Category Archives: soap box

Keeping Her World Small

 

Keeping Her World Small

 

One of the attractions that we made sure to visit this spring on our trip to Disney World was the It’s A Small World ride. It’s not as exciting as Space Mountain or Pirates of the Caribbean but even after all the times I’ve visited there is something I find quaint about it’s theme of international unity, even as I hate having the song stuck in my head for the several weeks after.

The ride is dated, first opening at the Florida park in 1971, but the truth remains that the world IS small, and getting smaller all the time. Technology and a nonstop news cycle now allow immediate communication and awareness of events virtually anywhere, at anytime. This silly little website has seen visitors from 138 different countries and independent pieces of territory out of a possible 247. Admittedly many of those visits have probably led to disappointment for some googling my retrospectively poor moniker Thirsty Daddy, and others have been hacking attempts from Eastern Europe, but I’d still like to thank my Kazakhastani and Tanzanian readers for their support.

To my daughter the world is very small. It consists of the places she’s been, the people she knows. A plane ride to Florida takes the same amount of time as a car ride to New Hampshire so to her they are the same distance away. She doesn’t understand why she rarely sees her cousins from Arizona when she gets to visit with the ones down the highway all the time. We’ve come home from minor league baseball games to find my wife watching the Red Sox and she refuses to believe that the ballpark on television isn’t the same one that we just left. She thinks I’m teasing her.

Her world is small and I’m going to let it stay that way for a while. Sept 11 just passed and to her it was just another day. She doesn’t know that daddy has been worried about friends of his in Texas and Florida these past few weeks. She doesn’t know that some of her classmates may have a harder time in their lives just because of the color of their skin or who they choose to love. She doesn’t know that there are children her age across the world that are going to bed hungry, others that are carrying assault rifles and preparing for battle. She doesn’t know the potential devastation that could happen just because two men in power need to prove that they have the biggest genitalia.

I’ve been told that this is the wrong approach, sometimes by those whose opinions on these matters I hold in pretty high regard.

I’ve been told that by hiding her from the world I am leaving her ill prepared for the realities of it, that raising those that will bring about social change needs to begin young, that this attitude is the epitome of middle class white privilege.

They may be right.

They may right but for now my daughter is happy and I want her to stay that way.

I think that there is a balance that can be found. She’s not “being raised color blind”, a catchphrase used by ultra-liberal white people to pat themselves on the back and derided by those that see the ignorance in the philosophy, she is being raised to understand that everybody is different, in many different ways, and that it is those differences that make us unique. She can be taught the importance of body autonomy without knowing what the word rape means, can understand the importance of recycling and conservation without worrying about rising sea levels, can understand “stranger danger” without being afraid to ask for help if she needs it.

These are things keep me up at night, she sleeps soundly. She still believes that people are inherently good, in the kindness of strangers, that the bad guys always lose in the end. I know better. I know better and the argument that she is old enough to understand how things really are is also my argument for not wanting her to.

Her world is small. It’s safe. I acknowledge that we are very fortunate to have it be so, but I can’t feel guilty for that. I won’t.

Maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe I’m wrong but my daughter is happy and carefree and kind and brave. She’s the first one to help up a classmate that’s fallen, to offer a hug to one that’s upset, to stick up for somebody being picked on.

She’s six.

For now that’s enough.

 

 

 

No One To Cheer in This Fight

 

 

Even if you don’t follow boxing, mixed martial arts, or pay any attention whatsoever to the world of sports, chances are that you are aware of a pretty big fight happening this weekend. Floyd Mayweather, one of the greatest boxers of our generation, undefeated in 49 matches, is coming out of retirement to fight Conor McGregor, reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion and former featherweight champion. Not a professional boxer, McGregor is currently the biggest name in MMA, fighting in the main event at four of the six highest selling fights in the sports history.

Mayweather is expected to earn at least $100 million dollars, with a chance to earn up to four times that depending on pay per view sales. McGregor should earn at least $75 million dollars. I’m a fan of both boxing and MMA, having bought fights in both sports multiple times in the past, including ones that have featured these two guys. Neither will be earning a penny from me this weekend.

Critics may call it a cop-out, an inability or refusal to take a side, but I’ve always seen the world in shades of grey. Very rarely is any situation as black and white as it may outwardly appear. I like to think of it as a reasonable and realistic point of view that I wish more politicians and people of influence would embrace.

It’s part of the appeal of sports. While watching a sporting contest, you simply pick a player or team, sometimes for the silliest of reasons and sit back and enjoy.

The real world doesn’t work like that.  I can be outraged by the footage of Philando Castile’s death and also the murders of the Dallas policemen. I can agree with what Black Lives Matter is trying to accomplish while not condoning violent protest or the obstruction of federal highways. White supremacy groups are an embarrassment to the American ideal and should be condemned loudly and publicly by any elected official that claims to represent those ideals. Also despicable are the actions of the various Anitifa offshoots, the anarchists responsible for much of the looting and rioting after the inauguration of Donald Trump. As pitiful as I find our President’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, there is no denying that there actually were some “very bad people” on both sides of the confrontation.

 

Blac Bloc “protesters”

 

I don’t want these shades of grey in sports. I want somebody that I can cheer for and I can’t swallow my bile and celebrate the victory of either of these two.

Floyd Mayweather is a beater of women. He has multiple arrests for assaulting the mothers of his children and women in Las Vegas nightclubs, though to date has only served sixty days in jail. He’s remained unrepentant, refusing to acknowledge any wrongdoing despite the frequency of these allegations since 2002.

Conor McGregor is a racist. Throughout his career he has been known to use racial slurs as a way to antagonize his black and hispanic opponents, calling them “dancing monkeys” and worse. During the lead up to this fight he has repeatedly referred to Mayweather as “boy.”

Pre-fight press conferences have been cringe worthy exercises in toxic masculinity, both sides using homophobic slurs, bigotry and intolerance to hype an event that will bear little resemblance to a competitive match, McGregor having never boxed professionally. This isn’t sport, it’s greed driven spectacle, the only real competition regarding which fighter will be willing to act more publicly crass.

Despite their enhanced physical abilities, professional athletes are just as fallible as the rest of us, emulation a road to eventual disappointment. We ignore these character defects for the sake of entertainment and diversion, but what happens when these flaws become part of the show, the main source of attraction?

I won’t be around to find out. I need somebody to cheer for, a reason to watch. I need my sports to be metaphorically black and white, not used as a tactic to sell tickets.

 

 

Destroy the Box : Why You Shouldn’t Let Labels Define You

 

                 Guest post from bestselling author Nicholas Britton

 

 

It seems our society has become obsessed with labels. We have to come up with a label for everything and everyone. If something doesn’t fit into a category, people will spend hours upon hours creating an explanation for it or creating a new category because everything needs to fit in a box.

I went to school to be a teacher. While working in preschool, I saw people try to label kids as young as infants with every label you could think of by teachers and parents who were looking for answers.

If you listen to kids talk at school, from elementary and beyond, they label each other by how they look, their intelligence levels, their interests and skills, pretty much anything you can think of. Adults do it too. Introverts vs extroverts. INTJ, ENTP, and the other 14 MBTI personality types, depressed, bipolar, obese, skinny, average, athletic, straight, gay, black, brown, white, you name it. Basically everything needs to be explained by a label.

Very early in my life I had to see a speech language pathologist (SLP) because my Individualized Education Plan (IEP) stated that I needed help. Several years later I was told that I had ADHD and my IEP followed me to high school. I then graduated from high school, ( the whole time being in Special Education (SPED) calsses, and planned to enroll in the United States Army.

I soon found out that these acronyms which defined me my whole life were going to prevent me from achieving some of my dreams. I was able to get a BA and BS from a very prestigious military academy, but decided to get a M.Ed in ECE and SPED to learn more about these acronyms and labels.

We all have labels. Some may be “accurate,” “justifiable” or “understandable”. Others may be completely bogus, forced or inaccurate. Labels are everywhere. Some are scientific, political, and researched based. Others are adjectives that people use to put someone into a category, true or not. For some reason we need labels to explain everything.

The problem with society’s overuse of labels is that we begin to believe we are what we are labelled and a self fulfilling prophecy kicks in. I have seen it in kids, teenagers, and adults. Somebody is called dumb as a child, they begin to believe it and they give up. Another person is told they can’t do something because of their gender, race or age and they give up, belief in this label so powerful it controls them. We’ve all been there. Unfortunately some labels are so harsh and controlling, they cost lives, they cost dreams and they cost relationships.

I spent over twenty years of my life allowing acronyms to control my life. To either motivate or derail me from accomplishing what I wanted. The moment that we stop allowing acronyms to control us is when we begin to learn and know freedom. As I stated in my two books, life can be solved with two words, made up of 22 letters and no acronyms. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY.

If I had listened to others and the labels that they gave me throughout my life, I couldn’t imagine my life would be this exciting and fulfilling. That I wouldn’t have reached my full potential or happiness. Somehow I was fortunate enough to figure this out and work every day to destroy every box that others have tried to place me in.

I encourage and challenge others to do the same, especially those put into boxes similar to the ones I was placed in. Boxes that tell you that you can’t be someone or do something that you want to do. Boxes that limit your potential. Boxes that can devalue or degrade you.

No one needs these. Smash them. Destroy them. Create your own life however you want it. Don’t let someone dictate how your story turns out. Write your own story and make sure to include your own happy ending.

 

About Nick Britton

Nick Britton has served multiple positions in his career, however, being a preschool teacher was one of the greatest. He has written two bestselling books, “Children Know Success. Do you?” & “Lessons from the Little Ones.” He has several professional publications, hosts weekly networking events, and has given public speaking engagements in multiple regions of the country. He can be reached on twitter @njbritton or via email at info@nickbritton.com.

 

 

100 Years of Healthcare Debate

 

 

Although neither has been remembered kindly by history, Vietnam and Watergate forever tarnishing our memories of them, both Democrat Lyndon Johnson and Republican Richard Nixon left very successful domestic legacies. Johnson’s War on Poverty helped millions, Nixon established the Environmental Protection Agency, and both were instrumental in many of the civil rights gains and anti-discrimination laws of the time.

They also both understood the importance of healthcare, Johnson establishing Medicare in 1965 and Nixon expanding the program to those under 65 with long term disabilities in 1972.

They weren’t the first US Presidents to understand the need to help the uninsured. Republican Teddy Roosevelt called for a national health insurance system in 1912 but had almost all of his progressive policies blocked by an obstructionist congress. During his second term Democrat Harry Truman attempted the same, with the same result.

A smaller part of that bill signed by Johnson, mostly ignored at the time, was something called Medicaid, a program designed to provide federal funding help for state level assistance to those unable to obtain private health insurance. It goes by different names in each state, with different qualifying criteria and coverages, but the goal is the same – a means for unemployed, underemployed, disadvantaged and lower income people to have access to preventative and primary healthcare. It’s used in one form or another by one in five Americans at some point in their life and four out of ten children.  Under the Affordable Care Act, ( Obamacare ),  legislation influenced heavily by failed Republican proposals in the mid 1990s, eleven million people were added in the 32 states that chose to participate in the law’s expansion of eligibility.

Over a hundred  years of debate, entire political parties and even individual lawmakers repeatedly changing positions and unable to come to consensus on whether access to healthcare is a “right” or a “privilege”, failure to agree on what burden society as a whole should take on to ensure that access. Unable to fully decide whether or not they actually give a damn about the people they were elected to represent.

In the meantime we continue to get sicker.  The United States ranks dead last among the fifteen wealthiest nations when it comes to life expectancy, infant mortality rates and rates of chronic illness.

The good news, if you’re a stockholder that is, is that insurance companies continue to get richer. Sixty percent of Americans still receive their insurance through their employer but these costs and the amount expected to be contributed by employees towards these costs have increased every year for the past decade. Aetna, Anthem, Cigna, Humana and United Health Group, the five biggest for-profit insurers had a combined 4.5 billion dollars in net earnings for the first quarter of 2017.

Aetna, Humana and United Health are all leaving or have left the ACA exchanges now that sick people are actually going to the doctors and not being able to be denied for pesky things like pre-existing conditions. The other companies are making up for this lost money by raising premiums for Obamacare customers that don’t qualify for government subsidies by 25%, a number that was announced just prior to last year’s election.

It’s an absolute disgrace. I currently pay over $500.00 a month to insure my family of four and despite that, despite the fact that we are all blessedly healthy, outstanding healthcare bills now account for 30% of our total debt. When my daughter needed stitches in her chin the cost to me was significant enough to alter our summer plans. Seven stitches, placed not by a specialist but a physician’s assistant, at the hospital that I have worked at for almost twenty five years.

I cringe typing those words, aware of how incredibly fortunate I am to have that be our only sacrifice. It never occurred to me not to bring her in, but for a lot of families that would be a legitimate consideration. The number of yearly bankruptcies that are directly related to health care bills is impossible to verify and widely debated, but is accepted by most as being the highest precipitator.

We live in a country where millions remain uninsured, where those that have insurance are paying more and more while receiving less and less in return. Of those fifteen nations I referenced earlier, America is also dead last in doctor’s appointments made and kept. Those five insurance companies mentioned have spent 6.2 million dollars in government lobbying so far this year, pushing a new plan that seems to benefit absolutely nobody outside of their board rooms and a few mean old rich guys.

A hundred years after identifying the problem and we still can’t seem to get our act together, affordable or otherwise, and decide that taking care of sick people needs to be a national priority.

 

Beaten For Helping

 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before : misunderstanding leads to a guy being falsely accused of something, his picture gets spread all over social media, and his life is ruined.

Chances are you’ve heard it several times. There was the guy in British Columbia that forgot his glasses and was holding his phone at arm’s length to try and read something. Several girls thought he was taking their picture, snapped his, and shared it all over the internet with warnings about the town pervert.

There was the guy in Melbourne that stopped to take a selfie with a Darth Vader cutout in Target and was accused of the same, a Frozen display and several young girls somewhere in the vicinity. Both men spending months subjected to harassment and death threats while trying to clear their names and reputations.

Add to that list a Lakeland, Florida man who’s name, picture, phone number, place of employment, and family have been going viral this week, warnings made to watch out for him and to keep him away from children all over the internet.

His crime was to pick up a two year old girl, lost and upset in the crowd of a busy sports complex, calm her down, and begin asking people in the vicinity if anybody knew who her parent’s were. Before finding them however, the girl’s father and two of his buddies found them. Besides having his name and reputation smeared to the point where he moved his family into hiding, the Good Samaritan, a father himself,  got a tooth knocked out, his face split open, and a half dozen punches to the head for his trouble.

The girl’s family and friends, originators of not only the physical assault but the online one, are not only ungrateful but unrepentant, still convinced there was foul play intended despite the overwhelming number of witnesses that dispute that claim. As much as I can relate to their original panic and join everybody else that is happy the girl was returned to them unharmed, I have issue with their claim that this end result is “all that really matters.”

Its not all that matters. The man’s face and reputation matter. The continual sharing of things seen on-line with no effort put into determining the truth matters. The fact that this would have never happened if it had been a woman helping the little girl matters. The insane idea that any man talking to a little girl he doesn’t know must have nefarious purposes matters. The fear that next time it might be my little girl that goes un-helped because male bystanders are afraid to get involved matters to me quite a bit.

We already feel it. A little girl asks for a push on the swing or a lift up a ladder at the park and we freeze, looking around frantically for the kid’s parents. My daughter is old enough to not really care all that much where I am at the park, but every so often I make sure to talk to her, not to reassure her, but to make sure others are aware that I have a child present.

I’ve said before that parenting is a terrifying experience, the world a very scary place. Vigilance is necessary.

Paranoia is not.  I will do everything in  my power to make sure that I am there every time that my little girl needs me, but I know that for all my good intentions this may not always be the case. If she is ever lost, scared or hurt, please guys. Help her.