Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Personally I have never like that old rhyme. Because I know that I’ve been hurt by words before. The pen is mightier than the sword right? Well now I realize the truth behind that little children's rhyme. It is something we can all learn and apply.

“Words will never hurt me” What does that mean? I don’t think that the person who wrote that was just born bullet proof and invulnerable from the harm words can afflict. Rather, I think the writer realized the power we have. That each one of us has.
We assign words their value, not the person who says them to us. Most people are pretty reasonable when it comes to tolerance, but those are never the people you hear about. We hear about the crazy ones. For example: John Whiley Price. If you are familiar with the world of politics, you might have heard of him.

He, along with ten or so other commissioners, sat at a table in Dallas. They were discussing the problems they had with their new filing system. A man named Ken Mayfeild spoke and made the comment that the system was “like a black hole” because documents were often lost and never seen again. A seemingly harmless metaphor.
But Mr. Price must have seen his opportunity, because he wasted no time. He spoke loudly and said “Excuse me, but you mean a white hole.” He then told the judge that he demanded an apology from Mr. Mayfield. The judge agreed, but Mr. Mayfield refused. He tried to defend himself, saying that he would not apologize for using a scientific term.

The room erupted, and in the commotion Price yelled that one should never use language that could possibly be offensive while in a room full of different races, and that he was personally offended because he was a black man.

After the incident he went on to say that terms such as “black sheep” and “Angels food cake” and “Devils food cake” should be banned and made illegal because he found them offensive. He thought it was an insult to blacks that “Angel’s food cake” is white, while “Devil’s food cake” is black. Now, Mr. Price has obviously not done his homework, because both cakes were created by the slaves. And Devil’s food cake was named so not because it was black, but because the original cake was very hot, and filled with many spices.

Mr. Price wanted Mr. Mayfield to be more tolerant and not use offensive language. But is the term “black hole” offensive? It was not meant to be.

Black hole- a hypothetical celestial object with a gravitational field so strong that light cannot escape.

No. I do not believe for a second that Ken Mayfield meant it as an offensive racial slur, but how Price re-acted was certainly offensive. Calling it a “while hole” was probably the worst, most childish thing he could have done.

So on the topic of tolerance, I believe that there are three things we must learn.
First, if we are offended by something, we have two choices, Act, or Re-Act.
Next, we need to realize what tolerance truly is and implement it in our lives.
And last, we have to take away the power of the words that hurt us.

When someone offends us, either by something they do or say, we have two choices. WE can re-act, which puts them in control of us, or we can act, and keep control of ourselves while at the same time, leaving the other person powerless.
In my home, my little siblings often quarrel and tease one another. In response
my father always says the same things. “Don’t re-act. When you re-act, you are letting them control you.”

We need to listen to that advice. If someone uses a word we dislike, we can freak our and cringe, and re-act. Or we can act, and walk away, or ignore them. We can choose to be offended or not.

Next, we need to learn what tolerance really is. Webster’s dictionary says this:

Tolerance- 1.) Sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own. 2.) The act of allowing something.

John Price, and people like him have a distorted view of tolerance. They want the exact opposite and through their efforts to make everyone else tolerant, they have become intolerant themselves.

Intolerance- Unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression or rights.
Freedom of expression.

We enjoy many freedoms here in the United States. And in my opinion, freedom of speech is the most important. Defiantly the one I treasure most.

But those freedoms come at a cost. When we give people the freedom of speech, the cost is that they may say things we don’t like, or agree with.

So limiting the things that people are allowed to say is not only intolerant, but is taking away their freedoms and their rights.

If we are tolerant, we should be able to hear someone say something vulgar, and say to ourselves, “That is their choice.” And choose not to be offended.

And last, we need to take away the power that these words have.

According to Jay McFarland, a local talk show host in Dallas, “In making words offensive we empower them and those who try to offend us. Ignoring the words and deciding they don’t matter takes away all the power they have.”

A great example of this happened in San Francisco some years ago. The word “gay” was considered extremely offensive, and the word was used as the lowest of insults for many years. Finally, the homosexual community decided it was fed up and a press release was sent out. It said that they were no longer going to let the word offend them. They were going to adopt it and make it their own.

When they did that, they took away all the power of the word.

My father told me an experience he had in high school. His school did not have many white people so most of his friends were black. And they all called each other the “N” word, and wanted him to do the same. He never did though, because he understood that while his friends would not be offended at his use of the word, anyone outside his circle of friends who heard, would be.

But what another great example! That they are able to take a word that has been highly offensive for centuries and turn it into a term of endearment for their friends.
Those are two examples of people who knew that words will never hurt us, unless we allow them to.
We can all follow this example.
So to be truly tolerant, what is it that we need?
We have to act, not re-act, and not lot others control us.
We need to understand what tolerance truly is, so we can have it.
And we must stop being offended, and take away the power that words have.
“Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but words will never, ever hurt me.”

(an old speech from debate that I dug up. I like it :) )

Monday, May 23, 2011

What was I scared of?

Have you ever read that Dr. Suess  story "what was I sacred of?" It's about this little yellow dude who is afraid of these floating pale green pants with no body inside them. I used to completely relate! You see... I have this phobia. I would say it's irrational but it's not my fault as anyone will attest.
It all started long ago...
I was five years old visiting my cousins. The second oldest girl Kai... well she's an interesting girl. There were two tall bunk beds in her room when we went up there. After hanging out in her parents room and watching The Prince and the Cobbler, we went to her room and each sat at the top of the different beds. All around the floor were strewn the headless bodies of Barbie dolls, callously cast about the ground. Surrounding them were their heads, lost and forlorn, hair tangled and wild. I thought nothing of them...until she opened the window. There was a stormy wind that day you see, and something happened that day when she opened the window. Something... well something not very nice. The strong breeze sent a gust of wind through the casement, taking my small five year old mind completely off guard. The heads, unnoticed until then, began to slowly move. They rolled across the floor directly. towards. me.
Kai looked up with panic in her eyes and shouted, "Run Rachel! Run! The Barbies are after you!" I jumped up with a cry of terror and fled the room, nearly rolling down the stairs and falling head-long into my mother.


Now I'll be the first to admit, that might not be exactly how it happened. But the event is colored with such terror and distress in my mind that I remember it no other way. To this day the event is looked upon by others of my family as a humorous story, even more so because it haunts me to this day.

So I was wondering (because apparently I like to ask you all questions) what irrational fears do you have? And where do they come from? Do you have a traumatic story that scarred your childhood, as I do? If so, tell us. We'd love to hear it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

To look, or not to look?

That is the question!
I'm one of the many odd people who feel the strange need to look behind shower curtains and check for serial killers. Now, I understand completely how ridiculous it is, but it wasn't until the other day that I really thought about it.
Let's say there is a serial killer hiding behind the mysterious shower curtain. Is it better to look, be horrified that someone is there and then die? Or not look and be oblivious until they jump out and kill you? It's an interesting question if you ask me.
Personally I feel that it would be better to remain oblivious until they jump out and kill you, yet I always look. I can't stop myself.
Ah well. Old dogs and all that.
If you're looking for a good time or fun prank, I'd suggest hiding in someone's bathtub in the morning. It makes for an interesting time and sometimes a black eye for the next few days. Though I'd say it's well worth the risk.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Happy Rapture Everyone!

It's the end of the world as we know it. Isn't it fine?
Ah yes. Rapture. What a wonderful day it is. Last night was quite enjoyable because my family's catch phrase became, "Oh it's alright. Rapture's tomorrow." Or, "Eat drink and be merry. For tomorrow, WE DIE!" Sang to the tune of the Sons of Alma Scripture mastery soundtrack. Good times...

Anyways, remember everyone. The world ends tonight at 6pm in your respective time zones. It doesn't matter that England and Australia have already reported peace and quite as six o'clock came and went. Rapture is coming people, get ready! (But that won't stop me from getting ready for Theatre Banquet tonight) I bought this cute pearl necklace with ribbons...) Basically, Rapture is a bust. Sad but true. The world ending tonight might add a bit of needed excitement to life right now, Eh?

All this leads me to a very important question: If the world were to end tomorrow, or tonight, how would you spend your final hours? I spent mine helping my Grandparents unload their entire house into a storage unit, and then my cousins Bridal Shower. Ideally though, I imagine I might have gone Sky Diving or Rocky Mountain Climbing or done 2.7 seconds... well, you get it.

How would you spend you last hours? Maybe with family or friends? On your knees? At the bar? I think it says a lot about the person you are. Where would you be? What things in your life would you want to resolve? What things about yourself would you realize and wish you had time to change?

So that's it for now. No real lesson or funny story this time other then my endless enjoyment over this whole Rapture thing. Just something to think about, a little food for thought.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What matters most

In trending with things that are important to me, I think it wise to mention my fanatical and slightly unhealthy obsession with the theatrical arts. (I also think it is important to note that I have used spell-check four times in two sentences... five.)
You see, it all started long ago. Sixth grade to be precise. -insert flashback here-
Into the Woods. That was my gateway musical. That was what started it all. Of course, back then theatre was just some weird thing to do where I could hang out with my friends and make a fool of myself. Little did I know what it would become.
I moved around a bit. Experienced a director here and there. I did a few community productions and learned the basics of it all.
Then one day... I realized something. Theatre is more then just pretending to be someone else for three months straight and nine hours every day after school. Theatre meant family. The people around me were more than just my friends. I saw them more than my own flesh and blood relatives. My cast, and the crew as well, became one unified group. We shared the same goal, became one in purpose, and created something together that was magical.
Now, the fact that it took me so long to realize this is sad to me sometimes, but realize it I did! So that as I moved again, I knew that to join theatre would be to find my place in this new Twilight Zone of a world. I enlisted in the class and found something truly incredible. I felt at home. I barely knew anyone, and no one knew me. The director didn't know I existed and all I could do was the bare minimum, back at the bottom rung of the theatrical latter. And yet... I felt at home. I stood on that stage and I remembered what it was like to have a family.
Sometimes it was sad. I kept expecting Garret to walk by or to see Kenzie rehearsing back-stage. I waited for Coach to say something completely inappropriate and laugh, or to have a techie ask me for help. But as I stood there in an auditorium much different than my own, I was at peace. I felt comfortable and knew I belonged there.
Months passed and I got to know my new family. They were different from the family I had known and left behind, from the family I never would forget, and yet they were the same. They welcomed me in and  we all devoted our entire beings to the cause. We put on a show that depicted the true story of the Titanic, each of us representing a soul who had been aboard, and we grew closer. We rehearsed and practiced and learned to love one another. Now I'm not saying we all got along. No family is perfect. I am saying that there is something magical about putting on a show.
I am half a country away from my old home. I miss it terribly. But I did not have to leave behind what matters most to me.
And best of all... I have a new family. People who have changed my life and made living here a blessing and an adventure. Thank you all, members of MDT, and my wonderful techies. You'll never know the incredible influence for good you have been to me. I'll never forget you.

New Blogger on the Block

So then. I've decided to try my hand at this new mysterious blogging thing. Which decision began with a simple question, "What do people blog about?" I thought the answer would be simple. Silly me. Bloggers do not blog about just anything. No no. It must be something important enough for them to passionately channel their soul to the masses by way of the internet. So I asked myself, "What should I blog about?" And even more importantly, what on earth should my blog be called?
The answer came instantaneously... Desiderata. They key to life itself.
If you haven't heard of it before allow me to enlighten you as well as introduce you to my new blog...

-- written by Max Ehrmann in the 1920s --
Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul. 
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.