Intolerance

My LinkedIn account asked me, for the second time, to connect to my old boss.  And I just don’t know what to do.

I worked for her for seven years, and rose through the ranks.  Unlike my coworkers, I grew to love that job, and although I valued it most because I really needed the health insurance, the fact that I got good at it didn’t hurt.  While that place had a revolving door of turnover, I was among the only two rank and file employees I remember (not counting the bosses) of all the people that I knew from there (and I knew a lot – people in other offices, at other locations too.  I’m a bit of a social butterfly) who actually loved that job.  And I did love that job.  I miss it every day since I lost it.  I didn’t realize until I lost it what a unique situation it was, one set up for me to thrive in, like Toastmasters is.  I’ve discovered since losing it that I only seem to do well in “no lose” situations, where there are very few penalties for failure.  Everybody at that job was overworked and underpaid, but in my seven years there, I earned six merit increases and a promotion.  I made friends so close that one of them literally saved my life – we were on the news about it and everything.  I have found that when people get to know me, they will either love me or loathe me, and at the time, that coworker loved me, and so did my boss.

And then… it all came crashing down, because the world we live in is Black and white.

I find it incredibly ironic that the first job I was ever fired from was the one that I was best at, and I fully own that I deserved to be fired.  I got way too comfortable, I got into it for now reason with the person that extended my life, and so they fired me.  Everything, in that sense, happened in a just and fair way, so I feel that I probably owe my old boss an apology.  Or at least I would if it stopped there.

It didn’t.

After I left, my old boss went and read every single one of my emails, forwarding every random unkind thing I might have said in anger about the people I worked with to those people, guaranteeing that I’d never regain their friendship (I did in most cases).  Months ago, LinkedIn asked me to reconnect with the person who saved my life, and I got back an outright rejection for it, which I imagine would happen if I tried to reconnect with my old boss too (obviously, I’d said unkind things about her in those emails, as many do when they’re overworked and don’t think the boss is listening).  The problem is, I really do miss that job, and a part of me wants to reconnect with her on the off chance that I could get it back.  But I believe that there’s no way I could go back, and here’s why: even though we’re all human, and we all make mistakes, we live in a Black and white world, where there are many mistakes you cannot come back from, no matter who you are or what you do.  It’s one of the things I hate most about humanity.

Nate Parker

Nate Parker (above) is going through this right now.  He was accused of rape when he was in college, and even though he was acquitted, we live in a Black and white world, like I said.  He just made a film, ironically titled BIRTH OF A NATION.  I say “ironically” because DW Griffith’s BIRTH OF A NATION (1915), made a century ago, was the first ever multi-reel narrative film, one that most film critics and makers consider a masterpiece.  It is also considered one of the most racist films ever made, a movie about how the Ku Klux Klan saved America from the African American “menace,” post Civil War.  Like Griffith’s movie, every critic who’s seen Parker’s feels that Parker’s BIRTH OF A NATION is also a masterpiece, possibly the best film of this year, and an Oscar contender.  All of that may be derailed by something Nate Parker did when he was young and stupid, and nothing he tries to do – and he has been trying everything he can think of to get out from under this, in a manner of speaking – can redeem him.  Nothing he seems to do, no apology, no denunciation or admission of guilt, nothing seems to matter to the chorus of people that think he’s a rapist, no better than the Black character (spoiler alert) at the end of Griffith’s BIRTH OF A NATION that preys on the heroine played by Lillian Gish.

See, this is why I don’t think there’s a point in trying to connect with my old boss, and since I’m talking about film and intolerance, I might as well mention that Melvin Van Peeble’s SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG (1972), the film that started the boom in Black filmmaking during the ’70’s, wouldn’t have gotten made without aid from one Bill Cosby, which should surprise no one, considering Cosby has given millions to other African American causes and artists, including helping Spike Lee make MALCOLM X (1992).  Many children went to college because of Cosby, who dedicated his whole life to education as much as he did to making people laugh.  He won’t be redeemed anytime soon either, last I checked.  And to add even more irony to this whole thing, let’s talk about of what Malcolm X‘s life taught me.

I learned two important lessons from THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X, the book that won me a trip to Washington DC in high school when I wrote an essay about it.  One was that I should never let myself be defined by others, especially others who don’t know or care about me.  Lesson two was that a person can change, but the part I guess Malcolm left out is that apparently, you can only do that if people let you.  The very first thing I learned in therapy was that my father, who raised my sister to be a human dynamo, who cared about me more deeply than anyone ever would, to the point of forgiving me for every awful thing I did and said to him, was the same person that beat the Hell out of my mother in the early part of their marriage, cracking her ribs at one point.  I will never forget what my therapist said to get me past this, that “you can’t seem to wrap your head around the fact that your father, who did all those wonderful things for you and your sister, is the same person who did all of those awful things to your mother. [AS], people are not one way!  Good people do terrible things, and vice versa.  Just like it would help you to forgive him, I wish you could learn to forgive yourself!”

I’ve never raped anybody, but if I did, I wonder if I could forgive myself.  More importantly, even if I did, would anybody else? My coworkers never forgave me for what I said about her in those emails.  I guess I won’t be reconnecting with my boss after all either.

Podcast #9: Should I Try to Be Happy All the Time? Healthy vs. Unhealthy Emotions — Feeling Good

In previous podcasts David and Fabrice have discussed HOW negative feelings are created and how to change them. In this podcast, they address another question—when we’re feeling depressed, anxious, or angry, should we accept our feelings or try to change them? Dr. Burns describes his confusion when he was an insecure Stanford medical student and […]

via Podcast #9: Should I Try to Be Happy All the Time? Healthy vs. Unhealthy Emotions — Feeling Good

The title of this reminded me of things I’ve read on here / discussions I’ve had lately, so I figured it was worth a share.  Can’t say “enjoy” exactly, but…

The Eternal Struggle

Demotivated I’m so glad the agency called today.  Because I really wasn’t feeling like doing anything.

When people keep bothering me about why I haven’t cashed in on my “talent,” I often want to scream that it’s not that easy!  To do something right takes a gang of effort, and there are so many steps along the way.  When you’ve spent over half your life popped up on prescription drugs or drained of energy due to illness, you have to do everything one step at a time.  And if you’re trying to do something new and different, you need twice as much energy and effort.  It’s maddening.

As I’ve said many times before, talent, good looks, athletic ability, intelligence – these are all traits.  By themselves, they have no value.  Like anything else, they have to be cultivated, and cultivating them takes time and energy.  On some days I have that energy, or am able to break down the task into steps that are so simple I can gradually make way, and in fairness to myself, I did make a little bit of progress today also.  Once I hit that road block though, all of the energy drained out of me.  It’s Wednesday, and I spent Monday running errands during this heatwave to finish up after my latest defeat, and then yesterday helping my friend write her appeal so she can continue receiving funding for school.  Today was supposed to be the day I really made a giant leap forward toward turning my career toward what it should have been from day one.  I hit the wall though, as my resume doesn’t reflect what I want to do, and I lack the knowledge or energy to get it there.  And then I started moping.  It was downhill from there.

I don’t know how to break myself of this going forward, when it really counts and there isn’t a temp agency to save me, but I really need to.  Right now I have huge opportunities with my writing, my “night job,” as it were, but I have to execute.  If I can’t find the energy to get myself a day job that sustains me through that, I feel like I’m toast, and I’ve never been able to change that.

But I know that I sure as Hell need to work on it.

Spitballin’

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A bunch of different things I wanted to write about today, far more than I feel I can put into one coherent journal entry, so just jumping around here…

Self-care – for the longest time, I used to beat up on myself for not having the energy to do those things that I knew would be good for me and that I needed to do, but I just wasn’t motivated to do them right then.  I don’t apply to jobs constantly (though I work near-constantly), and I don’t have a regular, full-time job.  I don’t write my screenplay or the screenplays many people have pegged me to write for them consistently, nor do I write my many comic book ideas up for submission on a regular basis.  I know I should be doing these things, but I don’t, and I used to tear myself up about that.  Here’s the thing: this year I turn forty, and I still have a chronic illness.  I think I need to give myself a break now.

Do I apply for jobs?  Of course.  All the time?  No.  I do whenever I have energy, though.  Do I write formally all the time?  No.  Are you reading this, though?  Where did it come from?  Here’s something my therapist said: if I make even one tiny movement toward my goals on a regular basis, I’m making progress.  It’s slow, but at my age, and with recent improvements to my health, I have time.  I don’t believe giving up is the answer, and neither is punishing myself when I fall short.  Starting all over again, or doing what I can when I feel up to it is.  I get calls back; I get interviews, and most importantly, I work.  When I tweet, people tend to respond.  I resolved that as soon as I can afford it, I’m investing in my writing and taking formal writing classes, so people can see my work, just as they did back in high school when I used to get work submitted to every writing contest by my teachers and kept winning them.  In short, I’m doing fine, because I haven’t quit yet.  As long as I keep working at it, I will be better off in the long run, and I truly believe that.  So if I’m not doing it every free second of ever day, that’s not a bad thing.  That’s self-care.  In my opinion, everybody needs that.

Online Dating, round 2  – here’s what my sister told me works on her in online dating: when the guy reads her profile, and writes her with a joke about it, and my old life coach wrote a great blog entry about managing the “Friend Zone” where she said that the best way to go is forward, without fear of being hurt.  If a particular girl is not interested, I think I should back off, but not give up altogether on online dating itself.  Just like with applying for jobs or writing, I need to keep it moving, as my boss says.  So if I find a girl online who she says she likes hiking, for example, I think I’ll respond with something like, “I did too until I fell off a mountain and had to go REVENANT (Alejandro Inarritu, 2016) with a bear.”  That statement tells you a couple of things about me right away: I’m silly, I’m a film geek, I read her profile, and I may not be into hiking.  If she responds to that, in my opinion, she’s probably my kind of girl.  If not, I think I’m better off, because we’d have nothing to talk about.  I also think I need to start doing this on Ishqr – every time OKCupid sends me one of their bulletins, I need to log on to Ishqr too, see if anybody likes me and vice versa, and joke away.  I am Muslim, after all.  Which leads me to…

Wahhabism / Salafism.  One of the nice things about being in my home town is that I get to spend time with my cousins, one of which is a devout Muslim, and with my sister, who was a history major and graduated from the same master’s degree program as Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, and Dick Cheney.  When I admitted to my cousin that in the days following the San Bernardino shooting that I feared that he might become a Wahhabist, he was really surprised by that, and said, “bhai, you KNOW me.  How could you think I would ever do something like that?”  What it reminded me of is that if we’re not careful, I fear even Muslims can fall into the media narrative about us because, as my cousin pointed out, whenever a Muslim does something wrong, the media states his / her religion.  They do not typically do that of any other religion.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist generally, so I don’t want to speculate as to why that is, but I have to admit, I’ve had it up to here with the way they describe Wahhabism like it’s synonymous with Islam, when nothing could be further from the truth, any more than Mormons are representative of all of Christianity, and even that’s not a perfect comparison, because I’m pretty sure Mormons are an even bigger percentage of Christians than Wahhabis are of Muslims!  Worse, to my dismay, I couldn’t find any decent definitions of Wahhabism (or its related ideology, Salafism) online, forcing me to make this layperson’s blog entry about “the war on terror” and all of its players, so here goes:

Muslims are not at war with Jews or the west.  Wahhabis are at war with Zionism (which it’s also difficult to find a simple definition of online, *sigh*).

Okay, so what is Wahhabism?  It’s an ideology named after 18th Century Muslim scholar Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab that teaches that modernization of Islam is wrong, and that we should follow the strictest interpretation of the our holy book, the Qur’an (which only Wahabis do, in my experience).  (Salafism is basically the same thing, named after a different scholar whose followers were friendly with Wahhab.)  When Israel came into being (Zionism is what led to this, the belief that Jews are the chosen people, and that God guaranteed them a homeland) and worse, invaded its neighbors and persecuted the Palestinians (“the philistines,” as it literally were – all this is factually true), this ideology became popular in the Middle East, and eventually became the official version of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries.  ISIS, Pakistan, the current rulers of Iran – in short, all of the world’s terrorist groups claiming to be Muslim – are Wahabis, typically, and no, I am not going to deny that these are populous countries, and that there are many of them.  Here’s the problem, as I see it: Islam is the second largest religion in the world.  We are in every country, and I guarantee you, far from a majority of us are Wahabis.  I personally have never actually known one, and the unique thing about my childhood, according to friends, is that we moved around a lot growing up, so I’ve lived all over the country.  Things like suicide bombings and honor killings are pretty foreign to those of us who live in the United States, just as outright taking someone’s home at gunpoint or bulldozing Palestinian homes and calling them “settlements” are atypical of every Jewish person I’ve ever known, though common on the West Bank in Israel.  For whatever reason, it seems that it’s easier for our media to call terrorists claiming Islam Muslims, and to present Zionists as Jewish victims, despite Israel’s very militaristic society (all confirmed by friends and relatives who are either Palestinian or have been to Israel multiple times).  To quote “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,”  “the situation’s a lot more nuanced than that,” and as a result, I’m not calling Wahhabis anything but that from here on out, just as I’m calling an Israeli an Israeli and a Zionist a Zionist.  I have too many Jewish friends to do otherwise, and I’m fed up with getting lumped in with Wahhabis, when I don’t believe in what they believe in.  A Wahhabi and a Muslim are not the same, IMO.

Whew!  Glad I got all that off my chest.  Now to respond to an email from my friend, and as I said before, keep it moving…