Category Archives: Attitude

A Social Media Experiment

According to Facebook, my activity for the last few days:

On Dec 29, I posted on my own timeline  6 times.  I commented on 19 posts.  I liked 7 posts.

On Dec 30, I posted on my own timeline 2 times.  I commented on 14 posts.  I liked 15 times.

On Dec 31, I posted on my own timeline 4 times. I commented on 15 posts.   I Liked 11 posts by others.

On Jan 1, I posted or shared 4 times on my own wall.   I commented on 12 posts. I liked 4 posts by others.

On Jan 2, I shared 2 comics to my wall.  I commented on 7 posts, I liked 7 posts.

Jan 3, I posted a birthday wish to a relative.  I made 1 comment.  I liked 2 posts.

Jan 4, nothing.

Jan 5, No timeline posts, 1 comment, no likes.

Jan 6?  Nothing.

Jan 7? Nothing

Jan 8?  Nothing

Jan 9? Nothing

Jan 10? Nothing

Jan 11?  A question on a business page.

Jan 12?  So far, another question on a different business page.

Between Dec 25 and Dec 31, 26 posts, 73 comments and 53 likes, for a total of 152 Facebook interactions for 7 days.

From Jan 1 until Jan 11, 8 posts, 21 comments, and 13 likes, for a total of 42 Facebook interactions for 11 days.  And 6 of those days I did not post anything.  I did send a couple of private messages to people.  I continued to play my Facebook games, but my game posts are set to me only, so they shouldn’t have showed up on my timeline.

I don’t believe I have ever gone that many days without posting on Facebook before.

Now, why did I suddenly stop my normal Facebook activity?  I got curious.

I was listening to news a few days ago.  On Wednesday, Dec 28, a young woman was live-streaming to Facebook when she evidently had some kind of seizure or heart attack and died.  Her toddler was present.  Her family said that over a thousand people were watching as their daughter died, and no one did anything about it.  She was at a friend’s house, and not found until the friend came home, some 30 minutes later.  According to the reports that I heard, although the screen had gone dark when she dropped the phone, the audio was still on.  You could hear her struggling to breathe, with the child crying in the background, until you can’t hear her breathe anymore.  The friend who found her was the one who turned the live stream off.

I thought about that.  I wondered – I have 491 friends listed on Facebook.  What would happen if I suddenly, without warning, disappeared?  Some of my other friends have gone dark, but they have usually given notice first – let their friends know that they were going to not be posting for a while.  I watch for them, and a few days later, they are back.

But what would happen if, without any notice, someone stopped posting?  Would anyone notice? If they did, how long would it take?  What would they do about it?  Anything?  Would they ask me if I was OK?  Would they comment on my wall?

One of my posts at the end of December I talked about the fact that I was climbing on a very shaky ladder, and I wished someone was with me in case it fell over.  I am a fairly solitary person.  I live out in the country, and while I have family living nearby, we don’t interact on a daily basis.  If I were to fall or hurt myself, how long would it take before anyone would notice my absence?

I decided to go dark on Jan 2.  I realized on Jan 3 how hard that would actually be – I was still reading Facebook.  There were so many things that I wanted to comment on, that I wanted to like.  I was tagged on posts that I wanted to respond to, but didn’t.  I wanted to share things.

I had not realized until this past couple of weeks how much I use Facebook to feel connected to people.  I don’t talk to people on a regular basis – and Facebook has become my substitute for casual conversation.  So many times this week I would have a thought and I would think “Oh, I need to post that” and then stop myself.  Facebook is my social connection.  Without Facebook, almost all of my conversation would be one-sided.  I talk to whoever on Facebook might be listening (or rather, reading) rather than talking to myself.  Sometimes, thru comments, I can have extended conversations that might last for a couple of days.

And I wonder how many others use Facebook for their primary social outlet.

And what happens when they no longer are posting?  Are they sick?  Are they depressed?  Are they suicidal?  Are they hurt?  Have I even noticed?  And if I have noticed that someone isn’t posting as much, have I ever asked about them?  Have I checked on them?

I have, actually, once or twice.  More likely, I don’t even notice.  If something isn’t on my feed at the time that I am on it, I never read it.  It is easy to miss postings by people.  And thus, it is easy to not be aware if someone stops posting.   I do, occasionally, go to a friend’s page to check on things.  But  with 491 Facebook friends, I’m not going to go to every single page to see what I might have missed.

Something else I realized these last few days – since I wasn’t using Facebook as a social outlet, I got more things done at home.  I cleaned more.  I painted.  I read.  Even when I don’t comment on things, I avidly read what comes across my feed.  I can spend hours and hours just reading Facebook.  This week, to help keep myself from posting, I haven’t been reading as much.  And that has meant that I have had more time to do other things.  I have thrown away things, put away things, decided to discard things.  I’ve researched, written – in general, I have accomplished more in this last week than I have in a while – and mainly because I haven’t been glued to my computer all evening.

So, this experiment of going dark has taught me a couple of things – that I am almost dependent on Facebook for my social interaction.  And with less Facebook, I got more things done at home. This experiment has also made me wonder how observant I am of my Facebook friends.  How many times have I not noticed when someone simply quit posting from Facebook?  And what would do if I did notice someone’s absence?

And did anyone of my 491 Facebook friends notice that I was no longer posting or commenting on things?  One person private messaged me on January 5th.  Another person private messaged me on January 7th.  Both of them had noticed my absence from Facebook, and asked me if I was alright.

But this experiment also taught me how solitary I really am.  If something were to happen to me – if I ever fell and hurt myself, had a stroke, whatever – it would be days before anyone came to check.

 

I would rather help someone who didn’t need it…

This Christmas is my first Christmas without my father.  In fact, since my mother died several years ago, this is my first Christmas as an orphan.  An adult, but orphan nonetheless.

Over the last few days, I have shared some of my memories of my father.  Some of them have been in speech conversation, others in online conversation.

One memory was sparked when someone mentioned that they had seen cars at a free toy giveaway that were much newer and better than their own car.  The person who commented is a hard worker, and disapproved of people who in his opinion, based on the car they were driving, did not need free handouts.  The resulting conversation reminded me of something my father said to me.

My father and I had been in a discussion of welfare, Obamacare, and people who beg and ask for handouts.   Part of the conversation involved a description of a man who was panhandling locally.  People had posted about him, and had said that this person was a scam, had been offered work, had turned it down, had declared that he would rather beg than work, etc.

My dad said something that I basically already lived by, but had not, until this conversation, realized where I had acquired this attitude.  He said

“I would rather help someone who does not need it than not help someone who does.”

Read that again.

“I would rather help someone who does not need it than not help someone who does.”

That was my dad.  That was part of his life philosophy.  Read it again.

“I would rather help someone who does not need it than not help someone who does.”

Now think for just a moment.

What would the world be like if everyone had that attitude?

“I would rather help someone who does not need it than not help someone who does.”

 

 

Word Etymology and Historical Misinformation

I have been pondering something for a few days now.  I have decided that I need to write about it.

During the month of October, I work at what has been ranked as the best pumpkin patch in Arkansas, (at least by some people and organizations) Arkansas Frontier Living History Pumpkin Patch.

I am in charge of “Indian Village” me-and-the-skins-at-ar-frontier

One of the things that I always tell my audiences when I am presenting is that while the family history is that my Grandmother’s grandmother was native American (Grandma thought Cherokee or possibly Choctaw, but didn’t know for sure) I am not culturally native American.  I tell them that I have learned from books, from taking seminars put on by the American Indian Studies department of a southern California college, and from people who are culturally native American.

Over the course of the four years that I have worked at the pumpkin patch, I have learned a few things from people who are more in the tradition and culture than I am.

A few days ago, one of our visitors, “Linda” was from Oklahoma.  She was  visiting family here in AR, and one of her relatives was on a school visit to the pumpkin patch.  After the school went on to their next activity, she lingered to talk to me.

When I was a baby, my dad carried me around town and the local college in a “Papoose carrier”, as he put it.  I share this with the students as being the closest that I come to the native American culture.  Linda suggested that I use the term “cradle board”   rather than “papoose carrier”.  She told me that “papoose” is not the best word to use.

I asked why.  She told me that “papoose” was the white man’s word, and it is better not to be used.

She went on to say that I should never ever use the word “squaw”.  Now, while I had heard that the term squaw was sometimes used in a derogatory way – indicating someone who was not married, only living with someone, I had not heard of it being a word with such negativity as she seemed to indicate.  Again, I asked about it.

She told me that the word “squaw” came from the “squalling of women while they were being raped by white soldiers and traders.”

Now, I absolutely had never heard of this.  When I got home, I started to do a little research.

I’ll start with “Papoose”.  Papoose is an English loanword.  What is a loanword?  It is a foreign word that enters the English language with little or no modification or change in either the spelling or the meaning.  Some examples found in English include “Faux Pas” – French;  “Kitschy” – German; “Modus Operandi” – Latin; “Taco” – Spanish; “Samurai” – Japenese; “Prima donna” – Italian; and “Alter ego” – Latin, to name just a few.

In the case of the word “Papoose”, its origins are said to be Algonquian.  Specifically from the Narragansett tribe.  It was first recorded by Roger Williams.  He wrote a book, A Key Into the Language of America, published in 1643.  On page 28 he lists the word “papoos” as meaning “a childe” and he lists “Nippapoos” as “my childe.”

So, the idea that the word “papoose” is a white man’s word?  About the only thing that has changed is the addition of an “e” at the end of the word.

Today?  The word is also used to mean a “child carrier”.  And for some, it is considered a derogatory term, according to at least one of the sites I looked at.  No explanation was given for why some consider it derogatory.  Perhaps because it is now believed that it was a “white man’s word,” as Linda believed.

The term ‘squaw’ is much the same.  It is another loanword. There is nothing in the word etymology history that indicates the term came from squalling women who were being raped, as I was told by that very sincere lady from Oklahoma.  Again, Roger Williams records, on page 138, that ‘Segousquaw’ is a ‘widdow’, and on page 27, ‘Squaws-suck’  is ‘woman-women’.

This is a reference a hundred years and more before the time period that Linda referenced.

As I was doing more research, I ran across a wonderful essay, Reclaiming the Word “Squaw” in the Name of the Ancestors, by Marge Bruchac.  It may be found on the nativeweb site, at http://www.nativeweb.org//pages/legal/squaw.html  In this essay, she includes the history of the word, variants, history of the introduction to the English language, and more.  I encourage you to read it.

In the process of researching, study, reading, I have come to a conclusion that disturbs me a great deal.  The history and culture of native Americans – First Nations, as they are being called in some areas – is being wrongly taught – by the native Americans themselves.

Linda was very sincere in her belief that the word “squaw” came from the squalling of women being raped, that it was a white man’s word, a derogatory word.  She had been taught that.  She is teaching that to others.  And – she is wrong.  The word “squaw” was never a white man’s word.  Was never, at least originally, derogatory.  And certainly did not come from the cries of women being abused and raped.

So, what does this mean?

A generation or more of people are being taught their own history – wrong.  The implications of this are staggering.

If you believe that something was done as a result of rape, if you believe that anytime you hear a certain word, it is meant as an insult, how easy will it be for you to work out problems with the people using that word?  And what if they have no idea that that word is considered derogatory?  Although I have not used the word in my presentations, I certainly had no idea that the word “squaw” had such a negative emotional impact until Linda told me.  And that emotional impact is an impact that should never have happened. If history had been taught accurately, if additions had not been added, the word ‘squaw’ would be respected for its true meaning.

People who already believe the worst will find it harder to find common ground, to work together, to understand each other.  And being taught a false history will make it more likely that the worst is believed.

How much of this erroneous teaching is politically motivated?  How much simply accidental misinterpretation?  How much is deliberate?

I don’t know.

I do know that I have begun to wonder how much of the history that I have been taught has been full of misinformation.  How many of the things that I think of as fact, are actually false teachings, perpetuated year after year. And have I, all unknowingly, taught others false history?

I hope not.  But that is one of the reasons why I research, study, and read.  I hope others will study history, as well.

If there are lies in what we are taught, we need to search them out and make them known.  We do not need to perpetuate lies and call it history.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting away from it all!

So, I have this professional development workshop tomorrow.  I fully plan on enjoying it – it is on folk music and education, and since I do arts integrated programs in schools, and I incorporate folk music into them, this was something that I really wanted.  Best of all, this collaboration between the Arkansas Arts Council and the Arkansas Dept. of Education meant that this PD gives me double credit, both as an Arkansas Arts in Education artist, and a person with a valid teacher’s licence that has to have so many PD hours a year to renew.

Now, this PD was of even more interest to me because of the location – the Ozark Folk Center.  I love the Folk center.  If I was independently wealthy, I would spend a lot of time there.  I would take a dozen workshops a year there.  I would buy an RV and virtually live in the next door RV park.  I actually worked there for one season, as one of their day musicians.  I was also on the list of square dancers and even performed a couple of times in their evening programs.

So when I learned the location of this workshop, I was faced with a choice:  Get up really, really early Monday morning and make the 1 1/2 – 2 hour drive (depending on route, weather, and traffic) or come in Sunday and camp at my favorite campground in the area.

That would be the aforementioned RV park.  Ozark RV park is literally next door to the folk center.  I mean, you walk through a gate, and you are right there.

My mom and I discovered the place years and years ago.  For a short time, we did craft fairs together.  We were doing a fair that was taking place at the Ozark Folk Center.  Mom and Dad had an rv, and mom and I were going to take the rv up, camp out in it, and do the craft fair.  When we found that the Ozark RV Park was right next door, that was where we went.

What a wonderful place.  Friendly people.  Clean bath houses.  And high quality toilet paper.  I mean, better toliet paper than I usually see in Hilton’s.  We only stayed a couple of days, but I never forgot it.  And years later, when I worked that one season at the Ozark Folk Center, I called them up and asked them if they did tent camping as well as RVs.  Well, they did.  So every weekend I worked at the Center that summer, I camped next door.

So, what did I do for this workshop?  Hauled out my tent, and set it up next door.

The impetus for me writing this post was the feeling of comfort and relaxation that I just experienced.  Although the office was closed by the time I got here, I had plenty of time to set up my tent during the light.  Then I went into town to buy ice.  I could have gotten ice from the cooler here and paid for it tomorrow – this is that type of RV park – but I elected to just go on and buy one in town.  Came back, sat down outside my tent, ate my ham and cheese wrap that I had made.  And then I just sat down and played my dulcimer a little while in the dark.  All around me was the sound of crickets and cicadas.  The occasional night-bird called.  And as I sat in the evening coolness, in the night, I felt – calm.  At peace.  Comforted.

I am under a lot of stress, financial, grief, frustration, job (lack of).  But at that moment, everything was perfect.   For just that moment, I had gotten away from it all.  I was content with who I am and where I was.

So I left that perfection to come find electricity to type a blog post.  I wanted to share that moment of peace with anyone who reads this.  And I want to encourage you to get away from it all, even if it is just for a day.  Find a place, a moment of peace and contentment, and soak it up.

And I’m going back to that peace in a few minutes.

And I want to encourage anyone coming up to the Folk Center, if you want to camp or bring an rv, try the Ozark RV Park.  It’s a wonderful place.

 

We are all brothers

I have been looking at the issues of both the world and the US with a bit of frustration, worry, and fear.  It seems as if everyone is so polarized – so intent that their way is the only way, that they refuse to even consider finding a middle ground, finding a compromise that benefits everyone, even if nobody gets ALL of what they want.  America has become a land of the self-centered and selfish.  “I want it MY way, and if I can’t have it MY way, I’m going to make sure you don’t get anything YOUR way.  It is MY way or nothing!” is the message that a lot of today’s politicians and/or their followers seem to be saying.

And racial violence seems to be on the upswing; obvious incidences of prejudice and bias are apparent.  And unfortunately, the reaction to those incidences seems to mainly be more violence, which leads only to worsening conditions.

I was going through some old documents today, and ran across something that I wrote a couple of years ago.  I want to share it…

We Are Brothers
by
Melinda LaFevers
6/19/2014
inspired by “We are Africa” as performed by Foreign Tongues

When God knelt down in the dirt
and scooped up that ball of clay,
He rolled it and shaped it and formed it,
In His own image.
He breathed life into it and called it “Man.”
The Good Book doesn’t say He made a black man,
It doesn’t say he made a white man.
Or yellow or red or blue or green or orange or purple.
It just says he made man – and it was Good.

No one knows when the division of color came.
Perhaps, as people moved north and the days grew colder,
the longer nights and shorter days bleached out the colors.
Some people say it was the Mark of Cain
that separated the colors of man.
Science has proven that all women
came from one woman,
Deep dark in Africa.
Doesn’t matter what race, what color –
All women carry that same genetic marker,
making us all sisters with the same mother –
Eve, birthing the world in the cradle of life.
So once we were all dusky brown, chocolate, dark –
I’ve wondered if that mark of Cain
was the bleaching of his skin.

But still, white, black, brown, red, yellow –
Languages were the same.
Until man, working together as brothers,
built that tower to the heavens,
and God, looking down, stirred the people
and created a babble of voices.
That, then, truly separated the nations from each other.
Each went their own way, growing apart,
forgetting who we were, where we came from,
the fact that once we were ALL brothers.

And the years and centuries passed.
Mankind warred against mankind;
Put chains on each other.
Your ancestors wore chains.
My ancestors wore chains.
Not just our ancestors wore chains.
You wear chains. I wear chains.
Some of those chains are visible.
Some are unseen – but those unseen chains
wear men down just as much as heavy links of iron.
Ignorance, poverty, abuse –
Those chains know no boundaries.
They come to every man – red, yellow, black, white, brown.
Faces pinched with hunger look with hopelessness
at barren lives
And Death in the form of drugs, alcohol and violence
too often looks back.

The only way to defeat that death,
to break those chains of despair,
to bring All men to freedom
The freedom of love, of Hope, of a future…
The only way to break chains of
the past and present
is to remember
that you
that I

that WE are all brothers.

What ever happened to civil debate and discussion?

It has finally happened.  I have joined the ranks of those unfriended on Facebook because of a political post that I shared.

This particular post that I shared was from Huffingtonpost.  It can be found at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeremy-nix/an-open-letter-to-my-frie_2_b_9293694.html

The post starts out “I’m cool with you removing me from your friends list if you don’t like this post.”   Now that is from the post itself.  When I shared it, I said “If you are a Trump supporter, you don’t have to remove me from your friend’s list. But I hope you read this and think about it.”

My former Facebook friend replied “That post was full of misquotes flat out lies and hate full speak. It is too bad people have to be so jealous of successful people. And I will remove you.”

I asked, both in response and by private message – which probably went to his “other” box, since he did, in fact, unfriend me, what were the misquotes and lies in the post.  I never got a response.

I am the kind of person who, in general, likes to fact check.  I have posted things that I found out later were wrong, and I posted the corrections.  I didn’t fact check this particular article – mainly because I had seen enough video clips of Trump saying these things that I figured it was fairly accurate in what it attributed to Trump.  So I asked my former friend for corrections.  He hasn’t given me any yet.

I try to maintain an open mind, and if I’m wrong about something in a factual sense, I truly want to know.  And if you want to try to change my opinion, which may or may not be a correct opinion to have, you have to do it with facts, with good arguments and civil debate.  Name calling, unsupported accusations of lies, and misquotes will not change my mind – in fact, it tends towards the opposite.  My former friend lost his chance to show me a different side of the story.  He chose to make accusations of “misquotes” and “flat out lies” without showing the proof of those lies and misquotes.  He chose to unfriend me in a bout of emotional anger – which is actually one of the things the article says – that Trump supporters are angry – rather than to use logic, reason, and fact to show me where the article was wrong.

Unfortunately, that seems to be a trend.  People in general seem to have forgotten that differences of opinion are OK to have.  You can still be friends and not agree on certain things.  Debate and discussion about those disagreements is great – as long as it stays civil.  Far too often today, disagreements means degenerating into name calling, personalities, misinformation, lies, misquotes, quotes taken out of context, and “hate full speak.”

Too many people read something, or see something, that is taken out of context or simply a down right lie.  But if it agrees with what they want or how they feel, they will not bother checking it out, not bother putting it into context – and woe betide anyone who disagrees with what they have decided is the truth.  It is far far easier to unfriend someone than it is to truly seek the truth.  It is far easier to simply spread a half-lie than it is to fact check.  It is far easier to believe something that you want to believe anyway, even if a simple google search will bring up all the information showing both the lies and the truths of the matter.

And I have found, to my personal sadness, that some friends, even when you can show them the true facts – both pro and con – about something, will persist in believing the lies that they have chosen.  Too often, these are also the people whose debate or conversation degenerates into name-calling, personalities, angry responses,  and “hate full speak.”

So, what has happened to civil conversation?  What has happened to proper debate, with facts, not misinformation? What has happened to the idea that disagreements, done properly, can actually be healthy instead of toxic?

Simply because someone disagrees does not make them an enemy, nor does it make them not a friend.

I wish my former Facebook friend understood that.

If you believe in God, have you wasted your life? NO!!

A friend posted something today on facebook.  It was a poster meme, with a red background, and it said “If I’m wrong about God then I’ve wasted my life.  If you’re wrong about God then you’ve wasted your eternity” Lecrae.

https://scontent.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xla1/v/t1.0-0/p480x480/11205141_10152845360601179_4413137991245426747_n.jpg?oh=d39ca2df7e628e34ce01f705d1916eb9&oe=573CC105

Now, I appreciate the idea behind this thought.  I understand what this person is trying to say.  The only problem is, it is so wrong.  A belief in God, regardless of whether or not He actually exists, is not a waste.  The only way that believing in God would be a waste is if you believe that what is commonly considered “sin” is a preferred way of life.  Drunkenness, theft, murder, drug addictions, sex with whoever you want… If that is part of your value system, then, indeed, a belief in a God who does not exist would be a waste.

But I have found that a belief in God has done so much more for me.

Because I believe in God, I look for the good in people.

Because I believe in God, I have a more positive attitude about life in general.

Because I believe in God, I pray for strength – and I receive it.

Because I believe in God, I find the rainbow in the rain.

Because I believe in God, I believe that I can change for the better.

Because I believe in God, I continue to try.

Because I believe in God, I try to help others.

Because I believe in God, I stand back up, no matter how many times I fall down.

Because I believe in God, I have hope.

Because I believe in God…

I could go on and on.

Even if God does not exist, belief in Him is not a waste.  It is life.  It is strength.  It makes my life better in so many ways.

Because I believe in God…