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Turning Over New Leaf

Friday, September 12, 2014

Why I Don’t Blog Much Anymore

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I assure you that my followers and virtual friends are NOT the subject matter of this post. I have learned so much from them over the years, and will continue to do so. I value all opinions as they do, and I have enjoyed their respectful, intellectual discussions. However, others read my blog as well.

 
As a teacher, I have studied many years in the broad field of Humanities. Here is Stanford University’s description of the field: “The humanities can be described as the study of how people process and document the human experience. Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world. These modes of expression have become some of the subjects that traditionally fall under the humanities umbrella. Knowledge of these records of human experience gives us the opportunity to feel a sense of connection to those who have come before us, as well as to our contemporaries.”

 
The Humanities are intended to cover general intellectual skills and knowledge, as opposed to technical or professional skills. The academic subjects that generally fall under the Humanities label are Language, Art, Art History, Philosophy, History, Music, Religious Studies, Cultural Studies, English, and several others. My lifetime studies have made me very happy because I never got pigeon-holed into an academic rut like so many Math and Biology teachers bemoan. That is until now.

 
I used to be known on one of the college campuses as the “Heinz Man” because I taught fifty-seven different subjects over the years. Each of them was different. Today, only political correctness and ideology matter. I still do my best to educate my students in a variety of fields by introducing them to reality, not academic fantasy. Most of my students find the honesty and sincerity I try to bring to the classroom refreshing. Most want to learn new things and listen to the opinions of others. Most are sick of political correctness, but it is hard for Millennials to overcome media and political brainwashing that inundates their world. I fight hard to empower them to think for themselves in order to reach personal, rational decisions about the issues they face in 2014. But the same rules do not apply to blogging.

Since I am not an activist with a cause, but an educator introducing facts as I find them to benefit the greater good in the future, my post options have become limited in scope. Let’s face it. People today do not wish to consider anything they do not want to face. Nobody wants to hear negativity. Nobody wants to learn about what they should fear. People are not interested in any discussion that is unpleasant. By and large, people want to hold hands and sing Kumbaya. It doesn’t work, of course, but they feel better.

 
All this spouting is about the Ray Rice scandal. I tried to blog about this subject several times this week, but started from scratch each time I realized I was blogging, not teaching. Bloggers pay no tuition and do not make up captive audiences. If I entitle my post “Ray Rice,” most will not read it because the subject is upsetting. If I label the post “Domestic Violence,” many will ignore it because it is a negative subject.

 
Ray Rice might be a super athlete, but he lacks something as a man. There is no excuse for punching his fiancé (later wife) unconscious. He should be punished for his actions, even if he was intoxicated, she forgives him, he has found religion, and can catch and run with a football to the delight of his fans. Yet yesterday, hundreds of fans attended the Baltimore-Pittsburgh game wearing Rice’s number 27 on their jerseys in support of his actions. Young brainwashed, clueless women were interviewed and stated their reasons why Rice was an exception to the Domestic Violence laws that protect our loved ones.

 
So what has this to do with Humanities and blogging? We all tend to write about what we know or want to know. Some bloggers have young children and post comments relating to child rearing. Some are artists and blog about their artistic endeavors.  Others write about their favorite music and their posts tend to always cover happy subjects. I have a group of friends from Portugal that know the ins and outs of opera, a subject I knew nothing of until I began following their blog. It is always uplifting. But in my case, I write about Humanities. I cannot blog about Nature, because the EPA gets in the way, and people get upset. I cannot discuss philosophy, because in 2014 that means political ideology, and people don’t like to discuss politics. It is too upsetting. Nobody cares about Bertrand Russell or Albert Camus, and most have never heard of them, but 50% of the public actually believes Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize.

It is very hard for a Humanities professor to blog about literature when high schools are eliminating Mark Twain and John Steinbeck while assigning The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I have a Minor Degree in Theology, but cannot blog about religion because inevitably my lack of praise for Islamic terrorists will offend some people. It is a task to write to young students about history when the government is constantly slanting historical facts toward political ideals.

 
I find it difficult to confine my blog posts to my dogs, fishing trips, and travel plans. Our President has indicated that ISIS terrorists are not Islamic. What should I write about as a Humanities professor? Perhaps, I should admonish the Irish for flying into our buildings or the Polish for their record of suicide bombings. Yet, Christians and Jews have not been blowing up too many buses lately. Nor do most civilized people behead children. But then again, writing about it will upset people. Bill Ayers and Ward Churchill have no problem writing.

 
My interests lie in areas that have been reduced to one subject: Positive Political Correctness. Unfortunately, Humanities is all about humans connecting with humans. It deals with the relationship between us, and those who came before us. It does not deny truth in favor of political advancement. I have always enjoyed a reputation for being positive. I would like to keep it. I never give up, and I will always encourage those experiencing tough times to keep on trying. I would like to continue that reputation, but I love and teach Humanities.

 
In New Jersey last week, a nice young man was killed by someone claiming to be a jihadist exacting revenge for bombing in Iraq. The mainstream media did not cover it. Two thirteen or fourteen-year old girls from Colorado attempted to travel to Syria to join ISIS. Most Americans do not know that, because the mainstream media did not cover it. For four years, I taught Leadership to Ukrainian students from Luhansk in the university’s international program. Now, I cannot write about it anymore because the subject is too sensitive, since Russia invaded their homeland (while Putin ate our president’s lunch).

 
So if I catch a big fish (and throw it back, of course), or visit the Hemingway House in Key West, I will blog about it. If Oscar Pistorius shoots and kills a woman through a door and is found not guilty, I will ignore it based on his Olympic status. And if Ray Rice should knock out his wife again, I’ll chalk it up to alcohol abuse, because professional athletes are too talented to commit domestic violence. However, if we begin to lose American lives to domestic terrorists like Israelis do regularly, who should we blame, George Bush?

. . .

24 comments:

  1. One day we will get past blaming Bush.
    I know how you feel. I try to stand by my beliefs and my faith while not offending others on my blog. Sad when we get knocked for having those. But that's where we are now.
    I keep telling my wife that what is happening was predicted in the Bible and not to stress - we know how it ends.

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    1. Alex: I was raised to listen, consider, and learn. Intelligent, respectful discussion is needed in this country.

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  2. I always say when I went to College we were taught how to think, not what to think...sadly it sounds as I have feared that professors as yourself are finding it difficult to follow those old standards.

    My post tomorrow is on the Ray Rice situation. While I condemn his behavior I question the dilemma of if his punishment also continues to make his wife a victim. I suspect you will disagree with some of the post (even though I think I offer more of a question than an opinion) but it is interesting to me in that I felt I needed to tip toe around so much to make my point. Careful to not offend the politically correct decision most Americans have decided on. There are many facts not spoken about which could temper peoples opinion on Ray Rice. I offer no excuse for his behavior, but Janay has known Ray since High School. She has been with him for 6 years. They have a child together. Her behavior in the video indicates she had no fear of Ray punching her and makes me think this incident was not his typical behavior. Ray should face consequences for his behavior, should Janay have any say in the consequences? I know abused spouses often make bad decisions again and again, Perhaps Janay is doing this as well. Who has the right to tell her how to deal with her life. I think it is a gray issue. One which deserves consideration.

    The wearing of the Rice 27...very bad taste in my opinion.

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    1. joeh: Right on the money, especially your first line. I miss that. I also don't believe Rice should be crucified. However, wearing #27 in support of something one has no clue about is somewhat disturbing. The same trend is growing on other issues, like the Ferguson shooting for example. Wait and see, instead of looting in the name of a fictitious cause.

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  3. JJ, u said it well!.. I totally agree w/you.. The ones u listed above (Pistorious, Rice) angers me.. Tho the schools have gotten away from the classics, (which I loved), the colleges are introducing writers such as Louise Erdich, Ngozi Adichie, Drew Magary... The latter author I have yet to read but the other two, are phenomenal.. For me nothing will ever take the place of Hemingway, Twain..
    As far as putting 'blame' on someone, the press, public will always find blame on someone.. I just wonder when folks/businesses/government will own up and be accountable... I haven't blogged much, because I've buried myself in reading and blogging has gotten a bit old... Call me jaded, but I've been blogging for sometime and my patience for those who blog for attention by bragging about where they have supposedly traveled, etc., gets to be a bit old and the stories are way to unbelievable...

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    1. KBF: I do understand about not blogging often, although I miss your posts when you don't. Thanks for your comments on this one!

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  4. I love debates: there is no totally right or wrong side just a lot of interesting opinions to toss around in your head.

    Ray Rice should know better than to knock out a person just because she verbally abused him, but should he lose the livelihood that supports his greater family? Should the commissioner and his family be brought down just because he exercised restraint in dishing out a punishment PO deemed too lenient even though the victim married the guy after the fact? These are all great discussions.

    Then: Children are taken away from their parents if an ER doctor suspects parental abuse with just one visit to the ER with a kid who needs stitches from falling off the bunk bed while the parents were at work and a sitter was left in charge. The mother and father were darling people, loving, caring parents. The sitter was a grandparent. It was the kid's first trip to the ER, Yet the child was in children's protective services when the couple returned from work and the grandparent was beside herself with grief, because some ER doc behaved like a robot following inadequate directives. It took months to get the kid back. The wife quit her job. The family income went down. The child still has nightmares and so do the parents.

    People are into everybody's business YET are thin skinned themselves when people stick their noses into their business and object to what they see as they interpret what they see based on their own personal experiences and often partial facts. We are very fast to turn on one another. I think that's why I'm basically reclusive except on my blog. That's my domain. If someone criticizes my work, they can. I welcome it in fact, knowing I don't have to take it. They could have a valid point; they may not. I'll decide. If they are too silly or obnoxious in their deliverance, I will delete them or reply. I have the power. Unfortunately, everybody is nothing but complimentary when commenting on art blogs. I learned the hard way. I once made a creative suggestion and was sorely rejected --lost a follower. I made another observation another time and was strongly chastised for doing it on the blog instead of via email. I was told her blog was intended as a sales tool, but no where did it give me that impression. I apologized nonetheless, but thought she needed a website and a website designer and credit card affiliation, all signs of a person in business.

    I guess I'm telling you all this because I do enjoy controversial subjects and I don't think you should let yourself be intimidated by a few irate and uncouth comments. Write what you want, what you're good at. It's the passion in your posts that gets me excited when I see there's a new one on my sideboard and keeps me interested in what you have to say. You're already out here in the blogosphere. Share with us what you know best. I promise to send Ray Rice (and that now irate grandmother) after any commenter who gives you trouble. :-))

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    1. PS: isn't it interesting that we're seeing George W. more lately? The more Obama is forced to be forceful in regards to possible terrorism towards the US, the more we're seeing George. Funny how things change when your walking in somebody else's shoes.

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    2. Linda: I love your response, and I very much agree. Constructive criticism is a must for visual artists and writers alike, but we live in a feel good society. I, too, enjoy controversial subjects. Sometimes, I do change my mind on situations because I consider the opinions of others and weigh them carefully.

      As for intimidation, no way. That will never happen, but I have learned to pick and choose my battles. The adage is: "Never wrestle with a pig, because when it's all over, you're covered with shit and the pig had a good time."

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    3. Linda: As for your PS, that is why I am politically independent. I vote where my beliefs are best expressed, not with someone else's ideology. The blame game grows old.

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  5. I believe we have the freedom to blog about whatever we want to blog, don't we?
    Being positive or being negative can all be subjective in my humble opinion.
    If I believe something I have to say may be considered negative, I still say it if I feel compelled to say it.
    That's the beauty of the web. There is diversity. Sooner or later more people will find the posts.

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    1. Julia: You are an exceptionally good blogger. It is all subjective, and like reading, that is how we learn about life, and that is why we need diversity in our lives. Yes, so far we still have that freedom.

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  6. Well the blame game never gets us anywhere! All valid points you've shared today, and so much to ponder! I ask myself at times should I or shouldn't I post this! I don't like to offend anyone either! My mother raised us to be private and not share anything except possibly the weather! Never talk about politics of religion. Something I believe in as well! As you know I enjoy upbeat and possibly informative posts! Lots of photos too! Just so you know I miss you when you're not around!

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    1. Karen: Thank you. As for photos, I'm not sure I can do very well, but I absolutely love the ones you post on your site. I'm working on it.

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  7. JJ: Feel free to make me feel bad. I can take it. Seriously, I can.

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    1. Bruce: You always do. You are an old-schooler who understands healthy debate. And, of course, we still owe each other a beer in Boston! Best to you.

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  8. Hi JJ .. I don't put my views on my blog .. because I've never been particularly political or on one side of something, but not the other ... or vice-versa. I write generalities .. while on occasions opening readers' minds to another way of looking at things ... we don't think enough .. and your reply to Alex :I was raised to listen, consider, and learn. Intelligent, respectful discussion is needed in this country. I totally agree with it .. and it is here ...

    Now it's all hype, raising the emotions .. just not considering the whole ... or thinking before we open our mouths ...

    I enjoy your posts when they pop up ... and enjoy reading thought provoking posts ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hilary: Thank you. You have always been one of the most interesting bloggers. I find myself reading your posts several times, and each time I acquire the travel itch. You are an open-minded lady, very polite and respectful, and a joy to read. Cheers.

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  9. Hilary: Thank you. You have always been one of the most interesting bloggers. I find myself reading your posts several times, and each time I acquire the travel itch. You are an open-minded lady, very polite and respectful, and a joy to read. Cheers.

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  10. We should post on whatever subject we wish. If there are some who don't like it, they don't have to read it, although I hear what you are saying about the dumbed down generations. (you didn't exactly put it that way) My heroine, Charlotte Iserbyt, has tried to inform parents of what has happened to education during the past 50 to 60 years and why the individual thinking prcess of kids now only works with the collective.

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    1. Manzie: It is too bad that the next generation will finally see the errors in education since the 1960s. I hope they can reverse the trend.

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  11. Funny I never imagined that you too are plagued a bit by something I have sensed and reacted to myself. I never want to be the 'negative Nelly' and yet... there are sometimes things that lean negative or even just come off that way that still need to be shared. Reality is worth it, I think. I have always professed to be neither an optimist nor a pessimist, but a realist. Reality is interesting and full of ups and downs that we never saw coming. Reality is life and it is worth experiencing.
    So I ask you, are you really worried about what people who can't handle reality are going to think or say about you? As the educational guru that I see you as, I can't believe there's anything you have to say that isn't worth having been said.
    I'm going to take what you have written here to heart and use it to improve my own blogging. Too often I hold back, I must admit- and truly it feels wrong. Seeing this blog post today and realizing how 'off' it seems for you makes me want to hear more of the uncecsored JJ! How about braving this new world together? How about seeing who is capable of braving any reaction to whatever we thoughtful bloggers have to share? I'M IN!

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    1. Jasmine: I could not care less about what people think or say. I think only of the leaders and members of the next generation. Who will speak for them? Many of them can't even read or write. I, too, am a realist.

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