Sunday, June 26, 2011

Give me Some R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Find out what it means to me. Thank you Aretha.

All joking aside, the word RESPECT is something that has lost its punch in all aspects of this great land, besides for one place at least in my mind and that is the military.  In my mind, from what I have read and seen the military still has that order of RESPECT for their ranking officers, no where else can that be seen anymore.  Not in homes, not in public service jobs, not in Volunteer Agencies where there are officers and most definitely not in society in general.
Reason why I bring this up tonight is because of again multiple examples I have seen in recent days in my life.  From work, to friends, to where I volunteer I have seen such examples of lack of RESPECT that it is just incredible.  

In the workplace, I don't know if it's just me and my old school ways, but people who hold the titles of managers and senior managers or are just above of you in the workplace whether it be in years of experience or their title deserve RESPECT from the people below them even if the people below them are not great fans of them, they still deserve that RESPECT from them.  Friday while doing my thing at work, the senior manager came over to the other side from where I was working and was talking to the guys there asking why they did something.  Once they finished explained what happened and the senior manager stated his piece, he stood around for a while longer, and at that time one of my co-workers started saying to him "If you are done here, you can leave now," and he repeatedly kept telling him this.  Finally my senior manager stated "Today is not the day to mess with me" and just walked away.  Now I am still fairly new at my place of work, but if that interaction had gone down in the corporate office setting that co-worker of mine probably would have been written up or even better let go because of his disrespect for my senior manager.  I understand not everyone has to like each other and be friendly but if a person holds a ranking position above you that means that they typically (not always that's for sure) have done something to gain the respect of the upper echelon to receive that promotion, so it should go without saying they deserve some RESPECT.  I do feel that treating people as you want to be treated is an unwritten rule everyone should go by, and it for sure is the leading viewpoint and characteristic to which I lead my life, and I know for sure this senior manager has a reputation that is not well-liked because he is a hard-nosed leader, but still talking to a boss like that is unacceptable.
Officers of volunteer organizations hold positions because they have opted to give up their time to try to help the organization further itself along.  Very commonly these people run unopposed during elections because not many people care about anything more than themselves, but still that does not mean these people do not deserve RESPECT, in reality that should increase the level of RESPECT these people deserve.  Where I volunteer my time as an EMT, the officers of my volunteer organization are constantly being scrutinized or disrespected by the same members of the organization and it is quite frustrating to see.  The way our fine society has made us today those of us who want to do the right thing are stuck in between a rock and a hard place reason being is as follows:

On one side if a person stands up to those disrespecting the officers then that person taking the stand will more than likely be written up by the one doing the disrespecting, or the one disrespecting will make fun of the person standing up and thus talk about that person behind their back saying "Oh this guy is a jerk, he thinks he's an officer or he's favoring x y or z officer or he's friends with this person, that's why he's standing up for them" or they risk loosing a relationship with the person being the "Bully."

On the other side, if no one says anything no corrective or disciplinary action will be taken thus the person who is being disrespectful and talking negative about people who have stepped up to the plate will continue to disrespect.  

Where is the middle ground? That is the question I am asking, how can someone do the right thing and not be scrutinized or ridiculed for it?

What irks me the most is lack of RESPECT between people.  Lady Gaga says it best in two songs off of her recently released "Born This Way" Album: "Born this Way" and "Hair."  In the song "Born This Way," sings "No matter gay, straight, or bi, Lesbian, transgendered life, I'm on the right track baby, I was born to survive, No matter black, white or beige, Chola or orient made, I'm on the right track baby, I was born to be brave, I'm beautiful in my way, 'cause God makes no mistakes, I'm on the right track baby I was born this way, Don't hide yourself in regret Just love yourself and you're set, I'm on the right track baby, I was born this way."  In the song "Hair," she sings "I just wanna be myself, And I want you to love me for who I am I just wanna be myself, And I want you to know, I am my Hair, I’ve had enough This is my prayer, That I’ll die living just as free as my hair, I’ve had enough This is my prayer That I’ll die living just as free as my hair, I’ve had enough I’m not a freak I must keep fighting to stay cool on the streets I’ve had enough, enough, enough And this is my prayer, I swear I’m as free as my hair." 

I'll come back to Gaga's lyrics in a bit, but just tonight, and what actually sparked me to write this post, I was speaking with a friend of mine and was being told of the great amount of disrespect this person received this weekend from members of the opposite sex.  They did not see this person as a person or someone who had feelings or someone's friend but rather as an object something they could play with and not worry about come the next day.  I am no activist for rights or anything like this, but to hear of people thinking of members of the opposite sex as objects and wanting to do things with them because they are attractive and not because they have a connection between them is just incredible.  How can we as humans go about treating each other as not having feelings but just as being physical objects that give us pleasure or bring retaliation to our Exs' for actions they have done to us.  Remember when they did it to you and how you felt when you found out, yeah I know you want them to feel that same exact pain you felt, but DAGNAMIT for once in your life take the high road for goodness sake and be the bigger person.  More commonly than not, us men do objectify women and I am not saying I don't do this because I do in more subtle ways than normal, but to get back to the point to treat a woman like something that can be used and abused and left on the street once you have had enough is just absurd.  They deserve, and you ladies, should DEMAND the same level of RESPECT, if not more from the men around you because you are a person too and at one time you know we men did have to show much more RESPECT than we do today to the women around us.  We did have to hold the door open and let them enter a building first, we did have to stand behind them in line, or we did have to have respect for their parents before we could move on to becoming more than a date to them.  

Enough of that soap box, to get back to Gaga's lyrics she says it right, she says it all "We are all beautiful in our own way" and "We are as free as our hair that blows in the mid-summer's night wind." She is most definitely doing the right thing by trying so so hard to get the people who listen to her music to realize there is such a need for RESPECT to re-enter our lives that it's quite remarkable how off course we have become.  Time and time again we don't respect one another and more often than not we don't respect people of different races or creeds or sexualities.  Again I am guilty of this judgement as well at times, but when it comes to face to face reactions you NEVER EVER KNOW when you may need that person to come to your aid so why not treat them with RESPECT. 

RESPECT something that was at the core of my high school education and at the core of my up-bringing and makes me who I am today.  It is something that is lacking greatly at home today.  I could go on and on about that aspect but I won't.  What I will say is I am grateful for all of the great lessons I was taught about respect and hope to continue to show that RESPECT to everyone who I meet.  Lets try to bring it back to our everyday lives whether in between our friends, our co-workers, our officers, but more importantly it starts with ourselves.  Show ourselves RESPECT and hopefully it will emanate out beyond ourselves to those around us.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's With Society and Ethics?

I could easily write for hours and hours on this the subject that is the most intriguing to me, but I'll spare the boredom and write just about my run in with ethics at 3 different points in the day today:

The first run in was at work where this morning while waiting around for our daily stretch and flex routine, one of my coworkers was retelling his story of the weekend and was saying how he got with this chick while he was out over the weekend.  Now this wouldn't be so bad, but my man has a child with his girlfriend!  I know what people do with their own life is none of my business, but what irks me is this lack of ethics to think about someone other than themselves.  Yes I could be asking myself how much of this story is actually true (because I know I for sure am gullible) but honestly, how can someone in their right mind put their relationship with their daughter in jeopardy?  Am I really that much of an old school thinker to see this as wrong?  It just bothers me that there are so so many people out there whether in relationships for years and have children in those relationships, or single, that jump from partner to partner or are unfaithful to their partners.  Why must we humans always think about ourselves as number 1?  Ethically speaking shouldn't we be looking in the mirror and saying "How would I feel if I was on the receiving end of this news?" "If I was the one finding out that my partner did something with someone else" instead of thinking "Oh it's ok this one time won't hurt," or if they do find out "What's the worst that could happen? I lose my daughter because my ex takes her away from me, oh wait that won't happen though because she won't find out."  These are just some of the things passing through my mind as I hear story after story like this of guys or girls cheating on their significant other with someone else because they think oh they will never find out.  Let's stop and think how would I feel if I got news like this instead of thinking about what I want all the time.  

That's run in number 1. 

The second run with ethics today was at Dunkin Donuts in Mt. Kisco while at work today.  I had just gotten my order and was walking out the door back to my truck when I see this older couple heading towards the door of Dunkin Donuts so I hold the door open for them.  As they walk towards the door seeing it being held open, they let out a big "Thank you" and in what I saw and heard was a very surprised tone.  Their reaction to me holding the door took me by quite surprise as I realized has it really become such a big deal to hold the door for people? Again ethics.  Has it really been washed away from the teachings of parents today to teach respect to your elders or to teach respect for guys to girls and hold doors open for them?  Again it goes way back to my old school ways and I mean this could all stem from being raised in Catholic school until going to Cornell University for college, but RESPECT is something that does mean so much to me.  It is something that is long gone from the everyday lives of the people who live around us.  I hope to seriously touch on this in a future post, but for now, next time you gentlemen or ladies for that matter walk through a door and there is someone behind you or in front of you, please hold the door open for them because you never know when you may not be able to grab the door for yourself that one day.  

My second run. 

My final run with ethics today was here at my house.  My neighbor (who is also my really good friend) just had his driveway paved by a paving company whom I had never seen before in my life.  I figured nothing of it, but then when I went to cut my other neighbor's grass I smelled diesel fumes coming from somewhere.  I looked down the catch basin in front of my neighbor's house and what do I come upon but a sheen of diesel in the water below.  Immediately it strikes a chord within me as one of the things that eats at me the extreme most is pollution to waterways.  In junior year of college I did a project on storm water remediation more specifically about Jamaica Bay watershed here in Queens and Brooklyn that sits adjacent to JFK Airport.  Needless to say, that class changed my life forever, I learned more in that one semester that has paid off for me in the long run than the first four semesters of school previously had.  Again I hope to touch on storm water and green issues in future posts, but in regards to today, these two catch basins where the diesel was dumped into drain out to a stream which eventually drains out to the Long Island Sound.  So I continued to cut my neighbor's grass but as I was going about it, the fumes of the off-gassing diesel kept getting stronger and stronger.  Finally it got to me and I called the Dept. of Environmental Conservation at two different numbers and got no response, so then I said let me call the City's Water Dept.  Well that triggered a great response, the cavalry came storming in.  First the police showed up, then the water dept sent a truck out and finally the fire dept showed up.  When all was said and done the fire dept deemed the diesel to not be of a great risk and diluted it and flushed it down the drain with large amounts of water.  Ethics again, where was this contractor's ethics? Today we as a society, nation, world are in a much greater environmental conundrum than we have ever been before due to our increase in reliance on some natural resources (all the environmental activism stuff aside I do believe that we need to work on being green as it will help us in the long run) so doing stuff like dumping diesel down a drain that leads to the ocean is a bit uncalled for.  Yes there are millions upon millions upon millions of gallons of water in the ocean and that diesel would have been cleaned out in no time, but think of the little pieces along the way that don't have those millions of gallons of water to clean out the contaminant.  These catch basins drain to a stream that at points is no wider than a foot and deeper than 8 or so inches, so that area would become inundated with diesel when the diesel finally moved out.  I hope that these contractors even if they don't get any fines or anything from this learned a lesson from today.  Will it all make sense to them? I doubt it and will they have learned from it again I doubt it, but hopefully I opened up the responding departments eyes to these malpractices that go on each day that get overlooked and hopefully they will make a change to see that something like this doesn't happen again. 

Alright enough on ethics.  Sorry to bore you to death but there is something to be said with the misdirection that is occurring in so many areas today.   

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Do You Believe in a Promised Land?

Not to sound morbid or anything, but why do men usually die first?  With today being Father's Day, and yesterday being a huge moment in music history with the death of "The Big Man" Mr. Clarence Clemons, and knowing so many men who have passed on who were fathers or grandfathers, it makes me ask the question of why do men usually pass away first?  

Yes, Clarence had a stroke which ultimately became the real cause of death, but what was the underlying cause of that stroke? His high blood pressure, or poor eating habits? My grandfather who passed away in 2010 died from smoking for years and years and his lungs just rotting away to something worse than Swiss cheese.  Yes smoking was his cause of death due to the deteriorating lung health, but what led him to smoke?  My other grandfather who died in 2003 died from poor cardiac health, having had multiple cardiac angioplasties and both a pacemaker and defib implanted, he lost his life to a poor heart and which caused him to pass away from an infection that his body couldn't fight off, but what caused that heart condition to form?  In seventh grade, one of my classmates' father passed away from a massive heart attack, this man had suffered from polio in his childhood age and wasn't in great health but loved life and was a huge loss to see him pass when we were so young, why was he taken away so early?  In high school, in senior year, one of my friends, his father passed away after a battle with an ailment (I am failing to recall the exact ailment), but what caused that to happen to a man with a loving wife and three children? Lastly, our soldiers overseas, how many men (and women too but I am sticking to men right now) have we seen pass from defending our country?

Reason why I ask all of these questions, is because right now on this another Father's Day I am listening to one of my many Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band DVDs and am pondering why so many men have seen this Promised Land so soon and their wives and children are left to suffer from their loss?

I do believe we are all created equally, ask anyone of my good friends and they will tell you I do not tolerate people who think they are hot stuff, so I am just asking the question why if we are all created equally do men usually die first and witness this Promised Land so much sooner than women?  In the history books, we are always told the men are the hunters and have to be strong and work to survive and keep their families afloat, but much of the time these men are taking away first and this role reversal occurs, where the women now have to become the hunters and the gathers in one.  What causes this increase in male deaths to occur first? 

Is it the pressures of trying to keep the family afloat and make the ends meet? 

Is it the stress of having a family? If this is the case then why is this the way all the creatures are wired? To desire this family and want to share lives with someone else when in the end it just drives a man's health to deteriorate because of the increase in pressures? 

Do men bring it upon themselves by being "unable to share their feelings and keeping stuff inside" thus increasing blood pressure and cholesterol because they are not releasing these feelings and trying to suppress them by eating the foods that make them happy but cause much more harm than good? 

I know witnessing this Promised Land is an inevitable thing, no matter male, female, old or young, I just am curious as to why it routinely happens to men before women? I am no science buff so I have no facts to back these assumptions up, but I am just basing this off of my personal life and my experiences.  

The loss of all the men I have previously mentioned in conjunction with the loss of Clarence Clemons makes me wonder why these respective people are taken many years before the good that they can do on this Earth can be recognized and completed.  For me, my grandfather who I lost in high school, never got to see me complete college, he would have loved to have witness Cornell and its majestic glory and my grandfather who I lost last year left me with the message of "Mike will you please find a lady to marry" (This quote was in some form or another what he said I can't remember exactly but it was the last night I saw him alive and before I left he said this to me and my uncle respectively) because he never got to witness his son marry anyone so he would love to see his family live on, but he is not here to witness that.  Again I am speaking from assumptions, but after reading Clarence's book and knowing what I know about him, I think he would have liked to have performed one more time for his fans and not be taken from them so unexpectedly.  Sure he did leave them with a legacy in performing on Lady Gaga's "Edge of Glory" track, but still that does nothing to prove his wonderous talents he had with the E-Street Band and his brother Bruce.

Many say these people still are looking down on us from Heaven like Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men say in "One Sweet Day" and P-Diddy says in "Missing You," I do believe they are looking down on us and watching us each day, but I am just wondering what they would say if they got the chance to be here to see these things.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The News That Broke A Man's Heart

Tonight, after spending an evening with friends watching the NBA Finals, I checked my iPhone for new tweets in regards to the Mavs beating the Heat and scrolled down a bit to see the tweets I had not read since the last time I checked Twitter.  As I was scrolling down I came across this tweet:

E-Street Band's Clarence Clemons suffers stroke; said to be 'seriously ill' - Rolling Stone

I am a huge Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band fan, turned on to them by my mom, I cannot stop listening to them.  Their songs never get old, their covers are usually infinite times better than the original songs, and their energy in a live concert setting is just incredible.  I've seen them in their last three tours, The Rising being my first concert of the Boss and the Band live and they just blew me away.  To compare them to any other concert I've seen is just unspeakable, they play with the best energy I have ever experienced, their fans the most faithful and energetic I've ever seen, and most of all they don't play for the typical hour and a half or so like every other concert I've been too, they play for 2.5 to 3 hours non-stop.  From beginning to end, they bring the house down and everywhere in between they keep it going.

To read the above news tonight just breaks a piece of me down.  Bruce and Clarence have an unspeakable bond, that if you have had the chance to read the book, "Big Man" by Don Reo and Clarence Clemons, like I have, you would see that their bond is just unique.  Since the start of the E-Street Band in the 1970s, Clarence and Bruce have been a unit, like two brothers separated at birth and joined together again by a passion for something they both love so much, MUSIC.  To watch them perform early on in the DVD they just recently released in their "Darkness" box set, to their most recent "Working on Dream" tour DVD "London Calling, Live from Hyde Park," the whole band plays with such a vibe and family like energy, and to watch Bruce and Clarence do their thing is just something else altogether.  Bruce calls Clarence "The Big Man;" for what reason I'm not quite sure off the top of my head, but it is just something that sets their relationship apart.  Yes, Bruce does call Steve Van Zandt, "Little Steven Van Zandt," at times, but Bruce and The Big Man just have some bond, some friendship, some something, that is just so real and genuine, that is not just a stage act, but something in real life terms on and off stage.  

Reading that book, hearing this news, and feeling how I feel, I have to say I can't even begin to imagine how Bruce and the Band are feeling.  Being an EMT, and having experienced patients who have had strokes and experiencing the reaction of their families to these events, I can just continue to replay over and over in my head what is going on right now with Clarence and his wife, and how much it is affecting Bruce and his family.  Imagine having your long time brother whose been at your side day in and day out, not out of being blood relatives or married to someone in the respective family, but out of genuine friendship be there for you.  That's something we in today's society are missing completely, that genuineness.  Some may argue it's there, especially in the public service sector, and the job setting, but no where is it clearer in the relationship between Bruce and Clarence.  They came together because of their love for music and have shared that bond for years now and continue to do so day in and day out.  At times like these, that's when those relationships are tested beyond belief, but like Kanye West says "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger," that's what they are going to get out of this.  It is going to make their relationship stronger.  

Clarence Clemons, I hope to the Lord on High, that you are able to come out of the woods and see the Darkness that is on the Edge of Your Town right now lifted, to see that dream you have been working on continue to be fulfilled. 

Feel Better Soon Big Man!

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