanaugh about it in committee or in a private, closed door session?
  • Did you intentionally withhold this information for political reasons?
  • Sen. Grassley, why did you immediately suggest the vote would go on as planned and not take time to listen to the accuser?
  • Do you not believe that every accuser has a right to be heard?
  • Are you intentionally rushing hearings for political reasons?
  • Democrats, since many of you admitted you would not vote to confirm Kavanaugh even before meeting him and hearing his testimony, how much of this is:
  1. an attempt to delay in hopes of getting closer or past the midterm elections, hoping to fan the flames of the #MeToo movement? Or…
  2. an attempt to damage Kavanaugh’s credibility as a future justice? 
  • Republicans, since many of you admitted you would vote to confirm Kavanaugh even before meeting him and hearing his testimony, how many of you are actually willing to sincerely listen to the accuser and consider her account as potentially true?
  • To all of you, what other motives are in play?
  • Do you recognize that your lack of objectivity is making many of us wish to support none of you?
  • And do you realize that your behavior is prompting many of us to lose respect for our government?

And to those of us watching…

  • Why do we allow our partisan leanings to sway our perception of truth?
  • Are tribal lines more important than truth?
  • Where have we not believed the accuser because we liked the person she accused?
  • Why do we respond differently to whether the accused is Bill Clinton, Donald Trump, Keith Ellison or Kavanaugh?

And more…

  • In the #MeToo movement, should the accuser always be believed?
  • On whom rests the burden of proof?
  • Do we recognize that for the accuser who is telling the truth, it takes tremendous courage to speak up even after many years?
  • Is it possible that Ford is telling the truth, but got the person wrong?
  • Could Ford and Kavanaugh both be telling what they believe to be true?
  • Does evidence matter?
  • Do witnesses matter?
  • Does a non-criminal scenario this old matter?
  • And can we admit that the only two people in the entire world who have some semblance of the truth are Christine Ford and Brett Kavanaugh? … and that none of us… none of the rest of us… can specifically discern what happened?

We weren’t there.

(I’m not the question-asker either.)

Respectfully…

AR

the Serena Williams experiment

So I ran a small, experiment this past weekend. Bear with me. It was a sincere, semi-intentional ploy, with no desire to manipulate, but to learn.

And learn I did.

Other than Intramuralist notifications, rarely do I post anything on my social media accounts other than an encouragement, expression of gratitude, or an especially clever comment by one of my kids. But as I was watching the U.S. Open women’s tennis final unfold, I decided to react.

Most are now aware of what happened Saturday night…

Tennis great Serena Williams had lost the first set to Naomi Osaka. Osaka was playing exceptional tennis. Early in the second set, Serena was beginning to rally, with the pro-Serena, New York crowd clearly rooting her on. Umpire Carlos Ramos then noticed a hand gesture from her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, considered to be “coaching.” Under Grand Slam event rules, coaching is defined as “communication, advice or instruction of any kind by any means to a player.” It is not allowed. Hence, Williams was given a warning by the umpire. One of the controversies — as shared unanimously by the expert announcers — is that coaching violations are inconsistently applied.

Then after moving ahead in the second set, but dropping her serve to make it 3-2, Williams smashed her racket on the court in heated frustration. That is an automatic rules violation. Since it was Serena’s second code violation, she was penalized a point.

Not long thereafter, while sitting on the sidelines prior to the players changing ends, Williams continued to argue with the umpire. She passionately defended herself, saying she does not cheat, and that she was owed an apology. She was angry and loud. She accused Ramos of being a “thief,” having “stolen” the previously awarded point. Considered as verbal abuse, Ramos then assessed a third violation, resulting in an entire game penalty, putting Osaka up 5-3.

The arguing continued, with tournament officials even entering the court, with whom Williams would continue to plead her case. After an extended delay, play resumed with both players visibly shaken. Osaka would proceed to win, 6-2 6-4, but the umpire exited to a raucous chorus of boos, shared by fans obviously agitated with how Williams was treated. The boos continued during the award ceremony, silenced only when Serena asked the crowd to stop, wanting to ensure Osaka received her just acknowledgement and award.

Typically, when reacting to a controversial current event, I like to take some time and wrestle with all sorts of varied angles. I like to read and study and pray for discernment, seeking foremost to understand. I like to think things through… think who it affects… and think: “what am I missing?”

But in my small experiment, I did nothing of the sort. Instead… 

I reacted. I intentionally omitted context. I only posted the following: “I’ve never seen a US Open like this. Way to still handle it with class, Serena.”

The reality is that I never have seen an Open like Saturday night. The crowd’s reaction seemed unprecedented.

And handling it with “class”? That was in reference to Serena silencing the crowd in order to honor Osaka. I was — and still am — amazed at how in the moment, Serena felt called to console her opponent.

But in order to allow my only comment to focus on how Serena honored Osaka and handled the crowd, I had to ignore how Serena berated the umpire. Our culture isn’t very good at respecting authority, and if that was my kid out there, I would be disappointed and dismayed.

What is equally true is if I only focused on how Serena berated the umpire, I would have had to ignore the fact that on the men’s circuit, many are known to be significantly more emotional and vulgar — and not necessarily receive a code violation.

In other words, in order to make my point — in order to believe that only one perspective was correct — I had to ignore another angle.

And so I learned… when we react, when we omit context… when we fail to take the time to sort through varied angles, read, study, and pray for that discernment — we are most tempted to ignore something significant… something that might broaden our perspective… and something that might give us more grace for one who thinks differently. 

What are we missing, friends?

And how often should we be asking that question?

Respectfully…

AR

throwing the stone

“… They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, ‘The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.’”

Like many, this semi-humble current events observer listened to much of the Senate confirmation hearings for current Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Like many, also, this semi-humble current events observer eventually turned the hearings off.

While there did exist moments which were seemingly productive, insightful and indicative of both sincere praise and authentic concern, too many moments were partisan, disrespectful, and disappointing.

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) seemed to sense something similar. While she is one who has expressed valid concern with Kavanaugh sitting on the high court, after multiple interruptions and disruptions, her opening statement on Wednesday included an actual apology to the nominee, saying, “I’m sorry for the circumstances, but we’ll get through it.” She was then immediately mocked by many on Twitter… for having the audacity to apologize.

How disappointing.

The confirmation process has become partisan.

Attack ads begin immediately. Senators make up their minds before meeting the nominee. Parties hold closed-door strategy sessions, hoping to derail the process. They focus on ensuring their tribe sticks together, as opposed to sincerely vetting and evaluating a potential, future judge. Maybe the tribe can disrupt the process; better yet, perhaps they can discredit the candidate going forward. It’s evident with some of the harsher opposition to Kavanaugh now, just as it was evident in 2016, when Pres. Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland was ignored.

That’s just it. Both parties do it.

And what’s sadly unfortunate, is that many of us suggest it’s ok. Wait…

It’s ok for one of them.

Why?

Because they threw the stone first.

Question: since when did any stone throwing become acceptable behavior?

As the summer of 2018 came to a close, one of the most bittersweet, beautiful occurrences was the gathering to celebrate the life and faith of Sen. John McCain. It was amazing on so many levels… hearing from his family… hearing from both political rivals and friends… being inspired by both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

John McCain was a statesman. In fact, as I learned more from tuning into the multiple memorial services, few seemed as fierce as either friend or foe. But McCain still advocated for respect.

In some of the late Senator’s last words delivered on the Senate floor a year before his death, McCain shared the following:  [emphasis mine]

“… Our deliberations today — not just our debates, but the exercise of all our responsibilities — authorizing government policies, appropriating the funds to implement them, exercising our advice and consent role — are often lively and interesting. They can be sincere and principled. But they are more partisan, more tribal more of the time than any other time I remember. Our deliberations can still be important and useful, but I think we’d all agree they haven’t been overburdened by greatness lately. And right now they aren’t producing much for the American people.

Both sides have let this happen. Let’s leave the history of who shot first to the historians. I suspect they’ll find we all conspired in our decline — either by deliberate actions or neglect. We’ve all played some role in it…”

Who shot first?

Who threw the first stone?

It doesn’t matter… we’ve all played some role in it.

We, my friends, can do better. 

Respectfully…

AR

warring witches

[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #6 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect…]

 

Warring Witches — casting curses on enemies. Will this be our demise?

I was talking with a friend about about conflicting political stances (… do we mention an example? … the lesbian group against the trans activists… freedom of religion vs. a person wanting service in a manner that infringes on the business owner’s values). 

If we desire a loving response, is that not grace and mercy on both sides? How do we honor both the choice and convictions, for instance, of the Muslim and Christian bakers, the Brazilian wax shops, and those who desire services which are in conflict with the server’s conscience? (A Muslim business woman who religiously cannot touch a man and a trans person demanding service.) 

On my mind are the historic Bible/Torah stories where the enemy troops would fall into confusion and end up routed, which always sounds so miraculous reading it — maybe it was! But I’m wondering now: could there be another reason?

Were they bumbling idiots, those confounded military strategists?

Even the smartest humans — as much as we think we’re working for any noble cause — we labor, limited by our own motives and understanding of what’s best. Our desires, even in our closest of social groups — such as even a marriage or family — inevitably come into conflict with others. So what is the standard?

We each want to be treated with love and mercy — yes? And we become offended when we see actions or attitudes contrary to our measure of love. So we want that to change! When others have an offense against another, is it right for the offended person to hate the perceived hater?

How much does that solve? How’s that working for us?! Hate against hate!

But what if there was a God that set a standard… of loving… even enemies? What would that look like?

We’ve heard the age-old question of “who is my neighbor” in response to the call to “love our neighbor.” But if we are to also “love our enemies,” have we asked the question, “Who is my enemy?”

And…

… what does it look like to love them? 

If we see that we are each other’s enemy, what is the standard that keeps us from fighting to the death? What do we do instead?

Friends, if our hearts are not submitted and surrendered to the Higher Source of truth and love, we might be working for a cause for a certain segment of society, but how do we labor in love and peace and hope and joy and self-control and gentleness to all?

Oh, so many questions! And more… where does mercy play in? … what is the standard for that? … if there is a Creator who generously offers love and mercy for all, how do we practice that in the midst of our disagreements? … are we listening for his instructions, or fighting amongst ourselves? … and… does that make us his people, or just prove we’re one of the enemy troops, confounded in fighting each other?

Oh, the profound words of Samuel from long ago: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.”

What?! 

Rebellion means using our power, created and given by God, for some purpose outside his intent.

What is His intent? How good are we at loving our enemies? Have we ever needed God’s mercy? And am I displaying that mercy to my enemies? (Again, who are my enemies?)

Or do we instead fall into that bunch of warring witches… wishing evil and casting curses upon others?

Respectfully…

RH

state of civility

[Intramuralist Note: Today features Guest Writer #1 in our annual summer series; the opinions expressed may or may not be held by me, but I value the writer’s expression and their commitment to respect. Enjoy!!]

 

A Respectful Dialogue of Current Events… a guiding principle of the Intramuralist is to express one’s opinion while respecting those who hold an alternative perspective. Such is the essence of civil discourse. If the mission of this website is to lead by example so that others will debate the issues of the day in a civil manner, is anybody following that example?

Not so much, I’m afraid. Take a look at these events over just the last 12 months since the last Guest Writer Series:

  • An employee was fired from his job for a memo he wrote challenging the effectiveness of his company’s diversity programs.
  • A white separatists rally in Charlottesville, VA turned deadly when a man intentionally drove his car into a crowd of protesters.
  • Football fields turned into political battlegrounds pitting players against fans over protests during the National Anthem.
  • A tenured law school professor was removed from teaching mandatory first-year courses after challenging racial preferences in college admissions.
  • A left-leaning magazine hired a writer away from a right-leaning magazine and then fired him after one column due to backlash from its readership.
  • Protesters hounded a cabinet member at a private dinner and another restaurant refused to serve the White House press secretary.
  • A congresswoman advocated for further harassment of administration officials.
  • The congresswoman herself was harassed in response.
  • A comedienne used vulgar profanity on her TV show to insult the president’s daughter. (She apologized, but only to women.)
  • An opinion website was hounded into deleting a column defending an actress cast to play a transgender role, leading to the columnist’s resignation.
  • Trump supporters organized a boycott of a retailer for selling “Impeach 45” clothing on its website even though it was placed online by a third party.

I could go on. It seems we can’t even get to “live and let live.” Not only do we feel the need to tell those with the opposing viewpoint how wrong they are, many of us want to hurt (either physically or financially) those on the other side. They need to pay a price for disagreeing with us. It should go without saying that is not a healthy attitude to have.

So what to do about it? A few humble suggestions:

  1. Recognize that we are all part of the problem – Your incivility may not be as bad as others’, but are you as civil as you could be? If not, you are escalating the rhetoric which can lead to harmful outcomes.
  2. Acknowledge that everyone has biases (even you) – We are all inclined to focus on (or ignore) certain data points based on our perspective. As such, we don’t always see the world as it really is.
  3. Admit that you are not always right – Even if you think you are right 99% of the time, maybe this time is part of the 1%. Allow for that possibility, and it will be easier to retract your words if you have to.
  4. Disconnect from social media – Personally, I deleted my Facebook and Twitter accounts a couple years ago. I find myself to be a much happier person. Even if you don’t want to totally disengage from those platforms, try going without it for a few days and experience how little you miss it.
  5. Don’t type anything you wouldn’t say to someone’s face – Why is it that we are much crueler when we type things than when we’re speaking in person? Imagine that the person you’re communicating with is in the room with you when you type.
  6. Read some opinion you disagree with – Find some civil writers from the opposite side of the political spectrum and try to understand the issues of the day from their point of view. It may not change your mind, but it should change the way you interact with those you disagree with.
  7. Be honest with your self-assessment – There are some people who get an emotional high from arguing. There can be an addiction to adrenaline that comes from debating controversial issues just like any drug. If you think that might be you, seek professional help to preserve your personal relationships.
  8. Consider that Trump is a symptom, not the problem – I know, I know… some of you really, really hate Donald Trump. I’m not a big fan myself, but here’s the thing. He could not have risen to power were it not for the toxic political environment that existed before he was elected. He knows how to take advantage of uncivil discourse, but it did not start with him, and it will not go away after his presidency unless we do something about it.

Bottom line… before you speak, THINK! Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Inspiring? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?

Respectfully…

PJM

the voices of others

When the Intramuralist began nearly 10 years ago, there were some baseline principles we vowed to embrace, such as:

All people are created equal.

Everyone’s voice is valid.

Everyone deserves respect.

Disagreement does not equate to disrespect.

How we handle disagreement matters.

Listening is a virtue.

We are each endowed by our Creator.

None of us have life all figured out (… especially since we are each endowed by someone other than self…).

Focusing on what is good and right and true is best.

Dialogue leads to both solution and growth.

Insults, ridicule, and judgment kill both solution and growth.

I’m certain there are more than the above top ten, but these are principles to which we have consistently attempted to adhere.

Have we always done so? 

Great question. Probably not.

There have been times I did not listen well. There have been times I played the judge and pointed fingers more than shared well-thought-out perspective. There have been times I, too, unfortunately, have chosen to rant and rave and perhaps even ridicule. There have been times I have thus been hypocritical. 

Such is not my desire. But I — just like you — am very imperfect.

This side of heaven — even though endowed by that Creator with certain unalienable rights — I will sometimes fail, screw up, and royally fall flat on my face. Such is the nature of being human; is it not? 

But I will not quit striving — striving for what I deeply believe to be good and right and true.

That said, one of the principles embedded in the above, is that you need not always hear from me. Other voices are valid. Other voices are pertinent. We do not all agree on all things, but that doesn’t matter. We must listen to — and learn from — one another. We are sharpened by the one who thinks differently than we. That, my friends, is part of the beauty of diversity… a beauty that too often contemporary culture fails to acknowledge.

Beginning Sunday, therefore — and continuing for the next 3-4 weeks — you will hear from some trusted, articulate friends of mine. Yes… it’s time for our 10th annual Intramuralist Guest Writers Series!an opportunity to hear from multiple individuals from multiple perspectives… men and women hailing from varied ethnicities and demographics. Please know: the opinions shared may or may not be held equally by me… but that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that we listen well to one another.

We can learn much if we actually listen to another; hence, this thought-provoking series will feature multiple guest writers sharing unique perspective regarding what’s going on in our world. You will hear about the Supreme Court, civility, some alarming suicide statistics, and far more. Feel free to agree, disagree, engage, and ask questions of them. Simply, as always, be respectful in your response.

Respectful…

Indeed… may our respect for one another — imperfect as we each are — always be intentional and clear. It is both a privilege and joy to be on this journey with you.

Blessings, friends…

AR

20 questions

Ok, ok… just rambling today, but questions I have that no one has answered yet to any degree of satisfaction… most of which have been shared or first offered by others…

What happened to Amelia Earhart?

How moral was John F. Kennedy?

Who was truly responsible for killing him?

Why is it that we often romanticize celebrities after their death?

Why do psychics have to ask you your name?

What don’t we know about 9/11?

Why do many refer to porn actors/actresses as “adult film stars”?

Why can’t we listen better?

Are all individuals valued under socialism?

What exactly is a “Buckeye”?

Has Facebook jumped the shark?

What about “Grey’s Anatomy”?

Why did they ever let Derek die?

Why do professional athletes get paid more than teachers?

Why do some feel that faith and science are contradicting?

Why do we resist God, especially if he knows what’s best?

If money doesn’t grow on trees, why do banks have branches?

Why do we feel like one political party is so much more moral than the other?

Can a funeral home raise the cost of burial and then blame the increase on the cost of living?

Where are each of us judgmental, but (most likely) don’t know it?

Great questions. I do love the question.

Remember that the question mark is the only punctuation piece that begs a response… that actually invites a reply.

I’m thus inclined to believe that if we were intentional about inviting a reply, our conversations and dialogue would be vastly improved…

We would listen better… hear better… and work more efficiently toward solution…

… even if discussing the actual whereabouts of Amelia Earhart.

Where is she by the way?

Respectfully…

AR