Yes, here we are again.

Another mass shooting, at last count almost 60 are dead, and hundreds are wounded.  Unbelievably it all is starting to become routine.  The inevitability of these events is becoming routine.  The media hysteria and non-stop replay of cell-phone video of the massacre is becoming routine.  The calls from gun opponents to do something in the immediate aftermath is becoming routine.  The responses of gun-rights advocates are becoming routine.  The speculation of whether the shooter was aligned with some international terrorist organization, some right-wing cause, some left-wing cause, “their side”, “some side”, or any side, as long as it’s “the other side” . . . all of this is becoming routine.

There have been stupid, insensitive public remarks by people who should know better, and of course the endless stream of requests for “thoughts and prayers.”  This too, is becoming routine, and if prayer helps you cope, so be it.  The fact is, until we as a nation decide that we are not going to sit around waiting for the next deranged individual with an arsenal of assault weapons and an axe to grind to reach the breaking point, it’s only a matter of time.

Let’s not pretend that we as a nation are suddenly going to come to our senses and get serious about restricting private ownership of assault weapons or any other firearms.  If the massacre of 21 six-year old children in Newtown Connecticut didn’t get us there the only logical conclusion is that we really don’t care about anything more than our supposed right to equip ourselves with firepower designed for no other purpose than the mass slaughter of our fellow human beings.  If Newtown didn’t do it, we’re just too stupid and selfish for anything to do it.  This is just how it’s going to be.  We might as well get used to it.

And for God’s sake please knock off searching for some way of using this atrocity or stupid things said by politicians or celebrities about this act of unspeakable brutality to bolster your political agenda, whatever that agenda is.  Don’t blame Republicans, or Democrats, or Liberals, or Conservatives, or whatever group you think causes all of the problems in this country.  An unhinged person with bottled-up anger issues and no sense of empathy for his fellow human beings decided to take out his pent-up rage on a crowd of thousands of strangers. 

We’re all to blame because we are just going to ignore the obvious and sit on our hands until the next time it happens, then we will pull our hands out from under our rear-ends, wring them again, pray for the victims and survivors, look for someone else to blame, and when all is said and done we’ll stick our hands back under our respective butts and go on doing the same old thing which is essentially nothing.

Lather, rinse, and repeat.

The answer is obvious.  We’ve just got to get pissed enough.  Newtown didn’t do it.  Orlando didn’t do it.  Virginia Tech didn’t do it, and Las Vegas isn’t going to do it either.

How bad does the next one have to be?

October 4, 2017

This morning an article in The Daily Record mistakenly referenced this site in an article about how Cyberbullying is being addressed in the Rockaway NJ school system in the aftermath of a suicide.  The reference was actually to an organization known as Don’t Press Send founded by TED speaker Katie Schumacher.  

Dedicated to providing resources to children and their parents to deal with the challenges of our technology immersed world, and promoting kind and careful on-line communications, Dont PRESS send is doing vital work, which I fully support.  You can reach the site HERE

I did inform The Daily Record of the error, which they have corrected.

When sharing a meme or an article you believe supports your view on a subject, it is always a good idea to pretend that you are someone on the other side of the issue, and find the holes from that persons perspective first.  Oh yes, and if you are going to share it, try reading beyond the headline.

Believe it or not . . . but probably not.

I’ve been getting myself in trouble quite a bit lately.  I’ve become an “equal opportunity debunker”.   I can’t help myself, I’m just so fed up with the noise and nonsense that goes into viral sharing on social media that when I see a meme or shared article that is egregiously false or misleading I find myself forced to respond – sometimes with my own explanation of why the story is false, and sometimes with a link to a “fact-check” site like Snopes or Politifact

It doesn’t matter the political perspective – or whether it’s political or not.   From fallacies of logic having nothing to do with the question being debated or memes citing laws that were never enacted to sensational “news” stories that are several years old filled with stale “facts”, this garbage adds nothing to the discourse we need to be having right now.

I’ve been called a “libtard” by people on the right and had my progressive bonafides questioned by those on the left.  I don’t care.  I’ve adopted a zero-tolerance policy for bullshit, and if more of us did this I’m guessing we would all be more careful to check our sources before clicking that seductive “share” button.

 

UUMJeff:

As I work on building Don’t Push Send, I continue to be inspired by some of the great writers in the blogosphere. One of the inspirations behind my renewed efforts in this space is John Pavlovitz, the author of the blog Stuff That Needs To Be Said

On queue, as he always seems to be, John kinda hits the nail on the head in this post. For me personally he highlights the struggles I face as I try to set the direction for this blog, and inspires me to stay above the ugliness that characterizes so much of what we read in our virtual on-line world. And while I do not identify as a Christian in the traditional sense of the word, (I’m a Unitarian Universalist . . . more on this in later posts) I’m totally in sync with the Christianity that John Pavlovitz reflects in his work.

Expect to see more of John’s thoughts reblogged here.


Originally posted on Stuff That Needs To Be Said

 

This is getting simpler.

I’ve recently found a clearing of sorts; a place where my mind and my spirit are finding peace and rest no matter how loud and ugly things get—though it wasn’t always this way.

 

For a long time I let the angry, mean-spirited, violent noise get the best of me. That happens to so many good people out here trying to change things, trying to care about stuff that matters, trying to help build the world they wish to see.

Spend enough time in the thick of the fight and you become conditioned to it, poisoned by its cynicism and contempt, hardened by its continual cruelty. Face the world in a battle posture long enough and you lose the ability to live any other way.

Too many people can only function if they have a villain to war with, a cause to rail against, an evil to condemn.

I’m conscientiously objecting to that fruitless war these days. I am finding a better way to fight.

 

More and more, I am letting what and who I care deeply about drive and move and fuel me. It allows me simplicity and clarity:

I abhor racism and bigotry, so I strive to see and treat all people equally and individually. 
I detest homophobia, so I care for and support my LGBT brothers and sisters and their families.
I believe fully in gender equality, so I do my best to advocate for this equality.
I find poverty detestable, so I look for ways to contribute to eliminating it.
I can’t stomach hatred in the name of Jesus, so as a Christian I try daily to reflect Christ’s love as well as I can as often as I can.

In short, I am learning to live and love offensively.

I no longer allow myself to be burdened with those who see me as an enemy. 

 

Their perceptions are formed from a distance anyway, and so I simply refuse to be defined by them. The more you know who you are, the less threatened you are when someone attacks you and the less interested you are in attacking back.

 

I am not very concerned with convincing others to agree with me either. I simply speak my heart clearly and continually and unwaveringly, trusting that those whose hearts echo mine will come alongside me while those who disagree will still be forced to hear me.

 

I spend less and less time these days being baited into verbal public battles, as those rarely do anything for the dignity of either side. I do not feed those who thrive on confrontation, as it takes my time and energy from those who need me; those who are so often forgotten, ignored, or drowned out by the din of social media shouting matches and endless culture wars.

 

More and more, I simply live to be the antidote to the things I find hurtful or damaging in the world, rather than arguing with those I believe are being hurtful or damaging. There are certainly times to identify dangers and to call out injustice, but those pale in comparison to the countless moments that simply require personal goodness.

 

Friends, there will always be those whose medium is vitriol, whose currency is condemnation, whose agenda is provocation, but resist responding in kind because that only conforms you to their image.

 

If you claim Christ, until you have a Christianity without venom you don’t have one that resembles Jesus quite yet. As a person of faith, this is the only kind of religion I am interested in.

 

Maybe you are like me. Maybe you’re bloodied and weary of the fight, but finding your second wind and discovering a better path, one less mired in sarcasm and less toxic to touch. 

 

Maybe you’re intentionally walking away from the war trenches, so that you can move toward the hurting, the unloved, the waiting—and respond.

 

If so, welcome.

 

This is the beginning of a holy movement in the world.

 

This is the stuff real revolutions are made of. 

 

May you fight well.

 

May you learn to love offensively.

 

selfcheckout

I walked out of Home Depot yesterday without the merchandise I had spent a half-hour selecting.

I laid it on a stack of boxes near the self-checkout lines . . .  the only lines that were open . . . informed the one cashier supervising the checkout lines that I was leaving . . .  and why . . . suggesting that she inform the manager . . .  and I left.  I won’t be back any time soon.

Mind you, I’m no Luddite nor am I in any way so technologically challenged that I can’t manage using a self-serve register.  In fact, I’m a technology professional who designs large-scale computer networks and voice and video solutions for businesses and government / non-profit organizations.   I’m fine with using technology to improve our lives and make business more efficient.

I’m not okay with using technology to replace people.   

And self-checkout registers are only one tip of an iceberg with many peaks.

Not that being a cashier at Home Depot, Stop and Shop, or any other large retailer is a great career.  The same can be said any number of other non-skilled positions typically held by young people, those needing supplemental income to make ends meet or those whose skills have been rendered obsolete or whose positions have been “offshored” to places where people will work for compensation that doesn’t even conform to our utterly inadequate wage laws.

But every one of those empty check-out lines with the light off represents a person with one less opportunity to make ends meet, one less young person who can learn about what it means to work for a living, one less student who can supplement his or her income while working through school, one less elderly person who can supplement their Social Security check with enough additional income to put food on the table or keep the electricity turned on.

As more and more of these jobs that employ entry-level workers or those living on the edge are replaced with technology more and more of the people who would have held those jobs are out in the street, pushed further into the margins, and left with no choice but to depend on government programs.

I can afford to spend a few more cents on a lightbulb if it means there will be a register with a real person in it.

So while I will not claim that I will never set foot in another Home Depot again . . . they have dominated the market so thoroughly that we are often left with little choice . . .  I will consciously choose otherwise whenever I can.  I will take my business to the local Ace franchise even though it doesn’t have as much selection, is a bit out of the way, and may be a bit more expensive.  I will opt to go to the Lowe’s that is almost inevitably within 2 blocks of the orange monster – at least they always seem to have one or two real registers open.

I will not use an automated checkout line.

I will not allow an employee to use an automated checkout line to scan my purchases, sending a message to management that these devices are working.

#justwalkout

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