What are You Offended by Now?

wpid-wp-1436742937115How did we become a society of the permanently offended?

It seems like there is a whole group of people in our society who just live to be offended by something, and let me say from the outset, you being offended does only one thing…. makes you offended.

Everywhere you turn, someone is offended by something.  Politics, religion, sexuality, entertainment, words, clothes, media….. offended, offended, offended… here is a piece of advice….. GET OVER IT!

In the society that we now find ourselves in, Republicans are offended by Democrats, Democrats are offended by Republicans; gays are offended by straights, straights are offended by gays; black are offended by whites and whites are offended by blacks; men are offended by women and women offended by men, Christians are offended by non-Christians and vice-versa; and on and on and on….. GET A GRIP PEOPLE AND GET OVER BEING OFFENDED!

At this rate, who and what are we not going to be offended by?

I learned this week that I am supposed to be offended by a Christmas song; one that I have listened to my whole life and never knew was evidently about a man “supposedly” trying to sexually assault a woman.  I just thought it was a cute song about a man trying to get a woman he was dating to try to spend some time with him.

If you look at the internet, everything is a conspiracy,  who knew that every agency created to protect and defend the Constitution was now a left-wing conspiracy group designed to bring down the government… who knew?  Evidently, the internet taught us that.  Thanks internet!?!?!?

We all have crap in our lives, crap that sometimes makes it hard just to put your feet on the floor in the mornings and get moving, but we do it and most of us do it in private.  We don’t have the need to share with the world what offends us and demand others be offended too.

In our world of being offended, we now have co-workers afraid to get into an elevator with someone of the opposite sex because of what may be said.  REALLY?  It’s an elevator going between the 3rd and 5th floor.

How about we all just take a breath, grow up  a little and live our own lives without trying to bring everyone else along with our “being offended” mentality.

You know what offends me?  You being offended and expecting me to care!

There is a guy in my town who moved here because he loves it so much.  He opened a successful business and has done very well.  But now, he is offended by other businesses moving into town who he doesn’t agree with politically.  He now wants to homogenize our little corner of God’s Country into the way HE thinks it should be…. here’s a history lesson for you,…. we were this way before you ever moved here and will be long after you leave, take the offended entitlement and move on!

Is there stuff in our world that offends me…. you bet!  But guess what, I’m not asking you to be offended by it too…. I’ll just not listen to the music that offends me, or patronize a business that I don’t agree with or vote for a candidate who doesn’t represent my views on how I think our world should be operated.  But I’m not going to expect you to feel the same.

2018, is almost over, it has proven to be the year of “I’m offended,” on all sides….. here’s an idea, in 2019, let’s all put on our big boy and girl pants and grow the eff up!

And now, you can be offended by what I just wrote!

Love One Another…. It’s That Simple.

Once again, over the last few days we have been witnesses to acts of unspeakable violence and hate.

Once again, our differences have torn us apart.  I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how someone can hate an entire race, creed, orientation; I don’t understand how someone’s heart can grow so hardened that the fears of our differences bring us to such a place and I am thankful for that lack of understanding.

For decades, I suppose centuries, our differences have continued to define us.  At what point will we find our similarities are so much more important than our differences?

Unfortunately, these acts of violence have hardened all of our hearts.  We send our love to victims, we pray for entire cities and we tweet about our heartbreak, but what do we actually do?

It’s not about guns, or politics, it’s about hearts, minds and a lack of understanding.

There are billions of people on the planet, each one of us different and that is what makes the world such an amazing place.  I can’t fathom a world where everyone was like me, short, fat, bald, old white guy, how boring is that?  What makes the world so amazing is our differences, our vast beliefs, religions, races, why can’t we seem to accept that and get along?

Our society has grown so hardened that we witness these senseless acts and then go on about our day, we just keep moving along and wait for the next atrocity to happen, we then send out thoughts and prayers and wait for the next, unfortunately it seems on a weekly basis.

Like all of you, my heart breaks a bit more each time one of these mass murders takes place and I am lost, I am lost to know what to do, I am lost to understand…. I am lost.

I don’t think I am the only one who is lost, I think we all are, we are lost to find answers when the fringe of our society begins to define us.

This isn’t a Democrat or a Republican issue, it isn’t an American issue, it is a human issue, one that brings us down instead of building us up.

I will always believe that 99.999999999999999% of the planet is good, but sadly today that infinitesimal percentage that is filled with hate and rage define us.  Our fringe should be just that, fringe, not the voices that we hear most often, but the ones who are set aside and witnessed to about the goodness of humanity and not encouraged and held up as a voice that should be leading our charge.

What do we do as people to stamp out this hate?  What do we do to celebrate our similarities and allow good to overcome evil?  What do we do?

Several years ago there was a movement in our society, it was begun by young people and it was symbolized by four letters…. WWJD?

What would Jesus do, a simple phrase with a simple answer….. LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Jesus gave this simple command to his people, he didn’t say love one another except for those you disagree with.  He didn’t tell us to only love those who were like us, he told us to love all people, everyone.

We can’t love when we continue to allow our differences to separate us, if we are to truly love we must first look at how we are alike and then in voices of compassion, resolution and understanding we must work together to work together to overcome our differences.

I’m not a Bible scholar, but I have studied.  I can’t find a place in the Bible where we are told to love someone unless they are Black, Brown, Yellow, White, Jewish, Gay, Muslim, the only command I see is LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

At some point, if we are to survive as a people love has to overcome the hatred that we have for one another.  Hatred of our differences will only continue to tear us apart, continue our heartbreak and our tweets of compassion, when a tweet is simply too late.

Thankfully, all hatred doesn’t end in violence and death.  In our society today, we see people being harassed on a night out with a loved one, hate is hate.  We tear each other down over our beliefs, families are torn apart , people we value as friends are swept aside over simple differences.  Imagine how things could change if we just talked to each other, kept the temperature to a slow boil and discussed differences to find solutions like respectful humans.

I don’t hold myself aside from these actions, I am as guilty as anyone else, maybe one day we will all learn and embrace our similarities and stop letting our differences overtake us.

Sadly, there are few places where we are safe anymore.  Churches, synagogues, restaurants, nightclubs, the workplace, have all been attacked.  Our places of work and play are now battlegrounds and sites of mass murder, it is truly a sad commentary on our world.

We can do better, we must do better, we must find a way to LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

I don’t understand a hatred that engulfs someone, I don’t understand hatred of entire group of people, I don’t understand….. and I hope I never will.

December 29, 1977

Over the last week or so I have heard and read many comments about how someone could remember what happened to them over 30 years ago.

How something could happen to someone over 30 years ago that was violent and harmful and them not say anything.

As I have watched the news over the last week or so, I have grown increasingly upset and this morning when I woke up I was physically ill.

As I put my fingers to the keyboard to type this post, they are shaking and I feel weak.

I don’t know if what has been reported is true or not, what I do know is my story and this is it.

On December 29th, 1977, I was 13 years old.  I had just started to discover who I was and at the end of a Christmas season was preparing to go back to school.

That afternoon, my cousin, a couple of years older than me, called to let my family know that she was in town with a friend, the friend’s father and his son, who was about my age.  They were going to the small ski slope in my town the next day to enjoy one last hurrah before school would resume the following week.

My parents invited them all to the house that night for dinner and they accepted.

As I lived on the slopes during my days away from school they invited me to go with them the next day.

I remember distinctly the man telling my parents I could just stay with them that night as they would be heading out early the next morning.  My parents said yes and after dinner we all returned to the Heart of Rabun Hotel to prepare for the next day’s outing.

Just 2 miles from my house, the Heart of Rabun Hotel stood alongside the busy highway that would take us to our snow adventures.

The man had rented two rooms.  One for the girls and one for his son and himself.  I would stay in that room.

That night, the man sexually assaulted me.

I don’t know where the son was, I don’t know if he was in bed asleep or had stayed in the room with the girls.  I do know that no one came to my rescue.

I also know I was terrified.

The next day, we arose and went to the ski slope as planned.

Sometime during that afternoon, my brother arrived at the slopes to pick me up.  He was with a friend and once we got in the car, he told me that my Uncle, a fireman, had died that day in an accident at a home fire.

I remember going back to my parents house and drawing a bath.  I remember sitting in the tub and crying, at the time I wasn’t sure if I was crying because my Uncle had died or because my innocence had died the night before.

More than anything I remember thinking, how easy it would be to slip under the water in the tub and never come back up.  That thought still haunts me to this day, 41 years later.

After that night, I went on with my life and in the 41 years since it happened I have told two people, one a therapist I was seeing when I lived in West Palm Beach, Florida and the second a cousin, an author who read about it in a book I was working on.

I never told anyone else, until today.

But just because I have said nothing doesn’t mean the incident that I went through doesn’t still affect me daily.

I find it hard to trust people.  I feel easily betrayed.  I find it hard to befriend new people.  I am not comfortable in crowds, with casual small-talk or being in the presence of strangers. I am afraid to make long-term commitments.  I often go for the quick and easy instead of devoting the energy into the long-term, but most of all I find it very easy to keep secrets.

I have kept my secret for 41 years, some people may ask why?

There are a number of reasons and none of them are good ones, but they are reality.

Shame.

Fear.

Being labeled.

Doubt.

I was ashamed of what happened to me.  I felt like somewhere deep inside I had asked for it.  Back in 1977, I was a young teen just finding my own truth in my sexuality, did I provoke the man?  Did I want it?  Did I enjoy it?

Being a young, lithe, boy was I an easy target?  Could this man see through my other secret and know I was an easy victim for his abuse?

Today, I know the answers to those questions are no, but back then I didn’t.

I was afraid that no one would believe me and if I came forward I was afraid of what would happen.

The man who assaulted me owned a large company in Atlanta, who was going to believe me over him?

And if I was believed, my family was one of the most loved in our community, what would happen to my family if I came forward?  How would this affect them?

Yesterday, my co-workers and I were talking about sexual assault, like I am sure many other Americans were.  A young lady who works for me said, “if this had happened to me, someone would have died.”  I agreed, but what I didn’t say was I was afraid I would be the one who died.  I was terrified, the man who hurt me could come back and hurt me again or this time hurt my family.

In 1977, I was just starting to learn about my own sexuality.  Things were different back then, being a gay kid in a small town wasn’t easy, if I had come forward my “other” secret would surely come out too.  That was not something I wanted to risk.

Also, in 1977, people just didn’t talk about things like sexual abuse.  Thankfully today, our society sees it differently, but back then, these types of things were usually kept quiet and the victim suffered alone.  That was my case.

Today, I know my family would have supported me and they would have gotten me the help that I needed.  But that isn’t how a 13-year-old brain works, I was scared and felt like I was the guilty one.

I share this story, not for pity or out of some way of swaying anyone’s opinion on the news that has been gripping our nation for the last few weeks.

I share my story to say, yes these things happen and memories from 41 years ago can still linger and affect lives just as vividly today as they did the day they happened.

But like most stories, mine lingered in private, until today.

December 29, 1977 – 41 years seems like yesterday.

 

 

Farewell and Thank You Sir

aHR0cHM6Ly9pLmd1aW0uY28udWsvaW1nL21lZGlhL2IzYzY4NWFkNWE3NTY4ZDk2ZWFiMTBlZDI1Y2M2MmFkODQ3MmU4ZGQvMF8xNjRfMjUwMF8xNTAwL21hc3Rlci8yNTAwLmpwZz93PTE5MjAmcT01NSZhdXRvPWZvcm1hdCZ1c209MTImZml0PW

John McCain died yesterday.

There is a poem called “the dash,” which in short says the dash on ones tombstone between the day he was born and the day he dies is the most important.

The dash, tells the story of ones life, the triumphs, their tragedies and the way they lived.

John McCain’s dash was filled with more than most lives; he lived, he loved, he was passionate and most of all he served.

From his days in Vietnam, his years in a POW confinement, service to the United States House of Representatives and Senate, John McCain’s life is an example of service that few will ever equal.

I supported Senator McCain in the run up to the Republican nomination in 2000 and when he lost, he lost with grace and dignity.

In the days leading up to the 2008 Presidential Campaign, I told people close to me that if John McCain ran, I would be on board with his candidacy as I have always felt the country would be better with him at the helm.

I didn’t vote for him.  I believed that the hope and change of President Obama was what would be better for our country.  Many days I regretted my final choice, but in the end I know I did the right thing.

As he went back to the Senate he continued to serve, he stepped up in ways that were even bigger than before and his position as a Statesman grew.

In a political environment where narcissism, and idealogues seems to be the norm, Senator McCain was different.  When he spoke it mattered and I believe he always used his vote in the way he truly felt would be best for our country.  Not always popular and not always right, but with a heartfelt conviction that is rare in today’s politic.

John McCain’s honor will be missed in our national debate and pursuit moving forward.

From all reports, John McCain was exactly what you would think.  He was a friendly, passionate man who loved life, loved his family, loved his country and loved his fellow-man.

People who knew him talk about his ability to work with anyone who had the best interest of the country at heart, no matter their party affiliation.  Isn’t that what we most hope for in our elected officials?  Sadly, now that the Maverick has left us, it seems there are few if any to fill that void.

John McCain’s life of service will be celebrated over the coming days.  Democrats, Republicans and Independents will laud all he did in his rich life.  We will hear stories of his life, we will read commentaries of  his rough spirit and loving grace.

In the days to come we will hear words like statesman, servant, bi-partisan, maverick, war-hero and family man.  Most of all we will hear how John McCain loved America and only wanted the best for its citizens, these and many of the other adjectives used will be worthy.

John McCain was one of a kind a voice that is now silent, but hopefully a legacy that will continue.

When the words of John McCain’s life are spoken in honor of this incredible man, hopefully they will unite something in all of us to help make our country a better place.  A country where we work together to get things done and understand that compromise is a noble pursuit.

If we learn anything from John McCain’s life and now death we must learn, respect and act on these attributes, or else he will have lived in vain.

Patriots like John McCain teach us, they lead us and because of them our lives are richer.

John McCain will be missed, his dash was full and overflowed with goodness.

Thank you Senator John McCain, for a life well lived and for your service to America.

 

RIP – John McCain

636669452648204006-PNI1Brd-05-29-2018-Republic-1-D006-2018-05-25-IMG-HBO-McCain-4-1-MPM1DV7L-L1229414008-IMG-HBO-McCain-4-1-MPM1DV7L-1-

 

Senator John McCain

1936 ~ 2018