Justice: My Imaginary Friend…#Poetry…#Baltimore

Standard

Disclaimer: I am not a poet! I wrote this poem for a poetry contest on Scribophile. However, I ended up missing the submission deadline so I thought I would post it on here, so the work put into it doesn’t go to waste! The prompt was “My Imaginary Friend”…I hope you all enjoy it and don’t forget to leave your thoughts in the comment section

Justice: My Imaginary Friend

She calls to me at bedtime,

When her skin is shrowded

By the Darkness of the falling night.

Justice is her name.

She is my truest friend

And my most dangerous enemy.

Her voice is pure and kind

Like the sweetest taste of honeymelon

From my childhood dreams

But her face is twisted out of form

And her hair is matted

With the flesh and blood of our innocent youth.

Tonight, she cries over the bodies in the street

And she throws herself, weeping,

Into the fires of social unrest.

After she burns, she stands next to me;

A weeping, fiery mess.

Together we walk

Down the middle

Of a Baltimore street

And as we walk,

They reach for her;

Both sides certain that she is their patron.

Yet she shuns them

Becuase she knows no truth but her own

And she is no friend to those who blaspheme her.

“They are not my own.” She whispers

And I advert my eyes from the condemned

As she leads me back to my blistful rest.

So when they tell me

That justice is dead,

I will call them “liar”

For she is my imaginary friend;

Living both within and without

Of my most vivid dreams.

She judges without prejudice

And she loves without mercy

But her blade is sharp and hungry for the blood of the unjust.

Hijaking the American Conciousness…Are Facebook’s Privacy Settings Alarming?

Standard

I’m working on a Dystopian novel, right now (I know, who isn’t). Not surprisingly, the story is centered around government control and the role of technology in all this (and of course, keeping to my writing style, there are religious and spiritual undertones to it, as well). With this in mind, I thought I would respond to an alarming story reported, right here on WordPress, which seems to be getting some notice on my FB feed.

Let me start out by saying that this is not a new news story. Although the blog post was written on August 7, 2014, the story was originally reported by the Huffington Post on December 1, 2013. I have linked that article but I will not call out the blogger who rehashed the story, because that’s not cool.

So, what’s the hubbub?

The story reports that the Facebook Messenger App is a personal security risk, because of the permissions you accept when you install the app. Verbatim, those permissions are:

  • Allows the app to change the state of network connectivity

 

  • Allows the app to call phone numbers without your intervention. This may result in unexpected charges or calls. Malicious apps may cost you money by making calls without your confirmation.

 

  • Allows the app to send SMS messages. This may result in unexpected charges. Malicious apps may cost you money by sending messages without your confirmation.

 

  • Allows the app to record audio with microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation.

 

  • Allows the app to take pictures and videos with the camera. This permission allows the app to use the camera at any time without your confirmation.

 

  • Allows the app to read you phone’s call log, including data about incoming and outgoing calls. This permission allows apps to save your call log data, and malicious apps may share call log data without your knowledge.

 

  • Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed, or communicated in other ways with specific individuals.

 

  • Allows the app to read personal profile information stored on your device, such as your name and contact information. This means the app can identify you and may send your profile information to others.

 

  • Allows the app to access the phone features of the device. This permission allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active, and the remote number connected by a call.

 

  • Allows the app to get a list of accounts known by the phone. This may include any accounts created by applications you have installed

 

Users are flocking to uninstall the app and citing their rage…informing their friends….placing a little piece of tape over their cell phone cameras and microphones…setting up late at night wondering what sensitive information the government has gotten their hands on…looking out the window for the swat team to arrive on the lawn, at any minute…barring doors and windows….You know, the basic protocol that is required for such instances.

Not so fast, McDuck

Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe in a healthy amount of distrust for the government and I admire the gusto of the American people as it pertains to personal security issues…but I’m way too old to buy into this shit. Firstly, we cannot buy into the fact that the Facebook Messenger App is solely to blame for the sensitivity of our personal security.

I have long-since accepted that everything is Public. If you own a computer or a cell phone, your personal security is as risk. If you have a profile on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, ect…if you have a WordPress blog, your information is “shared”. If you go to the grocery store, convenience store, bank or otherwise step outside your door, (it’s very likely) that you’re being recorded.

This is the world that we live in. Do we have to like it? No, we don’t but what can we do about it? You have chosen to be born at a time in history where nothing is private….so why are we so alarmed when we find out, in fact, that nothing is private? The only choice you have, if you want a private life, is to go completely off the grid. If you chose to do this, you would have no way of subjecting yourself to Huffington Garbage articles. Congratulations, you are free of paranoia (except, of course, the paranoia that exists regarding being eaten alive or freezing to death in the dead of winter).

Secondly, In order to really buy into the hype, I would have to assume a few things.

  1. I would have to assume that I’m doing something wrong. What is gained by the US government spying on my every move; listening to my conversations; or generally knowing what I’m up to on a day to day basis? All I have to say is that someone out there has about a million shots of me writing on the toilet, walking around in my underwear, and doing fingerpaints with my children…riveting stuff this is…and because I’m not the leader of a drug cartel, I really don’t care if anyone knows exactly what goes on in my life 24 hours a day.
  2. I would have to assume that the government (or whoever) actually gives a shit about me. I’m pretty sure, with the billions of people in America who “live the public life”, that I’m pretty low on the radar, here. My credit score is in the crapper so good luck to the poor sap who tries to steal my identity. I’m pretty much a hermit and I think I lead the most boring life on the planet. I’m not a drug lord or pedophile…I think that whoever it is that is accessing our lives has bigger fish to fry than the single mom starving artist.
  3. That I don’t want my life to be public. Maybe this is specific to the artists, writers and bloggers out there that actually want to be known. I spend a lot of time trying to draw attention to the things that I post online. I want to be known…I want to be heard. I want people to care about what I have to say. This really is the beautiful thing about the technological and interconnected society in which we exist. So, I would like to speak directly to the Lords Of The Internet here…If you’re listening….if you’re really watching my every move, could you please make sure that a couple hundred thousand (or billion) internet users would do the same? Thank you, AC Willis….

The Real Issues At Hand

So, once you settle on the fact that your enrollment in society ensures that you are part of a real live Truman Show, you can begin to look at the real issues at hand, here. The real issue is Propaganda. I haven’t quite wrapped my brain around the hijacking of American consciousness by the enemy (the internet) and American media. When I see my friends and followers flock toward what I refer to as garbage news sites, I have to SMH at them. I have learned that any news story which plays directly into the fear and hate that has been instilled in the hearts of my fellow Americans is far more profitable than any message of hope, love or unity.

I almost feel like we’re in a huge time machine and we’re moving backward…erasing all the progress that has been made in the avenues of higher level thought…and replacing all the walls that have been knocked down, regarding the tolerance of anyone who is not one of “us” (“us” being the target audience for fear based propaganda…I will not make a guess there, because we all know the “us” I’m talking about). We are, now, nearing a point of segregation not seen in American since the turn of the century and popular news outlets and religious groups are more than happy to feed into this.

Any citizen who buys into it is nothing more than a puppet in the largest societal magic show in the world. It’s basic slight of hand…Whoever is controlling the information (whether it’s the government, private political parties, or corporations) is saying “Look here”…and we’re looking. Meanwhile, the true crimes against our society lay blanketed below the fog of hate and fear that we feel for one another….below the paranoia we feel on  daily basis…

I have free will and so I am able to post this…I am able to tap out of the collective unconsciousness of my own society and open my eyes. I am able to see what is really happening…I am able to decipher the truth for myself and share my ideas with others. I am free but only because I don’t believe everything I read on the internet…only because I think for myself.

We will never change things if we are not united…I have said it a million times…but again, there’s really nobody out there who is listening, is there?

The Benefits of a Segregated Society…#MLK

Standard

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these
truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Martin Luther King Jr….perhaps one of the most celebrated revolutionaries in our time; perhaps even in the history of man. Today is the day we remember…we remember the spirit of a man who had the strength to stand up and fight for his people…the man who fought for freedom and was instrumental in ending one of the darkest blots on American History: segregation.

I’m glad I was born after the era of segregation…after the speeches made by King…after the riots in the streets. I’m glad, because I can’t wrap my brain around separating a society based on physical characteristics or heritage…because I would never be able to see a difference between “this group” and “that group”. I’m thankful for my own freedoms…my freedom to love whomever I want…to be friends with whomever I want…and to live in a society where “all men are created equal.”

But do I? Do I live in a world where “all men are created equal”? The idealistic part of my brain wants to believe it’s true. I want to do what I’m supposed to do on this day, which is remember. Then again, I’m thankful for the end of segregation every day. I don’t need a holiday to tell me that there is no difference between black and white…I don’t need a “reminder” to pay homage to Martin Luther King, Jr’s message. Still, as I read the words to his infamous “I have a dream” speech, it seems that King still has a message to share.

As much as we like to think that the end of segregation created an equal society, sometimes I’m afraid that isn’t true. There is still plenty of division in this world. I’m going to talk a little about that division and this is going to be a rather lengthy post. I will try to make it as brief as possible but I have a lot to say about this. Please read the entire post…you won’t understand where I’m going with this whole thing unless you do…and please give me your feedback.

Racial Division

Why does racial division still exist? Is it because white people are racist? Maybe. I’m white and I’m not racist…but I know plenty of white people who are less than accepting of other races. On the same token, I know a lot more who are perfectly accepting of other races. Is it because black people are racist? Perhaps. That seems to be the chief complaint from the 1% of white people that have a “problem” with black people….(to quote one of them)…”They’re more racist than we are”.

When I hear things like that, I know that something is still wrong here. Why are we still grouping people by a them and us system? When I say we, I’m generally referring to the whole of humanity. If I’m being specific, it’s because I’m referring to my immediate family or a group of people (such as a class or my group of friends). I don’t quite grasp the concept of one race of people being a them and another group being an us. How can we, 50 years passed the end of segregation, still segregate people in our minds?

It’s true…white people aren’t the only ones who are guilty of racism. I just recently allowed myself to believe this. During a trip to WalMart, I was in the self-checkout. I was with my husband and I was trying to buy a Duck Dynasty item. Now, you can say what you want about the men of Duck Dynasty but I don’t know them personally so I try to reserve judgement. Sure, there are some things they say that I don’t agree with but it’s not up to me to judge them (or to let their ideals become my own). Anyway, my mother loves the show and I was trying to buy the item for her.

It was a situation where we needed a price check and my husband went to hunt the price while I stood with the attendant. We struck up a conversation and after a while she looked down at the item in her hand (with the faces of the Robertson boys) and says “Isn’t these guys racist?” This confounded me but if it was based on fact, I would be interested to know. I said back to her, “I don’t know. I don’t know them for real but my mom likes the show.” She admitted that she had never watched the show but she insisted that they just “looked mean”. I couldn’t wrap my brain around this and I did what I always do…I spoke my mind. My speech to her went a little like this:

“How can you say that somebody is racists based on the way they look? I don’t judge people based on the way they look. I would never label any of these men as racist unless I personally heard something from their mouth that made me think they were. It’s just not right to be like that toward people.”

She didn’t buy it. She insisted that they look “mean” and “they must be racist”, although she couldn’t tell me exactly why. By the time my husband had gotten back from checking the price, I had noticed that people around us (of all races) had stopped to watch the exchange. He couldn’t find the price for the item and we walked out of the store without the item. I don’t know if the checkout lady thought about the exchange afterward but I did. I thought about it, a lot.

First, I had to reconcile the factors in my head. The checkout lady was black…I am white. I am certain that she wasn’t labeling me as a racist because she was comfortable enough to talk to me about it. So, I can assume that it isn’t the Robertson’s white skin that made her think they are racist. After all, I have white skin too and she was completely fine with me. So, what’s the difference between me and the guys of Duck Dynasty? Well, I was wearing jeans, a rastafarian shirt and a Bob Marley jacket…the Robertson boys look like what they are: rednecks.

I can assume that some interaction with this “group” of people (rednecks) has planted the seed that the entire group is racist. My experience has been different. I grew up in the country and I was surrounded by a mixed bag in this department. Some of the people from this culture that I encountered were racist…others weren’t. I can’t get from that point to the point where I believe that all members of the group ascribe to a set of universal principles. I still can’t categorize.

I also think that the  media has something to do with this. I know that along with the “gay bashing” hype, there was a story where Phil Robertson had said something about the time of segregation that made a lot of people think he was racist. I don’t know if he is, or not, because my experience with the media helps me to understand that things can be taken out of context. I still refuse to judge somebody until I have met that person, myself.

Whether it’s a seed planted by personal experience or by the media, it has become apparent to me that the strands which led to segregation still exist. In order to truly overcome separation, we have to keep from categorizing people and ascribing those categories with universal properties. We have to allow ourselves to make up our mind on an individual basis. We have to truly give one another a chance and never accept that we can’t love someone else just because they come from a different group or place.

Sexual Division and Moral Division

This doesn’t only apply to racial division but it also applies to sexual division and moral division. Some days, I think the days of men typecasting and discriminating against women is over…some days I do not. Still, I know that 90% of the women that I know are more than strong enough to handle it when someone tries to put her down, simply, because she has a vagina. I really don’t see feminism as a problem in our society, except for the ones I have met along the way who use being a woman to bend the world to their own will. THAT I have a problem with. How is it that women have fought so long for a freedom, simply so that women of today can use their vaginas like a “get out of jail free” card.

But I digress, because women’s rights really isn’t a pertinent issue in today’s time. I mean, it is but not as big as the issues that are facing people who identify with an “alternative” sexual orientation. When I see the fight for gay rights unfolding, it reminds me how unaccepting people can be when it counteracts their own moral compass. I guess I understand this. For instance, I don’t believe in murder. So, when someone commits murder, I admittedly don’t like that person. I identify that person as “bad”. However, I just don’t see what’s “bad” about loving someone of the same sex or identifying with a gender that is not your birth gender.

Love is always a good thing, no matter how it’s expressed (amongst consenting adults) and the ability to accept oneself for the inside matter rather than the outside is a beautiful thing. What I find, however, is that some people who have decided (for whatever reason), that these things are morally wrong don’t want any ties or connection to people who engage in this type of lifestyle. It’s not that I can say that’s wrong but I can say that it certainly creates division. When two groups of people refuse interaction it creates a “me” and “us” mentality. On one side, you have the straight people of the world and, in our minds (and through the law), we have separated them from the people who are not straight.

I straddle the line, here. I am both straight and gay (you can disagree if you like but this is my reality). I am also a morally righteous person…so where does that put me? What group do I stand in when the “roll is called up yonder”. Here’s my answer to that question: and you’re not going to like it…WHO CARES?

Surely, you’re not going to be standing in the line to heaven/paradise, looking around and gossiping about the people who didn’t make it? If you think you are, you might want to re-think that because the Christian Bible groups that kind of catty behavior right along with homosexuality. It is literally IN THE SAME verse as the one which is often used to speak against laying with someone of the same sex…Still, there are plenty of morally righteous people who talk about gay people behind their back and in secret corners…who talk about the neighbors and the pastor’s wife and anybody who does anything they don’t like…but that is never met with the same condemnation as homosexuality. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Division of Faith

The previous rant brings me to this one. Perhaps the most I have ever felt discriminated against is because of my faith. I was once Christian…I hold the Christian faith in high regard. Now, I’m Pagan (Druid, specifically) and I hold the Pagan faith in high regard as well. I don’t really see a lot of difference between them. I mean, of course, in practice they are very different. However, they are both systems which help people find a deeper connection in life…they are both systems which (hopefully) create a moral backbone for the individual which will foster love and compassion in this world.

So, how is this so often translated that this love and compassion is only directed toward groups which the individual deems “worthy” of it? There is not a god, goddess, prophet, son of god, seer or mystic who ever said “Love everyone except ____.” I don’t care what religion (or non-religion) you are, if you have the capacity to love and be compassionate, I hold you in the same high regard as anybody else.

I will say this: coming out of the broom closet taught me a thing or two about how discrimination works. After I had been discriminated against, over and over, I began to see a wall forming. I began to see my own mind thinking, “all Christians hate me”.  That, in and of itself, is a discriminatory thought and it is something I had to fight back against. What I learned is to accept the fact that people will naturally have certain preconceived notions about what the symbol around my neck (a pentacle), means. After accepting that,  I had to decide what to do about it.

What I learned is that it doesn’t take very long, in talking with someone of a different faith, to come to common ground. After all, some believe that all faith systems drink from the same well and although we may not agree on everything, people of different faiths share something in common. The topics that are “hot button”, I try to stay away from. I focus on the similarities and delight in learning something from someone who shares a different point of view. To this day, I have not met a person of a different faith that, after a little conversation, does not have the ability to be accepting of my “Pagan ways”. All I have to do is give a little accepting, first.

Social Division and Separation of Class

Perhaps the fastest growing type of division is the social division and separation of class. It’s not new but it’s definitely rearing its head with ferocity, lately. I’m not going to get into the different categories of class or anything like that because I can write another 4,000 words on that thought alone. I will simply break the division down into a group of “haves” and “have-nots” (thank you, Tyler Perry).

In our nation, the “haves” look down on the “have nots” as morally corrupt and lazy beings; basically, not worthy of the time of day (or a fair wage). On the other hand, the “have nots” see the “haves” as morally corrupt and spoiled beings; taking advantage of the lifestyle afforded by their daily work. It becomes an endless cycle of blame when, in fact, the economy of our society depends on a perfect balance of the two.

Conclusion: The Benefits of a Segregated Society. 

I feel like before the end of segregation, there was a brick wall in between the different groups in our society. Martin Luther King Jr, and other revolutionary soldiers, broke down these brick walls. There are still glass walls in their place, and new types of division starting up every day. We still have boundaries…as much as I would like to assume that we don’t, I can’t. What I can do is try to pinpoint the reasons why these divisions still exist.

I think I’ve done a good job of doing that throughout. I know that categorization, moral righteousness and misunderstanding are (often) not proponents of breaking the walls that divide us. However, I think it’s good to look at the antecedent factors. What is good about a segregated society and who actually WANTS us to remain divided?

People who are divided don’t fight wars together…they fight wars against one another. So, while we’re trying to solve the mysteries of the universe…(like which skin color is supreme, how to “define” love, who’s going to heaven and who is not, there is a war being waged against our individual liberties. One by one, the reigns of justice are being tightened against our necks and we’re too busy worrying about what people are doing in their own bedrooms to care. Why is it that we don’t believe that a united front is the best attack against tyranny, when our founding fathers did?

I can’t answer the “who” part of the question…I don’t know exactly who is waging the war on our freedom. I do know that it’s often not the person who everyone blames (in this case, Obama). I don’t know what Obama’s motivations in office are or even if what he is doing is right or wrong. I don’t know because it’s impossible to know the truth about what goes on in our government. Is the entirety of government to blame? Perhaps. Perhaps it’s only one or two…perhaps it’s not the government at all. The government is too large and transparency is too far gone to truly make that determination. In fact, it almost seems like a slight of hand trick, meant to misdirect our anger and frustration.

All I know is this: the Middle Class is getting too close to the lower class and the lower class is falling away, to a point where we are about to see a lot more women and children dying in the street. The American Dream is dying and somebody who is born on the bottom better start resigning to staying there their entire lives. I do know that the type of hopelessness and resentment that is growing in our society is very dangerous. In the end, the controlling factors (the unknown antecedent to our separations) will be the only ones segregated from the damage that is done.

 

A Blogger of Repute

Standard

It’s really hard for one to truly know their own reputation. This is because people are more inclined to speak lightly to your face and heavily behind your back. Fortunately for me, I have a knack for seeing the complicated truths behind the simple lies that people tell on a day-to-day basis. This is how I came to understand the makings of my own reputation.

Like all people, my reputation differs slightly between the groups of people who know me. However, it settles around one basic fact: “Ashley Willis is…different“. Different is one of those words that can be a double edged sword. Some people who know me delight in my difference and see the freshness in it. Some people say it with distaste in their mouths and wish I would learn to conform. Whether they love me or hate me, people who know me cannot deny my “weirdness”.

It’s true, too. I’m admittedly weird and sometimes awkward. I’ve just never been good at fitting in a mold. My thoughts tend to stray from the norm and so my actions surely follow. Where I come from, tradition reigns supreme and anybody who strays from the norm is sure to draw gazes. I don’t see this as a bad thing, myself because I understand that my weirdness stems from being able to think for myself. I will never ebb along in consensus because I don’t have the ability or energy to make up my own mind about something.

The only biteback from my reputation is that people who know me don’t really understand me. When weirdness becomes a novelty, people tend to discount the individual. I am idealistic so people tend to call me naive…I am caring and loving so people tend to call me a pacifist…I am a dreamer to a point of fault and so people wrongfully label me as ‘ditzy’.

Here in the blogosphere, it’s a little different. We are all opinionated…we are all intelligent…maybe we’re all a little weird. While I’m still different, in small ways, from the vast majority of other bloggers, it’s easier to find commonalities. With this, I feel the people who read my blog have a more complete understanding of who I really am than people who might have known me for longer but because of their misunderstandings, don’t really know me at all.

While I might seem ‘scattered’ or ‘all over the place’ in real life, within the confounds of my blog, my focus is stronger. My blogging reputation isn’t as far-reaching as I want it to be, yet but it is clear:

I am an independent author

I am a free thinker

I am a nurturing mother (both to my kids and the independent authors I fall in love with as I spotlight them)

I see both the light and darkness in the world…I choose to focus on the light…

With that being said, many of you who are reading this might disagree. That’s okay. In fact, that’s the beauty of reputation. It starts with perceptions of ourselves and grows to include outside perceptions as well.

As you finish reading this, I urge  you to do two things. First, stop by my Indie Spotlight page and check out today’s Friday Feature on Aray Brown. She’s a poet who also makes beautiful spoken word videos on YouTube. She’s a delightful person and has a beautiful story to share.

Second, think about your own reputation…what is your reputation by the people who know you and how does this compare to your blogging reputation?

A Little More Distraction…#GoldenGlobes

Standard

On the heels of the Golden Globe Awards, my social media pages are blowing up with lists of the best and worst dressed, shocking moments, and award recaps. I’m both excited and repelled by this.

I am excited because I’m American and I love celebrities. I read People Magazine, follow my favorite’s updates on Twitter; the whole nine yards. Everytime I watch an episode of New Girl, I walk the line between wishing I was Zooey Deschanel and wishing I could marry her (oh, come on…she’s gorgeous, smart and talented!).

I once milled over the idea that today’s celebrities are held in the same regard that the Greeks and Romans held their gods and goddesses. In fact, it’s possible that the archeologists of the future might just discover a collection of People Magazine, restore them and mistake our celebrities for gods and goddesses. I chuckled at the thought of our future selves constructing an image of our society from our “holy books”. It was a fun idea to ponder, for a while but then I spit it out as quickly as I conceived it. It seemed like such an unpopular opinion…it seemed so wrong.

Still, I can’t help thinking it. It lurks like a shadow in the back of my brain and whenever I’m undulated with Celebrity news, it jumps back into the forefront. The idea waves it’s hands in my face and begs for acknowledgement. So, today, I gave it just that.

Let’s face it…Celebrities are our gods and goddesses.

We read their fables and parables in the tabloids; using it as an example for our children. I can hear parents all over the world exclaiming: Look at the Miley Cyrus…doing The Twerk all over the place…that Miley, she’s in trouble…Becky, you don’t want to be like that…No guy will ever take that Miley Cyrus seriously…

We applaud their successes; awarding them with awards made of gold (all that’s missing is the frankincense and myrrh)

We fashion our lives after them; gobbling up any piece of clothing or breakfast cereal that emulates them or is endorsed by them.

We ignore their mortality…to us, they are not normal, average people. They are demigods and we are redeemed somehow when given the chance to meet them…we scream for the opportunity to just touch the hem of their garments.

When we are faced with their mortality, we sob collectively and hold candlelight services in their honor, just like they were old friends.

What’s wrong with this? We aren’t the first society to create our own deities. We may not even be the first to create them out of real people. Of course, there is a lacking moral component but in 21st Century America, who questions that, anymore?

I guess my real problem with it is the pay-grade. Maybe it’s because I’m hopelessly poor myself; maybe it’s because I loathe materialism; or maybe it’s because I hold things like food, safety and freedom in such high regard but I have a real problem with the Hollywood actor’s salary, as compared to that of a farmer, policeman, or a soldier. We are taught, through the process of capitalism, that the higher a good or service’s value, the higher the price for it is…so why are celebrities some of the highest paid in our society?

For the purposes of the argument, I’m going to compare celebrities against soldiers (because it’s the one that hits closer to home for me). The fact is that you can interchange any occupation that supports our society in the place of “soldier” and my logic will make sense. 

So I ask myself this question: What is it about the services provided by celebrities that makes it more valuable than the services provided by a soldier? Do we value entertainment more than safety and security; more than freedom? 

No, certainly not. That would be indulgent and ungrateful…there must be some other reason for the pay discrepancies. I ponder this for a while, as I browse pages and pages of breaking news and Hollywood gossip. Then, it dawns on me.

It is not the entertainment that we hold in such high regard, is it? It’s the ability to set in a darkened movie theatre or our living rooms for 30 minutes to 3 hours and just shut everything off. It’s watching the young teen actress spiraling into a dark hole that allows us to dissociate from our own problems. It’s about breaking down with grief when we have lost a celebrity because we just need an excuse to cry…or because we feel like we’ve lost a part of ourselves.

Maybe we have lost a part of ourselves.

What does it say about us that we would pay more for a little distraction that we’re willing to pay for our own freedom?

How broken is our society that we need constant distraction and discourse just to navigate everyday life?

And how do we dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in when our heads are buried in the sand? 

I’m just a single mother and aspiring author with a blog; I do not claim to be a visionary or seer (although I would like to be). I do not claim to have all the answers to these questions. I mean, I have my own answers to these questions but it’s not the answer that’s important; it’s the ability to stand up and ask them that really matters. At the end of the day, each and every one of us will have to answer these questions for ourselves before we can even begin to heal as a whole.

Learning about people through Tragedy

Aside

I’m going a bit off topic tonight. I’m in the middle of one of those metamorphosis phases in a person’s life. Some events just rush into our lives and turn us upside down. Nano was the beginning of this for me. Beginning my first novel this way; just conceptualizing it and diving in…studying the writing process and coming close to the end with the realization that I have something really great on my hands have given me the strength to say to myself, “I can write professionally!” I know that my novel will be a thin shadow of itself by the time I actually complete Nano and will need moths of rework before I begin reaching out to literary agents and publishers. It’s the momentous first steps which are the most life altering, though.

My heart is heavy and I have had a hard time writing for a couple of days now. Recent personal events have compounded the experience of writing my first novel in profound ways. I’ve struggled with my poverty and the raising of my young children while writing the entire time. As fate will have it, no life altering experience comes easy and two days ago, I found out that my cousin’s little girl passed away after a 6 month battle with cancer. 

My cousin and I were not close. We grew up 1,000 miles apart and only interacted during summer vacations and some holidays. Still, there is love there and my heart is heavy with compassion for them. I find my thoughts wandering toward my cousin, her parents and the larger branches of their community that has been impacted by this tragedy. 

For days, I haven’t been able to wrap my brain around the reasons why such a beautiful, strong little girl would be taken from this world before she ever got the chance to make an impact on it. Then, it dawned on me that the reason I don’t see the logic in it is because I’m looking at it all wrong. As I look through pictures of her on the Facebook page that was set up for her while she was going through treatment, I realize that she has made a more profound and important impact on the world than most people with 10x the life on earth. 

Throughout everything, she was strong and steady. She looked this horrible disease in the face with a smile and took all of it with more faith than most of us show in much better circumstances. This legacy will live on forever and who knows the power it will hold. Although she is gone, she has left something behind so inspiring and beautiful that I can only imagine the great ways it will manifest itself. 

It has already manifested itself in her mother, who has taken everything with the same faith and grace that her daughter showed. Even now, through her grief, she is able to acknowledge that there is a higher purpose for this happening. I’m sure there is no way for me to EVER understand the weight that she has on her right now and I commend her for her faith and strength. She will forever be a living example of her daughter’s legend and testimony to the world. 

With that said, I must digress a bit. For every beautiful thing in this world, there is an equally dark and twisted realization. When something like this happens, it becomes easy to see the true nature of people. For my cousin and her daughter, their light shines through. For others directly and distantly around them, however, shadows are cast on the darkest parts of their souls. 

I’m going to speak in more generalities from here on out, because it’s the proper thing to do. 

I will never understand how some people (and our society in general) have come to a point where compassion is so lacking. Perhaps because I am an empath, I feel things in deep and intense waves. I do not have to have a strong connection with somebody (or even like them, for that matter) to feel deeply when something goes really wrong for them (or right, conversely). Yet, it is so easy to use a person’s faults against them to shield ourselves from actually giving a crap when things happen to these people. 

It’s really a societal problem. When a bomb is dropped in a foreign country, why do we rejoice? Are the soldiers fighting against our own fathers and sons just the same? We feel no compassion toward these people because they’re not our own. When will the world wake up and realize that we are all connected? Pain in one is a collective pain and should be treated with dignity and honor. 

I’m not trying to propagate some liberal, hippy agenda here. (To me), it’s common sense, really but our values have carried us so far from it that it seems radical. It may be radical to feel the need to loose a few dollars to be there and try to comfort the family during this time…so be it! You want to judge me and look down on me for this? So be it! You want to use this moment as opportunistic to insert your power over those around you…so be it! 

Looking at it on a larger scale and considering the collective uncounciousness, you are part of the problem. People like my cousin and her daughter are the solution…if you’re too unwise or close minded to see this, I truly feel for you!