A lesson in politics

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Monday night:

Daughter: My speech and posters for 5th grade class president are due Wednesday.

Me: Wednesday, as in the day after tomorrow?

Daughter: Yes. I thought it was next week. Sorry.

Me: (deep breathy sigh) Okay. We’ll pick up poster board tomorrow after school and after your piano lesson. Have you thought about what you want your posters to say? Have you thought about what you’re going to say in your speech?

Daughter: No. Not yet. I’ll be thinking about that tomorrow at school.

Me: Yes. Please do. You probably should have gotten these things done already.

Daughter: I know, Mom. I will.

Tuesday Afternoon:

Me: We need to stop by the drug store and get poster board for your posters. Do you have a theme or an idea for what you want them to say? What about your speech? Have you decided what you want to say?

Daughter: No. I’m still thinking about it.

Me: Everything is due tomorrow. I hate doing things at the last minute. Let’s talk about your speech. Why do you want to be class president?

Daughter: Well, that’s what I’ve been thinking about.

Me: (deep, breathy sigh)

By Tuesday night, we had decided on a campaign slogan for the posters: “A doggone good choice for president”, complete with a picture of the candidate holding a rather terrified looking Buddy Love the dog in her arms, and finished said posters. The photo shoot took longer than expected, as the dog was being rather uncooperative:




All that remained was writing a one minute speech.

She needed to communicate why she wanted to be president and why she would be worthy of her classmate’s vote. Because it’s not enough to want to be president, you have to have something to offer and reason for wanting to offer it. Despite my earlier reservations, I was rather proud of the speech she wrote. I’ll share a portion of it with you:

“I have enjoyed attending this school since my first year here in kindergarten. I have benefitted greatly from the hard work and dedication of the teachers, staff and volunteers. This year, I would like the opportunity to give back to this place which has given me so much.”

I think that’s what public service is all about. Or at least what it should be about. I think President Kennedy said it best when he said those famous words:

“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Somehow, I think many Americans don’t take those words to heart anymore. And that’s a shame.

It is, after all,

We the people”,

not

Me the people”.

The katdish ultimate Christmas shopping guide: Part 1

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Halloween is a distant memory. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Time to put the Christmas shopping rush into full gear. But don’t fret, I’m here to guide you through the season. Over the next few weeks, I will alert you to some of the best gifts available on the internets, beginning with my first selection, Forever Lazy:

“Forever Lazy has zippered hatches in front and back for great escapes when duty calls…”

"Heh, heh...she said doodie..."

In the interest of full disclosure and giving credit where credit is due, I must share with you that this suggestion came to me from long time friend and sister-in-snark, Sarah via a series of text messages:

So there you have it. Perfect Christmas gift Number One: A bedazzled Bingo Forever Lazy.

For your shopping convenience, I have provided links to both sites:

Click on image to visit the Forever Lazy website

+

Click on image to visit the Bedazzler website

= win/win!

And just in case you don’t want to take my word that the Forever Lazy is a perfect Christmas gift, I’ll have you know that this garment has garnered a fairly high profile celebrity endorsement:

"We love the Forever Lazy" - Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La-La & Po

Check back next week, when I’ll be sharing MORE internet finds with you.

Happy Shopping and as always, Sorry/you’re welcome!

Words with Friends, An Idiot’s Guide Part 3: Strategery (repost)

When I heard the blog carnival topic for this week was “Strategy”, I immediately thought of this post.

Sorry/you’re welcome.

If you read the first two installments of this series, Words with friends, An idiot’s guide, and Words with friends, An idiot’s guide, Part 2, you know by now that one can still enjoy this friendly word game even if you’re pretty much horrible at it. It’s all about attitude! And hey, I’ve even managed to win a few games lately.

I attribute these few victories to learning from my defeats (of which there are many), and a little something I call Strategery.

In my first WWF post, I introduced 1357bob, who goes by the name of Arthur on the Twitter and Ricky on his blog. I’m not sure if he’s one of those fancy people who have several names followed by a Roman numeral or if he’s in the Federal Witness Protection Program, so for purposes of this discussion, I will simply refer to him as Ricky Bobby.

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Ricky Bobby has been extremely helpful in educating me about the game. If you recall from the first post, he tried to teach me about strategery. He even left double and triple word scores open for me, to no avail.

Still, Ricky Bobby and others have continued to play against me, even though I’m not exactly fierce competition, and like I said, I am getting better. When I first started playing, I played with random opponents. I’ve since rethought this because people who don’t know anything about me don’t seem to get the fact that I really do play this game for fun. One person thought he would begin with some small talk and then try to intimidate me:

Funny, he didn’t challenge me to another game…oh, well.

When playing WWF, it has been my experience that most of us tend to use words we are familiar with. CandySteele uses horrible and disgusting medical terms, KelyBreez uses big lawyer words, PPBottle and 77Eric…well, quite honestly, I have no idea where they get the words they use except maybe their Giant Book of Scrabble Words. I have a 9 and 13 year old living with me. This may or may not have something to do with many of my word choices.

And speaking of common nouns, I still take issue with the WWF powers that be that decide some nouns which should be proper (LAURA, for example), are accepted while others are not:

Yeah, that’s right. I just insulted the entire State of Iowa. But I was totally kidding. In related news, you should probably not insult the state where your opponent lives.

In conclusion, I would like to thank all of you who have played and continue to play WWF with me. You’ve all made me a better player, a better person, and more importantly, a better procrastinator of tackling giant piles of laundry. It is my sincere hope that while I may not teach you anything about WWF, perhaps you can glean some inspiration from me in other ways:

To read more posts about “Strategery”, visit the lovely and talented Peter Pollock at his blog PeterPollock.com

The Best of Billy Coffey: A specter of love

It’s week seven of The Best of Billy Coffey! If you’re new here, in Week 1, I shared a snippet of Billy’s second novel Paper Angels along with a few ways you can enter to win a copy of Paper Angels. As promised, I’m still choosing a winner each week. You may enter as often as you like, and there are several ways to enter:

  • Leave a comment here or on subsequent “Best of Billy Coffey” posts each Monday indicating you would like to be entered into the drawing.
  • Tweet or post to Facebook a link to this post and/or subsequent posts. (Please be sure to let me know you’re doing so by adding @katdish to the end of your tweet or sharing the Facebook link with me.)
  • Tweet or post to Facebook a link to the Paper Angels Amazon page letting people know it is available for pre-order.
  • Ditto Barnes & Noble
  • Ditto Books-a-Million
  • Ditto Indie-Bound

Each of the aforementioned actions will constitute one entry into the drawing. If you don’t win this week, each of your entries will go back into the drawing. Winners will be chosen at random and will be announced the following Monday. Enter early, enter often, and check back here each week for new opportunities to win.

Thanks in advance for helping get the word out about Paper Angels. If you’re not big into contests, I still encourage you to head over to Amazon or another online retailer and pre-order a copy. I know once you read it you will recommend it to a friends and family, and word of mouth advertising is the very best kind.

The winner of Week Six is Amy Nabors. Congrats, Amy! I’ll post next week’s winner next Monday.

Now on to another one of my favorite posts from Billy. And since it’s Halloween, of course I’m going to share a ghost story with you:

A Specter of Love

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photo courtesty of photobucket.com

The thing about Virginia is that it’s old. There is history here, more than in most places, and that history isn’t confined to places like Williamsburg and Jamestown. It spreads westward too, over the piedmont and the mountains, right to my proverbial backyard.

Some say that our history is still alive in one way or another. I guess the story Jeff Jackson told me a few weeks ago could be classified as “another.”

Jeff and his father, Larry, are hunters. Big time hunters. The sort of Virginia boys who elevate it from sport to near religion.

Always looking for an edge as to where the best game is, Larry heard through the redneck grapevine there was a section of the mountains full of the biggest bucks anyone had ever seen. There was, however, one small problem—those woods were haunted.

Superstitions run deep in the mountains here. Larry and Jeff knew that. They also knew many of those superstitions were tales spun by moonshiners to keep prying eyes away from their stills. Besides, both of them had been in those woods before, and both had never seen anything other than squirrels, snakes, and the decaying foundation of an ancient cabin.

So they went. Hiked in one Saturday morning just before sunup. Jeff left his father under a stout oak on top of a ridge and then made his way another mile down the mountain. Walkie-talkies would keep them in contact, the woods would keep them at peace, and the prospect of a trophy buck would keep them watchful.

Larry sipped coffee while the mountain threw off its dark blanket and began the morning. The rising sun brought the woods to life slow and easy. Birds sang and critters scurried for breakfast. The cool wind was enough to keep him alert but not cold.

And then it all stopped. Everything. The birds, the critters, the wind. Life one moment, not-life the next.

Larry exchanged his thermos for his rifle, thinking that maybe the sudden stop in activity meant a bear or mountain lion was making its way through the area. But he heard and saw nothing.

Then from the corner of his eye Larry saw movement through the trees. He peeked from behind the oak and fingered the trigger.

Then he went numb.

There, no more than twenty yards away, was a woman. Not a big deal, usually. Plenty of women hiked the mountains. But two things set this particular woman apart from the rest. One was that she was wearing a wedding dress. The other was that there was empty space from her waist down.

Larry couldn’t move. Couldn’t talk, couldn’t shoot, couldn’t breathe. All he could do was stare as the legless bride floated past him and disappeared into the woods.

The silence remained behind like a whoosh of air after a car has passed. Then a cardinal sang from far away, a signal that all was safe. Other birds joined in. Critters went back to scurrying. The breeze returned.

And Larry discovered he could talk again.

“GIT UP HERE BOY NOW!!” he screamed into the radio.

Jeff, one mile down the ridge, had been oblivious to everything that had happened. All he knew was that his father was screaming for help, which to him meant Larry had either been shot or was in the process of being eaten.

“What’s wrong?!” he said through the radio. “DAD? WHAT’S WRO—”

“—Git. HERE. NOW!!”

Jeff ran.

He found Larry still peering from behind that oak tree. All his father would say was, “We gotta get the heck outta here, boy.”

A year has passed. Larry’s spent the majority of that time obsessed with what he saw. He’s researched and read, spoken with writers and professors. All to find some sense of what happened. He thinks he has.

According to Larry, the decaying foundation he and Jeff found was once the home of the Walker family in the late 1700s. Father, mother, son, and a daughter named Abigail, who just so happened to be hopelessly in love and engaged. But war came to the colonies. Abigail’s love joined Washington’s army. He never returned.

Larry’s convinced it was Abigail he saw that day, destined to forever roam the mountains in search of the man she lost and to be dressed for a wedding she’ll never have. There are some who snicker when he says that. And there are more than some who think that rather than stumbling upon a ghost, Larry stumbled upon a still and got sauced.

Me, I’m not so sure. I think Larry just might be telling the truth. Because there is ecstasy in finding true love, and there is torment in losing it.

Angering the influence gods

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What is Klout you ask? Good question:

From Wikipedia:

Klout is a San Francisco based company that provides social media analytics that measures a user’s influence across their social network. The analysis is done on data taken from sites such as Twitter and Facebook and measures the size of a person’s network, the content created, and how other people interact with that content.

The scores range from 1 to 100 with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence. Klout uses variables on Facebook and Twitter to measure True Reach, Amplification Probability, and Network Score.

True Reach is the size of one’s engaged audience and is based on those of their followers and friends who actively listen and react to messages. Amplification Score is the likelihood that one’s messages will generate actions (retweets, @messages, likes and comments) and is on a scale of 1 to 100. Network score indicates how influential one’s engaged audience is and is also on a scale from 1 to 100. The Klout score is highly correlated to clicks, comments and retweets.

The final Klout Score is a representation of how successful a person is at engaging their audience and how big of an impact their messages have on people. The accuracy of Klout Score has been questioned several times by different researchers however Klout Score is being used by most social media marketers as a barometer of influence.

Klout’s increasing popularity over the past several months and its own influence over high profile people in social media has garnered a typical response from me.

I make fun of it.

A lot:

And because, according to my high-falootin’ Klout score of 60 and my Klout title of Broadcaster (Broadcaster: You broadcast great content that spreads like wildfire. You are an essential information source in your industry. You have a large and diverse audience that values your content.), immediately following my mafia refrigerator tweets, many of my “broadcastees” headed over to Klout to boost influence in both categories:

My inclination to make fun of Klout as a measure of online influence certainly isn’t an original one. Alise Write wrote a great post about her Justin Bieber influence and Naomi De La Torre wrote another about her influence in the categories of Unibrows, Vomit, Tuna, Poop and Placenta. I’m sure many have put their two cents in on the subject.

I think our collective need to make fun of Klout’s measure of influence stems from a common realization:

Because how can anyone tell me with a straight face that they are influential about Christianity, Social Media, Writing, Publishing, whatever when the same brain trust which measured that influence also tells me I’m influential about Cats, Angel Investing, Mafia and Refrigerator?

All I’m saying is this: While I suppose Klout has its place in the narcissistic world of social media, how they measure your influence should have very little to do with how you measure your influence. Heck, maybe even the powers that be at Klout have recognized how inaccurate their influence measurements can be, because my high falootin’ score of 60 on Wednesday morning had taken a substantial nose dive when I checked it on Thursday:

Either that or I have angered the influence gods…

Letting go

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A subtle state of melancholy comes over me as I sense things must soon come to an end.

That spark of excitement which comes with new relationships has deepened into something more; something that while in the throws of the excitement of adventure I temporarily lost myself in.

And while I’m just enough of a romantic to believe that not all good things must come to an end,

I’m enough of a realist to know that most good things do.

While I was at once rushing through with break-neck speed, impatient and excited to know what would happen next,

I’ve slowed down now.

Savoring each moment.

Wanting to glean the depth of everything.

Of what it all means.

For me.

For you.

And as the adventure draws to a close, there is regret.

But there is also gratitude.

For a story well told…

~THE END~

I close the book.

And look forward to the next adventure somewhere in the stack of books on my nightstand.

****

That’s what good writing does…

Read any good books lately?

Everyday choices

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“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and I desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” – E.B. White

A difficult choice, but one which must be made daily if my life is to have any meaning. If I choose to improve the world–even in small measure–then in doing so I may have the opportunity to enjoy it. If I choose simply to enjoy the world but not improve it, I fear this enjoyment will prove to be empty and ring hollow.

What about you?

Which choice will you make today?

Will you decide you only have time to complete tasks which benefit yourself?

Will you help others with a heart that views your help as an obligation, or with one which sees it as a gift to yourself and your Creator?

“Following Jesus isn’t about trying every day. It’s about dying every day.” – Kyle Idleman

The Best of Billy Coffey: Loving thy Neighbor

It’s week six of The Best of Billy Coffey! If you’re new here, in Week 1, I shared a snippet of Billy’s second novel Paper Angels along with a few ways you can enter to win a copy of Paper Angels. As promised, I’m still choosing a winner each week. You may enter as often as you like, and there are several ways to enter:

  • Leave a comment here or on subsequent “Best of Billy Coffey” posts each Monday indicating you would like to be entered into the drawing.
  • Tweet or post to Facebook a link to this post and/or subsequent posts. (Please be sure to let me know you’re doing so by adding @katdish to the end of your tweet or sharing the Facebook link with me.)
  • Tweet or post to Facebook a link to the Paper Angels Amazon page letting people know it is available for pre-order.
  • Ditto Barnes & Noble
  • Ditto Books-a-Million
  • Ditto Indie-Bound

Each of the aforementioned actions will constitute one entry into the drawing. If you don’t win this week, each of your entries will go back into the drawing. Winners will be chosen at random and will be announced the following Monday. Enter early, enter often, and check back here each week for new opportunities to win.

Thanks in advance for helping get the word out about Paper Angels. If you’re not big into contests, I still encourage you to head over to Amazon or another online retailer and pre-order a copy. I know once you read it you will recommend it to a friends and family, and word of mouth advertising is the very best kind.

The winner of Week Five is James Williams. Congrats, James! Your persistence has paid off! I’ll post next week’s winner next Monday.

Now on to another one of my favorite posts from Billy. Billy is quick to point out when asked that he is more concerned with Truth (big T) than truth (small t) in the stories he writes. And while he takes some liberties with what he writes for you, I happen to know that the one you’re about to read (or re-read) pretty much happened the way he wrote it. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent–or the guilty, depending on your perspective. Enjoy.

Loving thy Neighbor

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My friend Pete loves everybody. It’s a matter of pride to him, I think. He’ll tell you that he loves you the first time you meet him. Doesn’t matter who are or what you look like, either. “I’ve never met anybody I didn’t love,” he’ll say, “’Cause I love Jesus and Jesus loves me. So I gotta love you, too.” Then he’ll grab you in his gargantuan arms and lift you off the ground, shaking your bones like a pair of dice.

That’s Pete.

Pete is also as traditional as they come. Church every Sunday and Wednesday, and not a morning goes by without scripture and prayer. The combination of the two has infused in him and his family a bedrock of faith that for years refused to be shaken by anything life could throw at him.

Until the other day. Until my phone rang and he said in his breathless, forty-four-year-old voice, “You gotta get over here. Now.”

Pete was on his front porch when I got there, rocking back and forth in a lawn chair that was not made for rocking, looking thoroughly displeased. He offered me our usual snack—a Coke and a bag of peanuts. I proceeded to dump the latter into the former and take a sip of the salty sweetness.

“What’s up?” I asked him.

“Don’t believe it,” he said. “Don’t believe it, don’t believe it, dontbelieveit.”

“Don’t believe what?” I asked. Another sip.

“Johnson house sold there, across the street,” he said, pointing.

I turned around and followed his finger. Sure enough, the FOR SALE sign on the house across from his had been topped with another that said SOLD. The Johnsons had moved three weeks ago, and everyone figured that the house would be empty for a long while given the economy.

“Great,” I said, facing him again. “You have new neighbors. What’s the problem?”

“Dontbelieveit dontbelieveit dontbelieveit.”

“Pete, you swallow something you weren’t supposed to?” I asked. “You been in the moonshine?”

“Lookie!” he almost shouted, pointing again. “Lookie there and see what the cat done dragged in. Dontbelieveit!”

I turned again. Standing on the front porch of the Johnson house were Pete’s new neighbors. Older lady, slightly younger gal. They were attempting to arrange an assortment of rocking chairs and tables just so and not quite getting it. An aggravating situation for some, though they seemed in bright enough spirits.

“Pete, I don’t—”

“—LOOKIE!”

The older woman, now utterly confused by the configurations of her new porch, simply gave one of the rockers a hard shove into the younger lady. The act of frustration was met with laughter from both, who then proceeded to fall into one another’s arms and share a very long, very deep…kiss.

“Dontbelieveit,” I said.

Pete buried his head in his hands. “Lawd,” he said. I wasn’t sure if he was praying or merely dumbfounded. “Lawd Jesus God help me.”

Praying.

“Lawd, why’d You do this to me?” he moaned. “Thissa sort of thing that happens out in Hellywood, Lawd. Not ’cross the street.”

I shook my head in amazement, and the sheer irony of it all made me laugh. Pete, God-and-mama-and-apple-pie Pete, I-love-everybody Pete, had gotten a gay couple for neighbors.

“Huh,” I said. “Ain’t that something.”

“Somethin’?” he retorted, raising his head to look at me. “Don’t you know this ain’t good? Ain’t you read your Bible, boy?”

“Yep,” I said.

“Well, there then,” he answered, as if that explained things.

“You a little homophobic, Pete?” I asked, with a sip of my Coke and a smile.

“Homophobic?” he said. “Homophobic? Boy, I gotta eat a corndog with a knife and fork.”

I snorted out my drink and bent over, wiping it from my mouth and blue jeans.

Pete stared at me, unsure of what had just transpired that would cause me to make such a mess of myself. “What am I gonna do?” he asked. “What. Am. I. Gonna. Do?”

I thought about that. What was Pete going to do? Fume and pout, I supposed. For a little while, anyway. But then Jesus would come calling. The Jesus Pete loved and Who loved him more, Who said that hate was never really any good for anything other than eating up your own insides. He would come calling and tell Peter that it’s easy to love those who are like you, that everyone does that. But that love Jesus wanted from Peter was the hard love, the kind that’s not easy.

It’s okay to not like what they do, Jesus would say, because He didn’t like what many of us do. But Jesus also loved those two women, and He wanted Pete to do the same. Because Pete had faith, and because that faith just might be the closest thing to Jesus those two women ever see.

“Just wait,” I told him. “It’ll come to you.”

We stared across the street. The two women resumed their rocking chair arranging, then stared at us.

They waved.

We waved back.

Having your cake and eating it, too

The genesis of this post was a conversation with a friend about whether or not any popular contemporary music was anything more than a result of some preconceived formula by the music industry of what type of songs would be commercially successful. Being in a bit of a pessimistic mood, it was my contention that nobody really cares about integrity of story or truth behind lyrics. The powers that be only care about what would make the most money and artists must sacrifice truth for profits. Like I said, I was in a pessimistic mood…

But then I remembered a hit song from a few years ago by Sara Bareilles. It was her first single, released in 2007. It was nominated for 2009 Grammy Awards in the categories Song of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

The title of the song is “Love Song”. The story goes that her record label wasn’t very excited about the songs she had written for her upcoming album and rather than writing a song about an actual person, they wanted her to write a “marketable love song”. Bareilles’s response to their request probably wasn’t what they had in mind, but it was a “marketable love song” written especially for them:

Love Song (by Sara Bareilles)

Head under water
And they tell me to breathe easy for a while
The breathing gets harder, even I know that

You made room for me, but it’s too soon to see
If I’m happy in your hands
I’m unusually hard to hold on to

Blank stares at blank pages
No easy way to say this
You mean well, but you make this hard on me

I’m not gonna write you a love song
‘Cause you asked for it
‘Cause you need one, you see
I’m not gonna write you a love song
‘Cause you tell me it’s make or breaking this
If you’re on your way
I’m not gonna write you to stay
If all you have is leaving
I’mma need a better reason to write you a love song today
Today

I learned the hard way
That they all say things you want to hear
My heavy heart sinks deep down under you
And your twisted words, your help just hurts
You are not what I thought you were
Hello to high and dry

Convinced me to please you
Made me think that I need this too
I’m trying to let you hear me as I am

I’m not gonna write you a love song
‘Cause you asked for it
‘Cause you need one, you see
I’m not gonna write you a love song
‘Cause you tell me it’s make or breaking this
If you’re on your way,
I’m not gonna write you to stay
If all you have is leaving
I’mma need a better reason to write you a love song today

Promise me you’ll leave the light on
To help me see with daylight, my guide, gone
‘Cause I believe there’s a way you can love me because I say

I won’t write you a love song
‘Cause you asked for it
‘Cause you need one, you see
I’m not gonna write you a love song
‘Cause you tell me it’s make or breaking this
Is that why you wanted a love song
‘Cause you asked for it?
‘Cause you need one, you see
I’m not gonna write you a love song
‘Cause you tell me it’s make or breaking this
If you’re on your way
I’m not gonna write you to stay
If your heart is nowhere in it
I don’t want it for a minute
Babe, I’ll walk the seven seas when I believe that there’s a reason to
Write you a love song today
Today

Here’s to giving people what they ask for in your own unique way.
Here’s to success without selling out.
Here’s to having your cake and eating it, too.

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Hypocrisy

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Angela Doll Carlson aka @MrsMetaphor wrote an excellent and very convicting post last week called Big but…or…what not to say in political discussions. In it, she highlights why I have little hope the political discourse in this country will improve anytime soon. Here’s a brief excerpt:

The reality is that we have a highly divided country on pretty much every single level. No one is going to sign on blindly to a sound bite. The only line it’d be possible for us all to agree on might be something like:

“We all want to live and live as well as possible.”

And frankly, that might even need engagement and discussion. As Pee Wee Herman says, “everyone I know has a big but…” We might all sign on to the statement above although I’d wager we could each offer up a big but-

“We all want to live and live as well as possible but we don’t want to pay higher taxes for it”

“We all want to live and live as well as possible but we don’t want a republican president”

“We all want to live and live as well as possible but we don’t want national healthcare “

“We all want to live and live as well as possible but we don’t want prayer in school”

Your big but and my big but are the reason we need to be able to have discussions and engagement. We need to be able to say, “yes, I hear you but I have an issue with this piece or that piece” and that cannot happen if your response to my articulated argument is to just tear me down by calling me names.

Politically speaking, I think it would be a fair statement that Angela and I do not agree on some issues, but I can disagree with her politically and still respect her as a person because she presents her views honestly and intelligently. And in doing so, encourages others to do the same. We need more people like Angela and fewer people on the far left an far right whose approach to political disagreement is an all-out war against the enemy, who believe those who disagree with them are evil, and believe that their agenda should be advanced by all means necessary.

Which brings me to my incessant rant.

Tuesday afternoon. I’m checking my replies column on Tweetdeck when I happen upon this retweet:

Thinking I must have misunderstood what the meaning of the tweet was, I tweeted back:

Rather than respond to me directly (or several others who took issue with that statement), @ActivismTips tweeted the following:

Oh…wow. Okay.

Despite my vehement disagreement with “our goals and aspirations that define us” (because I can have goals and aspirations to win a triatholon, but if all I ever do is sit on my fat butt aspiring to be a triathlete and never actually train, I wouldn’t say that defines me as a triathlete) I’ll give him/her credit for attempting to clarify the previous tweet. If we’re all human and are all hypocrites, then I suppose I took the “it’s okay to be a hypocrite” tweet too literally. Unfortunately, since whoever tweets for this account (which has over 15,000 followers and follows no one) does not engage in conversations on twitter as best I can tell, I was unable to clarify the meaning of either tweet. Which begs the question, does this activist want to engage in conversation which might offer some real change and movement towards a said “goal and aspiration” or do they just want to spur others to protest for the sake of protesting?

Since their twitter bio is rather vague: “This is how you find your inner activist, this is how you fight for freedom, this is how you dance the dance of resistance.” (Freedom from what? Resistance against what or whom?), I decided to visit their website, which provided The Activist’s Handbook: 1000 Ways to Politically and Socially Activate Your Life.

Again, no chance to engage in conversation. Just sound bytes. To be fair, I didn’t read all 1000 points, but here are the first 10, just so you can get a feel for their message:

These are 1000 ways in which you can politically and socially activate your life:

  1. The next time you’re with family or friends, discuss a particular cause, instead of letting the conversation drift to celebrity gossip.
  2. Be mindful of the fact that the news channels synthesize events in ways which make the individual feel as if activism is hopeless.
  3. Try to make friends that are politically involved, instead of maintaining the same old school friends.
  4. Stay focused on one particular cause, it’s fine to take up many causes, but always recognize your main cause.
  5. Call a big bank that was bailed out in 2008 by the people and ask them if they would be willing to bail out poor families.
  6. Go to a protest, do not let the stigma propagated by the mass media keep you away from protests.
  7. When your friends talk to you about new consumer products, change the topic to political causes instead.
  8. If you’re going to a protest, try to bring as many of your friends as you can.
  9. When friends say that protestors are ‘crazy’, explain to them exhilarating feeling of being part of a large politically conscious group.
  10. Being an activist requires sacrifice, you will lose many brainwashed friends along the way, but who needs them anyway!

My biggest problem with this exhaustive list is that I still don’t understand what the author of this list is for, only what he or she is against. Nothing will ever change if all anyone ever wants to do is to vilify some abstract vision of “the man”. To be fair, no progress will be made on the other side of the argument if they employ the same defamatory rhetoric from their own perspective.

I can accept that MY Truth may not be the same as yours, and I respect your right to live your life in such a way that it least compromises your values. Just don’t demand that anyone take you seriously when you encourage others to be

Hypocrites:

“Living a double life does not make you a hypocrite, we all have to feed ourselves, it is living a passive life that ruins your heart.”

“Take donations from the rich, but do not ever credit them, do not ever do the whole ‘sponsored by Goldman Sachs’ nonsense.”

Thieves:

“Write anonymously, it is an empowering act, forget the capitalist notions of copyrights and intellectual property.”

“Fight against the notion of intellectual property, the idea that our thoughts and minds can be owned and distributed.”

and Liars:

“If you have to lie to people by telling them there’s free coffee and donuts to at a political protest, then lie away!”

You know, all those things you accuse the greedy capitalists of being…