Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Politics”

“All” Is A Distraction

These are such stressful days.  I am going to do my best not to make this a political post.  Because at this point, our leaders in politics are not helping, AT ALL!  This really falls upon each and every one of us, to make the difference, to take the steps toward recognizing that all lives really do matter.  And I did not put that phrase in quotes, because it does not need to be quoted.  It should be a way of life.  And while we can say it, while we can live it, we need to have everyone understand why we are not at that place right now.

Now, I need to stay in my lane here.  I am not black of skin color.  So I cannot even begin to know how many, if not all, are feeling right now with all the violence being inflicted upon them, unnecessarily, and all too often, fatally.  I have many friends of all colors, the majority of those colors being black.  Again, I am going to stay in my lane.  I know what I have seen, heard, and read.  I have made my mind up on my own, not what media or groups want me to see and believe.  All lives do matter, again not in quotes.  But that also means that has to include black lives.  And as long as our society stays complicit in its tolerance of racism and white nationalism, too many are willing to express all lives matter, but they actually mean “except blacks.”

Before I go any further, I am going to get into a lane that I know all too well, and this will help me to explain and prove my point mentioned above.

All cancers matter.  Of course they do.  But there is one organization that will tell you that all cancers matter, but if you get specific about a certain type, like mine, you would find yourself disappointed to find out, that your type of cancer, or in my case, Hodgkn’s Lymphoma, does not matter enough to be included in their mission.

I learned this reality several years back.  Being a cancer advocate for thirty years, it was just something that I took for granted.  But several years ago, I discovered only certain majorities of cancer mattered to their organization:  breast, colon, and lung, the big three.  Of course, that led me to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, because they represented my type of cancer specifically.  But now, I found myself, being pulled in two different directions.  Of course I cared about other cancers.  I had five other family members die from cancer, one of those had two different types of cancer, and another had a relapse.  But I also needed to focus on the organization that I relied upon for my cancer, especially realizing that I was not going to get any support I needed for my Hodgkin’s.

All cancers do matter.  I know that.  But it is not only understandable, but okay, for my cancer to matter more to me.  Hodgkin’s Lymphoma is a rare cancer, but I need you to know it matters just as much as all of the others.  But you will never know about my struggles if all you hear is “all cancers matter.”  I need to make you aware of the cancer that I deal with.  That is why, “Hodgkin’s Lymphoma matters.”  That statement does not take away from the needs of the other cancers.  It is an awareness.  And that awareness would get lost if it were not announced by itself.

So there are all kinds of cancer movements or specific activities, Relay For Life (all cancers… sort of), Light The Night (for Lymphoma and blood cancers), Making Strides (breast cancer).  But as a cancer patient and survivor, you will never hear one of us at any of these events, protesting about an “all inclusive” demand to be recognized.  We know what and who we are participating for and with at these events.

Which brings me back to “Black Lives Matter.”  No one can deny that “all” lives matter.  We are human beings, whether with religious beliefs or not.  But right now, there is just something so awful going on in our society, and in my short lifetime, I have been witness to too many horrific incidents against black lives.  And I have seen all too often the aftermath as the black population tried to bring awareness by themselves, only to be misrepresented in history as thugs and destructive vandals.  And currently, because of our current leadership, politics now plays a role in this “disease”, and that is exactly what it is, because by making all of us aware of blatant racism, it is somehow perceived that it is an attack on that leadership, which of course brings out all of the other “lives matter” mantras, in hopes of drowning out the “Black Live Matter” cause, a shiny object if you will, a distraction.

I do not know what it is like for a black person to be approached by a police officer, even if the officer is just being friendly, just to say “good afternoon.”  I am starting to see it now, with one particular incident standing out way before the murder of George Floyd.  His name was Walter Scott.  He was pulled over for a traffic violation.  But as he had a concern about law enforcement, he made the decision once he got out of his car, to run.  Unarmed, he was shot in the back by an officer claiming self defense.  This scene plays out too many times, yes, most recently with the murder of George Floyd, and already more have occurred.

I support the Black Lives Matter movement.  Any other reference to them other than a peaceful protest is nothing more than a dog-whistle distraction to call out antagonists to commit acts that would dishonor the intentions of the BLM movement.  There is a big difference between a peaceful protester and a looter/rioter.  They are not the same.  The first amendment guarantees the right to peacefully assemble and protest.  It says nothing about restricting or defining what a peaceful protest is.  It cannot be helped if you do not like the language, the message, or the volume.  Those things make no difference in making it a peaceful protest.  And I do believe everyone matters.  But right now, this is their cause.  I do not know what my black friends are going through, but I understand it.  And I support it what they are doing.  And hopefully different than what I witnessed in 1992 with the LA riots following the Rodney King injustice of the five cops being acquitted of brutality which was witnessed by the world, I am hoping this finally brings the changes necessary to make sure that everyone matters.

All Are Created Equal

In a surprise move, the US Supreme Court ruled that those who are in the LGBTQ community, are protected from workplace discrimination by the Civil Rights Act.  It was a surprise, because the US Supreme Court is stacked with a majority of conservative judges who were to assume certain religious beliefs that would have figured otherwise.  But as two of those conservatives stated otherwise, the CRA definitely applies to the LGBTQ, while others who dissented only did so because they interpreted the act differently.

I have many friends and several family members in the gay community.  Some of them have children.  Some of my straight friends have children in the LGBTQ community.  My children have many friends in the LGBTQ community, and have for quite some time going back many years.  And like my children, I do not really give it much thought.  I support everyone’s right to be who they are are.  I will be honest, I do not spend a lot of conversations on gay rights with them, because conversations we have do not revolve around their sexual orientation.  To me, they are a human being, no different than me whether it be the color of skin, health, education, or gender.  We have wonderful conversations with each other, so unless it comes to issues that arise, we all just enjoy life and the joys it brings.

I understand how important this ruling is, regardless that it should not have had to happen in the first place, because as our Declaration of Independence clearly states, “all are created equal.”  That means, we do not have the right to discriminate against another.  We all have the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  It does not matter if you have a belief that disagrees with that.  The Declaration Of Independence is clear.  All are created equal.

While this is a major victory for the LGBTQ, that does not mean that their fight will be over.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but as a major advocate of the American With Disabilities Act, I know first hand, there is a huge difference of having a law, and the loopholes that get created to get around them.  But that does not mean that today is not a huge day for my LGBTQ friends and family.  Their rights to work in a discriminatory-free environment are not only reaffirmed, but now clearly stated by the US Supreme Court.  You have had these rights since the Civil Rights Act was signed.  Now they are clear.

There will be other fights and challenges by bigots who will do what they can to disrupt the rights of our American citizens who have these unalienable rights under the Declaration Of Independence.  And that just means that the LGBTQ, knowing they have these rights, will just need to be aware of the efforts to get around them.  And if I had one bit advice I learned from fighting for the rights of the disabled?

Document.  Document.  Document.  Everything.  Save all of your work reviews that show your exemplary work record.  Keep a diary of interactions, both friendly and not.  And this is important, do not use your workplace as an advocacy tool because if you have an employer, or co-worker who is not supportive of the LGBTQ, you could be seen as disruptive, which is different than being discriminated against.  It gives the employer grounds.

I know the fight of the LGBTQ is not over.  But please know, you have the support of myself, and my children.  Because we know, that all of us are created equal.

When You Want To Help

Many years ago, I worked for a major corporation.  Inside this location, several “community outreach” activities took place several times a year.  One of those, was a blood drive.  Having several thousand employees, it was a major donation drive, made even more popular because donors were often given “gifts” for giving the gift of their blood.  I would see some of my co-workers come back with some major swag from windbreaker jackets to coolers, all kinds of things.

But that was all I got to do as far as blood drives went, look.  As a cancer survivor, I am ineligible to donate blood because of the my blood being compromised from my radiation and chemotherapy treatments, even though they were over thirty years ago.  I understood the rules for donating blood and why they were in place, but when I asked if there was any way that I could help, to make a difference, that I might be able to get some of that fine merchandise, I was told “no.”

As an advocate, I was kind of taken back by the short response.  I know, you have blood donors, you have the phlebotomists, and of course the other staff of blood banks.  But do you mean to tell me, you have no need for any other help with such a critical effort?

If you follow this blog, you know my role as an advocate.  You also know that I can be determined when I hit a stumbling block when I try to help one way and I cannot.  I find another.

With my health issues, my days of participating in actual protests are long over, though if it were not for Covid19, I would likely find it hard to not want to stand by, supporting efforts against police brutality and racism.  But unlike my efforts, there are ways that I can still make a difference in these intense times for racial equality.

Back in 2009, as my older daughter was about to begin elementary education, there was turmoil in our school district.  The school board at that time, filled with bullies, had taken their negotiations public, humiliating the teachers union.  Again, if you know me, I do not tolerate bullies, and there were nine of them sitting on that board.  I attended only one school board meeting to protest the way the school board representatives were conducting themselves, and faced accusations of being disingenuous and unscrupulous.  Such big words to be used against one solitary citizen making comments during the public commentary of the meeting.

And with that, I made a decision to campaign for school board.  I never even ran for any position in student government.  But I soon found out, that unlike my fear of the anonymity I had in school would prevent my likely election, my skills as an advocate, and accompanied by four other strong candidates, soon found ourselves in a position to finally break a stronghold in our school district for decades.

I had no experience.  But I had a desire to make a difference.  I am all about treating people with respect.  Regardless of my feelings for or against the teachers at the original time, I did not like the way they were being treated, especially publicly.  And soon, not only did I receive recognition from my well educated and experienced running mates for my ideas, our adversaries soon found out, not only how resourceful we were, able to discover “behind closed door” activities, but with our lack of being politicians, we did not make decisions as politicians and they did not know how to prepare for us, or deal with us.

We lost that first attempt, barely.  Four of us lost by less than 300 votes, two less than 200 votes, and one actually lost by a few dozen.  The end of the night, of course none of us were sitting on the school board, but we did “win” the battle.  We made a difference because we got recognized.  A simple concept, people not getting out to vote, even just 300 more in a district of 60,000 voters, was all it would have taken.

So, we kept trying.  Two of our slate got elected that next election, and a third finally not only got elected the following election, but was voted as school board president.  Today, the entire board from 2009 has been replaced.

My last thirty years, and as many as I have left, I have always been, and always will be an advocate for as many causes as I can:  cancer, adoption, long term cancer survivorship, discrimination, parental rights and the list goes on.  I do what I can, when I can, as my energy allows.  I have my physical limits but I find ways to help in other ways.

Looking back, perhaps my motivation may have been wrong with the blood bank.  Because I have been able to make more of a difference when appreciation, gratitude, and success are enough of a motivation.

My daughters have witnessed my many forms of advocacy.  And they both have great hearts filled with compassion and empathy.  In recent years, I have seen their actions to help others whether in school or in public.

A couple of weeks ago, on Tuesday, my older daughter made a post of a black “jpeg,” in support of “Black Out Tuesday,” in memory and support of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police.  She knew what she was doing.  And what made it even better, she did it on her own.

Over the last sixteen years, I have done my best as their father, to set examples for them in regard to advocacy, money, relationships, education, and so on.  It is when I see something that has been done, unprompted by me, that I can see the impact that I have indeed had on my daughters.  And I am proud, as always.

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