How to Change the World for the Better: Demolishing Pseudo-Kingdoms

iron throne

I love Game of Thrones. If you don’t, I forgive you for your awful taste in television.

Actually, it’s not television. It’s HBO.

Ugh, I can’t believe I just did that.

Anyway, I couldn’t imagine living in the world of Game of Thrones. I mean, forget about the dragons and white walkers; people seem to be the biggest threat on that show. They wantonly kill in the pursuit of money and power.

Segue!

If you look at history with a set of objective eyes, humanity has been dealing with “kings/queens” at various levels. Sure, it’s not everyone, but the idea of a ruler is one that even happens within families. My dad has his own Iron Throne.

Or leather sofa.

Whatever.

Here’s the thing: while much of the world has moved away from monarchies, do most people really have their fair share of power or are most of us still grasping for scraps. And don’t get me wrong, some people have access to better scraps than others. Hell, some of us may be able to sneak some goodies from the cupboard. Unfortunately, much of that is just a result of a dice roll. You were lucky enough to be born to one family versus another.

Still, can’t you see this structure at numerous levels? Many countries, states, corporations, and so on have this similar structure of power and wealth of a few and the remains trickle down. Some structures are steeper than others, but the fact is very few are level (or at least very close to being level). This means there will ALWAYS be some level of discourse in our world if these structures remain. This fact cannot be debated. Sure, we can argue all day about what’s fair and what isn’t, but an imbalance of power and wealth (let’s throw freedom in there as well) will always bring conflict. I cannot overstate this enough.

Fixing this is a tougher issue, but I feel we simply need one country or institution to be the example. Preferably one with a large voice or reach. Why? Because we will only assume one path works if another isn’t shown as equally or more successful (we also need to define the parameters of success). Humans are extremely fixated on evidence, even when said evidence is based on opinion or limited facts. As such, we need to show the world how this can be accomplished.

In the next few posts, I’m going to do just that by covering examples of COOPERATION in our world that work toward a common goal without an extreme imbalance of power at play. Until next week, let me know what you think! Do you think humanity needs conflict? Is equality impossible? Am I just a stupid idealist? Whatever the opinion, let it be known! We won’t get anywhere without having the conversation.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: The Uniting of Strong Voices for Common Goals

How to Change the World for the Better: The Uniting of Strong Voices for Common Goals

Photo Credit: looking4poetry

Photo Credit: looking4poetry

Let’s just get right down to it, people: I want to change the world for the better. At least right now I do. As soon as I get the opportunity to pick up and live a quiet life somewhere, I’m perfectly fine with the rest of the world figuring it out. But for now, let’s make some noise!

Last week I spoke about crime, but I want to take a step back and look at the bigger picture for a second. I often wonder how groups like Nazis and ISIS still exist today. Why is racism still an issue in the US and other countries? Why do the poor often remain poor? Why do people protest? Well, there’s not a single answer, but I can tell you this: having an influential voice matters.

We’re about to have a moment of honesty here: most people don’t give a damn about the affairs of the world. It’s true. For many of us, global (and in many cases domestic) problems are a point to debate and discuss, but the majority of people don’t care enough to make moves to change the world. I mean, the world is a big place with a ton of people. Most of us are just trying to live. Unfortunately, the people with the loudest voices are the ones who seemingly drive opinions and the trends of this world.

Corporations have loud voices.

Politicians have loud voices.

Extremists have loud voices.

You know who doesn’t have a loud voice? People who just want to live their lives.

It’s tough for people who want to make a change. I used to harp on people in America and wonder why they don’t come together more to make a change. Now I get it; most people just want to be content. The BS that we have in this world is just a reflection of people who care enough to continue negativity (and the people who don’t care enough to do anything about said negativity). Some type of collective voice on the opposite end of the spectrum should ideally be able to combat this.

Ideally.

Hmmm, should we make an attempt based on an ideal? Humanity’s been doing it for years, so why not?

I think there are tons of voices out there who care enough to create positive change. The problem is they’re so splintered. Although they all have good intentions, they’re currently not as big as the multiple issues of the world. Add in the differing focuses and you have people who are trying to constantly bandage a bleeding global society. But what if we all came together with a collective vision. That could make a difference.

Ideally.

So I’m not speaking to the people who are just trying to live their lives. I’m speaking to people who actually care about democracy and human rights. I’m speaking to people who care about equality enough to want to do something. If you care about poverty, discrimination, or war, I’m talking to you. If you just want to endlessly discuss ideas, feel free to do so with other people. I’m down for that too, but that doesn’t do anything significant. Discussions are good, but actions are better.

To all the people who actively want to let their voices be heard, I have a proposal for you. Let’s agree on the following:

  1. All people deserve adequate food and shelter.
  2. All people have the right to do what they want as long as it doesn’t hurt or infringe on the livelihood of others.
  3. Global capitalism is mostly broken and actively works against points one and two.
  4. People have the right to social, economic, political, and religious freedom as long as it follows point two.
  5. All people are equal and have the same rights.

Pretty simple goal, right? At least in theory. If you believe in these ideals, let your voice be heard. Let’s move as one to make this happen. If these issues aren’t your passion, just live your life. All I ask is that you don’t violate any of these points in your personal lives. As for everyone else, you better believe this isn’t the last time I’ll be writing about this. At least until I finally secure that quiet little life away from all the nonsense of this world.

Peace out, party people.

Previously: Why Does Theft Exist?

How to Change the World for the Better: Why Does Theft Exist?

Photo Credit: Stavos

Photo Credit: Stavos

I must confess, I have a chip on my shoulder: I want to change the world for the better. Yeah, I’m an idealist. I see so much potential in this world being wasted on conflict at numerous levels and I want to do something about it. I write about various topics on my blog, I speak about it on my podcast, and I even write music about it.

I’m not a great intellectual or scholar.

I’m not a revolutionist.

I’m just a guy with ideas. Some of them aren’t even really that new.

So let’s start here: why do criminals exist? The obvious answer is criminals exist because laws exist. But we need laws, so let’s look a bit more deeply and separate crime into violent and non-violent categories.

There’s no excuse for violent crimes so let’s also put that aside for this post. There’s a simple solution for those in the form of prison, though I certainly feel we could do more to rehabilitate offenders on a wider scale than simply punishment alone. With that out of the way for now, what do we do about non-violent crimes? Why do they even exist?

Non-violent crimes usually involve some form of theft/fraud or something that can potentially threaten the safety of others or the violator (this includes drugs so let’s not go there right now). The former is fairly straightforward in terms of why it happens: poverty and greed. These are two things running rampant in our global society because of the way we treat distribution of wealth. If we all had enough, there’d be less crime.

Duh.

But making that happen is just a pie-in-the-sky dream you say? Not so, naysayer! Let’s isolate the US for now, shall we? The federal minimum wage in America is $7.25. If a person with that salary works 40 hours a week for 52 weeks, they will GROSS $15080. That’s not much of a living to make, even before taxes. This is evidenced by the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita which is over $53K. If that should be a standard of living in the US, why aren’t more folks hitting it? Granted, there  are states with higher minimum wages, but there are some with less or none at all. Additionally, the US unemployment rate is at about 6 percent (though I think it’s higher considering it’s difficult to track all the homeless). This means that our ideal is not being met across the board, especially when richer people skew that number.

Okay, that’s enough of that for now. How do we make the situation better? If we over-tax the rich, they may move to countries with less taxes (my girlfriend says this happens with Sweden). How about a federal minimum salary of $40K? I mean, one that’s standardized across all states. That’s still less than the per capita GDP, but it will allow for a better quality of life for more folks. The tough part would be with companies who would need to open their pockets more to obviously pay their workers. Well, a portion of people’s salaries could be supplemented by the government. We’re already giving back more tax refunds/credits than ever before; I’d prefer a better salary than a refund that comes once a year. Also, I feel the 40 hour work week is an archaic standard that may not be needed anymore. What about a 30 hour work week? The extra time means more jobs.

We could also greatly reduce our military spending, but I think that’s a conversation for another day.

Lastly, we should be evaluating the lives of those incarcerated for theft.There’s a stark difference between someone who is stealing because they are homeless and someone who steals because they simply want more. We’re not doing much to put the former in a better place once they are out of prison. They’re back in the same situation (sometimes worse) when they go back into the real world. On the other end of the spectrum, if folks are meeting the per capita GDP and still get caught for theft related crimes, we should be punishing them accordingly and rehabilitating the behavior.

It’s the circle of (prison) life.

All of this is to say money is an issue. Comfort is a great sedative. Sure, greed will always be out there, but I truly believe we aren’t solving any issues by building more prisons. Though I’d prefer to flip the entire system on its head and start over, I know that isn’t realistic in this day and age. But can’t we make adjustments to this system that is clearly not working for everyone? Are we actually trying to solve problems or are we just discussing/arguing how to solve problems? You can say I’m wrong about any of this, but we’re also not giving any of it a shot. The US has bailed out huge companies and the country has moved forward without an issue; how are we not taking care of our citizens better? Maybe if we were, theft wouldn’t occur as much. I wonder how we could apply this thinking to a global level.

Hmmmm….

Peace out, party people.

Throwback Writing: Last Place

Just friends

G’day mates. My name is Outback Al and I’ll be your stereotypical Australian tour guide. While I usually hunt for lethal predators such as crocodiles, sharks and wallabies, today we’ll be tracking one of nature’s least threatening creatures: The Nice Guy.

Now before we encounter this wily little fellow I should warn you of a few things. First, the Nice Guy can be easily approached and will often submit when a threat arises. However, each Nice Guy’s threshold for this varies so tread lightly, mates!

Crikey! There’s one now! Notice his unassuming movement. The Nice Guy chooses not to be imposing in hopes of being accepted by his peers, but his success rate depends on the individual he’s interacting with. The Nice Guy also proves himself to be less of a threat by being accommodating to others, smiling often and peppering speech with humor – mostly of a self-deprecating nature.

Blimey! This is interesting. It seems a female is approaching. Notice how the Nice Guy immediately attempts talking to this female, but does not flirt. You may not believe it, but this is his mating dance; the Nice Guy often confuses normal conversation with courting the opposite sex. This is why so many Nice Guys enter what we wildlife experts call the ‘Friend Zone.’

The friend zone often consists of listening to a female’s relationship issues, providing a shoulder to cry on and absolutely no chance of exploring said female’s reproductive regions. It’s quite an interesting relationship, yeah? You see, the female considers this male to be non-threatening, i.e. non-sexual. Therefore she is able to interact with him with her guard down at all times. The Nice Guy, however, is usually unsatisfied with this dynamic, but wouldn’t dare to do anything to change things.

Cliché Australian exclamation! We’re in for a treat today, mates! There’s another male approaching. I can’t quite tell yet, but I think this fellow here might be an Asshole. The Asshole is essentially the antithesis of the Nice Guy. Most males exhibit features of both species, but to see a pureblood Nice Guy as well as a pureblood Asshole in the same day is about as rare as a transgender koala making love to an albino kangaroo. But let’s get back to the topic at hand so I don’t spoil our Valentine’s Day special next week.

I’m moving in for a closer look. The two males are circling each other, though it seems the Asshole has already surmised the fact that he’s dealing with a Nice Guy. Unfortunately for our Friend Zone prone pal, he’s no threat to the Asshole.

The Asshole seems to be interested in the Sheila. He expresses this by subtly putting her down in order to establish his superiority. In turn, the female reciprocates by giving body cues and subliminal hints that are most probably obvious to only her. It’s quite the dynamic, yeah? You can clearly see the Nice Guy feels slighted by the fact that he’s been one-upped by this cocky bugger.

You see, this is a prime example why most purebred Nice Guys can’t survive in the wild. Besides lacking the general ability to tell people to ‘piss off’, your typical Nice Guy is often far too willing to please and will refuse to stand up for himself. In the animal kingdom there’s nothing wrong with being nice, but everything has to come in degrees, not extremes. That’s why the dodo went extinct. The bastards were too nice to say, ‘Oy, quite hunting me, mate! I’ve already got a stupid name as it is, and you’re not helping matters!’

After our break I’ll introduce you to the Nice Guy Whisperer, a family-friendly, slightly effeminate Latino chap who rehabilitates Nice Guys so they can be Balanced Individuals. Stay tuned!

Previously: The Early Show

Throwback Writing: The Early Show

cranky

Photo Credit: Sharyn Morrow

People are weird and weird things matter to people.

So I manage a group of seven people at the moment. The other day one of the more emotionally unstable people on the team comes to me and feels the need to lay out the problems she has with me; one of which is I don’t say Good Morning every time I come in.

I can’t believe we’re having a discussion about this.

Me saying Good Morning every morning is similar to saying ‘I love you’, not because you mean it, but because it’s the thing to do.

I get it though: Not saying Good Morning can be seen as impolite, but if we get along in every other capacity, why does it matter? What weight does this, in my opinion, empty greeting hold? We’re co-workers. I reiterate; why does it matter? I don’t even say Good Morning to friends and family every day. My greetings are as follows:

‘Hey’

‘Yo’

‘What’s up’

‘Sup’

Sup, bitch’

‘Merry Christmas’

Maybe I’m a robot and I just don’t get people. If I am I want to be cool like the Terminator…

Or Vicky from Small Wonder

But my name would be Vick because I’m no chick robot. The frilly apron can stay though.

Ahem.

Anyway, so now I’m in a position where I have to say Good Morning. Does the gesture mean anything when you know I’m only saying it because I feel I have to now? It’s a sad thing when something so trivial can divide people, but I’ll play my part in this farce.

It’s 7am and I just got in for work…

Co-Worker: Good Morning!

Me: Sup, Bitch.

Close enough.

Previously: The Truth Fairy

Throwback Writing: The Truth Fairy

Truth Fairy

Un-handle-able

I don’t want to introduce myself. Andre was sitting around thinking up things to write about, but failed to give me a decent name. Therefore I’m not introducing myself.

Screw that.

Goodnight.

There’s no more to see here.

The Truth Fairy

Seriously? Nice. That’s just great. Thanks, jerk.

Yes, it’s true. My name is the Truth Fairy. Lame? I’d say so. How does anyone get respect in the streets with a name like that? We’ve only just met and I can already tell you don’t respect me. It must be fantastic judging a fictional character with a name ripped from some sicko who sneaks into children’s rooms for hidden teeth and uses them for God knows what. Twenty-five cents for your trouble? I’ll be sure to try and bite into an apple with that nice shiny quarter instead of using what you stole from me. Sure, that’s an awesome guy to emulate. Not creepy or weird in the least. Not at all. Nope.

Thanks, jerk.

Unlike the Tooth Fairy I don’t have some secret fetish for nine-year-old bicuspids. Not a bit. In fact, I’m more of a hero than a fairy. A superhero at that. You see, my whole shtick is I take situations where people normally lie to each other and force them to tell the truth. That way, the true dynamic of the relationship is revealed. Normally life is littered with lies caused by the nefarious acts of my arch-nemesis, Sa…

… Santa Fraud…

Wow. And yet it’s still somehow better than the Truth Fairy.

But I digress. To demonstrate what I do, here is a new teacher at her first day in an inner-city middle school. Let’s see how she and her students interact when they can’t lie to each other.

Ms. Gobchek: Good morning class. This is 8th grade history and my name is Ms. Gobchek. Since I’m a first year teacher, I’m stuck in an unfavorable school system until I get enough experience to escape to a school in the ‘burbs.

Student 1: As hard as you try to hide that fact, it’s painfully obvious you don’t want to be here and you’re scared/disgusted by us. This is why we’ll never respect you.

Student 2: You’re definitely not the face of authority. Prepare to rethink your career, ma’am. Your job just became hell.

Ms. Gobchek: You hooligans can do what you want. I won’t try to challenge you too much as I obviously think you’re too stupid to learn. I’ll pretend to be nice so you don’t shank me while my back is turned. Just try your best not to start a riot.

Student 1: You’re just like every other shitty teacher who doesn’t really care about us.

Student 3: Way to dial it in, lady. I’ll probably threaten you at some point. The threat isn’t real. I just like to make sure you suffer for not caring about us.

Student 2: I personally don’t care about you or this school. This is a glorified prison. I wonder if your school in the “burbs” have metal detectors and security guards like we do.

Ms. Gobchek: No one cares about you because you’re all just future criminals in incubation. Give it five more years and we’ll see if you’re either alive or in prison. In any case, you’ll be out of my hair in a year. Thank you, No Child Left Behind!

Student 4: Zzzz…

Student 1: Fuck you.

Student 2: Why even bother being a teacher?

Student 1: At least Mrs. Walker cares about us. This entire year you’ll wonder why we’re quiet and polite in her class but act like, as you say, “hooligans” with you. We’re smarter than you think. We can do more. All you’re doing is perpetrating a cycle that’s designed to have us fail.

Ms. Gobchek: I’m sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. I was busy thinking about how much easier it would be to teach elsewhere. Here, have an outdated textbook and let’s start studying for the state tests. We have to pretend you’re learning something here.

Er, well that was unpleasant. It’s no wonder our kids in urban areas don’t always reach their full potential. The system has largely given up on them prematurely. Good teachers are hard to come by. Good teachers willing to reach kids who have less are even harder to come by. It’s easy to go to school systems that have the deeper pockets and resources, but are those the kids that need the most help? Don’t get me wrong; I’m in no way trying to create a divide between the have and have-nots, but there are far too many occasions when the have-nots get the shaft. A little bit of effort goes a long way, especially for those who haven’t even developed into who they really are yet.

Alright, alright. So maybe my name isn’t so bad after all. I feel like I actually got to deliver a message. Makes me feel all warm inside and whatnot. Oh hey now… what’s this? It looks like a new assignment from Andre. Seems I’ll be teaching a sex ed class. Not such a shabby promotion if I do say so myself.


The Queefster Bunny

You’ve got to be kidding me…

Hey, Good Lookin’: Beauty, Acceptance, and Denial

old-woman101Photo Credit: http://dianablography.wordpress.com/

So I’m going to tell you something. Don’t go getting a big ego about it.

You’re beautiful.

Yes, fine, even the guys out there.

I’m not trying to get in your panties/boxers/tighty-whities or anything. I just wanted to tell you because the world doesn’t say it enough. The world is saying things like…

Cover up those flaws on your face! Now, because the man of your dreams doesn’t like blemishes.

Isn’t fast food awesome? Just don’t get fat, because you’re totally getting fat.

How about a gym membership because you’re so fat?

Want to buy some big dick pills? They’re awesome at keeping your dick the exact same size.

You’re old. You should really get a boob job to make yourself hotter. Sofia Vergara style.

OMG grey (yes, I spell grey with an ‘e’ instead of an ‘a’) hair? You better dye it!

Now you’re too skinny. Get some butt injections! Twerk, twerk, twerk!

Most of the people saying you aren’t good enough are likely trying to sell you something. Either that or they believe the hell out of what’s being sold.

Screw. That.

Be you. Yes, there are things that I want to change about myself too. For example, I want to lose weight. But that’s more because I want to be healthier as well as challenge myself physically in the near future.

Also, sex is more awesome when your cardio is on point.

I grew up as a kid who totally thought he wasn’t beautiful enough. To a certain extent, the world picks up on what you believe about yourself. And then it reinforces that belief. As soon as I started embracing who I am, the world reciprocated and I found others who thought I was beautiful as well.

Yes, beautiful. I don’t care if that’s not a manly word.

Sure, someone can find you aesthetically appealing, but that’s so short-sighted, isn’t it?

I think real beauty comes from the energy you exude. Some call it confidence; I call it acceptance. Everyone saying you’re not good enough is denying the person you are. Why deny yourself as well? It’s funny how explaining this in slightly different words shows how shitty we are to each other sometimes.

Sometimes it feels like a lot of times.

But I suppose that’s the price when there’s money to be made. I mean, many people are looking for acceptance so it only makes sense someone capitalizes on that, right?

If you say so. In the meantime, I’ll be here not caring.

Peace out, party people.

Throwback Writing: Try Something New (Expletive)

2385966735_f786fd349f_o

Happy, Wednesday! I’ve been reading a bunch of my old writing recently and I was shocked to see so many instances of my current beliefs. Back then, writing was a very personal hobby so I wrote about ideas that I didn’t employ in my everyday life. I often forget that I believed in many of these ideas for a long time; it’s only surprising because I only thought about them while writing. I didn’t talk to many people about these ideas.

Also, my writing was more light-hearted. I’m gonna go back to that.

I’m gonna start using the word “gonna” again.

So anyway, this was written in 2010. If you have a problem with expletives, skip this one. But hey, we’re all adults here.

And if you’re not, tell your parents curse words aren’t a big deal. I’ve been cursing since I was ten years old.

Ten-year-old Andre didn’t give a fuck.

Except when my parents were within earshot.

Anyway, enjoy!

Hi, folks! Johnny Pitchman here! Do you feel like your life is stuck on repeat? No reason to get up in the morning? Barely surviving the everyday grind of your nine to fiver? Well I’ve got a new product for you: TrySomethingNewAsshole!

TrySomethingNewAsshole reinvigorates mundane days. It takes care of all those moments when you feel like you’re stuck in a rut. Even better, you can use it at both home and in the workplace!

Let me show you something truly amazing. Here I am on a Saturday night with nothing to do. I could go and try some of our competitors: WatchCrappyRealityShows, GoClubbingForTooMuchMoney, DrinkMyselfSillyAtTheLocalPub. Sure, they get the job done, but why be satisfied by mediocrity? Instead I take a little bit of TrySomethingNewAsshole and – tada! – my rut has magically vanished!

Annual family vacation to your local beach leaving you more bored than relaxed? Boom! TrySomethingNewAsshole! The kids, your spouse, even granny will love the results!

Usual dinner making you say ‘yuck?’ TrySomethingNewAsshole so your food doesn’t suck!

I know what you’re thinking: A product this amazing must cost an inordinate amount of money! No Way. Today you can buy TrySomethingNewAsshole for, well, whatever you feel like paying! TrySomethingNewAsshole can be totally free or expensive; it’s whatever you want it to be!

Life is too short. Why don’t you try some TrySomethingNewAsshole today, asshole?

Peace out, party people.

Power Always Corrupts

140812-ferguson-police-4a_8e17302df8b8fc3a893931ba7505d731

So the Internet noticed Ferguson, Missouri. I was seriously wondering when social media would take a bigger stance on the corruption of police departments. Say what you will about cameras and invasion of privacy, but these cops seem like they’re the ones on the losing end. It’s insane how many videos I find where a police officer is caught abusing his power.

The crazy thing is, this isn’t the first murder that has occurred at the hand of police recently. Remember Eric Garner? That was less than a month ago.

Countless people have claimed cops abuse their power for all manner of reasons. The difference now is there’s more proof than ever. Hell, I remember when I was younger, a cop pulled me over and claimed he’d seen me arrested a few times before.

Can we now all agree that we are ingrained in a system that needs to be overhauled? Yes? Please?

Can we not treat this as a hash tag event that will be sure to die in a few weeks?

Pretty please with sugar on top. © Pulp Fiction.

This exists in America. This isn’t another country. This isn’t just a story (barely) on the news. This is reality. These are American citizens. If you want to be racist, be a racist, but we are all Americans. This means EVERYONE is entitled to the same rights.

That said, rights are bullshit. Our rights get violated on a daily basis. You do realize the Constitution doesn’t actually protect any right to privacy?

I’ve worked at enough places where I’ve seen management step on people’s necks when folks get too uppity. It often happens when the “powers that be” are insecure and realize they’re losing control. This is pretty evident in how geared up these cops are.

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That much gear tells me you know any day now, your OWN CITIZENS may realize this is all bullshit and start a riot.

Wouldn’t be the first time.

I’m going to level with you. I know it’s easier to turn a blind eye and wait for someone else to deal with it. But  if you’re okay with this, then you can’t try to ever sell me on the bullshit idea that we all stand as one in this country. We don’t. Shove that shit up your ass and be honest. This country is about that money. NONE OF US mean shit.

Except we do because a government is nothing without citizens.

Just saying.

Peace out, party people.