September 26, 2017

What’s Wrong With Us

Vibe’s June/July 2012 Issue

It’s still hard to digest the madness that happened this past weekend in Colorado at the opening night of Batman: The Dark Night Rises.  The Penn State scandal is finally coming to a close, with all their football wins being eradicated from 1999 – 2010 and Sandusky facing 442 years in prison.  And of course, the Trayvon Martin case that was mishandled from the night of incident.

You know what’s shocking?  None of it.  We as Americans have become so desensitized to tragedy, drama, and vulgarity that instead of taking action, we gossip about it until the next big thing happens.  Almost everything we do, see and hear has to have some sort of shock value to it or we won’t listen, watch or buy it.  And believe me, the news stations and entertainment industry is well aware of that.

Take this Vibe cover photo.  I’m guilty of watching Basketball Wives, and a couple of other less than educational reality shows.  And I like watching to see what the heck these crazy people are going to do next.  Do I believe it’s real?  Of course not!  Do I condone their behavior?  Heck no!  But I watch, and watch faithfully.  And I have a problem with what I’m seeing.

My problem is not with the show.  I take it for face value which to me, is virtually nothing but entertainment and something to chat about.  What I have a problem with is that Vibe chose to call these ladies “role models.”  Role models for what?  For whom?  Why?    Because they are watched by millions?  Because they may have come from humble beginnings but are now successful business women with their own brands?  Or because they are, as Vibe states on the cover, “sexy?”

When I watch most of these reality shows, I do so strictly for entertainment purposes.   I started watching Basketball Wives because I wanted to see what the heck women of pro ballers did to sustain their identities.  I found out, in season one, absolutely nothing!  These women were broken and were seeking to find their own identities instead of being known as so-and-so’s girlfriend, ex or wife.  I felt compassion for them at first, so I kept tuning in. Now I watch because I don’t know what the heck they are going to FAKE next.  Like I said, mere entertainment.

To others though, it apparently isn’t a mere form of entertainment.  For Vibe to consider these reality actresses role models, they had to dig through the mess and find something to glorify.  I didn’t read the article, but I gander that in addition to them being “sexy”, Vibe portrayed them as self-made women who used their opportunities to build their own brands.  And to those who are incapable of discerning the real from the fake, will see them as role models.

What’s wrong with us?  Well I could sum it up by starting with what’s wrong with me.  Instead of boycotting this crap or writing the television networks to add programs of substance, I do nothing.  As a writer, I could even pitch scripts. Instead, I pick what’s most convenient and entertaining.  I watch what’s hot, I follow the trends, I like the sensation.  In essence, I sit and do not stand.  Because I tune in, I perpetuate the problem.

Don’t get me wrong, these women are beautiful.  But they are so far from reality it isn’t even funny.  Most of them have had some type of cosmetic work done and do not represent the core values we as parents, professionals, and spiritual beings hold dear.  They do not represent love, education, loyalty, compassion or determination.  They should not be, no matter how self-made or sexy, anybody’s role model.  What they do represent, is  America’s entertainment driven, capitalist driven, sensationalist driven and sex driven market.

My blog topic can be seen as both a question and imperative statement, but dare we even ask?  I know I’m guilty of watching and listening to things that do not speak to my beliefs.  Our music, news, even our consumer products are sensationalized, using reality actresses (notice I fail to call them stars) to entice us to buy their products.  In my season of purge, no more Basketball Wives, Single Ladies, or any other show that does not positively impact my life.  We, starting with me, have to restore what we value.  We cannot allow tv shows, music, movies and video games to desensitize those who cannot discern real from fake.  We cannot let the media raise our children.  Vibe cannot speak for us.  If we allow the purpose of reality entertainment replace our core values, we will be ripening the grounds for more Batman, Trayvon, and Penn State incidents.

Are You On The Balcony Or In The Basement?

Be like the goldfish "Carpe diem!"

When I came across the analogy of balcony verses basement people I was immediately intrigued.  Judy Landorf, author of Balcony People, used an interesting metaphor comparing balcony and basement people to the likes of living in a fishbowl.  In her analogy two-thirds of life is at the bottom, in the murk and grime of the bowl.  Remaining forms of life are at the top.  Basement people are in the murky water and balcony people in the clear.

To piggyback off Landorf, we can metaphorically compare basement people to scavengers.  They wait for opportunity to come to them.  They settle for what’s left and will fight for scraps.  If you know anything about scavengers you know they always operate in survivor mode.  Since two-thirds of the population is at the bottom, one can expect slim pickings.  This is probably why there is so much trickery, back-stabbing, clawing and scratching in the world.  Crabs in a barrel!

Basement people are pessimistic.  They are uncertain of their future because they can’t see through the murk of their environment. They feel like they’ve been denied opportunity and never caught a break.  In fact, they feel oppressed.  Ironically their sense of oppression makes them oppressors.  They will tell you that you can’t or you shouldn’t because they wouldn’t.  They do not realize they are mentally bound and their way of thinking is the only reason why they are at the bottom.   Basement people lack the ability to break free from mental bondage because they do not have confidence or faith.  They will not be genuinely happy for you and will offer little support.  Their discouraging behavior stems from their fear of you changing and leaving them behind.

Balcony people are just the opposite.  They are go-getters!  They will not wait for opportunity to fall in their laps.  Like fish swimming to the top of the bowl when food hits the water, balcony people jump on opportunity.  Since there’s room at the top there is plenty to choose from and plenty to go around.  There is no reason to fight, scheme or manipulate.  Seeking higher ground gives balcony people a clearer vision.   They are confident in themselves and do not need to take from others to be happy or to survive.  Balcony people are ambitious, supportive and encouraging.  They will be your biggest fans because they know their success comes at their own hands and that the harvest is ripe.

Balcony and basement people both have the power of transference.  When you associate with people who complain and are complacent you will start to see life from their point of view.  If you fortify your circle with people who are inspirational and optimistic you will share their sentiments.  Basement people are toxic and should be not be allowed space in your head, heart, or life.

Before you start cleaning house on your facebook friends list and unfollowing folks on twitter, examine your own heart.  We often don’t see our own flaws because we are mentally bound ourselves.  Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you self-motivated?
  2. Are you genuinely happy for others and supportive of their ambitions?
  3. Do you wait or make opportunity?
  4. Are you confident in yourself and is your faith strong?
  5. Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

New Year’s Resolutions For Men

Stockbyte via Goggles Images

Tradition has it that when a new year begins, we should resolve to change something about ourselves to become better people.   I thought of 3 unfiltered, unadulterated resolutions for men and 5 for women (sorry ladies).  The men are up first.   In 2012, I hope you resolve to:

  1. Tell the truth in your romantic life.  Women are tired of the “I didn’t want to hurt you” or “I didn’t have my dad” excuses. You are an adult and are accountable for what you do despite how you were raised.  You treat women the way you do not because of your upbringing, but according to your own selfish desires.  You want options.   It makes you feel good about yourself as a man to know you can go back to where you once laid your hat.  You don’t feel like being honest because you really don’t want to explain yourself, and you feel like the truth may get you voted off the island.  Women won’t break if you tell them the truth.  Most women are big enough to handle whatever you throw at them, give or take a few tears.  You might stand a better chance of reconciling if you’re honest rather than leaving them hurt from your fade-away tactic or cheating.   Heck, these days some women will accept whatever arrangement you put on the table.  At least give them the option of deciding if they want to deal with it.
  2. Grow a pair.  There are too many men out there who are unwilling to take certain jobs because they don’t respect the type of work available or just don’t want to work.  Then you wonder why women belittle you or don’t know their place.  It’s because they’ve been forced to take YOURS!  Real men don’t shy away from responsibility and don’t let their egos hinder them from taking care of business.  Be a provider in your home, at the very least a partner.  If you’re in between jobs, make home life easier by helping out domestically.  Women respect men who bust their behinds for their families.  Nothing is beneath you when it comes to maintaining your household.
  3. Learn how to lead.  Men have a special, unique function in the world.  To be an effective leader you first need to know how to follow.  Throughout history prolific leaders submitted themselves to a higher calling and led selfless lives.  Today’s men lack that type of sacrifice.  They wear eggshell armor because they stand for nothing, trying to maintain their manhood with no substance to stand on.  Men, your ability to lead will come from your ability to follow.  Your ability to follow will come from the values and morals in which you hold dear.  When you stand for something other than yourself it is easier for women to support, trust, and stand behind you.   No matter how strong and intelligent women are, they want you to be stronger and more intelligent.  At the end of the day a woman wants a man she can admire and support.  If she makes you feel otherwise, it’s probably because you have failed at one or more of these resolutions.