Strangers

by Bob Vonderau

I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I was very stumped by this for many years. And then I realized, you just say “Hi.” They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.

The other day I read this quote by Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors, and I could not get over how powerful these words are, “They may ignore you. Or you may marry them.” Isn’t it interesting how much people seek acceptance and avoid ridicule? With regards to saying hi to a stranger, it’s so easy to say that we’ll never see that stranger again anyways, so why not try? The concept is very simple and if you take into account the potential to gain a lifelong relationship, romantic or otherwise, doesn’t it seem worth it? So why do we not try? Why is fear so strong that it can freeze us? Fear of a large animal is an animal instinct; but where does fear of social rejection come from?

When I think about how many times I didn’t try something because I was afraid of failure or rejection, it’s a pretty extensive list. I will probably never know how much I had to gain, but I can certainly name more than one instance where I know fear was my only obstacle from embracing the possibility. Then I think of all the things I did try and ended up loving… This list is also extensive, but much more transparent.

I think the biggest social fears revolve around the fear of rejection. This past year, I’ve taken a number of initiatives to grow as a leader and thus as a person. My first big initiative was to overcome my fear of speaking in front of groups of people. I overcame this in the most direct method possible: I applied for a job looking for people with public speaking skill, and I got it. Having no proper experience in any sort speech communication, I was thoroughly shocked and terrified when I saw the job offer in my email almost eight months ago. Apparently I really made up for my lack of experience during my interview, where I presented a five-minute speech on ‘how to engage an audience.’ I must have looked like I knew what I was doing.

Alas, this Sunday will be my last day of work. I cannot even comprehend how so much time has passed. On the other hand, if there is One thing I do understand it’s that I have grown in both experience and skill. Do i still get nervous when I approach a crowd to speak? Definitely. The fear hasn’t disappeared, but I don’t think that was the point of taking on this job. Fear will always be there in every aspect of my life. The important thing is to learn how to deal with that fear and turn it into motivation to reach a better result.

After all, when you ride a rollercoaster, it’s the fear of anticipation while ascending that steep climb that makes the descent truly exhilarating.

Just how much does fear control your life?

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Police dog released on mother with baby stroller at Anaheim

Anaheim, California: the place where a police attack dog was released on a mother and her baby stroller (see 1:25 for the scene followed by a short comment from the mother).

So this happened, and I am beyond appalled. The families were reportedly having a community picnic to discuss a future rally in support of  Manuel Diaz who was shot by police. According to Sgt. Bob Dunn, the department’s spokesman, the crowd advanced on officers and threw bottles as the officers investigated the scene of a second shooting that killed Joel Acevedo. The police officers then fired bean bags and pepper balls at the crowd.  According to Anaheim Sgt. Bob Dunn, Diaz  was  “one of three men who ran away from officers who approached them in an alley,” which lead to the fatal shooting.

Oh, and that police dog? Dunn said the dog somehow got out of a patrol car and was “deployed accidentally.”

Of course, the situation must  be looked at from all sides. According to a few sources, police say Diaz was a known gang member. This would give reason for him to run from the police perhaps in fear of being caught for being involved in gang-related crimes. I still cannot understand how this would justify the murder of Diaz. According to the news report, Diaz was approached in an alley and shot while he ran away, but a video of the incident shows that Diaz’s head was covered in blood, raising doubts about whether the police’s actions were justified.

Though if you’re looking for justification, you might find a few questionable theories if you read the comments on the Yahoo news article, where “illegal immigrant” is used in many of them. What basis is there to support this claim that Diaz was an illegal immigrant? Ah, yes, we have this undoubtedly valid piece of evidence : his Latino name. (/sarcasm)

I may not live in the USA, but where I am from we call this discrimination. I am very well aware many view illegal immigration as a prime issue in the US and there are valid reasons for which I will not argue with, but to instantly assume that Manuel Diaz was an illegal immigrant is absolutely ignorant and unforgivable.  No matter the situation of Manuel’s criminal history or legal status in the US, police opened fire on children and “accidentally” unleashed a police dog. You cannot argue against these facts. It is absolutely absurd for a police officer to wield a weapon he/she cannot control, what makes it any different if that ‘tool’ was a dog?

All in all, I’m really not sure what to think of this whole situation. I still cannot wipe the grime off the idea that a child was shot because police knowingly fired into that crowd.

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Something I wish I could buy from vending machines

by laughlin

This post was in response to a prompt entitled  from Plinky.com. I discovered the site recently and decided to give it a try!

I wish vending machines offered advice. Can you imagine that? Going up to a complete stranger to whom you pay a dollar to listen to your problems and give his/her thoughts. Mind you, I can very well see the many ways this idea would go wrong.

They way I envision this would be similar to the carnival fortune-teller machines that you may have seen in television shows. An advice vending machine would look like a booth and have a person inside whom would just sit and listen to your problem then offer you some (hopefully) useful words of wisdom.

The first and biggest problem with this is that the advice-giver may not give the kind of advice you want. When people express their problems to others, they generally do so for one of two reasons: they have a lot of thoughts on their mind that they just want to say out loud or they have thought so hard/long they want someone else to help them come to a conclusion.

For me, receiving advice means getting a new perspective. I want a person to tell me not what I want to hear, but another way to interpret or understand my thoughts. I dislike it most when people just tell me what I should think, using phrases like “Well, it happens to everybody. Don’t worry about it.”

I believe the reason I felt compelled to suggest an advice dispenser in response to this prompt was because good advice doesn’t come easily. How great would it be to have the convenience of advice for your greatest worries and thoughts at the insertion of a few coins? Maybe this occurred to me because I have yet to find someone whom I think gives me really good advice (besides my mother). The people I choose to ask for advice from vary depending on the nature of the situation, but I think what I’m looking for is someone I can consult universally about anything that bothers me.

…Does such a person even exist?

Hmm. I need to give my mom a call tomorrow.

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turnthrice:

Wonderfully informative post on the benefits of family planning in preventing maternal death, newborn death, and unsafe abortions.

Originally posted on finding development:

Very.

Today marked World Population Day and the focus was family planning! There was a conference in the UK today discussing the importance and benefits of family planning (aka reproductive health, contraception, information, and access). At this conference, they pledged 3.6 billion dollars a year towards family planning that could drastically improve the state of maternal and women’s health.

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