No More Nice Girl

Inspired by the song, “Queen of Mean” from Descendants 3, I am reminded that being nice may result in not so fairy tale endings.

It’s the beginning of the school year, and all over social media there are memes that inform young people to be nice to others at school this year. They are to be nice to students who are different from them. They are to be nice to all kids, no matter what situation the young person may be. They are to be nice to their teachers. I have to be honest. I loathe the word, “Nice.” I’ve been nice, and the results have never been positive. It doesn’t mean we have to be the opposite. Maybe, we should all be something that is actually how we want others to treat us.

The Google definition of “Nice,” is pleasant, agreeable, and satisfactory, or even fine and subtle. As a teacher, I want my students to go beyond satisfactory and become superior. I do not always want them to be agreeable. They need to disagree in order to have their own opinions. I definitely do not want my students to be subtle. I can see through their subtlety and realize that they are just doing the work for a grade, or with disdain.

What we really want people to be is KIND. Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate, according to the Google dictionary. We can be kind and not become a doormat for people to step on, wipe their feet, and walk away, which is when we are being nice. Being kind means we actually have to interact with someone and understand their point of view without agreeing with it. Being kind means we actually will have conversations with people who are different from us or think differently from us.

Jesus was kind. He didn’t allow others to walk on Him as many perceive that he did. Jesus was generous and considerate. He was never rude. Mean is not the opposite of kind. Rude is. It’s interesting that we want to teach our young people to be nice or kind, but we as adults are rude and mean to others. We may only do it when we hide behind a computer screen, but our young people are watching. Some of my friends even cheer for those who are rude and mean and then demand that the rest of us be kind. We cannot tell others to be kind unless we are kind ourselves. We must set the example for others as Christ set the example for us.

Our young people today are actually wiser than they were “back in the day.” They see and hear what adults are doing. Very few of them encounter kindness in their lives. We can tell them to be the different child at school and be kind, but what a better world it would be if we would also work on our own kindness. We need the next generation to be better than us. We need them to do better than us. We cannot just expect it to come out of nowhere. We must set the example. Every day I step into the classroom, I have to remind myself to be kind. There are some days when my students make that very easy, and there are other days, in which they make that very difficult. It is my goal this year to be kind and to respond with kindness.  I hope I can do it.  Oh, by the way, I would be okay if my students chose to be “nice” to me. I’ll just try to teach them to be kind instead.

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No More Thoughts and Prayers

On August 3, 2019, there was another mass shooting in our country. It was in El Paso, Texas. It has been discovered in that shooting that the young man wanted to kill Mexicans. Then, later that night or early Sunday morning, there was a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. More than thirty lives have been lost and more than forty lives have been injured. Most people keep posting on social media that their thoughts and prayers are with those who are injured or those who lost loved ones, but the non-Christians are angry with that, and even some Christians.

I get it, sort of. I agree that we have to DO something besides just think and pray, but I also believe that we can’t just yell, “Go vote!” Thanks. There are no polls open today. (This comment comes when you throw your biased rhetoric at a sarcastic person.) People are correct. We must think, pray, and act, but many will not like the actions that need to take place, so they will spew their anger and hatred on social media, but maybe, just maybe, we can do enough for the few who are willing to change the story.

First, we need to stop working so hard to be right and start working to understand those we disagree or hate. Sorry, but if you are always attacking a specific group of people in your rants, whether in real life or on social media, you reveal hatred. We need to listen. What is it that our enemies fear? If they hate a political party, what do they fear about that political party? What do they fear about people they do not know? This brings me to my second point.

We MUST get to know people who are different from us and we MUST invite them into our lives and circles. People fear what they do not know. Where I work, people do not move beyond corners of certain streets and explore all of Los Angeles. Many have never met or have had a friend that is not of their ethnicity, which is horrifying to think about in this very diverse city. They believe the rhetoric in the media about the other cultures. We have to do better. Go explore your city. Meet people who are different from you and create new friendships. Get to know people that are different from you and have different beliefs from you, whatever those differences may be. Don’t read articles about them. Get to know them. Have a meal with them. It will change you. Trust me.

We must be kind. We have a crisis in our country. We have people who love their guns and refuse to give them up (both political parties, just one is quiet about it), and we have people who are on social media that they do not have any real friends. We have mental illnesses that have people believing that everyone around them is scary or the world owes them something. Being kind is doing something. Look for opportunities in which you can help someone instead of criticizing them. Encourage someone who is struggling in life. We must stop looking at what people do that is wrong and begin to see the potential that they have to make the world a better place.

We must think before we speak. We must think before we write a post. I struggled with this post. I’m speaking to myself as much as to anyone else. There are days in the classroom when I want to spew back with sarcastic remarks to students who are being defiant because their lives are falling apart. I’m doing better, but I still struggle. Knowing our own flaws is conquering half the problem. Christians, we must control our speech. We are some of the worst people about it. (I say we because I know I struggle.) I am not talking about cursing, but the words we say TO and ABOUT people are worse than the curse words. If we work on controlling our own tongues, then we do not have enough time to control what other people do, and we are creating a better world around us.

Finally, we need to love. Jesus said the greatest two commandments are “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. And, love your neighbor as yourself.” There are two commands with three to love. Love God. When you love God, you love others. You can only love others when you love yourself, or else how could you love your neighbor as yourself? Love means apologizing when you’ve hurt someone. Love means forgiving someone, not for them, but for you to let go and move forward in life. Love means love someone who is different from you. You don’t have to agree with them, but you have to love them. You can love those from another political party and still keep your values. You can love someone with different religious beliefs from you and still hold on to your beliefs. You can love someone who is beleives differently from you about sexual orientation and still hold on to your beliefs. Love doesn’t mean sacrificing your beliefs. It means loving with your beliefs so you don’t build a wall from people seeing Jesus who lives in you.

I don’t think in a black and white world where we either have thoughts and prayers or actions. I live in a world where we can think, pray, and act. So, I will think about these tragedies. I will pray for the victims. I will act. Maybe if we did all three, this world will be a better place in which to live.

Gray Matters

Have you ever sat in a room and listened to people arguing and you can understand both sides? Have you ever listened to people claim that one group of people is evil and another group is righteous and you can see both evil and righteousness in both groups? If you have, then you understand my dilemma in life. I see the gray…in most situations. Recently, I discovered a television show that portrays all its characters as gray. The protagonists have some serious flaws that can be cringe worthy and the villains have some qualities that show love and grace that I wish more people in real life would have. Cobra Kai has the gray matter, and in real life, gray matters.

I went to the National Debate Championship for high school students at the Ronald Reagan Library. The general public was only able to see the final two contestants. They both had to know how to speak for both sides. What a concept! To see both sides of an issue makes you realize that in our world today, we have to see that answers to some hardcore issues can come from both sides.

Unfortunately in gray matters, the truth gets obscured. I’ve always told my students in an argument or fight that there are three sides to every story. There’s the side of the one person, the side of the other person, and then there’s the truth. No one may be overtly lying, but the truth gets seen in perspective. In gray matters, we take a look through the lens of the other person’s truth in order to find a solution. It’s how many detectives are able to discover the truth to the story.

I know that there are absolute truths in the world, and yes I believe in absolute truth. I know that there are people who would call me stupid for believing in absolute truth, but the absolute truth of gravity still keeps them from floating up in the air. In looking at a person through the lens of his or her perspective doesn’t mean you obscure your truth. It means you begin to understand how they see truth. It means that you see why they do what they do without judgment. It means that you realize that people are more complex than the pigeonhole that you keep trying to press into everyone, including yourself.

Once you begin to see people for who they are beyond the villain or the protagonist, you see what you can do to make the world a better place and influence them to join in on your cause. A person who has lost the fight doesn’t want to hear how evil he or she is. They want to know what they can do to win next time.

The old state of a true good guy and a true bad guy is just about gone in our world of story telling. Art is supposed to imitate life, but if we have to, maybe we should let life imitate art and begin to see those gray matters first in ourselves, and then in others. Sometimes you have to sit back and just observe, take note, and only speak when we have wisdom, not anger because speaking in anger will always make you a villain. May we take the time to be a protagonist to all those with whom we disagree and instead of seeing them as just the villain, see them as a protagonist of their own story.

The story is being written. The verdict is out. One episode you may cheer for Cobra Kai, and the next episode you may cheer for Miyagido. If we could look at the issues that we are undergoing in our current society, we need to look at people as people because if we don’t, we will all fall into the arena of pure evil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#45 Life is Fragile

In our current society, we would rather ridicule and insult people rather than show kindness with our words and actions. I was reminded a couple of weeks ago, that when we are cruel, we might regret our words and actions more than we could ever know. If we would concentrate more on being kind with our words and actions, then when a tragedy occurs, our response can be one that people need in order to recover.

Last Friday night, my family and I went to the Angels baseball game. Usually, that is not a memorable event, but Friday was not an ordinary game for the Angels organization. It was their first home game since their beloved player, Tyler Skaggs, had died. He was only twenty-seven years old. He was a pitcher. Not only did the Angels win with 13 runs, and a no-hitter, they honored their friend and teammate by all wearing his jersey with his #45 and name, until the end of the game when they all laid the jerseys on the mound. It was a beautiful tribute.

We can only give that type of tribute to someone when we treat him or her well when they are alive. My friend who is a die hard Angels fan gave me this title that life is fragile. How we treat people when they are alive is so much more important than how we honor them when they die.

How we live our lives every day can mean so much to others. The tribute was only beautiful because Tyler Skaggs had been a positive influence on his teammates and the community. His sudden death at a young age reminds me that we always need to live life to the fullest and make an impact on those around us, which will make an impact on the world. It doesn’t have to be anything of grandeur. It just needs to make a difference in someone else, and then it will move forward to others. Like the ripple effect of the pebble dropped in the water, one small act of kindness can go further than what we may ever know.

In our current society, there is so much hatred and violence. Many people struggle with depression and emotional issues. Small acts of kindness can make a difference in a person’s life. I know it’s something I have to do. I don’t have to agree with their politics, religion, or how they live, but an act of kindness to let them know that they matter can mean so much to someone.

Life is fragile and sacred. Tyler wore #45. He took time in his life to serve others. I’m looking at his number that is significant to the Angels. Then, I thought about it. In the measurement of time, forty-five seconds, minutes, hours, or days are not very large increments of our lives, but they can become significant. Forty-five seconds is not quite a minute. Forty-five minutes is not quite an hour. Forty-five hours is not quite two full days, and forty-five days is a month and a half. Time is precious, but if we are honest with ourselves, we waste a lot of it. I know I do. So, I’m going to try a challenge for myself with the number forty-five. Here are some ideas.

  • Maybe for forty-five minutes we could be kind to someone that is difficult.
  • Maybe for forty-five days we could do one kind act no matter how small.
  • Maybe for forty-five seconds we can stop and think before we post something on social media, and then decide to write it in a way that is not condemning or mean.
  • Maybe for forty-five people we can do something that would let them know that someone cares.

Tyler Skaggs was only twenty-seven years old, but he made a difference both on and off the field and number forty-five will always be in the hearts of his teammates, family, and friends, and hopefully, the number forty-five will become a ripple effect to those who need it the most.

 

First blog post

Purple

When I was in Kindergarten, all the students in the class were asked to name their favorite color. All the children picked red or blue, except for one kid…me. I chose purple. Before I entered Kindergarten, I loved the color purple. I had a purple bike, and before we moved to Florida, my dad painted my room lavender. To this day, I claim it was the most beautiful room in the house. Purple. It is the blend of the two colors red and blue. It also represents how I think and believe. I am independent of what everyone around me wants me to believe or think. I despise it when people try to tell me how to think or believe, which is why I usually scroll past most of the political rhetoric on social media.

Purple is the color of royalty. One of my favorite Disney princesses is of course Rapunzel from Tangled. Her dress is purple and it represents royalty. I am not a princess, but I am a child of God. There are days that I think life would be easier if I would just choose to be like everyone else and pick the reds or the blues, but I don’t. I don’t because I know that being a child of God means I’m adopted into the Kingdom of God. That is the only royalty I need in my life.

Purple is a blend of both red and blue. They are the bases of the color scheme. I see them as basic. Why would I choose to be basic? I choose to rise above and do the work that is more difficult. I choose to learn from my failures and my difficulties and succeed at doing my best. I choose to continue to learn and gain knowledge, so I can understand others around me.

The mixture of red, and blue make purple, but add in white or black and it makes purple a color of many varieties. The variety of colors reminds me that the body of Christ is made up of many different parts. All the parts have to work together in order for the church to function. Not everyone has the same gifts. Their shade of purple may be distant from what others may think it is, but it’s there.

I don’t have to agree with everyone around me. When you love purple, you stand on your own ground. I don’t expect everyone around me to agree with me. I love and accept people into my life. If all of my friends thought the way I did and believed the way I did, then we would have boring relationships. I strive to be adventurous and creative. I hope I bring that to relationships.

In our current society, we need more people who will use their unique gifts and talents to help those in need. We have many causes all around us. We can only invest in the causes that we have the means to make a difference. I can’t fix everything in the world. I can’t fix or change anyone in the world but me. With my gifts and talents, I hope to make a difference in the world. My blogs are my voice. I hope to serve the world with the written word. I hope to empower others to use their gifts, talents, and personalities to make a difference in the world. It’s what God wants us to do. It’s being the light in a dark place. It’s time we stop expecting everyone to choose red and blue, and allow people to choose other colors like purple or green or orange or whatever color Crayola can invent.