photo by Sheri Dixon

Monday, December 22, 2014

Not All...

"Not all" is a 'reversible' phrase. It's a close relation to "Not everything", "Not everyone" and "Not every".

Here's how they work. You can use them at the beginning of any sentence, and they render the sentence completely different from how you meant it. In fact, they're almost magical.

Just like the old saying about dogs- tell a dog

Don't eat that

Don't pee there

Don't chew this

And what they hear is

Eat that

Pee there

Chew this

They focus only on the words they want to focus on.

Anyway, here goes, and every single phrase below is 100% how I feel. Notice the inclination to exclude the first word from the thought process in order to fit me into some preconceived notion of who you think I am.

Not all cops are assholes.

Not all young black men are thugs.

See that? I can be against policemen who abuse the power of their position and not be a cop-hater. I can abhor those who misuse that power and still be outraged and horrified when two get murdered by a psychopath.

I can acknowledge that there are segments of young male society (any color) who live in and thrive on violence and not giving a shit while knowing full well that that's not all of them (or even most of them).

Those are true statements no matter who you are.

But here's what people hear-

All cops are assholes.

All young black men are thugs.

Those are false statements no matter who you are and only serve to divide us more than we already are.

Not everything a Republican says is a lie.

Not everything a Democrat says is the truth.

Again- all politicians are individuals with their own agendas and favors to repay. Some conservatives have good ideas and some liberals have bad ideas.

But what do we hear?

Everything a Republican says is a lie.

Everything a Democrat says is the truth.

Bad. Very bad.

Once more!

Not everyone who goes to church is a good person.

Not everyone who is an atheist is a bad person.

I've known some folks who have a path flat worn down from their house to the church and yet I wouldn't trust them as far as I can throw them. Ever. With anything or anyone.

I personally am an atheist, and I'd like to think I'm a pretty decent human being.

And yet, what do we hear?

Everyone who goes to church is a good person.

Everyone who is an atheist is a bad person.

Dangerous. Dividing. Deadly.

Here's what happens with statements like this. The first sets are open, accessible, discussion-inducing. They proclaim a non-concrete opinion that is inherently open-minded. Read 'em again and you'll hear it.

The second sets- the ones people's brains hear and then repeat as quotes- are absolutes that are not up for debate or discussion- those minds are closed tighter than a baby's mouth when there's strained broccoli coming at it.

In the end

Not every conservative is a racist bastard and

Not every liberal is a bleeding heart imbecile

but it's going to take careful and deliberate re-training on our own parts to fix this unconscious mental habit.

The politicians encourage it for their own ends.

The media encourage it for their ratings.

Every faction, race, religion, and group encourages it because there MUST be an 'us against them' mentality- otherwise how do we know who are the good guys (like us) and who are the bad guys (who we don't want to be like)?

If that automatic suspicion is gone, that instantaneous revulsion removed, where does that leave us as a people?

It leaves us with the truth.

Most cops are doing a difficult job bravely and unflinchingly and when even one of those dies in the line of duty it's one too many. It's especially heartbreaking when it's senseless, and random, and unexplainable.

Some cops are assholes who thrive on power and feed off hatred because cops are human and there are those types of humans everywhere, but it's more dangerous when it's a cop and those need to be ferreted out- even one is too many.

Most young men are just trying to find their way- in their peer groups, the world at large, in life. They make stupid mistakes because we all do. Most of those mistakes aren't fatal but even one is too many.

Some have been caught up in a destructive life and they are a danger to themselves and others and even one is too many.

Most Christians are good people who are trying to live life according to their Christ, who was a good example. Those are the ones quietly helping the poor, feeding the hungry, championing the downtrodden. These need to be spotlighted and emulated even though the 'humility' part of Christianity forbids them of doing so themselves.

Some Christians wield their Faith as a weapon and bludgeon the rest of us with it, whether we believe or not. They are intent on making our nation a theocracy...for our own good, of course. These people are dangerous, and self-serving, and definitely NOT Christians as Christ intended.

Here's the thing about Conservatives and Liberals. We're all American citizens with equal rights and equal freedoms. For the most part, we all love our country and want what's best for ourselves, our families, our communities and the nation as a whole. Most of us are aware that this requires compromise because we're all different and even though the Ends are very similar, the Means and Path to get there varies between ideologies.

Most of us are intelligent, thinking, caring people.

Some of us are assholes. Both sides.

Somewhere, somehow, we need to find the strength and patience and backbone to protect and celebrate those who are doing their best every single day no matter if they're in 'our group' or not. Across the board.

And we need to call out the violence and hatred and destruction mental and physical; haul it into the light of day and expose it for the evil it is and the evil it represents and be done with it. Do not accept it no matter where and who it comes from.

Do not.

America is a great idea. I think we should try it out sometime.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Holiday Letter 2014

I'm having a hard time getting ready for Christmas this year. Too busy, too stressed, too depressed by what's going on in the world at large. I'm stuck here at work awaiting delivery of a chest freezer so I typed up my annual holiday letter and that's when it happened, as it always happens every year. We're OK. The world at large may seem totally fucked up, but my little family is OK.

That sounds like a complete pile of ass-wipery because it sounds selfish and uncaring, but it's really not.

We're OK. Sometimes that's where you need to start from to even be able to move out of your mental hole and make a difference. Find the (sometimes tiny and seemingly insignificant) things that are OK in your life, hold tight to those as life preservers and go on and dive out into the rest of the mess.

People who have nothing to lose do desperate and sometimes foolish things. People who have everything to gain change the world.

It's almost 2015. Lets change the world.

Happy Holidays From the Dixons!

I can’t think of a way to open this without sounding trite or silly. Everyone has had a busy year. No one can believe 2014 is almost over. So, whatever. Here’s our ‘bringing ya’ll up to date holiday letter’. Ho ho ho.

Our big ‘thing’ this year was our annual road trip- and it was a doozy. Just shy of 7,400 miles north to Montana, west to Washington, south to Arizona and home. We saw everything on the way- everything. Three weeks of everything and it was glorious if exhausting. Pretty sure Alec took almost 2,000 photographs.

I passed my exam to be a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager- there are only about 400 CVPM’s and it’s kind of a big deal- I’m getting head-hunted from all over the country, which is very flattering for a chick who barely finished high school and is only 7 years away from retirement. I’m loathe to leave a job that allows for me to take three week vacations, though- even for more money.

Ward’s doing great- all his exams and scans continue to show ‘nothing of note in his head’. We love that result. He’s assumed most of the house and farm management since I’ve been taking college courses and studying for my exam.

Alec is finishing up 9th grade and is a solid A’s and a few B’s kinda student. His group of friends in Denton are again competing in the Future Problem Solvers program and they just took a three day field trip to participate in a workshop at Heifer International in Arkansas. He and his dog Bonnie have gone to some obedience and pre-agility classes and he still takes art and guitar lessons. Through the magic of layaway, he’s purchased a new steel string acoustic guitar and keyboard and now has his eyes set on an amp and electric guitar. Yay!

We lost Joe’s mom Edna in August. She was almost 95 and I miss her every day.

Joe continues to be one of the most popular authors in ‘mens adventure’ books on Amazon Kindle and he has a huge following of devoted fans.

We are still surrounded by fur and feathers- I finally got myself another ‘co-pilot sidekick’ dog- it’s been five years since I lost Spooj. Her name is Sorcha. She’s a uniquely beautiful blue-eyed red and white Border Aussie and she’s perfect.

Horse, sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, various dogs, cats and of course the guinea pigs all present and accounted for. This year my pigs have won multiple best in show awards and did very well at Nationals. Yep, ridiculous.

Wishing only good adventures and the best of everything for all of you in 2015!

-the Dixons