Is Affirmative Action Fraudulent?

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The internet is interesting, especially because it is easy to come across new ideas (at least to you) even though they were published over a year ago. That’s what happened to spark this blog post. I stumbled across a conservative news site and found an article claiming that Affirmative Action harms everyone.

The way I understand it, the premise behind Affirmative Action is that we have capable people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, and they needed an equal chance to compete for education, employment, etc. The hope and the intent were to undo the lasting effects of racial inequality in the United States.

This article purports that the reality of Affirmative Action is that it harms everyone. The program actually cuts out qualified students (and employees) who were better qualified and substitutes students (and employees) who aren’t fully prepared for the rigors they encounter. The students who are accepted don’t excel as well as they would have in a less rigorous environment, and the ones who were better qualified are not as challenged as they should be.

To me, this is an interesting “coin” to observe. On one hand, there is ample evidence that merit-based advancement creates motivation to succeed. In a perfect meritocracy, we might even be able to get the best out of every individual.

On the other hand, there really are things in modern society such as “white privilege” (which I’m not convinced is a conscious and sinister as some would paint it to be), glass ceilings, bias, and corruption.

Which takes me back to questions I have never satisfactorily answered:

  • What is the correct solution to inequality?
  • How do we fix problems that are deeply ingrained in our cultural fabric and to which many members of the society are blind?
  • Do we have a hope of genuinely fixing anything with the current trends of protesting, rioting, and shouting down anyone who holds an opposing opinion?

Comments are available! If you had the ability, what would you do about the lingering effects of racial bias and inequality? What kind of policies would actually be good and just for everyone?

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Boy Scout Girls

379001Before I begin my post today, I would like to make it clear that I am aware that girls have been boy scouts for a while — generally at the venture level. So, in making the decision to open boy scouts to more generally include girls, it does fit (at least to a degree) with past practices.

I have seen several social media posts praising the decision and focusing on what a wonderful step forward this is for girls.

But what about the boys?

Yes, our history is largely composed of the exploits of white Anglo-Saxon men. Yes, women and people of other ethnic backgrounds have needed to struggle and fight to find equal footing, and there are indicators that we haven’t gotten there yet.

I am just concerned that we are trying to gain equal footing by tearing down what others have built. That logically appears to be a recipe to destroy everything. Building is what creates progress.

In cases where those social structures are deliberately freezing out others, I agree that working within the confines of the law to tear these cultural traditions down is probably the only way to fix things.

I’m just not convinced that most organizations are intentionally freezing anyone out.

Genetics

If I’m pulling the numbers out of my brain correctly, every human being on the planet shares over 99% of identical DNA. With less than 1% differing, look at all of the beautiful human variety that we have! Boys and girls differ by one entire chromosome, and yet we somehow convince ourselves that the only thing that this particular chromosome does is change a couple of body parts.

As a mother of two girls and one boy and a former teacher of 16 years, I beg to differ. From toddlerhood on, I have seen significant differences in the mental workings of boys and girls. My daughters took stuffed animals to bed at night. My son, no matter how hard I tried to convince him to choose a stuffed animal, slept with his toy cars and trucks. No matter how hard I tried to teach differently, boys are more likely to react physically to events in their world and girls are more likely to talk about it.

My experiences lead me to believe that boys and girls view, process, and react to the world differently.

Safe Spaces

Which takes me back to my concern about “equalizing through destruction.” Tearing down barriers and breaking down walls feels like a noble fight.

Apples and oranges are both equally fruit. No matter how hard we try, we can’t make an apple an orange or an orange an apple. We have to appreciate both for what they are and integrate them into our diet appropriately.

Separate is not necessarily equal, but boys and girls have different needs. Perhaps it is better to let an organization that has a track record of teaching boys to be good men alone and instead support and expand an organization designed to teach girls to be strong women. Maybe it is time to embrace our differences and wonderfully and wildly complementary and thoughtfully create safe spaces for boys and girls to become who they are in all of their variety and beauty.

What do you think about the latest decision of the Boy Scouts? Leave thoughtful insights in the comments.

Is Your Dog Wrong?

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I’m not really a dog person, and I’ll probably never totally be one. I ended up with two! The first one I deliberately sought out because I wanted my children to have the experience of nurturing another creature, taking care of its needs, and learning to pay attention to how others signal needs. He’s a medium size, good-mannered, calm and docile animal.

The second dog I actually found for my husband. He is so high strung! I took him in a few months before my husband and I got married — he was down-sizing and preparing to move into my house after the ceremony. There were days I thought I was going to have to insist that the dog be taken back to the shelter! He terrorized my dog, dug up everything, and couldn’t follow rules.

Somehow, my husband came up with the idea of teaching him in “dog language.” The process felt harsh at first because we had to make sure he knew we “preferred” my dog over him. Over time, he has settled down, and I love and accept him completely as one of my “fur babies.”

This dog is also the one who makes sounds when I come home that can only be described as “I’m so happy, it hurts!” Nothing makes his day more than one of us coming home and spending some time petting him.

So, to the question. My dogs think I hung the moon. They want nothing more than to be around me. I am completely awesome in their eyes and can do no wrong.

If I stop and examine myself closely, am I that awesome? How have I treated friends and family today? How about strangers? Did I hold myself to high standards of integrity without pushing myself or anyone else too hard?

Comment below about something you might change if our dogs were actually right!

David Meade’s Apocalypse

ApocalypseAs Saturday, September 23, 2017, dawned sunny and bright in many areas of the world, sneers and snickers flew through social media. Bible naysayers of all types had their fun. People joked about accidentally planning their apocalypse parties for Sunday.

In some ways, I think it’s good that we sometimes take a step back and laugh at ourselves. Taking life too seriously is a problem for many.

Then, there is the problem of ridicule.

Does the “failure” of this “prophecy” mean that everyone who believes in God or the Bible is naive and stupid? What about other world faith traditions?  Is this further evidence that we can marginal all thoughts and beliefs held by a person or a group of people because of a handful of these sorts of instances? Can a person who seems to be out to lunch in one area of knowledge be an expert on something else?

How do we respond when we think that someone is truly making a big mistake? What if that error isn’t so big? Do we ever stop and think about how our comfort levels might be affecting our judgments of right and wrong?

Feel free to use the comments section to voice your opinion on how to handle diverse perspectives in our global society, as well as when it might be ok to draw the line and discount a person or a group of people in a public setting. (PLEASE keep all comments civil and on-topic. I reserve the right to remove comments that attack other commenters or are simply rude.)

Does it Really Take a Disaster?

volunteersThis may be the one part of human nature that baffles me the most, even though I have many instances of the same thinking and behavior running throughout my life.

Until Harvey, and now with Irma and Maria, wildfires in the western US, an earthquake in Mexico, and other major disasters that I am probably overlooking my news feed had been completely dominated by politicians calling each other names, riots based on race, and debates on every possible position that someone can take.

It’s like we are wired to thrive on this idea of “us” and “them.” The mentality is an ever-present theme throughout human history. When the Europeans overran the American continent, the Native Americans were branded as savages and treated as being far less than human. Very few people in that day took the time to get to know their neighbors who were so different from them. They were different, they were to be shunned, and wars broke out between “us” and them.” It makes me very hesitant to ever celebrate cultural progress.

Enter the natural disasters.

Suddenly, we forget that we have been calling each other names and trying to find ways to use the government to put the other side in its place. We stop rioting and threatening. Suddenly, there are real people — not all that different from you and me — whose lives have been destroyed. Real people with whom I have a connection need help. It’s like we are collectively pulled up short by the cliche “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

We roll up our sleeves and work side-by-side with people that we were disparaging just weeks before. We do our good deeds, go home talking about how awesome the experience was and how we need to be more like this every day, and then return to our former pursuits of bashing those who don’t fit our personal definition of acceptability.

What is it about us humans that we can be so blind to our failings? Why is it so easy to turn people who hold other views into objects to be destroyed? Why is it so scary to sit down and have rational discussions? Why aren’t we trying to at least get a glimpse of other points of view to see what validity is there?

When those few American settlers bothered to understand Native American culture and traditions, they didn’t necessarily embrace this lifestyle that was so new and foreign to them, but they did find much that was good in these people who were so different from themselves. They found families and traditions and knowledge. They found real people.

So, is there anything stopping you from listening, considering, and responding rationally?

You Can’t Be Normal!

I-Tried-to-be-normal-300x256Yes, this is a very tongue-in-cheek image, but I think it drives home an important point.

Somehow, humans seem to be born with this desire to be normal, to fit in, and to be like everyone else. It’s called a sense of belonging.

The problem is when we don’t choose carefully what type of group we belong to. Normal is average. Normal is regular. Normal is the cliched “dime a dozen.”

Look at the fruits of mainstream normality. Is that what you really want? Do you really feel that society as a whole is making the best choices?

If your answer is no, then you can’t be normal. It really will be the worst two minutes of your life. You have to choose to be exceptional. Abnormal. Above what is common.

Is it hard? You bet! You will be doing things that many people around you won’t understand your reasons for doing. You will stand out from the crowd. You will be different. You will have to work hard to maintain your resolve and reap the results.

So, what about a sense of belonging?

Create your own group. Find supportive people in real life and make them your friends, mentors, and masterminds. Connect occasionally with online communities filled with like-minded people. Be your own, new normal that brings out the best in you.

Hear Me Out.

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I have held onto an article for a few weeks because it emphasizes a problem that has been troubling me for much longer. Recent natural disasters may seem to have solved the problem, but it won’t be long until we feel like we have “pulled together” and “done some good” and go back to our status quo.

The article is “I’m a White Man. Hear Me Out.” I hope that you will take the time to read it. Although it is long, it is a thorough look at what I’m going to briefly cover.

Especially in the United States, we seem to have this idea that “You aren’t like me, you can’t understand.” (Of course, many of these same people and groups are shouting for people to listen and understand and correct injustices real and imagined.) The problem with this attitude is that it divides us, and it makes people feel like they are being diminished and dismissed for things like skin color, gender, and moral conscience.

I recently had an experience where I took a long ride with an old friend. I was “reverting” into a victim and filled with distrust. She wanted to help. As we were driving, she had a lot to say. Even though it was spoken in love, there were things I didn’t really want to hear. I could have easily told her “You don’t understand. You’ve never been divorced. You’ve never felt the effects of psychological abuse. You’ve never had someone actively work to turn your children against you.” I could have dismissed everything she said because of her lack of shared experiences.

Instead, I recognized her love and her long history of experience with me. I honored that fact that, because she lacked my experiences, she could talk to me from a fresh perspective. I decided to value what she had to say and evaluate it for truth. I took action on her words because I decided she was right.

And I snapped out of it.

Which leads me to ask some tough questions:

  • Are blame and marginalization of others the kinds of attitudes we want to instill in our children? They learn from our example. If we don’t model and teach rational thought and empathetic listening, our kids aren’t going to figure it out on their own!
  • Are these attitudes helping or hurting us? And, in reference to “us,” I mean every sense of the word: individual, family, community, and nation.
  • How am I, personally, working to turn the tide of blame and playing the victim? Do we examine our thoughts and behaviors to make sure that we are not adding to the problem? Do we choose self-empowerment and accountability?
  • Am I willing to listen to opposing views for the ideas and the truth, without dismissing thoughts because of some category to which the speaker belongs?
  • Am I willing to speak up and tactfully challenge others who are blaming, marginalizing, and playing the victim?