black lives matter?

It has become the litmus test of our time. Are you willing to say the words, “Black lives matter”?

Well, of course I am. It is one of the founding tenets of our society, that all men and women are created equal, period.

For those who stubbornly insist on replying, “All lives matter,” well of course they do. Blue lives matter. Brown lives matter. Yellow, red, and white lives matter. Setting aside the obvious application to the abortion issue, all lives matter.

But you do not go to a funeral, get to the front of the receiving line, and say, “All lives matter.” You say, “I am so sorry for your loss.” And for African Americans who watched the atrocity of an unarmed black man killed in public by a white man sworn to protect and serve, they are grieving, and understandably so. The appropriate response is to empathize, to feel their pain. “Black lives matter.” Come on, you can do it.

Given my life experience, I do not feel I can speak for those who are grieving. So I reached out to African American friends, including a pastor, a community leader, and a CEO, and asked how they are feeling. The CEO said it best, “I am hurt, angry, exhausted, and provoked. The anger you see in the streets is the result of years of conversations with no actions to follow.”

The problem is that BLM is being turned into three completely different things, all being roped together under the umbrella of “Black Lives Matter.” It is critically important that we deal with them separately…

The first is the assertion, the validation that black lives should be valued equally to white lives. There is no argument against this point. Of course they should. There is much in our history that demonstrates this has not always been the case, such as slavery, lynchings, or separate schools, water fountains, or seats on a bus or in a restaurant.

But there is much in our current day that suggests we have not yet overcome this unfortunate history. I could list a hundred statistics here — education, dropout rates, unemployment, income, even at the same level of education and grades, rates of prosecution and sentence length for the same crimes, health, mortality rates, poverty, and food insecurity. Just Google them. To deny racial inequality in this country is to stick your head in the proverbial sand.

There are some systemic issues that bake this into society. Those born into poverty gravitate toward high-concentration, low-cost, high-crime, urban environments, perpetuating these statistics. And those whose political power is founded on people feeling discriminated against talk a good game, but risk losing that power should we ever enact substantive solutions.

Regardless of whether it was racially motivated, the murder of George Floyd lit a fire that has an abundance of fuel, and we should all be about fixing that. Black lives matter.

The second manifestation of these words is the violent demonstrations we see in our streets. This gets complicated, because the demonstrators themselves represent different groups:

There are peaceful protesters, whose constitutional right to voice objection to the inequities outlined above are being drowned out by others who take it too far.

There are violent protesters. Some are enraged by the injustice and years of inaction, like my CEO friend, and get carried away in response. This is understandable. Others see the broken Target doors as an opportunity to get free sneakers or TVs. This is criminal.

But there are also sinister protagonists, sects of society who benefit or are simply entertained by social unrest. These people literally deliver bricks or baseball bats to demonstration sites, infiltrating themselves among those with sincere motives for protesting, like the Whisperers among the Walking Dead. Ironically, these include both Antifa, which promotes violence against conservatism, and white supremacists, who want you to think badly about black protesters. When you do, they win.

This brings us to the third manifestation, the Black Lives Matter political organization. There are people who do not necessarily care one bit about racial equality, but see current events as an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon of an unstoppable political force. Heard much about climate change lately? Nope. Because those operatives have hitched their cars to a new train with the potential to take them to political nirvana.

What is the agenda of Black Lives Matter as a political organization? You have to dig deeper than their banner slogans. The central organization is the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. One of its leaders is the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, and that entity is associated with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, an avowed Marxist-Leninist group that has received funding from the Tides Foundation run by George Soros.

This is a secret hiding in plain sight. In a recent interview, a Foundation leader shared that she and her chief strategy advisor “in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on ideological theories.”

Here is a sampling of their political agenda: 

  • Disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear-family structure
  • Abolishing all police and all prisons
  • Restructuring tax codes to ensure a radical redistribution of wealth
  • Retroactive decriminalization of all drug-related offenses and prostitution, with reparations
  • Reconstructing the economy to ensure communities have collective ownership

These are not my interpretations. These are quotes from the Movement for Black Lives website.

The problem before us is that Black Lives Matter as a principle, as a protest, and as a political organization have been lumped into one, when they are far different things. And the radicals are counting on this, that you are not allowed to criticize the political agenda, because it is socially unacceptable and flat out wrong to oppose the principle. These must be dissected.

Black lives matter as a principle must be affirmed. As a protest, the right answer is not to disallow them because of the violence, but to take meaningful action to right the wrongs that motivate them. But the political organization must be exposed for what it is, an opportunistic Trojan horse that seeks to prey on the injustice to advance a radical agenda.

Black lives matter as a principle? Absolutely. Black Lives Matter as a political organization? No, thank you.

Respectfully…

CAZ

wringer washers & kaleidoscopes

“If I am known as your ‘black friend,’ news flash: You see color. Let’s see each other as friends and fellow Americans.” — Carol T., age 50

“Everything feels so heavy. What is wrong with everyone? I love being brown.” — Jubilee W., age 13

The current social climate has been nothing short of tricky to navigate for the last several weeks. It feels as though as a nation, our hearts have been put through the wringer of that old-time three-tub wringer washer of my childhood. “Wash Day” was always a day of dread in some ways for me. As a teenager, just the thought of spending the whole day sorting, washing, hanging the wash on the line, folding, and finally putting loads and loads and loads of clean laundry all away is what I would dread. 

However, as a younger version of myself, it wasn’t the all-day affair that I dreaded as much as it was the wringer washer itself. And actually, in all honesty, the wringer itself was the epicenter of my dread. 

What if my hand got caught in the wringer? I was pretty confident it would be smashed flat. After all, just look at what happened to the clothes!!! Surely, my hand would have had the life completely squeezed out of it!! 

In many ways, our hearts, my heart, and spirits, have felt the “SQUEEZE” of the proverbial wringer washer of current happenings in so, so many ways. First, there came a global pandemic that brought about a somewhat forced shut down of our lives. Next, personally, there was the untimely passing of a very dear friend who was more like family than he was a friend… and now, the navigation of our current social climate which makes you feel like you are treading where serpents nest or bomb shells are buried. All of these situations force us to feel that squeeze and try to make sense of it all. 

Allow me to share the words that have brought my heart and spirit the most comfort in this season of “the wringer.” The two quotes at the beginning of this blog have come from two dear ones who are in different places in their lives but both have struck a deep well of pondering in my own heart… 

“If I am known as your ‘black friend,’ news flash: You see color. Let’s see each other as friends and fellow Americans.”

“Everything feels so heavy. What is wrong with everyone? I love being brown.”

The question that quickly leapt out of my heart and took me aback was this: is seeing color such a bad thing? And, as I have chewed on this question, a word study has ensued; that tends to be how the Great Big God of the Universe speaks to me.  

The word that came to me is “kaleidoscope.” Did you know that kaleidoscope is derived from the Greek? Let’s break it down…

Kalos – meaning beautiful, beauty.

Eidos – meaning that which is seen-form-shape.

Skopeo – meaning to look to, to examine.  

Thus, the word “kaleidoscope” equates to the observation of beautiful forms.

The observation of beautiful forms. 

You guys… isn’t that what we are?! We are those beautiful forms… the human racewith all of our good, bad, and ugly. We are those beautiful forms. We each have so much to bring to the table to share with each other. So much that goes beyond our skin color but even our skin tone is so vital to who we are and what we bring to the table. There is so much to value in another person — like their mind and how they think, their heart and how they feel, things deep inside their souls. 

So, I love to see the colors of the human race. I love watching the colors bend and shift and come together again in intricate patterns and designs. So many angles just like the kaleidoscope of our youth.  

Here, therefore, is the kaleidoscope in words: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves.”

I think I hear that old wringer washer firing up again…

Respectfully…

LJ

context clues

As a former elementary teacher, my answer to understanding most questions usually returns to the concept of context clues.

Context clues help a reader bring meaning to the stated words allowing a better grasp of the author’s intent including an understanding of tone and undertones of literary genre such as satire. Learning to grasp woven fibers through the text makes reading more relatable as readers travel to worlds unknown from the comfort of an armchair or hammock. 

This is the most difficult skill to teach and to learn because it requires internalizing text. It’s like music. You can play the notes, but if you don’t “feel” the music, it’s just not the same. Context is the connective fiber between writer and reader. Truly digesting context requires high level thinking, exposure to a variety of viewpoints and a willingness to understand beyond one’s own viewpoint. 

It requires both the writer and the reader to be responsible for their actions in the literary contract. The contract is not always the same at each encounter. Time has a way of changing both parties memories, relationship and understanding of how things are. Our understanding of context changes over time. This is the same with our relationships. 

It is often curious to me as to why two very people seem to “get along” so well even though their points of view are so very different. I always go back to context clues. What context do they have in common that links their ability communicate with one another? 

Is there is a common bond that is not obvious to others that is so simple as a love for a candy, a sports team or vacation spot? Have you ever seen two people realize they attended the same college and scream in sheer delight? Have you ever met someone who you had an instant liking?  Upon further reflection you can’t really figure out why, but you just “like” that person. 

President George W. Bush and Mrs. Michelle Obama come to mind. They genuinely love one another even though it would appear they are very different. Their context or connection as “partners-in-crime” is their humor. 

As children, we are often open to learning more context. As adults, our scopes are often limited by time, habits, day-to-day responsibilities, and our lack of energy. In a time that seems to have so much turmoil, I contend this an opportunity to find a common context. We have been forced to slow down whether we wanted to or not. One area is our recognition of race as it relates to not only to our history and our society as a whole, but how we interact daily. There is a large part of our history that has not been recognized. This does impact our daily relationships, our recognized context.

There are Americans who become bothered when they see Black Lives Matter. Their immediate response is All Lives Matter. All Lives Do Matter, but not ALL Lives have been treated equitably. I contend the different points of view are due to context. Our experiences have brought us to different conclusions. This is an opportunity to at least try and understand why context is so important. Everyone wants to be heard. No one wants to be discounted.

As a parent of one brown and one white son, their life experiences have been very different. Both are well-educated, polite, empathetic, upper-middle class handsome individuals. However, with one son I have had to have the “talk” on more than one occasion. I have had the responsibility of making him understand because it has meant a matter of life and death at times.  My sons are in their thirties, and we still have the “talk.” I am more afraid now than I have ever been. Having two young grandsons, it saddens me that this tradition must continue, but it is a matter of life and death. I see their innocence and think the “talk” won’t stop during their life time.

Our brown son has been pulled over multiple times by police, was run down by a “respectable” fraternity member with a pick-up truck as a grad student and has been refused service at a sporting goods store. He was told that it was the policy that shoes cannot be tried on prior to purchase. He is a social worker. He has called me on the phone when police have been harassing his students during school programming. As a mother, you feel completely helpless on the other end of phone listening to a potentially deadly situation when the phone goes silent. There is a real reason for the anger, the fear and the frustration. My family’s experiences are not atypical. 

Many white friends will say that is too bad, and say they are sorry for the way he has been treated because they know him and know what a nice person he is. They will add, but that’s not the norm. Friends of color understand these experiences as all too common place. My white son has not had these experiences. I do not hate police or other white people. I am one, but I know things need to change. I need to help be part of that change. 

I also offer a glimpse into my world as to “why” people saying they don’t see color it is so very irritating. My first reaction is, “Of course you do!” But then, I have to step back and consider their context clues. Maybe they are trying to say, “I am trying to treat everyone fairly.”  

They don’t understand my angst as a mother. I must remember that I have a responsibility to listen to theirs. (But please, if you say this, do stop saying, “You don’t see color.”)

Desmund Tutu said, “My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”

My hope is that we take the context of this time to reflect and help one another. 

Respectfully…

VEE

can’t we all get along?

It was 28 years ago when Rodney King pleaded, “People, I just want to say, can’t we all get along? Can’t we all get along?”

We don’t know if George Floyd would be inclined to make a similar plea today. Even if he could, in our hyper-charged political environment no one seems willing to retreat from any position, on any topic, at any time. There’s an old movie line that goes “love means never having to say I’m sorry.” Sadly, the contemporary version might be “hate means never having to say I’m wrong.”

Anyone who’s been through relationship counseling knows that an attitude of “I’m right and the other person has to change” will lead to failure. It’s the same with race relations. Unless we are all willing to look at the world through a different perspective than our own and reassess our assumptions, the racial tensions will not subside.

George Floyd’s death has been the catalyst for dialogue not just about police brutality but racism in general. Many whites are uncomfortable even entering such a conversation. No one wants to be labeled a racist, and people are afraid of saying the wrong thing. There is also a tendency to be defensive because the concept of institutional/systemic racism is often conflated with personal bigotry.

I have good news. At the start of this discussion, you don’t have to talk. You can just listen.  Instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next, try to put yourself in the shoes of a black person who got pulled over after doing nothing wrong, or watched a woman clutch her purse after they walked into an elevator, or had derogatory remarks made to them in a public place solely because of the color of their skin. How would that make you feel?

Much of our discourse around current events becomes an all-or-nothing affair. That’s just not the way the world usually works. Most things are along a spectrum. Yet, we’ve become conditioned to not give an inch to avoid a perceived slippery slope. Does racism exist? Undoubtedly. Does racism explain all the disparities in outcomes of social well-being? Of course not. Can we at least find common ground and agree that it’s somewhere between all or nothing?

Concerning police reform, some of us approach the debate logically and others emotionally. Again, we should try to view the subject from the other side. Statistics show that not only has the number of people who die at the hands of police declined over the past several years, but of those in an encounter with police, the odds of a black person being shot and killed are no greater than those of a white person. Nonetheless, those statistics don’t invalidate the anger and pain felt after watching the video of George Floyd’s death. If you have not watched the full timeline, you should. (Please be aware it is quite disturbing.)

Regardless of what the numbers say, we should acknowledge that many blacks feel genuine fear in the presence of police. Something struck me about the clashes between protesters and police after Floyd’s death. In several communities across the country, police got on one knee to demonstrate that they weren’t a threat and show solidarity with the protesters.  Many of the protesters reacted by crying. Those tears would not have come without an authentic belief that police are people to be afraid of.

How has that belief has been formed? Incidents of police behaving improperly receive outsized coverage in the news and social media, which can lead to thinking it is more common than it really is. Sure, there are cops who abuse their authority, but the vast majority of police are driven by a sincere desire to serve and protect all of us. It is appropriate to consider reforms to improve trust and confidence in public safety. However, calls to disband police departments are either grossly misguided or intentionally meant to create civil unrest. The obvious irony is that the result of implementing these plans would hurt black communities the most.

There are some trying to take advantage of the racial tensions to advance a political agenda, one that goes far beyond police reform to a Marxist reordering of our society. Yet, just as very few cops abuse their power, very few of us are Marxists. If everyone stays silent in the face of today’s emerging woke authoritarianism out of fear of being “cancelled,” then the radicals may very well realize their vision. Those of us who share a true willingness to improve race relations should keep the focus on the topic at hand and not let it be hijacked.

One last thought: racism isn’t going to be eliminated by passing a law. You can’t legislate hearts and minds. For us to figure out how to all get along, we’ll need to have an honest and candid exchange of ideas. Let’s get engaged.

Respectfully…

John

I hate conflict

Have you heard about climate change? Chances are you have. I love our planet, but it’s not that climate I am focused on right now. I am concerned about the climate of the people living on the planet. Our internal temperature has risen, feeding an inferno of hatred and angst. There’s an epidemic alright, a dangerous infection of unfriending and cancelling, name-calling and finger pointing. At our core, we are melting down.  

Before you read any further, here’s one thing you should know about me: I HATE CONFLICT.  Yes, the caps are yelling from the page, though I detest yelling in general. I am not a yeller. I am a ‘stew-er,’ a ruminator, an internal and verbal processor when it comes to conflict. Interpersonal strife makes my stomach churn and I lay awake at night. Though I will on occasion, honk in automotive protest (I am from Chicago after all) or make a snarky remark to a customer “service” representative, as a general rule, I avoid all personal conflict — especially with people I love. I need those people just like I need the planet — for survival.  

We’ve all heard sayings about not being able to change others. It’s true. We can’t, and we shouldn’t try (unless those “others” are your minor children and then it is your job to try – a topic for another day). Trying to make other people think and feel just like us is not productive nor healthy. Just like species that become extinct when the atmosphere is polluted, relationships wither and die when we contaminate our conversations with disrespect and disapproval.  Unfortunately, many close relationships are now on the endangered species list due to the current emotionally-charged atmosphere. I can’t speak for those who try to change the masses’ opinion, but I can speak to how emotional climate change has affected my own close personal relationships. It’s real. It’s hard. My stomach has churned and my sleep has been affected. The good news is, it can be navigated if both parties are willing. (Yeah, that’s the sticky part.) 

Let’s face it, the pandemic has only served to amplify the political and social divide we were experiencing as a country, and as individuals. So how does one navigate the raging voices that permeate all sides of current discourse? As my recently deceased 84-year-old father used to say, “We have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason.” We need to listen. That seems a little cliché right now — doesn’t it?  Of course, we listen… or so we think. I’m not talking about “active” listening or even heightened listening, but rather, a deeper listening (stay with me here). After listening, we need to talk. Really talk. (FYI — social media doesn’t begin to count.) Honest, vulnerable, candid conversations about issues of the heart. It’s risky, I know. Believe me, I know. 

I had such a talk just last week with my oldest buddy, my lifeline, my heart sister. Like twins, we even have our own language, yet over the years, we have come to speak different languages when it comes to certain life views. Feeling the climate change intensely, we were having a heart-to-heart about my fears of an unthinkable collapse of our 50+ year bond due to those variances. I could hardly breathe, much less talk about it. Life without her would not be as rich, as meaningful, and not nearly as much fun. In the end, there were tears. Tears of relief that we do not have to be identical to be twins.  

I loved her suggestion that our friendship should be looked at through the lens of deep commitment, similar to that of a marriage. (I would like to say all relationships can be viewed this way, but let’s just start with our nearest and dearest, and those who are willing to do the work. Sometimes that’s all we get, and we’re truly blessed to get that when we do.)  

A good marriage is never easy. It takes work as spouses grow, change, and evolve over the years.  A solid union is made of individuals who cheer each other on to personal victories, even if those victories are not of our own personal liking. Not only that, we are to dignify and affirm the journeys our loved ones are on and defend their right to pursue their own personal path even if it “bugs us” (a bucket term for everything from slight irritation to outright fury). 

For example, my husband bought a motorcycle a few years ago. I thought it was a joke at first since I have always been staunchly, no — hysterically-opposed to motorcycles. To this former ER nurse, it’s a “donor-cycle”, and I’ve taken care of plenty of donors. Ultimately, he promised to be safe, so I told him to go for it. (Of course, I made sure his life insurance was up to date. He also agreed to either come home in one healthy piece, or ride straight into Heaven’s garage.  No in-between rehab scenarios allowed — my nursing days are over.) Do I love that he has a dangerous hobby? No, I don’t, but he’s a big boy and he has the right to live that out. Not only did I say ‘yes,’ I cheer him on by encouraging him to take advantage of good riding weather with fellow idiots, I mean enthusiasts; three years later, do I want to leather up and hop on a donor-cycle?  Heck, no. (I tried once, but apparently cried the entire time. I’ve successfully blocked it out.) Just because biking is his hobby, it doesn’t have to be mine. 

Can the same acceptance be said for all my interpersonal relationships, in every arena? I’m working on it. I really am. I know a motorcycle isn’t equal to diverging opinions on issues of politics, faith, abortion, LGBTQ+, racial justice, social change, or even masking up. However, the same principles of deep commitment need to apply when listening to those we love tell us what they want, feel, and need. Can we still be close, without being clones? If we love one another, we will not demand it. 

Respectfully…

Funny Gal Sal


it’s time!

If you have not heard me utter these words previously, know that it is my absolute humble privilege to be the author of the Intramuralist. When we set out on this venture near 12 years ago, never did I imagine the prodigious expanse of our audience nor extent of our reach. My goal was not to profit (and we have not) nor to voice all of my astute opinions because I’m so worthy and right. Truth is, I am neither. In fact — full disclosure here — sometimes I’m actually wrong. Sometimes I’m wrong and I don’t even know it.

But such has never been the aim of this blog.

I wholeheartedly adhere to the Judeo-Christian ethic that all people are created equal. That means we are each created equal whether or not we also adhere to such ethic. Quoting “High School Musical” and other sweet sources of wisdom, “iron sharpens iron” and “we’re all in this together.”

With that said, it is with great joy and excitement that I introduce our annual Guest Writer Series! Each summer we take time to practice a little more of what we so-called preach. We take time to intentionally share the written words from other people. Are the writers all people who think exactly like me?

Of course not.

What fun would that be? 🙂

But each is a person who is committed to expressing their opinion respectfully.

Will I personally agree with all that is articulated?

Also, of course not.

But that’s not the point. 

If we are going to grow and think and truly sharpen one another, we can’t cling to likemindedness, cancelling out the inconvenient. Wisdom calls us to instead actually engage the different. Assume positive intent in others. And seek to understand. Understanding more does not mean our own opinion must change. But if our opinions can’t stand up against diverse viewpoints, then perhaps wisdom also prompts us to alter what we think and say we believe. I have never known a wise person who was unwilling to alter their opinion.

Hence, through most of the month of August you will gleefully hear from a great group of people…

They are younger/older (both of which thrill me!), male/female, lean left/right, black/white, faithful/skeptical, white collar/blue collar, working professionals/stay-at-home workers, you-name-it. They are diverse. They will speak of many things.

Interestingly — and true to our desire to talk about what’s currently happening on the planet — several will reference the current racial tension and how wisely to proceed. But also perhaps even more interestingly, each will offer a different angle. You will hear such from a black man… you will also hear from a parent of two sons — one black… one white.

Still more will share other excellent, insightful perspective… on the accumulation of all our “stuff,” the beauty of learning about varied cultures, and encouragement on the “fights” in our lives and who’s in our “corner.” We’ll kick the conversation off this coming Sunday, in an insightful post about our current cultural state, entitled “I Hate Conflict.”

So sit back, ponder, converse and participate when prompted, and enjoy the varied perspective. It is always wise to hear from someone other than “me.”

Respectfully… with great anticipation and excitement…

AR

a social stand in sports?

At a time when societal institutions are intersecting cultural issues in unprecedented ways, I’m curious as to what we speak of — and what we don’t… what we highlight — and what we won’t. As persons who believe in respectfully discussing all that’s happening on the planet and adhering to the Judeo-Christian ethic that all lives are equal, we strive not to intentionally ignore any issue, especially when any are treated as lesser. So for today, allow us first some basic background info…

Officially called the “Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China” (HKSAR), Hong Kong is “one of the most densely populated places in the world,” home to over 7.5 million people within only 426 square miles.

A British colony beginning in 1842, Hong Kong was handed over to China in 1997. Per the transfer agreement between China and the United Kingdom, as a “special administrative region,” the relationship between Hong Kong and mainland China is described as “one country, two systems.” Hong Kong has their own governance and economic systems.

Increasingly more, freedoms for Hong Kongers have been perceived to be in decline. Said by former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice, “There is great concern in the United States about what is going on in Hong Kong. There is great concern first of all as to whether or not the promise from Beijing of one country and two systems is really being honored.” In response, there is increased friction, violence, and protests. (Interestingly, with such increase, there are also claims of police brutality, a lack of democracy, and demands that the protests not be portrayed as “riots”; this is approximately 7,821 miles away). With far more details than a singular post can articulate, upon the escalating tension and China’s recent national security law that cracks down on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, last week the British government suspended the 1997 transfer agreement. 

Back to the point of this post… I’ve been struck by the handling of this issue by the NBA. While taking an active role this summer in highlighting justice for all people and an admirable intolerance for oppression, notice how they’ve handled the oppression in Hong Kong.

When tensions escalated last fall, GM Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets personally tweeted, “Fight for Freedom. Stand for Hong Kong,” the Chinese Basketball Association quickly terminated any cooperation with the Rockets; China’s top state broadcaster’s sports channel suspended airing any Rockets games; and multiple Chinese companies also immediately severed ties. The NBA’s fast, first response was regret — regret as to how Morey may “have deeply offended” the people of China.

The NBA focus on China’s disrespect more than Hong Kong’s oppression prompted outrage from Democrats and Republicans alike — sadly, a rare occurrence these days. Sen. Rick Scott called it “shameful” — Beto O’Rourke, “an embarrassment.” The NBA then attempted to awkwardly navigate through their resulting PR predicament, eventually saying they support free speech by all.

So with the protests intensifying in recent months and days, let’s venture back to our original question in regard to what we speak of — and what we don’t… what we highlight — and what we won’t. Why do cultural institutions act the way they do?

Tweeted actor and liberal activist, Bradley Whitford, “Hey @NBA. Do you care about what’s happening in Hong Kong?…  Or do you only take principled stands if they won’t hurt your bottom line?”

While I can’t see a day when I ever advocate for Twitter as a respectable means of communication, my curiosity continues. There seems need for more research.

According to USA Today, “a conservative estimate” puts NBA revenue from China at “$500 million annually based on deals that are publicly known.” Also, “China’s Tencent reached a five-year, $1.5 billion deal to remain the league’s exclusive digital partner in China, and it is the NBA’s largest partnership outside of the U.S… NBA China, a separate business arm of the NBA, was valued at $5 billion by Sports Business Journal last month. Separate from the NBA’s partnerships in China, players are invested in the country, too. Several of them, including stars LeBron James and Steph Curry, make annual visits to sell apparel products from Nike and Under Armour.”

As said by the publication, “The NBA and basketball are entrenched in China.”

Hence, my curiosity continues. So do my questions about our cultural institutions’ social stands.

Respectfully…

AR 

(Editorial note: the BBC, CNBC, CNN, The Dispatch, Reuters, USA Today, and Wikipedia each served as vitals sources for this post.)

let’s fight!

Do we really have to fight about everything? 

Do we always have to make it political?

“How can you be ok with that? You’re off in your own little world; get up to speed! C’mon… It’s the 21st century — get with the times! Don’t you realize your lack of diversity is offensive to me? Do you not even see us? Are you color blind?!”

“You’ve got to be kidding me. I appreciate diversity; we’re just a homogeneous collection. There’s no need be different. We’re in our own space, hurting no one; hence, my silence equates to zero complicity! We work well together in our own little jar of the world, so-to-speak. You have a right to your own jar, too!”

“I do not understand you! You make no sense! Can’t you see that there’s clearly only one right way to do this? Your opinion is insulting to me! Offensive, in fact! For years we’ve heard people say ‘the best way is up’? How can you not see how that applies here?!”

“Just because people say things doesn’t make it right. If everyone ran off a cliff, would you join them? Geesh. Resist the tribal mentality, dude. The right way is down. Clearly, always down! And if you can’t see that, then there’s no reason for me to spend any more time or energy on you. When you finally come around, let me know. Until then you are unworthy of my attention. Better yet, you are simply unworthy!”

“People say whatever they want to — ‘fake news’! It doesn’t care if it doesn’t make sense. So what? Those other people are lying to you. Cancel them! Cancel, I say! And you are so ignorant, stupid — yikes — even deplorable! There is no way that can taste ok! You are filling yourself up with completely asinine rhetoric!”

“Stop. Just stop. You think I’m wrong? Look what you’re buying into! Look what you’re ignoring! Have you lost your mind? … your sense of reason? You’re all filled up with such shallow slogans — low calories, too. I am so done with you.”

And just like that we fight. 

We make all things political…

… mask, no mask… open, close… standing, kneeling… 

We even determine our own advocacy or rejection based on who else supports or denounces it…

Hmmm….

Seems we’re losing the prudence of individual thinking and perspective. Tribal speak has veiled our awareness of the wisdom in compromise. People keep advocating for something lesser… advocating for the fight.

Think I’m not so semi-humble with each of the above?

For the record, I was talking about creamy vs. chunky peanut butter, the latest Charmin roll placed up or down, and of course, whether Miller Lite is actually “less filling” or “tastes great.”

Respectfully…

AR

the other side of me

Six weeks ago we popped the question: “what’s it like to be on the receiving end of me?”

It was a singular post, shared under the title of “The Purpose and the Question.”

As the weeks have continued, my strong sense is that it would be prudent of us to ask that more than once…

What’s it like to be on the receiving end of me?

Allow me to rephrase and push the envelope a hair further…

Do I have the guts to actually ask the question?

And do I care about the response?

Truthfully, it’d probably be easier not to ask the question. If I never hear anyone suggest that they sometimes see me as angry, arrogant, bossy, boastful, careless, cruel, defensive, harsh, hypocritical, illogical, inflexible, judgmental, narrow-minded, obstinate, overcritical, patronizing, pompous, selfish, stubborn or untrustworthy, then I never have to deal with the reality that sometimes I can be angry, arrogant, bossy, boastful, careless, cruel, defensive, harsh, hypocritical, illogical, inflexible, judgmental, narrow-minded, obstinate, overcritical, patronizing, pompous, selfish, stubborn or untrustworthy.

(And that’s only the first 20 adjectives I could think of.)

It’s not an easy question; do I have the guts to ask?

Which leads me to what’s next…

Do I care about the response?

On one hand, my sense is we might say “no.” Such follows the logic of the fictional, crazed television anchorman Howard Beale in his iconic “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore” quote. But note who is the subject of his sentence.

“I”… 

I… me… my… myself…

When we become the subject of our own sentences, we forget about the value of other people; we act as if we — me, my thoughts, beliefs and behavior— mean more. We then typically justify the demeaning of someone. And if we are justifying the demeaning of someone, we are not loving our neighbor well, we are not advocating for equality, and we are certainly not honoring the great big God of the universe. 

Living in a such a contentious, fractious time, it seems we become the subject of our sentences more frequently, although tribal insulation can shield us from such self awareness.  We are lured into believing that our thoughts, beliefs, and behavior are fully justified; hence, I don’t have to care about how anyone responds to me… I then think of the awesome words by the great, lyrical giver of truth, Sting: 

“There is no monopoly of common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too.” 

Russians, Americans, Republicans, Democrats, majorities, minorities, faithful, etc., you name it… all people who at some time may be on “the other side of me.”

This week I had to apologize to someone who means a lot to me. To be clear, such isn’t an uncommon event. And since each of us have yet to walk on water — and thus we are wholeheartedly and so obviously imperfect — the process of asking and granting forgiveness should be a frequent and prudent pursuit.

But it starts with a question…

What’s it like to be on the receiving end of me?

Respectfully…

AR

“my” truth

It’s a fascinating concept… sounds good, too…

My truth.

But what if it’s not accurate?

Let’s objectively unpack. First, some definitions…

my | mī |  possessive determiner

1 belonging to or associated with the speaker: my name is John | my friend.

2 used in various expressions of surprise: my goodness! | oh my!

truth | tro͞oTH | noun 

the quality or state of being true: he had to accept the truth of her accusation.

that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality: tell me the truth | she found out the truth about him.

a fact or belief that is accepted as true: the emergence of scientific truths.

So then we observe, listening to what people think, say, and believe — such as this prominent news host this week:

“My role as a journalist is to speak from my truth and from my lens and from where I come from, and I don’t think those things are biases. I think those things give me expertise in this particular subject.”

With all due respect, he is not alone. Many believe their truth is the truth.

Herein lies the problem…

By definition,“truth” fits “in accordance with fact or reality.” One person’s experience does not equate to everyone else’s reality.

The “my” modifies what comes after it; “my” modifies “truth.”

But if “truth” is “fact or reality,” it can’t be modified.

Which makes me wonder… 

Is one of the challenges of current day this notion that seemingly well-intentioned, even intelligent people believe contradicting themselves makes sense?

Truth is not relative. Hence, there is no such thing as “my truth,” your truth, or anyone else’s.

So what if instead of “my truth,” we acknowledged…

“Here is my perspective…”

“This is my experience…”

“My perspective and experience are valid…”

With that comes the prudent awareness that individual perspective and experience do not hold for all people.

Why is such a distinction important? Great question. The challenge when we treat truth as relative — suggesting individual truths exist — is that it lures us into believing there’s no validity with any other perspective or experience. 

In other words, “If my truth is fact, why should I pay any attention to you?”

May we honor and learn from varied perspective and experience, recognizing each are still are incapable as qualifying as “truth.”

Respectfully…

AR