Saturday, December 5, 2015

Children can be mean, but they can be so much more.

One of the frequent comments I hear in my line of work is that children can be mean. I hear expectant parents worrying over what to name their child in fear that it could be morphed into some terrible nickname that their peers can use again them. I see children who were previous successful user of hearing aids refusing to continue with the use of them after being made fun of. I saw bright kids who gradually turned sullen because they were bullied for a speech impediment or learning disability. Yes, children can be mean, but they can also be incredibly loving.
The thing is, children are a reflection of their microenviroment. Their interactions often a mimicry of adults surrounding them. Ever watched a child who stumbled and fell for the first time? There is alway this lag as they search the faces of the adults around them, guage their reaction before deciding if it was a bad incident. If the adults go, "oh no!" and rushes forward, chances are the child would burst into tears. Whereas adults who goes,"come on, it's ok" the child would probably clamber up and move along. Of course that is not always the case, but what I am getting at is children look towards us to guide their behavior.
If we are concerned that children can be mean, then we owe it to them to create a community and an immediate environment that rout out that mean streak. In our own interactions demonstrate goodness, encouragement, empathy, and humbleness. Encourage a child to understand that there will be those who will be weaker than them - help them. There will be those who are stronger than them - seek their assistance. There will be those less fortunate - do your best to even the playing field. I truly believe this, children are not mean, they can be, but they can be so much more.
As we watch the news, as our world seemed to be overshadowed by terrorism, violence, and despair, I urge each and everyone us to take a step back as a community, as a village and think carefully about what kind of world we want our children to inherit, and more importantly what kind of characters they will grow up to be. Fear tactics, disciplinary measures are easy fixes. They have always have because it reduces issues to primal fright, flight or fight responses. Yet, we are so much more than that. As sentient beings, it behooves us to rear children who rise about their basic instincts and approach each other with reason, compassion, and love.
Teach them to target the issue and not attack the person. After all, isn't being mean the result of a cavalier disregard of separating the issue ftom person? Name calling, bully tactics are all simply ways of people to avoid the real problems at hand, it detracts and preoccupied us with the cosmetic battles where a real war needs to be waged.
So I say this, be better, and help our young to strive better. Their love is in abundance, their forgiveness is great, their laughter is a joy to behold. We must create a world where their light will continue to set the world ablaze. We must do what we can to ensure that they will not become cynnical, illogical, irrational, narcissistic, and abrasive personalities that we inadvertently celebrate or broadcast daily on our television sets and social media.
Help our children to be better by being better adults ourselves

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Celebrate on this day of the dead

Today marks the beginning of November.  November has always struck me as a somber month, the exuberance of fall fading away to make room for the barren cold of winter. November is also a month of remembrance. In the Commonwealth, we start wearing poppies on our lapels to commemorate those who offered the ultimate sacrifice for our future.  The Christian community observing All Hallow's (Saint's) Day; our Latin American counterparts celebrating Dia de los Meurtos.

Yet, I realized as I grow older that I was wrong about the timbre of November.  Remembrance of the dead needs not be solely a somber affair; In fact, we ought to rejoice as we celebrate those who passed on before us.  The truth is once we have gone through the wringer and cycled through the five stages of grief, all that remains are nostalgia and good memories of our departed loved ones.   It is these memories that we must cherish.  Their stories, while perhaps truncated by the vicissitudes of life, needs to be shared and regaled with gusto. For without them, their contribution to the quilt of humanity, we are nothing.

As we look back and remember, let us be filled with appreciation for what those who have passed on have done for us; from the mundane and trivial to the august and sublime. To the discoverers, the researchers, the trail-blazers.  To saints and to sinners.  To those who dared to make blunders that we may make our own trial and error.  Let us rejoice and celebrate, for ultimately we are each the product of millennia of love and sacrifices however great or small; and we are also the continuation of their hopes and dreams.

So, as we march into November, may our heart beat with elation as we carry on the torch that will carry us through winter.  Feliz dia de los Meurtos, and Happy All Saint's Day to all.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Life's Imprint

Here's the thing, if you lived long enough, chances are you will be a bit broken on the inside. Life's pudgy fingers will inevitably find its way and leave its prints on you, tarnishing the once pure slate. Heck, it may even dropped you a few times and cause you a chip here or there. Yet, I don't see that necessary as a bad disfigurement. If anything, those scars, those chips, they define you, give you character.
I have never seen the point of owning those collectible action figures if I can't take them out of the wrapper and play with them. Similarly, a pristine set of china, while pretty to the eye is meaningless if not used, it is just boring decor. Rather, I am fascinated by the discolored set, the chipped set, because at least I know it has been tested, it has endured, it is loved and and it is used. Chances are there is a few good tales to regale regarding each of those cracks, chips and dents.
Think of your favorite childhood doll; is it clean, untouched? Or is it all worn out, threadbare, and frayed. If it is latter, chances are that doll meant something, and you cherished it, played with it. Likewise, our inequities, our scars, our brokenness does not lessen us, if anything it enriches us. So I say to you, embrace each other warts and all. Be not sad or ashamed that we are no longer whole, but embrace the fact that we are jigsaw puzzles intriguing to be pieced together. That's what makes us worth knowing.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

On Nostalgia

Nostalgia exists because the future is uncertain, and the present at times unfulfilling. Yet the past is past, and we can choose to edit away the pain and glorify it's beauty. Like photoshop, you can only make something "better" when the picture is taken.
Perhaps, the lesson is therefore not to be enchanted by only the past, but be able to capture this moment as it stands, appreciate it for its raw beauty, and be hopeful we can capture more in the future without editing.
True fidelity, in its imperfection is perhaps more comforting when we come to embrace that it is real. Like that extra scratchy sound on an LP, it's better to have that added reality then the digital remaster of what someone (yourself included) thought how it ought to be.
Enjoy nostalgia, but do not despair that the present or the future will never match up or pan out. Instead, let nostalgia be the glow that ignites your passion to move forward. It may be good back then, but it can always get better. What you have, however locked time, is not out of reach if you cherish it in your heart, and is willing to create it for others as you move along on time.

Friday, May 15, 2015

10 years!!!

WM Class of 2005,
If you are reading this, I just wanted to take a moment to wish each and every one of you all the best and every success in your endeavors. Ten years ago we part ways as we disperse into the world with our newly earned degrees, our dreams and inspirations partially attained, and student loans ready to be paid.
I remember fondly the excitement and nervousness that most of us felt about entering the "real" world that everyone keeps telling us exists beyond those three feet brick walls surrounding our campus. Graduation was surreal. I remember fondly the emotional weeks and nights before commencement. Excited to start life, and sad to leave behind the community that was the Tribe.
I hope in the ten years since life have been treating you well. Wherever you, whatever you are doing, I hope you have found some measure of content, some measure of success, and hopefully lots of great experiences.
I know a huge part of who I am, my own personal success can be attributed to the many individuals whom I have met during my college days. My closest circle of friends, without whom I would not have made it thus far, consist mainly of William and Mary folks.
Without failing, each and every one of you have brought a smile to my face and warm memories revisited. Thank you for that. While I may have lost touch with a majority of you, while I may have buried myself in my own personal pursuit of happiness, I remain forever grateful for the happiness I have stored up because of each of you, from experiences share. You have each been an inspiration to me in that we all sought for excellence in the most supportive way. Thanks for that!
I look forward to hearing from you. For now, my fondest regards to you and yours.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

What is the story?

Primacy effect describes the phenomenon where someone recalls an item presented earlier in a list better than items presented later on. Given this, I think we should do away the religion part of any terrorist act and just report on the fact that it is the act of Extremist. Islamic, Christian, the religion doesn't matter. What a small group of fanatics, fundamentalists, extremists choose to do does not and should not represent the whole of a religion. What is of note is there are people out there who are extreme and choose to interpret things in an autocratic manner. People with little to no imagination, no sense of humor. The story is not about which storybook someone is reading from, the story is about how they got the story wrong.

It does't matter which god they choose to believe because in the end, it is a god they created and therefore not representative of a supreme being that is undefinable, ineffable, and incomprehensible by its very nature. A G-d that believes in us ask for the best of us regardless of which religion, which method of prayer or service we choose to worship and emulate goodness.

Whatever path you choose, as long as you and I agree to share our stories, to enrich our tapestry through promoting humanity, then may we be blessed. There will be a bad fruit in every tree, but we don't chop down a tree so that we may be without shade or to disrupt the ecosystem.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Return to Him

A child can say the most hurtful and awful things to their parents, often with the utmost conviction and in the most embarrassing circumstances possible.  I have seen it occur in the waiting room, examination room, in shopping arcades, or parking lots.  And I have witness firsthand the distraught that it brings to the parents, each word a crushing blow.  I see the wrestle with self doubt, embarrassment, while trying to remain in control.  It is not a pretty sight, and it takes a magnanimous character to refrain from bringing righteous wrath upon the child for visiting such indignation in so public a place.  Perhaps it is the understanding at a fundamental level that a child knows not what he or she is doing, that a child is less evolved and is therefore less culpable. Perhaps it is love, love that supersedes all, that allows for understanding when confronted with such open hostility and anguish from a child.  What makes such confrontation memorable, however, is the reconciliation that eventually arrives.  When the child realizes he or she has behaved poorly, made aware of the hurt dealt, and come to the parents for forgiveness and consolation.  I too have witness that, and what a change it is to go from cringing at the verge of a spectacle wondering what is wrong with humanity, to being overflow with hope for said humanity when a parent embraces the child.

In many ways, I think that is our relationship with G-d.   There is this constant pressure to praise G-d, and to glorify His name, and we should.  "It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and every-
where to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth."  Yet, that does not preclude the fact that we as humans are going to be the ultimate entitled brats.  That we will find circumstances in life utterly disagreeable, rightfully or not, and the disappointment that comes when we realize our expectation for G-d to shield us from the hurt can be devastating.  So much so that we lash out at Him, even though at a fundamental level we know we are not supposed to.  

But I think G-d can take that, I think G-d understands that we need to vent, that we are the less evolved of the two, significantly so.  That while we will say the most hurtful things, be most ungrateful, we are ultimately His children and His love abides.  It is perhaps unfathomable how we can fall into pits of despair, or worked up into a frenzy by the littlest of things when His blessings in life are bountiful.  It is hard when life bows us low, and our defiance at the Creator becomes disproportionately great; because let's face it who is an easier target?  The Almighty who is supposed to prevent bad things from happening, or to the bad things that did happen?  So we jeer, we sneer, we cajole, we bargain, we go through stages of grief as we explain our grievances to  Him.  We challenge His authority, we ask Him to act.  Often times we are met with silence, which seemingly gives credence and justify our laments.

But the moment pass, as they always do, and we come back to the light.  He embraces us, even when we have been kicking and screaming.  He loves us, so as I write this, knowing that there are many who are going through rough time and feeling anger at the Almighty, I pray you get to vent, I pray you get to question Him, but most importantly I pray you will return to Him and accept His love for you.