Monday, February 29, 2016

do not crumple, scar, or mess up

Here's a story you may have heard before. It's about a teacher who was telling her class about bullying and gave them an exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it and really mess it up, but not to rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry.

Sometimes a child who is bullied will later receive apologies, but the damage is done. In this exercise, even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bully’s another child - they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever.

Hardly a day goes by when I don't see something about bullying. The It Gets Better Project has done some amazing videos aimed particularly at lgbt youth. Let me be clear though. While gay kids are so often the targets of bullies, ALL bullying is bad. We need to get rid of it ALL.

The kids in that classroom learned an important lesson. The looks on the faces of the children told their teacher that the message had indeed hit home. I hope this hits home with all of you too!  Last week I wrote each day here about bullying, because it is important.  WE can make a difference. Bullying must STOP!

Friday, February 26, 2016

No Bullying Zone

Personally, I think the whole world should be a no bullying zone. I'm sure you already know that from what I have written here the past few days. Unfortunately, my wanting something does not make it happen. If all it took was my desire, we would have a perfect world with nothing but goodness. To put an end to bullying, we ALL need to get involved. There is no neutral zone. There is no standing by and saying it isn't our concern. Justice and fairness is EVERYONE'S concern.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu said it best: "If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality."

Let's all get involved. Let's no see any more lives ruined because of bullying.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Looking out for elders too

When we think of bullying, the kids in the hall at school usually come to mind, but it isn't just limited to youth. Anyone can be the victim of bullying, and a growing number of senior citizens have been targets. For those living in senior communities, it can especially be a problem and includes such things as fraud and elder abuse. The bullying I am talking about isn't always senior to senior. Sometimes the children of elders are bullies and sometimes the bully can be a caregiver.

Since I have been writing about bullies here this week, I wanted to mention this too, because ALL bullying is bad. Check out this report from MSNBC on senior bullying HERE.  You might also want to read an AARP article HERE.
 
Nobody should have to endure bullying.  We need to speak up.  Yes, we even need to look out for elders, because bullying can be devastating at any age.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Pink Shirt Day

Kindness is something we encourage here every day, and we have often written messages about putting an end to bullying. This week we are paying particular attention, and today being Pink Shirt Day, I wanted to say something about this observance and how we all can use it to draw attention to the problem of bullying. First, put on your pink shirt as a visible sign that you are helping to stop bullying!

The whole idea of Pink Shirt Day goes back to 2007, when two Canadian high school students, David Shepherd and Travis Price stood up for a classmate who was being bullied. Click HERE to see how CBC reported it.  The idea spread and has become an annual event across Canada. More recently it has spread to the United States and to other parts of the world, sometimes being called Stand Up Against Bullying Day or Anti-Bullying Day. The United Nations has declared each May 4th as Anti-Bullying Day.  Whenever it is done, it is good to spread the word that bullying should not be tolerated.

Visibility is a huge thing.  Imagine if every student in a classroom wore a pink shirt or every officer in a police department or every server and busperson in a large restaurant.  Imagine if we didn't just wear pink on this day but if well all spoke out against all forms of bullying, every day.  Imagine.  It really isn't very hard.  The damage that is being done to so many because of hate, is something we can easily do away with - we simply have to get together and resolve to end bullying.  Let's do it!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Bullying Awareness EVERY day

Here in this space, I have been writing about bullying (and your comments below each day are most welcome), but it cannot be just one day or one week. We need to be aware of this problem EVERY single day. We cannot allow one more precious life to be scarred by a bully. I'm encouraged by the numerous organizations that are springing up, but we need to do more, until bullying is no more.

There are some superstars in this fight, and I want to say that peer groups are particularly important. Stand together with victims and give them your support, letting them know that they are not alone. Parents and educators need to keep their eyes open and watch for signs. Get involved.

There are numerous resources too. Click HERE to get KnowBullying, the free app from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that can prevent bullying. The CDC has some excellent information HERE.  There is a bullying prevention training course HERE.  Also, check out http://www.riseagainstbullying.org/
 
Bullying isn't something new, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored.  We see the damage it does every day and the lives it has claimed.  Let's open our eyes and put an end to it - forever.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Bullying CAN be stopped

Nobody likes cancer, and so we work hard to find a cure. The same is true with AIDS, heart disease, and so many other things that bring about suffering and death. Why do we not wipe out bullying? It CAN be stopped. We already have the means. We need to care more and say no to hate and prejudice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that, in the United States, 20% of students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.

Bullying can take many forms and can be done by strangers as well as people you know. It can be done directly to you or via phone or social media - there is in fact a large increase in cyberbullying. It can result in physical injury, depression, low self esteem, and even suicide. This is serious business and it needs to be addressed. Too many lives have been effected.

Have YOU been bullied? You are not alone. People care and want to help. Talk to your parents or to a trusted adult like a teacher or clergyperson. You can also click HERE for more resources.  Have you witnessed bullying?  Stand up and do something.  Together we can really wipe this out!  Are you one of the bullies yourself?  Realize the damage you are doing and get help in stopping this destructive behavior. 
 
Tomorrow, I'm going to say more about this topic here, and I invite you to also comment below.  Bullying CAN be stopped, but it is up to us all!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Is it EVER about me?

The blog says It's NOT about me. So, you might be thinking, "Is it ever about me?" Well yes, and no. I suppose I should explain.

If you are new to reading these daily messages, you might not know just what the name means. Most blogs are about the writer's adventures through life - his vacations, his politics, his cooking skills, his day to day opinions about current events. This blog, as the name says, is NOT about me. It would be misleading to say though that it is only about you. Actually it is about ALL of us! To be more specific, it's about how we each can help make this a better world.

So that question: "Is it ever about me?" - yes. It's never about only you. It's about you and me and everyone else - ALL of us. Together, we shape the future, and together, we can change the world.

Thanks for reading. Tell your friends we are here. Comment below too and share some of your ideas. Let's keep working to make the world better for everyone!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Of human kindness

Imagine being very hungry. I don't mean that feeling you get when you suddenly see a food commercial on tv or when you smell a fresh pizza or when you begin thinking about what to eat on your lunch hour. I'm talking about the feeling you must have when it has actually been DAYS since you ate anything. You have no money. You have no food. Hunger is very real. You aren't thinking about the soup kitchen that feeds you for free. You might not even know about it. You are just hungry - VERY hungry, and you happen to walk past a produce stand.
 
I'm sure you have heard people say "there are exceptions to the rule," but just what are those exceptions and when do they occur?  If that extremely hungry person with no money comes across a stand with fresh fruits and vegetables, is it wrong for him to steal an orange or two?  Should he be arrested for grabbing a tomato and eating it?  Perhaps he should say to the owner, "I am very hungry.  Could you give me some fruit?"  Then, having said that, how should the owner respond?  If you were shopping and you saw someone run up and snatch a fresh plum and take a bite out of it, what would you think?  Would human kindness guide you to offer to buy something for this man? 
 
Picture this in your mind for whatever kind of shopping experience you might have.  Hunger is very real and needy people can react in a variety of ways.  What should our response be?  Do we even care?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

spreading kindness far and wide

Today, as you probably already know, is Random Acts of Kindness Day (which personally I would like to see every day). The daytime talk shows will no doubt do some features on this, but what about each of us? Let's really brighten the world today! Here are a few ideas:

Shower the pediatric ward of a hospital with coloring books and boxes of crayons (you can buy them very cheaply at most toy stores). Volunteer to read to kids in the library. Donate time at a senior center. Give a pair of tickets to a concert or baseball game to a stranger. Make a point of finding the name of a supermarket or drugstore employee and then praise him/her through that company’s corporate office. Send a gift anonymously to a friend. Drop off combs, toothbrushes, and toothpaste at a homeless shelter. Pay for the person behind you in the movie line. Send random thinking of you cards (or even a late Valentine). Volunteer to fix up an elderly person’s home. Let the person behind you in the grocery store go ahead of you in line.  Say nice things randomly to facebook and twitter friends. Buy some bottles of water and randomly hand them out to strangers on the street. Write “It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day! Have a great day!” on slips of paper and place them on parked cars.

If you have money, the sky's the limit. Hand out dollar bills (or fives or tens or even twenties) to strangers on the street. If you are in a position to make a proclamation (like the mayor or governor or the CEO of a company), proclaim today John Doe Day (or whatever person) and really make their day! Oh I said the sky was the limit, how about going to http://www.starregistry.com/ and naming a star after someone?
 
That's just a starting point. Can you share some other kind acts in the comments section below? Let's spread that kindness far and wide!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The innocence of children

I remember writing here a few years ago about the innocence of children saying that babies don't hate you because of your skin color or your sexual orientation or you height or weight or gender or religion or for any reason at all. Think about it. We are born without all of that negative stuff attached. Children don't know how to hate. Why can't we keep it that way?

Who is teaching our children the bad thoughts and the bad words and the bad actions? The answer of course is that we are. We are teaching discrimination. We are teaching hate. We are taking away the innocence of our children.  Oh most are not doing it on purpose - I'm not saying that, but that doesn't make it any better.  Children look to their parents, teachers, pastors, doctors, and babysitters for a map of how to act.  They follow our lead.  If we discriminate - if we hate others, they very easily copy our actions.
 
If you have ever heard a small child using foul language, you have an idea of what I am talking about.  If it stopped at language, we might not think it bad, but kids are learning more and more bad behaviors from the very folks who should be teaching them good.  Let's be positive are our children.  Let's teach them about love, instead of the opposite.  Babies come into the world without any idea of hate. Let's not give it to them!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody

You know this story already, or at least you should. It's a pretty simple one about getting involved. It's a story about four people: Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
 
Now it seems there was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job. Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when actually Nobody asked Anybody.
 
You get the picture. As I said, it's really pretty simple.  Get involved. Ask some others to get involved too. Don't just assume that everybody else is going to take care of things. If we ALL pitch in, just think of the great things we can do!

Friday, February 12, 2016

keep those cards and letters coming in

Some performer, a long time ago, used to tell his fans "Keep those cards and letters coming in." I don't remember who it was. Probably many people said that. Anyway, when I began this blog, I used to hear from people often. (A lot of those were from people who know me, but we did get comments on the daily blog entries from strangers too). That was then. Now, I hear nothing. There is a counter, so I can tell how many people have clicked on a particular entry, but of course I don't know if they actually read it, or what they thought. Let me know!

The whole idea behind this is to make this a better world. I don't think I am so wonderful that I am actually achieving that goal, but of course it is NOT about me. It's about us - ALL of us, working together. It's about doing kind things. It's about making a difference. It's about being a hero. I tell you stories of some of the heroes I know and of ones I hear about, and I share ideas about things we all can do. Along the way, it's very helpful to hear your ideas. Let me know about a hero. Share some ideas. Tell me if you agree or disagree with things I say. I'd really love to hear from you.

Oh and this isn't a secret blog. Do feel free to share it with others. Perhaps some of them are more likely to let me hear from them. Perhaps it will be you - right now - click that button below and comment, or comment on what I wrote here yesterday. You know you want to!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

always giving

Back in December, we were all too happy to give. December is usually the most giving of all the months. With Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, end of year tax breaks, and many other reasons, we all seem more willing to open our wallets. What about the rest of the year? What about now?

Yes I know that money can be tight and I know that many folks are living from paycheck to paycheck, and perhaps that is part of the overall need. Are you better off than others? Could you possibly skip the afternoon latte and give that many to the homeless man on the street instead? Of course there are other ways of giving too. Donate used clothing or donate blood or give of your time and your talent.

Some people never stop giving and they inspire me to want to do more. If I find I am unable to give in the manner I would like, I just think of a different way to give. Giving to me shouldn't have any kind of limitation. I really like the idea of always giving!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Words to live by

Do you have marching orders, or a kind of mission statement for your life? Is there a slogan or motto that sums up who you are and what you believe?

Recently I came across something that could work for many of us. I have no idea who the author is and my searches came up empty. I really do like these words though, and so I share them here:

"Attract what you expect, reflect what you desire, become what you respect, and mirror what you admire."

Words to live by! I'd love to have you all share some of your favorite uplifting quotes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

That's beautiful!

Did you ever look out your car window and say "That's beautiful!"? How about taking a walk through the community where you live and you stumble across a scene that moves you because it's just lovely?  The "beautiful" here in this picture is from the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, not far from where I once lived.
 
Here in Arizona where I live now, there is a lot of beauty too.  Even in the wide open desert there is beauty.  I seem to see beauty everywhere I go.  It's not just on the ground or in the sky.  Beauty can be on the buildings and even on the clothing that people are wearing, and lest we forget, beauty can be within the people we encounter, too.  It's actually very rare to find a person who does not have beauty within.  You don't have to even look hard - just open your eyes and open your heart.
 
If we all take a moment to see the beauty that is all around us, I very certain we will realize how beautiful this great world of ours is!

Monday, February 8, 2016

新年快乐

Happy New Year everyone! No, I'm not late. This is the Lunar New Year, or Chinese New Year, and it is one of my favorite celebrations!
 
From China to Thailand and from Hong Kong to Cambodia and from Macau to the Philippines (plus the US and Canada, and so many other parts of the world, today is a big deal. in many places it is a legal holiday, and in some places there are even three days of celebrating! You don't have to be Asian to appreciate this special day either. I always find it especially nice to explore the celebraions of other cultures. If you are in a major city, I'm sure there are some wonderful experiences these next few days, welcoming the Year of the Monkey.
 
Did you know that Chinese New Year festivals and parades actually began in San Francisco, and not in China? Over a hundred contingents participate in the annual Chinese New Year Parade there, with some 500,000 people along the parade route (which includes downtown, Union Square, and a portion of Chinatown) and another 3 million viewers watch on television. That parade, by the way, is on Frbruary 20, and details about it can be found at http://www.chineseparade.com/ - there are a number of other related San Francisco events that are detailed there as well.
 
My wish to you all is for a bright future, good knowledge, and great success in this year ahead!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

We can. I can.

Uniting the people of the world in the fight against cancer, today is World Cancer Day. This is a good time to shine a lot on these diseases and to do something. It seems like an awful lot of cancer deaths have occurred in the past month. Officially, 8.2 million people die from some form of cancer worldwide each year.

Today is about raising awareness and education about the disease and about raising funds for treatment and research. For me, it is personal. My grandmother died with stomach cancer. My mom lived with leukemia for a number of years and then was attacked by lung cancer as well. I had a very dear friend die of liver cancer fairly recently. Years ago, I worked for the American Cancer Society, and things I learned then have stuck with me. We can beat cancer. We need to work together.

There have been incredible advances. Many cancers are treatable these days. We do still have a long way to go though. In November, I will once again participate in the Light the Night Walk in San Francisco, something I do every year. If you'd like to donate, click HERE. You are welcome to come and walk with me. There are so many things that we all can do to help spread the word and to make a difference. Check out the American Cancer Society website HERE. There's also a website especially for today http://www.worldcancerday.org - chock full of information.

Let's do it!  Let's beat cancer!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

turn around

Do you feel like you are just going nowhere in your job or in you education or in your social activities? There are other options, you know. The song that says It's too late to turn back now, is wrong. You can always change!

Now, I'm not saying that you should make a change. First, step back from the picture and look at all sides. You might want to talk about things with a close family member or friend. You might also want to seek out a professional for advise. Just know that because you are heading in a certain direction, doesn't mean you have to keep going that way. Is it the right direction for you?

No matter how long you have traveled in the wrong direction, you can always turn around. Nothing says you cannot admit being wrong. If you are, be confident and know that there is no shame in turning around.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

happiness

On this Tuesday morning, are you happy?  Right now as you read this, do you have a smile on your face?  Is there a feeling of joy about you?  I want to talk about happiness because there are folks who never seem to be happy and others who always seem to be happy.  Do you fall into either group, or are you more in between?

There is a statement attributed to Abraham Lincoln that I find a lot of truth in. "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be." In other words, we can decide if we are going to be happy or not.
 
I'm fortunate to be part of a family that has always been filled with joy and I seem to find friends that are the same way.  While every single day might not be the most marvelous, what good is feeling bad about it?  There are always good things to look at!  May your day be filled with happiness!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Second month of the year

Welcome to the second month of the year, February. It's the month many people have trouble saying (and for the record, most dictionaries give you a choice) and the month that is full of numerous observances including Valentine's Day on the 14th and Groundhog Day tomorrow. It is American Heart Month, Black History Month, and National Bird-Feeding Month. This year it is the month of Chinese New Year and also the start of Lent.

There is actually an observance of some kind on just about every day this month, and in fact some days have multiple observances. Presidents Day is one of them. Also monthlong, this is National Children's Dental Health Month, Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, National Forestry Mulcher Month, and Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month. Yes I know. Some of them sound odd, but these special days are either reason to celebrate or days designed to bring special awareness.

How are you going to spend your February? I urge you to take some time to learn about the first two things I mentioned. Find out more about heart health - it could save your life. Learn more too about Black history, regardless of your own race. At the end of the day we are all one in the human race!