Gender Wars: Truce from the Male

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556336069-man-and-woman-in-office-having-a-meeting-gettyimages[1]Women are a necessity. They possess grace. They have wit and humor. They have an alternative perspective. Women are essential.

I don’t just mean in a marital sense. I mean in any relationship, whether as a mother, daughter, boss, co-worker, friend, best friend, acquaintance, superhero, or songstress.

Coming into manhood at the magical age of eighteen, I discovered Tori Amos. Shortly after that, I discovered Bikini Kill, Joan Jett, the Indigo Girls, Alanis Morisette, Sleater-Kinney, the Dixie Chicks, Ani DiFranco, and Terri Clark. Recently I’ve discovered Lorde, Peaches, Jess Klein, and Pussy Riot.

Some of these artists’ songs could be seen as “girl power,” while some would say that they are anti-man. Though some of the lyrical content was controversial, I never really felt threatened by songs about shooting down unwanted advances, vigilante justice against rapists, or even equal rights for women.

I felt that these songs showed something stirring within women. Maybe the lyrics were a push-back against the degrading songs about women that I grew up with, mostly within the lyrical content of 1990’s rap and 1980’s heavy metal. Maybe these songs were needed, to show that women can’t—and shouldn’t—always be “in their place.”

Your input and output is important, ladies. The man who thinks the female side of our species isn’t important should read a book or two.

In many cultures, the woman dominates the clan—the woman calls the shots. Current examples would be the in north-east India, parts of Costa Rica, in West Sumatra, the Ede villages of Vietnam, the Akans in Ghana, the Mosuo near the Tibetan border, the Native American Hopis, and the Chambri of Papua New Guinea. Not that women should always be on top (no pun intended), but in some areas of life, it has worked out well for civilization.

However, it does take the right woman, in the right sort of climate, just as it does with men being able to lead and be led.

We men can do women a service: end the war.

  • We can help uplift our female counterpart by not putting her down.
  • We can raise her confidence with more than a slick compliment.
  • We can elevate the leader to her position if she is qualified.
  • We can praise her not for her looks or aroma, but for her convictions and compassion.

But first, we need to be not so proud. Just as a brown-eyed individual is no more important than a blue-eyed person, neither is a man more important than a woman. We are all needed. We are all equal. Since the suspicions are strong against us men, let us first be the ones to fly the white flag.

But it isn’t a surrender; it’s a joining of arms.

– Originally published at: http://goodmenproject.com/

Eight Things to Nail at University

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456509471-college-chairs-gettyimages[1]I’m a college drop-out.

I didn’t mean to be. I was going to be a professional. I was going to help others, and get paid for it. I was going to make a lot of money, have a big house, drive a fast car, and have the perfect family.

We’re told this by the world. Go to college and the keys to the “kingdom” will be handed to you. But this isn’t the case for many of us, even to this smart-mouthed intellectual. And it might not happen to you.

However, the odds can be in your favor. Avoid the mistakes I made and follow these pointers that I banged out for you:

  1. Avoid the Fraternity or Sorority – While making and developing relationships is important, I found this one the most helpful and would recommend it to everyone. Don’t do the frat house. While these are supposed life-long relationships with your “brothers” or “sisters,” they can very distracting and unproductive. Have fun in college, but too much partying, noise, interruptions, lack of sleep, messes, fines, fees and arrests can become a burden. It might even be better just to do the community college for the first year or two—after all, the first couple of years are mostly general education classes, which will cost you a fraction to take, locally.
  1. Utilize Your Freedom – Manage your time and productivity. College might be the first time that no one is breathing on your neck or looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re cleaning your room, doing your homework, or coming home by Midnight. While you are free to do what you wish, make sure you are being responsible about when what is done where. This can mean a world of difference, especially if you eat well and are rested – It’ll give you the endurance to run a more fun race. Also, living off campus can be very beneficial, as can doing your own laundry.
  1. Use Student Perks, and Shop Online – Most places, especially around campus, have discounts and even freebies for students. All you need is a student ID. Also, one of the best ways to save while at school is on the essentials: books. Avoid the student bookstore—buy from Amazon or another online retail outlet.
  1. Study Smarter – and stay on track. I rarely studied in high school. I didn’t have to. If I paid half attention in class, and banged out a few pages of homework, I would pass tests. But please keep in mind: college is different. Tons of pages to read, and tons of pages to type out, you can possibly have more hours of homework to do than you have hours outside of class. There are hacks you can do. Don’t read every word as if you’re reading aloud. You can ramble a bit in your papers. There are more ways to get a passing or excelling grade in your classes without sacrificing hours of social opportunities or emotional health. Last thing, if your major isn’t any longer your interest, change it. If need be, change it often. This is your life and your future, not anyone else’s.
  1. Get a Job and/or Internship – You’ll need the cash and experience. Books my Freshman year cost about $500, which almost maxed out my new credit card. A brand new adult, and already in debt to a credit card, a college and the government. Nothing could benefit you more than getting a job, if at least to help pay for movies on the weekends with friends, or dining with a hot date. Getting a job is almost a necessity if you’ve never had a job before – trust me on this. You’ll need to learn how to do something menial and deal with customers.
  1. Keep an Updated Resume – Develop a professional social profile, and develop professional skills. LinkedIn is the thing now, and many employers are hitting social media for employees. Keep this in mind when posting events, views and photos on Facebook, Instagram and Kik. There are many people not hired when they could have been, but something tagged on Facebook or tweeted on Twitter was the deal-breaker. Why pay tens of thousands of dollars and put in tens of hours of studying in only to have all of that halted (or at least, put on hold) because of displayed youthful immaturity.
  1. Develop a Spreadsheet of Contacts – Be friends with everyone. Everyone you meet is a potential contact and reference. I messed up and recently deleted from my life everyone from my past that isn’t involved in my life right now, and I regret it. Phone numbers, Facebook friends, out-of-state addresses—all can be useful in the future. Even if you’re shy and aren’t buddies with your old pals, and even if you have a list of strangers in your database, they can all be a possibility for a business contact, a decade-old reference, or someone to squat with on an emergency trip to the coast. While I rarely used OPEN OFFICE HOURS, most will say it’s one of the most useful things, even if it’s to have a name placed to your face.
  1. Explore and Experiment – College is a place for growth. For myself and most others, the biggest life lessons and good memories are outside of the classroom. Get out and enjoy life while at college. See the countryside, hit the local shops, hang with the locals, do Thanksgiving with a college friend in another state, and go abroad for the summer. Go to concerts, festivals, parks, walks, and train rides to nowhere in particular. Live it up. Meet people. Kiss randomly. Eat exotically. Show love unhindered. Speak confidently and listen humbly. These can be awesome years and don’t let a closed mind and loose wallet hold you back.

Originally published at: http://goodmenproject.com

Death to Peacekeepers

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Someone close to me has this bumper sticker and it bothers me. Not that certain bumper stickers bother me to the point to where I write about them. This one bothers me more than others because I don’t know if the owner of the car realizes exactly what they’re insinuating.

I won’t mention her name, as she doesn’t read my writings, so she wouldn’t be able to defend herself, but I will address this issue, as I’m sure there are many people who have a similar bumper sticker.

The sticker: “If you don’t stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.”

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This sticker disgusts me, as many bumper stickers do. But the idea that a loved one has this on her car bothers me. I go to her family’s house frequently, and have to look at this sticker all the time. I can’t help it. I’m drawn to it. I guess I hope that it had been removed. Or that it has been replaced. I like to think it was on the car when she bought it, and just hadn’t gotten around to removing it.

But it’s still there. I picture myself in front of the car, as if that sticker is saying that if I’m not pro-military I might as well be ran over. By her.

On top of the message that I dislike, I also feel that she might not really realize what it is saying. More likely, she doesn’t know much about what our military does, or what is going on in the political realm. Her family knows little about foreign affairs, or where their federal tax money goes, as I’ve had some brief conversations with the family. Chances are, it’s a sticker that she has adopted, endorsing it, based on her fellow church-goer friends say, or what the general view of the town is on political matters.

I don’t judge her, but am tempted to bring it up. I’m not formally anti-military, but I am against wars. I assume she and I are a lot alike in matters of utopia: We want to live in peace, we love our fellow man or woman, we want the best for other countries.

But I feel her views are distorted, based on hear-say dialogue. Perhaps they’re based on a typical nationalism pride that most Americans have. I too am proud to be an American and love my country, but I hate that goddamned sticker.

I don’t stand behind the troops. How can I endorse our military?

I don’t endorse random civilian killings. I don’t endorse the fact that American soldiers have killed 2.7 million civilians in Iraq (far more than Saddam Hussein could ever have dreamed of killing). I don’t endorse that 1 out of 3 female soldiers are sexually assaulted by their own fellow male counterparts. I don’t endorse that we have U.S. bases in most foreign countries. I don’t endorse that 54% or so of my federal taxes fund weapon development, soldier salaries, and foreign invasion. I don’t endorse that serving in the military is so non-transparent and hypocritical, that a soldier is twice as likely to die from suicide than enemy warfare. I don’t endorse that once you’re out of serving, you’re ignored as a Vet. I don’t endorse that the homeless in America is not only uncared for, but 1 in 4 of the homeless in America are veterans. I don’t endorse that the U.S.A is the shot-caller of the world.

No, I don’t support the troops per se, because that would be supporting the horrors that they do, or have to go through in lands they shouldn’t even be in.

I’m all for democracy and choice. I’m all for defending invasions. But when the American military branches are the dictators, invading other countries, I wish I can take that sticker and set it afire. The “Support the Troops” mentality is a brainwashing, setting one up to say YES to any American-made horror and atrocity.

I hate that goddamned sticker.

Originally published at CounterCurrents.org

As a Religionist: You Versus the World

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normal[1]People are people, and events happen. There is nothing you change or prevent, within reason. You accept people how they are, and hope that they will choose on their own what you dislike about them.

I felt this way about others’ musical and film choices. I felt this way about people’s sexuality. I felt this way about other choices others would make, about not having children, about donating time and finances, about habits like smoking and drinking, and about other things that lie within the boundaries of “ethics” and “morality.”

It didn’t matter what my view was. I was taught by my mentors to love the sinner, hate the sin, and I wanted to practice that sort of accepting love. Sadly, however, I honestly didn’t see much of this among my church or college peers.

This idea of trying to be like Jesus, hanging out with sinners, was admired by some and detested by others within my church circles.

Not that I was pure in thought, and was only intending to go out to evangelize. I liked to drink. I liked my smoke. I liked pool halls and goth clubs.

I lived my life to a certain degree of what I wanted, not being legalistic about the biblical commands to not do some of the things I was doing. Some might call this moral relativism, but honestly I was getting exhausted from trying to be one thing in front of more legalistic friends, and another in front of my less religious friends.

I became a more take-me-as-I-am person, telling others that God accepts all where they’re at.

The idea of trying to change someone by force angers me. Coercion, manipulation, threats—all of these forms of forced morality is in itself immoral. And I felt that by trying to change someone before you lead them through some magical “Lord’s Prayer,” was like trying to give birth to a 5-month old fetus.

I figured I would be myself, not hide my religious beliefs, and if people wanted to invite Jesus into their hearts, I would be there for them.

I wanted to primarily be everyone’s friend, with an ear to listen. And if they needed spiritual advice, I was trusted by them to speak into their lives, as I had already been faithful to them in simple friendship and acceptance.

The trouble with being friends with people who live a life you might not theologically agree with is (not that you necessarily become like them), you actually start to see how normal they are.

Gays don’t have an agenda. Drinkers aren’t forcing anyone else to get drunk. Consensual, casual sex doesn’t mean people will become rapists. People simply start to resemble people.

If you’re the type that loves and enjoys people, then no matter what the ethical or moral views that they may have that differs from yours, you’ll see these people as you see others at church: as beautiful. You’ll see them as lovely; with purpose and promise.

The lines between the forgiven and the forsaken start to blur, and you start to lose the us vs. them mentality that usually accompanies religious people’s minds.

One of the first god-damned questions Christians have about other people when they talk to you: “Are they saved?”

My answer: “I don’t know. Maybe someday. For now, I like their friendship.” And I understand why it is so important to Christians that people are saved or not, but division and walls aren’t exactly the best way to get people to open up to you. And it surely isn’t a way to exemplify an accepting god … by not being accepting.

I’m unsure if Christians (or Muslims, or any other organized religious group) can not see beyond the divisive wall of us vs. them. There will sadly always be a guard up when it comes to people groups and individuals of a different mindset. And here is why: You are sheltered.

While community is important, religious groups place themselves in cozy little ghettos. With people who are carbon-copies of themselves, they feel comfortable, safe, and agreeable. There’s little room for having their feathers ruffled, their ideologies challenged, or their emotions toyed with.

Once one feels safe and secure in their little religious community, any outside difference or challenge feels like an attack. It could be simply a question about your belief. Ask for the evidence of a god and watch a religionist’s muscles tighten and their eyes dart. If one if so secure in their belief about something, there shouldn’t be such a fear.

Sometimes, you’ll see the other end of the spectrum. When they’re questioned, or even debated, the religionist’s whole persona changes. It’s like they become a whole different person. Their eyes either start to glaze over or widen, their voice either starts to boom or become hippie-like, and their stance or posture changes. Simultaneously, their word choices change; a whole new vocabulary.

I used to chalk this up to “being filled with the Holy Spirit,” feeling that Jesus was moving through me, or something to that effect. But let’s call it what is. An altered state.

Just like the keywords used in “The Manchurian Candidate,” if there are key phrases used or sights seen, the Christian or Muslim or Hindu will alter their stance, their eyes, their voice, and their vocabulary. This is classic brainwashing.

For if there were an actual spiritual or soulful change from a god, the whole being of a person would stay constant in its delivery of words or body language. There would be no gear-change.

I’ve seen it happen myself, and recall instances of when it happened to me. Change the topic and the person goes back to his or her normal self. It’s actually quite fascinating—almost to the point of frightening.

From a very young age, boys are taught the duality of the Us vs. Them mentality.

As far back as I remember, I would play “Cowboys and Indians” or “Cowboys and Robbers” with my friends. While my peers and myself chose each side without much thinking about it, we usually chose according to how we chose sides in other games or toy-playing.

It was like choosing sports teams. You rooted for your own, for your favorite. And you rooted against those from another place, of another team, of another culture. For whatever reason, the same kids chose to be the cowboys, and others chose to be the Indians or robbers.

But seriously, look at the choices in just that simple little game of “Cowboys and Indians.” You can either be a rugged horse-rider or a thief on the run. It’s funny, almost. The perfect match between the good vs. the bad.

And if you didn’t wanna play robbers, you can choose the lesser “evil,” by choosing Indians. Indians in kids’ minds are barbaric, uncultured, different, rowdy. You remember the old TV shows? How did the cowboys look? Clean-shaved, feared, manly, respected, with a handkerchief tied neatly.

Of course, there were movies that showed a more rebellious, violent type of cowboy—the outlaw—but those movies weren’t really made for kids, so you wouldn’t have exposure to a less black-and-white idea of what it was to be a cowboy, a robber, or an Indian.

I was quite young, and I remember watching “West Side Story” with my dad (and perhaps with my mom and brother). I asked my dad which were the bad guys. Like all young boys, and probably most adult men, I wanted to know who to root for in the movie.

My dad responded something like, “They’re both pretty bad because they’re both gangs, but if you had to choose which were ‘good guys.’ I’d say the Jets.”

That is, the white gang.

This left quite an impression on me. If there’s an us vs. them situation, and both were in the wrong, you chose the lesser of the two evils. You usually chose what is most like yourself.

If you have two friends who were dating, and they were in a fight, you chose to side with your guy friend if you were a guy, and you side with the girl if you were a girl.

If you have two teams playing each other, like the Chicago Cubs vs. the Chicago White Sox, you chose the team that had the stadium on your side of town.

If you had two friends who were Christian, and one was Catholic, the other being Protestant, you felt closer to the one that shared your own version of Christianity.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, income inequality, nationalism—all forms of bigotry are born and raised from us vs. them mentalities. If two are not quite good, or if two aren’t quite bad, you chose which is most like you, if you had to make a choice between the two.

I always liked to side with the underdog all my life, which means now that I tend to speak up for those with little to no voice. I stand up for the poor. I feel compassion towards the struggling. I like to see the one with the odds stacked against her rise up.

But this also meant, that as a youngster, I liked to be the robber in the game. Or the Indian. I rooted for the Sharks in “West Side Story.” When collecting toys, I chose to collect the Decepticons of “The Transformers” brand, while my brother collected the Autobots. Same goes with G.I. Joe: I collected the nemesis: Cobra.

There was a little rebel in me. An outlaw, if you will. I liked the bands that got into trouble all the time: Guns N’ Roses, Mötley Crüe, and Two Live Crew. I tended to also like the actors that had a troublesome life, and who usually died earlier than their time.

But there were some assholes in music and film that I had no use for. These clearly were evil people, and though I tended to lean towards gangster or horror movies with villains or anti-heroes (or listen to heavy metal or emerging LA rap groups), I knew I never wanted to be someone no one liked.

I didn’t want to get in trouble. I didn’t want to be a burden on anyone, let alone a menace to society. I had a good heart, and I knew there was a difference between collecting the Transformers’  Decepticons and being something that only wanted to destroy mankind.

When it came to real life, I wanted to choose good. I believed that there were black-and-white choices, though I didn’t understand the ramifications of long-term consequences, I knew that I wanted to end up in Heaven and not Hell.

In Sunday School, we’re taught about a god who wants mankind to choose him, and we’re taught about a devil who wants keep us from choosing to serve a god. Bad things happen because Satan causes them, and Jesus wants Satan to be stopped … eventually. So it goes.

Originally published at ExChristianNet

Breaking Up with Jesus

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heart[1]Growing up as a Christian in various worship forms and levels of dedication, leaving all that I know behind wasn’t easy. It was not unlike going through a breakup, or even perhaps more similarly to experiencing the death of a loved one.

All my life I have been taught about God, Jesus, the Bible, the Ten Commandments, the Holy Ghost, and the stories of the Apostles, Disciples, Prophets, and the Kings. No matter how the stories were told to me even as a child, I had a decent grasp of the Bible. Its textual understanding and personal application were a different matter, but as the mind develops and grows, there’s only so much one can comprehend on such a thick subject matter.

One cannot disagree that the stories usually had a morale—Jonah and the big fish, Jesus and the cross, David and the giant, Daniel and the lions, and the feeding of the multitudes. Each was selected for a reason, and could be applied by a Sunday school teacher to our young lives. This can also be true for other stories we all know and tell outside from the Bible.

Reference, application, and understanding—this is how we work. When we read something that we can identify with, or find something we dislike, this is consciousness.

Consciousness is the awareness of our existing. And to exist is to live. And to live a good life, we assume that we are all good … individually. We might be suspicious of others, but not one person feels that they are a horrible gift to humankind.

When Jesus rebukes the religious people, no child, teen or adult wants to identify with the ones being rebuked. We want to be the one who hears, “Good and faithful servant,” as we get a pat on the head.

Rejection is horrifying, and no one wants to be rejected, especially if his or her intentions were good. To the religious leaders that Jesus often rejected, they thought they were doing the right thing—obeying the Law of Moses. Nothing wrong with trying to obey one’s God, if it is sincere.

Besides, the religious were probably confused with Jesus. In one breath, he condemns the Law and tells the legalistic people off. And then in the next, he says that not one punctuation mark will disappear from the Law.

While I did not see this discrepancy with quotes until much later on in my religious walk, there were things like this in the Bible that stood out ever since I was a child. Though I tried to ignore these contradictions, their frequency brought me to where I just couldn’t.

Originally published at ExChristianNet

Our Supposed Democracy

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s_300_farm4_static_flickr_com_76652_15488931698_290c85e4c2_n_975[1]Most people have a sense of fairness instilled in them. You see this in children: “That’s not fair!” “He got the biggest piece!” “She took my toy!” But it’s not all about them. You also see altruism in them: If one has 2 of one item such as ice cream or candy, they’ll share it with their friend. Community, even at the toddler age.

This sense of fairness continues into adulthood. We call our country (the United States of America) a democracy. We say that majority rules. We say that this form of government is the best form in the world, and all governments should implement a democracy. And when something is a little off, a little unfair, a red flag goes up in our heads.

I agree that majority rules is indeed the best method to keep the people happy. We like to choose our destiny. We like to share our experiences with similar-minded people groups. We like to vote in polls, online or off.

But I disagree with how our government has its democracy shaped now. While I cannot answer to whether or not I would have agreed with the democracy definition of old, as I wasn’t there, but I’d like to think that–from what I know–that this country’s forefathers had a good concept, and started out strong with that democratic republic.

What do the people want? Okay, that’s what we’ll give them.

This is what all leaders should ask. Our current leaders do not. They give you the illusion of freedom to choose, but what they usually give you is 2 choices of their picking. We see this in Presidential elections. Even if there are more than 2 or 3 candidates running, the media outlets only cover the 2, and usually giving the third party a dismissal chuckle. Our laws on the ballot that we vote on are similar. When the people actually get an item on the ballot, the wording is vague or confusing. If you ask for help understanding the word, you’re either told they cannot help you or they give you a biased explanation on their definition.

In this country, we really don’t have open choice. All choices are closed, the choices those in charge have given us. It’s like parents who would ask would the kids in the back seat rather be grounded or abused. Of course, the kids would prefer neither, but if the choice had to be made, they’d choose the lesser of the two evils.

Sometimes we’re not even given two bad choices, but asked what the kids would like to eat for lunch. Each of the kids would give their preference. 2 votes for burgers, 1 for hot dogs. The government acts in such a way, that they’d discount the votes for both burgers andhot dogs, and give you a salad. Maybe even laced salad. This isn’t a choice. This isn’t democracy. This is a dictator’s way of doing things. And if you get the laced lunch, it’s done by an abusive dictator.

Our government pretty much asks, What does the majority of the people want? The people vote, and if the majority vote doesn’t line up with what the ones in charge would like, they give the proverbial middle finger to the ones they serve, more or less saying, You’re all fools and we know what’s better for you.

Screw you, Americans. Sincerely, your public servants.

Originally published at http://www.opednews.com/

Are you Guys Up for the Love Challenge?

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4488462724_2c27974d47_o-300x199[1]My wife and I are up to almost a decade of marriage.

In this day and an age, nine or ten years being married is a challenge, an adventure, and seemingly a rarity.

I attended a Christian college and my friends left and right were getting hitched. While I’m not really friends with any of them, once in awhile news will come my way of many of divorcing, having affairs, and even heard of a suicide. Even in the realm of sacred sanctimony, it seems that many of my peers just can’t go the distance.

Myself, I got married at thirty years old. Not that I wasn’t engaged previously, or had varying degrees of romances. But I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t know how to budget. I didn’t know how to have integrity—that is, being the same person in private and in public. I didn’t know how to sacrifice for others. I didn’t really even know who or what I was.

Getting married changed that. Becoming a team-partner with someone changes things. But before that change happens, both within and outside of you, chaos occurs.

By nature, I’m a stubborn person. I’m insecure. I have a lot of pride—which is usually boastfulness attempting to cover up said insecurities. All your scratches and dents come to the surface when marriage gives a good rubbing off of the dust, dirt and tarnish. Who you really are comes to the forefront.

When you’re married to someone, everything you do affects that person.

  • Spend too much? You can’t pay the bills.
  • Have an unhealthy diet? You become unhealthy.
  • Bad habits? You could die way earlier than your spouse.
  • Anger issues? You might just lose him or her.

One event that changed everything between my new spouse and me. I had a new phone and started to download 99-cent songs here and there. Before I knew it, I had about a thousand dollars worth of songs on my phone, and not enough to cover the rent on our new apartment.

While my gracious wife was quite patient about this situation, especially in retrospect, I could have caused us a world of trouble. Her credit was awesome, mine not so much. But with that one phone bill, and our limited income, we could have (in worst case scenario) had our utilities shut off, lost the apartment, had the phones cut off, had no food to eat, and would have pretty much been the worst year of our marriage—our first year, that is.

We were able to scrape by and not have a tough time then, but the phone is just one circumstance of my uncanny way to lose money through buying stuff I didn’t need.

Being married, and compromising a bad habit, helped get me to where I can not only avoid devastating spending sprees, but I can now budget, save, and am able to make the choice to do without.

Does this mean, I’m without possessions and fun times? Not at all. But through my wife’s awesome skills at budgeting, saving and planning, we have helped evolve me into a more responsible person, both for the good of myself and for our partnership.

We now reach goals. We have a house, two dependable cars, some side businesses, and a dream to someday have a farm and be able to work from home exclusively (or simply, retire).

If it weren’t for my wife, and waiting until I was a humble adult to get married, I handled a tough situation well and was able to be molded into the man I am today.

Get married, yes. But know that there is sacrifice, humility, and growth in that binding of love.

– Published originally at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/up-for-the-challenge-wcz/#sthash.UIzFr3mC.dpuf

New Book, April 2016

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HelpImOfVotingAgethumbnailHelp! I’m of Voting Age and I Want to Make Informed Decisions just came out TODAY! Amazon paperback, Kindle edition and the Createspace links are in the process of being linked to this site.

In all fairness, this book is not quite “new,” as it’s an extended version of Politics for the Disinterested with The Quotable Dissenting Heretic tacked on at the end. That’s two $9.95 books for $12.95 with some bonus material inside. Perfect timing, as it’s an election year!

The book contains how and why one should get involved with politics and citizen rights. It breaks down what each branch of government does, what each political party represents, has a decent-sized glossary of common political words, a suggested reading list of human rights and political involvement, and ends with quotes of rebellion and revolution.

For the most part, the book is non-partisan; a book of just-the-facts. The book list leans progressive, but mostly has to deal with not parties and affiliation but rather human liberties and civic involvement.

I’m re-releasing the previous two books into one, because I feel that there is some great content within, and that the titles needed to be changed and the artwork needed to be fresh.

So, I hope you pick up a copy of Help! I’m of Voting Age and I Want to Make Informed Decisions, either in paperback or digital form.

Always on the Edge of My Seat

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536883115-depressed-man-gettyimages[1]I’m an antsy person. I’m the man who can’t sit still, the guy shifting often in his seat. I pace. I chew my nails.

There’s nothing wrong with me. It’s a condition, and it will not affect our friendship. This is my vulnerability.

As a teenager, I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder coupled with depression. I didn’t have a complete grasp on the diagnosis, as I tended to sleep as often as I could, even in class. I was able to stay focused, so it wasn’t a deficit of attentiveness. But I was—and am—a nervous person.

Crowds bother me. I enjoy the company of people, especially that of friends, but being in the middle of mash-up of people almost makes me paranoid. If I’m walking in a crowded mall, however, it doesn’t bother me as much. Maybe it’s not the crowds, but the disorderliness of crowds.

If I’m in a long line, I almost forget everyone behind me, and everyone in front of me is an anonymous mess of bed-heads and neck pimples. If I’m working a job behind a counter, and there is a huge line of customers, it doesn’t bother me. Maybe it’s because I know my place … my role.

Idle time is nerve-racking time. I was grounded a lot as a teen, but I’d keep myself busy organizing my baseball cards, sorting my comics, arranging my cassettes, amidst breaks to shoot pool. Even now, if I have long tasks, I need my breaks. I need my walk around the block. I need time away from time doing time-consuming things. If I don’t, you’ll see me drumming on table-tops with my fingers.

Can’t you just sit still? my dad would condescend.

And he knew my diagnosis. Heck, he’s the one that took me to the counselor, to get treatment and medication. And if my own dad would have impatience in dealing with me, you could imagine how I feel about every other person that might catch wind of this unconscious behavior. I know I’m nervous, but I try not to show it. But sometimes it shows without me realizing it’s visible.

So, I’m being vulnerable … which makes me a little nervous. If it looks like I have a full bladder and could barely contain myself, please realize that I might just be a little anxious.

I’m coping with it. Just know that I was born that way and we’ll play along just fine.

– Originally published at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/always-on-the-edge-of-my-seat-wcz/#sthash.eGFTjW6x.dpuf

Abandoning the Tough Guy

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abandoningtoughguy.ed_[1]I grew up on typical guy films: action, horror and organized crime.

My father wasn’t much involved in my life after I had left home in my late teens, so the men in film were sort of surrogate fathers to me.

Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson.

All were—and are—captivating actors, able to portray their characters precisely.

Sadly, as an impressionable teen and young man, you start seeing these films not for the fiction they are, but rather as documentaries and training videos.

Even in high school, several inches under five feet tall, I’d stand up to bullies and jocks with a foul mouth and a puffed chest.

Sometimes, they’d just laugh at me.

Other times, I’d get a justified beating for it. Usually, the beatings weren’t as bad as I’d get at home, when I lived there.

Into my adult years, I had a growth spurt and started attracting females.

I dated often, seeking a suitable spouse, but most of these relationships and/or friendships would end.

Sometimes they’d end upon my walking away or I’d get dumped.

I was a generous type, almost clingy and insecure, so I’m sure that played into it, regarding the confident, experienced ladies.

Sometimes, I’d imagine W.W.S.R.D. (What Would Sam Rothstein Do?), the lead character in the film, Casino.

Of course, if something about the woman wasn’t right, I’d kick her to the curb.

I don’t know if my religious upbringing had anything to do with it, but I’m sure I felt that I had entitlement, that I deserved something excellent and perfect.

In a way, I do deserve someone awesome, but it didn’t come in the form that I thought. I had met a friend, and we had chatted online for several years.

Through this time, my mind developed, and my emotions became more mature.

This woman endeared our friendship, and encouraged me in all of the dreams of mine I shared with her. Just shy of my thirtieth birthday, I asked this friend to give me a shot.

At this point I had not dated anyone in several years, the time I spent developing my character.

I didn’t necessarily set out to internally grow, but it happened nonetheless. This maturity attracted my friend to me, and we ended up getting engaged the same day we finally met in person.

Something changes when you’re not trying to be something or someone else. I had to become a man on my own, without mimicking tough guys on TV.

I’m not an action star, I’m not a monster, and I’m certainly not a corrupted person of power.

But I’m somehow great and big in my wife’s eyes.

– Originally published at: http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/abandoning-the-tough-guy-wcz/#sthash.QULZmyoH.dpuf