Monday, October 30, 2006

Pardon My Dust

If you are seeing small changes to the blog, it is because I am trying to experiment with the format to get the type of design that I want. I know that the up and coming changes are not totally aesthetic, but I am still trying get the blog up to working speed. In the midst of that, the entries will continue to be posted and the business will go on.

Again, I thank you for reading and being patrons of the blog. It is so nice to hear of people reading my work! And please do keep on posting your thoughts and feedback. I like to read them!

P.S. If any of you know the whereabouts of HarlemHottie, Just Generic, donwhite, Rasobasi420, maria_stardust, Nikelbee or Duzey on the board would you please tell them about the new blog? I would like to hear from them because they are dear to me and I especially think of them. If anything, please tell them that they are in my thoughts and I miss reading their blogs and posts from time to time. Thank you very much. :)

Take good care,

Ceci :)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

New Orleans On My Mind

Without A Trace is a powerful show on its own right, but tonight's episode about Hurricane Katrina survivors (yes they are survivors not refugees) especially hit close to home. The nuanced, but heart-wrenching performance by Eriq La Salle was phenomenal as he used his talent to embody the pain of what happened in the wake of disaster as well as the repercussions. Mr. La Salle portrayed a father who saved his family when the levees broke. Unfortunately, he still encountered a troubles and misfortune while trying to put his life back together.

The sad thing about the entire episode is the realisation that there are many people in Houston and other towns across the country who are living what had been depicted within that hour. Some viewers could probably watch this latest installment from the venerated series without crying. But I couldn't. Call it the old heart of a softie breaking when watching once the pain conveyed in real life as well as in fiction. The tears flowed as the backstory and the present merged together to present the crisis that the present Adminstration tried so desperately to sweep under the rug. After seeing the devestating effects that still continue through the eyes of the characters portrayed by the family featured in the episode, one has to come to the conclusion that not anything that any of our national leaders could do or say will make up for the devestation that had occurred last August.

Although help has flowed in many directions to help the survivors get back on their feet, still more needs to be done. It seems that even though some may try to sweep what happened during Hurricane Katrina under the rug (and even with the recent overtures made toward the firefighters who had lost their lives in the desvestating Esperanza fire in California), it never came to my attention the national leaders from the President on down have uttered such words of remorse or conscience when it had to do with bringing the Katrina survivors hope or comfort.

Of course, the hearings were held and the speeches were spoken. People are still suffering before and after the words were uttered. It is appalling and amazing at the time taken during that crisis not to save people who were waiting on roofs or wasting away at the New Orleans Convention Center or the Superdome. Even after that, some have continued to make their home in New Orleans while others have found other fortunes in various cities across America.

But one thing comes to mind when seeing tonight's episode and wiping the tears away. Eriq La Salle and his co-stars in the show had brought forth the voices of the "invisibles" that theorist George Lakoff had mentioned in his piece regarding Hurricane Katrina:

It is impossible for me, as it is for most Americans, to watch the horror and suffering from Hurricane Katrina and not feel physically sore, pained, bereft, empty, heartbroken. And angry.

The Katrina tragedy should become a watershed in American politics. This was when the usually invisible people suddenly appeared in all the anguish of their lives -- the impoverished, the old, the infirm, the kids and the low-wage workers with no cars, TVs or credit cards. They showed up on America's doorsteps, entered the living rooms and stayed. Katrina will not go away soon, and she has the power to change America.

The moral of Katrina is mostly being missed. It is not just a failure of execution (William Kristol), or that bad things just happen (Laura Bush). It was not just indifference by the President, or a lack of accountability, or a failure of federal-state communication, or corrupt appointments in FEMA, or the cutting of budgets for fixing levees, or the inexcusable absence of the National Guard off in Iraq. It was all of these and more, but they are the effects, not the cause.

The televising of the event brought forth the voices of those who never got the rest of the country to listen. Their pain and despair at such an event could not be hidden away--not by the glib coverage of vacations at Crawford Ranch or the shoe-buying spree while purchasing tickets for "Spamalot".

The pain of those who have lost nearly everything in the flood comes forward with a stirring resonance in their stories and resilience to make their lives better after the flood. However, it is still agreed that Hurricane Katrina let forth another deluge that it will not be easy to wipe away in the wake of questions to levy at the present Administration: the inquiries of race, class, history and region will not escape the minds of those who had watched minute after minute of the footage in which people bared their souls about the suffering they intensely experienced during those weeks.

I hope that others, who have watched this poignant episode, never forget what had happened and how we have to think of the bigger picture than ourselves when we see others of our citizens suffer in the worst degree that nature can dish out.

This is yet another reminder that kindness cannot be forgotten or wished away. We must still nurture the notion of compassion in our hearts to reach out to others when times get rough for some of our brethen no matter what walk of life they come from.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Big Thank You!

First of all, I am sorry for the pause between blog entries. This week has been one truly busy in the "real world". And when "real life" occurs in the forefront, sometimes, you just have to do what you have to do to finish the deadlines and then prepare to make time for the blog. However, this week I have not forgotten to continue to talk about this being the most important times in the present administration. After all, the beginning of November is a moment of truth for Americans. Although the polls in some states show some doubt among the undecided, other surveys have proven to shed some light about how citizens are thinking in terms of being fed up with the way things are.

With this reading of what is going on, it is very hard not to feel optimistic during this time. I surely hope that people take the time to vote and make their voices heard during this time. This is a critical age. We are at a time in which we have to decide the direction of not only foreign policy, but domestic policy. Even though one cannot forget the aspect of war waged by the United States, there are much deeper issues that are coming to the surface. Don't be derailed by the red herrings tossed by the GOP on the way to the voting box. And please do not let negative ads stir your behavior and influence your way to vote.

This has been one of the ugliest election eras to date because of what is at stake. I'm sure that the side who wants to stay in power is throwing everything but the kitchen sink to stir the flames of the populace so that they can easily elect four more years of the same thing. It is frustrating to think that a party would appeal to people's prejudices and anger solely to stay in power. But after witnessing what had happened during the "Willie Horton" days as well as other similar, dirty campaigns in which preached to the baser instincts of individuals, it is time to just shove that aside and learn about each proposition and candidate on your own.

The most frustrating thing during these times is that good candidates will be overlooked because of the money and glitz the other side is throwing out to get the most votes that they can. The only thing to counteract this influence is to ask questions and keep abreast of current times. This is not a time to rest on one's laurels. We have had five years to sit and to take what has happened in government. There have been passages of bills that have influenced our behavior, even at times restricting our very freedoms granted by the Constitution. And of course, because of power, we have had to be subjected to the demogaugery that continues to persuade the "loud voices" to browbeat people who speak reason because current policy dictates so.

It is our chance to change what the rules of game represent. This is no time to sit down and take it. This is the present in which we have the power of our voice in the vote that we cast. Of course, there will always be conspiracy about how the elections are run. With that in mind, it is best to consider how to express our voices the best at the ballot box--to the point of being vocal when going to the precinct. Do not be afraid to ask for a paper ballot. Say you refuse to vote electronically unless there is a paper trail. Double kudos goes to those who have absentee ballots because they have avoided the entire electronic vote altogether. Plus, with absentee ballots, you forgo sometimes the poll takers and other people that gather at the precinct asking your opinon regarding exit polls. All one has to do is to send their ballot in the mail. It always comes down to the absentee votes helping decide who or what wins in an election.

Now, that I've gotten off my soap box, last but not least, I thank those of you from the bottom of my heart for posting your opinons on my blog. It does my heart good that you have followed me here to read what I have to say. I am thankful to you. For those of you who know of others who had read my past entries on the "blog from Christmas past", please do drop them a line and tell them where I am. Please also tell them that even though I was down, I am not out. I am still writing, but in another form which still encourages a lot of feedback.

As time goes on, I will change the look of the blog and set up a new e-mail as well. Until then, please be patient and continue to enjoy the entries as they come. I do miss my ATS family very much. Despite what happened (and a lot did, mind you), I still think about them quite a lot. However, the writing goes on and the hope continues to present interesting reads for people to converse in a new format. I am also researching other places for expression, so when I find something else that might help in discussing the issues, I'll let you know.

I especially thank Gemwolf, Yarium and dcfusion for their continued support of a lady with the "Scarlett B" on her collar. Despite having the "Scarlett B", you all have given me courage to continue to write even in the toughest of circumstances. For that, I give you my utmost gratefulness for your kindness and candor in your posts. :)

As the push forward continues, always know that I appreciate and love you all for your continued contact and comments on the blog. :)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Uh Oh! The Gas Prices Are Falling Again!

As we get closer and closer to November, check out the gas prices again. On the old blog, I had written how the gas prices tend to fall whenever it is politically viable to do so. And of course, this is the time that it is politically viable. The bread has been thrown to the masses in order to stop the regime change that is about to happen to this country. The only request that seems to echo the sentiments of a lot of people is to resist it. Heck, it's nice to have falling gas prices, but the principles that we are trying to change in this country are much larger than what is momentarily happening.

We have to think about universal health care. Jobs are pretty important too. And of course, education has to be on the front burner because a lot of young people are going to the poorhouse in order to pay their bills while staying in the university. Some have focused on immigration. Yet, immigration and closed borders aren't that important because it only serves the masters who want to continue the sense of isolationism and distaste for diversity that has been happening since 9/11. The best disservice to the isolationists right now is to focus on domestic issues that benefit all of us, not just some of us as a stop gap measure.

When we vote, it is important to either do it absentee or request a paper ballot. Do not use electric voting machines because they don't have a paper trail. To prevent the fiasco that happened in past elections, we've got to hold our elections committees and institutions accountable for making sure our voice is heard properly. That also has to do with being very discerning when watching the political ads that come across the television screens. A lot of mud is going to thrown from candidate to candidate because the stakes are high. That means we have to do our own homework to make sure that the right propositions and other laws are voted for in the benefit for all of us.

The most important aspect of this election season is to remember that divided we fall as a country. Too much of the past policies since 9/11 has been serving division and mistrust due to the fact that it fostered on the aspects of terrorism and fear. The fear has to be cast off like a worn coat. It's time to send a message that this is not the country America is supposed to be. After all, the United States is not supposed to be place in which we have to glance over our shoulder while trying to scrounge for every penny we make. Life ought to be good for all of us. That means a place without crime and a country in which we can achieve the best that our nation asks us to do as citizens. The dark times that have taken over our society have to be lifted so we can focus on building back the optimism which has guided us in the past.

That means getting politicians that are willing to work for the people and not for themselves. We have to really scrutinize their past records when it comes to serving their constituents and well as what they voted for. It's time to find out who is willing to put their money where their mouth is when trying to make America a better place for everyone.

Consider this a small service announcement. Now you can get back to what you were doing before. ;)

A Few Thoughts After the 'Incident' Regarding Kindness

I suppose conflict resolution would have been the matter of the day when discussing the nature of kindness. However, days after the notion of kindness was rejected, it did not escape my attention the amazement of the lack of recognizance when it comes to being good to other people. What is so hard about showing and discussing the notion of being good to others? It doesn't have to do with just "doing it" as the criticisms were levied. It also has to do with discussing it, dealing with it and of course being able to rationalize how we can be better to others--especially after 9/11.

What has been taught after 9/11 is the fact that people are focusing inward instead of globally. The sad part of the residue that had occurred after the event is it is encouraged to only "look after ourselves" and neglect others around us due to the aspect of fear. The problem with this notion is that fear has been guiding us in terms of displaying kindness and compassion toward others. It still resonates even after five years that empathy toward others gives way to vunerability. Even now, there are not any national leaders who will rationalize our feelings in society; instead, further emphasis has been put toward dealing with how we can close off our borders and of course, how to shut ourselves off from the rest of the world.

One only wonders if that could be the "right thing" in a world that is increasingly being bridged toward being one that embraces the world stage. Instead, of hiding in the midst of the proverbial turtle shell, it is best that we stick our heads out and try to learn from others in order to get a better grasp of how we individually feel about the past events that have painted our attitudes in regards to society and the world.

A lot of lip service has been paid to the 300 million souls that now populate America. The broadcast news has especially made this milestone one of ominousness when describing it instead of wonder. Some news items have played up the notion of "cultural change" as a form of "invasion" especially on what has been perceived as "United States ideals". The thing about this idea being covered in the news is the fact that negativities concerning our cultural differences is seen as par for the course instead of uncovering and researching the notion of diversity. The news material dealt with diversity as a notion of "absence" as being "positive". Anything that tends to show up as "different" is seen as a threat to the isolationist attitude that is taking over America at this point.

Is this the only way to discuss cultural diversity and how to deal with it? Is it hard to see it any other way? There are some of us who find offense with the "absence" of difference because this understanding and further repetition of these ideals "erases" our cultures and social practices. The question that needs to be asked is what is to be done with us when titles blare out "Melting Pot or Meltdown" at us at every corner instead of celebrating what makes each culture unique and integral in the make up of nation.

One could only shake one's head at the fear-mongering that continues to be par for the course in today's society.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

For those of you from Christmas Past

This is an entry I wrote from the old blog that initiated the entire treatise of kindness. Do with it as you will.

This evening I read some of the responses to a "A Day of Kindness" and became frustrated. It seems that simply being kind is something that is found to be sacchrine and insiduous. No one can just be kind. Oh no. It would ruin intellectualism and take out the passion. It is sweet, but imaginary in a concept. It is so horrible to be kind that one grows weary and sick of it to the point of accusing such a proposal as "brown-nosing".

Perish the thought. Maybe we shouldn't be so kind. We should be beasts to each other every day so that conscience is suspended and guilt is forgotten.

Let's face it. Kindness is just some hippy, moon-beam, pie-in-the sky notion just like love. It is much better and more delectable to discuss hate and animus because it helps people channel the rage and contempt for the goodness and sacredness of treating others with respect.

Sarcasm off. But it makes me sad that kindness is a concept that is either ridiculed or taken to be insiduous and sickening. I wonder what has happened to compassion in today's society. I also wonder why kindness is mistaken for weakness and vunerability when its simple employment could do so much for people.

But who are we kidding? Kindness is something for fools and children. When we're adults, we realize that kindness as a concept is akin to admitting that we don't have a thick skin. Instead, we have to be brutal in order to face the hard, cold world. After all, we can't take anyone suggesting kindness because it invades our sense of autonomy and independence. To discover that we are all connected through our humanity is like releasing that secret that makes us shake in our boots because someone has found our soft spot for others.

I guess having a soft spot for humane treatment hurts. It is easier to say something or do meannness to others rather than wish them a nice day. It is much easier to sneer at homeless people in the street than it is to give them a hot lunch and a smile. And of course, it is far easier to go with stereotypes about people who are different than make an effort to learn about them and treat them with respect.

It may be easier to shut the world off and not be kind, but it is up to the individual to live with one's self. Some people don't have a concept of peace. Others don't have a conscience in order to measure their moral compass. Some are good at saying the words and talking the talk, but are bad in the execution of being kind to others because that requires thought and compassion.

In the end, kindness and compassion is for special people.

I talked with my dad about this concept tonight. He mentioned with respect about Mother Theresa. He told me that not everyone can be like her because it is too easy to slip into a pattern of frustration and meanness. He also related that Mother Theresa might have been frustrated in her life but she had the moral fortitude to channel her negative emotions into charity, love and compassion.

We both agreed that not everybody has the capacity to feel. It would be too taxing and stressful to be kind all the time. However, one cannot dismiss the fact of those who can go about being mean and inconsiderate of others will have to sleep at night with all that meanness under their belt. Oh well. Carpe Diem.

It's funny. Calling for a "A Day of Kindness" never had to do with legislating feelings or telling others what to do. It was merely a suggestion as a way to counteract the hostility one faces sometimes on the board. But, as you can see, kindness is a bitch to some people.

But not to me.

Kindness is a Funny Concept

There seems to be trouble with kindness. It is funny that such an emotion could be unfortunately construed as something strange and unfamiliar to some. But, I've learned that to explore the notion of kindness, one has to take themselves out of their own personality for a while and think about it in its abstract.

Kindness is something that people either have or don't. It is not an enforced feeling. It is not a feeling that takes away from one's intellect or quality. It is something that you can do in order to create good will and foster a sense of well-being amongst your fellow man. There's nothing wrong about talking about it or exploring it. There's nothing wrong with dealing with it or exploring ways to go towards other vistas in discussing it.

When kindness becomes a part of the issue when it has to do with personality, it then becomes bogged down with negative emotion. It is sad that for such an emotion people can unleash the worst aspects of character in order to stop its progress.

However, when kindness is discussed as it is by people who care, then the best aspects of one's humanity comes out. It's about time that kindness returns to the very aspect of civility and celebrated as an act that can bring people together instead of tear them apart.

At least, you would think so.

Welcome to the Revival of Ceci's News and Views

This will be a blog that will discuss topics related to society, entertainment and politics. It will be fun and breezy. I hope that it will be a good read and be filled with interesting insights. It will also be a continuation of the past and departed Ceci's News and Views. After a few changes all will be back to normal.


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