Is it waterboarding? or just a squirt gun?

I’ve been reading a lot of Dr. Samenow lately, which always gets me thinking about personal responsibility. Naturally, given the Dr.’s area of expertise, I’m sure sometime soon I’ll be rambling on about how that relates to criminality. But for now I’m just feeling old and cranky.

Seriously, I got out of bed this morning, my knees cracked and my back hurt from the effort. Somehow, by the power of Monster, I managed to drag myself to that thing I call a job. However, the pain doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

M

Which sort of (in a very roundabout way that makes sense in my brain) brings me to the main topic, it’s not uncommon to hear those of us who are older and already established expressing a negative perception of those in their late teens and early twenties entering the workforce today. We’ve all heard it, if someone was born in the 90’s or later they’re lumped into the generation of Millennials, and what makes them different than Gen X or Gen Y? They’re “entitled, lazy” etc… Regardless of your opinion on the matter (or which side of 1989 you happen to fall on), I would challenge you to consider a couple of things:

First, technology as it now exists has massively expanded the possibilities of human relationships. An 18 year old today has had access to endless communities of people who share his interests and views his entire life, he’s never had to experience the separation from a loved one when post cards and paid long distance phone calls were the only options for communication. The advancement of the internet has increased our ability to form a sense of familiarity and build a support system as human beings. Which is awesome.

A

What is the return policy at the orphanage anyway?

Personally, this shift didn’t really start to catch on in my circle of friends and family until I was already well into my 20’s. Many of us, myself included, found that we didn’t really care for most types of social media at all. Though I found Facebook to be a lifesaver because it allowed me to stay connected with people I became close with throughout my military career, which was a relief since one of the downsides of serving is giving up your newly adopted family with each new assignment.

On a broader scale this sense of community has been used to mobilize the downtrodden masses against a common good. For instance, the Arab Spring probably wouldn’t have happened at all if it weren’t for Facebook.

So maybe we are in the middle of a cultural shift from an individual oriented society to a more community oriented one?

At least one thing is for certain, if you are suffering in any way, it is easy to find other people who are suffering in the same way across the world within minutes. However, does that mean your suffering is a valid cause for community outrage and change? Or should it instead be cause for personal reflection and growth?

Which brings me to my next point. I think part of the reason the older crowd gets so angry at the societal shift that’s occurring, is because as of yet there’s not really any established sense of morality or personal accountability. Everything is still new and running at a thousand miles per hour, so we still have to press the limits to really figure out where they are and what’s too far for us as a collective.

Personally, the thought of something like a demand for a national minimum wage in the double digits is baffling because I entered the workforce during the worst economic downturn since the great depression. I can’t tell you how many minimum wage burger joints turned me away because they simply weren’t hiring anyone at all. But at the same time, I also realize how much that sucked. I further realize that my father had many more employment opportunities and much greater earning potential than he ever bothered to pursue during my childhood because he valued being un or under employed over ensuring a good quality of life and future for his children. So THAT is what I consider a lazy person, which is not necessarily the same thing as someone who advocates for a particular type of politics or was born in the 90’s (he was a baby boomer after all). What I’m getting at here, is that while I might not agree with something, I’m trying to learn to be less judgmental of the individuals behind the idea.

At the same time, I think one of the most important things we can be doing as parents right now is reinforcing the skill of realistic self-reflection. It’s difficult because it’s not a fun thing to do even as an adult. I mean, really, who likes to actually look at themselves and admit when they’re being an asshole? When they’re wrong? That they need to be less sensitive? That Ryan Gosling will never want to date them and they should lower their standards drastically or give up their dream of getting married before they turn 35 in 2 years? But the hard reality is, just because you can find 700 people on Tumblr who support your opinion, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re morally or ethically right. It also doesn’t mean that you should always start a radicalized social movement over it and try to change the laws of your community. Though in the case of the Arab Spring maybe it can be a good thing. If you have a good, realistic, sense of self-reflection and you can sit back and honestly ask yourself “am I full of shit right now?” Then, hopefully, someday we’ll reach the point where we can tell the difference between what’s actually worth fighting for, and what’s just a minor discomfort that we should learn and grow from.

w

If you’re being tortured, beaten, and starved that is a cause for revolution; however, your growing pains are not.

 

Tis the season…

Ah Christmas, my favorite time of year.  Usually around Thanksgiving weekend I seclude myself to my kitchen and start churning out hundreds of my Grandmother’s sugar cookies which truly are better than sex, and I happen to be the only one of my relatives who bothered to get her recipe before she passed away, so I’ll be darned if I’m gonna share that secret!  Anyway, I usually re-emerge around this time in December with dozens of flat-rate boxes filled to the brim with about 100lbs of sugar and butter mixed into sweet ecstasy and cut into cute tree and snowman shapes.  To me this is what the holiday season is all about.

drop-sugar-cookies

But to mini-me it’s about wrapping gifts, giving gifts, unwrapping gifts, extra time playing with her cousins, singing carols, hanging lights and most of all this guy and all of the magic that goes along with him:

santa_claus_christmas_new_year_wishes_wallpapers-t2

Which I guess is almost the same thing since it all boils down to a few traditions, and doing nice things for the people we love.  I’m not a religious person, so for me holidays are about family, but not everyone in my life feels the same.

Working backwards through my week of festivities (not really, I’ve mostly just been working), today I was talking to an old friend who also loudly proclaims to be an Atheist (more on that later).  She was telling me how she chooses not to celebrate anything during this time of year because it’s all about prophets and gods and other made up magical beings, but at the same time she doesn’t want to exclude her toddler from the fun and experiences his friends all get to have.  Quite a conundrum I suppose.  So she took him to see Santa, but has had trouble getting invited to any holiday parties or get-togethers and had to resort to telling her friends that she would be willing to drop her son off and pick him up later if the trouble was people being uncomfortable with the subjects she likes to bring up around this time of year…  As it turns out she was right, nobody likes it if you take a fun holiday and use it as a stand to shove your beliefs (or lack there of) down everyone’s throat.

fanatic

Imagine that…

Now since I have had a very interesting couple of months this sparked a little thought in the back of my mind..

fari

See for the last few months I’ve been spending a great deal of time around foreign nationals, mostly Egyptians and Afghans with the occasional Pakistani thrown into the mix.  Now as you would probably expect each and every one of them has been Muslim, and during our time together I have been sure to never turn down an invitation to any of their parties (that would be super rude in their culture).  So as a result I have celebrated Eid with them, I’ve celebrated Thanksgiving with them, I’ve celebrated a couple holidays that I have no idea what they were, AND I’ve now celebrated Christmas with them, and you know what?  It’s been a fricking blast!  Seriously, there’s been nothing but good food and kind people surrounding themselves with friends, family, coworkers, and anybody else who wants to come.  They really go all out and without even a single thought as to how whatever holiday fits into their actual religion or culture or whatever…

awes

But then, one of my friends (sigh, actually a relative, so I can’t just delete him..) decided it would be festive to post this on Facebook:

imagine-no-religion-towers2

It came along with a long and completely ignorant tirade about how Islam caused 9/11 and Christianity causes bunions in small children, and the world would clearly be a better place if we were all just fanatical Atheists…

So this is about where my little idea just about bubbled over and I decided that I hate everyone.

I hate the Anti-theists (more on that later) for telling me I’m a dick if I like the holidays.

I hate the Christians for telling me to think of Jesus while I’m downing that entire bottle of wine.

I hate the Jews because none of my Jewish friends ever have anything to say about this time of year, they just quietly mind their own business.

I hate the Muslims for making me fat.

I hate the Wiccans for reminding me that trees and Santa don’t make any goddamned sense.

cute_picture_of_bunny

Okay, but in all seriousness, it really did get me thinking.  Now I would probably consider myself an Atheist, because I don’t believe in God, that’s not to say that I don’t have any beliefs though, because I do.  But my beliefs are based off of some things I experienced once upon a time when I was very close to death, and while I don’t like to talk about it much since it’s extremely personal, God and most of the things found in religion were not a part of it.  But at the same time I’m almost embarrassed to call myself an Atheist BECAUSE of people whom I really categorize as being Anti-theists.  I’m sure you know the kind of person I’m talking about here too.  See to me a-theism, is the absence of religious beliefs, whereas anti-theism is being against religion as a whole.  Two very different ideas which both tend to be lumped under the umbrella of Atheism.  So I guess, all I really want to say is:

1.  To all the Anti-theists out there calling yourself Atheists, you’re just a bunch of ridiculous assholes just like the religious extremists that you like to cite as proof that your beliefs are better than anyone else’s.  So stop ruining things for the rest of us.

AND

2.  There’s so much prejudice against Islam in Western culture these days, but really, they’re the only ones I can stand during this time of year because they’re the only ones not getting all hung up on intolerance and bullshit.  I think we could all stand to learn a thing or two here..

2010-12-23