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Homeless in Portland, Oregon

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It might be an arguable point but Portland seems to have one of the biggest homeless populations around, and the reason for this is kind of astounding. Being homeless isn’t a joke, let’s get that straight right away. There are many reasons why people become homeless and it’s not just laziness or lack of willpower when it comes to finding work or something that can help them get back on their feet. Some do in fact suffer from serious mental issues, while others lost their jobs and somehow fell through the cracks so to speak. Others lost everything due to addictions that they either couldn’t or didn’t want to control, and found themselves on the street. And then there are those that simply have no social or family ties to speak of and for one reason or another have no one to rely on when they really need help.

A lot of people still look down on the homeless as though they’re a plague that needs to be endured or wiped out for decent, hardworking individuals to really enjoy the scenery of their city. Taking the MAX throughout Portland usually means having to see sleeping bags, piles of newspaper or cardboard, and other such signs of habitation propped up in doorways or in alleys, wherever a person can find a spot to sit or lie down. It’s far too easy to look down your nose at a homeless individual, especially those that are actively asking for a bit of change. Often times though it’s important to do at least a little research and find out just why the number of homeless folks in this city are seemingly stuck where they are.

They’re not all addicts.

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You don’t have to have a drug or alcohol problem to be homeless. Sometimes it’s a run of bad luck in your life that leads to the worst possible spot, other times it’s the fact that you can’t seem to get anything going for various reasons. Not every person you see on the street is an addict that can’t seem to help themselves. Those that are seem bound to remain in a pit that they dug for themselves from the start and don’t seem willing to get out of. Addiction might be a disease, and many will argue that it is, but the will to get better is what could pull them upward and allow such individuals to get back on their feet in one way or another. There are those that are not hampered by an addiction or a mental illness of some sort that are actively trying to get better and to change their life. The homeless folks you see on the city of Portland are not without hope, but it does take a certain amount of effort to turn their lives around.

Many of the homeless on Portland’s streets came from other areas due to Portland’s tolerant environment.

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Portland is one of the most tolerant cities around when it comes to the homeless. Check for confirmation if you want, but those tent cities and the various individuals you find sacked out under bridges, in doorways, and wherever else they can find to bed down are here because the city is far more inviting and has more to offer the homeless than many other places. For one, the climate is a lot easier to take. It might get cold in the winter but unlike other cities Portland is still tolerable and a person won’t likely freeze to death as they would in other cities across the nation. Plus, no matter how much rain we get, and we get a lot, it’s still less than say, New York City.

People are far more giving in Portland as well, as on average a homeless person can make a decent living by holding up a sign and asking for change. While this isn’t entirely legal there’s nothing the police can do about it even if they wanted to. The homeless in Portland can make a decent amount of money per day thanks to the generosity of the people, and in some cases, not all but some, can make more in an hour than many people make in a day at a regular job. It can happen, but it’s not the norm.

Here’s the downside of that, a lot of them don’t need the money as much as you think.

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Taking a look at these pictures you might think that this is an erroneous statement and that I’m just another one of those folks that would say “Get a job you bum” to those on the street. Honestly some of them are capable if they could find a place willing to pay them under the table, and there are many of those, but the truth is that there are also a great many programs in the city that help the homeless in a variety of ways. Now keep in mind that only so many can be helped and only so many actually want to be helped, but there are still programs that have been set in place to help them with any mental problems, addictions, housing, and to stay fed.

You’re right if you think being homeless is still a horrible thing, as it usually means sleeping on the street and anywhere else you can find while being regarded as a piece of human offal by those that would gladly look down on them. But the truth is that so many in this city strive to look out for these individuals that they don’t wanting for as much as you think. The money they earn might go towards anything, but for many it seems as though it goes towards their vices or something other than what they really need to survive and possibly get back on their feet. Someone has recently told me “Judge not lest you be judged in turn” and they’re right. Judging the homeless for their lifestyle is not the answer. But reserving judgment for those that don’t at least try to improve their life is awfully tempting.

Being homeless is not an epidemic, but at this point the fact that Portland is so increasingly tolerant seems to present an issue as to whether or not the city can handle the influx of those that wish to continue living on the street due to the generosity of others. It’s great and it’s noble to love thy neighbors and want to take care of them, but at some point it seems to become enabling rather than helping. Perhaps with more incentive programs, or improvements to any that exist, the homeless situation could take a serious left turn and begin to present less of an issue for all those involved.

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Needing Welfare vs. Taking Advantage

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Before I get any messages stating how ‘welfare is for those that need it and it’s not as abused as people think and this that and the other’ ask yourself when the last time you went to a grocery store or any other location that takes food stamps was. Obviously that’s not the extent of welfare but it’s one of the best examples, and one of the greatest examples of how people abuse the welfare system. Ever notice how those folks with multiple tattoos, some of them that look quite fresh, and iPhones and other various expensive items on them seem to have all the money in the world but are still paying with food stamps? The welfare system does a lot of good for those that are willing to earn it and apply it as needed, but those that would deny that people are abusing it are either blind or refuse to see it.

Having been on the SNAPS and WIC programs I’ll be the first to admit that they do a world of good when you’re not making as much money and trying to find a job to support your family. But the idea of paying into something that allows people to essentially mooch off of their fellow taxpayers is an irritating and sometimes infuriating habit that seems to happen with greater frequency no matter how the welfare system changes. People living in nice homes, driving new or close to new cars, and affording all kinds of luxuries will stay on food stamps and other programs largely because to them it’s free money. Why would anyone give that up? The only problem with this is that their actions tend to make it harder for those that actually need the assistance and find it more and more difficult to obtain it as the system attempts to crack down on those that are abusing it.

So what’s to be done?

Creating stricter prerequisites is a good plan, but it still creates loopholes.

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The people that genuinely need assistance are those that benefit most from welfare, but those that don’t need it are more than willing to jump each hurdle in some way and continue getting what they think of as ‘free money’. Unfortunately these people don’t seem to realize that this free money is coming out of the pockets of the taxpayers that are essentially buying them the easygoing lifestyle they seem to be enjoying. So instead of helping people those of us that are working hard for every dollar are funding those that want to kick back and enjoy the good life. Some folks might claim that proving that they can work, or that they can’t, and being made to take a drug test and provide photo ID is simply too much work. Hell, that’s not even the starting point of the average worker’s day.

Those that work the system often claim that they can’t work, but they can certainly enjoy their lives on the taxpayer’s dime.

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With unemployment it seems to be that people have to prove that they are actually seeking work in order to get their weekly payment. If that’s the case then why not do this for welfare? Let them get a job, prove it, and then have their employer vouch for them ever thirty days to show that they can actually hold down a job. Wait, what’s that you say? Then they wouldn’t need welfare? Well hey then, problem solved!

It’d be nice if it were that simple, but the cost of living has created a serious problem in that some people can’t afford a home even while working 70-hour weeks. Those that face this problem are those that actually need the welfare, while those able to get out and earn a living with the skills they have are those that sometimes seem content to sit on their butts and collect that welfare check every month. Jobs are hard to find? Lower your standards. You’re too proud to work in fast food? Then you’re too proud to own a smartphone and too proud to pay for another tattoo. Once their pockets start getting empty and their stomachs start rumbling many people that abuse the welfare system will either find another way to be a mooch or will find a job. It’s a simplistic way of looking at things, but it’s also one that gets overlooked quite often.

Make no mistake, those that need welfare assistance should be able to get it.

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It might seem cruel and it might seem very harsh, it might even seem like and idea that might agree with our current POTUS, but nothing could be further from the truth. While welfare is not meant as a career it is also there to help those in need. But figuring out just who is in need and who is abusing the system is a tough call at times. Those that could use the welfare system to get back on their feet and find their way back to some semblance of a stable life should be encouraged and allowed to do so. Those that continue to take the welfare money and do anything and everything other than what they should with it however are kind of spoiling the image of what the welfare system was intended for. There have been many ideas on what welfare reform should really look like, but cutting it as has been proposed is not the way to go about it.

Standing in the position of someone that has scratched and scraped to make a living, it is easy to pass judgment on those that sit about and do nothing and collect a check for an ailment or a physical impairment that may or may not be entirely real. While those that need it should get it, those that don’t should be up, out, and working to help those that do. There’s a lot of ‘shoulds’ that are involved with those on welfare, especially given that in this day and age there is no excuse to not have a job doing something. If they can’t handle manual labor then there’s always something that can be done online or over the phone. If the excuse is they can’t this or they can’t that then the answer should eventually be “well I can’t release this check until you CAN show that you can WORK for it”.

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The Joyful Chore of Being a Parent

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There are those of us that are parents, those of us that have been parents, and those that are still waiting to be parents. One way or another we can all sympathize with one another at some given time since the act of having, raising, and loving our children is in fact a chore that we take upon ourselves. Yet it is a chore that we do so gladly many times because we choose to, and because we want to. Kids aren’t easy, as any parent would gladly tell you. Anyone thinking of having them shouldn’t think twice, but they should know that they will never be fully prepared for what is come. You can save until your bank account has more in it then you’d ever need. You can wrap the interior of your house in bubble wrap, and you can buy out the nearest Babies R Us by gathering all the things you’ll need. But you still won’t be ready.

Children are nature’s open challenge to those that dare to have them. They are wonderful, they are adorable, and they give us a chance to be better than we’ve ever been in our lives. But make no mistake, they are bound to become little people at one point. And what do human beings do as they grow and learn? That’s right, they challenge the world they live in through exploration and curiosity-driven invasion. At some point you might feel as though your house has been invaded by a small, anxious terrorist whose main goal is to do anything and everything you tell them not to. The moment they learn to talk is the moment they learn to TALK BACK, and thus the real trials begin. You can catch a crawling child and you can even avoid allowing a toddler to damage themselves too badly as they wobble around on their little sausage-like legs. But a toddler that can talk? This is where the rails tend to come off for some people.

Shall I explain?

You are the parent, not the friend.

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One immutable fact that you’ll need to hold close at all times is that your kids might not like you at one point in their lives, and that’s fine. You’ll have to be hard eventually, perhaps even mean at times depending on how your kid decides to react to your rules, but that’s normal. Children will always rebel, it’s in their nature and it’s how they learn at times. If you’re inordinately lucky they’ll accept your word and your rules and you won’t have much of a problem. But one thing for certain is that you need to lay down the boundaries very early in life on who is in charge.

Being the parent doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun with your kids. You’re their mom or dad after all, not the prison warden. You aren’t their keeper, you’re their parent, and as such you can have a good time so long as the roles aren’t confused. The moment you become their friend instead of their parent is when you’ve lost control, and getting it back is extremely difficult. Once children lose sight of who is in charge in the household it’s very tough to get them to see you as an authority figure again. This is why being the parent instead of the friend can’t be stressed enough. They might not like it, you might not even like it, but it’s up to the parent to take charge, not the kids.

Keep your cool, even when it’s not easy to do so.

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Kids are going to push you, it’s their natural inclination and how they come to find out just where the boundaries are. In some ways it’s like a blind person trying to discover where the road is versus the sidewalk at times, they might be able to guess but the boundaries don’t become clear until they step over them. Kids will continue to push their limits no matter if they find that boundary as, guess what, it’s a part of how they grow. Some kids will push harder than others and some might even take it far enough that you’ll find yourself breathing heavily and trying to refrain from having a meltdown right then and there. It’s not easy, but you need to at least try and keep a cool head and avoid being too harsh with children, no matter what they do.

It’s tough, believe me I know, but taking a moment to chill out and assess the situation rather than diving in and getting angry at every little problem can produce much better results. Yelling and carrying on with your children is a good way to show them the wrong way to behave in a given situation, as they will take this to mean that yelling at people when they are troubled is the solution. Take a moment, calm yourself, and then, before any punishment is doled out, at least try to talk to your kid. That way you can explain just why they’re about to get sent to the corner or ground for a couple of weeks in a calm and reasonable fashion.

Remember, your child is watching you as their example for EVERYTHING.

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It doesn’t matter if they emulate what they see on TV, well it does, but not in the long run since your kids are constantly getting their cues from you as well as anything or anyone else they happen to see. Since you are the first teacher they’ll ever have you are responsible for a good chunk of their behavior. How they react to and interact with others has a lot to do with what they observe from you. As the parent you need to learn to keep your cool in most situations and explain to your child why you say and do certain things and why they’re good or bad.

Children are like sponges, as you’ve probably heard, and they’ll absorb everything they see, hear, and experience throughout their lives. It’s a constant chore to make certain that they learn how to interact and cope with society in a reasonable manner, and to do this you, the parent, need to let your child know what will be expected and why. You’re the parent, not the buddy, not the friend, but the one that will teach them what they need to know along the way as they grow. Once it’s established that your will and words are to be obeyed and followed, then you can work on a friendship.

What Makes a Hero?

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A real hero won’t give you a papercut, if you get the meaning. We glorify people as heroes all the time and deify them as individuals that can do anything at anytime and are beloved by many. But what really makes a hero? The definition itself is someone who is admired for their courage, achievements, and noble qualities, but is that it? To be honest it’s not even close and heroes aren’t born just to be noble, upright, and able to take on the world at a moment’s notice. The idealized version of a hero is a person, man or woman, that is able to light the way for others while asking for nothing in return. Heroes tend to sacrifice everything so that others can thrive, forsaking just about everything else so that those they protect can continue onward in life.

Honestly, that’s the popular version of a hero. The reality is that being heroic has nothing to do with being noble, upright, or even capable of taking on the world. Being a hero is what’s accomplished when a person does as they know is right and continues to do so without thought of reward for themselves.

So, who’s a hero?

Heroes aren’t always the good people or the nice people.

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We tend to associate heroes with those that are morally upstanding and tend to be nice or at least civil to everyone they meet. But the truth is that heroes are not perfect, they’re not always nice, and they’re not always capable of being civil. Deep down however they tend to have a moral code that fuels a heart that’s incapable of letting others suffer, at least without good reason. In real life the heroes are those that give everything and expect nothing. They willingly sacrifice because they know it’s for the greater good, not because they’re expecting some sort of payback in the end. A hero won’t acknowledge that they’re a hero, and therefore won’t be likely to withstand a lot of praise being thrown their way. They’re there to do what they believe is right, that’s reward enough.

Real heroes tend to be vulnerable and quite breakable.

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In the comics and in the movies it’s easy for heroes to exist because they’re all to some extent hard to kill or even wound. In real life heroes are just as fragile as anyone else and can be wounded and even killed. A real hero however knows this and still sticks around for the danger, or rushes headlong into it. We see heroes every day in our lives and might never know it until things happen that require them to take action. Heroes run towards the danger in order to keep others safe, risking everything they have in order to do their duty. The comics show superheroes demolishing entire buildings and sometimes cities without hardly a scratch to show for it, while in real life, heroes give just about everything they have to insure the safety of others.

So who can be a hero?

The simplest answer is that anyone can be a hero. You don’t need a cape, you don’t need super powers, and you certainly don’t need tight-fitting spandex. You need heart, miles and miles of heart, and the willingness to put yourself on the line for the safety and security of others. Heroism isn’t just one thing. It involves a lot of different factors that all boil down to doing the right thing when it’s needed. If you want to be a hero then the chances are you’ll never quite measure up. But if you want to do the right thing then you’re already on your way.

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Getting Through College in the Modern World

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College is one of those things in life that you either gravitate towards or give thought to but never really do it. The idea is that college is there to grant you a better chance, not necessarily a better life, but a better chance to create a better life for yourself and possibly for your family. Many people going to school now thnk that college is the answer to getting those high-paying jobs, to reaching a state of personal achievement that will grant you a good life and a happy existence. That’s great that people want this, that’s wonderful that they have an idea of what they want to obtain, but way too many people look at the endgame without seeming to realize that somewhere in the middle is the muck and endless, repetitive busy work that you’ll have to go through to get there. College isn’t a magical place where an enchanted fairy can give you a potion that will allow your life to become the wonderland that you want.

It’s hard, grueling work that requires focus, determination, willpower, and in some cases truckloads of caffeine for those all-nighters you’re bound to pull a time or two. College isn’t a prison and it’s not a horror story waiting to happen, but what you want out of it depends on what you put in. Should you walk in thinking that you own the place and can do what you want then your grades will reflect that and later on so will your life. College is not a place where people will automatically care if you’re there or not. If your tuition check clears then they’re still not obligated to make you learn. If you you show up for class then the teachers still aren’t required to hold your hand and guide you. College is about YOU, and the effort that YOU are willing to put in.

Sounds exciting doesn’t it?

Let’s start off by stating the obvious: college isn’t cheap.

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You can have the best grades in the world, you can be sailing by with a perfect GPA and all the charm in the world, but it won’t pay the bills. Colleges want their tuition and if they don’t get it then those good grades aren’t even worth a bag of chips. Now to be honest those good grades can earn you a scholarship and can even get some people on your side when it comes to exploring alternatives that can help pay for school, but chances are that you’ll still be on the hook for a good chunk of money when all is said and done. That’s a big part of why working for what you get is important in college. Those that have the luxury of breezing by on a trust fund or mom and dad’s overwhelming generosity are just as diverse as anyone, some of them study hard and make the most of what they’re given, while others fritter away the tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, that is supposed to be going towards an education. College costs, no matter who you are, and by the time a lot of us graduate, we’ll be looking at a rather hefty bill to pay when all is said and done. But you know what? You’ll still have to pay regardless of what it might cost you for the next several decades. You wanted an education right? Well, it doesn’t come cheap. You wanted a better life right? You don’t get that for free, and you don’t get to skip out on the bill just because you can’t pay.

These are things you need to think about before considering college. Can you pay the bill when you’re done? Are you going to work hard enough to step into a career that will allow you to pay that bill? Are you going to be responsible enough to pay that bill? Remember, college is a choice, it’s not required of anyone. Trade school is always open and they always need people, and a lot of those that attend trade school manage to pay off their loans a lot quicker on average. So choose wisely when it comes to higher education.

You don’t HAVE to go to college.

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No one’s going to put a gun to your head and force you into a university. This is your choice, your life, and your chance to invest in your future. If it doesn’t feel right then find another way. Many people that never set foot in a college managed to create a life for themselves that was not only fulfilling but also very successful. In order to create a life worth living you need to find what you want to do and make your move. If college is where you want to be then so be it. If not, then don’t sweat it and move on to whatever it is that attracts your attention. There are a lot of careers that don’t require a college degree, and many of them tend to pay better than the jobs you might find upon graduation. College is a way to invest in your future, but as it’s been said so many times, what you put in is going to determine what you get out. If you go to college and party for four straight years, assuming that the college lets you, then the chances are good that nothing much will come of that expensive, booze-infused trip. But if you do the work, find new and innovative ways to spend your time, and continually pay in to your future then it’s very likely that something positive will happen when it’s all said and done.

It will be hard, without exception.

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A lot of us that have been around for a while get a chance to smile and remember back in the day when we were the newbies coming in, thinking we knew everything and had all our plans on lock and were primed to take over the world. Oh yes, that provided a good laugh for some time, especially since after the first two to four weeks many people tend to find out that college is not just review from what they learned in high school. Those that come in with a certain level of humility and even a healthy regard for the unknown are often those that succeed on a more regular basis as they’re more open and willing to accept that they don’t know everything. But those that waltz in thinking they know how the world works? Those are the ones that tend to realize too late that college is not a place to start fronting as though you’re the smartest person on earth. Even the geniuses get knocked down a peg when they hit this level, as nothing you’ve done in high school will be able to fully prepare you for college. It’s not just a step up the educational ladder, it’s entering an entirely new world where the term “all-nighter” is a common thing and caffeine is main-lined by roughly three quarters of the student body if not more.

College can be what you make it, and with enough diligence, hard work, and attention to the world you’ve just entered it can be a very welcoming and engaging place. But if you think you know it all, have seen it all, and have done it all, then you’re in for a long and agonizing lesson in humility. Going to college can be one of the best times in your life, so long as you realize that fun comes after the work is done, not before.

So, who’s ready to enroll?

 

Being Tolerant in an Intolerant World

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Here’s an analogy for you: the issue of tolerance and intolerance is kind of like a ping pong game that no one wins. No? How about this: the issue is like a dog trying to bite at its tail and never being able to reach quite far enough. Eventually the game does end and the dog either gets their tail and a nasty shock, or gives up and just lies down to rest. Tolerance and intolerance represent a tiring dance that never seems to end since one tends to lead into the other so frequently. When is tolerance okay? When is it not okay to be intolerant? For instance, people want to show intolerance to racism, ignorance, arrogance, a host of other negative characteristics, but then they’ll want to tolerate freedom of speech and the idea that others are free to think what they will. So who’s right?

The unfortunate part is that everyone is right when it comes to allowing the freedom of speech and the expression of ideas. But the trick here is learning to differentiate between what can be tolerated and when intolerance is a boon rather than a detriment. The word “intolerance” sometimes seems like such a nasty word that many people curl their lip just hearing it. But look at it this way, if we weren’t intolerant of the negativity that some folks love to bring then it could very well be the downfall of society, you know, the thing that some folks already think is happening.

Being intolerant of tolerance is hard to tolerate without becoming intolerant. See how that kind of goes back on itself?

People seem to miss the meaning of tolerance.

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It’s amazing really that people gloss right over the idea that they can TALK to others, CONVERSE over different ideals and not shout, not call each other names, and not feel the need to slam another person’s views simply because they don’t coincide with their own. It’s very true that some ideas don’t warrant the same respect simply because they preach negativity and possible harm to others, but remaining intolerant to all ideas means that you might very well miss out on the good ones while you’re guarding against those you believe to be harmful. It’s often a confusing and frustrating mess to work through when taking the opinions of others into consideration, but tolerance isn’t a blanket statement used for everything that you feel should be said, it’s more like a guiding principle that can allow an individual to parse out the viewpoints of others that are valid while allowing an individual to remain intolerant of those that are outwardly harmful to themselves and to others. It’s a mess when you look at it, but the truth is that tolerance and intolerance are social tools that, when used properly, can allow a person to realize just where they stand and why.

You can’t always have it both ways.

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You’ve heard the saying ‘have your cake and eat it too’ right? Well when it comes to being intolerant of other peoples’ opinions and trying to preach that tolerance is the answer you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot so to speak. Many people will be tolerant of just about anything as long is lines up with their ideals and can benefit them in some way. But tolerance towards a wide spectrum of ideals can be both dangerous and incredibly naive since without at least some intolerance of those ideals that might seem harmful or otherwise suspect a person opens themselves up to a confusing conundrum that sees them having to be tolerant when they might rather voice their opinion against a particular ideal that they don’t agree with. See how confusing this gets? Many people want the world to be tolerant of them and their ideas but won’t practice what they preach. To be tolerant of others is great, but to be intolerant of those same others if they don’t ascribe to your way of thinking is a bit ridiculous. One good rule of thumb is to allow people their voice and their opinions, but have the courage to stand against those that preach negativity and harm to others (be intolerant) while still allowing people to voice their views and express themselves as they see fit (being tolerant). So long as no one’s getting hurt and people are allowed to CONVERSE in a civil manner, then tolerance is the preferred path.

The dark side of tolerance however is accomplished by doing almost nothing at all.

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For evil to win all good needs to do is step aside. There are a lot of different variations on this saying but the gist of it is that if you want to let intolerance win, just be absolutely tolerant of everything and let it ride. This is the dark side of tolerance, the ability to just let everything go and not stand up or speak out against intolerance when it becomes a thing used to harm others. Tolerance has its place and its uses, but when people simply tolerate everything simply because they don’t want to start conflict, then it becomes a tool that allows the worst of intolerance to flourish. There’s a balance between the two that has to be struck, and while it will flow back and forth as is needed thanks to morality and the shared ethics of so many, being intolerant of those that would tolerate anything and everything is in many ways an effort to keep the world from falling into utter chaos and ruin.

If you can tolerate others but show intolerance towards those who would willingly harm another for no good reason then that’s a good start.

The Fine Line Between Being Yourself and Being the Bad Guy

Ever wonder where the line is drawn when it comes being yourself and being the bad guy? Ever hear the line “nice guys finish last”? Well if you have then you’ve probably straddled the line between free expression and being a pain in the backside a time or two in your life. Some people toe that line and some jump over it with both feet for various reasons. Some folks think it’s better to be bad do you don’t have to waste time being polite while others take the inconvenience and stick to the positive side of the line while getting walked on by those that hop back and forth across it continually. So where’s the balance in all this? Well, to be honest, there is none. The only balance is what you’ll make all on your own, and even then it’s a slippery slope once you reach that neutral point, and you’re bound to come down on side or the other.

On the upside, being able to navigate both sides of the metaphorical line makes for a much stronger individual at times, whereas staying put on either side has its advantages but limits a person’s experience at times. Yes, you can be a pain in the ass and still be a nice person, and you can still consider the feelings of others and do just as you please when you please. The balance point has nothing to do with society, and everything to do with YOU.

It’s a fine line to walk between being a jerk and a nice guy.

A lot of people can’t handle it since it’s so tempting to get your way and do anything to make that happen, but a lot of folks tend to have a least something of a conscience and can’t just go on hurting people’s feelings without pause. A lot of think that we might be able to do it and some actually get that far, but eventually they find out that it’s a rather lonely and hollow existence since few if any people want to hang around you for that long. It takes someone that really cares about a jerk to hang around at all, and even then it’s not something that people want to do for a prolonged period of time unless they have an out, or an alternative method of coping.

Confidence is often what sets jerks and nice guys apart, and that’s a hard balance to work.

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There are people that can do this mind you, but they’re pretty rare regardless of what you might think. Those folks that are good-looking, have a great disposition, and are friendly to everyone they meet are kind of like a real life Easter egg, a hidden surprise that you don’t often notice until someone points them out. While they have the physical and behavioral attributes that people love to see they also have that one key ingredient that so many people on either side of the line seem to be missing: confidence. Being confident in yourself is something that a lot of people, jerks and nice folks alike, are lacking. The false confidence of a jerk is usually chalked up to bravado and a false front that’s hiding someone who’s still unsure of themselves beneath that veneer, while the nice folks are just insecure and unable to muster up the courage to do much of anything when it comes to expressing themselves. But if you want the real trick of being able to straddle the line between being a nice person and a jerk, then you absolutely need to have confidence.

One thing about being a jerk, especially for a guy, is that a lot of times women seem drawn to the jerk and tend to ‘friendzone’ the nice guys.

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You had to know this was coming when speaking of confidence, jerks, and nice guys. This is one of the oldest stories in the history of humanity. The confident guy that treats everyone like crap, including the women he seduces, is the one that gets to live the carefree life and seemingly have everything and any woman that he wants. The woman thinks she’s landed the perfect guy only to find that he’s an unrepentant jerk and won’t change, and is then left in the cold because he won’t put up with what she wants. It doesn’t happen all the time, and some nice guys manage to finish first by mustering their confidence, but this is the norm that’s seen and pushed far too often, and unfortunately it’s what can happen.

There’s no guarantee that a nice guy would take care of a woman they like, but there’s a good chance that she’ll at least be treated right during the date and not like a cheap bimbo to be used up and tossed away later. The thing about nice guys is that they might lack confidence a lot of times, but they at least know how to respect a woman. And while the nice guy might bore you to death they won’t make you cry.

Heck if you tell the nice guys what you want they might even be willing to change on the spot for you. It can happen.

The point of all this? Being a jerk tends to get results, but it’s a short-term answer for life’s many challenges, and a non-starter as far as a lifestyle goes. You want to be the nice guy? Toughen up a little bit and keep that polite attitude, but don’t be afraid to get a little bit rough around the edges at times. Ride that slippery slope.

 

Are Good Manners Outdated?

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Is it just me or are manners becoming a thing of the past? There are still those moments when good manners are able to be seen in society, when people say “thank you” or “please” or exhibit other good manners that are gradually disappearing. Back in the day, yes, back in the days of old folks, kids, adolescents, and even adults were expected to be polite, to take the time to care about other peoples’ feelings, and to be considerate to everyone until the moment when it was proven that said individuals didn’t deserve such respect. In short, the world seems to have had much better manners once upon a time, though perhaps that is a matter of perception.

People still practice good manners, yet it seems that younger generations are missing out.

Again this is a matter of perspective, but it would almost seem at times that younger folks are not understanding what it means to be polite, respectful, or even mildly considerate. Far too often these days it would seem that the general attitude of many individuals is to get what they want, do as they please, and not worry about how it affects anyone else. This is a much larger matter than this article will cover, but the more common niceties need to be observed at times. It takes but a moment to be polite, and perhaps another moment to show respect to another human being.

Remember the value of discipline?

Many upon many would argue over this point and several theories would be valid. Teaching a child respect does not mean beating them within an inch of their lives. But discipline is often more than a simple sit down to speak with your child of why you expect certain things from them. There is a great deal of argument when it comes to the type of physical discipline many of us received as children, but psychological discipline can be every bit as harsh if one takes the time to look at it. The idea of disciplining a child and teaching them how to respect one another and others is not an excuse to harm them in any way, but rather a chance to show them how to live within a society where there are rules and other people. The role of discipline is more or less to teach children, and adolescents, how to respect those around them and what kind of behaviors are expected to be exhibited. There’s no need for indoctrination, but there is a need for kids to understand the value of respecting others and treating them with a measure of dignity.

A child will learn how to treat others by what they see, hear, and experience firsthand.

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Those whose children respect nothing and behave like little monsters no matter the situation tend to wonder why they can’t control their kids. Unfortunately, many times it is because the children have not been taught the manners they need to exhibit in the company of others, or they have learned a little too well from the examples they receive at home. For instance, a child whose parents yell at each other and at them all the time will likely feel the need to raise their voice to make their point, or simply because it’s what they are used to. A child that is exposed to physical violence in the home might lash out at others as they think it’s the expected form of communication. Manners come from home, and they are cultivated within the given environment in which a child is raised and exposed to during their most formative years. If that child, or children, are lacking in role models or a stable home life where manners are expected to be observed, then the chances they’ll be a disrespectful child that can become a disrespectful adult increase so long as they continue to witness such a lifestyle.

The discussions that could be opened by such a subject are long and varied, but one unifying thread is that wherever a child learns their manners, the first example will always be within the closest environment that they observe. Strive to provide a positive and uplifting environment for a child and the results can be quite impressive.

The Good, the Bad, and the Irritating Facts of Social Media

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There’s so much that can be said about social media that it would probably warrant a book and not just a slew of articles as have already been written in both opinionated and scholarly manners. But in the spirit of things I thought I’d lend my voice and see if anyone wanted to hear it since hey, that’s one of the main points of social media right? It’s connected people on a level that we’ve never known before and is only getting bigger and bigger and a little more invasive as well as integrated into society every passing year. Or is it every passing month? It’s hard to tell when you were raised in the 80’s and 90’s since the idea of social media hadn’t quite come around yet. Does anyone remember when phones were still those big grey bricks that had batteries larger than the phones we have now? Or how about the fact that you couldn’t walk around with a mini-computer that could make phone calls in your pocket? Yes, those days are long gone, but what’s replaced them has its upsides and its downsides and everything in between.

So let’s just see what we can see shall we?

The good part is that social media can help us to connect to and keep in touch with a large number of people.

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Think about it, back in the day you might have had a small number of friends that you really kept in touch with and a limited amount of contacts that was stuffed away in your Rolodex or whatever you used to keep them updated and secure. Nowadays all you need is your phone and the ability to get on the internet. Choosing a social media platform is kind of tricky if you’re particular about who sees your information, but overall the chance to reconnect with old classmates, friends, or just stay in touch with family if you happen to live that far away is amazing. Where a person used to rely on written letters and phone calls for correspondence, now we can connect in a matter of seconds and be talking to someone we haven’t seen in years. There is a definite upside to social media, and it’s the fact that we can gain access to those people we want to keep in our lives.

The bad part is that social media has at times taken over the actual act of being social.

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You’ve likely seen this once or twice, and believe it or not it’s just younger people that do it. A group of friends sitting at a table, all of them with their devices out, and all of them grinning and laughing with each other….over their texts, chats, and IM’s. They’re all talking to each other, but the act of depending on your device to help you interact with your friend is simply creepy and it denotes that you’re not entirely comfortable with talking to others. That might not be the case a lot of times but it definitely shows a dependence on social media that is anything but healthy. What’s funny is those that are addicted to social media, yes it is possible, would allude that they can converse just fine with anyone they want, they just choose not to. Feel free to roll your eyes.

What’s truly irritating is that people have forgotten what it means to be people.

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Remember when talking to someone meant using your mouth instead of your thumbs as you type in one witty, touching, or scathing remark after another? Interacting face to face meant you had a chance to be yourself and let the other person see the real you. Now however a person can get on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social media platform and pretend to be whatever they want. They can make up a profile that allows them to seem like the coolest person in the world, and they can even create a following based on whatever lies they want to tell. But get them in public and you might find out that while they’re great at fabricating a role they’re horrible at talking to people in real life, or IRL as it’s seen so often in text form.

It would be great to pinpoint when all this happened, but that wouldn’t turn back the clock and convince people that sitting or standing face to face is that much better. Social media, for all it’s faults and its advantages, is here to stay, and lest I sound like a hypocrite you’ve got to take the good with the bad and ignore whatever you don’t like in the hopes that it might eventually go away.

Bullying: Then vs. Now

H. Priebe-Diaz, Human Relations, Diversity & Equity.

Has anyone ever been a bully? Has anyone been bullied? No matter which side you were on bullying was never cool except to those that were the ones doing the bullying, and even then it wasn’t entirely cool. Bullying is an act of aggression, in one form or another, that is intended to grant the bully leverage, authority, or some type of power over another. Throughout history bullies have been a plague not only among children but also with adults. There have been countless theories as to why bullies engage in such aggressive and anti-social behavior and some of those have even it the mark, as some bullies tend to lash out at others simply because there is something wrong at home or they have difficulty in dealing with others for various reasons.

How we deal with bullies however has changed quite a bit since what some people might call the good old days. Back in the day, heck even just back in the 80’s and 90’s, it was seen that kids would handle their bullies on their own at times. Adults would as well, though by this time it had been deemed as unacceptable to simply duke it out on the playground as a group of your peers looked on, cheering for whomever they happened to like on that particular day. And it was even less accepted in adults, as it’s been seen as immature and far too aggressive for a rational and ordered society. It’s hard not to laugh at times since the ideal way for dealing with bullies at this juncture is to sit down and talk things through. This method does work, but it has also had to endure it’s fair share of criticism.

Back in the day bullies had to be fended off or beaten down.

Obviously this clip isn’t ‘back in the day’ but it serves a point that at one time, and even now in fact, the idea of thinking that aggression is the wrong answer to combat bullying is not always so sound. When a bully is in your face and simply will not leave talking is one of the last things that many people would think of. Those that aren’t typically aggressive might close the door and endure the insults while calling the police. However those that don’t stomach such behavior and feel the need to stand up are those that will sock the bully in the face and let them know that they’re not as tough as they think. Bullies are typically more bark than bite, as intimidation is their stock and trade. If a bully can back a person down by appearing dangerous in any way then they will. Acts of aggression are often reserved for those individuals that are a step above a bully and tend to require police intervention.

Today’s tactics when it comes to a bully is to talk the matter out, understand the issue, and resolve the conflict.

Admittedly it is a very painless process in terms of physicality and it does offer a much more rational and reasonable way to resolve one’s differences with another. The idea that talking can work with a bully is hard to fathom for some people but if the underlying issue of why a bully is acting the way they are is revealed it often comes out that they are in some way seeking to shunt whatever they’re feeling onto someone else so that they don’t have to feel it. By talking it out the person being bullied can better understand the struggle that the bully is going through and possibly show some empathy towards them and even help them to change things around a bit. It’s a different way of dealing with a bully, but for many it seems to be preferable to a general throw down that can leave both individuals sore and possibly injured by the time their grievances are aired out.

Now we have cyber-bullying.

It’s still somewhat amazing that this is still such a huge issue, but there’s no denying that it is. The so-called “keyboard cowboys” the surf the internet and give their candid opinions of others are quite pathetic in many regards, but for many people their words can carry a very heavy and hurtful meaning. Those of us that grew up in the different eras when ‘handling your business’ meant either knocking the bully on their butt or continuing to fight back until the bully realized that they could knock you down but would never break your spirit. Some kids would go to an adult for help with the matter, while others would take the matter into their own hands. But with the advent of the internet and social media the onset of cyber-bullying has become a problem that is shared mostly by those that have grown up in this era and sometimes don’t seem to understand that words on a computer screen are the act of a coward trying to seem tough. To many of those raised in the decades previous to the arrival of the internet a cyberbully is a person that can act tough online but in all likelihood would be the last one to say anything in person.

Which method of dealing with a bully is most effective?

This all depends on who you talk to about the matter. Many upon many people will gladly tell you that talking and coming to an understanding is the preferred method in any case dealing with bullying. However, the satisfaction of defeating a bully in one way or another is a type of rush that some people still enjoy as it reminds an individual that they have control over their own life and no one is going to take it from them. Talking is fine, empathy is fine, but indicating to a bully that you will not back down to them is simply vindicating.