Every day, I encounter a new challenge to the idea that things can and should be open and real.

Be it social, political, or personal, serious or trivial -- every time, I ponder the implications.

I hope you'll join me in the conversation!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Meeting Needs, Sustaining Shadows

Last week there was a bit of drama in the blogosphere about some ugly stereotyping of West Virginia. You can find all the details on one of my favorite blogs, A Better West Virginia:

(Though it was a negative event, it also led me to this blog, which is also becoming a favorite: Girl of Words, http://www.girlofwords.com/?p=3001.)

It all got me thinking about the phenomenon of people needing something badly enough to invent it, or at the very least to sustain it long past the point of its hey day. Why exactly does the general public need West Virginia to be a wasteland of ignorant hillbillies?

Who knows? My guess is it's just the same dynamic that drives this kind of thing for all stereotypes -- it creates the illusion of simplicity in a complex world, and makes it "easier" to navigate relationships and situations by discounting the uniqueness of every person and every place. It also feeds a desire to reinforce the idea that "the other" is inferior, and "we" are superior.

Frankly, this illusion means we don't have to work as hard at anything as we would if we were negotiating unique realities on a regular basis. Most of the time, I think we let this stuff go. No one has the energy to fight stereotypes all the time, it's just too exhausting. We roll our eyes, or actually laugh in the recognition of some truth at the foundation of each type, or we get angry but usually we just move on. Not so this time. There is such a thing as going too far, and Christopher Needham went too far.

I'm proud of the bloggers and others who took him to task for his hateful and untrue rant. I'm also interested in watching how we West Virginians who are focused on the future here will learn to balance keeping our nose to the grindstone with being distracted by ignorant morons who want to nail us to the past.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Best Blogs You're Not Reading Yet

A few weeks ago I received the honor of the "You're Blog is Over the Top" award from TRConnie over at http://wvfurandroot.wordpress.com/ and I've been remiss in my duty to pay it forward.

I'll start by giving it back to TRConnie, because her blog WV Fur and Root is a real treat. I've come to believe her personal hideway is a corner of my own mind, a room where I can really go from time to time to both escape my own realities as well as find comfort in our shared human experiences.

Here are a few more of my faves. Never enough time to read them all as often as I would like, but all have tremendous value in their own unique ways. Check them out:

Health Care Law Blog: http://healthcarebloglaw.blogspot.com/ Bob Coffield is a dynamo at bringing social media, health care policy, and the law together in interesting and relevant ways for even a lay person. You may be surprised to realize how much you want and need to know about this intersection.

The Rainmaking Blog: http://rainmakingblog.blogspot.com/ Pat Kelly, dynamo deux, has a credential-encrusted resume a mile long, and yet hits the sweet spot with practical advice on business success for a range of professionals; from name tag placement to social media to who's looking at your shoes and why, he brings a wealth of value to all of us, regardless of your field or level in it.

Learning and Technology - A Blog for Reflection: http://leekraus.blogspot.com/ You know all those cool new things about applying technology to the learning process that you wish you were wonky enough to keep up with? Lee Kraus will do it for you! I love his "about me" -- "I'm interested in technology, education, and family." That's Dr. Kraus. Also a helluva great guy.

Bad Leader: http://www.badleader.net/ This is my latest obsession. I've been waiting for something like this for awhile without realizing exactly what was missing out there......what to do is all well and good, but sometimes we can learn as much or more from what NOT to do and why. Tight, to-the-point posts on missteps and wrong turns at the top that exemplify the old addage, "If you can't be a good example, you can at least be a horrible warning."

Professional Studio 365: http://professionalstudio365.com/ Emily Bennington is that person you want to be, even if just for a day to see what it's like to always be smart, coiffed, and funny! No pressure, right Em? I love her committed focus to young professionals and she's just at the perfect stage of her life to inspire the very young who want to evolve, as well as the not-really-so-young who want to resurrect their ideals.

In closing, I'm becoming more fond of those blogs that don't try to gross me out or shock me, but that seem genuinely interested in making the world a better place.

These bloggers do that, and for that I say Thank You.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Skinny Branch

So this is, as they say, me "going out on the skinny branch."

I want to write just a little bit about the whole social response to Tiger Woods and his admission of infidelity to his wife, Elin. And since he and Elin are the parents of two very young children, I think it may not be over the line to say that he has strayed from something much bigger and more significant than just his relationship with one woman.

It's always a shock to realize how imperfect you are, and I mean that sincerely.

Item One that Troubles Me: I know. We all know. Any grown-up aware of your situation knows. You are the last to know.

I don't believe that I am any better than this man, or better than any other person. I was raised in a faith tradition that says all are flawed, and to tell yourself otherwise is to head down a dangerous and arrogant path. So please, stop educating me, and stop acting like admitting you are human is some Big Revelation to anyone but you. It's insulting. I encourage this conversation with yourself, but truly you are the last to know. We know.

Item Two that Troubles Me: As a society, we are more and more likely to say that this failure is not relevant.

I believe that the only the two people in a marriage who know what it is and what is going on (and sometimes not even then) is, well, those two people. I myself have been divorced. I am not interested in encouraging judgement on the highs and lows of other people's relationships. But I'm also a little freaked-out that we seem to have swung from making adulterly an offense punishable by death, to shrugging it off and saying it doesn't have anything to do with "us."

When we say as a society that it is irrelevant, and everyone votes in their online polls about how they don't care about his personal life, it feels to me like we are turning our backs on a very sad and vulnerable situation. We are saying, look, just play golf, and you -- the Mrs. -- quit complaining, there is plenty of money in this for you, the kids will eat, and it will all be fine.

I'm pretty sure no on in the Woods' house is fine. And it's painful to me that the public choice seems to be to say it's none of our business and who cares, or to make jokes or attack the participants in some way.

On Father's Day, the NY Times ran a beautiful feature on this family: how they loved each other, how it was a dream come true, how they inspired other people in so many ways. That was about 6 months ago. I don't think I'll ever forget that picture.

Please don't think I'm saying I have the answers. I'm not saying that.

But I am saying that if we can't stand up for the fact that it is a big deal when a family is permanently scarred by these kinds of choices and events, we are in worse trouble than I already thought.