Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sickened by Politics


Hello -- I will begin our time this evening/morning by sharing the following:
Needless to say, there has been a lot of marching lately. You can try to deny that, but you would be lying, so let's move on. I can boldly say I did not march at all, but I cannot say it unashamedly, because I so wish I could have marched in solidarity with the friends of mine who are being impacted by some of these radical changes we are seeing in our political system. (Of course, I was working during these marches, classic. Next time I will march.) Like the tweet above so eloquently states, though: This movement is about more than marching. It is about communicating important and relevant truths by whatever means necessary.

And I like to think I'm a good writer, so I'm going to use my gift to communicate to you. Please read with an open mind.

I'll be honest here. I am fed up with so many of you. That is the real, raw truth. So many of you walk into conversations with your fists up ready to fight, ready to debate, ready to destroy someone in an argument, and I am disappointed. If you don't think I'm talking to you, I probably am, because there are very few that have handled the past few months gracefully.

I have not written anything political here since July, because I am that dumbfounded - not just because I cannot believe we elected Donald J. Trump as our president (That's wild enough), but because of how nearly every person has reacted to it. Last year, America was politically divided, but still united. Now, I am not sure we are united in any sense of the word. Never have I seen such hatred against each other. People are not just mad about policy; they are mad at each other and that is so infuriating. I hope and pray for unity and peace, and then this happens? Why?

Since January twentieth of this year, a lot of change has happened. I would be lying if I said I was going to enjoy receiving feedback on much of what I am about to say, but a lot of it needs to be said. If you disagree, I ask that you communicate with me in a manner that is respectful, understanding, and doesn't make you look like a child (Although some of you will maybe still do the latter).

Disrespecting Donald Trump because he doesn't respect much of our country does not make any logical, emotional sense. So many of us were raised with the Golden Rule, and that says, "Treat others the way you wish to be treated." It does not say, "Treat others the way they treat you," or, "Retribution is served."

It is to treat others the way we wish to be treated. (And if you, like me, are a Bible-believing Christian, then please read this post of mine, in which I discuss Jesus' teaching about loving our enemies.)

I understand that it is with great (white/straight/male) privilege that I can say that, but, at the same time, wouldn't we have wanted the same respect for Hillary? I know I would have. We can disagree with DJT and we can fight him until the very end, but there is no need for a slander of character. Even Hillary, during the debates, was asked to name one thing she respected about him. And if Hillary Rodham Clinton, his polar opposite and rival, can name something she respects about him, then I think we can try to do the same.

(Also, just for kicks, think about how confused Trump would be if we all started respecting him... maybe he'd join in the respect? I'm a dreamer, though.)

Now, for my friends that are nodding along to this, saying, "Yes, respect Trump! He's the best!" That's nice, but where were you the past eight years? Where were you when Obama was making decisions and people were slandering him? The amount of disrespect Barack and Michelle endured is unbelievable. So many of my friends that are preaching love and respect now that DJT is elected our president were slandering the Obamas on the daily for eight years.

Don't think that goes unnoticed. Don't think your hypocrisy hasn't been seen.

Speaking of that, please do not ever complain about Obama's executive orders again. The number of those that Trump has had in his first two weeks are unbelievable. (In addition, executive orders are not all that uncommon, in case you've never researched them.)

I cannot name the number of times in the past few months where I have read a post about respecting Trump, giving him a chance, or believing he'll do the right thing, while also reading posts about how Obama is the worst president we have ever had... from the same person. The street goes both ways, not just the way you're driving. Please don't preach love if you are not rounding out that ideal no matter which way we're going.

I have had a lot of friends complaining to no end about feminism and the women's march, which is ironic, because they complained about protests years ago and said, "I would be ok with protests if they weren't so violent." Now we have a protest that is completely and totally peaceful and people are still complaining and making sexist jokes. So, then, it was not the violence that bothered you. It was just for a cause you didn't support. Got it.

No one seems to have taken the time to research what the marches were for either. Many assumed they were just "anti-Trump" while the protests were more about advocating for groups whose rights may be infringed upon in the coming years. While there is a definite anti-Trump rhetoric -- he made himself an easy target -- this protest was more about unity and advocacy for the lives of all people. Please understand that.

Speaking of lives, we have our president declaring via executive order that there is a refugee ban. I understand it was eventually blocked, but that is beside the point here. We are cutting off those who are trying to flee from areas that are dangerous, and that pose a threat to them, because we are concerned that their race or religion may try to harm us? For a nation where many voted against a candidate because she was pro-choice, we don't seem to be very pro-life here.

Fun fact: I, myself, am pro-life, but I am pro-refugee life, pro-black lives, pro-Muslim life, pro-LGBT life -- not just pro-fetus, because if we are going to claim pro-life, we need to be pro-life. If you are going to advocate under that label, please understand the implication that is there, or that I hope is there.

I am not even going to touch the environmental issues or the problems the educational system is going to face the next few years, because I have enough of you fuming.

Look, here is what I came here to say.

(1) I tried to believe in Donald Trump's ability to make progress in our country and it just does not seem like that is happening.

I'm sorry if you wanted to believe I would get to the end of this post and say I believe in Donald J. Trump's ability to change our country for good. Every day, I wake up, see a news headline, and want to sit on my floor for the duration of that day. I believe he is a danger to our society and, perhaps, to the world. However, that is just my opinion, and it is fine for you to (respectfully) disagree. That is the beauty of free speech. We can disagree and have civil conversation. At least, we should be able to do that.

(2) The hypocrisy is real right now, and it needs to stop.

If you are advocating for Trump, then congratulations, but listen to me: There are people who literally scared for their lives in this country. They don't know what their future holds, so do not waltz into conversations and say, "You're just too emotional," or, "You are worrying too much, none of that extreme stuff is going to happen," because it just might. You have no idea -- none of us do. Trump is a wild card.

If you are with Trump, be careful with how you tell us to respect the president. Be careful with how you tell us to disagree. Many of us are trying to be respectful, and protest in the right ways, and we all watched you bash Obama, disrespectfully, for eight years. I want you to tread carefully, because it can be very easy to disregard the words of someone who has yet to taste their own medicine.

(3) Advocacy, protests, marches need to continue to happen.

Free speech exists in this country and these protests are necessary for our democracy to continue flowing. Free speech is what allows Donald Trump to tweet at three in the morning. (I know, bad joke.)

Seriously, though, we are free to voice our opinions. If you feel someone is protesting disrespectfully, then have a loving, open conversation with them about it. Before you accuse them of disrespect, though, examine their intentions. Attempt to understand where they are coming from before you go in swinging. (Don't call them out in a Facebook debate either; that just gets people riled up.)

(4) We do not need to like or support Trump, but we must love him.

I like to think I was pretty hard on both sides in the post. If not, I apologize. My intent was to cause both sides to re-examine themselves. Hopefully I have done that.

Anyway, I have stated that I view Trump as a threat. I do, but I also respect him in the office of president, and I will continue to attempt to see the good in what he does. Some days are more difficult than others, but if we can see some good in the next few years, then we won't wake up depressed every single day. Wake up, drink your coffee, read the news, pray, and then go march for what you believe in.

But never let love leave your sights.

(5) Put yourselves in others' shoes.

The final thought I want to leave you with is this: We could solve so many more issues if we just got some perspective. I tell my employees this all the time. I don't care what you intended to say, because perception is, unfortunately, more important.

If you meant to contribute a valuable fact to a conversation, but you start by saying, "Well, Obama destroyed this country, but here's this fact--" then no one is going to care about your fact. That fact has been smothered in your hatred-filled comment. If we tried to understand why minority groups feel so endangered by this presidency, then maybe we would have more compassion for them. If we really, truly thought about how it would feel to have people using our identity as a slur, then maybe we would stop using "gay" as synonymous with "uncool" or "lame." Maybe we would become better proponents of political correctness, because that is the right thing to do.

Look, I know I probably just word-vomited a ton of thoughts from the past three months, but what I want to finish with, at 4AM, is that love is the most important. In our politics and lives, love, love, love. If you voted for Trump, love your neighbor that didn't and is fearing for their life. If you are advocating against Trump, love those that voted for him. Respect him in the office he has been placed in. Never stop advocating for people; all people made America great. Fight for what you believe in, but never forget respect and love.

P

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dreams vs. Reality vs. True Joy

Hi -- I haven't written an actual, introspective, long-winded piece in a while. Welcome back to all of us, let's chat. Here's a cup of coffee for you, and a few cups for me.

It's 6:11am right now.

I woke up yesterday at noon, and I haven't slept since. In under an hour, I will be heading out to Portland for a rad day trip with some friends, but, for now, I find myself waiting and thinking. You know, having those profound deep thoughts about life that could change everything, and yet nothing at all. Maybe that made little to no sense, but it's been a long day so far. (That was a joke, I'm just a tad bit tired.)

I have had a lot of thoughts in the past couple months that have been scurrying across my brain, heart, and soul. Some of them wait patiently, some of them boil, and some of them just jog around like chickens with their heads cut off. They may release in the coming weeks - no one really knows - but, for now, this is what you get to read; the ramblings of a(nother) tired, weary, optimistic, confused millennial.

I have been processing a lot related to my future in the past couple months. I will just be totally honest - this quarter at my college sucked. I don't believe there was a single day I enjoyed being there (aside from the one day we presented a book we wrote... and ours was about farts). Perhaps it was all because I had a constant cloud of stress hanging over me, because my administration wasn't communicating well with me, but, no matter what it was, my motivation hit an all-time low this quarter.

This quarter, more than ever, my future really hung over me.

After completing fall quarter of two thousand sixteen, I only have two quarters of classes left, and one quarter of student teaching next fall. After that, it is finished. My degree is complete, just like that. How does that happen? I have no idea. It flew by, really, which, I believe, stresses me out even more. I look at myself, my knowledge, and a million other factors, and think, How the hell am I going to manage a classroom of wild, crazy children and effectively teach them all the content they need to learn? Thoughts like that make my stomach churn.

Insecurities about my teaching ability cover me like an overwhelmingly warm blanket. It fluctuates from day to day, really, but I just cannot see myself in a classroom every day. As I work my regular job five days a week, getting more burned out every week, I think about how that will translate into my classroom. Will I feel this way in my classroom? Some might say emphatically that, "No! That's your dream! You'll love it! You won't get burned out like you are right now. Surely you won't feel like your job is slowly killing you... like you feel now."

But I am realizing that teaching in a classroom isn't my dream - at least not right now.

I have a God-given talent... and that talent is writing. I have been blessed by the sweet creator with this gift, along with the tendency to think outside of the box. I enjoy dabbling in other areas, too - music, photography, videography - and want to pursue these ventures. I have a passion for using my talents in these areas to incite social change in my nation, and this earth. My biggest passion right now is spreading love, peace, and unity through children's literature.

However, it is so difficult to make this dream into a reality, and into a viable career. I feel like so many people that I talk to encourage me to continue pursuing teaching and always keep the writing to a hobby, maybe a small side-job. I don't know if it's that no one believes in this vision I have or they just want me to play it safe, just in case, but it sucks... and that's the honest, raw truth. The wisest piece of advice I have received in the past couple months pertaining to my future was from my therapist - or my tattoo artist, rather. I was talking about school and how I was unsure if I really wanted to teach. I just was talking about how I wasn't really one hundred percent passionate about it.

She replied, "Well, why do something you're not passionate about?"

So nonchalant, but so true.

Why am I pouring myself into something I don't really care about? Why am I chasing after a dream that I am not sure is really my own, that is not really something I want? So, here it is: I am facing the world, with our God holding me up, and my metaphorical middle finger to the typical workforce. Even if I fall on my face, I am pursuing the career and the goal(s) I am passionate about. I can pick myself up again, with the help of my close friends & family, and the help of my Christ.

I want to write books that will cause children to look at themselves and change. I want to travel to schools all around my region, then the country, and talk to kids about how discrimination feels, and how we can begin to overcome it. I want to be a strong activist for social change, for unity, for racial reconciliation, for the breaking down of social norms - all of it.

I will fight for this and no, this is not a resolution for the new year. It just so happens that I am vocalizing these thoughts at the end of the year. (Convenient, right?) I'll just say this: Get ready, world, because children's literature is about to get crazy. Phil is about to make it LITerature - know what I'm saying?

Sorry for the dad joke; I'm just so excited. Journey with me. Saying a prayer for all of you beautiful people tonight, or this morning... whichever.

philgathany.com

- P

Monday, October 3, 2016

GNP Poetry


Sitting in the backseat,
Music blasting,
Cold air rushing,
Running through my hair.
Sunshine, then rain,
Then sun, then clouds,
As we climb upward
In that beautiful park.
I have thoughts of hope
and dreams of success
as we climb into the fog.
We exit our car to see
all the nature, ready to be
a beautiful and blessed metaphor
for the life struggles we have worn,
for the days our souls have been torn,
for the times life left us feeling forlorn.
We take one step at a time,
with the path we climb,
up, and up, into the sky,
our emotions flying high.
As we enter into the fog,
I feel it speaking and calling
my name.
Now it sees me crawling
Oh, the fog, the gusts of fog,
Covering me like the smog
that covers my weary heart
and tears my inner soul apart.
The smog that smothers me with
all of my massive insecurities,
things I thought I could abandon
when I exited immaturity.
Like my insecurity and my struggles,
the fog grows thicker and thicker,
its cold, dark grip holding me tight
telling me someday it will be all right.
As I continue on, the fog grows darker,
as if the sky was colored with a marker.
The further I go, the harder it is to see,
The harder it is to be who I want to be.
It becomes too much to bear,
so we turn around and walk away,
from the fog, begging us to stay.
“Stay with me, I will show you the grey,
stay a day, I’ll teach you how to slay
your hopes and dreams that have run astray.”
But I keep my feet going, right foot, then left
Feeling like the fog has stolen my life - theft
I must keep walking, I can’t stop now - right
I have to get out of this dense, ugly fog - light
Travel beyond the misery is my destiny - left
Throw aside these pointless insecurities - right
Keep stepping, keep stepping, almost out - left
If I stride, confident, I can escape the fog - right
I can escape the creatures inside the fog - left
I can escape the vast mysteries of the fog - right
I will live today, I will live in the rays of sunlight - left
I will live, casting aside my doubts, my concerns - right
I will be me, no cares what my brain or the fog says - left
I will keep pushing and running until finally - silence
Stillness
I have burst out from the fog
I can reduce my run to a jog
The sun is peeking through
Oh, God, up there, is that you?
You have brought me out
of a life - or lack thereof -
out from a drought
I still hear the fog’s snout,
huffing and puffing, inviting me
to revisit my old insecurity.
But I have escaped the fog,
and my own personal smog,
that always tended to bog
down my emotion,
my motivation,
my soul.
Only now, on the drive down,
back into the sunlight,
do I feel whole.
Down the paths of my life,
I can now stroll.
Down the grassy knolls,
I can now roll,
because I am out of the fog,
I can now reach my goals.
The glaciers of hardship,
the fog of insecurity,
the trees of uncertainty,
the creatures of anxiety,
the paths to the unknown.
For now, all of these I put to rest,
so that I can put forth my best,
and finally invest in those
with whom I am blessed.
Until next time, fog,
you are simply a pest.
I’ll see you around soon,
for your next test.

//

be independent
explore and make memories
live the life you want

-- P