The Radicalization Of America

Go get a drink, I’ll wait.

I have to start this post by adding to my disclaimer. This post is in no way an attack on America, the military, police, men, religion, race or politics. I am just trying to figure out something in my head and this exercise is always easier when I write. I put ideas in this blog so that others can expand upon them, I don’t try to put this out there to be a contrarian in any way. In fact what I want to do is be constructive.

All the talk of radicalization of Muslims has made me start thinking of something just a pervasive, the radicalization of America. While Donald Trump is doing a great job at exposing it, we cannot blame him for radicalizing the country. The first glimpses of it was when I watched the movie American Sniper. It simplified the world into sheep, wolves and sheep dogs. When you do dig deeper into the origin of the quote you find that it was a little more complex of an idea by a Lieutenant Colonel.

If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath—a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path.

David Grossman

I went to high school in the Chicago area, gangs were a reality there. Besides learning about colors and how I had to be careful what and who i said it to, the thing that stuck with me the most is why people joined gangs. The need to belong and be protected is natural in most people. A family provides that for most of us, but what happens when you don’t have a strong family structure. You fall prey to the mentality of I need someone to provide that sense of family. The same can be said about community.

We all marvel at what ISIL (who I like to call Daish since it suposedly pisses them off) has been able to do to recruit and radicalize people into horrible atrocities. Are we maybe missing the mark by not seeing what is being done with our own population?

A recent trend has the introduction and use of the term “soft target” aka sheep. If you associate the very negative connotation of children being murdered that should be enough to end the gun control talk with most, but that did not happen. I have a theory as to why it did not.

Guns in this country are part of the culture. One thing people don’t think about is that also part of the culture is the “hero” and “warrior” mentality. To a certain degree it is also something most people associate with manhood.

As a parent now I have become even more protective than I was before. I always though of myself as a guardian and martial arts always thought me about self defense. I never felt that the best defense is offense. Avoidance was always preferable to confrontation, specially if I had the upper hand. However, that is not what our military programs people to do. I don’t have statistics of how different the post deployment debriefing is compared to WWII, but the fact that there is a fast track between military service to police department and a mix of PTSD and you have in my opinion a recipe for disaster.

I have seen a trend this last year of using memes to hook people into ideologies, not from ISIS but from veteran groups. The first meme starts with a simple, take care of our troops before you take care of refuges. Not a position I would ever take but I can see how it rings true with some people. Then the next one from that same source is more radical, a veteran relaxed with the text; just let me know when I can start shooting people. Then the cherry on top is a block text proclamation of “We are full, F@ck off!”

I have seen this stuff re-shared by people I know. I’ve been wrecking my brain trying to figure out how xenophobia is spread so easily. Then it hit me, we are being pushed into a warrior class again rather than guardians. Yes I also loop cops into this conversation and here is why.

Warrior class is something that modern warfare had made something of the past. I’m not saying that every person that joins the military does so because he/she wants to become a warrior. Most of them do though, and some of them end up eventually being our police. Also, some of those police officers also have the warrior mentality in them. Not just protect and serve, which is supposed to be the motto.

I also take that one step further. Most people don’t want to be a sheep, and what makes you feel powerful and not vulnerable? A gun. The moment someone threatens to take that gun away, they are basically making you into sheep because you are not a wolf, you have to be a sheep.

America is being radicalized into thinking that guns are the only thing that is keeping you from being a victim. First it was just for home safety from robbers. Now it has grown up to terrorism. Next will be from your own government. This country is little by little being told a lie that in the end is just about someone making more money.

Talk to ME Dr!

Everyone puts a lot of trust on doctors. I am not about to attack the profession. I respect it, I have doctors in my family. I have doctors that are my friends. That said they are still human beings and do not have WebMD downloaded into their brain. They make mistakes, your health is YOUR responsibility and also the life of your child.

After enduring the various videos the hospital made us watch. “You will kill your child driving home 2” followed by “Your child will die while they sleep 15.” You are petrified by the whole experience of childbirth and here comes the never-ending flow of information on how you will more than likely mess up somehow and put your child’s life in jeopardy. Did you know a simple infection can leave your child blind, or that talcum powder will give them asthma? Did you know that there also tons of unexplained reasons why a child just does not make it.

I feel sorry for everyone that has to go through any of this and lose a child, or even go through the pain of a miscarriage. I sincerely don’t think all the gloom and doom videos can help to prepare you mentally for a loss of that magnitude. So inside of this frame of mind think of how it will feel when a Dr start going through a chart and talking to a resident rather than talking to you.

Again, we have been very lucky, dare I say blessed that our little tyrant was very healthy. That said she did not cry a ton when she was born (which worries you because that is what you see on TV.) and she was also tiny. We had no clue about this, but on an early ultrasound they found something that the tech noticed. We were never informed and the Dr discussed it very non nonchalantly with the resident. First time hearing about this and other things that ended up being “normal” terrified me to no end. I was patiently waiting for the Dr to be done with the conversation and come and address us, when they both just left the room.

I was pretty livid.

Naturally I wanted someone to suffer the anguish and anxiety I was feeling because that is the productive thing to do. I kept it together and found a nice nurse that came in and went through the whole chart with us in detail and explain what she could. She did put in a note for them to come back and go through things with us.

A resident came by the next day and more terrified than helpful he did not say much. I did catch the Dr eventually and had a conversation with her. What she told me kind of baffled me.

She said she was very surprised. Most parents in that hospital did not want the details or even review the charts of the kids. She told me that our daughter is lucky because we were already ahead of the game by being involved and interested. I’m still shocked for many reasons.

– How do doctors become so used to patients not caring… even for their own children.
– Maybe the reason they give you all those videos is that more people take an active role?
– Am I just that paranoid?

I am thankful that everything was. Everything is normal with the baby. I am more relaxed about things now, but still super freaked out because being a control freak and having a child are pretty mutually exclusive. I can only hope for the best and be involved.

Watching a TV show gave a new dimension to this conversation. Without going into too much detail a summer camp for blind children talked about how the goal was for them to learn to become their own advocate. Not so much about educating their PE teacher about how they could be included, but the child saying hey I can play kickball if you use this ball that makes a sound. Or I can run with someone if you use a rope for me to hold with someone.

I am learning this parenting thing little by little, but the lesson here to me is that we need to be advocates for ourselves and teach our children the same. They need to be responsible for that advocacy and make sure they understand that it is important to speak up.

This post is part of a series!
Hurry Up and WaitHere she comesAnd who the F@ck are you?Talk to ME Dr!

And who the F@ck are you?

Motherhood is something that is hard to understand unless you see someone experience it. Society in the US has a really weird relationship with nudity. It is supposed to be shameful and nobody is supposed to see anybody else naked, yet the internet traffic’s highest percentage goes to porn. So someone is watching live nudes. All day, every day.

Boobs don’t offend me and never have. Something switched in my head when my wife started breast feeding, it is one of the most natural things I have witnessed and there is no shame on the practice at all. Not sure why people get all up in arms if someone feeds a baby in public. I do digress.

Our little tyrant was born in a teaching hospital, which means that there are double the people around because they are still “learning.” As a patient you do have the option to not let students be a part of your care. We did not mind people learning but at the same time wanted the birth to feel like an intimate experience.

That is the exact opposite of what happened.

We had met what we thought was all the staff that was going to be involved with the birth. Oh how wrong I was. Once the practice pushing moved to the actual pushing phase the room filled with about 15 people. I am not even exaggerating, from the 3 doctors already there and the handful of nurses we had met it multiplied and filled the whole room.

I did have a huge issue with one of the people, but more on that later.

The part that makes this difficult is that there are people coming into a very private moment and you have not even had a chance to learn their name. They all had some kind of role and I am sure they were there for our benefit more than anything else, but it was still very hard to get over the fact that a bunch of “strangers” are now going to be part of one of those once in a life time moments.

I know it is almost unrealistic to expect us to meet everyone before they come in and I am thankful that if something would have gone wrong there were plenty of people there with specific skill to deal with certain situations. Still, the intimate setting that a child birth could have been was lost on the sheer amount of people that came in when it was about to happen.

I think I would have digested the moment better but one of the nurses tried to push me away from the bedside because I guess she could assist the pushing better? Maybe she just wanted a better look. That really kind of pushed me over the edge and I said no, I will stay by my wife’s side. I’m glad I was part of it and the fact that I did not pass out.

This post is part of a series!
Hurry Up and WaitHere she comesAnd who the F@ck are you?Talk to ME Dr!

The race of my child

I wish this topic was a lot less complicated. Race relations in the US are already a multi-layer mess full of landmines. Add to that the fact that I have a hard time trying to fit into that complicated structure of labels and you have yourself a very difficult conversation that I will someday have to have with my child.

Daddy, what am I?

Start by the fact that I had to be told I was not white as soon as I moved to the US. That said (and it is probably a good idea for you to read that post) I don’t have identity problems. I have problems fitting into American society labels, but I am very proud of my heritage. Not just as Colombian but every day I learn more and more about what it is to be Latino in the US.

If I had to have the conversation with my daughter today I would probably start by saying, you are half American and Half Colombian. I think nationality is a good way to start the conversation. It will continue with, you were born in Kansas City but your Mom was born in Denver and I was born in Cali, Colombia. I will eventually get to the ugly labeling of human beings part, but I want her to first think of people as a complex set of experiences and not just the color of their skin.

Race has been on the news a lot lately. Ferguson is now something cemented in our brains as a negative from both points of view. You can’t win that argument with people that are polarized by it. Then you have an NAACP advocate identifying as black when she was really white. I feel she has been treated unfairly because she should be judged more for the work she does rather than what she identifies as. Eminem did not get rejected by Dr Dre when he found out he was white.

Today another incident is being labeled as a “hate crime.” 9 people are dead supposedly because of the color of their skin. We call it a tragedy, but in reality it is something that should simply not happen anymore in a modern society. We watch Game of Thrones and at times think of that world as barbaric. In reality we are really not that far away from that world where people kill in the name of an affiliation.

I have no clue how much discrimination my daughter will have to face. I don’t want to make her afraid of other people or think of the “race card” as something real. I am curious as to what other parents of mixed background or with mixed children think.

Weekend Recap Rant

Even though I had an amazing weekend with my family I am pretty sad right now. Elliot Roger made a massacre again the leading headline. Wikipedia already has a page for it, 2014 Isla Vista killings. The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, I thought would be the last straw for many… I guess I was wrong.

This makes me sad for many reasons, and I am writing this because I cannot seem to get it out of my head. So here are some of my thoughts.

Asperger’s was not the cause, it was only a contributing factor.
Could gun control or laws better prevent this? or do we need to get more serious about mental health?
Where bulling and isolation also contributing factors?

When Sandy hook happened I thought that the answer was square on mental health. I do not think that access to guns is the answer, while I do think that further scrutiny on who buys guns is required I don’t think it will be the end all when it comes to these types of crimes. People that “lose it” will find another way to cause harm in my opinion.

The problem we have here is an individual that got obsessed with a thought. He thought sex was owed to him. He thought he was entitled. And while we could sit here and argue about how we live in a patriarchal society and rape culture is rampant, I don’t think that is the answer. That individual got stock in a thought, the thought he deserved something and when he did not get it he lashed out at the people he held responsible. Careful though… he also blamed humanity… in a way, he thinks we were all at fault for his pain.

I don’t understand Asperger’s completely. What I do know is that while most people can get over a bad thought, someone with that condition can become consumed by it. I think the evidence is pretty clear. I do hold some anger towards the movements out there that radicalize people.

I’ll put it in another context. More than once I have had lunch with a group that has included a woman that has recently ended a relationship. The moment the vitriol starts spewing about not just the person that was a jerk to them (perceived or not) but against all men! I have a problem with that person from then on. Generalizations are fine, we all use them to communicate and convey ideas. I think the issue lies when we blame an entire group of people (gender, religion, color, etc) for our problems. Once someone starts thinking in those terms they lose sight of the real issue they were dealing with.

I did not know the individual but lets say a blond girl did turn him down, lets say she even ridiculed him in front of others. I am sure we have all seen that at some point in our lives. The difference is most of us get over it and try again… but there are some out there that don’t.

From what I know of this case he did have help available to him. I wish I knew the answer to this problem. Did we have a systematic failure where law enforcement should have done something about it? Could they have prevented it?

This hits home because I have personally been the victim of this type of violence in the past. Nobody died that day, but my grandpa did have a heart attack and I got to see what a bullet does to flesh when one of my family members was actually hit by a bullet… I was not even 12 at the time. I don’t hate guns, some day I will write about that day in detail. In the end it was the same story, someone becomes obsessed with a thought enough to act on it.