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?

Advertisements

Life in Mayberry: The Slow Lane


Technology was supposed to be the answer. Computers and cell phones were designed to save time and cut labor costs. I’m reminded of an episode of Lark Rise to Candleford when an invention was created to cut the time and manual labor of men in the fields. The residents of Lark Rise and Candleford had mixed emotions. On the one hand, it was amazing and efficient. Yet, it would cost countless jobs of poor men who had no other skills and no way to earn them.

All the things that man has made to save time or money, such as cars or computers or plastic – have done their jobs, but in return we get pollution, non-biodegradable landfill fillers, and people sitting in a chair staring at a screen that hurts their eyes, keeps them from sleeping because they’re all over our homes, and the use of the mouse causes carpel tunnel. There are consequences to everything.

I heard a sermon Sunday about hurrying up in this fast-paced world, and how technology has created more hurry, not less. How many times have you been stuck waiting somewhere and have been madly typing a Facebook update when something malfunctioned for a moment on your smartphone and you went absolutely berserk? The same is true during your day at the office. E-mails have replaced lovely letters. No one north of the Mason-Dixon cares much about thank-y0u notes, and even this time-honored Southern tradition is fading. I’ve actually been told not to write these notes.  Why? Because we don’t want to take the time to read them, or because the reader assumes we don’t want to take the time to write them? Since when did expressing thanks take up too much of our time?

According to Dr. Mike Long, head pastor at RUMC, here is what hurrying up in a hurry-up world has done to us:

  • We don’t see clearly. Our days are full of things that are really not that important, but even if we are doing godly work, we don’t even pay true attention to it.
  • We don’t listen carefully. That’s for you people out there who carry your cell phones to the dinner table. We can’t even eat, much less listen to those around us. Whether it’s status updates, e-mails, or television, we don’t take the time to listen to others.
  • We don’t think deeply. We don’t reflect. For some reason, we assume that we don’t have time to do it. Here’s my thought on this, not Dr. Mike’s: it’s not that we don’t have the time. It’s that our priorities are totally out of whack. I hate it when Christians say that we can even learn about the word of God in just a few minutes. Just read one chapter a day! When we were in college, did we just study and read for a few minutes a day, expecting to get a reward for that? Then why do we relegate the word of God to a few minutes a day or only on Sundays? Isn’t the Word much more important than anything else? This principle of thinking deeply applies to other areas of our lives, as well. We need to think more deeply about the people and situations going on around us, and not lead shallow lives.
  • We don’t take time to celebrate! We don’t savor life fully and take time for fun, laughter, and friends.

What is the solution to all this hurrying up? It’s amazing how we think this fast-paced stuff is only part of the world we know, but even back in the day,  God knew He needed to give us an out. As a matter of fact, read your Genesis. God Himself needed an out! That’s what the Sabbath was for! As Dr. Mike told us, it’s there for us to use to recharge and renew ourselves. I love those words. They sound so peaceful to me, but they may be energizing to you. We also need the Sabbath to worship! We Christians have moved it to Sundays, but all that matters is that you pick a day where you do no work (try minimal at first!) and rest in the arms of the Lord. It sounds divine to me! It will likely take some practice and work for those of you who are thinking, “I would go BONKERS!”

 

The Sabbath gives us rhythm. If I don’t go to church on Sunday, I feel off at the start of my week. Worship gives me a very comforting sense of peace. If I don’t do my quiet time with God every day, I feel off as well. My rhythm is gone. It’s important, also, to remember that we may think we are indispensable, but we are not! We try so super hard to do that at work. We do not want to lose our jobs. We try that as mothers and wives. But the truth is, the world will keep turning for most people on this Earth if we are down for the count. Remember that we are allowed to rest, and that if we do not, we are not performing at peak capacity.

What does the Sabbath look like? Is it sitting in a corner reading a book all day? Sure. For you. For someone else it could mowing the yard, taking a walk, singing, a trip. What relaxes and refreshes one person does not work for another, so you need to make sure your motives for doing whatever it is are purely about Sabbath rest. Spend your day in reflection. You may have already set goals and resolutions for the year, Dr. Mike said. But will they add to your hurry or take it away? Adam Hamilton said, and I’m paraphrasing, that we should look for one or two things to stop doing to get out of hurrying up.

Find something that energizes you. That excites you about your walk with Christ. You will have to work at it. Anything that becomes a habit takes a conscientious  decision and work. But oh, how God will bless that day! When you make Sabbath a habit, it becomes more than restful and restorative – it becomes holy!

Where Were You When?


The assassination of JFK. The Berlin Wall. 9/11. The first time a Bieber record went on sale. There are things throughout history we remember,  and some of you have never even heard the Biebs croon a pop hit. In fact, an entire generation of Americans cannot tell you where they were when O.J. Simpson was acquitted.

I remember where I was. I was in the library of my small, all-white private school. The entire high school was crowded into the back room where there was a tiny tv. They may have wired it for cable just for this event. Just kidding. Anyway, we were riveted. We had very strong opinions, even as teenagers, about the verdict. We all knew he was guilty, and most, if not all, of us, had  heard our parents express  their outrage or opinions on how the trial went and how it would end.

Today I closed the page on Without a Doubt, written by Marcia Clark, someone else an entire generation will not remember. She was the lead prosecutor of the case. And she got squashed. I mean, absolutely pounded by what folks dubbedThe Dream Team,” headed by none  other than Johnnie Cochran. Rings a bell, doesn’t it? There’s a Cochran law firm. And I bet when you read the words “Rodney King” you start to get an idea of what we’re talking about.

After all, Rodney King was beaten by Los Angeles Police Department cops. Their acquittal is said to have started the LA Race Riots of the 90s, a truly brutal time in that city’s history. There must be a billion rap songs about it out there. He was, also, famous for his hair. What happened to Rodney King, despite what he may or may not have done illegally, was so wrong it’s sickening. And when O.J. stepped up to bat, an almost all-black jury gave him the go-ahead. Get-out-of-jail-free card. He walked.

He walked despite overwhelming physical evidence that he was guilty of the murder of Nicole Brown  Simpson and Ron Goldman. The brutal murders of these two people. And he had a recorded history of domestic violence with Nicole, whom he had two children with. There are those who believe that the O.J. verdict was direct retaliation for Rodney King. I happen to think it’s a very distinct possibility.

Here is some information Clark wrote about in her book that was published in 1997:

“The People lost this case not because we introduced too much evidence or too little evidence. We lost because American justice is distorted by race. We lost because American justice is corrupted by celebrity. Any lawyer willing to exploit those weaknesses can convince a jury predisposed to acquittal of just about anything…[A] handful of clever, expensive attorneys were allowed to manipulate the system by invoking the wholly irrelevant, yet provocative issue of racism…You took a jury itching to avenge Rodney King and incited it to nullify the law.”

Get on it Marcia.

Just so you know, O.J. did not fare so well in the civil trial. He was found guilty.

I have dealt with racism my whole life. In fact, we all have. You don’t have to be Southern, from Compton, or a resident of 8 Mile to know what I’m talking about. The fear of things we don’t understand is the human condition, and racism is born out of that fear. It is not mutually exclusive to whites. It is something I dislike but understand from the white perspective and sympathize with from t he black perspective. I’m not one of those white people who says I can totally put myself in the place of a black person, but anyone with half a brain can imagine what it would feel like to be brutalized or treated unfairly due to race. Oh, wait a minute…I actually can. I once was told I wouldn’t get a job in my field because I wasn’t in the right racial category the company was hiring from. Yep. I never want to work in my field again. I just don’t have the heart.

I have wondered how I would ever write about race. It’s an issue that polarizes just about everyone – at least how they respond publicly to it. Not everyone has looked at it from all the angles.I think I have. I have never been a slave. As you can see from my avatar, I’m white. So that explains it. I’ve never been black in the 60s. But slavery ended a long time ago, and blacks have the same rights we have. So I say let bygones be bygones.

I’m not simplifying the issue of race; I’m giving the only option that lets us move past race issues and into relationship with each other. I have no idea if that will ever happen on a large scale but we all know it happens every day, one-on-one. I don’t look at a black person as a “black person” – I look at them as if they’re a person, and I expect the same thing in return. I hate the term “race card” but the truth is that sometimes race does determine how a person is treated. You don’t have to use the N-word to be a racist. Harboring hateful ideas in your mind determines your character, even if you’re the only one who knows about it. Jumping on a bandwagon of unwarranted animosity is the same thing, but because it’s what a lot of other people are doing, it’s considered ok.

The perfect example works for both blacks and whites: the dislike of the President of the United States simply because he is black, or the support he has received simply because he is black. There are a lot of white people who voted for him because they felt it would somehow balance the scales, in my opinion. That’s just plain stupid, as is disrespecting the leader of our land due to color and not even trying to see his good points. I’m not a fan, by the way, of his presidency. However, I do see sides of his personal character that I  like (as well as those I don’t.) This is only possible if you strip your consciousness of unnecessary hindrances to understanding and appreciation.

I am not naive enough to think that one day,  we will all live in peace and harmony – at least, not until the Lord  comes back and we all get to heaven. Until then, we have to do the best with what we have. So who am  I appealing to? The white family who raises its children to respect those of all colors? No. The black family who does the same? Obviously not. I am appealing to those of any and all colors who raise their children and live their lives hating  the color of another person’s skin. To you I say: get over yourself. God loves variety or He wouldn’t have painted us so beautifully in the first place. And I know y’all don’t think you’ve got something over on Him, right?

It takes a strong mind, as well as an exceptional character (in my opinion) to give credence to different viewpoints, and at least to think about them. Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” I do not have a strong mind nor an exceptional character. I am extremely opinionated, impatient, and strong-willed to the point of absurdity. But even I have trained myself to think through things that really bother me and consider all the different facets or perspectives. And when I can’t see any but my own, I always get the thoughts of someone else on board, which has taught me a lot. You wouldn’t even believe it.

A good example of this, I think, is the opinion a lot of whites have that Latinos are ruining the healthcare system.  Let’s say you believe this to be true. I can give you that, because there are a lot of people out there who would agree with you. Can you at least understand where the desire to flee to America comes from? Imagine living in a country that can’t provide you clean drinking water and you have children. Wouldn’t you be tempted to become a fugitive to give them a better life? Imagine living in a country where drug cartels run everything. The absolute danger you would live in, day in and day out. If you would  not even contemplate moving your children to safety, you have issues other than racial bias and you should probably explore that.

And let us not forget all the white people who got off easily: Lyndsay Lohan. Casey Anthony. Robert Blake. I once wrote a blog post about cosmic fame and how it totally distorts our perspective on reality. Celebrity status definitely played a role in the O.J. Simpson verdict, as well as these previously mentioned cases above. Casey Anthony wasn’t a star; she was a figure made famous over the Internet and on tv. It’s ridiculous the role fame plays in courtroom antics.

So the next time a racial thought runs through your mind, try seeing it from another point of view. When you see a white person living in a nice house, with nice things, instead of saying, or thinking to yourself, how entitled  he or she must feel, try to think about the possibility that he or she worked really hard to get those things. That person may even give some of it back to people like you! When you see a black person charged with a crime, try to remember that a lot of people grow up poor and don’t have the emotional and physical blessings of others,and that can lead to a lot of problems you, in your upper-class suburban bubble, will never understand. When you see an illegal alien sitting outside a gas station trying to find work for the day, put yourself in his place. What if you lived in a foreign country so you and your family could have a better life, and you couldn’t speak the language, understand others, and get a decent job?

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.

Good Vs. The Joker


Photo courtesy of popdust.com.

The shootings in Aurora, Colorado won’t go down in history like the JFK assassination or 9/11. The entire country will not ask, “Where were you when?…” But it is very emotional, nonetheless.

 

 

 

We are used to crime here. I love the South, but it has a history of violence just like anywhere else in the world. It’s not surprising, dealing with all the violence here. I don’t know why I have been so put out by it since I moved to a large Southern city.

Photo courtesy of social.bioware.com.

For crying out loud, I grew up with violence. It is, dare I say it, a part of my nature. It is the first thing I think of when something goes wrong. Who did it? Got a name. Why? Doesn’t matter. Let’s kick some. I have a visceral fascination and tendency towards it. I understand it. Not in the random sense of breaking into a house and senselessly killing its occupants or robbing someone on the street corner. It is a mode of revenge, and that I get. I appreciate it. I miss the Wild West as if I actually lived it. I GET it.

This is amazing to my friends here. They grew up living mostly quiet lives, where they never saw destruction or fear or poverty or desperation. They grew up in upper-middle class suburban bubbles, for the most part, and violence is abhorrent to them – even to the men. My own husband is this way! It makes for difficulty between us. When my reputation or safety is questioned, I expect him to “take care of it.” This means, of course, what you can imagine, with the added precaution of deniability on my part. The men handle problems and the women don’t ask them about it.

Photo courtesy of ilovebacteria.com.

I sometimes wonder, with an inward sneer, I confess, what it would have been like to grow up like these good men and women I know. I feel tougher, stronger, better able to think things through, and weight the options in a crisis. I don’t think they have it any better. Are they equipped to meet danger? Yes, I suppose, but in a much different way than I am. They are appalled in the face of aggression; I am strengthened, almost, by it. I know what to do in a fight, to some extent. They, maybe not so much. Then again, they have had no use to know how to do it. I have.

So I smirk, sometimes, but it is not out of jealousy. It is out of frustration. We don’t understand one another. They think my instincts are wrong and I think theirs are too tame. Yet, they cannot help it. They have a greater sense of security than I will ever know – at least, as far as human beings are concerned. I am not the lucky one in all facets of this issue. I know that. I am glad for them that they have had these things. It makes it easier for them to deal with others – in a way.

Anyway, violence is system that worked fairly well, I think, when I was growing up. We were protected. Except for the natural feeling of vengeance it inspired, it was a good system. I still have to fight against that.

Photo courtesy of legalrightsoc.com.

Over the years, I have had many chances to either employ it myself or have others do it for me. For example, I had a college job where I was being sexually harassed. The issue made it all the way up the chain of command to the top; the boss said that I had been working there only a few months compared to this venerable veteran; he advised me to let it go or I’d lose my job. It was not the first time, nor would it be the last, when I would be harassed. And it was handled both poorly (the guy was immediately fired) and badly (the guy was protected) over the years. It actually became something I expected and something I eventually tried to deal with on my own.

But I digress. This, as you can imagine, did not sit too well with me, and it did not suit my then-boyfriend at all. I have no idea what happened to the man I worked with; all I do know is that the next day, my boyfriend drove me to work and picked me up. But I had to wait inside the store until he “handled” it and then I was allowed to go to the car when I finished my shift. The guy who was giving me a problem? Never spoke to me again, much less frightened me.

So, that was how it went. For the last few years, I have been astounded by the crime and unnecessary violence here. I have yet to get used to it. They aren’t protecting their families. They’re just thugs.

But when I watched the news for the last two days and the images from Aurora, I felt tears form for the first time. Not anger, not the absolute need for revenge for the sakes of those hurt or killed, but just an intense sadness.

Photo courtesy of cbsnews.com.

And that was followed by love. LOVE. The need to just saturate this crazy, dangerous, ill-omened world with love. To use it to cast out darkness. How that works I have no idea. I have not made it a life study, if you will, like I have aggression and power. But love has its own power too.

No, I will still demand that my kids take care of themselves and those unable to defend themselves. That, to me, is a matter of right and wrong. My boys will never get in trouble for doing that; they will get in trouble for letting an innocent kid get beat down. It’s wrong. It’s cowardly. And being scared doesn’t make you a coward; not acting despite being scared does.

But I will also continue to teach them love. Love for the underdog. But love for the criminal too. Forgiveness. Because despite the life I have lived, I am able to forgive now. And it is good. It is cleansing. It if freedom!

How to Recreate a Childhood Summer!


Photo courtesy of thedigeratilife.com.

Just about everybody has their favorite memories of their childhood summers. While I have learned to relax when my body needs it (most of the time), that’s a really hard thing to do. Between our jobs, our families, our obligations to our churches, friends, and activities, our lives are often overly busy and that elusive “fulfillment” seems to really mean days full of stuff we have to do, not necessarily things we want to do.

Everyone says that summer is the season to slow down, but in reality our bodies internally and naturally do that in winter as well. Spring and fall are the times of year when the instincts inside us speed up; it’s not too hot and not too cold and we are instrically programmed with more energy.

The things we all love about summers growing up aren’t the jobs we hated doing. Theyr’e things that were FUN! So why not add a little of that to our adult lives when we can? Don’t say you’re too busy. You aren’t. You just have to prioritize. Get up earlier to mow the lawn so you can enjoy afternoon pursuits. Or why not leave it for the week? Just take a Saturday once a month to have a day strictly for activities that inspire you.

Here are some of the ways I like to recreate my childhood summers:

PHOTO COURTESY OF officialanneofgreengables.wikia.com. Don’t forget – that’s Anne spelled with an E!!!

1. Anne of Green Gables on rainy afternoons;

2. Frozen yogurt;

3. Watching the sunshine play through the leaves of a tree;

4. Sitting under a tree while summer rain falls;

5. Reading without fear of reprisal;

 

Photo courtesy of growfoodeasily.com.

6. Attending the Saturday-morning farmer’s market in lieu of picking vegetables in my cousin’s garden really early in the morning before the heat sets in;

7. I have to add this an adult – escaping the heat of the kitchen to have dinner out!

What about you? Please share your tips of having a great summer in the comments box! Enjoy the rest of this time of year!

Hit Me Baby!


No, this isn’t a post about the glory days of Britney Spears, although the song is running through my mind. Awesome. It’s about life and how when it rains, it pours. And only if it were actually raining right now – we might not be enjoying these 100-degree days. Ugh!

Two deaths have occurred in the past month, and my baby and I are sick. It’s enough to make you want to scream and pitch a tantrum. To pull the covers over your head and go back to sleep. To walk around in a fog, not knowing what’s going on in your own life, day-to-day, because you have too much to deal with.

Photo courtesy of brokeassstuart.com.

And a few years ago, I would have done all of the above. Want to know what I did this morning, instead?

I got up at 6:30 a.m. and did my morning quiet time (Bible study) for my usual hour. Then I got dressed and took my sweet little baby for a morning workout. Usually I go solo, but we’ve both been cooped up inside for a few days, suffering from the sniffles, sneezes, coughs and other wonderful things a cold brings. So I thought we could use some fresh air.

Then we headed to the grocery store to get the weekly shopping done, and now the baby is sleeping and I am finishing breakfast and writing. So, while I still feel kinda yucky, I feel much better knowing I’m up and doing what needs to be done, even if it’s not being done at my usual speed. Even when life gets almost too tough to have any energy, the good Lord gets me through!