Do You Choose the Blue Pill or the Red Pill?

The argument for seeing whiteness.

greed, money, racism, white, black, color, prejudice

whiteness

America, possibly more than any country in the world (though many others closely follow), worships the dollar and will do almost anything for it. Our country was founded on this idea and it is how slavery became such a big part of our history, purchasing human beings as free labor to build our country and build it up quickly. It is really what our country was founded on and we can’t change that.

Once a group of people have been collectively labeled in a certain way (1 black person = 3/5 of a person), even though most of these dehumanizing declarations were made only to create more profit for themselves and less (or no) opportunity for the oppressed, it is extremely hard to reverse the public’s view of these oppressed people. The prejudices have been institutionally ingrained into the psyche and programs of the government, the laws, business decisions, etc.

Example, after World War II, programs were set up to help white soldiers adjust back to life in the US. A New Deal program through the Federal Housing Administration helped white families become home owners but tied mortgage eligibility to race through a system known today as “redlining” and the Social Security Act of 1935 was set up as a safety net for retired Americans but specifically excluded agricultural workers and domestic servants who were predominantly African American, Mexican and Asian. There are many more examples but these types of policies made sure that no wealth was gained by these populations. I’m sure you get the picture…do you?

So the question in my mind is from the opposite perspective. White people have been living a very privileged life without thinking much about it for a very long time. On the whole, most of the white population has been content to think that anyone of color must not be as smart or chooses to only live in segregated areas of many segregated cities or any of a variety of other racist ideas that have been floated institutionally into the air we breathe and fed to us in any direction we might choose to look.

seeing, see, clearly, truth, unveil, pure, no lies

Take the red pill

I’m thinking that it’s time (way past time, in fact) to take the red pill and see the world as it really is.

As I have mentioned before, I’m working on a public art piece to help white people see the White Matrix. It’s the false world we’ve all been living in and seeing around us. It’s just a start, but, I believe a move in the right direction as no one can heal and move forward to true social and economic equity (which is the democracy we tell ourselves we are living in) without taking the red pill (The Matrix allusion – if you’ve never seen it, it’s a MUST).

What do you choose?

Happy New Year! Can You Do One Kindness A Day?

Happy New Year everyone!

resolution, kindness, peace, fairness, slow down

Happy New Year!

Nothing’s really changed, but the calendar says it’s a new year with a new chance to try things again and be better going forward.

I’m ready for that. You?

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media, our humanness and our tolerance for others and how they’re all related.

Here’s a quote from one of Seth Godin’s daily blogs which I read, mostly daily.

“For millions of years, we’ve evolved to live in community.

Our brains, which are hugely expensive to maintain, got bigger and bigger, primarily to support our ability to engage with others. It’s not simply a useful way to pass the time–it’s a survival tool like no other.

And so we got very good at reading body language. At detecting threats. At finding friends and avoiding strangers. We can spot a liar from across the room (or so we think) and we become despondent when we’re alone for too long.”

So, the blog goes on to explain that our brains haven’t had time to adjust to the onslaught of social media information that not only inundates our minds but comes at us in a way where we often don’t have the skills to make heads or tails of what we’re learning about people….yet.

give, love, thoughtfulness, good will

Kindness Is Contagious – Come On, You Know You Want To….

I also think we are all happier in a peaceful world where kindness is the rule of the day but we feel so defensive and critical most of the time, from the above mentioned deluge that we don’t know how to get there.

I do believe that Seth is onto something here and, I do not claim to have the answers, but I do believe that in time we will figure this out. In the meantime, if we try to slow things down a bit and take one moment at a time – one kindness a day – it will make us feel better and if we feel better, it will encourage others to try a kindness (smiling at a random stranger counts). I’m sure you’ve heard of “pay it forward”.

Kindness is contagious.

Someone print the bumper stickers.

So, Things Don’t Always Work Out the Way We Plan. You Know That, Right?….Part II

kindness, app, risk, art, help, support

After last week’s post, I got a few 😢 emoji responses from people on social media, regarding All The Pardons app.

This, honestly, surprised me (although it shouldn’t have) and made me realize that, though it would have been nice if things had gone more my way, I am not sad.

I still love the project and what it attempted to say to people and feel that, though it can’t be used as an actual app, it still exists virtually.

It’s a VIRTUAL APP!

I almost love this idea more than the original. For one thing, it’s cheaper. 😁 For another, it can be whatever it wants to be in this form. In other words, it can reach its fullest potential and continue to adapt, in whatever terms that defines. How exciting that sounds to me!

So that was one of the things that made me feel an urgency to follow up the last posting with a Part II.

The other was that I truly wanted to thank everyone who supported me on this journey. This means those of you who asked how things were going on a regular basis (and still do), those of you who offered services or provided services, and those of you who donated toward making it happen (I am going to make every effort to reimburse you guys).

It’s important to me that you all know how valued you are in my eyes. As an artist, it makes all of the difference in the world to know people support you in any, even small, way when you are putting yourself out there in a risky and vulnerable situation.

My love to you for any and everything you did to help.

Be kind to each other.

So, Things Don’t Always End Up the Way We Plan. You Know That, Right?

This post was a long time in the works.

App, All The Pardons, kindness, be present

All The Pardons App

It’s not that I didn’t want to send something similar a while ago, but I’ve been waiting for some resolution. I suppose I was hoping that I would have a better or finite answer to pass on to all of ya. Maybe even a happily ever after.

But life doesn’t always work that way, does it (my inner rationalization wants to argue – “Yes it does!”)?

So, this is all in regard to my last installation project, the All The Pardons app.

I put so much time and effort into it, but in the end hired a less than honest, capable nor ethical programmer. “What did I know?” says my defensive brain. I dove head first into the world of technology – a world that I knew little about. I mean, I was more tech savvy than half of the population, but not in the ways of app development and tech product design.

In my mind, this was an art installation, pure and simple. There was a bit of naivité on my part as well as some unwarranted urgency, in retrospect. I did search for a programmer for a while and felt frustrated at the lack of resources I was finding. A lot of my leads were hitting dead ends and people at universities weren’t calling me back or just weren’t putting much energy into helping me out with information. This frustrated me, as it would anyone, and so, enter the false sense of urgency.

risk, live, excitement, uncertainty, vulnerability

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

At this point, I have a lawyer from Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) who is slowly working through this and trying to get me, at least, some of my money back. It’s not ideal and I’m not sure I can get any of it back, but we’re trying. My ideal situation would be to get a substantial amount of it back and return all of the money that I got through my Indiegogo campaign to the donors. At this point I am onto new projects and the momentum on this one has been lost. I may still be able to find a way to return the money but I’ll have to see how this goes.

In the end, I am an artist and wouldn’t be much of one if I wasn’t willing to take risks and make myself vulnerable. This is part of the deal and when a risk is taken, no outcome is guaranteed. I’m ok with that. This is who I am, and to be honest, I’ve got a pretty good track record of positive outcomes on my projects. This is the only one I haven’t been able to see through to fruition at all and that’s not bad. I just wish it hadn’t cost me so much.

Live and learn my friend, live and learn….

 

Dig a Little Deeper. See the Gold?

Hello y’all,

This week I’m wading through sadness at reading more of the stories coming from the California fires. I’m heartbroken at what I can just

children, innocence. childhood, love, appreciation

Cutie Petutie

imagine to be a living, or dying, hell.

I feel helpless and at a loss to wrap my head around situations with which I can only do my best to empathize.

Dealing with these feelings are hard but my nephew helped me out quite a bit last week without even intending to do so.

A couple of weekends ago I had my niece and nephew over for a weekend sleepover. This was only the second time that my nephew had been over for an extended period as he is only 3 years old. My niece, on the other hand, has been doing sleepovers with me for a couple of years (she’s 5).

It’s really SO incredibly different with boys and girls and you can really see our essential differences at these ages in a more exaggerated way because they’re so pronounced, but my niece and I have a bond that goes beyond even this. Since she was born there has been a connection between us that I can’t describe and don’t feel with any other person. I wouldn’t have had any idea what that feeling was like before she was born and wouldn’t have had language for it, although I’m not sure I have much language for it now.

The amazing thing is that she feels it too (thank goodness or else I would think I’m a bit nutty, know what I mean?) and gets so excited at the prospect of us spending time together – even has learned to ask for it when she feels she especially needs it.

My nephew, on the other hand, is a guys guy. He loves his daddy and grandpa best and has just eased out of being shy around me and pulling away when I approach. Of course I am clearer on my niece’s communication style over my nephew’s style and have been more comfortable with her overall because of this.

Honesty, shy, sharing, vulnerability

So, the spelling isn’t right – he’s 3! So sweet!

Everything started to change a couple of weeks ago when my nephew decided that he wanted me to drive him home from where my mother lives, and where we meet every Saturday morning, and wouldn’t leave with my brother. “Really?” said my brother, as we were both shocked. He was making a stand.

I drove him home and we chatted along the way.

After our sleepover weekend, he went back to preschool the following week and his teacher had them all make Thanksgiving turkeys with five paper tail feathers on each of which they would assign what they were grateful for – I made it to feather number two!

This feeling is one of those you live for without previously knowing it. It put a permanent glow on my face last week and is lingering into this one. It is so significant because it was unintended. It showed me the love hiding behind the shyness, the unsure nature of a little boy which made me recognize the unsure nature of myself and the desire for closeness that we often don’t realize is right in front of us and right beneath our surface.

Look up from your phones! It’s there but you need to be present to see it!

Are We Lying To Ourselves About Race?

So, this thought came to me last week, and it looks somewhat different to me this week (or does it?), for obvious reasons.

innocent, pure, peace, equality

Not Racist

The thought was that subtle racism, like institutional racism, and even some more overt examples of racism, are coming from people who don’t seem to realize that their thoughts are racist.

Now you and I might say, no way, but it’s true. What seems obvious to one person is not obvious to another.

I was listening to an interview on NPR recently of a former white supremacist, Derek Black, who’s father was a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who’s godfather was David Duke and who was being groomed to become the next grand wizard. He met an orthodox jew at college (his first time out in the world after being home schooled) who invited him repeatedly to Friday night dinners (which was exhaustingly painful for them to go through week after week) and just let Black get to know him and his friends. Over a period of time, it changed his mind and made him question all that he had been taught and all that he thought he knew.

honesty, truth, eyes open

See yourself clearly and honestly. It’s a start.

This man is profoundly changed and clearly upset by what he previously believed and how what he at one time declared in public, had manifested itself into violence executed toward others. You can hear it in his voice. He’s still working through thoughts and feelings and it must have been a radical melting away of his reality. I can’t imagine how disconcerting it must be for your world to change so dramatically.

The thing that sticks with me the most is that he says none of them thought of themselves as racist or that, in reality, they had convinced themselves of this point.

I’m guessing that most people who have strong beliefs on race (other than that all races are equal or that race is a social construct, as it is) have managed to convince themselves of this exact conclusion.

Anyone who has put some serious thought into this subject has found themselves to be suspect in one way or another regarding race as we have all grown up immersed in an institutionally racist society and can’t help our brainwashed thoughts….right? See, that’s the crux. Once we do take a look into that abyss, we can’t go back. You can’t unsee it. Seeing the disease is the cure.

Do We Want the Continuing Legacy of the Ugly American?

Who do we want to be?

evil, unkind, unfriendly, mean

Not a good look

Things are moving so fast these days, and accelerating so quickly, that I don’t think anyone is slowing down enough to ask this important question.

Who do you, personally, want to be?

Is it more meaningful for you to be on the right side, correct over others, or a good & kind person?

This is an important distinction to make because I feel as if we’re losing grip on this.

I heard a blog guest say recently, “Remember that political adversaries are people first and opinions second”. This is often difficult to remember because everyone thinks they have a good reason for what they think and feel and that others do not, but of course they think the same thing. People who are racist honestly don’t think they are racist because they don’t really know what racism is. They were either brought up with it as normalized behavior in their households or as commonplace in our institutionalized racist society. It’s like being angry at a kid for kicking the dog after he’s seen the dog kicked by his father for years and no one said anything. See what I’m saying?

So, this leads me to what I really want to talk about today, and that is the behavior I’ve been witnessing in society lately.

I live in a very blue state and it’s critical for us to realize that we are degenerating just as fast as the rest of the country is with our behavior.

I went to an advanced film screening the other night and was warned to get there early. Invites are given out for these far and wide and at this time of year it’s first come gets in – period – no guarantees.

I felt the crowd’s tension the minute I got there. In addition, there was something else going on in relation to this screening and people were coming who were preregistered and checking in at a table inside. We, on the other hand, were standing in a long line outside and it was COLD (not just cold). Entry was looking pretty sketchy for the majority of us. The company that was organizing the screening (if that’s what you want to call it) was handling it badly, treating the outside line as if they were pawns in this game (which we were) and wasn’t communicating what was going on to anyone.

kindness, understanding, openness, listening

The future will be different – but better or worse?

I understand that this was rude on the company’s part, no doubt, but everyone there in line was there voluntarily and it said right there on our invitations that we might not get in.

So, do we deserve everything in our lives to be perfect? Do we actually think that people are obligated to give us free things? What do we suppose is their motivation in giving us something for free (if you actually believe that anything is actually free)? Most importantly, is it in our best interests to be an awful human being in the pursuit of receiving something for free?

What I witnessed was an ugly conglomeration of examples of entitlement, which I believe are representative of our ‘downfall of the Roman Empire’ issues.

Can you see it around us everywhere….the ugly American? Can we do better? I know so. And with the effort can come a better future.

Have You Tried Being Selfish with Kindness?

Have you ever had a bad day where you weren’t sure why it was bad, or just felt grumpy, or even had an actual reason for it to be bad…and

generosity, kindness, selfishness

A sunrise in Iceland from 2014. It’s so beautiful that I thought it was kind to share it with you.😀

then….something moves you do something nice for another person – a random act of kindness – and all of a sudden you feel so much better…as if your day was reset?

This is what we need right now!

In a world filled with negativity, frustration and struggle, random acts of kindness are accessible to us in abundance and can get us out of our self-oriented funk. And don’t get me wrong, the acts don’t have to be selfless, in fact to the contrary, they can be completely self serving. In fact, if they are completely self serving they will make my conclusion more on point because, let’s face it, we all want to feel a bit better about the world these days and we are getting desperate in our desire to feel this to some degree. Wouldn’t we all make random acts of kindness a regular appointment on our calendars if we knew it would work?

It will work!

Us humans are hard wired for generosity. Our reward for doing something kind for someone else is a bit of an endorphin rush to the brain. It feels good!

generous, benevolence, good will

Kind, networking work environment.

There’s a reason why this is the foundation of the job seeking, networking world right now (well, really always was but it’s on steroids now). This process so easily sorts out who to trust and who not to – it’s really a win/win, right?

It’s also ironic that this networking world is getting more pronounced and people are isolating more and more, losing their social skills at the same time. The world is so fantastically balanced in so many ways, if you pay attention.

And here is my last thought to all of you (you are there, aren’t you?) – people are humans first, and opinions second.

That is all.

Totalitarianism Anyone? ☠️

I saw an interview on TV this week with Masha Gessen, a writer being interviewed about her newest book called, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, the winner of the 2017 National Book Award for non-fiction. Now, is that the coolest title, or what? Just think about that for a minute. It has so many implications and directions to it. And she was wearing the coolest jacket I think I’ve ever seen….but I digress……as I do….

Gessen is a staff writer for the New Yorker is originally from Russia and, man, is she fascinating and brilliant!

fear, extremism, loss of direction

Trauma Psychology = Totalitarianism

So, there are many directions I could go off from here but I want to focus on one in particular. Masha mentioned a term called “trauma psychology” which she connected and equaled to Totalitarian thinking, which she said went hand in hand – and a light bulb went off in my head.

My father was a far right Republican who listened to Rush Limbaugh regularly. This scared me back in the day but it’s so, so much worse now (he died two years ago and was pretty out of it for the two before that). My father was also a Holocaust survivor and from as far back as I can remember, I always equated his views with fear from his experiences being hated and hunted. I thought that it must make him feel safe to be on the louder and more aggressive (ie: winning) side that he couldn’t be on when he was a child. Later I learned about Rush Limbaugh’s fear and damage as he fought his pill addiction and figured this idea I had was a thing. Well, it was a huge revelation to me to discover that not only is it a thing but it even has a name.

Numbness, desolation, indifference

Fear ➡️ Lack of Empathy Toward Our Fellow People (courtesy of impending Halloween)

What’s going on now makes so much more sense when you take into consideration the number of people who experience major trauma (survivors of everything from sexual assault, parental abuse of all kinds to severe bullying) and additionally have the predisposition to go negative with a little self hatred mixed in – with no therapy or self help of any kind. This is a certain percentage of the population and the result is a President who mocks a sexual assault survivor in public and has a room full of followers who think it’s acceptable to laugh and taunt at her along with him – because they have no empathy for themselves, why would they have empathy for anyone else (no winners here, unfortunately)?

Luckily, it seems as though there are more of us who may or may not have trauma but don’t live in the trauma psychology world, thank goodness.

My instincts were right, which came from a desire to understand the seemingly illogical behavior of someone I loved and looked up to – that’s where understanding  begins and healing starts….

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? ❤️

It’s officially fall, time to rope things in, settle down and move on.

friendly, talk, share, connect

Snowshoe Neighbors

Or maybe it’s time to settle in and learn more….

Who are we? What do we really believe in? Do we only believe in it until it’s inconvenient for us or puts us out in some way?

I guess it depends who we’re talking about but, generally, Americans aren’t thought of as resolute and dependable. Our past, and present, has shown us to be, more often, insincere and self-motivated.

I, for one, would like to see that change. My thought on this is for each person to take one action in the direction of national healing. This is just a small action that everyone can take toward the goal of healing and it’s non-political, non-partisan and only asks that each person overcomes their fear of talking to one another, and their perceived impressions, for a moment in time.

This does not have to be a “love at first sight” venture. In fact, “love at first sight” is a rarely seen, if ever, in life reality. The quality of an idea and/or relationship needs to be nurtured and grown through time and trust.

So, here’s what I’m proposing…. that we all get to know our neighbors a bit better. Starting slow and deliberately… say “hello” if you don’t normally do that. Just make that a regular thing.

Talk, converse, meet, learn

Tunnel Neighbors

If you already say “hello” regularly, then say something that will help you to know something more about your neighbor. Ask how their day is going or how they survived the big storm or what they plan on doing for the holiday or whatever seems like an obvious question about them. The point is, be interested in them…don’t talk about yourself (unless they ask), just make it about them. It’s a start.

Oh, and this doesn’t have to only be about the people who live next to you. It can also be about your cubicle neighbor, or your treadmill neighbor, or your yoga neighbor, or your sidewalk neighbor – you know, be creative.

Let’s get out of our own heads and be about others for a little while. K?