Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Looking Back At Moving Forward

  It is amazing how something that began with zero expectation of being anything more than an unremarkable personal outlet, can grow into something bigger-- something that hopefully might be meaningful to someone else too.  I started this blog almost six years ago and it's incredible how much has happened in my life and the world in general since then.  I never imagined anything like this would come of it, but here it is:

So Anyway just passed 22,222 views!!

Why celebrate now? The number two is my favorite number so this is a fun milestone for me!

  Looking back, I honestly don't know quite what to think about the long roller-coaster ride of getting to this point, and it surprises me to see how much my writing has changed since the beginning, but I am certainly glad I decided to take the step of getting outside of my head this way.  In fact, it is hard to imagine my life without having a good way to write something more than random comments on Facebook.

  I admit that even though my university English professors urged me to consider a major in journalism, I doubted whether something like this was really possible for me.  But here we are, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to share this journey with you.  I think we tend to shortchange ourselves when it comes to believing in our true potential (at least I know I do) and it's clear that we need to have more faith in what we can do when we really set our mind to accomplishing something.  We need to let ourselves hope, and then push ourselves to take steps toward those hopes.

  In 2013, I published thirteen articles here on So Anyway.  That's not a lot by most blogging standards, but for something I do as a personal hobby I felt like averaging one article every month was not too shabby.  Then I increased that output by following up in 2014 with twenty-one posts.  I was growing not only as a person, but as a writer... a necessary evolution in order to have a shot at publishing even a fraction of the thoughts I want to share.  Then the story takes an unexpected turn.

  Last year I posted just six times, and not all of them were substantial enough to be what I would count as "writing"; that's a 71% decrease.  Furthermore, I have not published a single article this year, until now.  My mother has made the observation in the past that she can tell when a given period of life is particularly challenging for me, because I will pretty much disappear from social media for a while.

Moms can be wise like that.

  It would be impossible for me to dive into the full story as to why I have been so stingy with clicking the "publish" button for the last year and a half.  But for now I can tell you that my journey has been keeping me unrelentingly busy expanding my "mind palace" as Sherlock Holmes would call it.  And moving forward, whenever I feel that place is ready for more company, you will still find invitations here to join me in contemplating the human condition.  :)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Leading The Charge

  It has been exactly six months since the last time I published an article here on my open book of thought.  I write more often than that, I think my head would explode if I didn't-- but for better or worse a great deal of what I write gets tucked away as a draft, saved for a day when I feel ready to share that particular piece of myself with the world.  My state of mind has been one of deep introspection lately (even more than usual) and I'm afraid my blog has reflected that.

  But once again, we are witnessing history in the making as the voice of justice has risen up in defense of the downtrodden-- and I do not want to miss the opportunity of lending my voice to spreading this message of courage, compassion, and hope for a brighter future.  U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch held a press conference earlier this week, announcing that "we are filing a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state of North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the University of North Carolina.  We are seeking a court order declaring House Bill 2’s restroom restriction impermissibly discriminatory, as well as a statewide bar on its enforcement."

I found this part of Attorney General Lynch's remarks particularly profound:
"Instead of turning away from our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, let us instead learn from our history and avoid repeating the mistakes of our past.  Let us reflect on the obvious but often neglected lesson that state-sanctioned discrimination never looks good in hindsight.  It was not so very long ago that states, including North Carolina, had signs above restrooms, water fountains and on public accommodations keeping people out based upon a distinction without a difference.  We have moved beyond those dark days, but not without pain and suffering and an ongoing fight to keep moving forward.  Let us write a different story this time.  Let us not act out of fear and misunderstanding, but out of the values of inclusion, diversity and regard for all that make our country great."
  Lynch went on to offer the LGBT community a moment of encouragement, which brought many to tears.
"But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama Administration wants you to know that  we see you; we stand with you; and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.  Please know that history is on your side.  This country was founded on a promise of equal rights for all, and we have always managed to move closer to that promise, little by little, one day at a time.  It may not be easy – but we’ll get there together."
Then Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, added this:
"Calling H.B.2 a 'bathroom bill' trivializes what this is really about. H.B.2 translates into discrimination in the real world. The complaint we filed today speaks to public employees who feel afraid and stigmatized on the job. It speaks to students who feel like their campus treats them differently because of who they are. It speaks to sports fans who feel forced to choose between their gender identity and their identity as a Tar Heel. And it speaks to all of us who have ever been made to feel inferior — like somehow we just don’t belong in our community, like somehow we just don’t fit in. Let me reassure every transgender individual, right here in America, that you belong just as you are. You are supported. And you are protected."

  I feel overwhelmed with joy and gratitude whenever I see people choose to stand apart from the fearful mob, and defend the ideals the founding fathers of this nation devoted their lives to enshrining in the charters of freedom.  When we see an entire group of innocent people being singled out for undeserved scrutiny and harassment, it is our duty and privilege to echo what the Declaration of Independence proclaimed to the world more than two centuries ago:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
  It takes strength of character to stand up in support of those who need it most, but make no mistake-- the bravest among us are those who, doing no harm to anyone else, are forced to live every day in constant fear of judgment and hostility... simply for being "different".

  So anyway, I genuinely hope that peace may be found by all who seek the blessings of enjoying "certain unalienable rights".  Like so many generations before us, we bear the responsibility to lead by example, to champion the cause of moving FORWARD in the course of human history.  There is a culture of contempt and contention shrouding our society, of that there is no doubt.  But there is also a light which I can see clearly through the fog of war: the light of kindness and integrity.  I humbly invite you to join me in pursuit of that vision!

Let's find each other out in front,
leading the charge
to secure liberty and justice
for all.