The People’s Pot Luck

We attended our first People’s Pot Luck this past weekend.  It was a great chance to meet up with some we knew, as well as gave a great opportunity to meet some new people.  The organizer of the event went to great lengths to invite many different groups throughout the community and there was a vast amount of diversity for sure.  We had people from all walks of life show up from the court recorder to the town anarchist.  With the few ground rules in place, no tabling and no propaganda, the event went off without a hitch.  Three tables of food were set up that included one for fresh organic fruits and vegetables, one for vegan dishes, and the last for all other food items.

The sense of community that showed through as we gathered and broke bread together allowed all other issues to be set aside.  Games were set up in many different areas and there was even a pinata that was hung and thrashed by the children who were there.  The PA system had a wide range of music playing during the main feast but once we were all done eating some of the locals broke out the drums and set out to make the event heard throughout the block.  Even the kids were able to jump in on the bongos.  A couple of team building games were played to lighten the mood and makes everyone comfortable with those that were new.

Although we gathered peacefully and even followed the regulations by reserving the space we were still blessed with the presence of the police HOT team (Homeless Outreach Team).  Always caring and being the watchful eye of our self-regulating community.  All in all, this was a great event and I am looking forward to being able to attend many more.

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For my Brother

My brother and I have not seen eye to eye on many different occasions.  There are two that stand out as the main issues of our time.  There is much that we have each gone through that make us different from each other but as brothers we still share some of the same ideals.  That being said I will only go into one of the issues today.

As I have grown and gained much more experience in the past few years I have also gained the ability to see both sides of the story before making the decision on what I feel will lead to the better outcome in any given situation.  I am human and in being such I am at fault in my own ways but we seem to have butted heads on the issue of police more often than not.  As I was reading through some articles today another one popped up that sparked this.  The Sun Sentinel out of Ft. Lauderdale covered a story of a man who received 30K when a video contradicted the police report from the night he was arrested.  This is not the first story of its kind and it is not the last, but it should be.

This video and the comments that I shared as a reaction to this video are what caused the breakdown of our relationship.  I shared that there is an abuse of power and that I wish only once that the police officer that committed these acts would be met with the same amount of violence that they showed.  In response to this comment I got, “it saddens my heart to see you share something like this.”

A little background about myself and my brother, I am a veteran of the war on terror.  My ship flew more sorties before getting to the gulf than any other carrier had in the history of the U.S. Navy.  My brother is a police officer for a large metro area and has been on the force for ~10 years.

The next story that I will highlight is the recent shooting in NYC.  This shooting occurred killing two people and injuring nine others.  The suspect killed an ex-coworker and then fled the scene, two police officers followed and then when the suspect turned to engage police, they fired.  16 rounds were fired at the suspect, killing him and wounding nine bystanders.  This was in no case a mass shooting like we just had in Colorado but a lack of accountability on the officers for not doing the job, we as citizens, pay them for.  And in light of what seem to be daily shooting in America, how are we to expect that these officers will be held accountable for their actions?  we can not.  This fact that we will most likely see these officers get away with this is the one thing that makes me the saddest.  Having the knowledge that my children will grow up in a world that allows people to kill and wound others then walk away simply because they get to carry a gun and badge makes me angry.

This brave new world that we are creating where my children will fear police because of the actions they take rather than look toward them as someone who can help makes me depressed.  Being given the excuse that “I and the others I work with only want to help people protect their property” is one that I am unable accept.  The system is broken and it is admitted to being broken by those the statement was made about.  Working for the system thinking that there is a chance to change things from the inside is absurd.  When the brass from the department gets arrested this should show that there is no chance of change.  When a veteran State Patrol officer uses the excuse “I was not properly trained on Colorado search and seizure laws” and gets acquitted for murder, the system is broken.

There are now organizations that do nothing but try to keep police honest, as if they should need to be watched over like they were a for profit company.  Cop Block is one of the most active and has gained evidence against most major departments.  These organizations are now working on the front lines and gaining respect throughout the community with their tactics of documentation.  Everything from video recording a normal traffic stop to a journalist going undercover recording police and the violence shown through schools.

Now onto the assaults that are occurring against the mass’s.  There have been times throughout our history that civil unrests have been dealt with by means of brutal police actions and the protests that are occurring today are no different.  Just as the water cannons were used back in the 60’s the current police force is using means that are extreme at the least.  From a simple sit-in where the police force use riot cans to pepper spray kids or the most recent abuse of force in Anaheim CA police shootings.  Why do these people, the police, feel that following the orders of their supervisors is justification enough to break the codes that they have sworn to protect.  The military had problems similar to these awhile back and congress found that if an order is unlawful that it is the responsibility of the person receiving the order not to follow said order.  They stated that in the case where a soldier followed an unlawful order they were then required to accept the responsibility and the consequences of that action taken.  I fail to see the difference between military not following an unlawful order and a militaristic police force not following an unlawful order.  There is a lack of accountability on both sides the higher up the chain of command you go.

Re-learning how to survive in a civilian population is not something that is easy to do when coming out the military, there some things that veterans and active duty service members take for granted and one of those is the camaraderie that is felt between your self and the brothers and sisters that you served with.  The same can be said for a police force would be my guess.  I can no speak on this as it is out of my experience.  However, the ability to turn and not see what your brother is doing is an easy thing to do when everyone is close and shares the same experiences.  Taking a step back and spending some time reflecting on the choices that you have made and the actions taken in the name of others has done me well and may do the same for others.

For my brother whom I love, I hope this finds you well and you can gain an understanding of what and or why our issues are no larger than we make them.  In the words of a wise man, “be the change you wish to see in the world.”

After the Showing

We were able to have our first showing of “The Invisible War” last night.  Our showing was a closed one that was intended to be by invitation only.  It went over with only a few speed bumps.  The DVD player in the facility was hot and caused the film to skip and freeze a few times but from the talking of those involved this did not detract from the experience too much.  The pauses were either a comedic relief of added to the suspense of the viewing and as the room was mostly women it may have been a good thing.

The film stirred quite a few emotions in many of the people who attended, everything from anger to a kind of laughter about how the military dealt with these types of issues.  The anger is warranted and understood but the laughter stemmed from the misunderstanding of how the military and civilian worlds differed.  It seems that most of the women that were at the viewing had not gained much experience dealing with the military of people in the military, this lead to a sizeable gap of knowledge between the four vets and the 12 civilians but it was one that we were able to work through before we broke for the night.

All in all I feel that this was a great event and one that we look forward to putting on again.  I do have to give a shout out to one of the people who gave me a push to get things moving along; Graham, thank you for everything you have done to get things moving out here.

A Monologue to the Parents that Oppress the Thoughts of Their Children.

As we grew up in a time of grand social and economic change, almost every thought that left our lips were hit with contradicting verbiage.  It is not the fault of our own that the thoughts and ideas that we shared with you were not to the standards of your time as they were different from your own teachings.  As the ideas rolled off our tongues your anti-minded rhetoric coursed through the air as always.

Looking at us as though we had no understanding of the real world, besides MTV’s New York or Los Angeles, you pass your judgement down the line as it had been done to you.  Living through the wake of the largest collection of movements, achievements, and crises seemed to not phase you in the slightest.  Looking at the teachings of your father and holding it as true as the books written by religious men, you still hold true to the belief that you are always correct.  Even after the so called “life experiences” have been gained the oppressive rhetoric and lack of acceptance of our ideals or hypotheses darkens even the brightest days.

Accepting our opinion, as even just that, seems to be unmanageable for you. Certain topics, if brought up, are quickly put to rest and then hidden in the back of the mind where only the dead and hurtful are kept.  As if you are trying to hide from the fact that maybe your ability to rear children is somehow different than that or your parents. Or of us for our children.

You sit back watching your television and bitching about the current system as if there is no ability to change it.  Old habits die hard I guess.  Learning to open your mind and question yourself and your beliefs is one of the teaching that we did not learn from you, but rather that same life experience that you pushed so hard for us to obtain.  Once obtained and shared, you push back or hide from the self reflection that is asked of you in a time of need.  Placing the blame on everything but yourself.  Most of the time we are not asking for you to agree with our opinion, we are asking you to only listen and not disassociate your fictitious world with the real world that we are trying to make better.

As I sit here trying to find a way to end this I realize that I am no better than you as I have given into following the teachings of my fathers.  No judgments shall be passed but the reasons are now alive.

Personal Ethics

A Statement on Personal Ethics

As time passes there are always issues that arise and shed light on errors of thinking. Each time those errors are found it allows for each member of society to learn about how they interact with one another. Learning about one’s self through those interactions is the greatest of teachers. I have had the chance to learn a great deal about myself and society in the past few years.

Although I am younger than some I am also older than a few in today’s society. This has been a large gap to overcome as in the workforce today there is a diverse makeup of individuals. When I entered into the workforce I was one of a handful of millennials. There have been a few large studies about how the workforce should interact in regard to the different majorities, being the baby boomers and the millennials, one such study was that done by Parrott (2010). This PowerPoint presentation was designed to give some insight to the different working styles between those two major groups. Although there is no definite way to classify people, the data observed has shown that there are some major changes happening in the workforce. I bring this up as I am part of those changes and the thought process toward work and the company is shifting from being loyal to the company into employees maintaining loyalty to each other and the projects that are being worked on (Parrott, 2010).

The reason that I brought up the above mentioned research is that after reading through the research I have found that there are many aspects that apply to how my thoughts have changed over the past two years. When I left the Navy I was stringent onto how I followed through on any task that I was given with no regard to look at the task in any other light besides that of taking an order. As I learn more about how the training I received can be re-trained and or un-trained (Cantrell & Dean, 2007). I am growing toward using those tactics in a more efficient manner when it comes to my work life as well as my personal life.

When I was younger I maintained the status quo in that I was among the vast population that dehumanized people who were not distinctly like I was. No matter what the difference was if they were not the same as I, in looks or beliefs, I would pass them by without regard to how my actions would affect them, no matter how small or large. Through many different channels, one of which being Substance Abuse counseling, I have seen that those actions were errors in thought as well as automatic stimulus reactions (Cantrell & Dean, 2007). Having gone through a substantial bout of group therapy I have seen how not only my ideals but those of others can change once the fact is brought forward that we are all equal and share some part in this life. Each member of society is equal and has the potential to reach any goal given the same opportunities, at least that is my belief.

From personal experience and self-reflection I have been able to pin point a few times where I was either passive aggressive, allowing the needs of another to be met over my own, or followed an “order” without regard to the outcome. Two such examples come to mind, I was told to dispose of some hydrocarbons in a way that was not up to the standards of the company, and the training or personal in regard to disposing afore-mentioned materials. Completing the task that was assigned to me was what I did, even though I knew there was a better way to complete the task. Part of the reasoning, or rather how I justify it to myself, is that if I had not completed the task someone else would. And that is in fact what happened anyway. I was then asked to train another technician on how I worked through the process so that he could dispose of the remaining material while I was on days off. Had I been more assertive about my feelings, I could have prevented the contamination as well as looked out for everyone involved well-being. Being assertive and making sure that the needs of myself, the fellow employees, and the manager have become paramount now in my ethical system.

Although cynical about big business I do have an understanding for the small to medium-sized business owner. The work that is put in for a business owner to start-up as well as grow their business is one of great respect and the up most regard. When the ideology that money is more important than the people who the owner employs is when respect is lost from my stand point. This feeling has grown from thinking that material objects will bring me happiness, or that obtaining my desires will satisfy me. Understanding now that material objects will only bring more want into my life I comprehend that by the time a desire is achieved it has lost all meaning and is no longer a real desire.

Sample (2007) made a good point in his book, know the hill that you are willing to die on. I take this to reference an understanding of one’s own personal beliefs and then having the ability to uphold those beliefs in the face of adversity. There was a question asked in the first week of this class that made this idea surface. The question regarding John and Frank, John’s employee. Reading through everyone’s posts almost made me believe that there was no hope for the growth of personal respect. One hill that I am ready to die on is a belief that the people who work for a company are more important than the bottom line. I will happily take a hit or be fired from a position for letting an employee undergo surgery before being laid off. This feeling is even compounded further when the fact that HR was aware of the pending surgery. In my opinion, John was justified and did what was needed in regard to the human side of society and the culture we have built as humanity.

After much self-reflection and multiple exercises regarding what I believe I can say now, with a real conviction, that I am aware of my personal ethics and how my ethics will help shape the future of our society as a whole. Exploring decisions made in the past and the reactions that followed gives a fair amount of insight into how I will be able to proceed making future decisions and fully understanding the ethical repercussions of said choices. My personal ethics are ever-changing and that is something of a good thing. Without growth there is nothing.

References

Cantrell, B. C., & Dean, C. (2007). Once a Warrior: Wired for Life. Seattle, WA: WordSmith Books, LLC

Parrott, K. D. P., (2010). Four Generations In the Workplace: Flash Points, Common Ground, And Successful Strategies. Texas A&M University

Sample, S. B. (2003). The Contrarian’s guide to Leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.