Very Passionate Baby

Passion & Protest

Free-flowing days are the best.

I used to hate days like this with every fiber of my being. Those days where I’m not scheduled to do anything or be anywhere. “Oh god, whatever will I do with myself?” used to be my train of thought in these situations. Now, not so much.

After spending my morning sleeping in until noon (because “exhaustion”), I spent my afternoon at a violin concert [held in a church in the Pittsburgh area] for my friend Anat. I’d seen her play before here and there, but this was the first time that I’d seen her play in a more formal setting. And wow, is she talented!

She plays with such concentration, such emotion, and such joy! And as she furiously played different concertos & sonatas, my mind began to relax. I became ‘at ease’. This was talent. This was passion incarnate. And I had the honor of sharing a space with it for a few hours.

I’ve also experienced passion in a different context this week with the outrage over the Ferguson debacle. Many of my friends and associates were/are passionately outraged over the decision, which I can understand in some respects. Some even went to protests designed to raise awareness on the issue. I cannot help but to feel that this passion is fleeting, though. Sure, we need protesters in order for society to continue to function as a democracy and not morph into a dictatorship. To wait until issues reach a boiling point to address them, though, is nothing short of irresponsible.

And to show spurts of passionate intensity, only to revert back to a state of steady apathy, harms us all in the long run. It leads those of us that are involved with social issues on a regular basis to believe that we have more allies than we actually do. For movements of social justice & equality to ultimately succeed, we have to have people that are consistently motivated to do the right thing. That means taking action at times other than when the media shows us an especially troubling case on television and in newspapers.

It is not a show of disrespect when someone says “People die everyday.” It’s absolutely true. I say that to people to make the point that we should be constantly vigilant about instances of wrongdoing by people that are supposed to be our leaders. We should be vigilant, and we need to hold them accountable for their actions – every single time.

I have to wonder how many protesters voted this year in the midterm elections. This question isn’t meant to down anyone; however, one cannot continue allowing the same ineffective leaders to hold their positions – and then demand change when dire circumstances hit us. Also, simply voting in elections and claiming that one’s job as a citizen is done is a failing strategy. For everyone that made it to the polls a few weeks ago, thank you from the bottom of my heart. But, that’s only half of the solution. The other half is holding these guys and gals to the standard of doing what is in the public’s better interests. They can only get away with wrongdoing if we allow them to. And we have allowed them to get away with their misdeeds for far too long.

We need protesters and rallies because these visual displays of passionate outrage show our leaders that we demand change. Consider this, though: our leaders do not take us seriously because many of us do not participate in the democratic process on a regular basis. Our participation is rare, if it exists at all. And really, why should we be taken seriously if we only show up when the US is on the absolute brink of ruin? I’m not giving our leaders a free pass, but we all have a stake in how our nation is run. Don’t abdicate your responsibilities, and then ask for your throne only when it’s convenient for you. We are all captains, and if this ship goes down, we’re all going with it. Do your part consistently, and do it with steady passion.

My friend Anat knows the principle of passion perfectly, and she taught it to me by the masterful playing of her violin.

Talk soon,
Liberty ❤

Liberty Bell

On Ferguson: A Plea For Unity

I have personally refrained thus far from commenting on the Ferguson debacle going on this week. However, I have seen a million different viewpoints displayed on the Internet through various media outlets – and I didn’t even have to look too hard to find them (who could miss the clogging of social media with extreme opinions from both sides of the spectrum?).

Actually, I didn’t look at all because (sorry, not sorry) I don’t have an especially strong viewpoint on the case. I just don’t. I do, however, have a strong opinion on this:

How long will the public be “outraged” at this instance of societal injustice before everyone forgets about it? How long until the Mike Brown uproar becomes another ‘Trayvon Martin’ type of ballgame? You know, where everyone’s darn near ready to overthrow the government – until something else comes along that citizens deem to be a more pressing issue?

Don’t get me wrong, this case has been troubling to watch, and yes, #blacklivesmatter…. but so do other lives. ALL LIVES MATTER, regardless of race, economic status, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and any other arbitrary category with which we as human beings choose to label ourselves. Until we stop giving importance to any one group over others, then society will not move forward. I consider it to be hypocritical to work for justice for one group of people at the exclusion of others, and for this reason I refuse to join in any movement that places an undue level of significance on one category of people to the exclusion of others – even if that category might be my own (I’m just waiting for someone to take this quote out of context).

You know, the definition of “broken” (courtesy of a quick Google search) is this:

“having been fractured or damaged and no longer in one piece or in working order”

Society is not in one piece; and it is quite clearly not in working order. How does one contribute to the fracturing of a nation? By finding ways to divide its people. By pitting its people against one another. By stating that #BlackLivesMatter while disregarding unjustified murders of Caucasian Americans, Hispanics, and other sectors of the US. By attempting to paint victims as bad people that are somehow deserving of their fate, thus pissing off people on all sides of the issue.

Might I offer everyone this quote from a famous Abraham Lincoln speech:

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

For a president that led a war effort with the primary goal of preserving the Union, I think that he’d know a thing or two about the dangers of dividing people. If a fight is to be had in the United States (and indeed, one is well overdue), it needs two necessary components:

1. It must further the cause of ALL Americans, not just one group of people, and

2. It has to be sustained over a longer period of time than a couple of weeks

**Bonus tip: It needs to treat the root cause, not just the recurring symptoms**

To speak to the second tip, I generally do not take modern-day protests seriously because citizens get worked up over an issue – only to go back to their normal lives (about a few weeks later) of watching TV, absorbing themselves in useless pop culture, and hating politics because (insert invalid reason). Many of the movements are shallow, and the results of each “movement” reflect that.

That brings me, though, to my bonus tip. Perhaps this is the most important one of all. Even sustained action is useless if that action only treats surface-level issues. Yes, Mike Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, and people are understandably outraged. I see numerous detailed accounts of historic discrimination in America (Captain Obvious, I know). But to claim that the opposing side is the devil and your side is an angel is wrong on so many levels. There are no lambs here; neither are there lions. What I cannot wrap my head around is how people can be so self-important as to believe that they’ve done nothing wrong. Both sides made mistakes; both sides could have done things differently. To continue this mentality of divisiveness, though, is going to shatter what little that we have of a cohesive country.

These killings (that happen every day, by the way) are symptomatic of a much larger, more complex issue that is at play. As a people, we need to nail down the root cause (and no, just saying “racism” is a FAIL), and attack that. We have a contagious epidemic engulfing the United States: the epidemic of “population division”, and we need to work on curing it without delay.

Because unless we are working on justice for everyone, then the result will always be justice for none.

Talk soon,
Liberty ❤

"Writing Is An Art" poster

Vote Of No Confidence: Job Market Edition

Seems like forever since I’ve been here, but I realized that a person such as myself that so much to say needs a proper outlet for said thoughts. So, I’m back, and hopefully more regularly this time 🙂

So much has happened over this past month. I finished up my work with Planned Parenthood PAC, and it was such an amazing feeling knowing that I was a part of Governor-elect Tom Wolf’s victory in Pennsylvania. All of the long afternoons of speaking with residents, the many days of walking around in damp & dreary weather, the nights of coming home and being so tired that I’d immediately collapse from exhaustion – and getting up the next day to do it all again because I was committed to Tom Wolf’s vision for Pennsylvania….it didn’t go for naught. It all paid off, and it is an honor to say that he is/was my candidate; he will do great things for this state. I may have made the grave mistake of allowing Tom Corbett to get in office because I didn’t feel like voting in 2010, but I more than made up for that error in judgment this year.

On that note, I have had to resume my job search since Election Day is over. I must say, this job market is pretty brutal in Pittsburgh. Despite the growth of the health care/education sectors of the region’s economy, most other industries here are a tough sell for job-seekers. Pittsburgh, as one of my good friends said to me last night, is a great place for people to start up their own ventures. The spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and kicking in the Steel City; it’s a particularly tempting option to consider for me. One of the most dangerous and self-defeating things that a person could do in this New American Economy is to put one’s hope & future in someone else seeing their talent(s) and rewarding them with a way to make a living. I have put my faith in others to provide a consistent way of financial survival for me, and it has been a failing proposition. Given the skills that I possess and the many job/life experiences that I have had, I am most certainly an asset to any employer. If, however, said employers cannot see that, then it is up to me to claim independence from depending on them to provide a way for me to survive. How will I do that? Either starting my own business, or…..becoming a writer.

(This blogger likes writing? Shocker.)

Being told a million times over by instructors/friends/acquaintances that read random things that I write that I really should be a writer has led me to believe that perhaps this is an area in which I have talent. Perhaps there is a reason that working neither for corporate America nor for nonprofits has sparked my interest as a possible lifelong pursuit. And what’s left to do if you’re not working for a corporation or a nonprofit???

**crickets, crickets, crickets**

Doing your own thing, that’s what. I am clearly a misfit in the job market, and I could care less anymore. I want to do what makes me happy. I want to express my thoughts and feelings, and hopefully connect to others in the process. Oftentimes, writers have had a myriad of different life experiences that warrant being put into written form (either that, or they go in search of experiences to write about) – thus, they become writers. My life has been so joyful, so ridiculous, so gut-wrenching, so chaotic, so happy, so sad, and generally so filled with a host of various happenings that I know that what I have gone through (and am continuing to go through) can be of immense benefit to others. Sometimes, all we really need is to know that someone understands. That someone relates to our struggle, and thus can provide us with possible options to escape those struggles. That someone can relate to us on a deep and meaningful level. That someone gets us. 

If people were understood more in life, think of the many lives that we could save! Think of the happiness that we could create in the world! Think of how many relationships could be strengthened, just by making an effort to connect to others through a mutual understanding of who we are and what we have to offer in the world!

Writing, at it’s highest potential, has the ability to accomplish these things – among others. Yes, my ultimate goal in life is to be a active participant in the political sphere. Right now, however, I have two insatiable needs that have to be expressed in some form:

1. To finally become a more open, honest, and vulnerable person through sharing myself and my experiences with others, and

2. To see others do the same.

Writing will help me to achieve both ends, and I must find a way to make that a more sizable part of my life.

Talk soon,

Liberty ❤