Dance like no one is watching

I like this statement and the philosophy behind it.  I often dance as if no one is watching.  Sometimes no one is and sometimes there is a crowd.  I have danced like no one is watching at parties.  I was having a great time moving with the music, maybe with a partner or maybe just me.  People watching either thought, “How cool; wish I had the nerve to do that” or  “That bitch is crazy”.  Whatever.  When I do a happy dance it’s for me. The opinion of others is for them.

Today I was out shopping which involved driving to the mall where I had to sit at a stop light or two.  The radio was playing and I was bobbing my head and tapping the steering wheel as I waited.  I glanced over to the car beside me and saw boy tapping the back of the seat in front of him in time to whatever he was listening too.  Maybe he had figured out at an early age that the opinions of people in other cars that one is likely never to see again are just not important.  Or, maybe he was just bored.

That’s the thing isn’t it.  How much or how little to care about how we are perceived by others.  Almost all of us want to be liked, to connect with others, to be cared for.  We are after all social creatures.  How much do we adjust our behavior to gain or hold the regard of others?  Not much for me as I grow older, but I have often kept quiet to avoid offense or just to keep the peace.  What I have learned is that those people I care most about who return that care are not offended when we disagree.  Real friends respectfully disagree.  Acquaintances, neighbors, co-workers and crazy uncles not so much. Some people only want to interact with others who agree with them or are just like them.  A conversation with these people requires that you suppress any thoughts you have that may cause an argument because they assume that everyone has to agree about everything if they are to spend time together.

I actually enjoy a discussion with others whose views are not the same as mine.  There is much to be learned and sometimes I see things differently after considering other ideas. I am not particularly enamored with guns.  They make me nervous.  But I know someone whose favorite thing is target practice.  She goes hunting.  She has a collection of guns in her home.  She assures me that she poses no more danger to anyone than if she did not have them and I believe her.  I  had rather go dancing than shooting, but I still like her.

When dealing with more fervently held beliefs tolerance of one another becomes more difficult.  I believe that abortion is a personal and private thing to be handled only by the woman.  One of my friends believes any abortion is murder and wants there to be laws to protect the unborn.  We will never agree and we will never change each other’s minds, so this topic is off limits.  I am not religious.  Not at all.  Since I live in the bible belt that makes some people uncomfortable and others angry or incredulous.  I handle this two ways.  When someone says they are praying for me I appreciate the thought and if pressed to make a reply I just say I appreciate the concern.  I really do.  When someone preaches at me or insists on offering what they see as proof of their faith I am more inclined to stand my ground. It seems to me that faith by definition cannot be proved, but I digress.  I would never attempt to convince someone that there is no god or try to keep them away from their church.  Therefore, I also will never be convinced to follow a  religion.

Whatever.  I am going out on my lawn to dance in the rain.  Think I’ll take the dog with me and when the rain stops maybe there will be a rainbow.  Those happen when the scientific factors are just right.

Dance like no one is watching


According to a local news report a movie theatre had to be evacuated yesterday because of an altercation involving a man with a gun.  It was reported like this.  A child was kicking the chair of the man in front of him.  This man turned around and cussed out the kid.  The kid’s father proceeded to chew out that man who then pulled a gun, all alledgedly of course.

In my view here’s what should have happened.  A child old enough to be taken to the movies should already know better than to kick the seat in front of him, so that should not have happened.  If the child has not already been taught to be considerate of the others in the theatre his father should immediately direct him to stop and he should politely apologize to the man whose seat was being kicked.  The adult who overreacted by swearing at the child should have turned around and politely asked the child to please not kick the seat anymore.  The father, instead of making matters worse, should have calmly asked the man to use less offensive language and apologized for his son’s behavior.  The other guy should not have pulled out his gun.  He should have either sat down and shut up or moved to another seat.

But oh, no.  These two “adults” had to prove to each other that they are tough and can’t be pushed around. Great example there ass wipes.  I hope that the dad has realized that his  child needs to be taught some manners.  That could be a challenge if he himself has none.  I don’t know whether or not that is the case.

Now, the guy with the gun that he apparently needed to defend himself from little kid feet ought to never be allowed anywhere near a weapon again.  He is just too stupid.

It seems to me that responsibility is in short supply in our society.  The choices each of us makes affect others.  Our actions often have unintended consequences.  A peace office makes a poor choice causing injury or death to someone who appears to have been innocent and riots break out in protest.  An unintended consequence.  In a misguided attempt at vengeance someone shoots a cop who had nothing to do with the first issue.  An unintended consequence.

Even greater irresponsibility is demonstrated by those who just don’t care how others may suffer as long as they get to do what they want.  From the school  yard bully to the polluting factories selfishness and greed ignore the damage done.

I have seen this lack of responsibility everywhere.  On the lake where boaters run full speed and the wake behind them swamps other boats.  On the highway where fools texting cross the center line and endanger oncoming traffic.  Wild fires burn forests and homes because campers failed to put out their fire.  Buildings collapse due to shoddy workmanship. On and on and on.

Like other problems this will not get better unless we hold ourselves and others accountable for what we do.  Parents who fail to teach responsibility to their children set the rest of us up for trouble and the children for failure.  Teachers, elected officials and police all have an obligation to set an example of appropriate behavior.  Neighbors and strangers have an obligation to be civil toward one another.

And for crying out loud, grown men ought to have the maturity to deal with a kid kicking a seat  without needing a deadly weapon.



Back to what?

There is a lot of talk going around about taking things back.  Take our country back.  Get back to values.  Go back home. Get back to better times.  It all seems so silly to me.  Most things seem silly to me lately.

The people talking about taking their country back annoy me the most.  In the first place who says it is, or was, theirs?  Maybe it’s mine, our yours, or I get it, ours.  All of us.  Well actually this land was occupied long before the wing nuts who are making noise about taking it back were an itch in their daddy’s britches.

Here’s another thought about that.  Back to what exactly?  What I am hearing is wishful thinking for an imaginary  time and place where the people were pretty much alike.  I think they long for a nation of Mayberry RFD style towns where all the people are white, go to the same church and always say please and thank you. What the gobackers want Is not real and never was.

I lived in that place they think they want to go back to and it was not great.  The small town school offered us a limited education at best.  No music or art. We had two kinds of people; white and colored and the two were expected to stay in their place.  We were taught to be nice to the colored kids at school but don’t bring them home. There were probably homosexuals but they certainly were not acknowledged.  I remember five churches none of which were Catholic.  I was twenty years old before I met a Jewish person and did not even know Islam existed until I was out of high school.  It was a place that left one feeling ignorant and small.  It was dangerous on a somewhat smaller scale from more sophisticated cities just because of the smaller number of people there.  I witnessed a robbery and murder on the street outside my house before I was twelve.  I knew kids at school who were abused at home on a regular basis.  There was a preacher who had an affair with his neighbor and more than our fair share of drunks.

Count me out of going back to a fantasy better time.  I had rather go forward.  The future interests me more than the past and I prefer improving to regressing.



Back to what?

Just one little thing

It’s been a strange few days.  Some pretty rough storms early last week canceled our plans for the 4th holiday so that we stayed home and watched east coast fireworks on television and then tried to get some sleep between the neighbors blasting fireworks.  Okay, only once a year so we can deal with it.  More storms the next day knocked out the electricity from mid afternoon until about nine thirty the following morning.  It was a long hot night without the air conditioning. Great timing from the electric company restored power about half an hour after we got the generator going and plugged in to the necessities (fridge and television).

With creature comforts restored we could catch up on the news.  What a shame that the only way to stop hearing the same old politics on all channels is for tragedy to strike.  And strike it did.  First two black men killed by police then the horror in Dallas.  It seems to me that I have had this what the hell is wrong with people feeling over and over.  I just don’t know how to process this shock and disgust anymore. Everywhere; neighbors at the grocery, all over social media, on the news and in the papers, blame is assigned.  It’s guns.  It’s racism.  We made god mad. It’s payback for some dumb thing in the past.  Baloney.  I say baloney because I am trying not to say bull shit so much.

The questions I ask myself when these events occur are probably the same as most others ask.  What can we do?  More particularly, what can I do?  I feel certain that racists and bullies should not be police officers, but can I do anything about that?  I could approach the sheriff and chief of police where I live and state my concerns.  Whether or not that would have any effect depends on how it’s received and whether these individuals are genuinely concerned about this issue.  I could write letters to elected officials but it has been my past experience that these are not acknowledged or are only acknowledged with a condescending form letter.  Maybe I will try anyway.  I am equally certain that dangerous or disturbed individuals should not have access to deadly weapons.  It is painfully clear that doing anything about that is not possible in the USA.

That leaves me with what can I really do?  All I can come up with is do whatever you can wherever you are.  When you are among people try greeting them instead of ignoring them.  Say thank you to the man who carries out your groceries and to the stranger who opened  a door for you. If you see someone drop something pick it up and give it to them.  Put someone’s need ahead of your desire.  If someone new moves into your neighborhood go say hello and welcome them.  The world may not get better from one person’s kindness and consideration of others, but that person’s world will feel better.

Yesterday I made up my mind to find a way to show some kindness to a stranger.  Not as easy as you might think since I mostly stay at home.  I did however need to get groceries so I made myself concentrate on the people I came in contact with and to smile or speak instead of keeping my eye on the shelves and minding my own business to an unnecessary degree.  Most folks smiled back and I got to checkout feeling more relaxed than usual.  The person bagging my stuff was not very fast and not all that skilled, but I thanked her anyway as she seemed to be doing her best.  There was an elderly lady, even older than me, loading bags into her trunk so I stopped long enough to help her out.  She wasn’t all that grateful, but her gratitude was not my goal in the first place so I am glad I made her chore a little easier.

All those things I think I can manage to continue to do regularly, for the purely selfish reason that I feel better when I am nice to people.  A good opportunity presented itself as I pulled into the driveway of my house and spotted a man cleaning up the neighbors yard.  This neighbor is not able to do much and with all the rain we have had his lawn and all the bushes around his house were a huge mess.  The day was very hot and I noticed the man doing the work was sweaty with a rag tied around his head to protect from the sun.  He stopped to lean on the shovel he was using, waived and said “How you doin?”  As soon as I  had put things away I poured some lemonade into a to go cup and walked over to offer that to him.  He put his hand out and introduced himself as Lional and asked my name.  We had a short visit.  He wished me a good day and I wished him the same.

This is not a life changing event for either of us. But maybe I will not be reluctant to approach another stranger to offer some kindness just because he is black.  And maybe Lionel will consider it more likely that a white person respects him because one woman did. For now this is the best I can do.

Just one little thing

Here we go again

I am so very tired of living in a society that requires choosing sides.  Are you a Democrat or Republican?  A citizen damn it; a citizen.  Are you a Christian or Muslim?  Atheist buddy; I am an atheist. Are you black ? Seriously? Look at me.  Do you support the police?  Are you against police brutality? Do you own a gun?  Are you for abortions? North or South?  Coffee or Tea?  Belts or suspenders?

There were actually talking heads on television today arguing whether it is worse for a cop to shoot a black man than for a black man to shoot a cop.  This is just crazy.  No room for logic.  I am wondering how murdering police officers in Dallas, supposedly as revenge for a murder in Louisiana, makes sense to anybody.

Having lived almost seventy years I know where I stand on most issues and have enough sense to know that more information may be needed to decide about some ideas.  It seems to me that taking time to gather information and consider the possibility that someone else may know more and have a better idea would be wise and might result in less conflict.

As I react to national events of the last two days I choose to stand firmly right here in the middle.  It is apparent that black men in this country have good reason to fear the police, even though most peace officers do not want to do them harm.  Maybe it would be helpful if police departments vetted their officers more closely and made a conscious effort to avoid hiring those who are obviously racist.  There is another personality that has no place on the police force — that is the hot dog.  You know, that guy from high school who thought tying empty cans to the dog’s tail was funny.

Maybe we need a different kind of public service announcement.  Instead of the dangers of too much soda how about an ad for how to respond to a police officer?  Cover some simple basics like don’t reach into your pockets or start running.  Stay calm and respectful and follow the instructions you are given.  This probably works in most communities for young white people and should, should work for young black men.

The problem is that we don’t love each other.  Not even a little bit.  That Golden Rule thing would take care of so much that is wrong.  When a person is pulled over by a police officer they should consider how it must feel to walk up to that car window hoping and praying that this is just a routine traffic stop and not some psychopath ready to shoot.  If you were the one walking up to the car wouldn’t you feel safer if you could see the driver’s hands on the wheel?  Wouldn’t you be more pleasant to someone who treated you with respect and complied with the requests you make in order to do your job?  Of course you would.

A police officer who has noticed an expired license plate or a tail light out might want to consider that the driver already feels uncomfortable.  If the rolls were reversed wouldn’t simple politeness and respect be appreciated? Using the opportunity to prove to yourself that you are tough and in charge would be likely to get negative results. Arrogance has no place in a job described as “to protect and serve”.

If I really have to choose sides, well I am on my side.  I hope I am on the side of what’s right and kind.  I am trying.

Here we go again