Sarcasm = Anger?


As I was scrolling through Facebook a few days ago, a thought hit me: the people in my newsfeed employ sarcasm on a regular basis. Usually I find it funny, but lately I’ve been offended. Sometime I even agree with what’s said, but I don’t think it’s the right “place” to say it.

We’re sarcastic about politics, religion, how people treat us, how people treat our perfect little angels, how much we love our jobs – the list is endless. But sarcasm is just another way to express anger, and therefore I propound a theory: we express anger through sarcasm – a lot. Being a rather sarcastic person myself, I feel authorized to propose this theory. I know when I use sarcasm, although I prefer to think of it as “biting wit,” I am definitely angry or frustrated. But where does all this anger come from? For me, personally – well, that’s none of your beeswax, if you please! But it comes from somewhere. And  I am not the only one going about my day feeding caustic statements into the minds of others.

You know what else? It’s not attractive at all when it’s made in poor taste, at an inappropriate time, and to the wrong audience. Unfortunately, when sarcasm is used it’s usually done so with all three of those parameters in place. I mean, are we really “friends” with all our friends on Facebook, for example? No! They’re mostly acquaintances. Most of them may know me my whole life, but knowing what someone was like in grade school and who they grew up two be are often to totally different things.

I shouldn’t bash Facebook so much; if I’m seeing it all over my newsfeed I am positive the people using it are doing so at work as well. Not everyone at work is your friend; many of them will find it immature and obnoxious, not to mention unprofessional.

One of my idols growing up was Julia Sugarbaker. She was amazing. Smart, successful, beautiful, and just one of those women who champions the underdog, even when it’s her shallow and slightly stupid sister. The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, anyone? Dadgum. Now that is an appropriate use of sarcasm! If you listened to that video, you would hear no curse words; you would hear no threats to poor Marjorie, no epithets on her intelligence or opinions. But Julia put her in her place, and rightly so.

Yes, Julia was the best at employing wit and sarcasm to get her point across. Those of you raised on Designing Women would know that she did it often, and it was more than entertaining; it made you stop and think. About race; about culture; about family; about loyalty; about them damn Yankees. Ah. I miss you so, dear Mrs.  Sugarbaker. But if you were a racist white person, a human being unfortunate enough to be raised above the Mason Dixon, or just a plain old uppity you-know-what…you would find her sarcasm offensive and I wouldn’t blame you. Designing Women wasn’t written for Yankees! They knew who their audience was.

Why don’t we just stop being so sarcastic to begin with? Why don’t we try to listen more and talk less, to be kinder even when we don’t feel like it, to stop automatically assuming we are so much smarter than everyone else, and to think before we speak?

Live as a Citizen of Heaven


Two verses I read recently made me really happy. You know how just reading  something lifts you up, right away? Makes you feel like you could do anything? They are both from the book of Philippians.

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more…Keep on growing in knowledge and understanding…Live pure and blameless lives…be filled with the fruit of your salvation.” – Philippians 1: 5-11 (various.)

The other is from the same chapter, but verse 27: “You must live as citizens of heaven.”

Lately there is so much animosity going around between political parties. I knew I would not vote for the President, but I had my doubts about Romney as well. The future of our country is definitely uncertain, but then, how is that any different than what people said four years ago? Ten years ago? Two decades, or two hundred years, ago? It’s not! The future is uncertain – otherwise,  it wouldn’t be the future! We can make all the plans we want to. We can figure out how to fix the economy and in two years an act of God could destroy this country.

What good would our plans be then? I don’t pen this to say that we shouldn’t make plans to make our lives as a nation or an individual better. We should. That is the responsible part of life; that is Biblical. But the truth is that sometimes life hands us things that can’t be fixed in a timely manner. Meaning – on our timetable. Sometimes time is all it takes and it takes a lot of time!

So what should we do while we wait? Fret about who leads our country? Fret about our role in it? Seriously, what is your role? Is it to change the world? No! All our lives, we as Westerners have been taught that we as individuals can make a difference. Really? How? That is what I’d like to know, because I have wasted thousands of hours of my own life, if not millions, planning ways that I could make the lives of everyone around me better if I could just find the right words, or behave the right way, or be smarter or nicer or tougher or gentler. Ugh!

It’s a nice thought, isn’t it?  That one little light can shape the outcome of billions of people. But it is such an utter lie, I think. The only world we can change is our own – our own individual world. There is a period of time when we are in control of our children before they are old enough to say no. To do what we don’t want them to do. And that is all. For the better part of our lives, the only control we have is over ourselves. There is nothing I can do to fix the peace problem in the Middle East. There is nothing I can do to fix the United States government or to shape the outcome of an election.

That’s the whole point, isn’t it? When Jesus came, so many Christians were pumped because they thought He was going to step up and take the place of oppressive government and make it work for everyone. But He had no desire to do that whatsoever. Why do you think that is? Because it wasn’t important? Because He didn’t care? No. It was important and He did care, but it wasn’t the point of His coming at all.

If everyone stepped out of politics, what would we have? A huge federal government existing solely for itself? Probably so. And how much more screwed up would it be than it is now?

I’m not telling people to avoid voting or debating, but I am advising people to live for eternity, not for the here and now. For example: abortion has always been a hot-button issue since Roe v. Wade. That’s not to say abortions weren’t being performed before that decision – they were. They probably took a lot less lives after the decision. The point is this: you or I cannot change the fact that until “Thy kingdom come,” people are going to want and have abortions. Debate it. Talk about how you feel. Let your opinion or experience help someone else to make a decision. But you cannot make that decision for another living soul. So all the hostility in the world will not change someone’s opinion; it will  just cause more animosity.

The world is chock-full of lost people! That is so sad to me. And there is a “tolerance gospel,” as I like to call it, that has gone a bit astray in trying to win hearts and minds for Christ. We are called to confront sin. We are called for other things as well, but we cannot forget this or wish it away because it’s hard and uncomfortable. But we cannot preach love to everyone if we hate them at the same  time. We cannot call everyone who disagrees with us ignorant or stupid or just plain wrong.

What can we do? We can do what the verses in Philippians say: Keep on growing in knowledge and understanding…Live pure and blameless lives…be filled with the fruit of your salvation. These directions aren’t about us and others – they are about ourselves. The world is full of hurting, lost, and mistaken people – for sure. And we are not supposed to silently watch – passively watch – people in those conditions go by in front of us. But there is a balance here that is totally out of whack.

We, as Christians, are called to be disciples of men. That is a hard pill for me to swallow. I do not at all feel comfortable discussing a stranger’s beliefs in God with him or her. But we can all be examples. We cannot change the world. We can only change ours. So whatever you are called to do, do it!! Do it with grace, mercy, honor, integrity, and excellence.

Cosmic Fame


There are so many reasons to admire famous people. Excellent entertainment skills; astonishing athletic ability; exceptional leadership. Even great business sense.

I like reading about the accolades of celebrities. I like when they use their fame to good end. It shows a human side to people we so elevate.

However, it is that elevation that causes such trouble. CNN did a story about a woman who stood up to former Penn State football coach Joe Paterno.

As regards the Sandusky debacle, Vicky Triponey had this to say:

“The culture is deep,” she said. “The culture is making decisions based on how others will react, not based on what’s right and wrong.” It focused on the interests of those at “the top of the chain,” she added. “Others at the bottom didn’t matter.”

She had nothing to do with Sandusky and wasn’t aware of it happening; her problem came when she tried to institute penalties against football players who broke the rules, and she came up against a solid brick wall: Joe Paterno.

The names of celebrities who committed true crimes are endless. I won’t even mention any others. I just want to express that it is nice and normal and good to have people to look up to and admire. It gives us a goal as well; something to strive for. Something we want.

It’s when that gets out of hand – when the hero worship is taken way too far – that we need to take a serious step back and stop excusing famous people who commit crimes. I can promise you that whoever out there you would let off the hook for a critical wrongdoing would not do the same for!

Small-Town Politics


I have a friend who grew up on a ranch in a small town in rural Alabama. She now lives in the suburbs of a large Southern city, but she knows of what she speaks. She spent most of her life there, and although she doesn’t want to go back to live there, she misses it terribly and wants what is best for all its occupants. She relayed this information to me and I thought y’all just might find this interesting and that you should spread the word. This coal ash needs to go – and so does Albert Tuner Jr. Don’t take her word for it? Then do the research yourself and come up with your own conclusions. I think my friend is right.

The basic storyline is that a few years ago, coal ash from the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) began to be moved via rail through Birmingham, AL to Uniontown, AL. This ash is highly toxic. The majority of the good people of this town and county did not want it, but they lost. This is the poorest county in the state of Alabama. Some have even called it “environmental racism” since the premise is that minorities who are also poor are either used as guina pigs for testing the hazzards of dangerous materials or are considered stupid and taken advantage of by those who want to, literally, dump their problems off somewhere else.

The campaign to bring it there was spearheaded by Albert Turner, Jr., a local “character” – that’s Southern code for jackass. He has threatened numerous county council members (he sits on the council) as well as ordinary citizens  who criticism him. The following tripe can be found in an article on black politics in Alabama from al.com:

“This is their school they built,” Turner says with contempt as he drives past Marion Academy, the private school that many of the county’s white children attend. NOTE: Public schools in Perry County, AL are notoriously dangerous. White children’s parents pay, for them,  an exorbitant amount of money to send them to very small private schools for safety’s sake.

The Marion bank has never had a black loan officer, he says. Judson College, the Baptist women’s school and one of the county’s largest employers, has one black professor and no black administrators. NOTE: Having attended Judson College for one year myself, and having visited its campus many, many times prior to that, I think I speak with enough authority from experience to say that finding qualified blacks who actually want to come back to Perry County to live and work is next to impossible.

“There is no integration here,” Turner says. NOTE: This county has one  major import and export – drugs.  Crack, cocaine – these are some of the biggies. Knife fights and gunfights in the street are commonplace. I once worked downtown in a major Southern city and witnessed several drug deals made openly on the streets. My very first thought w as, “My, how homesick I am!” There may not be as much integration there because it’s a safety issue, but I assure you there are PLENTY of good, white people who want what is best for the county and it has nothing to do with racism.

It galls Turner that Judson’s president, David Potts, mainly employs blacks in the kitchen and on the janitorial staff, and yet he says Potts constantly meddles in city and county politics, trying to control the majority black government. “His involvement in local politics is going to be the death of that school,” Turner says. “A school like that can’t stand the heat that the black community can bring.” NOTE: You are a gangster. A thug. You have sold out your “own people” for money and are inciting them to violence. I happen to know this delightful fellow,  David Potts,  and he is doing nothing of the sort. The real”‘heat” is coming down  on ABJ and he is the one who must see the end is in sight.

I want you to read the information regarding the coal ash problem but I also want to get the word out that gangsters like Turner need to be investigated by the State of Alabama. He has committed criminal acts and should be held accountable for them – criminally. He is guilty of harassment, assault (one-on-one and via his radio show), and Lord knows what else. He needs to be stopped.

Think City Planning is Just for the Government?


For several years I worked as a reporter, and attended my fair share of county and city council meetings. They weren’t always interesting, but they were a part of the job, and I discovered that more people should get involved, or at least read about it in the paper.

I was reminded of it this morning when I read about the giant Brooklyn sinkhole that threatened to destroy personal property, possibly due to a sewer line malfunction. Down here in the South, we have those problems  too. They’re just as big, and it’s due to poor planning by city and county governments.

Is it possible to plan out one hundred years, or even fifty years, in advance? Yes and no. On the one hand, you have no idea how much or how little growth you’re going to get. On the other hand, you do have a choice when it comes to development. Case in point: all those empty housing areas just waiting for some luck, hoping people will come along and purchase property and build houses. In a lot of cases, it ain’t happening. But what if it did? Does the city have enough infrastructure to support, say, a hundred new homes? And what about the local school system? Can it handle the extra students? The more development they build, the more houses they create, the more water,  sewer, and trash service are  affected, and the more schools they have to build, which also affect the aforementioned services. And what happened when everything dried up? There are empty schools and development areas and no money to repair all these roads and sewer and water lines.

What Would You Do?


If I have heard, “These illegals have ruined our hospital system with free healthcare,” one time, I’ve heard it a thousand times. For the record, I am not one to be caught saying that, although I do understand where it comes from.

Also for the record, I have to say that it’s not like illegal immigrants use it like a doctor’s office. Most of the time it’s for emergency care, just like us good ‘ole taxpayers use it.

Photo courtesy of thehispanic.blogspot.com. Is this how you feel about illegal immigrants? You’re not alone.

But it isn’t just about healthcare. It’s about paying taxes, free education, free lunches, and taking our jobs.

 

 

 

 

Photo courtesy of twincities.com. A basic run-down of immigration statistics in America.

However, there’s a big caveat here, because the jobs they are taking are the ones that only they would work anyway. The rest of us wouldn’t work for less than the minimum wage even if our very lives depended on it, which is a problem for us, not them.

So, in case you haven’t figured this out by now, I have a lot of sympathy for illegal aliens of any race, although if we’re being honest, the most complaints we have are about those of Latino origin.

Usually I tell people that if I were a mother or father living in Mexico and I had the chance to cross a river to give my kids a better life, I’d swim it quicker than a wink. But they don’t seem to get it. I mean, they can understand it on some level, but they’re more concerned with their financial health than the safety of others. I know it’s not a race thing, because the people I know have friends and family members of differing races.

But it is easy to live our middle-class or upper-middle-class lives with decent jobs, affordable healthcare (meaning we can go to the doctor if we need it), and good food, along with great housing, and condemn others for wanting that chance. For wanting their children to get that chance. To me that is so wrong I don’t even know where to begin. By the way, it might help to remember that we were born into possibly the most privileged country in the WORLD. So many people out there struggling to survive were not.

And spare me, please, the song and dance about churches fulfilling the obligations of the poor and discarded, rather than the government. That is a TERRIFIC idea in theory. In fact, that is what Jesus would had have us do. I believe that with all my heart. But in reality many churchgoers don’t even tithe what they should, much less want to spend their money on giving to the poor!

So what is the solution? I don’t like mentioning a problem without proposing a solution. I don’t think the answer is to send troops or American dollars to Mexico and straighten them out. For crying out loud, we have got to learn to deal with the problems we have here, first, unless there is some extreme loss of life on hand, like genocide. That’s not what’s happening in Mexico, although you might think differently if you lived there with the drug cartels running everything.

Much as I am loathe to admit it, I think President Obama and his recent  immigration rules are spot-on, because let’s face it – we certainly don’t need to use the resources we have hauling all the immigrants across the border. A lot of them were children when they were brought here. They shouldn’t be punished for an illegal decision by their parents. This plan of Obama’s might actually work. The good news is, it keeps serious criminals out. I think it’s a win-win for everyone.

I know we should be concerned about our health care system. I know we should be concerned about jobs in America being overtaken by people who didn’t enter the country legally, although we’d never work those jobs ourselves. Frankly, I’m more concerned about terrorists flying in from all over the world than I am about migrant workers and the like crossing the Rio Grande.

Thugs & Drugs


Here in the U.S. of A., there’s been a pretty intense overnight scrutiny of a house in Montgomery, Alabama, where a suspect in Saturday night’s shootings in Auburn, Alabama was supposedly hiding.

As a proud graduate of Auburn University, I am chagrined at such a smear on our collective reputation, but deadly incidents have happened there before and will again. It is the nature of this life. And the Auburn family’s loyalty to its home and other members is evident, as it always is in times like these. So much love has gone out to those poor men who were injured and killed, and to their families and other loved ones.

But more than embarrassment, I feel a very deep-seated frustration and even anger at the perpetrators of this crime  and of the (what? hundreds? thousands?) crimes that happen every day, just like this, all over this country.

Before you decide to steal, remember who works hard for that store, remember the people who pay for what they need or want and how you’re gonna be one more cog in a wheel of things jacking up prices for everyone. Before you decide to sell drugs, please look outside of yourself to the people you’re going to be killing. Before you decide to kill, please remember what it felt like – whatever it was that turned you into what you’ve become – and how just wrong it is to do that to another. And most of all, remember that you have to answer to the Big Man for what you’re doing just like the rest of us.

So pull up those pants and get over yourself. You bet I can feel empathy for your situation, but I have zero tolerance for exploiting others to get out of it.