Monday, June 27, 2022

I can't NOT chime in on this Supreme Court thing

So, it's no secret on this page that I am rapidly pro-life.  I don't beat around the bush on this topic. 

But, what you may not know is that I don't see it as a black and white issue. 

I believe in life.  I believe that life is the greatest gift bestowed upon us.  Whether by God, by nature, by accident, whatever.  We only get one chance to live.  I do not support robbing someone of that chance.  Period. And, when I say this, I am referring to the VAST majority of abortions.  Those done because two consenting adults had consensual sex and that consensual sex resulted in a viable fetus. 

Here's the rub. I am not so naïve to think that by banning abortion we will actually stop abortion.  If prostitution is the worlds oldest profession, the abortion is the worlds oldest sin.  For as long as women have been having babies, some of them have tried to not have babies. 

What's my point?  My point is that, if we want fewer abortions, we won't get them by outlawing abortion.  We will get them by making the choice to have an abortion less appealing than keeping and raising a child.  This is where I get in fights with many of my former Republican cohorts.  We want to educate people on how to NOT get pregnant.  We want to provide them with health care so that if they do get pregnant, both mother and baby are taken care of.  We need to support them after the child is born.  While I hate the term "anti-choice," I don't think "pro-birth" is far off for many right wingers.  They oppose abortion but they also oppose anything that makes carrying and raising a child easier.  

Parental leave.  School lunch programs.  Pre-school/daycare support.  All these things. 


Fuck off.  What's worse?  Relevant social programs that promote health and stability for Americans?  Or more dead babies?  Give me some Socialism if it saves lives. 

Here's my other issue.  I have always admired the Supreme Court as a place where partisanship ends.  Where justices look at the law and make decisions based on only the law.  Not on how they voted at the ballot box.  Yes, I consider myself a Constitutionalist.  Meaning, I believe the Constitution should be enforced as written.  It was written to be changed.  So, if you don't like how it's written, then change it! 

HOWEVER!  It is absurdly hard to argue that this was not a partisan decision.  This concerns me because, if one side can do it, so can the other.  The decisions coming out this week on the hot topic items appear to be leaning VERY far right.  The public school football coach who made a spectacle of his praying after football games.  The NY gun restrictions (why are states' rights only important when it's pro-conservative?).  And Roe v Wade.  Definitely feels like there is an agenda.  An agenda that is particularly shitty given the circumstances of the last 3 justices.  

Finally, let's talk about the outrageous opinion by Clarence Thomas.  This guy wants to go gangbusters!  They are really making the case for Supreme Court term limits.  I have never supported these before.  But Thomas has single handedly changed my mind this week.  You can't just go around reversing every court decision you don't like!  That takes away any validity the court has.

Do I believe there is a constitutional right to abortion?  No.  I pretty much side with what was written in that sense.  But, I do believe there is a right to privacy that is STRONGLY implied.  I can see where the original decision came from based on this.  And, I think that Thomas is an idiot if he actually believes the government can tell consenting adults who they can or can't get jiggy with.  

Am I sad about the decision.  No.  But, I'm not really happy, either.  I think it creates more problems than it solves.  As I said, this won't end abortion.  I don't want dead babies.  Know what I want less?  Dead babies AND dead mothers.  

So, to my Pro-Life friends.  Time to put your money and your votes where your mouth is.  Time to support health care.  Time to support paid parental leave.  Time to support school lunch, free pre-school, sex education, etc, etc, etc.  THIS, hopefully, will lead to fewer abortions. 

To my Pro-Choice friends.  Not all Pro-Life people are simply Pro-Birth.  I can't say none of us are.  In fact, I unfortunately can't even say that most of us are.  But, many of us really truly want what's best for both mom and baby.  Is this where we can find common ground?  Guess we'll see.  

And that's all I have to say about that. 

Friday, April 15, 2022

Black History Month and my own personal DEI journey

I started this way back in February.  Took me a bit, but it's finally finished. Sorry it bounces around space/time a bit. 

______'s Black History Month!  Yay! This is the time of year when white CEOs all over the country talk about how important black people and all people of color are to their cultures. 

I thought it might be a good time to share a bit about my own DEI journey.  Because, let me tell you, I have come a LOOOOONG way.  It's still a journey, I am still growing and learning.  But, it's hard to argue that I am in a much different place than I was at one point. 

I should start by saying that even that previous paragraph makes me sound like a big hippie.  And, I recognize that.  Which, honestly, is part of my journey. The fact that I recognize how I sound and that I have become ok with it because I know where I am and where I am going. 

I will start by talking about where I grew up.  And, I know this will probably annoy my family.  But, my hometown is not really known for it's Diversity. At one point, recently, I read that the county I grew up in was 92% white.  What does this mean? means that you don't learn much about people that are different than you.  Difference where I grew up was poor vs rich.  That's about it.  There were rich white kids and there were poor white kids.  I was one of the not rich white kids.  I wouldn't go so far as to say we were poor, because, since moving to Seattle, I have seen true poverty.  But, my parents were working 2, sometimes 3, jobs through much of my childhood.  

But, my neighborhood...white.  Down the street were some apartments where a few Hispanics lived.  We didn't talk to them.  They were just there. 

I grew up very Republican.  Even today, my politics lean right.  Back then, it was all about Ronald Reagan and the Christian Coalition! I grew up knowing only what I was exposed to.  

I remember the Rodney King beating.  When that happened, I remember exactly what I thought.  I thought, "Well, he must have done something to deserve that."  Why did I think that?  Because I was raised to trust cops.  Cops are the good guys.  If you are in trouble, find a police officer.  Rodney King clearly must have tried to punch them or maybe he was drunk or, or, or.  

I also was not fond of gays.  Being gay was a choice. I knew people who were gay. And, I liked them and all.  But, being gay wasn't what God wanted.  Being gay was a sin.  You can love the sinner but hate the sin. 

I was rabidly anti-abortion!  Oh, wait...I am still rabidly anti-abortion. 

Anyway, you get my point. 

When I went to college, my world started to shift.  But, not in the way you might think.  I went to a private Catholic school (Go Zags!) so diversity still wasn't something we were known for.  Geez...I honestly don't think I knew a single black person.  Did I?  There were a couple of them on the basketball team, but I didn't know them.  No...where I started to shift was that I actually became more Catholic.  At least, what I felt is Catholic. 

I know this probably sounds weird because the Catholic church still, you know...doesn't really like the gays. But, I wasn't listening to that part.  What I was listening to was the part about loving your neighbor.  It doesn't matter who they are, what they look like, what they sound like, how much money the have or don't doesn't matter who they are attracted to or how they doesn't matter what country they came from or what religion they are.  Jesus said, in very clear terms, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself." 

And this became the foundation of my journey.  Because there are no Buts after that statement.  There are no commas.  He doesn't go back and say, "What I meant by that was..."  He only tells us to love our neighbor. 

Oh...he also throws in a bit about not judging our neighbor.  In fact, not only does he say don't judge...he says, if you do judge, you are going to get the same level of judgement upon yourself!!!  Kinda scary for those Westboro nuts, don't you think. 

This is where my evolution began.  I still have bias.  I won't lie.  I will never be so naïve to say that I am perfect and that I never judge anyone.  I do.  The difference is that today, I stop and ask myself why I feel that way.  Is it simply a knee jerk reaction I am having because my racist uncle from Detroit told me if I had been alive during the race riots I would call them n*****s, too?  Is it from when I laughed when classmates would ask the black kid in class where he went after turning off the classroom lights?  It it because, when I was a kid, we dropped the word fa**ot as an insult as often as I use dumbass, today?  

If it does stem from these or other things I was a part of as a kid, well then maybe my immediate reaction is wrong and I need to revaluate what just happened. Because, while I was never raised to look down on others, just by the nature of where I lived, I saw people as different.  My friends and family made small comments that implied others were "less than."  Or, assumed what was going on it the heads of entire populations simply because this is what made sense for them. 

Today, I tend to knee jerk in a different direction.  More often than not, I always start from a place of, this person is a human, like me.  Let's go from there.  I may still think they're a dumbass.  But, my reason for thinking that is because of their actions or words now...not because of their background.

Here's another thing I have learned that might be controversial.  Being white is ok.  It is ok for me to understand that I view things through my whiteness.  And that isn't a bad thing!  And, anyone who tries to make me feel guilty for being white can suck an egg.  I didn't choose my skin color.  All I can do is understand my place in the world and work to ensure that I think about my words and actions.  This often means that I can't understand what a person of color actually wants. 

This is a frustration I have in my liberal city.  We're always being told what the black community wants.  But, you know who is telling us what the black community wants?  White people.  White people who often come from a place of privilege themselves.  I know there is good intent, but good intent isn't necessarily the right thing to do. 

Anyway, there is a bit about my journey.  I am proud of the strides I've made, but I am also aware that I will never fully understand.  I can try to.  And, understanding does not mean that I need to agree.  I just need to understand.  

Same with any issue, really.  How can I take a stand on anything if I don't know why someone would feel differently.  I can only know how I feel about something if I know everything about that something. 

I'll stop rambling, now.  Especially since I started this 2 months ago.  Just wanted to share.   


Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Facing an interesting hurdle this week

So, there has been a lot of talk about mental health, lately. Which is GREAT! There is so much stigma around mental illness. And, I won't lie. I do think there are folks that use it as an excuse. I remember a dude that I used to work with always saying that he was "So ADD!"  I was like, Bro...I actually have ADD. It's not just something you throw out there because you didn't get your job done. 

Anyway,  I figured I would take this opportunity to talk about one of my own struggles.  It's timely because of something I am doing this week. 

So, when I worked at Microsoft, every year I would participate in the Gonzaga Trek.  Gonzaga brings a group of business students through town every year and they stop at a few of the big companies for tours and information. Most of the years of my tenure at Microsoft, I would lead the Recruiting component of the Microsoft presentation: here's what we hire for, here's how you apply, here's how your resume should look, etc. 

Well, in 2013, I had just wrapped up a shit year. Worst of my life. My divorce was just finalized and I was entering a period of severe uncertainly.  My mental state was not at it's peak, that is for sure. 

Anyway, Trek comes around. It comes to my part in the presentation. I am standing at the head of a room full of college seniors, all in suits or business attire.  I begin my presentation.  

About 5 minutes in, I have a panic attack.  

It wasn't the last panic attack I would have.  But, it was the first.  And, I had no idea what was happening.  

It started with sweating.  Like, heavy I just spent 30 minutes on the Peloton sweating.  Then came a dizziness like I had just spun in 100 circles.  I was not standing at the podium, but I quickly made my way to it.  And, I made it just before I fell over.  I didn't fall over.  I caught myself on the podium.  And, I stopped talking.  Because I couldn't breath. Mike Tyson has just punched me right in the stomach. I was going to die.  Right here in front of a bunch of Business majors.    

My colleagues had left the room (they didn't need to be there at this part). But, the students were all still starting at me.  One in front asked if I was ok.  Yes, I lied. Just got a little dizzy. I don't remember how long this went on.  Felt like 10 minutes.  I am positive it wasn't that long. But, I clung to that podium in silence for an awkward amount of time.  

I didn't finish my presentation.  I told them I needed to get to another meeting.  And I left the room. To my colleague outside, I said I just got called into a fire drill, can they jump in.  Then I migrated to the rest room where I kneeled down at the toilet for a good 30 mins.  I argued with myself that I should call 911.  If I had been home by myself, I probably would have.  But, being at work, having just walked out of a presentation to my alma mater, pride wouldn't let me. 

Finally, after my stint in the bathroom, I went back to my office. I had an office, back then. All to myself! I retreated to my office, closed the door and laid down on the floor. I stayed there for the rest of the day until I caught the final Microsoft bus back home. 

At the time, I had no clue what that was.  I seriously thought I had caught some weird 24 hour bug that only lasted 5 minutes or so.  It wasn't until I discussed it with my doc that he told me I likely suffered a panic attack.  He drew blood, took my blood pressure, told me everything was fine.  Discussed meds that I declined (but would later start taking) referred me to a shrink and we called it a day. 

Anyway, that was a pretty pivotal moment in my life. It's the first time I recognized that my mental health had a direct impact on my physical health.  I've always been just a bit different since that time.  My mental health has always been a bit...I don't want to say weaker...but, I have to be much more mindful of it since those days.  I do take an anti-anxiety drug still.  But, I haven't had a panic attack since 2013.  

So, there you go.  Why is this a hurdle...well, for the first time since this story takes place, I am presenting at Gonzaga Trek!  They are visiting Alaska.  I skipped the Trek at Microsoft in 2014 (my last year at Microsoft) because I was still embarrassed about the year before. Hopefully, any of the GU staff that were there in 2013 have either moved on or forgotten. :-)  

That's it. On Thursday, we try again!  Obviously, I am at a much different place in life, now. It doesn't change that my brain is reminding about that last time. And that leads to anxiety!  The drugs help, though. And so does the knowing that this is mental. And that I will be ok.  

If you're suffering from anxiety, depression or any other mental health struggles, it's ok to ask for help. It's not shameful to keep yourself healthy. You hear folks preach about diet and exercise.  At this point in my life, I was training for the Goofy Challenge...a half marathon on Saturday followed by a full marathon on Sunday. Exercise wasn't my issue. Sometimes your brain needs some love and support.  Don't be afraid or ashamed to give it what it needs. 

And remember Help is ALWAYS available. You can call me! Anytime.  

Or, if pride hits you like it hit me, call someone else. 

The National Suicide Prevention Line is 800-273-8255.  

It will be ok! 

I can't NOT chime in on this Supreme Court thing

So, it's no secret on this page that I am rapidly pro-life.  I don't beat around the bush on this topic.  But, what you may not know...