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Dale Hansen on race relations

February 27, 2015
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He has a message everyone needs to hear:

A couple of quotes from the video:

“Kids have to be taught to hate…and it’s our parents and grandparents, and teachers, and coaches too who teach us to hate. Kids become the product of that environment.”

“They will change. Not all of them, it never is…but not if we try to defend what you cannot defend and not if we stay silent…”



Documentaries I’ve seen recently

December 18, 2014

Dirty Wars – The film “follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill into the heart of America’s covert wars, from Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia and beyond…as Scahill digs deeper into the activities of JSOC, he is pulled into a world of covert operations unknown to the public and carried out across the globe by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. In military jargon, JSOC teams “find, fix, and finish” their targets, who are selected through a secret process. No target is off limits for the ‘kill list,’ including U.S. citizens.”

It is hard to like a film of this nature. As the website says, viewers are “left with haunting questions about freedom and democracy, war and justice.” However, this is a film everyone needs to see, especially if you want to understand how these actions cause others around the world to view the US and its citizens.

Five Broken Cameras – The film is a deeply personal, first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance. It “really is about those cameras. The lifespan of each camera frames a chapter in the struggle of the Palestinian village of Bil’in…against expanding Israeli settlements and the path of the country’s approaching security fence, which together would consume much of the village’s cultivated land. The cameras also capture the growing awareness and puzzlement of a little boy born into a world torn by a conflict that adults can barely comprehend.” [PBS]

The film shows a different view of the conflict between Israel and Palestine, which means many people won’t watch it as it goes against all their preconceived ideas of what is really happening. Yet, to truly understand a situation, you have to hear both sides. Highly recommended.

Inequality for All – a film that follows former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich as he examines the economic and social consequences being caused by the widening gulf between rich and poor in the United States.

It is hard to fathom that so many people still don’t believe that income inequality is real and a major issue with far reaching consequences. With that said, this film presents overwhelming evidence of the history of income equality, how it looks today, and the consequences if the gap continues to widen.

Happy – “…takes us on a journey from the swamps of Louisiana to the slums of Kolkata in search of what really makes people happy. Combining real life stories of people from around the world and powerful interviews with the leading scientists in happiness research, HAPPY explores the secrets behind our most valued emotion.” [IMDB]

I thought it was interesting and definitely makes you think about how much we quantify and research depression, but don’t do nearly as much for the opposite: happiness.

Miss Representation – The film “exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.”

This documentary makes me scared to have a daughter. Having said that, I would welcome the chance to have a daughter and build into her, helping her understand her true identity. At the same time I am excited to raise my son to view and treat women with the dignity and respect every single human deserves. The same filmmakers have filmed a similar documentary focusing on boys called “The Mask You Live In.” I haven’t seen it yet, but I really want to.

If you’ve watched any of these, what are your thoughts? If you’ve seen another good documentary, post the title in the comments.

Einstein on Racism and America

December 17, 2014

This is from an essay Einstein penned in 1946:

Many a sincere person will answer: “Our attitude towards Negroes is the result of unfavorable experiences which we have had by living side by side with Negroes in this country. They are not our equals in intelligence, sense of responsibility, reliability.”

I am firmly convinced that whoever believes this suffers from a fatal misconception. Your ancestors dragged these black people from their homes by force; and in the white man’s quest for wealth and an easy life they have been ruthlessly suppressed and exploited, degraded into slavery. The modern prejudice against Negroes is the result of the desire to maintain this unworthy condition.

The ancient Greeks also had slaves. They were not Negroes but white men who had been taken captive in war. There could be no talk of racial differences. And yet Aristotle, one of the great Greek philosophers, declared slaves inferior beings who were justly subdued and deprived of their liberty. It is clear that he was enmeshed in a traditional prejudice from which, despite his extraordinary intellect, he could not free himself.

A large part of our attitude toward things is conditioned by opinions and emotions which we unconsciously absorb as children from our environment. In other words, it is tradition—besides inherited aptitudes and qualities—which makes us what we are. We but rarely reflect how relatively small as compared with the powerful influence of tradition is the influence of our conscious thought upon our conduct and convictions.

He goes on to state that “we must begin to control tradition and assume a critical attitude toward it, if human relations are ever to change for the better. We must try to recognize what in our accepted tradition is damaging to our fate and dignity—and shape our lives accordingly.” And this is the crux of the matter. Many people don’t question things, believing the status quo is good enough and believing that because they don’t see “racism” it doesn’t exist. But maybe the reason they don’t see it is because they have never stopped to question their perceptions, the lenses they view everything through, and the traditions they hold.

How to care for introverts

December 16, 2014

I wholeheartedly endorse this list of ways to care for introverts (found here):

1. Respect their need for privacy
2. Never embarrass them in public
3. Let them observe first in new situations
4. Give them time to think; don’t demand instant answers
5. Don’t interrupt them
6. Give them advance notice of expected changes in their lives
7. Give them 15 minute warnings to finish whatever they are doing
8. Reprimand them privately
9. Teach them new skills privately
10. Enable them to find one best friend who has similar interests & abilities
11. Don’t push them to make lots of friends
12. Respect their introversion; don’t try to remake them into extroverts

Items 2, 3, and 4 are the most relevant ones for me. Related to this topic, I have been reading the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. I haven’t gotten too far into it, but what I have read has been excellent and eye opening.

Life with an infant

December 15, 2014
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So it was brought to my attention the other day by a really good friend that I haven’t posted here in quite a while. Guilty as charged. It is not for lacking of desire. I have tons of ideas and topics I would like to write about, but there have been two problems: 1) non-existent free time and 2) when I do have free time, I can’t seem to get the thoughts in my head out on paper.

If you read my last post you will know why I haven’t had a lot of free time.

In one word: Evan.

Our little one is just shy of 7 months old. Caring for him has been more work than I could ever have possibly imagined. Before Evan was born, people would tell me all the time that having a kid changes everything, but until you actually have a kid, you have no foundation from which to understand what they mean. I would think, sure it will be a lot of work, but I will still be able to do X (I hear lots of parents laughing at this. I know. I know). There is a not a single aspect of our lives that he hasn’t changed. Going into another room, taking a shower, going to the store, eating, sleeping. Everything now goes through the filter of: who is watching the baby? Where is he in his cycle? Does he need a diaper change? Food? Sleep? Also, he hates the car. Why oh why couldn’t he just love the car seat? But nooooo, he can’t stand it. He screams the whole time. And he gets freaked out by sudden or loud noises, so don’t raise your voice to talk to someone in another room or laugh suddenly, it won’t end well.

And yet, it has been one of the most rewarding times of my life. Every day I come home and as soon as he sees me, he lights up and starts laughing and babbling (and sometimes reaches for me). Who wouldn’t love that? And it has been fun to watch him grow and gain a distinct personality, which includes growling quite loudly whenever he wants something that he cannot have and/or reach.

All of this to say….I am going to try harder to post things on this blog. It may simply be snippets of articles I really enjoyed, but something is better than nothing. If nothing else, I will just post pictures of Evan so that you are so distracted by his cuteness you will forget I haven’t posted anything.

Speaking of pictures, here are few of the little man: