Elephants and Grass

“When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled”
-African Proverb quotes

Proverbs are very powerful ways to transmit knowledge from generation to generation. While formal education is the way that most of us get our knowledge, I believe story telling and proverbs are still relevant and important.

This African proverb makes me think of our current situation quite a bit. I could talk about politics, but I have the feeling other people are already having their fill of that. One of the news stories that has been resonating lately is the Enron trial.

I am not sure whose fault it ultimately was. What I am sure of is that a lot of little people ended up suffering loses that changed their lives. Same thing is happening locally with Delphi and the UAW. Again more elephants fighting and more grass getting trampled.

I could speculate as to know is right and wrong on the issues. I think that our society is becoming a sad place if we have to get our politics from Jon Stewart or Rush Limbaugh instead of making our own minds up. Politics used to be boring, the morning shows would never pay that much attention, but lately it looks like a circus. The morning show is full of politicians talking about the issues.

Reporters are scared to do their jobs. Journalism has become a game where credibility is not one of the pillar but just a goal. Again in the end we are the ones that lose because in the information age we are feed philosophy instead of letting us come up with our own. We have become birds that wait to be feed regurgitated news. Opinions and commentary are important, but they are worth nothing unless we are still getting the actual news from somewhere in an unfiltered way. It is time to stop being grass and begin making those elephants accountable.

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My Grandfather’s Favorite Quote – La Frase Favorita de mi Abuelito

“Estudia y no seras cuando crecido, el juguete vulgar de las pasiones, ni el esclavo servil de los tiranos”
Benito Pablo Juarez Garcia

Version en Español

The quote translates as “Study and while growing up you will not be, the vulgar toy of passions, nor the servile slave to the tyrants.” I was very young when I first heard this quote. Come to think of it, I think my love for quotes and proverbs came from my Grandfather.

“Mi Abuelito” (My Grandpa) is in the hospital in critical condition. I got the call last night that I have been dreading for quite some time. It makes me mad that I am so far away and I cannot be by his side right now. It frustrates me that I might never get to see him alive again. It saddens me that I did not get to spend more time with him as an adult and learn more life lessons from him.

Growing up I was always spending time with my Grandfather. I loved listening to him, to his stories, to what he believed. A lot of my values and respect driven life come from him. While my father always led by example and reinforced the values, my Grandfather was the one that educated me in a lot of life lessons through his words. He is a very generous person, and even though he never had real monetary wealth, what he gave me in knowledge is worth more than all the gold he could have ever given me. Compassionate, accepting and always in the search for justice.

My Grandfather led one of the first unions in Colombia at one of the big chemical companies. He accomplished everything he could not just at work but bringing up his family. He is the first one to admit that he is not perfect, that he made a lot of mistakes while growing up, but he tried to always be true to what he believed. I hope he gets better and I have the opportunity to hug him at least once more. I have told him how much I love him over the phone but I just don’t feel like he can truly know until I wrap my arms around him. I miss him so much.

The quote is a beautiful one that I will always remember and keep close to my heart. It really encompasses what education should be about. Sometimes we think of education as the means to money, but in reality education gives us so much more. My Grandfather always advocated education as one of the most important things you can obtain. If you think about it, everything in life can be taken away from you, money, family, dignity, even your freedom… but knowledge is something no one can steal from you.

Read more My Grandfather’s Favorite Quote – La Frase Favorita de mi Abuelito


“Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”

-Benito Mussolini

I am not very political. It is not because I don’t have my own ideas and convictions, but because I don’t believe I have the time to really gather the information to make a true political statement. So don’t take this post as anything other than me presenting some ideas to start discussion. Fascism is a word that I believe a lot of people use but not many truly understand. While a lot of governments could be consider Fascist, even that of Adolf Hitler, to me the term only refers to Mussilini an the Italians during his time in power.

Taking the above quote and thinking about our current situation in America, one could say that all the government scandals would make us look fascist. I am really not sure. I would hope that we have a case of some bad apples and not that our whole goverment is a well “oiled” machine working for corporate interest and not the American people.

Websters dictonary defines facism as a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition. We see this definition painted on the movie V for Vendetta. A movie that truly recommend. Do you believe we live under a fascist regime?

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Respect Revisited

“Respect for ourselves guides our morals; respect for others guides our manners.”
-Laurence Sterne

I have already written a post about respect, and I mentioned on that post how the respect topic for me cannot be contained in a single post. I think respect is a trait that can really reflect who someone really is. Learning respect is probably one of the hardest things we have to do in life, because if we don’t learn about it early on we are going to hit our heads against many walls.

Everybody has his or her own definition and levels of respect. While someone might not find obscene words disrespectful, someone else might. It is all a matter of your environment. I have very high standards for the respect that I expect and it constantly causes me to be hurt. I find it offensive when people talk about people of other races being inferior, and I feel personally disrespected when people do it. Ignorance at times can hurt and when someone around me says, “People that come to this country should learn how to speak English,” it hurts me. I still have plenty of people in my family with limited knowledge of English. It is not that they don’t want to learn it, it is that they don’t have the capacity.

I feel that is a lack of respect to talk about subjects that people don’t understand. While I do believe that someone that wants to become a part of society in America has to learn English, it is easier said than done. Some people because of their age, money or time constraints do not have the ability to learn how to speak proper English. Should those people not be allowed to have a place in the Land of the free?

Something I found interesting about a linguistics class was that a child could learn up to 10 languages before the age of 10. Mentally it is not a challenge at all. The importance of the age was actually more physiological. After your vocal chords, nasal cavity and larynx are developed to a certain point, some sounds are very hard to produce. That is where accents come from mostly. Some people can learn English very well, but their physiognomy will prevent them from truly being able to pronounce certain sounds.

At this level respect involves being able to think about what we say before we say it. A word that for most of my life I never spoke was the word “retarded.” I found the word to be offensive. I always thought, “I never know if someone in the room has a relative who is truly retarded.” The word now a days has a new meaning and it is more often associated with the word dumb that with its true meaning. I have used it on occasion, but I still don’t like it. It might be foolish or extreme of me to think so much about a simple word but to me it comes down to respect. If I can potentially hurt someone’s feelings, it is easier for me to choose the words I use.

I know that I cannot even begin to think that I would never offend anyone. A simple misinterpretation can lead to someone being truly offended by something said with the best of intentions. Last week I was a guest speaker at a Psychology class. The teacher invited me to talk about my experience as an American with two cultures; he also wanted me to talk about racism. I began my speech with a little background about me, and then I said, “When I moved to the United States I had to learn 3 different cultures and not just one.” I went on to say that I attended high school at a school that was 90% black. While this was a fact, the audience, which was racially mixed, responded quite differently to what I had expected. I believe that even some of the black students took offense to what I said. While my remark carried no negative connotation to it, I felt it necessary to explain during the chat that I was more accepted by the black people in my school than even the other Latinos. By the end of the chat everyone was participating and it seemed like no one came out truly offended by anything that I said, but I still wonder if some of my words were found to be disrespectful in any level.

I don’t think it is foolish to care too much. I believe that the basis for any strong relationship comes from respect. As a relationship grows and we become comfortable with other people, respect should begin to grow and never diminish. I think that just because we want to be frank with people we should never disrespect them, more importantly we should find out what those people find disrespectful and truly care about them being hurt. We all have lines that we don’t like anyone to cross, while some might have broader lines than others, I believe we all have them. I think the world would be a better place if we learned that to not cross those lines it is to respect others.

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“A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books”
-Chinese Proverb

When did people forget what conversation was and replace it with debate? It is so difficult to find intelligent conversation now a days. It seems like society just up and erased the sense of community and replace it with the winner mentality of, there has to always be a winner and loser. Not everything in life is about right and wrong.

Conversation is an art, that when used properly enhances our view of the world. Would you settle down for eating only bread and water for every single meal? Well, that is what I feel people do when they think that in any conversation there has to be debate instead of just sharing of ideas.

Being open minded is a difficult thing. We all like to think that we are open minded to some level, kind of like most of us think we are good drivers. The reality is that we have been trained to have some cemented ideas about the world, and it is very difficult or next to impossible to change those views unless there is intelligent conversation involved.

I know this might be a little bit of a stretch, but I believe that if there was more open conversation about topics like oppression and racism, it would be easier to eradicate them. Keeping people’s views hidden can perpetuate ignorant and short sided views of the world. Think of soldiers that get stuck in a remote location and don’t even know that the war has ended.

I believe the blogs have opened up a window into the real conversation world. I also blame the fear of debate some people have to the lack of comments on real subjects posted on blogs. It seems like every single time that someone shares an idea about a subject that might not completely agree with the original post, it is taken as an attack or an attempt to discredit the original post. I really hope that our society can go back to a place where conversation is encouraged and the exchange of ideas makes us grow intellectually.

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