By taking a little time each week to apply good advice, we can make life changing progress.
Monthly Archives: June 2015
Will Smith on Film, Failure & Love
“I never would have looked at myself in that way. I was a guy who, when I was 15, my girlfriend cheated on me, and I decided that if I was number one, no woman would ever cheat on me. All I have to do is make sure that no one’s ever better than me, and I’ll have the love that my heart yearns for. And I never released that and moved into a mature way of looking at the world and my artistry and love until the failure of ‘After Earth,’ when I had to accept that it’s not a good source of creation.”
That quote was from an interview in Variety this year.
In the article is a reference to how he dealt with that film, as it turned out to be the biggest failure of his life. I thought ‘what an amazing comment‘. Clearly Will Smith is both driven and successful judging by common standards. We often think of the famous as role models we should learn from and try to emulate. But in this instance I think I can take away something from this abject calamity. If Will Smith can learn a valuable lesson in this situation, then I most certainly could.
I sometimes think people like Will experience so much success, so little in the way of setbacks – every thing, interaction, or endeavor they encounter occurs relatively free from the gravity of what the rest of us deal with on a daily basis – that I rationalize the world has to be different for them. The same rules don’t apply.
But I am so wrong.
Will Smith was soon to discover that his father had cancer.
I would submit to you that there were a number of reactions for him to choose. And each would bring its own set of consequences. How do you suppose you would have responded? Perhaps I pose an unfair question.
Let me instead share what it is that I am able to gain from this story. Simply this. We can learn at least one thing from every dead end that we come to. When we apply those lessons our lives are then changed for the better, regardless of how low we’ve fallen. I think I can appreciate the experience in that respect. I can find hope in that too. And hope is good.
So what did Will Smith say that he learned? Here is what he said. I think you’ll decide it was worth it.
“That Monday started the new phase of my life, a new concept: Only love is going to fill that hole,” Smith said. “You can’t win enough, you can’t have enough money, you can’t succeed enough. There is not enough. The only thing that will ever satiate that existential thirst is love. And I just remember that day I made the shift from wanting to be a winner to wanting to have the most powerful, deep and beautiful relationships I could possibly have.”
Links & Quotes—Special Supreme Court Issue
How To Make a Blog Post!
I like this one
Today’s Controversy: Yesterday’s Race Question
“My fellow white Americans, I know this will discomfit some of you, but Barber was right: The killer remains at large, and the killer is us. Collectively we remain committed to beliefs and behaviors that result in the destruction of black lives.”
The passage above comes from the opinion piece of Edward E. Baptist in the Los Angeles Times. After reading it, I wonder what opinions you might have. The title of the article is Forgiveness won’t atone for 400 years of racial violence in America.
How to relate to your undergrad
I saw this popular image- Is the glass half-full- on a friend’s Facebook post and immediately thought of my students who have yet to declare a major. Whether you counsel or advise college students, parent them, or just are one, this nagging concern will not go away.
There are those among us who believe they know what they will be when they grow up and have no such angst. But for the rest of us, might I suggest some factors to consider. First of all so many in the current generation will not have the one and only career or two before they are through, but dare I say three or more? Going by that premise perhaps the best choice is to find a study that you 1) can excel in 2) have a passion for, and 3) will expose you a broad set of knowledge that could benefit you in several different areas.
While figuring out what you are good at could be fairly simple – having “passion” for school is not. It is quite a tricky hill to climb and often involves a fear that time will be lost, irrecovable time, major hopping with little or nothing to show for it in the end (beyond massive debt). So this should be where some amount of investment of effort could pay real dividends. There are books, very helpful ones, that can steer a person to what they would be most attracted to. Surveys can be found in the career counselling office or online. The military has been using them successfully for decades. These are not failsafe, and the person who says ‘I do not know at all what I want to do’ can find frustration instead of the answer that was hoped for.
Which leads to the third aspect of the decsion. Subjects that expose you to broad areas often avail you of the chance to learn about unfamiliar fields which you could transition into with some minor adjustments.
Employers agree that the degree you select should develop your communication skills. It should also bring out your creative juices. Hopefully it will help you learn to adapt to changing circumstances, to think critically, and to solve the problems in front of you. And if you want to know why professors keep giving group assignments, the answer is that to be successful in business you will not only participate in cooperative teamwork, but you will collaborate with others who need you as much as you need them.
While this is the short list, it is enough for you to begin your search. Here is a list of some of the degrees that are believed to bring out the greatest amount of skills useful for the widest range of professions. So look them over and find one that lines up with your scores in the first two areas mentioned above. Don’t worry if this list doesn’t work for you. Just pick one of the other degrees that interests you and see to it that you can get more than a diploma from the experience.
Accounting & Applied Math
Aloha; Or (The Establishment of an Obscure Sense of Humour and Taste)
This is a nice review of a very pleasant film.
Happy Juneteenth Holiday. In honor of Juneteenth, I have penned a piece on race relations. If you are not familiar with the holiday, I encourage you to find out more about it and celebrate what it represents.
You Don’t Like Me Cause I’m White? Really?
Holdin’ Out for a (Nonwhite) (Funny) (Fictional) Hero
White Rage, the Hunger Games, and the Lack of Justice
WHAT MY BIKE HAS TAUGHT ME ABOUT WHITE PRIVILEGE
The above titles represent links that are just a (recommended) sampling of articles written on race in recent months. Some have influenced me to weigh in on the topic. Certainly there is room for one more opinion.
The question I want to address is can we make things better? In short, yes. We should make things better because lives depend on it. I will assert that segregation is the barrier that prevents progress. It is a regret of history that close to 70% of the majority population has separated itself almost completely from little more than a 10% minority, abandoning the great urban Americana to ruin in the process. Whole cities and major regions of many large metropolitan communities exist in a state of blight and despair due to the economic discrimination perpetrated by this phenomenon and the poverty that inflicts them.
But economic, social and educational disparity are not the products of segregation that I want to address in this commentary. What segregation breeds, above all else, is fear. Fear breeds, among other things, distrust. The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson involved many things, including the fact that the officer saw him as a threat (unarmed). The investigation into the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman has shown very clearly that from the very first moment Zimmerman saw Martin he was suspicious of him. Need I go on? Any poll will confirm the undeniable divide between the perceptions of large groups of whites and blacks in America. Ferguson. Obama. O.J. Simpson. Martin Luther King Jr. Why? In a word, segregation.
I want to share two examples from my experience as a police officer in Los Angeles. I think they provide a micro perspective that supports a macro consensus. For much of my life I lived as a black in the white community. One byproduct of that experience I believe is that I have a familiarity with white culture and mores to the extent that I feel comfortable (translate unafraid) in most areas of white society. With that said, I offer to you example #1.
When working with many white officers I discovered that there was a lack of ability on their part to distinguish between blacks we came in contact with. Because most of the areas we patrolled were in segregated neighborhoods, the officers seemed to treat all blacks in those places as threats. I did notice that some officers would be able to make minor distinctions after questioning people we spoke to. I formed the premise that the white officers did not have a frame of reference, because they didn’t have personal experience with blacks, to see them as anything but a threat until proven otherwise. We worked in high crime areas with high levels of violence. Most of the residents were black.
Did I have the same perception? No. Why not? I will not attempt to give you the long answer. The short answer is that I have lived in segregated black neighborhoods. Is it a science? Can I prove it? Does that make it any less true? It is too obvious to me that most people in black neighborhoods are like most people in any other neighborhood. I have lived in both. This is my firsthand experience. If only it were that simple. There is something else that I learned. White officers that I worked with, in general, were much better than I was at ferreting out white criminals we ran across. More often than not I did not see what they saw. I would have sent these subjects on their way none the wiser. So much for my culturalization.
Example #2 involves covert racism. My training took place in an area of Los Angeles uniquely segregated into predominantly hispanic and white neighborhoods, where small patches were densely populated with blacks. One of my white training officers worked exclusively in the hispanic area, never working in the white area. His reason given was so he could be where the crime was. I found out much later that his true reason for working that beat was so that he would never have to enforce the law on a white person.
I never suspected that he had a problem with blacks in general or me specifically. And that almost cost me my job. One night we went on a domestic violence call which he handled. This was a surprise to me because as a rookie I was supposed to write all reports. I watched as he spent close to an hour telling the family to use mediation to workout their marital issues. We cleared the call. I would have spent 15 minutes on the same call and taken a report. I had thought that he spent too much time trying to (kiss off) get out of work that would have taken less time to actually do. I also thought that since he was the training officer that I had something to learn from him. He passed me on to another training officer who worked in the white neighborhood.
The next domestic violence call was with the new training officer, and I handled it. After I advised the couple on mediation, which had been explained to us during briefing training, my training officer took over the call and wrote a report. That night he wrote me a scathing evaluation that essentially accused me of neglecting my duty. I never made that mistake again. I do not remember how I found out but it was revealed to me later that the two training officers were very close. I had been set up.
To me what was important was the reason why those men would have thoughts and opinions about me, about anyone who looked like me for that matter, which would motivate them to create elaborate schemes to get me fired from LAPD. Having fewer black officers is not the solution. I know that I didn’t have adverse thoughts about them or about anybody who looked different from me. I still don’t. Nor do I think that segregation is the root cause of what motivated them. But those men cannot be the majority. I refuse to believe that. My experience tells me otherwise. And it is segregation that stands between us and the majority, whose opinion and influence will protect against the actions of those like my two training officers.
Don’t you agree?
Write A House in detroit
The quoted description below was taken from writeahouse.com
Our mission is simple: to leverage Detroit’s available housing in creative ways to bolster an emerging literary community to benefit the City of Detroit and its neighborhoods. We enliven the literary arts of Detroit by renovating homes and giving them to authors, journalists, poets, aka writers. It’s like a writer-in-residence program, only in this case we’re actually giving the writer the residence, forever.
Write-A-House (WAH) is a Detroit based organization that seeks to teach and support trade crafts and literary creativity. Our key tactic involves leveraging the easy availability of distressed housing in order to promote vocational education, home ownership, neighborhood stabilization, and creative arts. In short, WAH will work to support a more vibrant literary arts community that lives at a grassroots level and helps Detroit’s neighborhoods.
WAH seeks to (1) educate the under-employed on carpentry and building skills (2) use those skills to renovate Detroit city homes and (3) award those homes to writers. Like any literary community, writers will be awarded based on their writing and their desire to be here. WAH seeks to support low-income writers by awarding at least three homes each year. We will also publish a journal of arts and creative non-fiction to document the process, work to determine a sustainable and green approach to home renovation, and connect writers to support a more vibrant literary community in Detroit. Our long, long term goal involves building a literary colony in Detroit, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
what “there is a reaper” reminds us of
I don’t know why I am writing this; it likely will never be read by any other person. I am doing it entirely for myself, in memoriam
of a life well lived, a son sorely missed and greatly mourned.
Some would say his life was too short, or that he never had a chance. . .oh what might have been. . . .
I say he lived his life as fully as any man woman or child on this Earth. It was his life, and it was complete, and it was perfect.
The excerpt above taken from Michael Lynes’ book talks about inspiration as frankly as one might depict it. However it doesn’t tell us what to do. It isn’t about self help. And while it doesn’t preach to us it also makes no attempt to tell us how to think. Yet think you will when you read about the life of a child taken so pitilessly from a loving home.
So how can the experience effect you, reading about the great triumph and tragedy of strangers? It reminds some of us that life’s precious moments are not to be wasted. It teaches others to act before it’s too late. Why do so many people seem to fret away infinite numbers of hours accomplishing nothing? For each such soul how many others can we point to who never get the chance, their total existence not extended beyond childhood?
I’m struck with the thought of a person who chooses to do the absolute least for everyone and everything thing they encounter, and you know who I’m thinking about, because you’ve met ’em.
Is it okay, do you think? What must we say to them?
I will say this to myself. Do not forget, not for a moment. Redeem the time.