Introducing “Focus and Educate Yourself”

Over the past few months,  I have gotten myself, with the help of my Facebook “friends”, into several heated debates over politically charged issues: education, use of GMOs, President-elect Trump’s political appointments and future policies.

I have been labeled ignorant and close-minded. Me? Wow!!

My goal was never to inflame nor to judge, but only to show a different side to very narrow and politically biased arguments. Unfortunately, I did not have research and facts to back me up. And I was called out for it. This doesn’t mean that the other side had a handle on those facts either; only that they were able to throw around some weighty catch phrases.

During this all, I have learned that:

  • Everyone has a political bias
  • Political bias is a blinder and it has the power to debilitate most healthy debates
  • The use of rhetoric and conjecture is rampant when political bias is present
  • Rhetoric and conjecture have become mainstay replacements for actual research and educated thought processes
  • Everyone is subject to the use of rhetoric and conjecture because it is the easy way out
  • The ability to remain objective in a politically biased world is virtually impossible

I’m tired of being cornered by people who think they have all the answers and are arrogant enough to voice it that way.

I’m sick of people who label and stereotype others a certain way just because of different viewpoints.

I hate the hypocrisy that is occurring.

I’m done with feeling like I am clawing my way through a maze of biased or under-informed opinion, just because it was the most recent post that came over someone’s Facebook and inflamed an emotional response couched in purported “facts”.

I want to be in a position where I can share something during one of these debates that makes another person say, “Wow, I didn’t know that”. Yep, I know that not everyone is like me and may not likely actually say that out loud, no more than they would apologize when they know they are wrong. I also know that when an issue is ensconced in emotion, mutual understanding and agreement can never be reached.

I am introducing a series of posts entitled “Focus and Educate Yourself”. The purpose of these posts will be to share what I learned through my own research on different topics that are prominent in today’s world and significant in our current political environment. The goal is to hopefully get people thinking on their own, instead of spewing the most recent babble.

I am welcome to suggestions on topics.

© 2010-2017 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Dear Mr. President

Preamble:

Let’s get some facts established first:

  • I did not vote for Trump, nor for Clinton.
  • I am not a millenial.
  • I am gainfully employed but have seen troubles over my life that have placed me, at times, in less than desirable circumstances from which I had to crawl my way out, dragging a family behind me.
  • I am a conservative, not a Fascist.
  • As a conservative, yes, I do believe in basic human rights and justices.
  • I believe in hard work ~ for everyone.
  • I do not believe in the political machine, including the main and mid stream media that snivels around it and has all of us by the balls and is slowly squeezing.
  • I believe in peaceful demonstration, as one of our Constitutional rights, but I do not by any means advocate violence of any kind.
  • I know that many of you will read this and be insulted, even now, over a week after the election.
  • I do not apologize for my opinion, nor my position.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

With that aside, let me continue.

After many days of contemplation, peppered with vicious exchanges with people whom I have called friends for several years, I have decided to express a few thoughts and feelings that I have been harboring.

As much as many of us have tried to keep things civilized in the wake of your election victory last week, it has proven almost impossible.download

Actually, if I had to classify it, I would say it is social warfare out there. No longer warfare between the proverbial haves and have nots. Nor between the sexes. And it really is not even a war between the races.

It is a war of principles. It is a war of perceived standards. It is a war between intangible thought processes and subjective belief systems; belief systems that have been grown, pruned, and stunted by untold years of personal experience and the molding of each individual. It has resulted in histrionics of epic proportions, across multiple societal lines.

The war zone is real out here, President-elect Trump, and it is slowly gathering momentum – taking prisoners and accumulating casualties.

It is a war steeped in fear, resentment, spite.

It has made some good people make bad behavior choices. good_versus_bad

Here are some of the behaviors I have personally experienced. Sadly, some of the behaviors I have personally experienced; some of the behaviors mimic what you yourself – and the portion of your supporters constantly spotlighted by the mainstream media – exhibited on the campaign trail.

Name-calling – marginalizing – stereotyping – pitting of one group against another – judging and accusations – assumptions – more accusations – immoral and unprincipled characterizations

The example that you set during the campaign has become an artifact that we, the people, are now forced to grapple with in the aftermath, down in the trenches.pto5kkl7c

We have been made aware of our divisions. Those divisions have been drawn into the light. Spotlighted and amplified. Somehow, over the course of this campaign year, people with lesser moral character or weak emotional constitution have become indoctrinated with a sense that they can bully and attack and accuse anyone else from the other camp. Fundamentally good people have been convinced that they can now make these bad choices, and that they are justified for doing so.

They have gotten the idea that they don’t have to respect each other’s opinion if that opinion resonates from the other side.

Somehow, people are increasingly getting the idea that it is acceptable now to judge someone based on the group they affiliate with instead of the moral fabric of that person’s  own character.

It has become impossible to discuss rationally with someone from “the other camp” unless that person has embraced a level of maturity that allows them to gracefully accept and move on. Notice that I did not pinpoint any “camp”. It is followers of both camps, plus some, who are behaving badly.

And many are not moving on gracefully.images

They are refusing to accept the election results. They are refusing to even give you and your new administration a chance because they are so blinded by the other garbage.

They are finding you guilty before you have even made a move.

immaturity

 

If nothing else at this point, you have shaken up the status quo. Not surprising, a bit scary, and necessary.

I, for one Mr. President-elect, will do my best to represent a positive front in the turmoil that is raging. Many people of my like mind are working hard to do the same thing. Because, despite some of the despicable things you did and said during the election, those things are no more despicable than many of the things that a multitude of career politicians, including your rivals and those you are currently appointing to your staff, have done for decades. Difference is your actions and words were publicized and spotlighted while the others slithered around in the mud and tried to pretend that they were righteous, good, and doing what they did in the best interest of the American public.

But I wonder, what is happening to principles, standards, love, acceptance?

While many of us wish that we were not beginning a new chapter under such social duress, we are hopeful that as you are sworn in that you will show us a different side than what the media decided to entertain and enrage us with during your campaign and that the changes you evoke will make us a better people and a better nation.

Good luck, Mr. President-elect.

© 2010-2016 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

No Perfect Candidate

I admit that, once upon a time not so long ago, I was one of those who liked Donald Trump when he first came onto the political stage. I liked the way his unabashed way of setting off public debate – on many issues that had for many years been taboo, or worse, circumvented by the popular media outlets because they were not politically correct to discuss – allowed even the talking heads on the Sunday morning news programs to openly discuss previously taboo issues.

I felt like he got people talking and debating, with less fear about repercussions of opinion or the violation of political correctness expectations.

But now, I fear that he has become maligned by his own stunted followers and the creeping shadow of his own poor business and political choices.

That said, I am not one of those who has gone skulking into the Clinton camp.  I think, in many ways, H. Clinton is as bad, if not worse, than Trump. She represents more of the same government ineptitude. She does not represent change. I would rather engage in civic disobedience, and vote my conscience (e.g. no vote at all), than to vote for the lesser of two evils.

In any case, neither one of the candidates is a viable choice.

Neither one of them has the moral conviction nor the insight to take this country to where it needs, and wants to go. Where it deserves to go.

Here is why:

  • Both candidates will have to battle a dilapidated and corrupt political system. It is the system that is so corrupt. Until the system is changed, the candidate who is slotted in will be mostly irrelevant.
  • Both candidates will continue to contend with their own shady personal and professional backgrounds.
  • Neither of the candidates has the best interest of the public in their sights, unless that public interest is juxtaposed to their own personal gain.
  • Both candidates are part of the corporate and political bastions of American society; basically, the “pillars” that have amassed money and power and use both to battle on their own fronts under the disguise of “fighting for the common man”.
  • It is the Electoral College results that matter, not the popular vote. The decision will be made outside of the public arena.

How many times in history have we seen that happen? Rarely do the masses win anything that they are due by the privileges granted by the Constitution because of the power struggle that goes on in places that none of us are privy to.

So…now…the masses battle among themselves. They claw at each other in order to prove the credentials of their favorite candidate. They scramble to have the last word, to prove that the candidate they favor is the best one. They search tainted media data to present as proof that somehow they are right and the words and actions of the other candidate are maligned.

When they can’t achieve the desired result by doing those things, they disparage the other candidate’s character. They resort to low and filthy tactics; anything to win the argument. They operate from a basis of emotion and hasty analysis. They react to propaganda, data which has already been run through the spin machine at least several times, worth no more than the kitty litter in the litter box, and the stuff that kitty drops in there.

They let go of their common sense in order to hop on the bandwagon of the candidate that the media machine has been geared to lead them to follow.

What they fail to understand is that for them, this fight must not be about candidates. We are way past that.

This fight must be focused on issues, and our pock-marked and crumbling political and social system.

This fight is about clear-minded people butting up against the beliefs of people as sheep, who either can’t be bothered with thinking through the issues with their own brain power or truly believe that our society has an element of truthfulness and purity left to it. They are led along by a shepherd into a pasture where they smell the poppies and eat the spiked grass. That spiked grass is the media propaganda that permeates our reality.

They are led to this place with wool over their eyes, obscuring the reality of the current situation.

As I wrap this up, I am thinking about how we fix this.

What does a clear-thinking non-sheeple American citizen do to make a difference?

Here are my meager attempts to enlighten us all:

  • Do your research using unbiased data from unbiased sources. It is very difficult to come by these days.
  • Take some time to get the pulse on what you believe is the most important issue.
  • Find and join an unbiased organization that supports and propels the solution of that issue to new heights.
  • Stick to the issues; avoid the propaganda.
  • Stick to the issues; don’t malign character, no matter how quickly it would help you win the argument.
  • Stick to facts; don’t use emotion to debate.
  • Remember that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, no matter how wrong you think it is. Move on; don’t dwell on it.
  • Don’t allow disagreements over these topics to divide you from your friends and family. Divided – we are all weaker.
  • Remove the rose-colored glasses that you wear and work to remove the tint of those others that you encounter.

Objectivity works best in order to ensure securing a win in the struggles of real life.

© 2010-2016 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Sandy Hook: Stop The Blame Game (if only for the children!)

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What I am about to write might offend some people.

This is NOT my intention. It is only my intention to write what I feel; maybe to start a discourse.

Before I start, I would like to offer a prayer for the children and their families:

Lord, please gather close to you the victims of Sandy Hook. Please wipe away their fear and keep them in Your light and presence. Lord, please spread Your love and warmth over those left behind, that they may understand that You have their loved little babies safely in Your arms forever.

Now, please do the following before you read any further:

  • Remove the plugs from your ears.
  • Use this key to open your mind and your heart.
  • Put your finger(s) down and tie them to your side or sit on your hands.

Good…

In the aftermath of the tragedy in Sandy Hook, it is not only the children and their families who are mourning. Parents, teachers, children and so many people all over the world are trying to come to grips with the senselessness of it all.

I believe this is part of being human: we try to find meaning in chaos.

In so doing, we look into the chaos and latch onto anything we can make sense of. Many facets of this tragedy are coming into the spotlight in just this manner as we all try to make sense of the chaos. The proponents of these facets are trying to put the spotlight on their beliefs and what they think caused this tragedy. This is a means to order and understanding. If we can put order to it, package it neatly and put it in a box, we might be able to stop it from happening again. We might be able to fix it.

Unfortunately, as with anything else where humans are involved, it is impossible to identify THE cause, that one big factor. Because there are too many factors that are too convoluted. Humans are complicated creatures. Medical and psychological sciences are still wrangling with the complexities of defining behavior. They try to label it, attempt to package it. They are usually wrong or not completely on target.

There is no one cause to this abomination.

Any attempt to take sides, whether from a political or self-promoting platform, is fruitless and will lead to more chaos, more polarization, more strife. Bottom line: taking sides will NOT solve a problem that may not have a solution.

If there is a solution, it will not be solved quickly. The problem was not created quickly.

Let’s review some facts:

  • The only one who caused this event is the shooter: not his guns, not the media, not his upbringing, not the circumstances of his life. He made the choice to take those actions that day and he will reap his just reward.
  • There are multiple facets that might have influenced his choice of action. All humans can be influenced to make one choice over another; but, in the end, it is still each human’s choice, the initiation of free will, to take individual action.  
  • The shooter took a course of action independently, working from the inside out. We, as those left in the wake, cannot hope to find the answer by looking at the outside.
  • We cannot look into the shooter; he is dead. As such, all the analysis in the world will never lead us to THE CAUSE. It will only lead as to presumptions and assumptions.

If we, as a society, truly want to make this violence go away, we have to try a little bit harder than just blindly pulling out one element and blowing it out of proportion. Furthermore, we have to quit looking to the outside to answer and solve problems that are most likely coming from the inside.

From an inside that only God knows for sure.

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss.

Election 2012 Part 1: My Spin on My Apathy

Are you feeling apathetic about the upcoming election? The candidates, their platforms, their tactics, the debates, the general process?

If you are not, my hat goes off to you (if I were wearing a hat). You are a better person than I am.

I hate to even write this, but I am feeling apathetic. In fact, I gave up on our political process years ago.

I am not the only one. It is a well-known fact that since 1968, voter turnout in general elections has declined by almost 10%. In presidential election years, 20% more voters actually show up and vote over the every-two year congressional elections. This means that 20% fewer of registered voters think enough about electing their congressional leaders to actually get out and vote. Check out the URL link to the chart.

There are many myths and perspectives on these numbers. It can be spun quite a few ways. I liked some of the points from the Cato Institute, even though their analysis is almost 10 years old. Here is another URL that you might find of interest if you want to investigate the issue further: http://www.fairvote.org/voter-turnout.

For me, I believe it started in or around the 2008 Presidential election. At that time, I considered myself a Republican. I was convinced that its platform and delivery represented what was best for me, my family, and the nation as a whole.

Was it perfect and complete? By no means. The Democrat platform covered issues that the Republicans turned their backs on, and vice-versa; these were issues that, in relation to my perspective at that time in my life, were important but not show-stoppers. Indeed, the fact that they were even wasting air time was a nuisance.

I used to do my homework, too.

  • I listened to the news daily.
  • I regularly read several blog sites and political websites.
  • I kept up on the fine nuances of many of the issues.
  • I knew and could debate the spin on those issues.
  • I Googled.
  • I nodded my head along with the Sunday morning ‘talking heads’ on shows like Fox News and Meet the Press.
  • I could tell you the names of many of those ‘talking heads’.
  • I yelled in outrage at the T.V. when anyone said something that I didn’t agree with.
  • I voted in every general election, and most congressional elections. But, unless these coincided with a local election, I did not make an attempt to vote in the local elections.

Sometime during the run-up to the 2008 election, though, my resolve faltered. Everything I heard, even from my beloved Republican party, was a lie. The media spin was not only a lie, but confusing. I got to the point where I couldn’t recover from the spin, couldn’t wade through the lies fast enough to form a solid opinion. The right and wrong of the issues became blurred in my head.

I found myself following the party line, voting for the candidates because they were Republican. I was not cognizant anymore of what the issues were or how the candidates stood on those issues; I began making assumptions that sounded something like, “he’s Republican, so he must think and believe what I believe.”

I got lazy. And then I proceeded to vote blindly. No research, no knowledge, no opinion. Straight party ticket.

When things get blurry like that, I need to step back so I can get the big picture.

Fast forward to present time. Presidential election 2012.

Things are not as blurry as they were four years ago. The reason for this is because I am now completely convinced that they are all liars and spin doctors. The politicians, the media, the government. But the lying and the spin is equal opportunity, color blind. It sees no boundaries between Republican and Democrat, conservative and liberal. It doesn’t recognize green, black, or off-white. Probably the only instance in our American society that is NOT truly color blind.  

So why are we still pretending that we don’t see it? Why are we still getting wrapped up in debates that we know are fixed? Why do we feel so compelled to argue about issues that we know deep inside will not get resolved to our liking, nor even get solved for the good of the whole, even though our candidate of choice assures us from the podium that he is the one to do it? Why are we still convinced that the president is the only one who matters, when in reality Congress is more powerful? Why are we still believing that the popular vote can change anything at the presidential level when it really is the Electoral College that elects the president?

Because we are human and it is in our nature to be concerned?

Because we are good citizens and it is our civic duty to speak up? To vote?

Probably a combination of both, and more.

But, from here going forward I plan to change that. I realized that what has gone away in our so-called ‘democracy’ is ‘democracy’. We are not by and for the people; we are by and for the people who can swing the vote in a two-party boxing ring.

How does that get changed? I think it has to happen at the grassroots level.

Tune in later this week for Part 2 of Election 2012: My Spin….

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Bluth or Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss (Bluth).

Invisible

What compels us to keep busy?

To be certain, the why of this question will be different for every person. Some reasons why we are busy might include:

  • excessive responsibilities
  • poor delegating skills
  • demanding family
  • poor time management
  • ineffective work habits

But, the answer to why does not explain fully what compels people to lose the balance and spill over into “too” busy. How does one identify “too busy”?

  • correspondences left unanswered
  • social activities decline
  • common courtesies dissipate
  • rules and process are skirted
  • quality decreases

There could be many manifestations of every one of these. However, I want to focus on just two: correspondences and common courtesies. These two elements outwardly represent who we are to those around us.

What is the first thing you say to a friend ~let’s call her Mary~ who has called you, or emailed you and to whom you have not responded after a long period of time? Does “I’m sorry I didn’t get back with you sooner. I’ve been busy” sound familiar? I bet it does. That message instantly says to Mary that she was not high enough up on your list to warrant a call or email back. Mary, for that period of time, became invisible to you. This is particularly cogent in cases where Mary lives a great distance away and for whom it would be close to impossible to show up on your doorstep for a cup of coffee and to chat or meet unexpectedly at the local grocery store.

Who has time for those activities these days anyhow? Too busy!

Now, think about your chores. You have a list a mile long. You have to go to the gas station, Walmart, maybe the cleaners, the pet store. In all of these places you are more than likely to not only run across the customer service people who ring your products and services up, but you will pass by dozens of strangers. In the parking lot, in the checkout line, in the aisles. How will you relate to them? Are you hyper focused on your lists and too busy to make eye contact or to smile? Do you find yourself forgetting that there are others around you and haphazardly step in front of someone, or bump your cart into someone else’s? Do you notice the people around you at all?

What does it matter? You have to get through your chores before the kids come home from school and all hell breaks loose!

If these situations sound familiar, then you have made invisible all the other humans in your life, both close and remote. Chances are, they have made you invisible as well.

Sometimes invisibility is acceptable, even desired. Obviously, where there is a dangerous person involved you WANT to be invisible. But how do you reliably differentiate between dangerous and benign? You can’t.

When one reaches the level of too busy, in the scope of how we relate to others, we cut back on correspondences with our friends and acquaintances and we become emotionless and insensitive to those around us whom we do not know personally. We make them invisible.

Worse yet, in that process, we ourselves become invisible.

Maybe Ralph Ellison had it right in his book Invisible Man. On page 94, Mr. Ellison writes,

…he has eyes and ears…, but he fails to understand the simple facts of life. Understand. Understand? It’s worse than that. He registers with his senses but short-circuits his brain. Nothing has meaning. He takes it in but doesn’t digest it……Behold! A walking zombie? Already he’s learned to repress not only his emotions but his humanity. He’s invisible, a walking personification of the Negative…The mechanical man!

If you have not read this book, that’s good because the context for this particular statement is very different from the thoughts above.

The setting is a negro bar in the mid-1920s. The character speaking is a disadvantaged black man. He is describing another disadvantaged black man. He is speaking to a rich, well-connected white man.

Enough said.

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Bluth or Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss (Bluth).

Social Media Overload

There should be no doubt now that social media has become a critical element of society.

It fits seamlessly into many facets of our ever more mobile lives.

It is available in many options and styles, and variations of the two. Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Blogger…Tumblr, Instagram, Shutterfly…Spotify. So many ways to like and be liked.

It pervades a plethora of activities that we engage in every day: talking, sharing, pictures, stories, quips, comments, compassion.

It enables us to remain connected and relevant in a world that is quickly moving in the opposite direction.

It is almost impossible to escape it’s reach.

Almost impossible to say no. Almost like an addiction.

There are two camps of thought that I have found most interesting in helping to explain why social media is so compelling and what aspect of social media is so powerful as to impact the daily lives of so many people.

One of those camps is the one that explains the issues based on science. When speaking in scientific terms, the closed explanation is the concept of addiction.  Alcoholics Anonymous defines addiction “a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. […] It is characterized by continuous or periodic: impaired control over […], preoccupation with […], use of […] despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial .”

Basically, if one is genetically prone to addiction, it will take hold relatively easily given the proper psycho-social and environmental pre-cursors. In other words, in a genetically prone person, anything can cause addiction.

So, based on this, social media can mutate into an addiction. Just like alcohol, drugs, food, etc.

There are some who continue to argue that the use of the word addictive is unwarranted and too extreme when discussing the effects of social media. They would argue that to be addictive, the activity must pervade and negatively alter the quality of everyday life. They would argue, as well, that even the thought of the activity must be constant and injected into all facets of everyday life. They would argue that social media is not a physical thing, like alcohol or drugs.

They are all wrong. More and more over the past decade, psychology and the social sciences have found through research that addiction is not so much about what tool is being used to feed the addiction, but more about the brain chemicals generated by that tool.

Those chemicals are called endorphins.  Endorphins  are the natural “feel good” agent for the human body. A personal drug. They are produced by the pituitary gland, and other parts of the body and brain. Endorphins interact with receptors in the brain to block pain and control emotion. Endorphins can be produced from any activity, any element, that interacts with the body. As long as that activity or element, that tool, results in an endorphin-rush, there is a potential for addiction.

And, more importantly, as each body is different by God’s design, each person will get an endorphin-rush from different tools. The tool is irrelevant if it creates the endorphin-rush, and particularly if the body or person has impaired control over that choice.

Enter social media…

What social media outlet gives you your endorphin-rush? There are so many options, so many available tools.

What parts of those tools give you the greatest rush? And why?

The other camp that I found interesting is the psychological camp. Psychologists have a theory, based on Skinner’s theory of operant conditioning. In Introduction to Psychology classes in college, we all learned about B.F. Skinner’s theory, which states that behavior that can be reinforced tends to be repeated; whereas, behavior that cannot be reinforced tends not to be repeated.

Makes sense. Rats do it; monkeys do it; dogs do it. Why not us humans?

Modern day psychology has extended that understanding through research and observation. There is now a term called “intermittent variable reward”. This term also encompasses the concept of behavior repetition as a result of reinforcement. However, it indicates that behavior is more likely to be repeated based on irregular reinforcement and not constant, predictable reinforcement.

In other words, you are more likely to do something when you are not sure if you will get a reward but you know you might (based on past experience) than when you are sure that you will always get a reward.

Do you see the parallels with social media like Facebook, WordPress, and any other social media outlets? Faceless places where you put an opinion, blog post, image, or comment out there and wait to see how many people like or comment.

Sound familiar? You are not sure if anyone will acknowledge, or even care. But the curiosity and need to connect compels you to keep logging in, checking, posting.

When this compulsion impacts daily life is when the addiction label can be applied. The concept of the quality of the impact, whether negative or positive or neutral, is relative to how much the other facets in life are affected by the repetitive engagement.

A topic for another post…

© 2010-2012 Kimberly Bluth or Kimberly Yoss. All rights reserved. No part of this online publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior approval from Kimberly Yoss (Bluth).