Tag Archives: Civil Rights

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day And Escaping Hate

martin-luther-king-washington-march-1963

To everyone out there who values peace, justice, and equality, I wish you a happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day. To some, this is just a day where kids get an extra day off school. To others, it’s a reminder of just how far we’ve come in the struggle against racism, injustice, and bigotry. Even though it seems like we’re stagnating at times, we’re still world’s better than we were in the days of Dr. King.

It’s hard to for young people today to understand just how entrenched racial attitudes were 60 years ago. For generations, inequality and bigotry wasn’t an aberration. It was the norm. Fighting that was like fighting the tides for a lot of people, but unlike the tides, hearts and minds can change.

That’s something Martin Luther King Jr. believed in. He dedicated his life to confronting hate and pursuing justice for everyone, regardless of race. His legacy lives on today for minorities of all kinds, from the LGBT community to immigrants. It may seem like an uphill battle at times and even after Dr. King’s death, there are still plenty of bigoted attitudes in the world today. Some people cling to those attitudes more than most.

However, it is possible for someone to let go of their hatred. It’s not easy, but it does happen. In the spirit of this day that I’m sure brings out a lot of conflicting passions in today’s society, I’d like to share one of my favorite Ted Talks.

This one is from Christian Picciolini, a former Neo-Nazi and white supremacist who managed to leave his hateful past behind. His story is one that’s especially relevant on a day like today because it doesn’t just reveal how people end up in hate groups. It shows just how difficult it is to get out. It can be done, though, and Mr. Picciolini’s story is one worth telling.

Whatever your politics, prejudices, and attitudes, we are all still human. We all inhabit this planet together. We all want a better future for ourselves and our loved ones. Ultimately, we can achieve much more by working together than by hating one another. That’s what Dr. King fought for and his legacy is worth celebrating, now more than ever.

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Filed under extremism, human nature, media issues, men's issues, outrage culture, political correctness, psychology

Remembering Martin Luther King Jr. And The TRUE Meaning Of Equality

Usually on a holiday, be it a major one that kids celebrate because it means no school or a more contrived one meant to sell greeting cards, I go out of my way to acknowledge it on this blog. I even try to channel the spirit of the holiday, if only to make the day feel like more than just something people mark on a calendar.

With today being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, though, I feel compelled to do more than just acknowledge it or the spirit behind it. In fact, I feel as though the spirit of this holiday is more critical now in 2018 than it has been in year’s past. When I look at the world today and all the ongoing conflicts unfolding before my eyes, I believe that the message and spirit of Dr. King is more relevant than ever.

Most people know who Martin Luther King Jr. is and why he’s such a prominent figure in modern history. He has a holiday named after him for a very good reason. He was both a leader and an icon of a very volatile time in American history. He was also a strong man of faith, one who actually took the non-violent teachings of Jesus Christ to heart. That’s an increasingly radical concept these days.

What Dr. King accomplished was remarkable, especially in the face of so much heated opposition. However, it’s how he accomplished it that really sets him apart and makes him worthy of celebrating. Like I said before, he believed in non-violence and he took them very seriously.

According to the King Center, Martin Luther King Jr. had a very specific way of utilizing non-violence to achieve the goals he sought. In his book, “Stride Towards Freedom,” he organized them into six principles.

  • Principle #1: Nonviolence is a way of life for courageous people.
  • Principle #2: Nonviolence seeks to win friendship and understanding.
  • Principle #3: Nonviolence seeks to defeat injustice not people.
  • Principle #4: Nonviolence holds that suffering can educate and transform.
  • Principle #5: Nonviolence chooses love instead of hate.
  • Principle #6: Nonviolence believes that the universe is on the side of justice.

Take a moment, if you can, to appreciate the sheer heart and idealism espoused in these principles. Remember, Dr. King fought against some of the most extreme racism anyone can imagine. Take the most offensive, vile messages you’ve seen on social media or 4chan. Then, create a society around them and give it political power. That’s what Dr. King was up against.

However, he didn’t seek to defeat that racism through the kind of outrage, protests, and meme wars that seem to dominate the overall rhetoric today. He took these principles of non-violence and employed them. He did this, despite often being threatened with violence.

He still stuck to those principles, though. He believed that his message would transcend the violence. The fact that he now has a holiday named after him and is one of the most celebrated figures in modern history proves that his beliefs were vindicated.

What stood out with these principles and how Dr. King practiced them literally showed the power of these beliefs. Rather than pick fights with racists, he sought understanding. Rather than voice outrage, he chose to voice love. This is readily apparent in his famous “I have a dream” speech that still resonates to this day. Even in 2018, it still gives people chills for all the right reasons.

Read or listen to that speech and then contrast that with how people today are trying to fight racism, sexism, and bigotry. Think about the misguided movements from both sides of the political spectrum that operated under very different principles. Then, look at the results or lack thereof.

This is where the power of Dr. King’s principles really shows. It also reveals just how much we’ve forgotten or negated what it means to seek equality or combat bigotry. It’s articulated in the second and the fifth principle of non-violence. He sought understanding and love over retribution and hate.

This matters today because society today is more and more driven by a toxic mix of outrage culture and attention-driven economics. We’re seeing this in increasingly petty arguments within feminism, racial politics, and political groups. These days, it’s become less about actual progress and more about winning debates.

As a result, our entire understanding of justice and equality has become twisted. It’s no longer a matter of pursuing the equal treatment under the law that Martin Luther King Jr. fought and eventually died for. It’s about fighting and hating the real and perceived source of that inequality.

We see it among both feminists and men’s rights activists who seek to demonize one another rather than promote gender equality.

We see it among racial and ethnic groups who seek to elevate themselves at the direct cost of another.

We see it among religious groups, sometimes within the same religion, who seek to dominate rather than cooperate.

These are antithetical to the message that Dr. King espoused. In his preaching and protests, he didn’t demand that one group be elevated over the other. He didn’t demand that oppressors suffer the same indignity as the oppressed to balance the scales of justice. He understood, probably better than anyone alive today, that fighting injustice with injustice still leaves us with the same amount of injustice.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

It’s not always the kind of obvious legal injustice that was so prevalent in Dr. King’s time. Today, injustice takes many forms. There are those who seek to actively punish those for daring to express thoughts that counter a popular movement that claims to seek justice. There are those who seek to shame others for not being affiliated with a movement or not going far enough.

We’re getting into dangerous levels of tribalism in that it’s becoming less about pursuing justice and more about being part of a shared agenda. Thanks to the internet, that’s becoming distressingly easy and the broader ideals of Dr. King’s principles seem to get lost under the weight of all the outrage.

In his tireless efforts, Martin Luther King Jr. fought for equality of treatment. He didn’t seek to elevate one group over the other, exchanging one form of oppression for another. He didn’t seek to destroy his opponents. He sought to make them friends and allies. He fought their hatred with love and their ignorance with wisdom. It wasn’t about winning a debate. It was about actually pursuing the spirit of equality.

That, more than anything, is the message we should heed in 2018. Pursuing equality doesn’t mean subduing opponents. It means standing with them on the same level, embracing what us similar and unique. We can never share the same outcomes in life, but we can share in the struggles.

In the end, pursuing equality requires a great deal of humility, as well as a genuine faith that people will embrace justice if you give them a chance. We’re giving ourselves fewer and fewer chances these days. In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr. and everything he stood for, we would all be wise to give ourselves those changes moving forward.

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On Transgender Soldiers, The Military Ban, And Being A Dick

In general, I try not to comment on major news stories until after the media shit storm has died down somewhat. In my experience, very little meaningful debate comes storms of swirling shit, consisting primarily of hyperbole-heavy headlines and glorified shouting matches on cable news. Those are all things that most sane people can do without.

In this case, though, I think it’s better that I not wait because it’s likely to be an issue for a while. It also involves an issue that I’ve been looking to talk about for a while now, albeit under better circumstances. Since this blog talks a lot about sex and ongoing issues concerning human sexuality, it makes sense for me to touch on relevant social issues of the sexy kind. At the moment, few issues are more relevant than transgender rights.

In the interest of full disclosure, I need to say that I don’t know a whole lot about finer details of transgender issues. I know it’s a thing. I have only a basic understanding of the issues, concepts, and science behind transgender individuals so I apologize ahead of time if anything I write sounds ignorant or under-informed.

I do know, however, that the transgender community has had a growing target on their backs lately. The uptight, repressed, missionary position loving crowd lost the battle against same-sex marriage. They know they can’t be a dick to gay people anymore and profit from it like they used to. As such, they turn their attention to the next vulnerable minority that makes the “Father Knows Best” crowd cringe.

It started with a surge in so-called “bathroom bills,” which are much less sexier than they sound. Apparently, people were horrified that other people who don’t look like the gender they were born as were going into public restrooms to sexually abuse little girls.

Sure, it sounds extreme, but it’s not the first time society has tried to protect women from a supposedly-deviant minority. Also, never mind the fact that approximately 75 percent of child abuse is perpetrated by someone the kid already knows. The transgender community was still singled out, if only because they’re low-hanging fruit in a world where bashing gays is politically inconvenient.

Then, last week the transgender community took another blow and this time, it involved something much bigger than not being able to take a shit in a Walmart restroom. The White House announced that transgender individuals would no longer be welcome in the United States Military.

Historically speaking, singling out minorities in the military has not turned out well for those hoping to live in the world of George Wallace. That’s not to say that transgender issues are the same as those involving race, religion, or who you’re sexually attracted to. However, discrimination is still discrimination, no matter the excuse.

By all accounts, having transgender individuals in the military had not been causing any problems. Even some high-ranking officers within the military were surprised by the announcement. If anything, it comes off as a decision that simply followed the anti-transgender momentum that started with the bathroom bills.

There may very well be other dynamics involved, but in terms of the big picture, the style is the same. These are sexual minorities, the kind that don’t vote conservative or fit the profile of extras in a 1950s sitcom. These individuals are considered “weird” or “deviant” to those who prefer straight monogamous marriages with a few mistresses on the side, at most.

These same individuals used to say the same thing about homosexuals and often still do, although not in a way that carries any political weight. There’s this aura of deviance and debauchery associated with sexual minorities. They’re just so different from what we’re used to that the whole “ick factor” comes into play. It’s not like nature promotes variations and diversity within a species or something, right?

That last sentence was sarcasm, by the way, which I hope highlights the primary flaw in the debate surrounding transgender issues. It’s a flaw that most people, myself included, fail to recognize whenever they try to discuss these issues. It all comes down to one simple truth. By and large, we have a very poor understanding of human sexuality in general.

Sure, we understand that a penis goes into a vagina. We even understand that most living things are hardwired to dedicate much of their existence to pursuing that melding of body parts. It’s that exact biological wiring that I try to appeal to with my sexy novels.

However, the biggest problem with that biological wiring is that it’s biological. Biology, and nature in general, tends to be pretty chaotic and not just in sexual matters. Just look up images of a platypus, an echidna, and a naked mole rat to see what I mean. Trust me, though, the naked mole rat isn’t as sexy as it sounds.

Biology is so complex, dealing with so many moving parts in terms of chemical reactions, that it’s bound to cause some crazy manifestations. This is, however, kind of necessary because for all biological life to adapt, reproduce, and survive, it needs variation. Since the world around life is every bit as chaotic, it’s only logical that biology would try to match that chaos so it can keep up.

This certainly plays out in human sexuality. The sheer breadth of genre porn is proof enough of that. As an aspiring erotica/romance writer, I know better than most that our sexual proclivities are as diverse as they are kinky. It may horrify priests, mullahs, and conservatives, but I think it’s a beautiful thing.

In that context, I think it perfectly appropriate to put transgender individuals on the same spectrum as homosexuality. It’s a variation of the kinky chaos that is human sexuality. As such, and maybe this is just the erotica/romance writer in me, I believe it’s not something that warrants condemnation or discrimination.

I understand that’s not a universally-held opinion. There are some who still believe that transgenderism is a manifestation of mental illness. Since the science on human sexuality is often in flux, so much so that the female orgasm was once considered part of a medical disorder, there’s no telling how our understanding of sexuality will change in the future.

Based on our current understanding, though, being transgender does not fit the criteria of mental illness. Like homosexuality, shifting gender does occur in nature to some extent. There are multiple species of fish, reptiles, mammals, and insects that undergo a shift in gender under certain conditions. Since humans are part of the same taxonomic tree, it makes sense that something similar would manifest in humans.

The fact that it’s rarer than most variations, from homosexuality to being left handed, is part of what creates that “ick factor” I mentioned earlier. When something is rare, different, and poorly understood, it’s bound to cause some consternation among the population. As a famous comic book villain and Walter White precursor once said, “Mankind always fears what it doesn’t understand.”

This leads me to the ultimate crux of the transgender debate that will likely guide the debate moving forward. Unlike the science of sexuality, this is much simpler in that it basically comes down to being a dick.

Sure, the idea that someone is transgender may make certain people uncomfortable, but being a dick to a minority is an idea that most reasonable people cannot and will not get behind. It may be socially acceptable in the short term, as we’ve seen with race and homosexuality. In the long term, however, being a dick to anyone rarely works out, unless your Kanye West.

I don’t deny that this military ban is a setback for transgender individuals and their families. I certainly don’t support it. If someone wants to serve their country, regardless of what gender they are or believe themselves to be, then there’s no legitimate reason to prohibit them from doing so.

As we saw with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” it may take a while for the transgender crowd to recover from this. I believe, though, that the momentum of history is in their favor. It’s one thing to be a dick to some random transgender person on the street, but to be a dick to an aspiring soldier is something that will never pan out in the long run.

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