Saturday, June 29, 2013

Letter to Cheerios/General Mills

[To whom this may concern:]

I don't eat cereal, except for good old-fashioned  oatmeal, but after seeing your commercial with the cute mulatto girl and "interracial couple," I kind of wish I ate cereal because I would eat Cheerios every day. I am of mixed blood--even though most people only see the black in me, and I am about to marry a beautiful woman of European decent. We both don't really believe in the concept of race. I have openly stood against affirmative action, and my study of biology has led me to conclude that our skin color, facial features, and hair texture were only of use in helping us adapt to our respective environments. In fact, I also believe that every one in America will look Native American in 1000 years. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with us. There was an occasion when my fiancee and I were having dinner at a pub, and a group of women stared at us like aliens. I even worry about our safety if we ever visit relatives who live in the South. By you creating this commercial, you have done a great service for all mixed couples and families, and I thank you for that.

God bless[.]

Here is the commercial that caused the uproar:

Friday, April 5, 2013

When Discipline Goes Too Far

Take a look at the video in the link above. Here, you will see a father beating his two daughters with a wire cable (or 'stention cord) after he caught them "twerking" on Facebook. You will see many definitions of twerking on Urban Dictionary, but it bascially means dancing in a sexually-suggestive manner. While the father no doubt felt disgraced by his daughters' public behavior, he may have felt that by beating them, he was saving them from teen pregnancy, prostitution, rape, and death. The mother, reportedly, disagreed and had the father arrested.

When one looks at videos such as this, there are often two polar responses. First, there are those of upper or middle classes, usually of European or East Asian descent--and mostly likely of younger generations--who are shocked and dismayed by this. They say, "How brutal! How evil of the father! Lock him up and throw away the key! He should have talked to the children!"

Then there would be those who saw the video who sided with the father. These are usually those who are Southern, working-or-lower-class individuals, typically Afro-Americans. They will say, "Those girls got what they deserved, and only a father who cares would give it to them. If only we had more of such old-school punishment; we would see less crime. Besides, no one has the right to tell a parent how to raise their children." Some of the same parents take it a step further by saying, "To punish a Black parent for whipping their children is just a form of racism. This same government won't help us raise our children. It will just lock them up when they grow up because we didn't whip them. Then they blame the parents for not disciplining them."

Those who know me best know that I am usually strict about raising children. I believe that today's children have it too easy. So many of them are spoiled with expensive clothes and technology, and they don't appreciate what they have. They complain when they are expected to do chores, yet they still want to get allowances. They would rather stay inside and play video games than go out and earn money by raking leaves and shoveling snow. Worst of all, they call their parents names and swear at them. Few things make me cringe more. I don't care how old you get or how much you deserve it; using even the mildest of foul language in front of your parents--especially your mother--is very disrespectful. (My own mother would stop me mid-sentence and say "Watch your mouth. Who do you think you are talk to?")

All of what I mentioned in the last paragraph would not stand on the block where I grew up. Most parents were not shy to discipline and did not use the belt (or 'stention cord for severe offenses) sparingly. In fact, parents compared methods whilst sitting on the porch. Teens joked about it while jumping rope or shooting hoops. And children old enough to survive it but young enough to not fight back feared it. While I recount these things in an almost sentimental light, there is nothing sweet or funny about corporal punishment. First, it teaches the child to fear the parent, and fear is a major barrier to true learning and even love. Second, it teaches the child that the only way to get what you want is through violence. Third, and this is for those who feel that corporal punishment is the way to keep children out of the legal system, corporal punishment creates just as many criminals as no punishment at all. This is a statistical fact. In fact, I am certain that out of those doing the killing in Englewood and other parts of Chicago's Southside, there were just as many who had gotten whippings growing up as there were those who were allowed to run wild. I am pretty sure if a woman had to choose between getting "whupped" as a child to raped as an adult, she would choose the former, but that does not make the "whupping" any better. It is still traumatic. No matter how much the father apologizes, they will feel that beating for the rest of their lives, even when the wound and welts heal. They will fear their father for a little while, then resent him a little longer.

The question one may ask, therefore, is "Who is right?" The truth is, no one is right. The entertainment industry is wrong for poisoning the heads of our children with such immoral filth we hear in songs and and see  in dance steps. The girls were wrong disrespecting themselves and their parents by twerking in front of, essentially, the entire world. The father, finally, was definitely wrong in beating his daughters--no matter how severe their actions. I believe in the old Yiddish saying: "If you must beat a child, use a string." Besides, even if the most liberal psychologist approves of corporal punishment, one should never hit a child in anger. He would have caused far less damage if he would have allowed himself to cool off. To this, the proponents of corporal punishment would say, "All right then, since you know so much about handling kids, what would you have done?" First, I would turn off the laptop and take it away. Then, I would send them to their room. Then, I would take some deep breaths and say a prayer. Next, I would talk to them about self-respect and remind them of what happens to girls who are too liberal with their bodies. Finally, I would put parental controls on their laptop and ground them for a month. They would then have to post a video online about why their actions were wrong, before they could get off punishment, but they would still not be able to use Facebook or Youtube for another three months.

The simple fact is, the only person who came close to being right in this situation is the mother--for calling the police. Still, did she ever talk to the girls about not falling for the hype? Did she tell them that their bodies were more than a source of entertainment for others? Also, what was her reasoning behind calling the police: to protect them from their father or to protect them from Child Protective Services? At an rate, the mother at  least did well to protect her daughters and no has a chance to discuss their father's possible manifest message. As for the father, if he does get to keep his parental rights, at least he has learned that there are more positive, civilized ways to discipline a child.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lessons my parents taught me: Part 2--Being grateful for what you have

"If you can't appreciate what God has already given you, why should He give you anything else?" This is what my mother told me a few years ago. This was during a time when I had graduated from grad school and was looking for a job, but by the 12th interview, I was given another rejection letter. Even a woman who knew me, saw me in action, and even prayed with me turned me away. I felt that I had a right to a decent job. After all, I worked hard in school and the part-time job at the time, I had a perfect GPA, I belonged to two honor societies (which I did not neglect to put on my resume), I was a Christian who went to church every Sunday without fail, I was an elder, a hymnist, a Director of Sextons, and I ran the acolyte program. I felt that I earned each job for which I applied and that any position for which I qualified was mine by divine right.

Thus, when I was rejected those positions, there was nothing left for me to feel but sorry for myself, and angry with God--so angry that I boldly rebuked a promise Christ made to His disciples: "Ask, and you will receive." My response was, "I have done nothing but ask, yet I do not receive. Were you just whistling Dixie or what? Here I am, Your servant, singing--bellowing--for my supper, yet you let others stuff themselves around me while I starve!" I was furious, doubtful, but above all, foolish.

Therefore, one day, I told my mother about what I was reading in the Book of Job, quoting things he lamented about his plight. I sided with him and expressed how unfair God was being to me. My mother reminded me that I still had a job, food on the table, and a place I could call my own. When all of that failed to get through my thick skull, she said what was quoted at the beginning of this post. Soon after, a man who has been like a father to me, Pastor Kluge, said in a sermon, "God is unfair for our own good." He elaborated by saying that if God were fair, Christ would not have been sent to suffer and die for our sins, and we would be damned for eternity. Indeed, we deserve nothing, but God is good, and He provides for us as He knows we need to be.

There is a Buddhist principle that applies to all people--especially Christians: "All life is suffering." Who is to blame for that suffering? Us! Our sinful nature is the cause of our own suffering, and the suffering of others. We as Americans especially! Our greed, selfishness, and desire are the cause of our own suffering. A man wants to live in a mansion and is tired of eating hot dogs and cereal when he feels he deserves to eat steak and lobster and drive a Lexus. So, he gets involved in the drug trade for more money, goes to prison, and his wife and children are forced to live on the streets. A woman wants a rich, macho Romeo who will feed her sexual desires and buy her expensive presents. So, she sleeps outside of wedlock with a man whom she knows does not love or even respect her, and she becomes pregnant and infected with an STD.

The irony of it is, when we think we are poor and unfortunate, there are those who are really poor who are content with what they have. You live in a studio apartment where all of your neighbors take no pride in their homes or their community? There are people living in makeshift houses with tin roofs, and they praise the Lord that it gives them shelter from the rain. You hate the rundown car you are driving? There are people who must walk 20 miles to find clean drinking water. Are you tired of eating Stovetop or not having enough hamburger in your Helper? There are people who barely eat a full bowl of gruel a week. We do not deserve riches and comfort, we do not deserve, Declaration of Independence notwithstanding, happiness, and we do not even deserve good health. We deserve nothing that is good. Anything remotely positive that we deserve is the right to claim what others hold from us--things society says we can have if we earn them. Mind you, we have the right to claim, but not to take. These things we are given by God all in good time, but only if it is His will.

"Though He giveth and He taketh
God His children never forsaketh. 
It's His loving purpose solely
To preserve them pure and holy."

Saturday, February 16, 2013

So, you're going to call someone who hates telephones...

I don't deny it; I have always hated telephones--since I was a child. They have caused me much anxiety and frustration (blast you, Bell and Meucci!) because every time the phone rang, my concentration was shot, dinner was interrupted, my plans were delayed, and family time was interrupted (and ultimately ended). If it were up to me, there would be no telephones--just letters, emails, and texting services. (Can I get an Amen, fellow phone haters?) In fact, I love getting letters!!! However, as I am a practical man, I know I need a phone for all types of emergencies.  

Be that as it may, there are a few things phone-lovers can do to minimize how much you irritate phone haters like me:

1. If it is after 9PM (or right before 9PM), I am probably winding down and preparing for bed. Don't call unless it's an emergency! The latter statement will hereafter be abbreviated to DCUE.

2. If it is before 8AM on a weekday, I am probably preparing for work. DCUE! If I am late because you interrupted my routine, we'll have a problem.

3. If it is between 8AM and 6PM, I am probably at work. DCUE! I probably won't answer, but I will be annoyed nonetheless.

4. If it is between 6PM and 7PM, I am probably just getting in from work and/or preparing/eating dinner. DCUE! Give me a chance to cool down and relax, or we'll have a problem.

5. If it is a Saturday before noon, I am probably still in bed. DCUE!  I work hard at a stressful job all week, so I deserve it. Wake me up, and we'll have a problem.

6. If it is on a Sunday before 1PM, I am at church or on my way. DCUE! Otherwise, the Lord will strike you down! Just kidding! Seriously, calling me when you know I SHOULD be at church is just annoying. Either send me a text or wait until later.

7. If it is Sunday between 7:30PM and 10PM, I am watching, or preparing to watch, Downton Abbey. DCUE! I mean it!

8. If you know I am tired or sick, DCUE, or if you are calling to check up on me. If you are calling about anything else, I am going to be angry and may have trouble hiding it.

9. If you are calling at a decent time, please keep it short. When I say short, I mean no more than 5 minutes (unless it is a complicated situation or I have not talked to you in a very long time). If you need to talk for a long period of time, let's meet in person. I don't know why, but long phone conversations seem to really torture me, and there are only two people I will allow to torture me in such a way: my mother and my future wife.

10. If you do call at a decent time and it sounds like I am busy, and it's not an emergency, please keep it very short. By very short, I mean 90 seconds or less.

Thank you for reading this and for understanding that I don't mean to be rude or unsociable; I just hate telephones. I do hope that you take my guidelines seriously. Otherwise, we'll have a problem!!!