A word or two about bullying, and challenge we face from it

It’s easy to wonder why someone would choose to bully another, but harder to understand why others encourage it.  This statement prompted by the fact that, despite our best intentions, there is absolutely no way to completely eliminate bullying, be in school, the workplace, or in life itself.  At some point, every single person is going to be intimidated by someone else, or bullied, or feel threatened.  The question is how we respond to the threat and rise to the moment.

Do we attempt to eliminate it, or do we use it as a means of growth and a source of personal strength?  That’s the conundrum we face because being bullied, by any stretch of the imagination, is not acceptable.  It is a direct violation of one’s dignity, one’s person and one’s mind.  More than being physically assaulted, a person who is bullied suffers from mental and emotional trauma.  Complicating matters is the fact that, more often than not, the bully is enabled by those involved, either because they have something to gain from the bully directly or because they themselves are afraid to speak up.  Sadly, the media and entertainment-foisted notion of bullies being “shamed into submission” is too often not the case at all, but merely a pipedream.

How do I know?  I myself was on the receiving end of being bullied.

Yes, I was once threatened, pushed around, and challenged by people in school and as an adult.  These folks, more often than not, were trying to either look like the prototypical “bad ass” to their peers, and chose to single me out for either a misunderstanding, or because I was perceived as weak and vulnerable.  Of course, there are those who believe on a fundamental level that bullying was actual beneficial to me.  This, of course, is a foolish notion usually based on a perverse form of social Darwinism; the only way for someone who is bullied to grow strong is to, in fact, be bullied and stand up to that threat.  There are also those who believe that bullies have a moral reason for their action – that the recipient of their hyper-aggression wronged them or society in some way and must be punished.  This is the height of both hubris and narcissism.

So what can one do about being bullied?  Should one confront the person, or walk away, or ignore?  It needs to be addressed on a case by case basis, but the person doing the intimidation must be held accountable somehow, even if the person being bullied simply writes about.  What’s frightening is how some many social media “trolls,” users who basically make outlandish, insensitive statements for mere shock value, have themselves taken to online bullying of youths and adults through shaming comments.  Be it picking on a celebrity’s pregnancy, downing the good work of a Samaritan, or making insulting, shameful comments about race or sexual orientation, these bullies are at the absolute bottom of the barrel.  Many were aggressive towards those they perceived as targets of opportunity in their waking lives, and have felt empowered to translate this sort of mean-spirited, aggressive behavior into the cyberverse.  There is also the more insidious form of bullying – the sort in which the aggressor co-opts an issue, a perceived societal wrong, in order to portray the image of power and righteousness when, in reality, that person or group is merely wishing to look powerful so they can intimidate others.

There is no real cure for bullying – it is a disease which is an affliction upon the heart of humanity as a whole.  It reminds us of the need for constant vigilance against those who chose to step backwards instead of moving forward.  It can range from physical intimidation to legal brow beating, but the result is the same.  When this sort of behavior is enabled, it threatens to metastasize into a form of group think; a body politick which can be co-opted into a movement against a particular racial, sexual, gender or economic subset as a means of distraction from greater issues; rather than focusing on the bully’s behavior, they manipulate us into focusing on what benefits them.  Again, it is a fundamental form of narcissism, and it must be reoriented towards the greater issues at hand.

When the light of truth is focused on the root of the behavior, the person can be exposed for what they have been doing, and then proper action can be applied.  To do anything less would be doing a disservice, but it must be first done among us adults so we can have the collective strength to face this issue without feeling like we are overstepping.

If the Interstate Highway system was a family reunion

If the interstate highway held a family reunion, here is how it would likely play out.

INTERSTATES 80, 90, and 10 would be the worldly, sophisticated types who believe they know everything because they have traveled coast-to-coast.  They would likely look down on the shorter interstates as uneducated, judgmental morons.  Everyone else would notice the work they’ve had done to look modern, but they would dismiss it as a “cost of doing business.”  They would be drinking $50 a bottle red wine.

INTERSTATES 29, 94, 35, 40, 70, 25, 71, 15 and 75 would be at the picnic table, talking about their kids, their families, and the next vacation they are taking.  Also mentioned in the discussion are Super Bowls, World Series and who won the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup.  Everyone is at least 40 years old, loaded with debt, and whining about the government doesn’t give a shit about their problems.

INTERSTATE 76 would be the hipster cousin hanging out by the dog house, holding a craft beer in one hand and a cheesesteak in the other.  He’s going to Pittsburgh afterwards to get a grinder.

INTERSTATE 84 would be wearing a UConn Huskies shirt, talking to 76 and offering him a joint, then bitching about how people don’t understand his lifestyle choices, and the hiking trip he’s getting to take through the Cascades.

INTERSTATE 4 would be swacked on a enough tequila and cheap beer to light up Orlando, and smoking a cigar the size of Tampa.  She would be complaining how she’s never been able to get to the west coast of Florida to see a sunset.

INTERSTATES 5, 55, and 95 would be arguing about how the West Coast is better than the East Coast, and how the Midwest is better than either one.  5 brings sushi and Napa Valley wine, 55 brings St. Louis and Memphis barbecue and Budweiser, and 95 brings New York Pizza and Florida orange juice.  All three have had major plastic surgery done.

INTERSTATES 85, 59, 24, 26 and 74 are all inside watching SEC football, drinking Jack and Coke, and talking about their next fishing trips.  Traffic in Atlanta is a sore spot, and nobody dares to mention the ACC or New York Yankees.  They leave early so they can make it church on Sunday.

INTERSTATES 77, 81, and 64 arrive together.  They were late because their car, a late model General Motors sedan, broke down and they had walk to the auto parts store to buy WD 40 to take the rust off the busted part.

INTERSTATE 12 would have made it on time, but it got drunk and forgot to turn left and ended up in Baton Rouge.  When it turned around, it forgot to turn right and ended up back in Biloxi.

INTERSTATE 83 forgets to come to the reunion because it’s too busy deciding if it wants to live in Pennsylvania or Maryland.

INTERSTATE 86 sends its regrets, saying that it can’t come because it’s saving up to buy a house now that moved from Connecticut to New York.

INTERSTATES 89, 91, and 93 forgo the reunion and instead spend the weekend hiking through Vermont, snarfing mass quantities of Ben & Jerry’s.  They all have Bernie Sanders bumper stickers on the back of their luxury cars.

INTERSTATE 87 is stuck in traffic in New York and arrives late.  It spends the whole time bitching about how French Canadians are ruining the neighborhood it lives in.  It suffers from a mild strain of bi-polar disorder.

INTERSTATES H1, H2 and H3 are manning the grill, cooking killer Hawaiian-style barbecue and bitching about traffic and the high cost of living.  Two of them are retirees from the mainland, while one is retired from the Navy.

INTERSTATES 69, 2, 73 and 22 are sitting at the children’s table, looking at their cellphones and trying to figure out ways to hack into digital highway signs to order to post obscene or racist messages.

INTERSTATE 27 would be at the grill too, but cooking 2 lb steaks. He’s wearing a red cowboy hat, Texas Tech shirt and singing “Amarillo by Morning”

INTERSTATES 44, 57, 72, and 96 would talking about looming strikes, eating burgers and hot dogs, and drinking beer.

INTERSTATE 65 would be bouncing around all the groups, being a social butterfly.  Deep down, it feels like a rock star trapped in a country singer’s body.

INTERSTATES 16 and 37 would be floating in the pool, wearing sunglasses and relaxing. 16 would be wearing a Georgia Southern shirt, while 37 is wearing a Dallas Cowboys shirt.  Neither has any clue if their team won last week.

INTERSTATES 8, 17 and 19 arrive from Phoenix and tell everyone complaining about the heat how they are lightweights, that it’s 120 degree in the shade with no rain for at least three months.  All three are retirees.

INTERSTATES 66, 68, 78, 79 and 99 are yelling at each other about politics.  68 and 99 are accusing 66, 78 and 79 of being tax-and-spend liberals, while 66 and 79 call 68 and 99 conservative neanderthals.  78 is a billionaire who own a ton of buildings in New York and announces his plans to run for President while at the reunion.  Nobody takes 78 seriously at first mainly because his main base of popularity is suburban New Jersey.

INTERSTATES 30 and 49 are walking around, discussing business deals and how they plan to spend their billions and oursourcing jobs.  They constantly bitch about big government, but brag about how they got huge tax breaks for opening new stores.  They argue about who is going to win the Arkansas-Texas A&M game.

All the non-beltway 3 digit interstates are playing on the jungle gym, having fun but not really knowing what to do.  Several run off and have to be corralled, but most return to their parents when it’s time to go home.

The beltway 3 digit interstates are all teenagers droning endlessly about how their lives are so complicated, how they have nowhere to go and would love to just break away and go somewhere when they grow up.  A couple of them are very fast runners, while most prefer to just walk.

INTERSTATE 238 is an adopted child of Interstates 80 and 5.  Nobody likes it because it’s short, stubby and looks weird, but they accept it because its parents love it with all their hearts.

INTERSTATES 35W and 35E are identical twin sisters.  One has a Texas accent, while the other prefers scandinavian food and cold winters.  Both gripes about nobody cares about them.

INTERSTATES A1, A2, A3, A4, and PR1 and PR2 haven’t been heard from in 60 years.  Everyone believes they are in witness protection.

INTERSTATES 82, 43 and 41 organized the whole damned thing because, dammit, they wants to feel like they actually belongs!

POEM: That who I am

Pain and anguish, looking away to the past

They have corrupted a once joyful heart.

I look to you, my friend, my healer

The one who greets me through the looking glass.

You are but a shadow of the self you once were.

Where did you go?  Why did you run?

Is it not folly to believe our soul is unified,

Suffering together as true comrades in arms?

We have battled through much, sacrificed more,

And still we emerge, bloodied, injured, yet steadfast.

Hear me, heart which aches from decades of torment,

For this burden is no longer yours to endure.

Indeed, like Ulysses, yours is made weak by time,

Strong in will, and still stronger in forgiveness,

For those who harmed you no longer grace the field of battle.

Yours is the heart once broken, now healing

Burned by lust, stabbed by pride, bled by greed

Now healing through unconditional love and forgiveness

Understanding is your life lesson, my friend,

It is the vessel with which you shall sail to peace.

One shall greet you upon the day you arrive,

Which shall occur the day you surrender your fear.

Beyond a mere leap of faith, it is a truly blind jump,

One which commands that who commits to this action

To abandon the known and comfortable for the uncertain.

The moment of landfall marks the beginning of completion

It is the end of your beginning, when the heart is whole.

Upon that time, when the two become one

Joy and happiness shall flood and renew

And what was once lust shall be seen as love and truth.

Gaze into the looking glass and see yourself in whole

There is no longer reason for judgment of your failures

Nor is there need for recrimination or consternation.

Faith becomes belief, which begets knowledge, which begets wisdom

In the end, all unify to produce the one known as that who I am.

The Real ID Act Saga Continues – letter sent to the State of Georgia – UPDATE

UPDATE 8/26/2015 – I received this message back from the Georgia Department of Drivers Services:

If you can get counsel from the Superior Court in your County, they may have some answers.  We’re unable to veer off our rules set by the Attorney General

Georgia’s Attorney General is Sam Olens, I have written this office directly and hope to receive a response of some sort.  This is a ‘pass the buck’ answer I expected.  Unfortunately, bureaucrats seem to not care about regular folks anymore.

——

Well, the Real ID Act Saga with regards to my wife’s drivers license continues.  After messaging the office of Governor Nathan Deal (R), we received this response a few weeks back:

STATE OF GEORGIA

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

ATLANTA 30334-0900

Nathan Deal

GOVERNOR

Dear Mrs. Guzzardo:

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts regarding identification requirements to obtain a Georgia driver’s license.  I appreciate your concerns.

So that this situation can be addressed to your satisfaction, I encourage you to discuss your ideas with your state legislators.  The members of the General Assembly in your district can actually sponsor or vote on legislation on your behalf.  Should you need their contact information, it is available from your county board of voter registration or by visiting http://www.legis.ga.gov/.

You can look up any bill under consideration by the Georgia General Assembly by going to the legislature’s website at http://www.legis.ga.gov/.  When such legislation reaches my desk for signature, I will give very careful consideration to the concerns you have voiced.

It is always good to hear from my fellow citizens, and I appreciate you making me aware of your interest in this matter.

First of all, the hell you do, Governor Deal!  My wife’s situation deserves more than just a stupid damned form letter!  Second, not one single lawmaker we have messaged or called has returned our call, so we are obviously not important.  That being said, I’m am going to make public the letter I sent to the Department of Drivers Services (DDS) office which handles this matter, so it is a matter of public record, with names redacted:

Dear (name omitted),

I am writing to let you know we continue to be unsuccessful with
finding documents prior to 1983.  At this moment, while we do have the marriage license tying Tanya’s maiden name to her married name, attempting to find any sort of name records prior to 1983 has proven difficult at best.

Cleveland Metropolitan Schools in Cleveland, Ohio cannot find any early records on file.  Social Security Administration cannot find a source document for her number, despite the fact that federal law requires one.  In addition, we are in the situation where we expect to have to buy a car within the next year to replace the one we have, and Tanya’s lack of Georgia drivers license is putting us in danger of not being able to purchase one as, under Georgia law, ALL owners titled to a vehicle must have a Georgia drivers license.

We have contacted lawmakers and the Governor, and federal officials and nobody seems to be able to help us.  We have contacted the State Department and explained her situation, but the State Department has stated that she will NOT qualify for a passport because she needs an identifying document form the first five years of her life.  We cannot find this.

Through no fault of her own, my wife has been relegated to the status of being an “unperson.”  We would have hoped your office could have assisted us with this matter, but your counsel has insisted upon that documentation from prior to 1983. Tanya does not show up on any obituary or census record, yet she possesses a Social Security number which was established in her name.  The requirements enacted by the Federal Real ID Act have caused hardships nationwide for people such
as my wife, but only Georgia seems to be as strict, as I have read
stories about others in states such as Utah, North Carolina and Texas being granted waivers with far less documentation.

I honestly wish Tanya and I could meet with your counsel so she can see that Tanya is as American as anyone born here, and that she is “who she says she is” and has no reason to deceive anyone with regards to her identity.  She is a hardworking, taxpaying resident of Georgia, but the state government refuses to see her as such.  We find this rather unsettling.

Your cooperation with any sort of guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,
John Guzzardo

I’ll continue to keep you all posted on this matter.  If you wish, you can contact Governor Nathan Deal’s office about this matter at this website.  I know I won’t quit trying and, in the meantime, we really do need to repeal the Federal Real ID Act as it doesn’t help anyone!

41 bits of wisdom I’ve learned in my life – one for every year.

  1. If you like coffee, learn to drink and appreciate it black at some point.
  2. Drink that bottle of Coke you left sitting the sun – it always seems to taste sweeter.
  3. Learn how to change a tire, and change someone else’s at least once.
  4. At least once in your life, take a long trip using only back roads.
  5. Cheating only really works in baseball.
  6. Karma is real, but it’s also oblique – if you hurt someone one way, you aren’t going to necessarily be hurt back by that person, or in the same way.
  7. The bigger the decision, the more nights you should sleep on it.
  8. Jump in “feet first” at least once, then decide if you have a taste to do again.
  9. Don’t judge lifestyle choices – you never know when you may do something similar.
  10. It’s okay to whine once in a while.
  11. Social media is not the place for marital disputes.
  12. Learn how to apologize for things which aren’t your fault.
  13. Learn how to flirt innocently – it can be done.
  14. If you have to stare, aim for the eyes.
  15. Try to grow flowers or vegetables at least once – it gives you an appreciation for caring for life.
  16. Meditate as often as you can.
  17. Trust the soft voice you hear.
  18. A broken heart can only be healed by the person it belongs to.
  19. Falling in love is easy – hitting the ground after falling, that’s hard.
  20. It’s called a “crush” for a reason, and the word says it all.
  21. Write.  Often.
  22. Superstitions are based partly on our life truths.  Trust the ones which serve you.
  23. Trust your dreams.  Write them down.  Remember them.
  24. Forgive everyone, especially yourself.
  25. Truth is the confluence of every side of the story.
  26. Numbers do lie because humans invented them.
  27. Nobody has the right to decide who lives and dies except the person who that life belongs to.
  28. Morality is matter of perspective.
  29. Modern holy books are based, at least in part, on the political views of those who modernized them.
  30. News is a business – objectivity is an ideology.
  31. Sex and love are different.  Confusing the two is dangerous and can life-altering consequences.
  32. Learn to love without fear of injury – it can take a lifetime to learn how to do this.
  33. The one you are looking for is often staring you in the mirror.
  34. The difference between “loving yourself” and “being in love with yourself” comes down to two words:  giving and taking.
  35. We all hit bottom at one point – most of us bounce up, then right back down a few times.
  36. Getting knocked on your back is a good thing – you learn how to alter your stance so it happens less.
  37. The more the object is polished and shined, the less valuable or appreciated it likely is.
  38. When you finally release your attachment to a dream, it usually comes true.
  39. Learn how to find peace and silence when there is loud noise all around you.
  40. When you can’t see around the corner, turn wide so you can break off if you have to.
  41. Accept the things you can’t control, and what your heart feels is one of those things.

A story of offensive flags and what really matters in the end

A store owner put up the Confederate Battle Flag, the Nazi flag, the flag of the former Soviet Union, the flag of North Korea, and the flag of ISIS.  On the other side of the store, he put up a New England Patriots flag, a New York Yankees flag, a Detroit Red Wings flag, a Los Angeles Lakers flag, and flags from the Universities of Notre Dame, Georgia, Southern California, Alabama, Michigan, Penn State, Harvard, and Yale.

A customer walked in, noticed all the flags, and asked a basic question.  “Why do you have all these offensive flags inside?”

The owner, smiling, looked the customer square in the eye and gave this answer:

“These flags all offend someone, somewhere.  The Confederate Battle Flag offends northerners, black folks, and many other minorities.  The Nazi flag offends Jewish folks.  The Soviet flag offends conservatives and a lot of other folks.  North Korea’s offends Korean War veterans, and ISIS offends most Americans with a lick of common sense.  The sports flags offend anyone who doesn’t love the teams, and especially anyone who loves the rivals of those teams.  I never let them be seen from outside the store, because I don’t used them to advertise.”

The customer, now not only mildly offended but slightly perplexed, pushed the issue.  “But why have them if they offend people?”

The owner pointed outside to a flagpole featuring the United States flag fluttering in the breeze, and responded.  “This store is only open in the evenings, and it has no windows, so these flags will never have their day in the sun, which means they are in their rightful place.  The flag out there, the Stars and Stripes, is up from sunrise til sundown, because that flag is the ONLY one which should EVER fly that high and see the light of day.”