Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Elephant in the Room or, A Brimful of Asha

I just had the police called on me. For being out in public. With my children.

We were out, trying to get some lunch, and I had had the kids sit on a flower box on the sidewalk while I called the bank regarding a pin issue. 

Some old lady drove up next to us, rolled down her passenger window, and got all up in my business. She asked me if the children were okay, then asked if they were in danger, the whole time giving me the stink-eye.

"I'm their father. They are in a safe location, and are being supervised. What possible danger could they be in?!"
"I'm calling the police."
"To report yourself for getting all up in my business and being a public nuisance?"

I'm not sure if she called them or flagged them down, but a few minutes later, the police showed up. They drove through the parking lot, took one look at me, gave a wave and a nod, and kept going.

Between this, the Timmy incident, and the too-long grass, is it any wonder I never want to leave my motherfucking goddamn house?! GAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!

Honestly, I realize this issue is small, comparatively, opposed to, say, the sexist oppression women face everywhere, but it is awesome to me that everyone I know and love understands that narrow-minded shit like this is not okay. I don't understand what her motivation was. 

I was told once at a park by a mom that, as a man, I didn't have the ability to nurture that it takes to effectively and lovingly raise children. I get statements like this every once in awhile, and generally I have a decent retort, because, um, ME. Often, though, I get "Daddy's day out, huh?" "Is it Dad's day with the kids?" "Got yourself a day off work, huh?" Mother. Fucker. This IS my job.

It's funny, in a sad way. The snap-judgement extremes people go to. I receive from total strangers either total big-scary-man avoidance, or in-your-face counsel, condemnation, and reprimand, or just the assumption that being a dad is a part-time gig. I can't wrap my head around that mentality.

I like the middle-grounders, the opinionated, outspoken neutral non-neutrals. Those that don't give a fuck about the gender of myself or my children, or the clothes we wear, or how we spend our day. Those that know we are just parents and children, trying to enjoy life as much as possible, and trying very hard not to hate with the burning fire of a thousand suns everyone else that feels the need to ejaculate their anecdotal blurbs of parenting wisdom all over us.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Rage Against the Machine

After last year's bizarre factory reset of our home PC, in which we lost all music, photos and documents stored there, I have to re-rip my 1500+ cds to the drive again. This monumental task is offset by the fact that I have 3 more-than-eager technojunkie helper monkeys fiending to earn screen time who are doing an amazing job focusing on prep, rip, and file. Who knew having kids would pay out in tedious labor?! Wait...only every parent EVER before us. At the very least, mine...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Subject to Change...

I'm going to get real, for a moment, on an issue I would like to address. 
Anyone that knows me knows I love to debate. I love to play devil's advocate. You give me a topic, and I will try to see -and argue - it from multiple vantage points. This characteristic allows me to be fluid. Malleable. To adapt and change with logic and information. To progress. And this is the issue: The one thing I have learned in my years of research, discourse, and debate: being a pretentious, overbearing, judgmental, know-it-all prick is not going to sell you or me on anyone's opinion, politics, religion, line of reasoning, or get me to revise my stance on an issue. If you want me to hear you, want to engage me, it would benefit you to implement my (recently discovered as I am writing this) guidelines of respectful discourse(which I should probably have been following but HEY! I just discovered that I have guidelines, so give me a break):

First: Be polite. In discussion, make respectful requests for information, use proper names, show that you are actively listening to me by telling me what you are hearing me say. And I will try to do the same. Actively listening, instead of just waiting for one's turn to speak, can have surprising results. Many, many times, an explosive disagreement that could have been avoided came down to simply a matter of semantics and/or miscommunication.

Second: Communicate respectfully. Do not denigrate, attack my character, address my stance on other issues not related to the topic in order to call my intellect into question, or in any other way attempt to undermine me as a person. And namecalling? For fucks sake. 
Also, while being facetious or sarcastic is humorous when communicating amongst friends, in debate it is unwarranted and unwanted. HOWEVER! Humor, charm, and genuine wit can help alleviate tension and keep the discussion lighthearted and flowing.
Second B: As to swearing-well, I like to swear. It can help emphasize a point, but in civil discourse, it is not absolutely necessary (I should probably implement this rule more in my daily communication as well).

Third: Present your argument with logic, facts, patience, and RESPECT.

Fourth: Allow time for me to process new information, acquire new thought paths, reposition and expand my thinking. I love to learn, but not if I'm beat about the ass and neck with it. I learn and progress by researching, by studying, by analyzing, by hearing others opinions and statements, and then drawing conclusions. As new information comes to light, new truths revealed, this may change my stance. This is how progress works. 

Finally, I cannot emphasize respect enough. For your fellow human, for the topic...for everything. Being a dick will get you noticed, but genuine respect will get you much further.

Also - if I DO change my mind on a topic, I don't want my face rubbed in it, because you think I'm flip-flopping on the issue. It's difficult enough to alter my mindset, but to be mocked about it is embarrassing, infuriating, and unnecessary.

As a lengthy aside - I firmly believe in progress. Progress advances us and our world, but progress requires adaptation. One of the greatest jokes "society" ever played on humanity is that one must conform - rather than adapt - to be accepted. So the human mind is burdened with a wall of conformity that prevents progress, if we wish to "belong." Remaining steadfast in the face of adversity and providing a united front has always been seen as a strong suit, and, for a large part, it rings true. Early on we discovered that sticking together upped our odds for survival considerably. There were those that stuck out, though. The innovators, the inventors, the artists...

What's the one thing unique to the majority of the thinkers, the geniuses,  the writers, the inventors,  that have led to the advancement of civilization? They thought differently. SO differently, they were branded rebels. Outcasts. Freaks. Weirdos. Why? Why do we shun those that make us stronger? It's stupid! Why not instead be a rebel civilization, a community lauded for our ability to work together to propel humanity forward to great heights, rather than be mired in religiosociopolitical stigma? Or is it that persecution that empowers the greats to become great? I don't know, honestly. Perhaps a little of columns A, B, and C. But I do know that that hostility did not influence them to think like everyone else. They were not swayed by the popular opinion. They thought for themselves, pushed parameters, redefined or in some cases obliterated boundaries. But they did it because they could change, adapt, and, in the end, progress.

So, Respectful Communication begets Progressive Rebel Society.

If you have any suggestions for points I might add, feel free to let me know in the comments. :-)