Rights V Liberties (Civilian and Police interactions)

People call me a smart ass, know-it-all, maybe even arrogant or self-righteous. I agree to about fifty percent of it. Of course, I can’t entirely incriminate or discredit myself as I enter my rant, so I’ll leave it at that. I recently hit a touchy topic on Facebook about just what exactly is or is not justifiable behavior in regards to police and citizens. Now, I will preface this with I am no authority on laws, rights, the constitution or law enforcement. I am just a citizens sharing my perspective and hopefully igniting some insightful dialogue on just what is the line in the sand.
America has been in a battle to balance both our liberties and our safety. As a democracy we have elected officials that determine when either becomes more important. For instance, the controversial Patriot Act determined that our right to privacy was not as important as our safety regarding terrorism. This same act was utilized for purposes other than terrorism, which is more or less a different subject. I believe that things that put our safety over our rights do in fact protect us. The question is, as elected officials often attempt to determine, is the benefit/reward outweigh the risk/cost.

What frustrates me is the confusion people seem to have between morality and the law. The relationship between the two is non-existent. I will say that again, the law is devoid of morals. This exists for pertinent reasons. While uncooperative citizens may decide to exercise every single right at a DUI checkpoint, as long as they remain within their rights they should not be bullied, intimidated, or manipulated by police in order for them to achieve their intended goal. When I say uncooperative citizens, I mean blatantly stand-offish and happy to get it all on video. This person’s behavior seems morally wrong, but like I said that is irrelevant to law. While some people have absolutely no reason to hide or otherwise resist requests others may have private reasons for doing so. Hell, if my car smelled like feces because I just so happen to have diarrhea and am embarrassed about my mess, then I may opt to exercise that right. Worse yet, if I were intimidated to the point of being removed from my vehicle and humiliated as such I would feel violated and build a mistrust of police.
Take for instance the attached video. The citizen was obviously trying to make a point and knew that by being stand-offish and exercising every miniscule right that a problem would occur. Now, I would be suspicious of someone did not want to roll their window all the way down. He was basically resistant to every request by the officer for no reason. A childish behavior in my opinion. This would make me think he was trying to mask the smell of alcohol. I would, as a police officer, look for ways to dig deeper. I have the utmost respect for police because they are tasked with keeping us safe through the enforcement of laws while attempting to balance the rights of their citizens all through the sometimes very murky guidance of politicians. This does not give them the right to purposely use their authority to infringe on the rights of the citizen. That also means their ignorance to the law is not an excuse, just as it is the same for citizens. Now, this citizen, while irritating, is not entirely uncooperative. He questions the authority of the officer, which is his right. He also does submit to a certain extent, which keeps the unfolding event from becoming a violent situation. I commend him for that behavior, as long as I ignore the fact that he started it in the first place. Choosing to be an irritating citizen does not justify manipulative and shady police practices. I say this because if you listen to the video other police officers give admittance to it in a very generalized way. He could have avoided the situation by cooperation and I suspect this was more about his fifteen minutes of fame, but his point is still abundantly clear. If we choose to exercise our rights they should be respected. On the other hand, as a citizen we should check our moral compass to determine if such behavior is truly warranted.
I want to encourage people to see that interactions with the police are not one sided. There are also very serious issues with abuse of power. I want to make it absolutely clear, there are only murky statistics at best, and it’s not legitimate enough evidence to make sweeping assumptions. Cooperation is key for both sides just as mutual respect is imperative. If one side cannot trust, cooperate, or respect the other than we perpetuate the issue. So I suggest the citizen in the aforementioned video stop instigating the issue. I also suggest citizens continue to hold police accountable. Now discuss!

Disclaimer: Any inappropriate language or insulting comments will be removed as soon as they are discovered. Be intelligent and respectable adults.

United?

Well, again, I’ve been drinking. I’m frustrated. I am hurt. My country has become so divisive that we no longer see what makes us the same. The complexities are so far spanning that I can’t name them all here without making it a career in sociology. That won’t stop me from expressing the sadness I feel.
I love every man, woman, and child in my country at my core. It pains me that we have resulted to violence, and I will say as I have before, violence only begets more violence.

The media has portrayed Baltimore as another city full of terrible black Americans tearing apart their own communities. The same media fails to report on the many people on that same ground opposed to it. I hate this because the media is effectively undermines the concerns of Americans. The media is effectively down-playing the tragedies of others experience.

I’m also saddened because this same news portrays all law enforcement as terrible human beings and that isn’t the case either.

I am pained as an American watching my country turn to oil and burn at the instant there is friction. What hurts more is not knowing a legitimate solution that doesn’t ignore the complexities of the society we live in.

Most importantly, I am pained by the reality that the country I was raised in that was once united is so easily divided.

Society Like the Tide

I want to talk about virtue. Not as we know the word now, but as it was known when Aristotle theorized on it. To find the middle path. To resist extremes.

I have attempted to live my life by these means. If we look at life and the world around us we find that everything is in search of equilibrium. The definition I found for equilibrium via google states, “a state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced.” Why is it that everything in nature is in search of this yet we as people resist it?

Our society is more foundationally eager to jump to extremes. The further we become polarized the more violent the reaction becomes. The closer we bring ourselves toward each other the more tranquil we are.

I am not telling you to change your belief system. I’m not telling you to give up who you are. I am suggesting that we merely accept each other and in doing so allow each other to be. Existing just as nature does, like the ebb and flow of the tide.

Who is in Charge?

its 9:17 pm and a revelation just hit me as I enter my 4th round of Maker’s Mark. Reality is a shitty situation we have all tried to avoid at one point or another. The worst part of it all is even in the moments of sobriety we run from it. Universities have become controlled by their student population. They fear the loss of revenue if they were to go against the majority.

What happened to being challenged? What happened to being uncomfortable? My ideals are challenged daily in the real world and the only reason I don’t stuff my head in the sand is because of the same institution that is becoming more and more afraid of the exact thing that is developing my mind.

If we fear offending our students did we really prepare them for the world outside academia? I work in an ER and I see things frequently that make you re-evaluate just exactly what ethics are and where your values stand. You see the best and worst in people in the moments leading up to their possible death.

It frustrates that a group that is supposed to be built on the idea of developing intelligent adults is giving into them as if they are spoiled brats.

WE ARE NOT HERE TO TEACH YOU. YOU ARE HERE TO TEACH US. No matter how uncomfortable or inconvenient it may be for the both of us.

I’m off my soap box for the night. I just wish people would remember that anything worth having didn’t come without dealing with a little bit of pain.

Dwelling on Failure and Shifting Blame

I had a recent issue with people in my class dwelling on past mistakes. The issue with such actions is that when you do so you are not moving forward and therefore not creating anything of value for your life.

When there are faults from another unrelated to you it doesn’t change the fact that the challenge is still before you. My class decided to sarcastically berate my professor for not properly preparing us for the exam. While not as extreme I do agree with the class’ consensus. My issue is the behavior is unproductive.

What I want to express to the class is really starting to bubble over. I need to remind myself that as a 25-year-old in a room full of 17, 18, and 19-year-olds that my perspective is obviously much different. I want them to understand that they are not only wasting my time with complaints and finger pointing, but their own. Firstly, she has been a professor, most likely, longer than they have been alive, which negates their ability to have a weighty sway in changing her ways. Secondly, choosing not to take ANY responsibility for their failure is only a detriment to themselves, not the professor. Thirdly, the fact that these actions are futile only prove that you must adapt and overcome if you expect to be successful.

The sad reality is that half the class wishes to be physicians or some high level of medicine. This is where I see the starting point of those who are not truly cut out to be at such an elite academic level.

I understand I am coming from quite a high horse so let me level the playing field. I failed the exam myself and only a few passed the exam. I did  not properly study and the excuses for me are plenty. This doesn’t undermine the fact that complaining and using excuses isn’t getting me anywhere. Identifying priorities is the only way to achieve success. If we want to have or cake and eat it to we must position ourselves to do so. For me, that may require cutting back on work hours, less recreational time, more time studying in biology and less in chemistry. All of these things will have consequences. The sacrifices I make will have to be determined by what I am willing to do. I enrolled in the course. I want to pass the class. So the question becomes, how bad do I want it?

What I Really Want From Academia

We are all guilty of falling into the sucking hole of the average in our academic roles. Mastering knowledge in a particular discipline is an endurance race, not a sprint. That is why motivation can so easily be drained from our very feet.  As students, we become mindless in a room of knowledge. We chase a grade instead of mastery. We are looking for success and achievement, which leads us to look for this manifestation to what it all means, the “A.” Professors can be ensnared in much the same way. Their job is in every way a never-ending marathon of teaching to the average student drained of motivation. Do you think this isn’t taxing?

I cannot speak on the perspective of the professor, but I can speak from the perspective of the student. I can tell you what I want in a professor and what exactly engages me. I know this only because I have experienced it before. I know because the professors that have me thirsting for that extra drop of information shook me at my very core.

I want a professor willing to make noise. I want them to slam desks, notebooks, rulers, and information. I want the professor to offend me. I want them to excite my imagination and help me connect the dots to the real world. I want a professor willing to remind me that the outside world is tied to academia, not a separate entity.

Why do I want to be offended? If we do not experience discomfort do we ever grow? A baby endures pain when teeth are allowed to settle in their mouth. Is this any fun for the infant? Of course not. This takes place because if the baby, as well as the parent, wishes to efficiently survive it must make this sacrifice. I want a professor to offend my senses so that I am awakened. I want my mind engaged and cognitive dissonance to run wild in my mind. This is how we learn. Not the memorization of words on the page in a comfortable environment that has my eyelids straining to reach my brow. All for the sake of effort steeped in a meaning that may be lost on me. I want a professor to call me an idiot and drive me forward with the same words. I need a professor to be fearless in the face of political correctness and tell me what I truly need to do, not what is safe to be said.

We need to be awakened by the jolting feelings, thoughts, and sounds of discomfort otherwise we are lost in a world that has nothing.

Why So Intense?

Why is CPR glamorized so much? I see it as the primal nearly frantic moment of man helping man. The desperate act of doing something so basic in the face of immense technology merely for its lack of presence at the given moment. Then to see the reality of life unfolding, accepting that when life is in the midst of the twilight chapter that even the man beneath your hands is but another story.

Why Do You Love Hate?

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The Avett Brothers song “The Ballad of Love and Hate”, at first glance, is a traditional and predictable love song. So why does the song invoke such frisson? It doesn’t abruptly grab you, but rather guides you along, drawing you in like the first deep breath as you awake in the morning. A deeper meaning peels up from the bottom of your lungs and just as you would exhale that breath, you are caught in the comfort of the sounds, a confused mellow-toned song with a neutral raspy voice dancing over a finger-pick-style acoustic guitar.  Music to appeal to our inner critical thinker, these lyrics wash the listener in metaphors and dry them in tranquility. The song lectures on emotional challenges as a story of romance and as a metaphor for life. Effortlessly, the song relates to everyone with its lack of specificity, yet wraps itself in a particular story.

Line for line, the lyrics read more like a discussion, a conversation between two extremes unable to exist without one another. Love and hate are not only emotions but names, actions, and a description within the song – hate depicted as the male while love is the female descriptor, as is traditional. They are far from one another literally and figuratively. Love is on a beautiful vacation with images of serenity such as the blue sky and ocean. She is traveling back to Hate and during that time, the world around her becomes dreary while somehow maintaining positivity in her presence. Hate, being, emotionally unavailable, depressed, and pessimistic, walks city streets in a picture painted in shades of gray. Love wishes to do what her name implies and has that aura of beauty, not by physical characteristics but rather the possession of something alluring that can’t be seen or heard, just felt. She draws everyone to her while Hate pushes her away. He acts reckless and without regard to consequence. The lyrics highlight this in the lines, “Lazily killing the last of a jar, of the strongest stuff you can drink… Hate gets home lucky to still be alive, he screams o’er the sidewalk and into the drive.”  Drinking heavily and with abandon is often seen in those with inner struggles, referencing his need for love. Without her, Hate would surely cease to exist, which would shatter Love in the process, an indication of the complications in a genuine relationship, and the yin and yang of life.

The music isn’t exactly the embodiment of the lyrical story at first. The only accompaniment to the vocalist is a single acoustic guitar setting a mood as if you were sitting in an empty coffee shop in winter, and someone turned off the heat, a middle-of-the-road content yet not happy mood. There is a waltzing slow-dance-style rhythmic guitar with vocals trailing in relatively the same style. He has a raspy light voice contributing to the music’s sedative nature. The song settles into itself and the storytelling style just after the vocals start. The passion in his voice enriches the experience of the listener as well as the message’s impact. The simplistic music gives calm to the mind while the lyrics bear down heavy thought, a nod to the concept of balance.

A live version of the song, accessible on youtube.com via user tweetdriver, is more layered with emotion and hints to the song’s undertones. Although, the Avett Brothers is a two-man duo for vocals, only one of them, Scott, sings on stage, paralleling the original song on the album Emotionalism. The artist dressed in all black, long hair to match, soft tired eyes, and a mellow soulful voice personifies the songs theme well. Scott proves his sensitivity in an interview posted online by Entertainment Weekly, when the interviewer asked if they were love-sick. To which he responded, “We’re ridiculously sentimental… I remember meeting girls at church retreats at Lake Junaluska and meeting them once or twice in a weekend – and going home crying the whole way home that I would never see that person again.”

The two most influential parts of the performance on the audience come at two separate parts. First, he sings of Hate drinking strong alcohol, which resonates with the audience in the celebration of debauchery, but also relating to the low points we all experience in our lives. Second, his voice goes from soft and mellow to powerful, singing, “As soon as he sees her hope fills his eyes,” as Love meets the young man in the taxi. The crowd goes wild with praise over the raw emotion spilled across a, no doubt, dark popcorn-like ceiling of audience heads. Toward the end, he animates the lyrics when he says, “The clock in the kitchen says 2:55, and the clock in the kitchen is slow,” by slowing down the song abruptly when approaching the word slow. This deliberate declaration sets the audience into the culminating event where love and hate meet.

In that moment, the message comes full circle. A relationship will always have its ups and downs full of complications, and we all need to be picked up by one another. Throughout the song Hate constantly shakes off what should be considered good with, “whatever.” This seemingly negative statement takes on a new meaning when Love at the end says, “I’m yours and that’s it, whatever”, indicating that she will stand by him even in moments that may not be romantic or beautiful, a simplistic metaphor for love itself. Inside ourselves, we see a struggle in wanting to be angry, to hate, and when love asks to come in we resist. This mindset is a comfortable yet unpleasant place to be. To care for others or even ourselves takes work and leaves us vulnerable, something we would like to naturally avoid. Sadly, fear of vulnerability defines all relationships whether with ourselves or our significant other.

From another perspective, offered in interview with Patricia Hollis, the culmination when Love responds in a reciprocal manner to Hate, could be similar to how we teach people to treat us. Thus, it creates a manner in which one’s personality is expressed yet the behaviors are exactly the same toward one another. Whether this is healthy or not is a relative notion, but if two extremes are averaged out, we meet directly in the middle in a less than harmonious compromise. With all the multimodal metaphors running amuck, why wouldn’t it reside side by side with another message?

“The Ballad of Love and Hate”, is an anthem to the primal struggle of human interaction, a soulful story of life. The brothers skillfully crafted this idea into a mellow acoustic song worth a listen. Appropriate for an early fall afternoon, with your drink of choice, on the porch with a mind ready to contemplate. Let the song invoke your thoughts and soothe your own hate with the love in your heart. Appreciate the ones in your life that suffer even your worst outbursts, as these people are your love.

As always I love you guys and thanks for reading!

Works Cited

The Avett Brothers. “The Ballad of Love and Hate.” Emotionalis. Ramseur Records, 2007.

“The Avett Brothers on ‘The Carpenter,’ Gap Ads, Faith, and How Cancer Has Shaped Their Songs.” Interview by Grady Smith. EW.com. 29 Sept. 2012. Web. 23 Sept. 2014. <http://music-mix.ew.com/2012/09/29/the-avett-brothers/&gt;.

“Ballad of Love and Hate – The Avett Brothers Live.” YouTube. YouTube, 19 Feb. 2012. Web. 23 Sept. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5c1WCd8Qefc&gt;.

Hollis, Patricia, and Parran Hollis. “Informal Family Discussion.” Personal interview. 23 Sept. 2014.

Uncle Sam Needs an Eyepatch

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Today I started reading George Orwell’s book 1984. I have only reached chapter three and discovered disturbing comparisons with the oddly shaped America we live in today. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but I will not deny any truth either. I fear the way America is compromising herself due to fear is sadly self-masochistic. When I stop and think about how my fear motivates my thoughts on how fear motivates our actions I acknowledge the conundrum present. So it is with caution that I proceed.

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In the book 1984, the most abundantly clear concern that parallels our current state of affairs is the ever-present surveillance. While the world we live in may not have screens monitoring our every movement, it is still safe to say we are under a watchful eye. That haunting eye bearing itself more openly with the relatively recent creation of the Patriot Act that many consider unconstitutional. While this act was born for counter-terrorism purposes, it has also been utilized in ways unrelated to terrorism for the apprehension of your average criminal. At face value this does not seem harmful to the honest hardworking American, but I must remind my readers that, as John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton once said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This means that with any slight words or actions that COULD be interpreted as terrorist-like-behavior your personal life can be place under the proverbial microscope. I hear the argument that if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to worry about. I find this to be very characteristic of the sheep mentality. If we are not able to retain our privacy at more open levels when, where, why, and who determines the line in the sand. The saying, “You give and inch, they take a mile.” comes to mind. This can of worms could produce a future similar to Orwell’s existence of “Thought Police.” That is more frightening to me than the threat of terrorists.

It is speculated that due to the terrible events that occurred on September 11, 2001, and the fear planted into the hearts of the average American, is what allowed the passing of the Patriot Act. In admittance, I am no sociologist, and therefore no authority to determine such thoughts with certainty, I only humbly offer my take on such events.

Having experienced but a minute fraction of Orwell’s book, I cannot discern where the origination of such blatant oppression is rooted. I am witnessing a rather unnerving trend though, similar to what can be seen in our current society. If we are to make decisions based upon fear, then future decisions will be made by those who do not fear the consequences. Knee jerk reactions to any events in life are very often motivated by fear and more so uneducated. Planting these decisions firmly on the rationale of comfort and absolute safety, not intelligible resolution. While this behavior works quite well in the primitive fight or flight response to immediate life or death situations, it has no place in the determination of long-term social policy decisions.

Terrorism is defined by Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary as, “the use of violent acts to frighten the people in an area as a way of trying to achieve a political goal.” We have already allowed the terrorists responsible for the attack on 9/11 to achieve their main objective. Out of fear we have sacrificed freedoms that embody the American way, all in the name of safety. However, when I step outside my house, or reside within for that matter, I am at risk of death or dismemberment by my own.

we all fall down sometimes its whether we pick ourselves up that makes the difference

I do not believe the American government has any intention of controlling our minds or any ridiculous nonsense of that nature. I believe that those successful at their jobs are often in positions of power, and as such continue to look for avenues to excel. Just as an individual who works for the National Security Agency wishes to apprehend terrorists he will naturally exploit all possible options to achieve his goal. This is a healthy drive, but one we must remember to govern appropriately as a nation built upon democracy. We should constantly and objectively scrutinize all decisions made that affect the very freedoms the same organizations exist to protect.

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Thanks for reading, and as always I love you guys!

Motivation

So, at this current point in life I feel pretty overwhelmed. I feel overwhelmed by life; My finances are tightening up. School is looking endless. Work and my other responsibilities aren’t aligning well. My lease is ending soon, and we are supposed to be moving into a house. I could give up and lay down right now. The hell with it! I don’t want to deal with it. We all know none of that is going to happen, because, like everyone else, I have an innate drive to keep going. Not excel at what I am doing, but just get by. Stumbling through the everyday monotonous junk until the day it all falls on me. I’m not asking you to feel sorry for me. I’m here to tell you that someone has it worse than me, and someone has it worse than you. This petty crap doesn’t mean the end of your life. These stressful things are nothing but stress. If the military taught me anything it is this;

If you don’t want to sleep in the mud, don’t go to sleep. If you are doing this because you’re afraid to get dirty, too late. You can take a shower later, but you can’t get that experience back. You learn to dig in and embrace that your circumstances are less than perfect. You do the BEST you can to improve your situation and you keep on dragging your knuckles. Mother Nature or the person next to you will not magically make your circumstances better, nor should your expectation be to reach perfection. You can look for help from the people next to you and you can look toward perfection, but reality is an unrelenting bitch. So if you’re going to have any chance at success you’d better be the unrelenting bastard that tells her to get fucked.

 

I apologize for the explicit language, but this is the blatant truth. My standard of living and arrangements as I know them are in constant jeopardy of getting worse. There isn’t a single thing I can do about that. I take my situation and make it into the best possible circumstances I can.

I know I sound almost like a pretentious little shit so let me clarify. Your biggest enemy is yourself, and we are in a constant battle with ourselves. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder in 2010, of course I worry about everything (just by being diagnosed I’m better off than other people). I battle myself daily on how much unnecessary stress I put on myself. I fight the concept that sometimes there isn’t a damn thing you can do about life events. I fight myself every second of every day. What I have come to understand is that, no matter the outcome, if I did my best, life will in fact work out for the better. It may not be a reality tomorrow or a week from now, but eventually that shitty moment in life will have been worth something.

 

If we are proactive about our lives in the worst of times then when life starts getting better there is no doubt in your mind as to who is responsible for it. You are not going to achieve those far off reaches of awesome curled up in the corner concerned with the “impending failure”. Hell, you may not achieve it when you try. The difference comes with knowing. If you don’t try then you don’t know. At the end of the day you fail, trust me, all you want to do is try again. That is success. That is motivation. It isn’t some magical creature, and it isn’t a flawless performance. It is the willingness to fail, but not the acceptance of failure.