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?

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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?

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!

My New Favorite Thing – & it’s PERFECT for Summer!


I am an ice cream lover. I admit it. I may need a support group, actually, especially after tasting froyo at Menchie’s this week.

Photo courtesy of columbuscrave.com.

My ultimate fave flavor is the cake batter – wow!!! So freakin yummy. Also, they let you taste-test what you want before you buy it! And you get to mix and match flavors. It’s a win-win, y’all, and perfect for cooling down during the sweltering Southern heat!

Photo courtesy of twitter.com.

We all know yogurt is a healthy food item, but did you know that froyo is better for you than ice cream? Some claim it’s rich in nutrients, has probiotics to aid digestion, and helps keep your heart and blood vessels healthy by “converting fiber” into “healthy fats.” So go ahead, and enjoy with (moderate) impunity! Yes, I know, there is no such thing as moderate impunity. Oh well, I’d say once a week isn’t too bad!!!

Ghandi Knows Best?


Photo courtesy of ndtv.com. Ghandi believed living a rural life was best.

 

Earlier this year, I read a book about Ghandi written by Bhikhu Parekh. In it, one of the things I learned about Ghandi was that he believed living a rural life was best, and that those who lived in cities were part of a necessary evil.

It’s pretty peaceful outside my little house this morning. I sat out on my patio earlier; a brief moment of quiet in my hectic day, and thought about that. I grew up on a farm in Alabama and I gotta tell ya, living in a major suburb here in the South has made me appreciate that aspect of my childhood even more.

Photo courtesy of laurabrownlee.blogspot.com. This is somewhat like the countryside I grew up around. Beautiful!

I can look at my green backyard, with my flowers and trees and whatnot, and pretend that I’m back in time, but you can’t dismiss the ambulance sirens, big trucks whizzing down the highway nearby, and machinery from local construction sites!

The hardest part about living here, however, is having to reconcile my past with that of my children’s futures, in that they will never have nearly as much space as I did to race and play when I was little. I wanted to give them fresher air, big skies, dirt roads – instead they have smog, barely visible stars, and pavement and concrete everywhere.

It’s not that I’m not grateful for my life – I am. I truly am. But some day I will go back to my beloved Sweet Home Alabama! And maybe the grand kids can get a taste of it!