Monday, October 20, 2008

Raise your voice

This post is because of Kojo, who requested I blog about this topic.

There is only one week left before what will be considered the most changing election in American history. For the first time ever, we will have either an African-American President or a woman as a Vice President. As Election Day approaches, Americans are growing more vocal and pro-active about their choice for the next US President. This election has brought to surface the cultural divide existing in today's society. With a spectrum of issues to consider when electing a President, it is expected that differences in perception, thought, reaction and response will arise. Essentially, this cultural divide refers to the unseen barriers caused by those differences. What emerged during exploration as we encountered new languages, customs, and values, has transcended into modern times. In today's context, cultural divide pertains to: individuals' stance on war, globalization, abortion, education, medical assistance, gay marriage, and of course--the economy. It seems like things are getting a bit out of hand. Local news stories report acts of theft and vandalism as a result of differing political party beliefs. One woman had the siding on her house etched with the words "Obama" in permanent marker because she had a McCain/Palin sign in her window (KMBC TV9). A man reported him and his neighbors had their Obama signs stolen off their property while all the McCain signs on their street were left alone. In my opinion, the kinds of verbal attacks each candidate is giving and receiving has gotten a bit out of hand. On the local level, one city's political candidate was caught on tape lingering around his opponents house where he proceeded to remove all of his opponent's signs from his front lawn. (KCTV 5) Whatever happened to agreeing to disagree? Or at least handle your differences with dignity and class. I feel like the cultural divide we witness today is due to the fact that so many of us, myself included, are often too stubborn. We need to strive toward being more open-minded. I know that I have a hard time keeping religion out of politics, but I am always open to hearing opinions of those who believe in separation of church and state. In my opinion, religion is a big factor in shaping one's culture. We are also influenced largely by what we see and hear through the media, human interaction, and personal experiences. I won't profess to know what we can do about this evident cultural divide. People have been disagreeing since the beginning of society, and I don't see it coming to a halt anytime soon. Bringing it back to the current election. I don't think we should focus so much on political parties, because there will always be individuals that we disagree with on one side or the other. There is no such thing as a perfect candidate, but we should consider whomever will best suit America's needs and address the issues you find important.

As someone who is Asian, I fall into the category as one of the races that historically vote the least. I know a lot of my Asian-American friends are afraid to voice their political views at the risk of falling into a debate and having to face controntation. We are an educated people, with 50% of the Asian population having a college degree, compared to 25% of the entire US population. I haven't located voting stats on the Asian-American population just yet, but based on college enrollment numbers, I think it is probably an even higher percentage. If there is any truth in the studies showing educated people as more likely to vote, I expect to see more Asians at the polls or sending in their votes. It is good to know this election is already bringing more Asians out from our passive past, and I hope this election will rid us of the "silent minority" stereotype (The Associated Press). [APIA Vote represents a national, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that encourages Asian Pacific Islander Americans to vote at the national, state, and local levels.]

It all boils down to voting. I've already voted, so I know my opinion will be counted. Make sure yours will be too. NOVEMBER 4, 2008...Vote or Die! (Thank you, Diddy.) Regardless of who you support, PLEASE PLEASE vote smart. EDUCATE yourself on current issues and where each candidate stands. Please be KNOWLEDGABLE about who you vote for. I feel like too many young adults/college students are bandwagon voters, which is not cool. No matter what the outcome, I trust that God's hand is over this election, and more importantly, the future of our country.


Between 3 jobs, I currently work about 58 hours a week. That leaves me pretty tired most days, so sleep is crucial. For 2 months, I have put up with my upstairs neighbor's large and LOUD dogs. I've tried to ignore the barking without voicing my complaint. Two Saturdays ago, I broke the silence. It was barely 7am and the dogs had been barking like half an hour. I found myself laying there, noticing the pattern. Fifteen minutes of STRAIGHT barking, a 2 minute break, then resumed barking. I threw on a hoodie and ran upstairs to knock on my neighbor's door. I wasn't sure what I was going to say in my state of frustration, so it came as somewhat of a relief when no one answered the door. What did I do next? I called my landlord. I really didn't want to be that neighbor, but I needed quiet. It was quite amazing, though...moments after I hung up, the barking stopped! And it didn't least not that day.

I really hate coming-and-goings. You know, when you enter someone's life briefly and then you or they part ways indefinitely. And this is often someone whom you feel a connection with...either one of potential lasting friendship or romantic possibilities. It's often open-ended, when it doesn't need to be. We should stop being so afraid of saying what we really think and want at the risk of being rejected. Fear holds us back. Fear causes us to miss out. I've been known to have body-mind conflicts. My body wants to act differently than what my mind knows is right. It is a battle that my mind has come close to losing.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The irony of platonic male-female relationships

Before joining my sorority, I have always had more guy friends than girl friends. I think that aside from my sorority sisters, that is probably still the case. Lately, I've been wondering if men and women who have a mutual attraction to each other, could ever truly be just friends.

"When Harry Met Sally" is a movie with some great dialogue between Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan about such topic.
Harry Burns (B. Crystal): You realize of course that we could never be friends.
Sally Albright (M. Ryan): Why not?
Harry Burns: What I'm saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.
Sally Albright: That's not true. I have a number of men friends and there is no sex involved.
Harry Burns: No you don't.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: No you don't.
Sally Albright: Yes I do.
Harry Burns: You only think you do.
Sally Albright: You say I'm having sex with these men without my knowledge?
Harry Burns: No, what I'm saying is they all WANT to have sex with you.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: They do not.
Harry Burns: Do too.
Sally Albright: How do you know?
Harry Burns: Because no man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive. He always wants to have sex with her.
Sally Albright: So, you're saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?
Harry Burns: No. You pretty much want to nail 'em too.
Sally Albright: What if THEY don't want to have sex with YOU?
Harry Burns: Doesn't matter because the sex thing is already out there so the friendship is ultimately doomed and that is the end of the story.
Sally Albright: Well, I guess we're not going to be friends then.
Harry Burns: I guess not.

I know for a fact that I have guy friends that I am not attracted to. But on the other hand, if I do have guy friends that I am attracted to and the feeling is mutual, does this affect our friendship? I suppose to some extent, depending on the level of attraction. I think the sex thing gets in the way more from a man's point of view. From a woman's point of view, or at least mine, it's the fantasy of a relationship and the mutual attraction that gets in the way. For me, the sex part has to wait, so I try not to think about it.

I used to be an entirely all-or-nothing kind of person. "If we can't be together romantically, I don't want to be together at all; it's too hard." Really healthy thinking, right? Now I think that if we can't be together romantically, I'd definitely like to be friends so that person can still be a part of my life--excluding certain people. Can mutual attraction ever be fully set aside in order to pursue a strictly platonic relationship? My feeling is that it can, but only with time, and it is certainly easier said than done. Even though I risk getting long-winded, I will attempt to explain my thinking. If for some reason or another I cannot be with a certain guy, but I want to be friends, there is a lot of holding back on my part. It's sort of a self-preservation thing. You don't want to share anything too personal and become vulnerable, so you keep the other person at arms distance. In my recent experience, when the mutual attraction is undeniable, it's hard to leave flirting out and conversations always seem to come back to the topic of "us" and "what ifs."

I always say this: the heart is a fragile instrument of love. When it comes to matters of the heart, sometimes it is necessary to put our own needs before others. I am overly cautious about protecting my heart because I know how emotionally involved I can get when invested in another person. If like me, being overly cautious is the only way you know how to look out for your heart, then better to be that way rather than not cautious at all. Only you know your boundaries and limits when it comes to pursuing a friendship with someone you have feelings for. Stand firm in your convictions about what is right and be careful. Want to talk about what is healthy? Avoid walking a dangerous line back and forth between pursuer of friendship and pursuer of love. I am talking about myself just as much as the next person. Seek discipline through God's word and find direction in His plans for your love story. Be willing to accept that when God says, "This one's not for you. Just be friends," He must have something better in mind for the both of you. After all, God only wants what is best for us.

"Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life." (Proverbs 4:23)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Magic 8 Cube

Hello, world. I've decided to take on a new blog after a 3 year hiatus from the world of e-journaling, and my first post is going to be about Michael Phelps. I mean, who isn't writing about him these days? 8 for 8 in 08...that's some "magic" at the Water Cube.

They say fame changes people. I've seen it when following various up-and-coming celebs through the news. You have to wonder if they are changing who they are all on their own, how society responds to them is what's changing them, or are they finally showing their true colors? I hope and pray that this amplified fame experience does not change who Michael Phelps is. I know that he is a great person who is unbelievably passionate and has a big heart. Still, I'm sure all of this celebrity treatment is a lot to take in, and I have been praying that he remains humble. I think he will.

I've had the pleasure of seeing Michael Phelps swim at two Missouri Grand Prix meets at my alma mater of Mizzou. I also got to hang out with him once...definitely a life highlight. Anyways, watching him swim at the Olympics has been unreal. NBC has been doing a great job of providing hours and hours of fantastic coverage--I'm sad it's almost over! I've enjoyed everything I've read on NBC's Olympics page about Phelps. I wish I could say the same for some of the entertainment sites I've stumbled across. It's disappointing to me that the very field I aspire to delve into, is still responsible for producing some tasteless content. Michael Phelps' goal is to change the sport of swimming, and we've already caught a glimpse of that (I know there's much more to come). I dare to say my goal is to change the image of entertainment news.

The point of this leads to the recent speculations in the media about whether Phelps is single or who he's dating. I mean, really?? As much as I would admit to being curious, the media should just leave his personal life alone. Rumors have surfaced about Phelps and Lily Donaldson, Amanda Beard, Stephanie Rice, and Lindsay Lohan (I read this hilarious bit by KVV of the Baltimore Sun, responding to the text message Lohan sent about wanting to meet Phelps. And I quote, "Memo to Lindsay: If you really did send that message, you're about four years too late. And you're nasty. Enjoy your increasing irrelevancy." I'm sorry, it was funny.). One article I came across that I thought was well-written comes from the Baltimore Sun (appropriate because it's his hometown, and you'd hope they'd be respectful). Curious if Michael Phelps has a girlfriend?

Dear entertainment media, instead of focusing on his love life, what about reporting on his good deeds? Like Michael Phelps giving back to the community or volunteering his time for a good cause. And my personal favorite, being a hero to little kids. Those are the stories that touch people's heart, move people to tears, and give people a glimpse of his even greater potential when God is his guide someday. So I keep praying...for God to stir in Michael's heart, burdening him to seek, find, and be the light God has created him to be. The 8 golds are amazing, the accomplishments are almost unbelievable, and the fame is great. But the abilities are God-given and in the end, no matter who you are, all that matters is your soul.

"I don't wanna gain the whole world and lose my soul." (from Toby Mac's song "Lose My Soul", with inspiration from Mark 8:36 and Luke 9:25)