Friday, December 4, 2015

Christianity is Too Biased to Fail

As I sat listening to a Christian song forced upon me by one who likely considers herself to be evangelizing to the evil heathens who ride in her shuttle van, I had a slight epiphany: Christianity is too biased to fail. The song goes on about the goodness of God to help in times of need and my immediate thought is how much crap that is despite having been suckered into believing it myself for many years. Plenty of people go without the help they need. Perhaps, I reasoned, this lady needs a lesson in everything failing on her. I considered slashing her tires to help aid in this endeavor but then realized that this would then be persecuting a Christian (not to mention destroying my career). If things start failing in her life, it would be nothing more than persecution from the devil himself even if not from me. It would not be an indication of God's unfaithfulness whatsoever.

If good things happen, it is God's faithfulness. If bad things happen, it is persecution or trials to be withstood. Even severe troubles means nothing. God will never give you more than you can bear. Of course, if you die from what was given you, then this is a good thing. So even if you technically were given more than you could physically bear, it is seen as a blessing to unite with God in the afterlife. If all your children die when your house burns down, they are in heaven, you are still alive, and you can continue as God gives the strength. He is still good despite murdering your family. It cannot be proven wrong. God is thus always faithful and it is impossible to prove otherwise even when he does not exist to begin with. We might as well say flying pixie unicorns are always faithful. Prove me wrong!

Even when it comes to simple reasoning, we cannot prove Christianity wrong. This is because the logic of man is foolishness and the foolishness of God is wisdom. It is written right in their book. So whatever proves them wrong is merely incomprehensible to them and thus proof of the Bible's veracity. All the logic in the world could not prove the Bible wrong because it simply makes for man's wisdom which is obviously flawed even when perfect. And when people indicate the foolishness of obedience to the Bible, it simply makes the Bible all the more accurate because it was foretold that everyone would think it is foolish. Logic is rendered useless.

I only know of one futile and useless arrow left in the quiver to strike down the lies of such a faith and that is mere scorn. Mock and jeer at the ridiculousness of such a religion and maybe they will feel embarrassed enough to give it some thought and forget the whole thing. Unfortunately, there are far too many stories in the Bible indicating that all the evil heathens mocked and jeered the faithful believers only to be smitten and destroyed by God. It is foretold, expected, and useless to mock and jeer. There is nothing to be done. We cannot fight against Christianity. Any response, any retort, any logical interface from a non-believer to a believer is entirely useless. There is only one thing we can do: nothing. Christianity is simply too biased to fail.

Since we have no weapons at our disposal to combat those stuck in the religion forced upon them by their culture and surroundings, the only thing we can do is ignore their religion as unimportant and provide a better way of life via example. Live out love as an atheist and the Christians will become confused. If they are not attacked by atheists and the atheists are living happier and more fulfilling and loving lives, then what the heck are they doing with this Jesus fellow? Why are they praying when nothing happens and all the atheists are being cured by seeking science and going to doctors without also being evil to their core? Being rude and immoral is a great way to continue the bias of Christianity and any benefits could be the cost of selling out to the devil, but providing a better way of life without attacking or demonstrated immorality is sure to turn some heads. Ignore, move on, demonstrate a better lifestyle. Unless a Christian is actively seeking further information and truly considering the possibility of their religion being false, I presume that this is all we can hope to do.

A person must seek to find. It is one of the great mottoes of the Bible. Of course, it is also the motto of bias. If you seek a particular result, you will find it. That is why double-blind studies were devised. There is no double-blind when it comes to faith. If you're looking for a sign, you will indeed find one.  If you "give God a chance" you just might "find" him. And oddly enough, he will tell you what you want to hear or what you expect to hear. A Christian must be actively seeking truth in order to come out of their faith. If they are not seeking, there is no hope but to engender a curiosity or even a jealousy of those better off than they who have not traded their soul to the devil and yet deny their faith. That proposition is all the more difficult when certain moral acts are considered immoral by many Christians (i.e. homosexuality and abortion). This is all the more reason to keep pure and loving in all the other ways of our lives. Be loving, kind, compassionate, patient, reasonable, and giving. Be considerate with words and respectful of ideas. If we give no indication of immorality in other ways, it lends to support that even tolerance of homosexuality just might very well be moral as well. And when the atheists live better lives than the Christians, it is bound to raise some questions and prompt some truth-seeking. Without the seeking of truth, Christianity is just too darn biased to be argued with.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Work-Life Assimilation

It only just occurred to me a couple days ago that perhaps my workplace should be where I feel the most belonging. Up to this point, I had actually tried to ensure just the opposite. I tried to keep work at work and life outside of work. My career merely enabled me to live my life and had little to do with life itself. I needed money to survive and to pursue all my hopes and dreams which clearly had nothing to do with my work.

I am interested in many things outside of work. I am interested in writing, science, psychology, gaming, and everything else under the sun which has nothing to do with car manufacturing. I constantly feel as if I do not have enough time and energy to pursue the things I love and I am constantly frustrated that I have no dedicated friends or family that I feel a strong belonging to or that truly care about my extracurricular endeavors. Some people have churches or other organizations where they have an integral part of something bigger than themselves and I have nothing. And yet, where can I feel more connected than at work?

I dream about being the next Einstein, Hawking, or Stephen King, and yet I have no dreams about what I do for a living. Perhaps it is time that I dream about being the best I can be wherever I am and utilizing my skills where I find myself rather than wishing I could use my skills elsewhere. I see the people I work with nearly every day--who better to feel connected to? Why should they not be my life? Why not share with them my hopes and dreams and extracurricular endeavors?

I am somewhat torn on this thought, however. I have purposefully tried to keep friendship out of the workplace (while still being wholly kind and supportive, of course). The intent was to prevent personal feelings and interactions from influencing decisions--mine or otherwise. I would not want to be ostracized due to my political or religious beliefs and I would not wish to give someone preferential treatment who shares my opinions. I would not want raises to go to the best of friends, but rather to those who do the best work. And if I find a new place to work, I would prefer to not have the difficulty of leaving friends--they might feel slighted and I might feel sad. Without belonging, I could simply keep it a professional relationship centered around money and benefits and simply up and leave whenever something else suits me better.

But what does this truly afford me? I presume it only lends me to loneliness and lack of great achievement. The main thing I want in life is to feel useful in the eyes of others. I want to know that I contributed to society in a meaningful way. I never considered my contributions to my workplace to be anywhere remotely close to contributions to society, but there it is. Cars really are pretty awesome. And it takes quite a few people to make them. As a society, we can make some pretty sweet things and indeed I am helping to do that. The only thing that bugs me is that the cars will continue to be made even if I went somewhere else. I am naught but a replaceable cog in a superbly giant machine. I would like to be an irreplaceable and priceless cog. A cog that supremely matters. But that is the rub in life, is it not? None of us truly matter. Even if Einstein had never been born, surely someone else would have come to take his place and bring us to the same developments over time. No one is truly irreplaceable. Each significant person merely appeared at the right place at the right time. Thus, if we wish to be special, we should probably focus on our place at our time and try to be special right here and now. It likely cannot be any other way.

It truly begs a question, however. If I am passionate about things that are not work-related and I cannot feel belonging with my passions through my friends and family, do I try to bring these passions to work? Perhaps if I build strong relationships at work, my passions can be shared and become more fulfilling. Or do I simply give them up and let work become my passion? As a third option, do I simply find a new job which aligns with one of my passions so I can feel greater belonging in the things I care about most? This would certainly come with a pay cut, but perhaps it would accompany significant life satisfaction. Perhaps I will try the first and begin to share myself more at work. I will try to make some friends. The worst that could happen is that I am forced into the third option of finding a new career. The best that could happen is a sincere feeling of belong. The moderate affect might be that I decide it is a bad idea and perhaps trying out option two.

What do you think is best?

1. Befriend collegues and share passions at work.
2. Make work one's passion.
3. Make passions one's work.
4. Keep work and passions entirely separate.
5. Something else?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Don't Share This

Opinions. Everyone has them. Everyone freely shares them. We likely do not even want to hear most of them. Those that we do hear, quite often disagree with our own opinions and generally make us roll our eyes and either bite our tongues or engage in fiery and annoying debate. Very few people are interested in the shallow opinions of another person. You think there is a God? Great. I got it. Stop telling me. You think there is no God? Great. Stop telling me. Yes, I know your stance on gun control, abortion, politics, and all other social issues. I totally know where you stand. I will not soon be changing my own opinions based upon your quip with an image of a puppy or a presidential candidate with a photo-shopped mustache and nazi symbol. I will not soon change my opinion based upon the linking of an article. The only thing that will change is who I follow on Facebook. And my list is beginning to shrink rapidly.

I have struggled for some time with trying to change the world by sharing my particularly unique perspective on many issues. Usually, this perspective is in the opposing view of anything anyone has ever posted. I certainly mean well, but oddly enough, very few people realize that I want something more than to spout my arguments and hate all that others have done and said. My goal has been peace and it has wrought many more hateful and hurtful comments and only those who already agree with my perspectives appear to think it is great. I hold on hope that others viewing might see some amount of reason, but in the end, I am just not sure that it is worth it. These "social issues" that I keep fighting for appear to simply be a kind way of saying, "bitching about other people's problems."

I always viewed my diligence in writing, responding, and communicating patiently with people as a rather altruistic thing to do. Someone needs to patiently explain things. And yet, most everyone on the planet is quite willing to provide their own opinions about things. There is nothing unique or altruistic about one more person being willing to flame their viewpoints. Nothing. Facebook appears as a mash of opinionated and drunken buffoons all spouting their ignorance because they are so much more superior to others with their keen intellect and ideas. Everyone thinks they have got things figured out and that everyone else is retarded for thinking anything differently. It is anything but unique and is the farthest thing from altruistic.

On that note, I am going to try my darned-freaking hardest to stop. I will not share my opinions. I will not retweet, repost, and reshare the stupid memes, articles, and videos that once again regurgitate the exact same sentiments I believe and have seen and heard a thousand times over. I will no longer even comment on the posts of others who do. Instead, I will focus on ignoring and removing such things from my view so that I am not overcome with a strong urge to enforce my wisdom upon others. I debate whether or not to even blog my opinions and share them on Facebook. I probably still will, but I do find this far more tasteful. If someone takes the time to formulate an argument and write something more than a few disparaging remarks at others who think differently than themselves, then perhaps they are worth a read. And if such people are not constantly blasting their opinions out of every orifice, their writing will seem that much more valuable. So I will try that approach.

On that note, I urge you not to share this unless you intend to do so with some thoughtful words of your own to accompany it. I am sick of blind reshares. If I wanted to see what other people are posting, I would be following them instead. I follow those whose own ideas I wish to see, not who spews forth the ideas of others and adding no extra cent of themselves. Be genuine and share yourself, not others.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Don't Be a Knee-Jerk Jerk

Beware the walking dead who eat the brains of those around them and whose words destroy, mock, and jeer from both sides of the political fence. It never ceases to amazing me how quickly people flaunt their superiority in foolish ways--never once pondering the reasons behind opposing views or even the validity of the views they regurgitate from others. Memes fling across Facebook without so much as batting an eye in question. It is repulsive.

Where are the people willing to question? Where are the people willing to discuss? Attempts at mere discussion and walking in the shoes of another simply yields immediate criticism and hate--even from those who consider themselves humanist or Christian. Anyone who disagrees is clearly evil, incompetent, stupid, blind, deaf, or whatever. Look, nearly half our population is in stark contrast with one another. Clearly none of this is an offshoot of mere stupidity. We have evolved into our ideas and opinions over time via genes, upbringing, and environment. Things are not as obvious to others as we think they ought to be. Just as obvious as we see our own views, so too do those of the opposing views. Because we both see our views as obvious, we blind ourselves to the plight of others in understanding as well as to our own propensity to be wrong.

We need to wisen up. It should be clear that we are all just as capable of being wrong as anyone else and that any wrongness a person has is not a mere choice to be wrong. They may be stubborn and certainly emotion and ego gets in the way, but even that is a safety mechanism due to genes or upbringing and is all the more reason to leave out the insults. We cannot change a mind by insulting an ego and damaging emotional health. It is a scientifically proven fact to merely aid in solidifying false beliefs. Instead of hating all those who disagree, let us discuss and have some real conversations without the backbiting. Humanists should not be claiming that someone's lack of concern for a prisoner deems them worthy of being hung. Christians should not be claiming that a man got his just desserts when dying from drug withdrawal. We all have our own issues and we all deal with them in different ways based upon what nature has bestowed upon us. We need to be far more understanding and far less judgmental. Only then can we start to change minds and opinions. Spouting our insults and derogatory memes is not going to change the world for the positive. It will change the world for the negative. Persistence in understanding and courtesy of everyone will change the world for the positive. Jump on the bandwagon of peace, all you who claim to promote it.

I imagine the world has always been this way with dichotomy of opinions and beliefs leading to the insult and murder of others. The physical murders are dying down, but the verbal assaults are all the more staggering and the emotional deaths are clearly taking their toll. We need to start uplifting one another in peace even if we disagree rather than bashing their stupidity which is no choice of anyone. We are what our surroundings have made us. We need to overcome our knee-jerk reaction which hates those who disagree and gently provide explanation for our position while politely listening and asking for clarification of theirs. This is how friendships develop even between rivals of faith and opinion. Such friendship is what slowly morphs the ideas and opinions of one another toward a common ground of understanding--an understanding usually more grounded in truth.

Before we click that share button on a meme or a news story, we need to ask ourselves whether or not it is true, whether or not it is kind, if it emphasizes a biased opinion or puts down the opinions of others. If it provides merely anger and hate, it is not beneficial except in uplifting one's own bubble. The more we bubble ourselves, the more we will have a conflict. Merge the bubbles together--we are one race: the human race. Reach out to those who disagree and discuss. Enough with the hate and enough with the knee-jerk reactions of rage. Our worldwide mental capacity looks like a teenager who believes he has got everything figured out and all the adults are morons. We need to recognize our own failings in cognition, understanding, and lack of total knowledge. We do not know everything no matter how much we believe we do and we are never presented with the full story. Peaceful discourse will make a greater difference over the fear of being ostracized. We want people to be kind, so let us be kind. It will always be for the better. Please share. The world can use more peaceful people--especially from those who claim to offer it.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Troubleshooting a Systemic X Nation

I am a programmer. In my eyes, what makes a programmer great is his [or her] ability to see all potentials from a given statement. For example, the ability to recognize that some readers might be offended that I stuck with the "patriarchal" use of "his" in my previous statement and thus I added the "or her." Some might still be offended that "his" came before "her" or that I merely put it in brackets. But I also recognize that I cannot please everyone simultaneously and I will simply have to let some sticklers remain unhappy. Still, this ability to see multiple perspectives enables a programmer to recognize the follies, foibles, and pitfalls of any one chunk of logical code. A good programmer can see the holes, the potentials for unexpected inputs, and the unintended interactions of multiple pieces of code. I am not particularly here to talk about code, of course, but this particular mindset is crucial in troubleshooting today's social problems. Unfortunately, such a skill makes for a fairly frustrating writing experience by recognizing all the holes, fallacies, potential misunderstandings, room for poor interpretation, and conclusions to be jumped. Perhaps this is good for solidifying an argument, but I personally find that I compensate by throwing too much in and making a scattered mess of a dissertation. No matter what I do, I am sure I will not be thorough enough which is absolutely frustrating as a programmer trying to program the understanding of each and every reader. But I digress.

Back to the topic at hand, the word "systemic" gets thrown around a lot these days and, to be honest, it irks the living crap out of me. Not that I am against the position of people who use it, but that I find it too broad a statement that is too easily misconstrued and not particularly specific enough to get the proper intent across. Systemic sexism and systemic racism are the main mantras and there is certainly truth to the complaints. While at the same time, there is also truth to the complaints regarding the complaints. I can see both sides of these issues and the way two differing parties interpret certain statements, actions, and data. Often, I believe the issues are mere communication gaps due to poor word choice. People think differently and thus a particular choice of words can offend one person and yet not another. Stating that women are objectified by men will get a, "Heck yeah, that crap needs to stop" from some men while leading to a, "What the hell? I don't do that, you jerk-faces!" from others.

The very proclamation of systemic sexism, to many men, immediately comes off as an accusation of mistreatment of women on their behalf. Some advocates of the cause truly believe that all men are indeed offenders if even by subconscious choices and their upbringing in a patriarchal society. This, of course, might be offensive to some who believe they are perfectly fair toward women. I believe such offense is also quite justified given the means by which it is often presented. Constantly telling people to check their "male privilege" for not understanding the plights of women is entirely offensive and very sexist. My stating that it is offensive and sexist, of course, leads many people to start complaining that a male-privileged person is complaining of unfairness which is ridiculous given their privilege. Such complaints by men are generally not geared toward garnering support for a woe is men group, but rather to oust hypocrisy in the group that is blaming and offending them. So the one group then continues to berate the offended party for being offended themselves and for being clueless of women's issues, while the other group then complains about the sexism and hypocrisy of such claims. Not a very good situation and, in my opinion, is a fault of people on both sides.

If we can find a way to express the plights of women without accusing men of being terrible and ruling women with an iron thumb and an intent to rape them every chance they get, we will probably have a lot more success in reaching solutions. Since I have explained the issue that many men (and even women, believe it or not) have with the feminist movement and their barrage of perceived attacks on men through their choice of words, allow me to attempt to explain one particular problem without such accusations.

Humans tend to be selfish jerks although many are kind and compassionate. Most of us are probably both at differing times. That said, those who lean more toward the selfish jerk spectrum will do whatever is in their power to get their selfish ways. It is an unfortunate fact that men, on average, are biologically geared toward being physically stronger than women. This puts women at an extreme disadvantage in defense and they have suffered this disadvantage over thousands of years. While women might very well be just as selfish as men (I actually don't know if this is true or not), they tend to lack the physical ability to get their way. Thus, it is quite often the case that women are mistreated by men and not the other way around. This is not at all to say (and I hope the feminists are listening) that there is a systemic problem with men. Some men use their biologically-given physical strength to do harm and others do not. This does not, of course (and I hope the anti-feminists are listening) remove the plight and fear from women. Men and women are probably built equally selfish but only the women truly have to worry about being raped. Sure, it happens to men as well, but I cannot remember the last time I feared being raped more than considering it a blessing if a women so desired to rape me. Women actually have to consider being raped when they go out in the same way we must consider applying sunscreen if we are pasty white and venturing into the great outdoors.

This fear of rape for women is real. It is a burden and they need to be taught how to keep themselves safe in this regard such as, well, I'll let The Daily Show's Jessica Williams cover the many things women must consider about halfway through this video: http://thedailyshow.cc.com/videos/z2b627/the-fault-in-our-schools. This, of course, is what most men are thinking when they mention what a woman was wearing when she was raped. Now, I am not at all advocating or presuming that what a woman wears truly has any effect on her likeliness of being raped. I have absolutely no idea if data supports this or not and I presume it does not. However, it is very easy to understand how someone might perceive this to be the case even if they are downright incorrect about it. So, mentioning that a woman was "asking for it" with the way she was dressed or anything similar is simply a very poorly-worded mantra explaining that they were not adequately preparing for the worst which is indeed advisable to do even if they should not have to. It is the same, in the eyes of these people, as saying you should have put on a jacket and gloves before making a snowman in order to prepare against frostbite. The only difference being that no one would blame the cold itself, of course, as if it made an immoral decision to cause frostbite.

Such statements, of course, are then met by feminists who are outraged that the blame is being shifted toward the woman. But no, that is terrible insinuation. While "she was asking for it" is a very stupid and calloused, unsympathetic, and usually self-righteous, anti-sexuality, religious way of putting it, this does not at all endorse rape or give a free pass to the rapist. "But so many rapists DO get a pass," I now hear the little voices saying within a well-learned programmer seeing from all angles of an issue. Yes, many do, but this is absolutely non-sequitur and is an entirely different problem which needs an entirely different discussion. Those who focus on clothes are not endorsing rape anymore than advocates of sunscreen are advocating for sunburns. This should be obvious when stated in this fashion, but again, many people think in many different ways. Words and sentences are only as good as the ears that are interpreting them (yes, yes, ears do not do any interpretation of their own) and so we need to be very methodical and thoughtful in how we present our arguments. It is very hard to do so, of course, but perhaps the mere recognizing of this fact can help us to ask more questions and accuse far less. Accusations will only close a mind and make it more stubborn in their foolish resolve to be right.

So yes, women worry about rape and a man can never truly understand what this worry is like on a daily basis. Even when I look around at all the women I know, I "male-privilegedly" might think, "boy, all the women I know don't worry about this! This is bogus!" Of course, I never asked any of them and they never told me, so I must be assuming that my random female coworkers would talk about their sexual fears with me if indeed they had them. A pretty foolish assumption if you ask me. Even if I did ask them, and even if they claimed to have no fears of rape, this does not mean that other women in other social situations and other cultural climates do not have this problem. My workplace is not every neighborhood, it is not the entire city, it is not the state, and it is not the country or world. My bubble counts for nothing. If women are telling us that they worry about this, then we should probably just believe them. They likely do. Whether or not it is a justified worry simply comes back to the fact that there are terrible people in the world and that men are naturally more "gifted" in their capacity to rape someone or generally take what they want. To get an idea of how women feel about rape, perhaps we could understand by walking around an impoverished neighborhood late at night looking rather wealthy and passing by a few groups of foul-mouthed cretins congregating on the sidewalks. Women naturally have the "goods" that men want and there is no telling which men are going to take them simply because they want them. Women cannot take their goods off like a rich person can when walking through poor people.

I have had people steal from me a few times for something as mundane as a Nintendo DS. People quite often take what they want if they know we have it. Women always have it and sexually depraved people always know it. It is also another unfortunate fact that men are hardwired to desire sex quite strongly. Most men want sex more than they want simply stealable items. As such, there are quite a few more potential candidates for rape than theft and I have personally been a victim of theft enough to consider and prepare for it. No, I am not arguing that theft is more common than rape, but that does not mean more people would not do it if they thought they could get away with it as easy as they could with stealing. There are far fewer opportunities. With theft, depending on the neighborhood, I might have to worry about locking my doors and buying household security systems. In some neighborhoods I might not. But with rape, try to imagine if your body were the very goods that half the population wanted, and in the right circumstances it will happen that someone will indeed take those goods. It is a rather scary proposition. Imagine if half the population were vampires who desired your blood. Most of the vampires could be good folk but there are certainly those who will take your blood just because they want it or have been deprived so long and you would similarly need to adjust your life around it. It is a rather scary potential.

The main point of all this is that we need to be aware of and empathetic to the woes of a woman. Similarly, women need to recognize that berating men or utilizing statements like "rape culture" or "systemic sexism" is not going garner as much support or empathy. It will close people off and make them more intolerant. It also leads to no solutions. Okay, so most men are jerks trying to rape women. Now what? Tell them to cut it out? Right, that will work. The only solution is either individual preparations of prevention or else informing men so they can help keep a lookout. We will certainly not stop people from being selfish and taking what they want. The best we can do is prevention in one way or another.

I have only covered rape at this point, which is merely a subset of the issues women face and does not at all cover the "systemic sexism" aspect of things. Women also face stereotypes of incapability, lesser intelligence, and due to this, I believe wage discrimination is also quite likely. I only say it is likely because I do not personally believe the data is conclusive at this point. I only know of one very-poorly done study and one other super small subset study. Perhaps there are more but I am not currently aware of them and thus I am ill-equipped to make a valid observation. I think it might still be likely, however, that women are paid less given my knowledge of history, but even if or when data comes in to support it there is still a lot more analysis necessary as to why it might be the case and it will still not help to simply state that men are terrible jerks for paying women less. Women getting paid less does not immediately equate to a systemic problem, although this perhaps depend on one's idea of what the "system" is. Again, word choice is crucial.

When I hear of a systemic problem, my brain immediately imagines systems of government and company functionality such as laws and people. Thus, it is saying to me that we have a bunch of laws, practices, or requirements, that unfairly hinder women. The word unfairly is key because it indicates that someone is to blame and they should be locked away for being a jerk-face. The system is, to some people, however, more or less the workings of life for a lack of a better way to put it. For example, there is systemic sexism in companies hauling heavy furniture because we can clearly see that men are hired more regularly than women. This could very easily be explained by the physiological differences between men and women. The job requires someone to be strong and capable of enduring many hours utilizing this strength. Sure, some woman can certainly do it, but there will certainly be fewer of them and fewer who even desire to do it in the first place. Thus, there is "systemic sexism" because the system of life is so designed as to prefer men over women for this particular job. But I will be quite quick to claim that this is not an injustice that needs correction. This concept of "systemic" has no concern for the reason of the discrepancy but only that it exists in the first place.

It is not the right thing, however, to push women into desiring to move furniture and it is not the right thing to regulate the company to ensure they are hiring some certain number of women just because this form of "systemic sexism" is present. This is quite simply not a problem--this is the way things are given biology and the unique desires and qualifications of men and women on average. The average man is more capable (obviously not all) and the average woman is not (also obviously not all). And while men are generally physically stronger, they are also generally more aggressive and less compassionate than women but to a far wider degree of variation. Women tend to be far more compassionate and thus tend to take on more selfless roles in their work choices. They are more likely to go into psychology or humanitarian positions. (FYI, such positions tend to pay less than the more male-dominated roles due to their lack of highly desired commodity to sell which helps to skew data toward perceiving a wage gap that may or may not truly exist when more comparable data is collected). This does not mean that such organizations are systemically sexist against men and that we need to start enforcing laws that they hire an equal share of men or even that we start pressuring more men into doing it. We can focus on ensuring that men know it is culturally acceptable if they so desire to be in such a position, but we should not pressure them any more than we ought to pressure anyone to be homosexual just because it should be culturally acceptable to be such and there are not an equal number of homosexuals to heterosexuals. Similarly, we should let women know that engineering is a perfectly acceptable and respectable thing for them to do, but I certainly do not believe that we should pressure them into it just to make the numbers look nicer. Nobody should be pressured into doing anything that they are not personally desirous of doing. Except maybe chores. Kids need to do chores.

So again, this concept of systemic sexism perceived simply because the data seems to indicate a leaning does not immediately mean there is a culprit who needs dealt with. It might just be a natural desire of men and women causing a perceived discrepancy and nothing more. It might be fair, and it might not be harmful in the slightest. Of course, there might also be very valid instances where it is indeed unfair and harmful. One such instance is revealed by blind auditions for a orchestras. Once the ability to know sex was removed and the choice came down to merely listening to the quality of the performance as it should, more women began being selected. So clearly there must have been some kind of discrepancy against women. Unless, of course, the study happened to be performed over a period of time where more women began applying and thus may have been selected anyway. Either way, it may require further examination to know the true cause when thinking from all angles, but the end result is to simply keep blind auditions. It makes sense and removes the potential for the problem. It may be good to research the real reasoning behind it in order to know how to combat other problems, but this one in particular is solved. We need not call out the patriarchy and accuse men of being jerks because of it. It does not help and indeed harms.

Many other discrepancies such as the hiring of African Americans or other minorities might also benefit from blind interviews and perhaps voice distortion. If we think there might be a problem with discrimination in hiring, then let's give it a shot and see what happens. I find this far more fair than simply ensuring that we hire a certain number of people from every race so as to appear as if we are not racist. That is certainly more harmful and quite racist to even consider and yet it is indeed done all the time. For all we know, we might find that we hire even fewer people of certain races because we are no longer fearing being called a racist by not hiring a particular minority. It could be that discrepancies of statistical race representations have nothing to do with racism and everything to do with a system that does not adequately train up qualified candidates within that race or perhaps that race as some kind of sub culture that makes them less desirous to apply to such positions. A lack of qualifications could be due to any number of reasons which may or may not come down to racism in an entirely different department. We have to be open minded, we have to come up with solutions and tests, and we have to stop simply pointing at data and claiming, "See?! It's a problem!"

We often point at arrests and note that African Americans are arrested at an alarmingly higher rate than white people. Well, when looking from all angles, we do not know if this is racism of the police by this statistic alone. Perhaps the racism is in teachers that do not adequately teach black students and thus they turn more to violence and crime. There are so many possibilities and yet we so often jump to the first available idea as to the culprit. It may come down to racism in the end, but simply saying, "The police are racist jerks," will not solve the problem even if it is true. If we suspect this to be the case then maybe there are other solutions. Clearly we cannot have the police running around blind all the time so that option is certainly out. Hopefully someone can come up with something far more ingenious, but an example might be having some kind of program to alternate police forces from vastly different regions who then might have an extremely different outlook on race relations. Perhaps it is not very practical, but it would be quite interesting to see what happens if you swap Ferguson's police force with a fairly diverse city elsewhere that does not appear to have the same discrepancy in arrests.

Would the Ferguson police force bring about that discrepancy and would the alternative police force bring down the discrepancy proving the fault in the police force themselves? Or would they remain consistent? Perhaps they would even be drastically different in that Ferguson's force would arrest more white people if they perceived the black population as being far less violent than Ferguson's and maybe the other force would arrest even more black people if they perceived them far more unruly than they are used to in their hometown. Such an experiment could be potentially eye-opening and quite useful. Maybe we would find things being far more fair simply by starting such a program because people would no longer become calloused against their particular city. Perhaps they get tired of going to the same neighborhood time and time again and thus become more likely to arrest, more likely to fine, and more likely to punish harder. Swapping out forces might remove that potential. Pointing at our police as the problem, however, and inducing anti-police propaganda is simply stupid, dangerous, irresponsible, and any other nasty adjective you'd like to add.

Let's look for solutions and stop pointing our fingers. Didn't anyone ever teach us that when we point our fingers we have three more pointing back at us?



Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Daily Grind

Every morning's all the same
Alarm goes off, resounds in brain
Half asleep and half like-dead
She doesn't stir or turn her head
He moves his hand, caresses skin
Cuddles close and hopes for grin
If ever she decides to budge
She grunts and turns and flames a grudge

Defeated, reaches for his cell
Reads some news, no one to tell
Plays a game and yawns his joy
What a sad and lonely boy
Time does pass and minutes linger
He swipes the screen with limp-like finger
Tries again to rouse his friend
Her mind is set, she will not bend

Minutes left, rises to feet
Takes a shower and lets cat eat
Sits in chair and ponders life
Longs to be with loving wife
Child awakes and runs to mom
Jumps in bed like atomic bomb
Kicks and cries and makes a fuss
Mom just smiles with kiss and mush

Sullenly he ties his shoes
Sighs a breath amid his blues
Drives to work and sits in chair
Offers emails glossy stare
Glazes over in boring meeting
Words and thoughts are ever fleeting
Smiles and nods as if clued in
Without the slightest clue within

Lunch time comes, he eats alone
Gets a message on his phone
So sorry that again she slept
Cannot fathom why she's inept
Tiredness she cannot beat
Except, of course, for little feet
Rolls his eyes, gets back to work
Not quite sure which one's the jerk

Depleted of energy he never had
Returns back home to be a dad
Kids are crying, mom's upset
House is wrecked, the floor is wet
Dinner's made, kids aren't glad
They're made to eat now all are mad
Retreats away to avoid the din
Frustrations grows, looms, and thickens

No zeal to play, the mojo died
Chores aren't done, the kids all cried
Blankly stares while others engage
In things all bought with his earned wage
Tired and weary retreats to bed
Kids are allowed to kick his head
Angrily asks she get them away
And tries to sleep to start the next day.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Meeting With God

The line seemed to stretch for miles as he stood on the clouds. Light gleamed brightly all around and yet it bothered no one at all. It sparkled and shone as if gold and diamond while remaining entirely invisible--a contradiction of the senses yet altogether understandable. Time became relative as if it never were before. The line simply moved and disappeared in a matter of seconds despite each discussion at the gates taking minutes and in some cases hours. Before he knew it, he stood third in line as he listened in to the two conversations before him.

A lady approached the gates full of confidence intent on walking through as she outstretched her arms exclaiming, "My Lord! How great it is to see you!"

"Lord?" A being replied as two shimmering, glowing guards held their hands up before the lady indicating that she should stop. "Lord?" The being repeated inquisitively. "How is it you call me Lord? I do not know you at all."

Aghast, the woman replied, "But, my Lord, I served you every waking hour of my life! How can you say you do not know me?"

"How can you say that you do know me? When have I asked anything of you that you might serve me?" The being spoke calmly while sitting in a majestic chair as one might expect of a deity. The light shining all around the chair masked any resemblance of human qualities that the sitter might possess. "I assure you, I have asked nothing of you and I do not know you."

"I... I'm Kris! Kris Chin! You must know me... You died for me! You said you would put my sins as far from me as the east is from the west... I... I don't understand." She paled as she tried to make sense of her situation.

"I assure you, Kris, I would never say such a thing. You see, east and west are mere constructs of mankind who walk the planet of Earth. Their unimaginative shortsightedness is demonstrated in the futility of such a meaningless statement. If one travels far enough east, she finds herself west. One can take a step to the east and immediately take a step to the west. Each step east makes the previous step west which once was east. If I promised to to put your sins as far from you as east is from the west, I have promised nothing at all. Your sins remain beside you in all directions and wherever you stand. East and west are relative and exist simultaneously in any one location."

Kris held back tears as she shook her head in disbelief. "I loved you with every ounce of my heart. I trusted you to save me."

The being replied gently, "It is not me whom you have trusted and known; we have only just met. You appear to have me confused with someone else. I must admit that I am surprised and slightly bemused if not for your grief that such deep love as you profess could have you mistake me for your life's devotion. Tell me, who is it that you believe so resembles my personage? I should like to meet her."

Kris's face contorted in confusion. "I... he... well..."

"My apologies, do tell me about him then," the being kindly interrupted.

"Well, I am talking about God. He is all-loving, all-kind, all-powerful, all-knowing, and he exists everywhere and in everything."

"Wow, I am flattered to have been confused with such a man!" the being exclaimed, "though clearly I am not existing everywhere and in everything. I sit before you now as you can see. I also have as of yet to demonstrate any such qualities to you. How is it that you confused me for him? Do we look alike?"

Kris stammered a little, "Well... I... yes. I mean, I think so."

"You think so?"

"Well, I've never actually seen him before," she explained, still a bit unsure of her situation and her deep convictions.

"I see. So you have never seen this man but you presume he looks similar to me. Tell me, how do you know the character of this man if you have never met him?"

"He is not a man," Kris said, "he is God, and God is love. And I know him, I just haven't seen him."

"An interesting disposition," the being replied. "You say you know him without seeing him and yet you mistook me for him. How do you know anything about him?"

"Well," Kris continued, "from the Bible--God's Word. And I talked with him every day."

"So his voice sounds much like mine?"

"No. I mean, I don't know, he never spoke to me audibly."

"I see..." the being trailed off.

"I spoke aloud to him, but he guided me with understanding as I read his written word in the Bible. He guided every aspect of my life."

"It says here that you died of cancer," the being prompted, "and spent the last three years of your life suffering unduly at the hands of chemotherapy."

"Well yes, but God helped me through it."

"You died," the being reminded, "and suffered up until that point. In what way did he help?"

"He kept me happy despite the pain and gave me promise of eternal life for my faith in him."

"The records indicate there were many cries of pain and much unhappiness during those three years. How can you say he kept you happy?"

Kris thought about it for a second, "I kept hope and faith to press on. It brought me joy when I thought about it. I wasn't always happy, but my faith in God's promises always brought me back."

"I see. So you brought your own joy when considering the promise of eternal life from your god. What was your contribution to this promise?" the being inquired.

"I... I believed. I kept the faith. I accepted his gift. It was nothing that I did on my own. He promised that I just needed to accept it."

"And this promise came from the Bible?"

"Yes."

"And you believed it?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

Kris stared blankly. She had no idea how she knew the Bible was true--she simply knew. She had never studied apologetics or tried to convince anyone of this truth. It simply resonated with her. It brought her comfort and joy and so she continued to believe. What could she say to answer this question? "I don't know," she offered sullenly.

"I see. Well, it was nice to meet you, Kris, you may pass. Follow the signs marked "Bible."

Kris's face lit up. "You're letting me in?" she asked exuberantly.

"Well yes, everyone gets in, it is simply a matter of where they go. Move along. Next!"

Kris, overwhelmed with joy and confusion, walked through the giant gates as instructed and followed signs marked "Bible." To her surprise, there were no other marked signs to follow. The road veered off at times, but the signs were blank apart from the ones reading "Bible." She continued as instructed wondering what might lie ahead.

Another man approached the gates and spoke to the brightly lit being on the chair, "Ha ha! Wow! That lady sure was stupid! What an idiot, right?"

"You may pass," the being responded. The man waltzed through the gates strutting importantly. "Oh," he instructed, "follow signs for 'asshole.'" The man's countenance dropped and his eyebrows furled as he scoffed. He continued to walk and, to his surprise, saw many florescent and glowing signs marked "asshole." One sign in particular pointed right at him and followed him as he moved. Indignant, he walked the unmarked roads in defiance.

Finally, the man witnessing these conversations approached the gates. "Um, hi. Uhh, what is this place? Who are you?" he managed to get out.

The being responded cheerfully, "Why, this is the afterlife, of course! I am Dee Itty. I am with human resources here. You would be surprised how many people do not ask me that question, though. So many seem to think they know already. They generally revere me as some kind of God and expect me to do favors for them."

"Oh. Uhh, nice to meet you, Dee. I'm Hue Manist. I didn't really expect there to be an afterlife, so I'm a bit shocked here. So what now? I saw the people before me and I can't say I know what happens next," Hue concluded.

"Well," Dee explained, "we have a few different settlements similar to the concept of countries. It is my job to determine which one you would be a good fit for. Sometimes it is not immediately clear who should go where and so I send them on special missions to determine their true character."

"So these settlements are based on character?" Hue reasoned.

"Character and personality mostly. It would not be a very decent eternity for a compassionate person to be roommates with a torturous barbarian, for example. Or an intellectual to live beside those who have never had an original thought in their life. It would be quite frustrating for both parties."

"That makes sense," Hue nodded. "So what will become of Kris?"

"Kris needs further study and psychological support. She will follow the signs marked "Bible" until she finds the futility in it. As she begins to reason, the signs will change and she can begin to see with her own eyes and think with her own mind. Then we can truly see what she is made of. With people like her, it is difficult to tell what she thinks since she allowed someone else to do it for her all her life. It is such a mixed bag of people where some are nice and some are not. They all profess the same basic ideal in life--faith in God--and yet some will torture anyone who disagrees with them, chop of heads, or commit genocide against everyone else, while some will simply live no different than the average person. A select few will even take to being kind and compassionate toward others although usually in hopes of spreading their beliefs."

"And what of the man before me?" Hue asked.

"The signs marked 'asshole' will lead him to one of the lesser settlements where he can live as he sees fit. Of course, he will likely spend a great deal of time wandering aimlessly until he must acknowledge who he is and actually follow the signs marked out for him. People like him have little capacity for understanding the point of view of others and so he will live out his years with similar people. He will either grow to understand and change in which case he may be given special privileges to move, or he will forever complain, mock, and jeer as he has done all his life. If he is not satisfied with either option, there are provisions in this settlement to erase one's existence. We are not particularly fond of torture here but we are also not fond of people walking all over others. It is the best we can do."

Hue nodded in agreement. After some thought, he asked, "And what of me, then? Where will I go?"

Dee returned the question, "Where would you like to go? What kind of place would suit you the best?"

Hue opened his mouth to speak and cut himself short. "Hmm..." he pondered. "Well, at first thought I would have asked to be where everyone is constantly loving, caring, compassionate, and thinking of others. But, while I am indeed those things at times, it is not constant. I, too, can be selfish and I would not fit in well with such a group. To be honest, I often prefer to be left alone to some degree without others constantly worrying about me and what I'm doing. I guess I just want a place where I can be me and everyone else can be themselves. A place where we are considerate and caring, yet not particularly focusing on others unless that is within our own interest. I want to live in a place where we can pursue our creativity and enjoy the creativity of others. A place where we can seek out new ideas and strive for our passions. I want to be recognized and enjoyed for who I am and what I do even if I am not the best, but simply because it is me and what I enjoy. Is there a place like that?"

Dee smiled behind the veil of light. "And do you think that you can live out this ideal yourself?"

Hue responded, "I think so," as everything around him began to melt and blow away in the wind. Hue stood hovering over nothing and before him stood Captain Picard of the USS Enterprise. He pointed at Hue with a grin and said, "Make it so!" In a flash, Ayth Eist awoke in his bed only to realize that this had all been a dream. He pondered the meaning behind it all just long enough to remember that dreams have no explicit meaning beneath the mysterious workings of the brain as it processes and organizes information. He felt strangely comforted, however, as he considered the words of Hue and the conversations with Dee. Surely, Ayth could see the wisdom in all of it given that it had been derived of his own mind. He decided then that he would take Captain Picard's challenge to "make it so" on Earth. Ayth Eist decided to be just like Hue Manist.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Stereotypes Are Not The Problem; Being a Dick Is

I will give kudos to George Takei for sharing the particular article linked here as well as kudos to Nalin Gupta who wrote the article. It was refreshing to see someone articulate that gender inequality and stereotypes are not simply a female problem. And, although not explicitly stated, and perhaps even counter to the point, it helped me to realize the true issue at hand. In all reality, stereotypes are not the problem; being a dick is.

In all the things depicted in the article, the problem became apparent through shaming. Men are shamed for being weak and "girly." I argue that this is not a problem with stereotyping. Stereotypes are useful in many ways and are quite often accurate for the larger part of the population. They also demonstrate preferences of the majority which is helpful to know. The only time this becomes a "problem" is when people choose to belittle others who do not fit the cookie-cutter norms. The problem is not the cookie cutter; it is the people who think everyone ought to be a particular shape of cookie.

The rough and tough man image is a common stereotype of manliness. One that I do not fit in the slightest. I am weak, I do not like sports, I do not know the difference between rib-eye, sirloin, and what-have-you, I have no interest in guns, and I know very little about the mechanics of vehicles. These are all great stereotypes of the typical male of which I do not align with. Is this a problem? By no means. I have no problem with the fact that I do not fit this stereotype. And sure, if someone throws a male-oriented party focusing on sports, guns, and women I am going to be under-enthused. And yet, the majority of males are likely to enjoy the party. And that is great for them. I will just hold a different party with people more like me. The problem truly starts, however, when people mock me for my weakness and lack of knowledge in sports and automobiles. I could not care less about my lack of fitting the stereotypical norm and those who do care only care because they have been degraded for it. So again, it comes down to mocking and jeering rather than the norm itself.

The depictions of men and women in magazines and movies are generally the stereotypical roles because that is what most people idolize. If they idolized something else, surely the media would pick up on it and sell that instead. They sell what people want. People want curvy women and buff, hairless men. If all things were equal in personality and we each had to choose between sexy or fat, the majority of us would prefer the sexy. We might choose the fat simply out of fear because we, ourselves, are fat and feel unworthy, but that does not mean we truly prefer it. The average person prefers non-fat. But all things are not equal. I am desirable because of my personality, not because of my physical build. Someone with a muscular build might be far inferior to me because he is a complete jerk. I need not be "manly" to be appreciated or valued. I wish I were a nicer build, of course, since most people would prefer it, but this is no different than most people preferring sweet to sour. I will bring donuts to work sooner than lemons even if I am a lemon fanatic simply because I know what people prefer.

Stereotypes provide a means for knowing what most people prefer. Most girls prefer pink, soft, and cuddly so I am more likely to succeed in making a girl happy by giving her something soft and pink. Not all women are this way so I may find that it does not work with some girls, but for the average girl it would be sufficient. That does not make a woman any less valuable if she is more into sports than bunnies. It is simply not typical. And in this day and age, few people seem to even care about typical. Most people seem to want to be unique. Many people value uniqueness. The problem resides in those that do not value this uniqueness. Again, it comes down to people being rude. This is the problem we must fix. We need not remove stereotypes, we need to train people in tolerance and kindness.

It is not typical for a man to dress in women's clothing and, even if I were interested in doing so, I would not do it for the sake of my career. Knowing the preferences of those around me, I am going to avoid those things which are likely not to be shared preferences. In the same way, if I know that everyone is a Star Wars fan at work, I am not likely to dress up my cube with Star Trek paraphernalia unless I am looking forward to some [potentially friendly] harassment. The problem would only be with the jerks who think I am less of a person for preferring Star Trek. There would be no problem with stereotyping my workplace as a Star Wars-loving enterprise even though I am more into Star Trek. I would not fit the stereotype, and yet it is not a problem to recognize that the stereotype exists. Stereotypes are nothing more than preferences or qualities of the majority. There is nothing wrong with them. We simply need to be fair to those who do not fit within them as neatly as others. We need not fight stereotypes and tropes, we need merely combat being an ass-hat.


Monday, July 6, 2015

It is a Shame Few Will Share This


It is a shame that few people will share this, but if you do not then clearly you are evil and bound for hell. I have seen many memes along the lines of this sentiment. Most often, they are religious in nature where they appeal to one's faith and indicate that they are not faithful or that they are ashamed of their faith if they do not share. It surprises me how many people do not simply scoff and refuse to share such things knowing that it has nothing to do with their faith and everything to do with their refusal to be manipulated.

It makes sense, however, that these are religious in nature since most religious people tend to be fear-oriented. They fear hell and they fear rejecting God. The fear is set strong and hard so much so that they dare not question their faith and anyone doing so is quickly lambasted with insult rather than responded to with logic and reason. Such people are easily coerced into all kinds of foolish behaviors including voting against their best interests.

The Republican party is quite versed in its fear-based tactics. They appeal to the religious nature of the masses and indicate that they are the Godly party because they fight against abortion and gays. What is interesting, however, is how much they uplift the wealthy and do not help the poor. Jesus' 3-year mission was all about helping the poor and he rarely mentioned anything regarding sex whatsoever. He certainly never mentioned anything about homosexuality or abortion specifically. When it comes to morality, whether or not we agree eye to eye on these things, there is a greater evil occurring right before our eyes but the religious are slow to see it.

Religious people are too quickly caught up in the rhetoric of fear. The Mexicans are taking our jobs, the Muslims are infiltrating our country, ISIS is going to kill us all, and the gays are going to have God destroying our country like Sodom and Gomorrah. Oddly enough, Ezekiel 16:49 claims the reason for Sodom's destruction had more to do with lack of concern for the poor than any sexual misconduct: "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."

But fear works. It works too well. It is time to realize that our country will be destroyed economically by uplifting the Pharisaical Republicans who destroy widows houses and make a show of their religion long before God destroys us for any perceived immorality of a sexual nature. We need to realize that Jesus cared for the poor and did not provide a stipulation of worrying about those cheating the system. Jesus recognized that the poor were oppressed by the rich and not the other way around. There might be people here and there that abuse the system, but that does not mean we ought to vote in favor of the rich at our own suffering and that of the 99% of people. If you are worried about God, let God deal with the system-abusers. Meanwhile, let us do what we ought and help those in need: the poor and middle class. Jesus would have been a Democrat much sooner than a Republican by today's party definitions. The Republican party is equivalent to the party of the Pharisees from Jesus' day.

It is a shame that few Christians will understand this, but if they love Jesus and truly care for this country, then they will drop the Pharisaical Republican party and vote in line of helping the poor and the 99% over the top 1%. Our nation can be great, but we need to focus on loving the 99% more than on our fears of invaders and being taken advantage of. The more we vote Republican, the more we guarantee being taken advantage of by the rich. It must stop. The wealthy have enough power and it is time to bring a voice back to the people. If you care at all for the direction of our country, share this with as many people as you can. And if you do not share this, then you will have bad luck for 10 years and all your loved ones will suffer crazy ailments but if you do share then you will receive money within the next month and Jesus will be happy and mana will probably fall from heaven and everyone will be happy. Remember, if you love Jesus, you will share. But, if you hate him, then just ignore this like everyone else.

(note: the threats and promises are intended to be obviously facetious and are not to be taken literally. Still, if you love Jesus...)

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Boy Who Cried Racist

In third and fourth grade my best friend was Chris, a Chinese boy with Chinese parents. I even had my first crush on a Chinese girl named Marika. We would partner with each other whenever we had the chance. I grew up around a lot of migrant Mexican workers in Washington state during middle school who picked cherries for a living. I heard rumors about gangs and especially Mexican gangs, but I never really saw any. I played basketball with a lot of them during lunch in high school along with a Chinese boy named Dong. My best friend as a Freshman in high school was also Chinese but probably half Caucasian as I believe was his mom in an interracial marriage. I enthusiastically signed up for Spanish classes so that I could speak the language of all the Mexicans around me.

I remember watching cartoons and kid shows like Sesame Street as I grew up that showed a lot of different people from a lot of different backgrounds. I am not sure I would have been entirely aware that differences in color and eye orientation were even something to consider regarding a person's value, but the TV shows assured me anyway that we should not judge a person in such way. I pretty much saw this as obvious and I never saw anyone do otherwise.

My aunt Genevieve went on a trip to the Philippines once and told me how they only had holes for toilets. I longed to travel and see such crazy different ways of life. I remember being told about how bad life was for a lot of people in Africa and China specifically. I felt bad for them and always wanted to help them in some way.

I went to college at Michigan Tech where I met all kinds of different people including Indians and Muslims for the first time. I found it rather exciting. I never really had much exposure to black people for some reason though. They seemed to keep to themselves I guess. I saw them on TV a lot but I tended to interact mostly with other races. The interactions I did have were generally pleasant, but I kept away from the ones who dressed like the rappers I might see on TV who liked to sing about f-ing women, beating cops, doing drugs, uplifting money over everything, and wearing gold all over their teeth. Such crude behavior never floated my boat. I appreciated those who did not uplift this image though.

When I worked at McDonald's in Iron Mountain, Michigan one Summer, I met my first racist in the drive through. She wanted to know why I had given her child a black Barbie doll. She informed me that "we don't like those kinds of people around here." I was aghast and lied to her telling her that we had no other Barbies to give and she would have to be satisfied with the one she got. She drove away upset while I wondered how she could have possibly come to such an outlandishly stupid conclusion. The culture certainly never gave me that same impression. I only remember one other black person in Iron Mountain though. His name was Ashley and he worked at a gas station. He was nice enough. Without any black people around, I wonder how a person could even learn to hate them. Nobody was even encountering them to talk smack about them and TV always seemed quite inclusive. I figured it must have been a bad family.

When I visited Virginia Beach for a Summer, I found a lot of Russians around. I tried to learn how to say "smile" but apparently I could never pronounce one of their sounds properly. I still have a picture I took with the four Russians I befriended at that time.

I moved to Kansas City, Missouri for a while where I met plenty of black people. In fact, my neighbors were very large black people. One of them broke one of our dining room chairs when we had them over for dinner but we tried not to hurt his feelings by saying it was okay and silently throwing it away when it was dark since it appeared unrepairable. I attended a few black churches a couple times and I wondered why they were so black-filled with not a single white person around. There were clearly plenty of white people so why did the church not represent them? I found it odd, but they did have their own flavor and style that perhaps simply did not meet the fancies of white people. I thought it was a unique experience and the people were nice enough, but I did not care much for the flavor myself. I also went to a Spanish-speaking church which was pretty fun and had good people, but it still seemed too different and difficult to really feel a belonging.

My wife befriended a black coworker and we went out with her and her husband a few times. I still remember how hilarious it was when the server asked if he wanted a box for his food and he respond, "nah, I'm gonna kill this." They were great people.

While in Kansas City, I made friends with Juana, the bread lady at Fazoli's. She was from Mexico. She and her husband Vicente worked extremely hard in order to provide a better life for their child back home in Mexico. We became great friends despite a bit of a distance between us. We met another black lady from the church we attended at the time named Mesha. She joined us for Bible studies at our apartment along with a Chinese lady and a few other people. We all thought Mesha was awesome. She was very bubbly and friendly.

When I joined Eaton as an Engineer, I worked with many Indians and Pakistanis along with someone from Syria and a few other places. When visiting Indians would come over I would always take them out for dinner and even bring them home to meet my family. I tried to ensure that they would have a pleasant visit even though I have a really hard time understanding their accents a lot of times and the fact that I am also very introverted.  I find it difficult to do small-talk. I always tried my best to pronounce their names properly too which they appreciated greatly. One resident Indian I had a hard time with early on in my career, but I sat down and had a heart-to-heart with her and we realized how we got off on the wrong foot and we became pretty good friends after that.

I saw my second racist person while I lived in Kalamazoo. Sophie was our 80-some-year-old neighbor. We figure since she lived with dinosaurs and slavery we could probably give her a pass, but we certainly did not agree with any racist comments that she would make and we would try to encourage her to realize that not all black people were the same as she would describe. We became good friends with the Greek owner of a restaurant that we frequented by taking Sophie out on a weekly basis hoping to improve her life and mindset.

Now I work at GM. I sit in an office next to a Vietnamese, a Guatemalan, and a Chinese lady. On the other side of my wall is an Indian and two other Chinese guys. The floor is filled with others from Japan, Russia, and who knows where else. I have been trying to learn some Chinese and I practice what I learn with Xiao, Roumei, and Lisong. It turns out that my kids actually know Roumei's kids from a Summer class we enrolled them in. We often have Mexican visitors and, like I did for the Indian visitors at Eaton, I often take them out to places like to Dave and Busters. I am saving up quite a racket in points from that place with the many times I have gone now.

I started using Facebook regularly perhaps about five years ago. I started seeing these complaints about racism perhaps only a couple years ago. All these experiences I have described shape who I am and how I see race and racism in the world. Throughout my life, my experiences have shown me a great blending of races and I have made many friendships across many races and religions. I have personally come across only two obviously racist people and I work in a company that, if anything, could only be considered racist in that they prefer to hire people who are not white.

With all this, I can hardly believe my eyes when I see the news and Facebook posts. Everyone is crying racism with every passing comment and story. Some white guy was not called a terrorist when he shot 9 people in a church and yet we call a Muslim a terrorist for blowing up people at a marathon and so I see crying all over Facebook regarding it. Of course, the first I heard of the white shooter it was indeed with reference to him being a terrorist anyway. I did some research on some Muslim shooters at a Draw Mohammad contest and lo and behold they were not called terrorists either until after more information was found and they were determined to belong with ISIS, a known terrorist group. So the complaint did not ring true in the slightest.

I see police take down and sometimes kill black people who were resisting arrest and I hear the chant of racism. All I can do is wonder why he resisted arrest. Everywhere I turn I see people complaining about the racism of the white man. Even the white man is complaining about the racism of the white man. I simply do not get it. All my life from Washington to Michigan to Kansas and back to Michigan, I saw people getting on just fine despite racial differences. They had no problem with me and I had no problem with them. They are in my workplace with great careers and in leadership positions. The issues are always "in the news" and are reported as terrible events.

Everything around me for all my life has proclaimed that racism is not a problem. And then the news shows an incident here and an incident there and tells me that this is some systemic problem all throughout our nation and we somehow teach this to our kids. Well, I certainly did not learn it as a kid and all the media I watched told me it was wrong. I, too, am a product of my culture. Even the media I watch today tells me it is wrong but with the added stipulation that media is the one promoting it. I see some media fighting back against the backlash of accusations, but I certainly do not see the media uplifting racism in any way shape or form. So who is actually doing all this racism in the media then? I simply do not get it.

Now, when I talk about all this stuff and my confusion over it, the very first thing I hear is accusations of being racist myself with an added racist comment that I clearly suffer from "white privilege" and that I am the problem. Clearly, those calling wolf are not very good at determining who and what is racist. Hopefully it is clear enough from my history that I am not racist and yet I am labeled as such without so much as batting an eye from people who love to chant that there is a problem. Notably, this does not bring me much comfort that they have any amount of correctness in their position although this of course does not guarantee they are wrong. But, if they can mistake me of all people for a racist, then clearly they are blind as bats and are filled with confirmation bias from their own failed upbringing.

However, I am willing to understand the fact that my experiences are limited. I have not lived everywhere. It is safe to say that some places are different than others and cultures form around different things. I am positive that some places are indeed highly racist. But I am so entirely sick of being thrown under the bus with the rest of them. Call a person a racist for a specific racist act, fine, but do not call the entire system of the United States racist when we have a black president for crying out loud. And he won with a whopping 51% both times which apparently has not happened since 1956. So this is not the story of a single person's random anecdotal success, this is the story of 51% of our voting population that is clearly not racist enough to deny a black candidate based on skin color. The system clearly allows for people of other races to climb the ladder even to the top of our country.

Yes, I understand that statistically speaking it might be harder for some races. Statistically speaking it is also harder for people who are missing an arm or a leg or have autism as well but that does not always mean we are discriminating against them. Statistics in this regard mean nothing when there could be an extremely wide variety of reasons as to why the statistic could be meaningful. This is why it is called correlation and not causation. But the more we fight and complain about race wars, the more race wars we will actually have. We need to say "Racism is bad, don't do it" or "See this person who did a terrible racist thing? Don't be like him" rather than "Racism is everywhere! AAAaaaahhh!!!! Run for the hills!! Your're terrible for saying it's not so!!" This is not helping. Clearly. And it sounds a lot like the religious yokels claiming, "Ahh!! The homosexuals are going to take over the nation and God's going to smite us all!! Eegads, the Muslims are coming for us to take us over under the banner of Satan! Ahhh!!!" It so shocks me that the religious chants and the racist chants tend to be from opposing groups. They both express this outragism and yet mock the other for it.

But let us call an apple an apple rather than generically calling it fruit. When you can be specific, be specific or else it sounds an awful lot like condemning the entirety of the category. If someone is poisoned by an apple, we should not be saying that someone was poisoned by eating fruit and it is so terrible that fruit is poisonous when in reality it was a certain man who had an allergy to apples who just happened to die by eating one. There are 319 million people in the United States. A single incident or even 100 means nothing. And when a single source just happens to say a crazy white guy shot 9 black people in a church but does not use the word "terrorist," this does not mean we should yell, "Aahh!! The media is not calling the white guy a terrorist! They merely said he was mentally ill!! The media is racist!!" It simply means that a white guy (who is indeed clearly deranged given his actions) shot 9 people who were black. Yes, he was racially motivated. He said so. But this does not mean the entire nation is racist. Even 200 incidents in one year does not mean that the entire system of 319 million people is racist. This would not be statistically significant in any normal study that did not have a bias to fear the chant of racism and to be culturally appropriated into the high-class superiority of chanting that the country is entirely racist.

Unfortunately, the way statistics are used for the argument of racism is ridiculous. We look at the statistics of how more black people are arrested for the same crime than white people and we call this disproportionate and thus racist while overlooking that the 13% of our population who are black commit over 50% of our murders. We say that it is clearly racism when the white man's actions statistically bend toward blacks and yet we ignore that the statistics tell the exact same story that blacks are disproportionately killing blacks. One means something and the other does not even though they are the same thing. The black people are killing primarily black people so by the same logic that whites are targeting blacks we would have to conclude that blacks are targeting blacks. Of course, this is not true. Yet it is considered racist if the white person kills more black people and not when the black person kills more black people. Why does the statistic supposedly work one way and not the other? These are merely correlations. They are not causation by any means and they show a significant misinterpretation of data.

Black people kill more black people than white people because they are surrounded primarily by black people and they interact more with black people than white people. So of course they kill more black people without targeting blacks specifically. Similarly, the police could kill more black people because the officers are more willing to shoot suspects in black neighborhoods where crime and murder are at higher rates and thus they are at significantly higher risk. In such murderous towns, it is also quite possible that they have greater cause to shoot.

Statistics are great and all, but only if we make valid conclusions regarding them rather than making false assumptions and immediately running correlations to the bank as if they are causation. Again, pointing at people and claiming they are racist is not beneficial. Teaching early-on and all throughout our media that racism is unacceptable and also quite stupid is a far better solution. Enough with the name-calling and picking and choosing statistical correlations as if they truly support arguments. It makes my head hurt.

What is true, however, is that blacks do have a harder time in life. They do get pulled over more, they do not get as good an education on average, and they end up with significant hurdles to overcome. We need to get to the bottom of why this is. It is clear that it all started from racism. Very bad racism. Blacks were originally segregated and when a black person moved in near a white person the white people would move away. Blacks would also have a harder time getting jobs and being treated fairly or getting apartments and loans. This ultimately set black people up for failure in the long run. With less income, they had less taxes and less education. With less education, they became more delinquent and sensually-oriented. The police used to arrest blacks for any and all crimes in order to sell them as prison labor which took a lot of fathers away from their children. This caused maladjusted kids to grow into adults.

There is a lot of issues now with the black culture overall due to the racism of the past. Even if all racism were immediately eradicated, the culture itself could take over for itself. The lack of education, the fatherlessness, the drugs, crime, and murder, will continue the same pitfalls and create stereotypes of the culture and recreate similar racism all over again. Humans are very quick to draw patterns. In the hippie movement, it is not like everyone wore long hair but it became stereotyped anyway because enough people did it. We will never get past stereotyping and thus it is important that the significant majority of blacks are well-adjusted adults. What we need to focus on then is education and providing an extra hand to those in particularly impoverished areas. I do not mean that we help "black" people because that would be racist as well. We need to help all poor groups which will indeed disproportionately help black people while not withholding support from white people in the same position.

We need to stop with the complaining about non-factual things, however, which promotes more racism and bitter opposition to the real problem. All the false cries will turn the entire problem into the boy who cried wolf. Few people will believe there is even a problem with racism at all if so many people are pointing the finger falsely. In the end, the solutions have much less to do with race than with education and support for struggling people. The cries of racism need to end and the concern for those in need must rise which will fix any racial injustice or disproportion.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Spiral Stone

A rock beats
Its juices flow
Fear grips
It doesn't show

In a cage
It hardly moves
Soul and spirit
Never used

Seeks a friend
Provides them pain
Asks for more
Nothing's gained

Speaks a phrase
It's partly heard
Misconstrued
For lacking word

Sits alone
Longs for skin
To cuddle rock
And change within

Always cold
Longs for heat
Robot hands
It sees it meets

Actions here
Works abound
Never useful
Earthly bound

Seeks a soul
From spirit realm
Misconstrued
Overwelmed

Fears itself
A limit reached
Forever cause
A hatred breached

Waits to try
Another time
Same old story
Different rhyme

Rolls up hill
Rolls back down
Where does it end
When. And how.

The Lonely Grain of Sand

The grain of sand sits alone on the beach
Companionship, for him, is out of reach
He strives for meaning and purpose in life
Yet amid the crowd finds a lonely strife

Alone yet surrounded by those just like him
His hopes keep growing ever more dim
He finds no solace from those around
And every word spoken seems to be drowned

Perhaps he'd be chosen and turned to glass
Yet nothing he becomes would ever last
And nothing he'd do would have an impact
Such selection is random as a matter of fact

The grain is a grain and ever will he be
Bemoaning his plight whenever this he sees
Longing for more and to be unique
Has no source of comfort--forever a freak

Created from nothing to be nothing alone
Yet feels nothing with others whom he's outgrown
Forever contentious as he seeks his worth
Pondering why for his baseless birth

No one around brings him any ease
They simply do as each one of them pleases
No care, concern, for who or what they are
They live and die--never a star

Meaningless, foolish, they live out each day
Unaware they're nothing on the beach they lay
Aspiring not to be anything more
They're daily walked on as nature's floor

He ponders serenity in such an ignorant grip
Poisonous wastefulness drips off thier lip
A focus on things that shall not last
The mundane, the worthless, is truly vast

But no, not for him, he'll do his best
He beats at the wind, he beats at his breasts
Fights the good fight and won't be a tool
Nor a resting ground for a dumb creature's stool

Never content to be just a grain
He presses on again and again
Hoping one day for an open door
Yet he dies one day never anything more

The moral is hard and entirely gray
Does one even choose how to live each day?
We're all a product of how we're made
Even those striving whose lives they've paid

Some will succeed though mayhap by chance
Others will die while others will dance
The waste is on those who's never so joyed
Yet success lends reason for efforts employed

The grain could not change at all how he felt
For just like the others, his cards were dealt
Some are quite glad to live and to die
While others must wonder, to suffer, to try

Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Future Prospects of a Dad

Do you ever wonder what your kids will say
When your face is wrinkled and your hair is gray,
They've moved on far out of the way
And you will not see them most every day?

Will they reminisce of the times you've had,
Remember you as the world's greatest dad,
Have nothing to say that you'd feel is bad
And gloat about living with someone so rad?

Or will they forget and be glad to leave
While thoughts of you give cause to grieve
Wondering why for all you believe
And consider you old, crude, and naive?

Do you do the things you say you'll do
Make it a point to follow through
So when they are gone they'll remember you
And remember when they were your buckaroo?

Or say you one thing yet do another
Make them think "Yeah, right. Oh, brother."
They feel as if in lies they're smothered
And find acceptance in childhood lovers?

Do you try to get within their mind
Understand their thoughts when they're in a bind
Help their way, when lost, to find
Be a guiding light with a manner that's kind?

Or do you scoff with their foolish plight
Retort in anger and provide only fright
Remind them their youth and your great might
Pretending that your ideas are always right?

Are you a friend who shows them interest
Perhaps even follow if they're on Pinterest
Encourage their work, their art, their joys
Even if there is an obvious flaw in their work?

Well think of it now for in some years
You must consider if there be good or bad tears
From a heart that is filled with glee and cheers
Or a belly that's bitter and a liver of beers

Perhaps the time's past, perhaps it is gone
Your kids think of you and they muster a yawn
You gripe and you moan as you sit on your lawn
You've already lost at least one of your spawn

Well it's up to you if you care to try
It's not always easy if they've gone and said bye
It does no good if your faults you deny
But a lot can be mended if you stop on by

Just realize a mindset is hard to change
After years of shaping and your brain is deranged
It's not impossible after you've been estranged
But not everyone benefits from such an exchange

That's why it is better to consider now
Before they're grown up and set their hands to the plow
Do you let them be them? Is this allowed?
Or do you treat them like one of the cows?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Why Debate Exists About Systemic Racism and Sexism

Language is a fickle beast. It is as slithy and brillig as the toves gyring and gimbling in the wabe. We all perceive words and meanings in a unique way and many people use words in ways that are not even accurate. When this happens often enough and for a long enough period of time, the dictionary definition is forced to change. I speak about language here because I believe it is the key component to the disruption of this conversation regarding racial bias. Not only do words hold different meanings to different people, but certain phrases might elicit interpretations that were never even intended by the original speaker. Compound these issues with the complexity and touchiness of the subject and we are ripe for debates, controversies, anger, and even riots and murder.

The many issues in discussing this topic make it quite nearly impossible to have a valid discussion regarding it and hoping to make any useful steps to coherence, understanding, and unity between the differing camps of thought. In order to have this conversation, we need to begin with definitions. What is racism exactly? Pulling a dictionary definition is only partially useful because many people do not adhere to the dictionary definition and our word-choices are only as good as the ability for others to interpret them. I propose that there is a significant population of people such as myself that view racism as a belief in the inferiority of another race. It is to say that all people of a particular race are inferior as a byproduct of their genes which make them up. Other people believe it is racist merely to mention race in relation to an idea. To some, it is racist to believe that black people often enjoy watermelon and fried chicken more than white people. For me, this is not racism but a potential statistic. I truly do not know the numbers, and for all I know it is a downright lie to begin with, but let's say 90% of black people like watermelon and fried chicken while only 50% of white people do. If these numbers were accurate (which they most assuredly are not) I do not personally believe it is then racist to plan a black gathering and providing these two food items in hopes for it to be well received. Other people would disagree and call this racism. This is why we must define our words.

This disagreement in the meaning of racism will clearly have a distinct effect on whether or not an individual believes in the existence of this concept of "systemic racism." When I, and I presume many others, hear the concept of systemic racism, we hear "the system hates black people and believes they are all inferior and thus treats them unfairly." When other people hear of system racism, they hear, "most everything in our day to day affairs is harder for a black person." Hopefully nobody believes in the first, and with some simple data hopefully everyone can understand the truth of the second. Understanding that it is true, however, is only the first step. Then there is the issue with blame and how to solve the issue which fuels even more debate.

When I hear about racism, I immediately perceive "whites hating blacks." Perhaps it is the "system" that makes be feel this way. Other people simply hear "life is harder for minorities." There is a distinct problem between these two phrases. The first condemns white people while the second is merely the recognition of a statistical fact. Similarly, when talking about sexism, I presume many people hear, "men are pigs and treating women like objects" while others hear, "life is harder for women." Thus, the simple words of racism and sexism will entirely garble the conversation. Because of this, I argue that we ought to do away with them all together and instead focus more on the actual issues at hand. It is useless to say that we have systemic racism or sexism. It is more useful to say that it is more difficult to succeed in life for black people and women. Nobody feels threatened by this. Nobody feels accused. These phrases, for me, elicit merely a question and a desire to solve a problem. I immediately wonder if it is true, how it is true, or why it is true rather than perceiving I am being called a monster for treating people unfairly.

This same issue arises with the phraseology of "white privilege." This phrase easily elicits an "us against them" concept. It focuses on white people as being a problem rather than on the issues surrounding the struggles of black people. The solution may have a lot to do with white people, but if we use such phrases that make white people appear as the problem, we are going to have fewer white people trying to help. Instead, we will get many upset white people for being accused of something even if that is not the intention of the person speaking the white privilege phrase. We must be exceedingly careful with our language if we wish to make a significant impact.

All these things being said, it is easy to see how it might be harder to succeed in life for a black person or a woman. We may have a black president which, to me, indicates that the majority of America is not "racist" any more than the "system" is by my own understanding of the word, but this in no way indicates that life is somehow easier for all of the black populace. Just because one black person makes it big does not mean that all black people have a similar chance or ease of ascension. It will be no more indicative of the easiness of life for a woman if Hillary Clinton becomes president in 2016. These individual accounts are known as anecdotes and they do not help in any way in understanding the overall situation of blacks or women.

When it comes to understanding why success does not come as easily for the black person or female as it does for the white person or male, there are a multitude of things to look at. We cannot simply leave it as if racism and sexism are the cause. Given my own use of such words, they are certainly not the cause. Given how some other people use the words, it becomes fairly redundant and meaningless. We could say that life is harder for blacks because people or the system think black people are inferior, but we cannot say that life is harder for blacks because people or the system make it harder for blacks. Well, we could say that, but it is not very useful. With the first, we could devise a plan to educate the people that blacks are not inferior. But with the second, it tells us nothing as to the true cause. It is simply hard because we make it hard. We need to dive deeper into what makes it harder and why these things exist. We need to look at the cause and not the symptoms.

If we know that cancers are causing deaths, we cannot simply say that cancer is the problem and leave it at that. We need to figure out what causes the different cancers. If it turns out that sugar causes one cancer, we could eliminate sugar. We could also dive deeper into determining how sugar causes this cancer and maybe find a way to eliminate that reaction. The same goes for the difficulty for blacks to succeed. Whether or not these following things are true, I am not positive, but I believe they might be. Either way, true or not, they should at least serve as an example. Part of what makes it more difficult for blacks to succeed could be education. The educational facilities in predominantly black neighborhoods might be sub-par. They might be sub-par because the cities might be poor. They might be poor because richer people stay out of them. Richer people might stay out of them because the crime might be too high. The crime might be too high because the education is not good enough and because the people are poor. If these things are true, it is easy to see that the problem is circular and self-sustaining. If each of these things cause each other, there is seemingly no good way out. We cannot simply tell them to get a job so that they are no longer poor so that they can have better educational facilities and get better jobs any more than we can shame a depressed person into being happy.

Apart from my own hypotheticals, there is certainly also the problem of racial perception as I may have just demonstrated. True or not, my perceptions remain. I would not consider these perceptions racist from my own definition, but they are indeed perceptions of a race which others do take to be racism. Again, this is why the word is useless for this discussion and these perceptions is where most of the discussion regarding systemic racism lies. Studies have shown that managers are less likely to call back an applicant with a black-sounding name over candidates with white-sounding names. This study has a limitation given that the scientists applied only to newspaper ads which limits the study to a certain type of person who would post a job in a newspaper at this day and age, but we can run with this anyway and show that it is at least more difficult for black people in this one regard. So it is harder for black people to get a job when the listing is found in a newspaper. This is certainly scientifically true. At least, it is true for two cities in Illinois where the study took place. But we still need to ask ourselves why this is the case even if not for the entire nation and for all jobs which may or may not be the case without bringing in further studies. I believe this discrimination is likely due to perception of likelihoods regarding a race which once again brings us back to the definition of racism. Some will call this racism which elicits a feeling of accusation and is entirely unhelpful in resolving the issue.

If the managers listing ads in the newspapers perceived consciously or unconsciously that, on average, black people are less qualified for the job and thus call white names first, then this should clearly be seen as a bad thing even if it is statistically more advantages to take this sort of shortcut. Despite its truth or myth, we have decided as a country that it is not right to make decisions based upon the averages of a race rather than on the merits of individuals themselves. Men commit the vast majority of murders and rapes and thus it is far more likely that a male applicant would be a murderer or a rapist than a female, but we certainly should not take that to mean that men should be given less precedence over women when choosing applicants to interview. I would be willing to bet that few people actually take this into consideration, but this is exactly what we do when we consider blacks or women to be less likely qualified for a position over a white male. As a culture we have decided it is not only immoral, but illegal, to take such generalities into consideration when judging an applicant. Each individual must stand or fall on his or her own merits, accomplishments, and qualifications. Of course, even these might be more difficult to obtain as a black person or female and thus could still be unfair in the end.

The solution probably does not lie in the arresting of all people who were less willing to give a call to a black or female name. In fact, many of these people might not realize they are discriminating in this way which is a significant problem. I may not know the solution myself but I know that it starts with discussion. Of course, we clearly have a hard time discussing this very topic which is why I will sooner discuss the solution to the difficulties of the discussion. As I have reiterated throughout, I contend that the solution starts with a careful consideration of our word-choices. We must remove any and all hindrances that might prevent honest discourse and give rise to emotions. The discussion is emotionally charged enough without adding in words meant to evoke such emotions.

After we have chosen our words carefully to frame the situation, we need to be willing to look at any and all causes and for each one to ask why, how, and whether these things are true or not and whether or not they themselves have another underlying cause. If the underlying cause of the discrimination is mere perception, then we may need to change the perception. If the perception is built around truth then we can either build a false perception or else try to somehow change the reality. If it is not perception but merely a byproduct of humans who biologically favor those within their subgroups, then we have an entirely different set of potential solutions. None of these, however, are solved by using emotionally-triggered words that bring up defenses or encourage anger and resentment. This needs to be discussed without the words of racism, privilege, and sexism. I would even argue that we need to nix the word systemic which sounds too much like a conspiracy theory as if someone has designed it all this way from the deep pockets of their evil britches.

Communication is key. Be respectful and inquisitive of the perspective of others and be sure to fully understand the perceived definitions of words that are used. Get clarification of intent and meaning behind the words. Assume nothing. I believe it is far more likely that there is a mere misunderstanding than that your opponent is an outrageous jerk-face with poo for brains bent on the complete destruction of humanity through the hatred of all others unlike themselves. Often, the difference comes down to experience, worldviews, and education. Such things will be overcome with respect rather than with accusations of intolerance and especially not with one of our most shaming offenses of racism or sexism. These words have become ingrained in many of us from our youth that even the perception of being racist is worth jumping through many hoops to avoid. There is a deep fear of such allegations and accusatory remarks will make the conversation impossible.