Community, Courage, freedom, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Racism, Social problems, Uncategorized

“Sleeveless Arms and FB Rants”

Source: NIKE.com

I went for a quick run during my daughter’s piano lesson earlier this week. It was a chilly 13 degrees Celsius and a bit windy. Even though it was cold, I ran in 3/4 length leggings and a tank top as I knew I would warm up quickly. With my headphones in and the sun beginning to drop down behind the orange and pink clouds over the headland, I was in my element!

Just when I passed a few walkers and saw some kids playing basketball in front of their houses, I noticed a silver-haired woman moving slowly toward me with her little fluffy white dog. I prepared to step to the left, gave a little wave and smiled. As I passed her, she snarled up her face and yelled out angrily, “You’ll catch pneumonia!”

My back was to her before I realised I had been chastised. I guess I broke some unspoken rule about what’s appropriate to wear on an afternoon winter’s run. True, no one else was wearing a tank top.

The whole scenario made me laugh!

It also reminded me of the social media posts by white people ranting about their whiteness to whomever innocently scrolls past. (Except those are no laughing matter.)

What did Mrs. Granny gain by yelling at me about my clothing? Was she really concerned about my health? Did shaming me make the world a better place? Did she feel satisfied after she said it? Justified? Like she had done her good deed for the day, educating this younger gal about the detriments of running while showing off shoulders?

I’ve seen Facebook posts by people who are sick of Black Lives Matter and, by golly, they will never apologise for being white (did anyone ask them to??). They preach to their followers about how white privilege doesn’t exist. They also know that if “black people would just follow the law, they wouldn’t be brutalised by police” (as if a DUI should end in a fatal shooting or black people’s lived experiences can be negated just because their white counterparts haven’t been profiled by a cop). Or how about the fact that these white folks were once poor too? They came up from some difficult circumstances, yet look at them now, resenting that word “privilege” while enjoying everything for which they worked so hard to get.

Those posts read like an old lady trying to reform random runners on the street. It can’t be done! I didn’t feel the need to put on a jumper and readers of those posts aren’t warming up to bridging our racial divides. If anything, these cold posts make me shiver.

I realise FB rants aren’t meant to bring us together; in fact, the chasm grows wider with every one. (Just read the comment sections.) The posturing on socials, the public denial of systemic racism in America is liken to the grey lady talking to herself out loud as much as she was talking to me.

She wasn’t engaging me in an actual conversation about my health, the weather, or what’s best or right. I can’t presume to know why she felt the need to spout off her judgement any more than I can presume to understand why some of my white “friends” like preaching to their choir of followers who already feel the way they do. It might feel good but what’s the point?

I am scrolling on by, feeling sad for the small-mindedness, rolling my eyes with my bare arms and elevated heart rate. I am unfollowing, praying, and grieving as I trod along – endeavouring to empathise and understand the black perspective. I am exhausted from miles of legwork and fatigued with pressing my own limits but it’s worth it. It’s actually long overdue.

I am re-defining racism while educating my kids afresh, at my own pace. Wrestling with those who sit high on their soapboxes of supremacy, I’m personally slowing only for those whose minds seem open to growing and stretching too. Like a good workout in the cold, it hurts to admit my own biases and question my motives. But the results are worth it to become a healthier member of society.

“You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.

“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.

Matthew 5:7-11 (MSG)

** I’ve allowed my toes to be stepped on a lot lately and it’s been good for me. I’m interested in debate that leads us to more unity, not a greater divide, so I welcome comments and challenges as long as they are respectful.

Pictures, Social problems, Uncategorized

Tooting Horns

“I love my husband so much! He is AMAZING!  Look what he bought me!” “I ran 25km, aren’t I AMAZING?” “My kids are the cutest. They are JUST AMAZING!” “I ate dinner at the best, most expensive, AMAZING restaurant.” “Look, I’m hanging out with someone famous. Amazing, right?” Spruikers are everywhere these days.

We promote our own “causes” now more than ever.  What we cook, what we wear, how we look, where we are on vacation, our politics. We post and pin.  Tumblr and Twitter, Google+ and WordPress.  Connected to circles and friends, we can be LinkedIn with anyone from anywhere in the world.  We Skype and we blog.  We “like” and we re-post.  We troll famous people and people we wish would follow us all in hope that someone will read our status update, look at our Instagram, comment on our newest post, and validate us in some way.

By the time we get up to speed on how to use one arena of social media, we find out we are behind on the next one that those on the cutting edge have already mastered.  But why?  Why the incessant need for approval and validation, oftentimes from perfect strangers or acquaintances?  We are on the computer or our mobile devices, checking in and checking out what everyone else is doing.  In some way, we feel connected, needed or better about ourselves.

Sometimes, though, it makes us feel worse.  Sometimes I see the party to which I wasn’t invited.  I see friends hanging out when I’m lonely.  I see quotes from people smarter than me.  I find out so-and-so is much more popular and “liked” than I ever will be.

Social media is the new “norm.”  It’s this generation’s way of communicating.  Bosses can vet their potential employees.  One can stay connected with her friends across the ocean if she moves away.  I’m encouraged by my favourite preacher and informed about upcoming events and promotions happening in my network. I like to share what I’m reading to encourage my friends.

You and I can also waste a lot of time.

I’m reminded of what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church while teaching them to have an answer for those who brag about having a “spectacular ministry” rather than a sincere heart.  Like anything else, too much of a good thing can take away its goodness.  For goodness’ sake, PLEASE don’t tweet all day long.  Have a genuine phone call with a friend.  Read a book start to finish, not just the Cliff’s Notes online.  Teach your kids to find their self-worth in who God created them to be, not in who re-pins their cool outfit or “likes” their provocative picture on FB.

I have to wonder how sincere our society has become when everything we see is someone else’s highlight reel.  I like to brag about how beautiful my city is (click here) and how precious my kids are.

But I know that I have bad days too.

My kids are bratty sometimes.  Runkeeper doesn’t post to Twitter every time I skip a run or overeat.  I have friends I only see on FB which gives me a chance to stay connected and see their kids grow up.  I have people I admire on Twitter who inspire me.  I look at your pictures on Instagram to enjoy what you find beautiful.  I roll my eyes when you complain.  I un-follow you when you have too many personal conversations and force me to read them.  I Pin recipes and that’s about it.

There’s no harm in connecting on social media; in fact, I think we will be left behind if we don’t.  But let us use our time, our voices, and our talents to encourage one another and have sincerity of heart as we brag about our AMAZING, spectacular lives God has given us!