The Elephant in the Room

Alright, there is quite a bit of hate being thrown around and it really does need to be addressed, but how can one address it when emotions are being intentionally stoked to such high levels?

For a start, one who wishes to address the issues should start with an attitude of respectful dialogue. So, from the start here I want to make it clear that I am not criticizing, only trying to point out things that so many in the media, who rather unfortunately have a much bigger following than this tiny blog has, are intentionally ignoring in favor of hype.

Now, if you read this in the week it is published, you will know the details of the event that has prompted this article. But for those of you discovering it five or ten years from now, or possibly even next month when the media has found a new event for you to be outraged over (outraged means distracted from something else), you still might not know the event of which I speak. But in the interest of keeping the information as pure information, I will leave the details of the story aside, and focus on the elephant in the room.

Be Aware of the signals you are broadcasting

As much of what I teach has to do with making people safe, I want to start with the very real need to be aware of the signals you are broadcasting.

No matter where you are or what is going on around you, you are sending out signals. Some are intentional, such as when a man changes the way he walks when he sees an attractive woman, or the way a man will stand taller when there is another male that he, consciously or otherwise, perceives to be a threat. Women play with their hair when they are in the presence of someone they are attracted to. The way we walk, dress, fidget, talk, where we cast our stare, all of these send signals out.

When a woman is laughing at a man’s bad jokes because she is nervous around him, he may think that she is attracted and receptive to his advances. A better signal to send out would be to show clear signals of attraction to someone else in the room. Most normal men would pick up on this and move on.  The system has flaws, but I think the point is made.

So what happens when you dress gangsta out of it being the fashion of your age group and clique?

Well, people will make snap judgments. They will see the clothing, sagging the pants under the butt and so on, and a whole host of assumptions follow. They will assume you are up to no good. They will assume that you are armed. If you choose to dress in this manner and send these signals, you need to be aware of how you are seen.

With this comes a fact you may like even less than being judged – the other person may ready a preemptive strike. Around certain people I know, if you are dressed this way and sending out this vibe, if you surprise them at all, even with a simple, “HEY! How ya doin!” you might get shot or stabbed.

It does happen. And God forbid you take someone staring at you as a threat and act on it. When you dress in this manner people will notice and some will stare. Get over it.

We have to understand the way people are, not how we think they should be

As I had a discussion on this subject with a wonderful friend of mine, the response was the sad, tired, “It is wrong to judge people based on the way they look. If someone wants to dress gangsta, they have the right to dress gangsta.”

Correct, we do not have national dress codes in the U.S. But that is not the point.

See, we don’t like to admit that we judge people, but every single person on the planet judges other people every single day. Judging people is how we determine who we will be friends with, who will be our mate, and so on. A problem starts to arise when we think it is okay when we do it, but it is not okay when others do it. This type of thinking cannot lead to anything good, but there is an even bigger issue.

It doesn’t matter that it is not right to judge people by the way they present themselves. The real issue is that people judge you based on the way you present yourself with or without your approval. Any line of thought that you feed yourself about how it isn’t right to do so does absolutely nothing to address the fact that it is going to be done. A person has every right in the world to dress how they please, but you cannot control the thought patterns of other people.

Bottom line on this, you have to address the situation the way it is and not how you wish it was.

Being offended does not mean you are right

Following on the previous point, I must say that the human capacity to be offended has grown exponentially in recent years. And with the increased capacity to feel offended, there is also a strange thought that one should not be forced to feel offended.

Absurd and asinine. Feeling offended means you are human, thinking that you should never be offended means you have a serious issue of self-importance.

I am offended every day. I am offended when someone wears their pants under their butt. I am offended when someone has brass testicles hanging off of the back of their truck and my five-year old kid asks questions about them. I am offended by bad music and bad cooking. I am offended when people don’t laugh at my jokes or buy my books.

And…who cares? No one. Just as when you do not care if you offend others, they do not care if they offend you.

Being offended means that someone or something does not meet your approval. It in no way means you are right.

If you are offended that a person judges you based on the way you dress, you have two choices, dress a different way or get over it.

Learn to do your own thinking

And this last point is where I am going to lose some friends.

Too many people are letting the news media do their thinking for them. Time after time I see people outraged by whatever the media tells them to be outraged about, and ignoring whatever the media downplays.

Part of this has to be due to the internet. There are a ton of very popular blogs out there and they talk about real events that are being ignored by the news media. So the media outlets have to do something to keep viewers, which equals ratings, which equals advertisers, which equals money. So, they sensationalize. They spin, they twist, they race bait, they edit, and they present a product intentionally designed to stir emotions. Because if you get a huge emotional reaction from their reporting, you will tune in again tomorrow for more, because they use emotion the way a drug dealer uses free samples –  they know you will be hooked and come back for more.

In one of the Taekwondo schools where I taught, we were coached on how to bring a class through a series of emotions and end on a positive emotion so the students would leave feeling exhausted but happy with the result of the class. Do you really think of some TKD people have figured this out and that it is not known to the news media? Seriously?

Learn to think. Ask questions on what they are presenting. If a story is evoking an emotional response in you, research the story, don’t just rely on what one source tells you. You have a brain for a reason. Too many people are giving up their intellectual freedom in favor of sensationalized BS reporting that would never have been allowed by some of the greats who first made journalism a respected and trusted field.

Too often, real stories of human suffering are misrepresented and exploited for profit. Do your own thinking and please formulate your own opinion. Don’t regurgitate the opinion fed to you by the media. And this is sent out to all of you no matter where you get your news. Remember, they get a financial benefit from your patronage. If they make you feel any emotion, whether it is outrage or sadness, or even anger that another news outlet is telling a different version, it is time to study.

You are a thinking being, so think. Please.

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