Awaken Quixote

Too much sanity may be madness and the maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be.
Miguel de Cervantes
As children, we see wonder and fantasy all around us. Any car we got on would become a race car or a tank. Any stick would be a wand or a sword. Any box could become a space ship or a plane. We would be fascinated by something as simple as a line of ants crossing a sidewalk or by how rain fell on a hot day. In our world, magic was real and hero’s existed.

Our fantasy world held true till the grown-ups started to tell us to get out of the rain or we’d catch a cold. And brick by brick, our world was brought down as we were told that daydreaming was a waste of time; that gallantry was dead in a jaded world. The monsters under our beds were replaced by the monsters walking in our everyday lives. Magical scrolls were replaced with unending bills and our swords were replaced with painful words. But I’m going to tell you a little secret, a realization about this new world we discovered as adulthood hit.

The world didn’t change. We did. We decided to ignore the beauty of our everyday as we placed blinders made out of pessimism and insecurities. We are told that the world is a harsh place where there will always be someone trying to hurt us or to take advantage of us. So it should be to nobody’s surprise when that’s all we see.

But is that what we have to look forward to? A miserable life of constantly looking over our shoulders and questioning everyone’s intentions? If that is so, when at the very least stop complaining about all you find in your life is misery, because the reality of your life is that you’re actively seeking it out. But what if we go back to looking at the beauty in the world? Search for its magic? It’s still there waiting for your return. Why can’t you dance as care free today as you did as a child? Because someone might think you’re crazy? They probably call you crazy behind your back already!

There are two instances when men can catch a glimpse of this world; when they’re drunk or when they play with a child. (Please don’t playing with a child while drunk though…common sense, people.) Why? Because in either case, you find yourself with a valid excuse to be ridiculous, to act out your inner self as you can shed that thick jaded protective shell. This is when you can dance and sing and laugh and take risks; as you stop caring what others think of you and forget about your insecurities.

These are the times when the words “I love you” flow easily. These are the times when telling someone they are beautiful aren’t as scary. These are the moments when you are willing to smile and laugh and dance with anyone. These are the moments when you forget that the world is out to get you so, for an instant, you believe that you can do anything. These are the moments you walk down the street with a cocky grin as you have enough confidence to take on the world and all its scary monsters.

Before you dismiss this as having a wishful thinking way of life, were the reality of responsibilities is ignored, think again. Most people see everything that could go wrong in their lives yet secretly plan what they would do if things went right. What I am asking you is to see everything that could go right, yet secretly plan what to do in if anything goes wrong. Contingency and back-up plans should be just that; a back-up plans. 


Stop saying that Violence isn’t the answer

Only a warrior chooses pacifism; others are condemned to it.
As our world advances, we have developed innumerous ways to achieve a civilized society. We have implemented zero tolerance policies on school bulling, where we make social media protests and marches against violence, and develop policies to defend and help anyone who feels victimized in any way. Cellphone videos have become the modern weapon of justice and social media trolling has become the new style of combat, as public opinion is a lot more important than actual safety.

So when a blind teen is being beat up by another classmate and everyone is just standing around taking video, I am not at all surprises. Out of all those present, only ONE is willing to step in and deal with the bully. And that’s the result of a society that keeps telling everyone that violence isn’t the answer. We are left with a society that’s not willing to stand up for themselves and for others.

We are left with a society willing to embrace victimhood and its only defense mechanism is passive-aggressiveness.

Sure, you might call out every single protest and social movement as proof that I am wrong. But when you look at those event’s it’s easy to brave injustice when you are just one more within a crowd. These, in truth, are little more than social events to express community opinion.

It takes real cojones to step up when you stand alone.

Sure, taking video as evidence is crucial, but it does very title to stop the actual violence. Sometimes you need violence to stop violence. And if all we teach our kids is to not get involved, we end up with a society where violence will exist, and our only option is to deal with the aftermath. We need to change this.

We need to forge a society where the bully will think twice about being a bully. We need to bring back the fear of the older brother who’ll beat you up for abusing his younger sibling. We need to bring back the fear of the father who will “deal” with whoever thought of messing with his daughter. We need to bring back the fear of the stranger who will step in and stand up to whoever tries to bully someone in the street. And this is only done by having men willing to stand up against abuse.

Sure, violence isn’t the answer. But we still have to realize it’s an option.


Not Trying To Pick You Up

Being polite is so rare these days that it’s often confused with flirting.
There’s a general sentiment about today’s society when it comes to the topic of manners. We constantly lament the loss of simple words such as please and thank you, as we mourn politeness and consideration for others. And in the Internet’s usual way of making a quick judgement, we blame the previous generation of parents for not teaching these habits to our current generation of adults.

I cannot agree with that logic, nor do I feel it’s fair to simply use parents as the scapegoats for ill-mannered people. What if the problem isn’t a lack of politeness at all? What if the problem is that we have taught people to refuse politeness and manners, to look at them from a negative perspective?

Just consider the quote I mentioned at the beginning. “Being polite is so rare these days that it’s often confused with flirting.” We have created this mentality that anyone with manners, or even anyone who treats us well, does so because they have ulterior motives. Take a second to consider the following examples.

A young man complements a lady on her dress. What’s her reaction? To thank him? Unless she’s interested in the young man, rarely. She will probably mention that she has a boyfriend, even if the conversation had nothing to do with her relationship status. An entire sector within our society, composed of men and women with a desperate need to feel offended, will say that something as simple as a man opening a door is in reality some act of oppression against the woman or against the man, all depending who wrote of the cry-blog.

And it’s not just about the interaction between men and women. A man complements another man and the man in the receiving end will wonder if he is being hit on or if he is being set up for some kind of swindle. A woman complements another woman, and the woman in the receiving end will wonder if it’s some kind of thinly veiled insult.

It’s not that we have forgotten how to be polite to each other, but that we’ve forgotten how to react to politeness. We are constantly told that complements and politeness comes at a price. Worse of all, in some cases, it does; validating this social paranoia we are forced to live in. We live in a society that spotlights anyone with proper behavior, hoping they fail at one point, simply to justify a conclusion we were indoctrinated into long ago.

Politeness and manners aren’t gone. We have just chosen to overlook them as we focus on every single negative action that happens in our lives. We don’t remember the person who said thank you, but rather focus on the ungrateful one who didn’t. You want to see manners become important within our society again? Make them important within your life first.


The Liberating Beauty “F… It”

Listen, smile, agree and then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway.
Robert Downey Jr.
As I have grown older, and hopefully wiser, I have taken up the task of self-reflection and social observation. As I do this, I am left with a rather interesting thought; I find that I am proving myself to other less and less. What I am not sure about is the “Why.” It could be that I make less mistakes, that I am more considerate of others, or that I hold myself more accountable over my actions. Or it could be that I really stopped giving a f@ck what most people think about me.

I’m pretty sure it’s the latter.

You will find that in your life you feel obligated to prove your opinions to plenty of people around you, some who aren’t even important in your life. Just look at any thread within social media, as people will go virulent on anyone who thinks differently. Other times you find yourself constantly trying to prove your worth to those closest to you, trying to make them see all that you are willing to do and be in an attempt to receive their approval. The main problem with these actions is that the very person you seek to impress has no intention to see your worth.

You may find yourself in the receiving end of others willing to belittle you; make you feel less than worthy just because they are miserable within their own lives. If they are miserable, EVERYONE has to be miserable.

Others are so convinced that their own way of looking at things is the only way to look at things. They hold their opinions as the only valid truths and try to shove them down the throats of everyone else. Anyone with a different opinion is simply wrong within their eyes.

Still other times, people will make you out to be a bad person simply so they don’t feel guilty about the things they did to you. It’s a lot easier to blame your actions on someone by assuming they deserve it. God forbid they should take responsibility for their own actions.

So, when I take all of these possibilities into account, I have come to the conclusion that people need to be responsible for themselves, and that includes the ignoring all the naysayers and critics. You’re not here to please others but rather to better yourself. If by bettering yourself others are please, great. If not…

Sometimes f@ck it is a perfectly acceptable response.


Please Don’t Feed The Fears.

The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is fear.
Recently the net went on an uproar as a young Muslim teen was arrested for bringing into school a homemade clock as a teacher assumed it was a makeshift bomb. Cries of Islamophobia, racism, and bigotry went off as everyone posted their support for the young man within the hashtag #IStandWithAhmed. And as outcries and condemnations of the hate many Muslims within our society have to endure, it got me thinking of every other case of discrimination where “hate” is blamed.

I started considering all those other cases where the net calls out the issue of bigotry against specific groups, but instead of simply assuming these are born out of hate, I started to consider them from the eyes of those discriminating. The only way to understand a situation is by placing yourself on both ends of the spectrum while trying not to applaud outright or condemn outright. Why? Because quite often those we accuse of bigotry and hatred don’t view their own actions as being born out of hate. Some even view their actions as righteous and necessary, viewing themselves as “the good guys.” Before you accuse them, not only of bigotry but of delusional as well, it might be a good idea to step into their shoes; look at things from their perspective, if for nothing else to better understand them as people, to humanize them even if they don't do the same. Maybe then we can understand why our fight against hatred is falling miserably.

What if the issue isn’t hate, but rather fear?

We live within a society absolutely obsessed with protecting ourselves from threats, where every step we take and every event brings along an endless list of things to fear. Take a moment to look at the same events you would assume are the result of bigotry, and look at them from the perspective of fear.

Cops fear that the random black man is actually an armed thug.
Your average US American fears that the border crossing Latino is actually a drug runner or the Arab is really an ISIS terrorist.
Blacks, Latinos and Arabs fear that cops will attack without any real provocation.

But it goes beyond race.

Blue collar workers fear that the immigrants will steal their jobs.
Conservatives fear that marriage between gays will damage the concept of families.
Liberals fear that anyone who open carries will suddenly go out on a killing rampage.
Feminists fear that men are potential rapists.
Men’s Rights Activists fear that women can make up rape accusations.
Religious people fear the atheist’s influence in society while the the Atheist fears the effects of religion in society.

And the list goes on and on.

This fear breads the demonization those they fear while humanizing their own daemons. Cops use excessive force against Blacks and Latinos, massive protests are called out to stop children from crossing our borders, criminalization of the Muslim community, discrimination against gays, etc. All of this is done under the banner of self-defense, so calling them out as acts born out of bigotry can easily be dismissed.

And it becomes even easier to dismiss as those with common fears band together to pat each other in the back and cheer each other on. What do people do with what they fear? They attack it. We see this within every single social movement as they call out everything they hate about everyone else under the guise of justice, when in reality it’s little more than a support group to deal with their fears.

I can almost hear you quoting Yoda as you equate fear and hate. (“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”) But when we focus our actions to deal with the resulting hate, we do nothing to stop the fear that gave birth to it in the first place. We need to stop fighting the hate speech and fight the fear speech.

This isn’t done by calling out privilege. Calling out privilege is little more than “let me make you feel just as bad for something you can’t control as you treat me badly for something I can’t control.” As a tool for retribution and vengeance, sure it works fine. That’s if your final goal is just getting even. Me? I prefer to find solutions to the bigger problem.

We need to condemn and challenge every single bullshit stereotype that is used to label people. We need to call out everyone profiteering from force feeding out society fear. We need to call out every media channel and outlet who profit from telling us what to hate and who to fear. We need to realize that Black doesn’t equal thugs, Latino doesn’t equal drug dealers, Muslims doesn’t equal terrorists, White doesn’t equal privilege, Cop doesn’t equal killer, Men don’t equal rapists, etc. We need to call out these sites and programs for what they are.

Fear mongers profiting from us like parasites.

Fear is a hard habit to break. Within our social setting it means trusting your fellow man, and that’s something very hard to do when you’re constantly thinking about how others look out only for themselves. Maybe that’s what needs to change, maybe if we stopped focusing so much on the ME and focused more on the WE, we wouldn’t fear so much. But till that happens, we could start with simply asking for one thing.

Please do not feed the fears.