What I want you to know. Which is everything.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Liberal Media

If the media is so liberal, which I think is a lie fed to us by the conservative, and unabashedly so, talk radio media, then it is only because the very idea of media, in this case meaning news and information givers known as the press, is a liberal idea. Telling people what they need to know in order for them to better keep the government and those in power accountable is a very liberal concept, especially when put in context with the course of history that has progressed so far.

If education in the United States, where teachers are filling kids' heads with things about science and art and the unpatriotic concept that the U.S.A. has screwed up, a lot over the course of it's short history, shows a slight, or more than slight, liberal bias, which I think is another lie, it is because, once again, the idea of education is a liberal idea. Educating the masses so that everyone has access to the skills and knowledge to combat the powers that be is a very progressive and liberal idea.

The United States of America and the ideals that it was founded on are very liberal ideas thought up by some radically liberal men. These were men who wanted to eradicate slavery almost 100 years before anyone actually had the balls to actually do it. Pretty liberal. Not liberal enough, mind you, but certainly ahead of the curve.

It is because of these things that I am disturbed by the notion that has been bandied about the airwaves that the word liberal is a bad thing to be avoided. We should be proud of our liberal-ness, which one could also call LIBERTY and wear it as a badge of honor. I almost wrote pride, but I think that pride is actually a misleading feeling for people who want to feel superior, which is a feeling at odds with liberty and should be avoided. I prefer the word "honor" because it implies humility and inclusion. Inclusion and diversity being things that I feel are strongly associated with freedom and liberty.

So, is our media liberal? Maybe, but probably not enough seeing as how a sad percentage of what they show on the most respected of news channels is about the latest celebutant foibles and high profile "hot girl" killings, or sport star arrests. These footnotes take the place of information about what laws are being slipped under our noses that will deny us freedoms, and policies that are being implemented that oppose the ideas of liberty. Those who are keeping an eye on the people in charged are silenced or pushed to the daytime block of time so that Nancy "Condescending Bitch" Grace can tell us that murderers and rapists are scum during the prime time slots.

Is education biased toward liberal ideology. You would think that, since I am a teacher, I would be able to answer this question with some confidence. But, seeing as how I teach in Texas, my views are somewhat skewed on the topic. I teach in a school district that has a strict "Abstinence Only" sex ed policy, which means that students are not allowed to know about or how to use condoms. In the even they find themselves met with a temping situation, all students are expected to turn tail and run the other way, rather than engage in the sexual intercourse that awaits them. I, for one, find this to be a wonderful plan, and if carried out correctly will certainly prevent pregnancy and any number of STDs. There's a major flaw in the plan, however, and I don't think I have to spell it out. This is not a very liberal stance to take.

I won't go into how the "liberal" news media gave the Bush administration a free pass in the critical days after 9/11, or how they pander much more to big corporate business than to the people they are supposed to serve. I won't talk about how text books and teachers still gloss over the nasty parts of American history. The parts that would make students go, "We did that to the Mexicans?" all the while their parents are complaining that the restroom signs at the airports say "BanĂ³s" in tiny letters under the "Restroom" sign. I don't need to go into the whole thing in order to make a case for a lack of true liberal education or press. I don't think that I've said anything that was untrue or that many could refute. That's an overstatement and, in fact, I don't have any references to back up my claims and opinions. At least I'm not going to take the time to go look this up. But, I could, if I cared enough. If I ever write a book on the subject, I'm sure I'll have to back up my opinions in someway.

So, the next time you hear someone talk about the liberal media I would invite you to question him or her on their reasoning for saying so. You and I both know that just hearing it from Sean Hannity doesn't count. I don't think that most people would admit it even that was their only rationale. When they tell you this, and in the rare case when they are able to back it up with evidence, they will likely tell you that the media only tells us the parts they want us to hear. Let them know that, if this is in fact the truth and the press is withholding, they are being too conservative. The media needs to be more liberal. And, if they simply don't believe what they're hearing and seeing...well, then I really can't help them their. They've obviously been burned by the propagandist media before and need to help us to demand a more liberal news media.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

People of the World, (Re) Unite!

Everybody's coming back to take stock of their lives. You know what I say? Leave your livestock alone.

I'm standing where my, uh, living room was and it's not here because my house is gone and it's an Ultimart! You can never go home again, Oatman... but I guess you can shop there.

I consider myself to be a fairly confident person. When I meet someone I don't generally have a difficult time talking to them, even if I think that the person doesn't like me. I can talk to a person and feel completely at ease, without even considering the fact that I might be some annoying weirdo whom they are too polite to tell off or walk away from. Every now and then I'll realize this in retrospect, but even then, I don't really care. It's all about confidence and being assured of who I am and realizing that if a person doesn't like me then I shouldn't really care. On top of that, I make enough friends to believe that unless the person is an asshole, they'll probably like me, well enough.

So, why, when I think about my 10 year high school reunion do I want to go shrink down into a hole a hide?

You see, I haven't always been the confident person you see today. When I was in Jr. High (Middle School to some of you) I, like many people, was self-conscious about a number of things. I worried about how cool I was, what I was wearing: did I have cool shoes, pants, was I wearing the latest haircut? I worried about whether or not girls liked me. Oh, this was a biggie! I was very concerned with how I came across to girls. I remember having a crush on a girl and speaking to her, only to say something totally nerdy and cringing, pain shooting through my gut, as if I were going to puke. Of course, there was also gym class, where, in eighth grade, as many of the other boys were hitting puberty, I was, regrettably, only getting chunky and remaining hairless. One very tall eighth grade boy looked down on me from above and proclaimed, "Kyle, did you shrink?" I felt like I had shrunk.

Scenes like this one had a lasting impression on me into high school. While I eventually stopped trying to get into the popular crowd, I was still keenly aware of how I came off to people. Especially my sophomore year I wanted to make sure that I didn't seem to care too much, but I didn't want to be a loner either. Or maybe I did want to be a loner. Screw those other people! What do I care what they think. I'll be my own person and do my own thing. So, I sat in my room and learned guitar and wrote angsty, dramatically selfish songs set to three or four chords strummed out on my mom's acoustic guitar. I was also in theatre and band, where the other weird people were. But, they weren't that weird, because oddly enough I still felt like an outcast.

At the end of my sophomore year in high school one of my teachers sat me down and basically gave me a "stop feeling sorry for yourself" talk. At least that's how I ultimately interpreted it, and that's how it was used. I had a new outlook on life. I was to take matters into my own hands and decide my own future, instead of blaming people for my shortcomings. After that year my brother went off to college. I began to learn about college life and how things there are different. People were kinder, cared less about popularity and stupid things like this. They judged the person and not the clothes.

I entered my Junior year with a new attitude. While I made more and closer friends than I'd had in the past, there was still this itching feeling that I was disliked or disrespected. Those close to me liked me, but there were those who didn't want to get to know me. I always thought that it was because they knew the old me and had a preconceived idea of who I was. Even though I cared less what others thought of me, I still wanted them to like me! My new goal was to simply ride out high school and get to college. In college no one would be able to say "in jr. high Kyle was this," or "Kyle freshman year, he did that." I would be able to reinvent myself as someone everyone loved. The way it should be.

And, that's basically what I did. I was able to endear myself to a very tight group of people who became my best friends. Most of those people I am still close to, or at least keep in contact with. College was an excellent boost to my self-esteem. Even with people who didn't warm up to me, it was a non-issue, because I was loved and appreciated by my group. Even though I had friends in high school, some were even close, I was never part of a "group." The belonging made all the difference. I could finally begin a journey to truly be myself, and be happy with that person.

Fast forward to 2007. I have now been teaching high school for 4 years, now. I see, on a daily basis the exact kinds of things that I dealt with in high school. One might think that someone who didn't like high school wouldn't want to go back, even as a teacher. There's always the evil side of a person that makes them want to "seek revenge" or something like that. It's weird. I have actually found myself forming bonds with kids, as a teacher, that I probably would have thought hated me. And then, I came to a realization. In jr. high especially, but high school also, every other kid was just as preoccupied worrying about their own mini-dramas that they didn't put nearly the kind of thought into me as I thought they had.

With all of this new found confidence you'd think that I was prepared to stroll into the reunion and be totally at ease and cool. Why not? That's how I am in pretty much every other situation. Or, else I'd have the fortitude to say that I don't even want to go to the damn thing, and mean it, and then not go.

But, I want to go! But, why, when,whenever I think about these people I revert back to the scared guy who was so afraid of saying something stupid or not getting invited to the parties. What's wrong with me.

I think the answer comes back to the reason that people go to reunions in the first place. I have this underlying feeling that the people who are going back to this thing are one of a few types of people. One, they've got a great, tight group of friends who've all decided that they're going back. These people never really lost touch anyway, but they have people to go with. I know that I'm not in that group. Two, there are people who genuinely knew lots of people and had lots of friends and would like to see what everyone's up to, nowadays. I would like to think that this is my group, but I fear that I'm in group number three. Three is the guy, or girl, who feels that they have something to prove. That high school dealt them a raw deal and that since bettering themselves they want to prove to the classmates who shunned them, that they are no longer shunable. They are basically going to be disappointed because, as I already stated, those other kids didn't think of them that way. Furthermore, this ploy is totally transparent, and no one is going to react with awe and surprise and remorse because you've got that six pack abs that so eluded you back in the day. They don't remember being a tool to you in high school. They might still be a tool, who knows? I don't think that I'm in this group, or at least I hope I'm not. Surely, I can't be, seeing as how I created the group.

At the end of the day, I suppose that I'm in my own little fourth group. The group of people who over think the reasons for going just like they over thought their own cosmic significance during high school to begin with. Or, maybe I'm just like everyone else. Scared that I haven't changed enough, or that I've changed so much that shouldn't even go, even though I really want to for some unknown reason. Maybe everyone else gets that feeling like they are revisiting old wounds whenever they encounter high school junk, and I should get over it and go, be myself, and know that it's going to fine, because I'm always fine. Part of my changed person is that attained confidence and self-esteem and I should just use it.

I'd be remiss to leave out the amount of confidence I get from my wife. Amanda is the kind of person that I always hoped that I'd marry. When I'm with her I feel totally in control because she wouldn't love me if I weren't the person who I am. And she knows me for the person I truly am. I can't help but be myself with her with me, because she'd certainly call me on it. Plus, she's a smokin' hottie, and when she's with me how could I not feel like the man.

And one last quote from a great movie:

Okay, well, I'll see you at the "I've peaked and I'm kidding myself" party.