Tag Archives: hope

Worldview: The word which has empowered propaganda machines of the left and right

Worldview (n.) – a comprehensive conception or apprehension of the world especially from a specific standpoint. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

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Nothing truer than this.

Worldview is everything in political belief, whether or not we wish to admit it. What dictates beliefs from an ideological standpoint varies widely from person to person. The extremes of both sides of the ideological aisles often fail to see, or choose to be blind to, this fact. What is more bothersome is that many of the things which we hold as truths, as Obi-Wan Kenobi once observed with such eloquence, depends entirely on our point of view or, to use a more modern vernacular, our worldview.

This definitely affects how news and information is approached and received. The notion of “fake news” is not a new concept; President Theodore Roosevelt spoke of reporters who infiltrated sweatshops in America’s Northeast and Midwest in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s as “muckrakers.” To him, many of these reporters were simply attempting to sensationalize the conditions, such as those described in Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, in an attempt to advance an agenda. Granted, this was largely the case and did achieve historic changes which led to modern health and safety rules in the workplace, but Roosevelt and, more to the point, industrialists directly affected by the changes caused by said articles, regarded these journalists as self-serving do-gooders whose publishers where more concerned about selling newspapers than actually looking out for the national interest. It is very familiar song.

While the journalists of that time were unjustly regarded as parasites, today’s media has created much of its own perception issues, but those problems have also been exacerbated by the proliferation of the sources which cater to one particular worldview. Websites such as RedState, Huffington Post, NewsMax, and Mother Jones were all established with one purpose – activist journalism, which takes legitimate information and manipulates it to advance an agenda, be it conservative or liberal. These websites have become popular, and even trusted, because traditional legacy sources such as network news and periodicals such as Time, Newsweek and USA Today lost sight of their primary mission – to inform the public. Instead, traditional information sources have focused more on the viewpoints of individual writers and “anchors” to “sell the story,” rather than letting the story sell itself.

A great example would be to compare the Trump Administration to the Nixon Administration in terms of media coverage. Today’s media is focused on “pouncing;” attacking what the President does with Twitter, or what his underlings say in press conferences, and picking it apart. The media of the Nixon era was more concerned with receiving information as it was disseminated, analyzing it, and finding inconsistencies. While it was not entirely investigative journalism, the reporters of Nixon’s day focused more on the facts and allowed that administration to create its own worst nightmare; impeachable offenses revealed through a combination of individual hubris and collective administration incompetence. For the Nixon White House, the gaffes of ego committed by the cabal led by both Nixon himself and advisors, such G. Gordon Liddy, did more damage to that President than any newspaper editorial ever could. For Trump’s Administration, the media now appears to be willing patsies in a war of misinformation and blatant ego inflation. Rather than reporting on inconsistencies and obvious conflicts of interests, the media’s obsession with the President’s twitter feed and what his children do in their off hours appears to be stuff of political and editorial vendettas, as opposed to the work of truth-seeking reporters.

During operation Desert Storm in 1992, the late Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf pulled one of the great distraction moves in modern warfare. He sent coalition forces to the Kuwait border in such numbers to keep the late Saddam Hussein’s forces occupied and obsessed with stopping a direct invasion and then, in a bold move, launched a massive offensive to west of Kuwait, destroying the Iraqi Army’s rear lines. Much of Trump’s campaign and administration’s public relations moves appear to be the same; focus media and public attention away from the more pressing issues of the day by using marketing buzzwords and research to distract the public and media, then working to do things his way without public scrutiny. This sort of distraction is a classic tactic in business – use distraction in negotiations to focus attention on one hot-button issue in order to gain larger concessions on broader matters, and his most vocal, rabid supporters are defending him at every single turn, no matter how questionable his statements on these matters. A good question is why are these voters buying into it, but a better question is how is Trump pulling it off?

The answer is simple; Trump is playing to the fears of his base’s worldview.

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Former Fox host Glenn Beck, who became famous for his conspiracy chalkboards, started his conservative talk career at WFLA-AM in Tampa in 1998.

Many Trump voters share a similar, if not identical, worldview; a collective group of nations, largely Muslim, which seek to destroy the United States by any means necessary. While several of these nations exist, most lack the will or ability to strike even indirectly. In addition, they feel that corporate America is part of a globalist cabal which seeks to destroy the American-Western way of life. Some of these worldviews also put white Anglo-Saxon protestants (so called “WASPs”) at the top of the world pyramid of authority. Others espouse the worldview that Western culture is far superior to any others on Earth – former radio host and libertarian standard-bearer Neal Boortz once famously admitted he was not a racist but a “culturalist,” stating he did believe that Western civilization was superior to all others on Earth and must retain its eminence, and TheBlaze founder Glenn Beck was pulled from Fox News when even the heads of the largely conservative-oriented news network got the jitters over Beck’s increasingly conspiratorial claims on his own short-lived TV program.

While these worldviews are often based in personal experience, they can also be based in a facade of nationalism designed to profit from the fears and emotions of those who seek validation of their beliefs and views. It is these individuals, such as conspiracy theorist and radio host Alex Jones and Breitbart head/Trump advisor Scott Bannon, who are the greatest purveyors of convincing misinformation. In Bannon’s case, a reasonable individual can deduce one reason for his practices – packaging propaganda in a veneer of factual data to present in such a way that it’s accepted because it matches the accepted views of those who voted for Trump in the first place and, therefore, emboldens the President to behave in a manner which is to the advantage of both Bannon and those of his ilk.

To many, the media is not reliable because it was the media itself who bought into the notion of not only informing the public, but influencing it to act in accordance with a narrative. Individuals such as CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Nancy Grace, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews, and even Fox News’ newest crop of hosts are not journalists in the true sense of the world, but commentators using the facts given by genuine reporters to advance an agenda. This is reminiscent of another individual who has used legitimate reporting as a means to advance an agenda – The 700 Club’s Pat Robertson. The controversial conservative minister’s Christian Broadcasting Network, though a reasonably ethical operation on its own, allows its facts to be manipulated for Robertson’s own purposes, mainly fundraising. For this reason, CBN suffers from a heavy dose of “guilt by association,” and is regarded as a less-than-credible outlet for information.

Another example of worldview issues could be found on the other end of the spectrum, BBC News. For years, Britain’s government-owned network was regarded as a go-to source for information from around the world, with strong ethics and a high standard of quality and accuracy. As time went on, BBC’s own anchors became more and more focused on news which portrayed the United States in a less-than-flattering way and, for that reason, aided far-right media types in a campaign to paint the mainstream media as liberal elitists. Unfortunately, this image was only entrenched further when a scandal broke within the BBC’s ranks exposing editorial bias being encouraged and dissent being quashed by network bosses. Those with a worldview of journalists being nosy crusaders only concerned with their career found their views confirmed, and this only served to undermine the media and enhance the position of ideologically-oriented websites which take legitimate information and spin it to suit their needs.

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MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, known for her fiery ultra-left views, is considered part of why the network’s ratings continue to languish far behind CNN and Fox News.

So how can we separate the good from the bad, the reliable from the speculative. Critical thinking comes into play here. If something doesn’t an instinctual “smell test,” chances are it is either false or manipulated. Stories about Trump which seem too crazy to be truth tend to be so, just as stories about former President Obama also lean that way. Both sides have websites which focus on fomenting resistance though inflammatory news articles, and both are extremely adept at pointing fingers at the other side while denying stories which they themselves plant. One way to determine the veracity of story is to know the backgrounds of the writers. When one sees the words “activists,” or “political expert” or “left” or “right” in their bio, it is a fairly safe bet that writer has the interests of their cause, not the reader, at heart.

While some ideologically oriented websites have quality informational articles, double checking the information though other mainstream sources is always advised. If even a sliver of the information is accurate, it could point to a much greater situation. Nevertheless, worldview contributes to how we view news, whether we want to admit it or not.

Time to “turn it up” with my 2017 theme song, as we go “Over and Over”

It would appear this year’s theme, Rachel Platten’s Fight Song, was all too true.  We all appeared to be in the fight of our lives, with many of us, and those we loved so much, not making it to the end.  For me, it was a year of transformation on a fundamental level.  I had long said the “old John” was gone, but never knew just how of who I used to be was still left.  This year ended that with swift, decisive blows.  My dark side came out in grand fashion in so many ways, but it was all part of a release and acknowledgement that who I had been for so long was someone never wanted to be again.

This year’s theme song is a little late in the selection, only because it was hard to decide one which matches how 2017 is shaping up to be.  It is about both completion and renewal.  Many things in my life are now looking to bloom anew, and many of those I once counted as close friends have parted ways with me.  What was in the past must be left there, and there are so few songs which combine the themes of loneliness and sadness with healing and profound hope.  Fortunately I found one.

I have to hand it to the Goo Goo Dolls, they really do know how to hit a home run with their music.  My theme song for this year is their hit Over and Over, which really does hit on all cylinders.

The music is loud and rocking, the lyrics are meaningful.  Here is just a taste…

Love is all you want, but you never gonna feel the same.

It’s hard to be yourself when everyone around you’s changin’

Open up your eyes and you’ll lose yourself again.

And we go over and over and over again

Are you lost in the past thinking what might have been?

You’re here and you’re now, start it over and then,

Take it over and over and over again.

TURN IT UP!

So damned true about 2016 for me.  I was stuck in the past thinking “what might have been.”  Those days are over.  I’m done being stuck in the past.  Now I can focus on a new, bright future.  I’m taking risks the likes of which I have never taken before.  I’m done being safe.  I fought and scrapped in 2016.  This year was the fight for my life, and I was so right about it.  Rather than just a superficial fight for freedom, this turned into a fight to change myself into someone I was meant to be.  The battle was between myself and I, and many people were hurt in the process.  I am sorry for this, but now I have a chance to start over and start again, and that’s exactly what I intend to do.

This song will be the theme playing in my mind whenever I need inspiration.  When I need to remind myself why I left certain occupations, choices, and people in the past, this song will be played.  I’m dedicating myself to being happier, more alive, more mindful and more “in the moment.”  This year will be devoted to finishing what I started, as well as working to the best person I can be, whether through helping others, fighting for worthy causes, or memorializing the sacrifices of others.  This year is about completion and new beginnings, and this song will help drive me in that direction.

So, as the Goo Goo Dolls would say, TURN IT UP!  Happy 2017 – as my fellow author and dear friend Jessa Harris would say, let’s “make it amazing!”

Americus Officers:  How YOU Can Help – UPDATE!

UPDATE:  the YouCare fund is at $7000 of a $10000 goal!  Please donate what you can!

The killing of Officer Nick Smarr and shooting of Officer Jody Smith has rocked the city of Americus and the state of Georgia.  Both officers were shot in the head.  This sort of thing simply doesn’t happen in Americus.  For so many of us who either have direct ties to the city, Georgia Southwestern, or are simply wishing to help out, it may feel like there’s nothing we can do.
Finally some good news:  we can help!

Below is a link to a YouCaring page set up to accept donations for the families of these the heroes.  Please, give what you can.  Both of these families need our help. 

Click here:

Americus and GSW Officers Family Fund

A call for prayer and healing in Americus

Americus grieves, a city in pain

For it lost one son today

This town which sits upon a hill

A community of vast collective will

Now its citizens mourn and cry

For one of their finest has just died

Their college, a beacon of wisdom and strength

They too have come together to pray.

We do, indeed, know the killers name

We hope for capture or surrender in shame

A town so close, so bonded together

This is a storm it too shall weather.

For you see “Americus” is the man

Its female counterpart the continent it spans.

For as Americus the city now prays with great zeal.

We call upon our lady, AMERICA, to help it heal.

Great non-food donation ideas for charities

The holiday season brings out the charitable spirit, and many folks want to give.  There are some very effective ways to give and help out the less fortunate in ways most people would never think of.

Toiletries


It may sound strange, but one of the most basic needs for many less fortunate are essential toiletries such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, razors and feminine hygiene products.  Many times charities rely on sponsors for these items, and they tend to run out.  Bear in mind one other thing; hygiene products help those in need keep from being sick and, especially for men, provide a sense of dignity when looking for work.

Candy


This is a hot button issue for a lot of people.  Many who give to charities believe candy is a luxury, not a necessity, but here is a practical counter argument:  for those in need who are diabetic, candy can provide a vital sugar boost in the event of injury or illness.  For children, it allows them to feel a sense of joy and compassion in harsh world during the holidays.

Laundry and cleaning supplies


Believe it or not, thanks to stores such as Dollar Tree, these are items which can get the absolute maximum bang for your donation buck.  Ten dollars can literally buy enough cleaning supplies and detergent to help a small family do a months worth of washing and cleaning to keep their residence free of germs, which can reduce the chances of a trip to the emergency room for such things as viruses and the flu.

Socks and hosiery


These are easily the most sought-after non food items on a charity’s list, and here’s why:  they wear out quickly but also provide comfort to those in need.  While many people think blankets are important to staying warm, warm feet are just as important.  Clean, dry cotton socks are highly prized by charities for warmth, and dress socks and hosiery are sought after by career placement arms of charities to help job seekers who can’t afford work clothes.

Pet food


The common misconception is that needy families and individuals don’t have pets or don’t feed them properly.  That is absolutely false.  For most in need who have homes and are low income, the family dog or cat are the most beloved family members and, along with feeding children, often eat before the adults do.  Pet food, cat litter, and dog treats are essentials on donation need lists.

And finally,

Seasonal outerwear


Contrary to popular belief, most charities do not have shelves lined with all sorts of coats, hats, gloves, scarves and mittens.  In warmer regions, it is rare they have sunscreen on the shelves.  Many folks assume charities can just go out and buy this with cash donations, but money is limited and is often earmarked for mandated programs such as job training and utility assistance.  For this reason, outerwear is also a very welcome donation, especially adult sizes as many adult tend to donate children’s sizes.

I welcome feedback and testimonials on what my readers see as needs for charities and I encourage input on reputable charities in your area.  In the coming weeks I post charities which are reputable and ensure those in need get the help they need.

What those without long-term careers understand 

The current economic climate may look bright, but millions of people are discovering their jobs are, in fact, disappearing before their eyes.  Many who are in professions which are high demand are having little trouble finding work, but that is the exception rather than the rule, and not everyone has the mental, emotional and physical aptitude to be in medicine, law enforcement, engineering or information systems.  For those of us who don’t possess those skills, the job hunt can be a daunting one and careers can be hard to build.  Here are some things those of us who have not been able to enjoy long term careers understand:

Any change which makes us stronger or wiser is good, regardless of the pain involved.

It’s always a battle to prove ourselves:  like it or not, many folks who aren’t able to create long term careers find ourselves in situations where we are constantly having to show our value to an employer. We have to scrap for everything and have had very little handed to us.  We truly earn our keep.

Our “black book” has only a few trusted connections:  people with long term career generally enjoy tons of connections and develop relationships with several influential decision makers.  For those of us who don’t have this, networking becomes about who we can trust instead of who can get us ahead.  The people we know will “come through” mean more than someone who promises the moon, but can’t deliver.

Hobbies often add to our value:  some of us write, some draw, some sing.  We all have one thing in common – we have a hobby, an interest, which rounds us out makes us a valued commodity.  Our outside pursuits are often determined by what they bring to the workplace and how they can make us feel more comfortable in our job and keep us relaxed and centered.  Many folks with long term careers become “the job” and don’t deviate from it; for those of us whose career experience is diverse, it’s our outside interests, not our careers, which define our sense of self.

We RARELY get shackled by the “golden handcuffs”:  we all know that person who had the chance of a “dream job” but committed the cardinal sin of personal finance:  they became reliant on bonuses or overtime.  Those of us without long term careers learned something around the third or fourth new job – anything over BASE is “found money.” You never, ever rely on it.  That sort of mentality is a sanity killer and burnout guarantee.

We can relate to many different types of people:  being in one career for a long time has great stability benefits, but it also makes it difficult to relate to someone who doesnt speak your “professional vocabulary.”  I know several people in long term careers who do not associate with people outside their work much, simply because others don’t “get” their job or understand the myriad jargon they use.  It’s sad, but true.  Those who don’t have long term careers learn how to relate to many different people from different professional backgrounds.

We adjust to change more effectively:  those of us who have not been in one career our whole lives tend to accept change much more readily because we know change is a constant.  It’s life.  When a career is the same for long periods of time, upheaval can be very traumatic and it can even wreak major emotional and mental havoc.  Those of us with multi career lives are able to “shift on the fly” with relative ease.

Finally…

We are not married to our job:  loving your job is great.  Having a profession which gives you satisfaction is beautiful.  When you feel tired or burned out, career satisfaction is no longer relevant.  It become a just another paycheck.  Service oriented jobs are a chore, and professional work is all about the benes and the scratch.  Those of us without long term careers can bring a sense of perspective to others because we don’t allow our work to define us, we define ourself through who we are and what we love.

I hope this post offers some solace to those without long term careers.  On a personal note, I had felt that not “finding my place” in the career world was a detriment, but I’ve discovered these factors actually make me a very strong person from a career standpoint.  I found it healing to write.  Comments are always welcome.