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Introspective Sojourner

The journey inward following Christ’s path to that person I was uniquely created to be.

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Disagreement

Make America Kind Again

We’re expert judges. Shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars, American Idol, The Voice have given us years of experience and a feeling that we’re entitled to notice the mistakes of others. We have no problem, even though we are not in the industries discussing how a contestant is a little “pitchy”.  It’s easy to walk right on passed the line and declare a song or a dance a disaster, as if we could easily do better. Over a decade of judges like Simon Cowell and their harsh comments have desensitized us and sometimes find their way into our own words or at least our thoughts. We easily compare two dancers, singers and even songwriters now, forgetting that each person has their own gifts and strengths.

I can’t throw the first stone. As I have learned what the judges are looking for I now spot those tiny imperfections and jump to give my opinion to those watching with me. Not that I could ever dance or sing at those levels. I dismiss their hard work and dedication and the situation these reality shows have put them in as if it’s an easy undertaking.

Social media is not much different. We judge politicians, and even the general public without knowing these people at all. Sure some of us are very informed, but all of our life experiences and those things we hold dear color our perception of them. Words are taken out of context and compared with something someone else says. And for some unknown reason we have decided it’s fine for us to judge even common people we’ve never met. We make meme’s of silly pictures, ridiculing them. I can count myself among those who quickly share. I do enjoy a good chuckle. 

When social media first took off we were more careful, cautious with our words. We didn’t get into lengthy discussions with others of issues, some of which, don’t really mean that much to us. We simply get caught up in the conversation. Bullying on the internet is a well reported phenomenon and perhaps many of us have found ourselves on one side or the other of biting comments. We know better. We don’t treat each other this way in person. We’re much more apt to hold our tongue when we disagree face to face. Or maybe that’s just me. Little by little we slide. Little by little we change the line of what’s acceptable – so that we no longer expect people to be good citizens, kind and polite. We shrug off bad days and laugh when we feel like “what a B*!ch I was”. Little by little, that becomes the norm. Our language slightly looser than it was a decade ago. We’re actually impressed when someone is a decent human being. Suddenly they’re considered a hero. Someone who kindly brings a meal to the homeless, or helps a child with their bike chain. These are no longer common place and so, now, we consider them special for being so kind.

It didn’t happen all at once. The slip was slow and constant. I have seen the change in myself. In my expectations, my language and my actions. It’s easy to shrug them off instead of being saddened by the change, or embarrassed. It’s not really embarrassing anymore, if everyone around you is the same, is it? Or is that just me.

For me it’s time to turn around. Start the walk back up that slope. Be intentional about acts of kindness. Put others before myself – at least as often as I put myself first. It’s time to take my standards and place them somewhere above my expectations, not below. I’m only one. I can’t change anyone else’s mind. I can’t drag people up the hill with me. But I can openly admit I’m turning around, so at very least there are others out there who might question me if they find me heading back down. Accountability. I need that and if you find yourself on the other end of my unkindness – feel free to point that out. Because I want those standards of years gone by, and if my actions or my words might inspire you to join me – even better.

Today perhaps America or even the world is the tiniest bit kinder because I made that choice.

 

Written By

Vicki L. Pugliese

Feel Free to Say

On Veteran’s Day in the wake of a close election, in a divided country, I am grateful for my freedoms.  As we realize that our friends, coworkers, fellow service men, and family, even our parents, spouses and children believe differently than we do; even vehemently different, rejoice in that freedom.  Because our beliefs, no matter what the topic, we do not have to be retrained.  Celebrate that right.   Value the ability to share differing opinions openly without reserve and without fear of retribution.

California had 17 propositions on the ballot, from an educational state bond, to legalizing marijuana and taxing cigarettes.  We had two plastic bag propositions, three propositions on incarceration and the death penalty, and one to limit guns and ammo.  While the debates over what passed in the propositions still hotly continue, thank you to those who serve so we have that right.

I am pleased that my children feel safe enough to argue their differing views, whether or not we should be kinder or more gentle with our words.  It matters less that we perhaps should choose our words more carefully than our ability to feel heard and validated by those with like views.  It does us good to be challenged about what we think by those with opposing views. 

It is a privilege paid for in blood. The blood of good men and woman who believe in that freedom. Morals aside, it is our constitutional right to have and speak our views freely.  The ability to argue tooth and nail for our beliefs, is a gift. 

On this Veteran’s Day, I thank all of my fellow service men, who serve today, in the past and those who will in the future.  You make America great, by allowing all Americans to be themselves.

God Bless America.

By Vicki L. Pugliese, U.S.N

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