A Day to Give Thanks and a Day to Remember

As I’ve been writing all month, I do think the principles of thanksgiving are wonderful ones. I think there is so much for us all to be thankful for, so much that we take for granted, that it is nice to have a holiday that reminds us that we have so much in this life. It’s nice to have a day that brings us all together to celebrate our joys. I want that for everyone today. I want you all to laugh and stuff yourselves full of delicious food and drink. I want you all to have a beautiful holiday.

I only wish we would take a moment to recognize that Thanksgiving tradition could use a tiny bit of tweaking.

My biggest grip with the holiday is we forget what it really means. We were taught a cute little story about pilgrims and Native Americans coming together for a celebratory meal. We were lied to. In reality the first Thanksgiving was in celebration of a massacre of over 700 Pequot Indians.

Now, I don’t want to put too much of a damper on the day. I know that isn’t what we are celebrating now but being honest about the history of this day is a very important step in really moving forward. No one can deny that in this country the Native American have been treated very poorly. Their land was stolen, their people were killed, and their struggles belittled, and now we have turned a blind eye to them.

I think the least we can do is take a little time today to be honest about where this holiday came from and to remember that the people whose land this was first continue to face issues of poverty, mass incarceration, violence against their women, the continued exploitation and seizure of their lands, and much, much more. I think it is insulting to celebrate, as a nation, a holiday marking the killing of their people, and still forget to take a moment for them.

I don’t want to get rid of the holiday at all. I don’t want to ruin it either. I really do wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you have much to be thankful for this year. I only ask that you do not forget what this holiday might mean to cultures other than your own. I ask that you be sensitive to that and raise awareness if you can. Do not let the lie we were taught in school live on any longer. That’s all.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone :)

Featured image via U.S. Department of Agriculture on Flickr

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P.S. Please think of the turkeys today too, which have been breed to be so big they cannot even stand upright anymore.

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Be Kind to One Another

I regularly like to watch videos or animations that put the universe into perspective for me. I like things that remind me how small and fragile we are. It is the one thing that keeps me from becoming cruel.

It sounds strange but I don’t think people realize how easy it is to become a cruel, uncaring person. Cruelty is just as much human nature as love and in order to keep it in check, we must remind ourselves that other human beings are just as important and precious as us. We have to remember just how lonely we are in this universe, and just how much we need each other.


This Earth is our home and it’s all we have. All the humans on this God forsaken rock are all the humans there are. Each one is unique and so each one is special, and yet we treat each other as if we are nothing at all. People hurt other people every single day. We treat our things better than we treat each other. To me, this makes very little sense. Each of us only has one life, and that life is ticking away at an alarming rate. Every time you are cruel to someone you take a tiny piece of their happiness that can never be gotten back. You make a tiny part of their life less joyful and that can never be undone.

Life is hard enough and the world is so full of suffering we should all be doing our tiny part to make it easier, safer, happier. We all feel so lonely, so disconnected from everyone around us. We bare our own little pain and carry all our emotional baggage and every cruel word or mean look is added to the pile. How many have you contributed to? How much hurt have you doled out?

“Be kind, because everyone is having a really hard time.”

Plato

I believe each person, because they are special and only have one life, is entitled to as much joy as can be had on this planet. Unfortunately greater society does not agree. Oh, most people say the do and yet many take great satisfaction in infringing on the joy of as many people as they can. Most of these people don’t understand what they are doing but I find it to be a great crime against nature to be cruel to others.

Cruelty is a part of who we are and what we are capable of and we make bad choices sometimes. We say mean things out of anger, frustration, and broken-heartedness. We can be selfish and self-centered, and forget that other people feel harsh words and brutal indifference just as acutely as we do. We use our cruelty to others as a means to build ourselves back up. We wrongly think that our ability to inflict pain confirms our strength and control over our lives.

I believe the greater show of strength and control is to be kinder and gentler to your fellow humans. It takes a great deal of confidence, security, and self-awareness to treat others with kindness when you can. It shows great moral character to be able to put your own feelings aside and focus on the feelings of others before your own. It shows that you understand the value of a person and have chosen to make a positive impact on the world around you.

But even those who are unkind deserve our kindness too. They are just as precious as everyone else and through the kindness of others they might find their way. Often it takes just having one person in our lives who is selfless and loving of all human beings to show us that it is ok to be vulnerable and help others. It’s sad but we have to learn again to understand each other. We have to learn that it is not only ok, but good to be kind whenever possible, and, as the Dalai Lama said, it is always possible.

“Be kind to one another. Bye, bye.”

Ellen DeGeneres

Yeah, I’m Needy, So What?

All my life I’ve been a deeply feeling person. I feel empathy and love quite strongly. Because of that, because being alone hurts, I need love and affection, attention and encouragement, from other humans. I am not ashamed to admit that, but I used to be.

All my life people have tried to toughen me up. They have tried offering advice, they have tried shaming me, they have tried making me feel guilty about it, they have even tried beating it out of me. In the end all they accomplished was making me wish I didn’t feel so deeply. I wished I didn’t need other people so damn much. All that guilt and shame didn’t change how I felt deep down. All it did was make me waste a whole lot of time trying to be something I wasn’t.

“You are not clingy, or needy, or silly for having needs for affection and affirmation and attention within a romantic relationship. Those needs aren’t an embarrassing outgrowth of your low-self esteem or depression or whatever messy emotional issues you may have going on, that’s just basic shit that people need from each other. We of course should not make our partners responsible for meeting all of our emotional needs – it’s not someone’s else’s job to make you happy. But inside a healthy relationship, being able to show affection, pay attention, and demonstrate “you are amazing and important to me” is a pleasure, not some task or burden.”

— Jennifer Peepas

Every thing we are taught as children is meant to prepare us for a world that is harsh. We are taught that other people will treat us badly. They will use and abuse us and leave us high and dry, sad and alone. So we go about the world endeavoring to take what we can from every one we meet before they can take anything from us. Every interaction and every relationship is nothing more than a game of chess. Do your best not to leave yourself vulnerable, but do make sacrifices, do allow yourself to be open, but only when it will get you something of value.

Compliments and admittance of emotion become currency we barter. We play a game of getting others to love and care for us without having to risk our own hearts. We play out the very prophecy our elders warned us about. We endure the pain of isolation in order to protect ourselves from feelings of isolation. How fucked up is that? And who should really be the ones to feel shame?

I believe the world needs more vulnerability. I believe the world needs open hearts and understanding. I believe everyone needs praise and to be told that they matter. I believe that the world needs more people to admit they need it too.

If we all just gave up the farce, if we all went to that person whose attention and affection we crave and just told them how we felt and what we needed. If we all opened our hearts and let ourselves love as hard and as sweetly as we all wish we could, imagine how the world would be then? I believe it could still be that way if we all changed a little bit, one by one. A good starting place is to allow those around you to express their own need and resist the temptation to belittle or invalidate it. 

Humans are social creatures. It is natural and beautiful and, in this world, it’s also very brave to show you natural need to be with others who care, protect, and encourage you.

The world needs more needy people

Post inspired by Musings of a Creative Spirit

What September 11th Means for Black Americans

I want to start by say that I am deeply saddened by the lives that were lost on that dark day. Fourteen years ago last Friday, terrorists hijacked four planes and smashed two into New York’s World Trade Center, a third into the Pentagon, and the fourth crash/landed in field in Pennsylvania. By the end of it all 2,977 people died in those attacks. My heart breaks for them and their families.

My heart also breaks for the lives lost in the eight years of war that ensued after the attacks, especially the Iraqi, Afghan, and Pakistani civilians who committed no crime.

And now, 14 years after it all happened, I know that for a lot of Black Americans, life has gone on as if nothing ever happened. I search Twitter for the terms “Black #aftersepterber11” it turned up a lot of tweets which expressed the sentiment that life as gone on as usual for Black Americans ever since.  Not because they don’t care, but because it doesn’t feel like this attack on American soil feels like an attack on an America they are a part of.

Life has changed for White people. They have come together, I believe, in fear of people who are “different” or “other”. A lot of White American have become justified in their racism and their extreme Nationalism. They have found the excuse that will always work for why it is okay to treat dark skinned people with suspicion and violence. No, not all white people, but enough to make people who aren’t white take notice.

Life, I imagine, has changed most dramatically for people of Arab decent, or who appear to be of Arab of decent. They have been profiled, harassed, detained, assaulted, hated, and murdered, all because of a fear that they are all secretly planning to hurt (White) Americans. Even little kids have been affected by this, in fact it is often over looked that for young people of Arab decent living in this country, 9/11 will be the major defining event in your life.

While most of the reaction to 9/11 has been racial, a lot of it is also religious. Ignorance and fear has lead many Americans to have an false and dangerous view of what Islam is, which has led to widespread Islamophobia. Most Muslims practice a peaceful, loving and compassionate interpretation of Islam.

It has been said that Arab is the new Black and I have to agree that it is true. I get the feeling a lot of Americans, a lot of White Americans, would like to see them “go back to their country”. A lot of White Americans worry they will be the target of Arab violence, the way they do with Blacks. White Americans are in favor of incarceration for Arab Americans without due process. White Americans blame the Arab Americans for their own treatment. And they do not want to hear the ways in which their actions have hurt these people. They need to “just get over it”.

You would think that this would bring the two communities together, and maybe it has a little, but not as much as I’d like to see. Add to this that the fact that the plight of Black Muslims has been largely ignored by this and Black people just do not consider this to be their fight. I also admit that there are many Black Americans who treat Arab Americans with the same contempt that White Americans do. I see this as a means for them to elevate their own social standing and gain access to “Whiteness” which they see as “good”.

I’d like to see the two groups coming together more. Black Americans who are not Muslim should show more effort to include Arabs in movement like #BLACKLIVESMATTER. I know there are already groups of people who agree. I’d also like to see less racism from Arab Americans too. There has been a long history of anti-blackness in the Arab American communities. We’ve seen this story before as each new group immigrants to america they adopt the predominant view of Black people to gain social standing and better integrate with American society.

In a time when extremists are giving people a reason to fear black and brown-skinned people, maybe the legacy for us is not to try to be a part of the America that cries #NeverForget while telling us that the suffering of immigrants and minorities is nothing but us being sensitive and lazy. Maybe the America that says “See Something, Say Something” and speaks of terrorists in hiding around every corner while dropping bombs on civilians in other countries without a care isn’t the America we should even try to be a part of.

It’s not like we are being invited in with open arms anyway.

Black Americans have to work hard at letting our Arab brothers and sisters know we see them and their struggle and we will not take part in the growing racism and Islamophobia gripping this country. We have to also let them know that more than that we will help them fight! Their struggling is connected to that of Black Americans and we ought to feel more empathy and compassion for them.

https://twitter.com/sourguava/status/642178473012953090

So this 9/11 think of the dead, think of the heroes, and think about the ways in which this tragedy has affected YOUR life. Now think about the ways it has affected people who look differently from you. Think about the ways those people have been silenced and treated as second class citizens. If you are a minority, think about how similar that is to the way you and the people you know have been treated.

Now think about what you can do to help that.

In response to Daily Post’s Blogging U. course, Writing 101 assignment: Let social media inspire you

The Convenience of Soylent and What it Means to be Human

What if someone offered you the opportunity to get all of your daily nutrition from one simple drink? No more trying to decide what’s for dinner. No more worrying about cleaning your pots and pans. No more slaving over a hot stove. Would you be intrigued, I know I am.

It may sound like something out of a science fiction movie but finally it is real, I give you Soylent!

I first heard of Soylent years ago. There was an article/interview in one of the many science-y magazines I buy. Created by Robert Rhinehart in response to a need for “a simpler food source” the article made it sound like a miracle drink! “A food product (classified as a food, not a supplement, by the FDA) designed for use as a staple meal by all adults”. Each serving of Soylent provides maximum nutrition with minimum effort.

Never again would I have to worry about getting all of my nutrients, plus I would save a ton of time since I didn’t have to cook or clean any longer :)

Soylent.com Free your body

Soylent.com Soylent Powder 1.5 details

I wanted this so badly.

My girlfriend thought  it was weird. She said it would probably give me cancer. A lot of people have reacted to me the same way. I didn’t understand at first but after talking about it more and thinking it over I think most people’s aversion to Soylent is that it’s just so different. No one can imagine a life that is not centered around food. To not eat real food seems to fly in the face of what it means to be a human.

The act of finding, preparing, and eating food is a very social activity. Without that what would we do all day? How would we gather? What would we talk about if not the taste of a steak or a new recipe we discovered? What would we have to look forward to if not a nice greasy pizza or a juicy burger piled high with more beef patties than any person needs? Not worrying about food or finding new ways to prepare just seems too weird.

soylent-food

I was so excited when I discovered this amazing discovery but after talking to friends and family I felt like I have broken some social rule and quickly felt ashamed. So I let it go.

My interest was piqued again recently when Soylent 2.0 was released, promising to not only give you all of your nutrients but also provide a glowing feeling from helping the environment too. It’s vegan, so no animals are being slaughtered, and it’s made partially from sustainable algae! I wanted it even more!

Not only are its ingredients vegan, Soylent 2.0 reaches an unprecedented level of environmental sustainability with half of its fat energy coming from farm-free, algae sources. This next generation agricultural technology has the potential to reduce the ecological impact of food production by orders of magnitude, signifying a major step towards a future of abundance, a world where optimal nutrition is the new normal.

soylent-berries

Then again when The Next Web published a think piece slamming Rhienhart for a recent post on his blog. The piece described Rhinehart as “someone so disconnected from reality that he might as well be hooked into an Oculus Rift 24/7, bathing in a bath of temperature controlled Soylent”. Harsh much?

Yeah Rhinehart might be a little kooky but he’s made Soylent his whole life! I worry though that I could go a little kooky too if I forego the pleasure and social aspects of food for the convenience of “grey goop”. I mean I understand the benefits but Rhinehart acts like preparing food is a task only suitable for people burning in the lower levels of hell.

I have not set foot in a grocery store. Nevermore will I bumble through endless confusing aisles like a pack-donkey searching for feed while the smell of rotting flesh fills my nostrils and fluorescent lights sear my eyeballs and sappy love songs torture my ears. Grocery shopping is a multi-sensory living nightmare. There are services that will make someone else do it for me but I cannot in good conscience force a fellow soul through this gauntlet.

It’s not that bad dude! I mean yeah sometimes Wal-Mart can be a bit annoying, especially on a Sunday afternoon, but a “multi-sensory living nightmare” it is not. I worry I will be buying a one-way trip to kooky town with this guy with my first shipment of Soylent. This is what keeps me from giving it a try.

That and the fear of losing a basic part of what it means to be human. Food is a form of expression. The foods we like and dislike, way we procure food, the way we store it, prepare it, and even the way we talk about it is both unique and quite common. It’s one of the ways we connect with those around us. It is one of those basic things that reminds us all that we are more alike than we think.

So for now I choose eating my food the the old fashioned, inconvenient way.

You can learn more about Soylent at soylent.com and check out Rhinehart’s blog at blog.soylent.com.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Red Pill, Blue Pill.”