We all have moments when we question our relevancy. For me it happens on a daily basis, usually in the midst of a conversation that is just on the edge of nuclear. More times than not, I side with Occam’s razor when it comes to problem solving. Summed up simply: when you have two competing theories, the simplest is usually the best solution. Embracing simple is never the case at my house, and sadly, just as often outside my house.
Who wants the simplest solution? It’s usually boring, demands personal responsibility and often times self-incrimination. Why embrace simple, when it’s so much more fun to move to the dark side of insanity, invoking unsubstantiated and immaterial information and challenging the relevance and intelligence of any who would offer a safe and sounder solution? Talk to any parent (specifically mothers) with teenagers, they will vouch for me. I am relevant because in the end, when it all plays out, the simplest solution is almost always the answer. And when the dust settles, I am the one standing to lend a hand and say, “let’s try this again.”
b: an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially: a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment :prejudice
c: an instance of such prejudice
d (1): deviation of the expected value of a statistical estimate from the quantity it estimates (2): systematic error introduced into sampling or testing by selecting or encouraging one outcome or answer over others
a: a voltage applied to a device (as a transistor control electrode) to establish a reference level for operation
b: a high-frequency voltage combined with an audio signal to reduce distortion in tape recording
It seemed timely to post about bias because of the turmoil that is going on in Ferguson right now, that and a tortured call from my eldest son at 4 in the morning who, while trying to be the voice of fact and reason, was obliterated by a friend who challenged him as a privileged white person with deep racial overtones. Understandably, he is nothing like that, we didn’t raise him that way, but upsetting nonetheless. It isn’t always helpful in the face of such raw emotion to be challenged on the lack of factual information. Ferguson triggered a powder keg of emotions that have been festering for a long time . Justifiable or not, this kind of raw emotionally charged situation, already escalated by a media that capitalizes on frenzied, angry incitement and violence, has to be approached with the delicacy of a political surgeon, and not by online postings that polarize the situation further. The horrible events that happened that day were so entrenched in a long history that none of us were directly involved in and can ever know accurately. Telling someone in the throws of that kind of emotion to calm down or keep a level head, no matter how well intended, never sits well.
All of us are bias. It is the inevitable result of a solitary perspective. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing…just a simple truth. But to perpetuate that singular perspective by insulating yourself with only those who think like you do is how situations in Ferguson get out of control. I’ve always told my children that true empathy must be rooted in caring for another plus factual information about something you’re not directly involved in because it will give you the necessary tools to help more effectively. I had a great Evidence prof in law school that hammered that notion home: if information presented does not lead to the truth of the matter at hand, it should be excluded. It is also why we don’t watch Fox news or MSNBC at my house…they are too biased, and often irreverently so. I’m sure that will get me in trouble with some, but hey…I’m one of those fools who actually believes that the truth will set me free.
I don’t know how to solve the problems in Ferguson, it’s horrifying to watch and so beyond my wheelhouse of experience that it feels almost impossible to find the truth I desperately need to broaden my perspective. Everywhere I turn I see bias that distorts whatever truth may exist out there. That isn’t an excuse to forgo any conversation, because while I may never know what really happened there, I do know that addressing issues dealing with race, violence, police mistrust and the questionable way this whole crisis was handled have to be part of the solution. I won’t say that level heads must prevail because that would be my bias…but I will say for those of us on the outside who cannot offer any solutions at this point, we should shut up and listen more, that would certainly go along way for the people of Ferguson.
I suppose it is good that my body provides me with an unmistakable sign that my stress is out of control, that my autoimmune disease will just not tolerate. In hindsight, which is always 20/20…I could feel it coming on…the second incidence of Bells palsy, only this time on the other side. After an initial round of tears, the rational calm took over. I must self-care, do all the things that I would rather ignore, but can’t. This body of mine, broken or not, is the only tool I have to fulfill my purpose on earth…and I had better take care of it…which I haven’t. I forget to get adjusted, do decompression, do my stretches and strength exercises…there is always so many other things to do. I know I’m not the only one, my symptoms are staring me in the face. Others are not so obvious. So, take a moment, say a prayer, do something kind…for yourself.
Yes, I do know that it has almost been a month since my last post. Plagued by a very late starting spring, resulting in compressing all the things that should have been done by now into the very shortest measure of time before the 5 minutes of summer comes, I was in danger of shedding my sparkly Pollyanna skin to something more dark, sinister and leathery…hence the silence. I discovered, that I can handle the major stuff in life with relative ease, that is where my problem-solving, common sense super power kicks in. Those irritations like: lost keys, wallets, glasses, bikes, forms…none of which are mine but somehow fall into my purview of responsibilities; broken things that interrupt the flow of the day, like the computer my son just built that shuts down 10 times a day…of course he’s only finished his freshman year in computer engineering, or the eroding land that may cause our pool to fall into a ravine; and those never-ending tasks of life that you swear you just took care of and like going through a time warp, there they are again demanding attention like running out of toilet paper, kitty food, dish soap, laundry soap, razor blades, etc…; and lastly, all the man things that I live with every day too numerous to list here. All these irritations have worn my sparkly skin down to paper thinness, so I can see the serpent skin underneath. What’s worse are the responses I get from the men in my house: “I didn’t touch it”, “Just dump some dirt on it”, “Just turn it back on”, I’ll do it later (loose translation, NEVER) or my least favorite, “Just buy a new one”. It is just not acceptable…I almost died…of irritation.
So, that explains the silence. I saw my weakness and got help, not the psychological kind, but someone who will clean my house and organize the chaos, so those other irritations don’t kill me. Now, I don’t have to worry that the fire coming out of my mouth will burn everything in it’s wake. My sparkly skin is coming back…even through the gob of flem I just cleaned out of the many used glasses that the men in my house love to spit in…I will survive.