Independence Day

I’ve always considered myself to be a patriotic person. I proudly display an American flag on my porch 365 days a year. My front door decoration, except on specific holidays, is always something in red, white and blue. I sing along with the National Anthem whenever it is played, and stand tall and proud in settings where it is being played. And I’ve always said that I am proud to be an American.

All of that is still true today, July 4th, 2020. But it comes with some mixed emotion this year. I am proud to be an American, but I am not proud of America. I value and treasure the freedoms afforded me by living in this country, and I salute the many who have served and are serving for their selfless dedication to protect our country and its people. But the political turmoil in this great country leaves me with a very bitter aftertaste. Add to that political turmoil the turmoil of the people themselves – riots and lootings and desecrating property and physical brutality – and I will state again that I am not proud of America.

It’s bad enough that the current pandemic has us in a sense of being isolated. But when I look at the things that are happening out there, there is a second meaning to home being the safest place to be. People are being moved off a church property for a photo op. The entire police force of our nation is being chastised because of a few bad cops. Some people are taking advantage of the ‘extra’ income incentive in unemployment payments by refusing to return to work. And racism has reared its ugly head again as though we’ve never gotten past it in the past 40+ years since it first reared its ugly head.

Does anyone really remember 9/11? I mean, really remember it? In those hours, days and weeks and even months, our country’s people came together despite race, sexual preference, religion, political beliefs and all of the other things that can – and do – divide us. All that mattered is that we were Americans banding together for our fellow Americans and helping each other in whatever ways we could! Where did those people disappear to?

As terrible as it sounds to even say, I sometimes wonder if we need another 9/11 to happen in order for us to truly come together again. And yet, I wonder if we’ve reached the point where banding together like that will never happen again. I mean, will rescuers look at the skin color of a victim and decide whether or not to assist that person based on the skin color? Will members of either political party ask a victim to which party they belong before deciding to assist them? Will people be asked their sexual preferences before deciding if a person is worthy of being helped? What needs to happen in this country in order for us to be the united that is a part of our country’s name?

Our country needs fixing. It may well need a big upheaval of some kind to turn us back from our hatred of people who are different from us. I have friends in other countries around the world who see what’s going on here and feel SORRY for us! So how is it possible to be proud of America???

I realize this isn’t one of those ideal posts celebrating Independence Day. I think it would be awesome of me for apologizing for that. But I’m not sorry – – I’m sorry that we are where we are and have no apparent desire to make the changes necessary to overcome it. And that’s just how it is today, Independence Day, 2020.

Perceptions

What is WRONG with this picture???

Pictures similar to the one above appear now and again across social media platforms, always asking the question, “What is WRONG with this picture?” Each time it is done, the point made is taken but it’s so subtle that it doesn’t upset us. Because, except for those who are extremely biased, there IS nothing wrong with this picture.

The dictionary defines the word perception as: “the act or faculty of perceiving, or apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.” Cognition is defined as: “the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.”

It immediately brings to mind the realization that racism is not genetic; racism is something that it taught by racists. Those who perceive racism teach others through cognizant thought about racism. Like much of our lives, how and why we perceive, hence believe, anything is taught to us by others. We accept that our parents teach us such things as manners, respect, etc. We respect that teachers teach us the 3 R’s – reading, writing and ‘rithmetic. We accept what we learn in history as being fact because someone long before us, whom was trusted, passed down the information through the generations. We accept our faith – our religious tenants – without proof, as we were taught to believe by others who believed.

But do we need to hold onto those beliefs throughout life? One of the silly questions I ask from time to time is, “Why is a pencil a pencil? Why isn’t it a cow?” I do that to bring up the point that we take for granted what we are taught without question. I mean, who had the authority to make up the names we use to define certain objects?

This brings me to the post below. We are “taught” to read from right to left, from top to bottom. And it works for us. But what if we changed our belief about how we should read?

There is no better example of why it may be right to question how our perception can change something. No, I’m not saying that we should read differently than we have been taught. I’m simply saying that we have the right to question certain perceptions. We may be taught to be racist, but if that teaching is not akin to our own morals and values, we have the right to “unlearn” it.

We may be defined often enough as ‘fat’, ‘lazy’, ‘worthless’, etc. that we learn to believe that. But what is learned can be unlearned, simply by changing our perceptions. And that has to start inside of ourselves. We are responsible to accept – or change – our perceptions about anything. And we don’t need anyone else to agree with us.

I encourage each of you to spend some time thinking about how you perceive things – in yourself and in others – and question if those perceptions work for you. If so, that’s great! If not, you need to spend some time in self-talk and change them. It’s your right!

AMEN!