The Cure for Trump Flu: Recognizing Resistance

Things are…strange. The news doesn’t seem normal anymore. Up is down and down is up. Part of this is because of the new strain of the flu this year: the Influenza T Virus. T for Trump. The Trump Flu is arguably the worst one of all. It starts to seep in when the patient forgets that fighting this administration is a marathon, not a sprint. Symptoms include:
  • Fatigue…like ALL the time
  • Constant Anxiety
  • Shock…that just never went away after Election Night
  • Extreme stress, agitation
  • Overwhelming feelings of depression, apathy, helplessness

Influenza Type T can comes from many different sources.

  • Falling into a Twitter or Facebook rabbit hole
  • Terrifying Executive Orders
  • Breaking news cell phone alerts
  • Fear of a world war
  • Media that won’t turn off

But there is a cure. It’s not as simple as a shot, but it works. The cure is staying conscious. Everywhere you look there are signs the resistance is working. Public outcry, mass protest, and mindful economics have caused numerous cracks in the porcelain White House. Here are some examples, broken into Harry Potter categories.

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“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” – The Goblet of Fire

We the People Will Never Be Divided

The White House is unorganized. It does not communicate. It spews blatant lies. It has relentlessly, and unsuccessfully, attempted to make themselves seem better by putting down the previous administration. The White House’s aides are pitted against each other and compete for time in the spotlight instead of together to make America great. In short, the White House is an unsustainable MESS. Here are signs of the White House falling apart:
  • Michael Flynn, White House National Security Advisor for a Month, barely needs an explanation. He’s the first person to be expelled from the Swamp. Aside from the obvious victory of the first cabinet member to fall, it gives us insight to the White House. And hopefully it sets a precedent; More are going to follow Flynn, and soon.
    • The Crybaby in Chief’s pick for Labor Secretary, Andy Puzdrew, withdrew his name from consideration less than 24 hours after Flynn resigned.
  • The question of repealing Obamacare without a replacement has come to a sputtering halt after massive public push back. Obamacare improved on, but do not want it repealed without a replacement. In response to letters from Tim Kaine and other  Democrats begging the GOP to work with them to edit and replace Obamacare, Senator Lamar Alexander (R, TN), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions declared Obamacare should only be repealed when “there are concrete, practical reforms in place that give Americans access to truly affordable health care.”
    • Another thing: Polls show approval ratings for Obamacare have spiked. Seems like once they might not have it there, people like the ACA a lot more.
  • Town halls across the country have erupted in anger. Republican town halls. Republican offices say they’re unable to do work due to public outcry. GOP in Washington are being forced to take sides, and more are distancing themselves from the White House. Republican leaders are frustrated the Crybaby in Chief isn’t paying attention to them after they went against the Democrats and approved his cabinet nominations.
  • The ACLU received a record breaking amount of donations after the White House’s unconstitutional ban on people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the US. They raised $24 million from over 350,000 donations. They usually raise $4 million in one year.
  • The travel ban was declared unconstitutional in the courts. Whether or not the White House will listen to the three federal judges who declared it is still up for debate, but the justice system has spoken. The ban is wrong.
  • The Crybaby in Chief has the lowest approval rating of any President. Ever.
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“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” – Albus Dumbledore to Neville Longbottom, Sorcerer’s Stone

Love Thy Neighbor…And Wake Them Up

Americans are coming together. Communities are being formed, and organization never stops. At the moment, there is a Scientist’s March on Washington being organized in D.C. and in sister cities around the country. The founders of the Women’s March are organizing an across-the-board strike to flex the economic power American women hold. A growing number of celebrities come out in opposition of the White House. The Facebook discourse is endless. Even sports have become highly politicized.

  • The Patriots made history, but not on the field. They won Super Bowl LI, their fifth victory. But the game was highly politicized due to Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft‘s insensitive display of privilege. Their not-so-casual, closet-door-is-ajar racism. And their teammates have noticed. Lifetime diehard fans noticed, and called them out on it. Conversations were had. The veil was lifted a little higher.
  • Adele won the Grammy for Best Album, and refused to accept it. She said Beyonce should have gotten the award, and she was right. Yes, Adele should have gotten best song, but Beyonce won the album. Adele pulled a total Cady Heron and broke the award in half stage as a gesture of solidarity.
  • Nordstrom followed in Uber’s footsteps and pulled back from promoting/selling Ivanka Trump’s products. This is beyond any party lines. Retailers are being forced to get political, and they aren’t aligning themselves with the Crybaby in Chief. Kellyanne Con-Job nearly lost her head and had an ethics meltdown on live television… and we’re only two months into the administration! The consumers are showing where their values lie by partaking in #GrabYourWallet, and the retailers are listening. The people in the Oval are cracking. Check out the #GrabYourWallet database here and help it crack a little more.
  • People are coming together to defend immigrants and their right to be here. People are coming together to defend Muslims and stand against racism. And it makes them happy
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“Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – Albus Dumbledore, Prisoner of Azkaban
At the very least, it’s obvious the American people are building good habits. When training for something long term, the gains are slow, small. You spend weeks, sometimes months, doing the same exercise over and over and over until you’re doing it in your sleep. But it becomes easier. You get better. Your times become faster, weights easier, exercises less challenging. If every member focuses on becoming the best version of themselves, the team as a whole gets stronger.
Today, those exercises are writing letters. Consciously spending money. Calling representatives. Organizing locally. Showing up to rallies. Reaching out to strangers. Remembering self-care. Publicly vocalizing support. Consuming media consciously. Sharing knowledge. Talking. Listening. Creating. Growing. Feeling. And it’s working. Like our actions, the signs are small, but they are there. Bernie’s campaign proved it. The Women’s March proved it. The airport protests, spontaneous and without organization, proved it. Institutional inequality, prejudice, and corruption fester in the darkness, but the world isn’t dark anymore.

 

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Immigrants Aren’t Stealing American Jobs. America Is.

The Manufacturing Industry (as we know it) is DEAD.

Whether we like it or not, industries are going to be making their products – cars, air conditioners, kitchen appliances, and the like – in other countries due to the cheaper cost of labor. And if these companies can’t physically leave America, then they’re going to invest in technology to decrease their labor cost anyways. They are going to replace their hourly wage, entry level manufacturers with machines. And there is nothing we can do to stop it. It’s just how the evolution of technology works.

No matter where manufacturing companies are located American citizens will not be employed by them, at least not to the extent of the past. So whether or not Carrier, or Ford, or whoever is on POTUS’s Weekly Hit List, is bullied into staying in America and keeping 800 workers (while still laying off 1,300), this doesn’t actually solve anything. Many jobs beyond manufacturing are in peril due to evolving technology. Truck and public transportation drivers are likely to be a thing of the past due to self-driving cars within the next 20 years. Goods-producing, mining, and manufacturing and the significant decline of working class jobs by 2020 was predicted as early as the 1980’s. This isn’t news; It’s just not well-known.

Keeping immigrants out and not letting anyone in does not address the problem. This is what dictatorships do, and America does not want to be a dictatorship. It is a democracy, and all of the noise from the people is democracy itself in all its glory. 

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The Real Enemy: Neglecting American Education

An action that DOES address this employment opportunity decline is taking the proposed $30 billion+ allocated to immigration “reform,” and redirecting it to education.

There will, of course, always be a need for some humans on the manufacturing floor. Someone will need to push some kind of buttons, operate some sort of machinery, know a basic level of computer science. But this isn’t a core component in curriculum. Our education is failing our citizens at the most basic level. It isn’t preparing us for the reality of today’s workforce.

The manufacturing industry is evolving, but education (and access to it) is not. If we had the option for an updated trades school curricula and supplies, trades workers would be taught to succeed in today’s workforce, not the workforce of 1980. If we had the option for updated public school curricula and supplies, citizens would be more likely to be curious about the world, and put their energy towards changing it instead of focusing on simply surviving. If public colleges had the opportunity to offer free tuition, more students would take it.

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One study of Baltimore students that took 15 years showed almost no children from lower income families made it to college, while nearly all of the wealthier children did. It also found that, of the diminishing trades opportunities available to high school or college drop outs, 89% of them went to white men (who, coincidentally, had the highest percentage of drug use). And that’s just one city!

If we actually allowed our citizens even just a fighting chance at intellectual and academic opportunities, there would be more qualified Americans, and our companies would hire them. But we don’t. It’s not the immigrant’s faults that their country prepared them better for the reality of today’s workplace environment. Most major countries on the planet offers free access to public university, or at least government subsidized tuition. It’s no surprise that immigrants are more qualified for our jobs than we are. So, no, these immigrants are not taking our jobs from us, but our country IS taking our education from us. We are, statistically, one of the worst major countries in the world at math. However, we ARE one of the best in THINKING we’re the best at math. We get an A in ego and C- in knowledge. Education is the primary setting where all inequalities can be reduced and, at the rate we’re going, it doesn’t look like we’re going to pass unless our policies change drastically.

References That May Not Be Open Access

Autonomous Vehicles: The Coming Insurrection (Overview). MarketLine. July 2015. ML00019-020.

Livingstone, D.W., and Antonie Scholtz. “Reconnecting class and production relations in an advanced capitalist knowledge economy’: changing class structure and class consciousness.” Capital & Class, vol. 40, no. 3, 2016, p. 469+. Business Collection.

Exhaustion Loves Company

Written July 21, 2015

Misery invites Exhaustion, Apathy, and a Stifled Sense of Wonder over for dinner. Misery  only smiles into their cup of whiskey and (a splash of) Coke, but looks at their friends with drooping, thankful eyes. Exhaustion enviously eyes the cat sleeping next to the stove, Apathy pushes food about their plate, and the Stifled Sense of Wonder desperately flicks around the world on their phone. A disheartening scene at first but, then again, Misery does love company.

I’m tired. I’m not the type of tired that eight hours of sleep and a hearty breakfast can fix. Whenever anyone asks how I am – regardless of how much I’ve slept that week – the answer is always tired. I’m the-skin-on-my-face-feels-like-it’s-about-to-slide-off-my-skull tired. I’m very-few-things-excite-me-anymore tired. I’m what I like to call “Gradgrind Tired.” This phrase was inspired by my AP English class (the year I believe the tiredness officially set in), when we read Hard Times by Charles Dickens.

Hard Times is, I think, Dickens’ most underrated work. So much of the author is present in his characters, as it was undoubtedly inspired by the three months he spent in a child labor warehouse at the age of twelve while his father was in prison. If there ever was a champion of the #GrowingUpPoor hashtag, it was Charles Dickens (although he may have a little trouble with the character limit).

Dickens lived in Victorian England while the Industrial Revolution was rapidly shifting the socioeconomic landscape. The boom in industry produced drastic divides between the classes, causing increased international trade, massive expansion of local government/centralized state, the exploitation of workers, deplorable living and working conditions, horrific child labor abuse, and eventually the rise of an established middle class.

Factory and business owners knew their workers were lacking basic human rights but, instead of helping, they exploited them. English workers (referred to as Hands in Hard Times), were forced to work inhumanely long hours from a young age in garish conditions with little to no pay. This theme – which Hard Times revolves around – resonated with me so deeply I can still remember the intense look on my AP English teacher’s face as she desperately waited for this passage to wake us up from our societal slumbers.

At the end of the third chapter, Lousia and Thomas Gradgrind (approximately 15 and 13, respectively) are caught looking at the travelling circus through a peephole by their father.

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Why is she so tired? Well, this is what her childhood was like…

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If we can put all of that information aside for one second and remember that she was only fifteen in this scene, and her father is already wondering who he’s going to marry her off to, and in fact does a few pages later…to a man closer to his own age than hers. Fifteen! Can you see the look of incredulity on my teacher’s face now?! I can still see it as if I was sitting in class typing this out right now.

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“What did he then behold but his own metallurgical Louisa, peeping with all her might through a hole in a deal board” by Charles S. Reinhart

So why am I Gradgrind Tired? While I’m not as oppressed as Louisa, Dickens’ societal allegory is spot on and his depiction of this weariness from the constant grind is much more eloquent than I could ever hope to pen. I have so much creative energy building up and – with the outlet of academia suddenly ripped out from under me – I have nowhere to direct it. The older I get, the more questions arise that I cannot answer. It’s a cruel sort of modern Hydra – once I’ve exhausted myself answering one question, six more pop up in its place. I’m no Hercules, but maybe I can try to attack my person Hydra one head at a time.

Why is there such a widespread sense of apathy, distrust, and hopelessness when it comes to our government? Where do twenty-somethings get off on that, on not using their privilege to cast votes, just because we’ve dismissed the act as “meaningless“? Why do white people get so angry and defensive whenever a POC simply tries to share their valid feelings or stories? Why are people so enraged over something as harmless as gender neutral pronouns?

How do I answer the thousands of massive, sweeping political questions 20150813-09that get hurled at me over family dinners, when I don’t have the proper publications and search engines infused directly into my brain? How come people don’t understand how to analyze statistics/studies to determine whether they were framed to get the desired result, or at the very least know the basics of evaluating/fact checking their sources? What does the “truth” even mean anymore, with countless media outlets and outside agencies skewing it to meet their own agenda? What’s going to happen to the environment and our perception of it now that the same guy who owns FOX News owns National Geographic? Where’s the line between nodding to/referencing another artist and plagiarizing/infringing their rights?

Why are the humanities being suffocated in favor of STEM, and what does that mean for the future of humankind? Why do my student loans cost more than my rent and utilities combined?! Are they even going to be paid off by the time my future children (if I’m ever able to afford their existence) go to college in 30ish years?  Is Jon Snow really dead? And what, in God’s Good Green Kingdom, counts as a proper relationship these days and, more importantly, why does everyone care so much? Why do people get so mad about selfies? I mean, what’s so terrible about people taking pictures of themselves when they feel nice and building up some self-confidence?

If Hillary and Trump actually end up running against each other, are they going to show the election on CNN or E! News? Why do people act against their own interests by thinking Bernie’s “socialist views” are soooo radical, when he’s actually just vying for basic human rights? That being said, how much power does POTUS really have? If I text my mom or read some articles while I’m walking to work is some asshole with a fancy camera going to photoshop my soul being sucked into my phone? How am I supposed to pay for grad school when most days I can’t even figure out how to pay for lunch? Why is applying for unemployment so infuriatingly difficult? And does anyone actually know how to fill out W-4’s????

I’m not sure what the answers to any of these questions are. I’m not even sure if some of them can be answered. The only thing I know is if I don’t at least get them out of my head sometime soon, I am going to explode. So that is the goal of this page. To all the lost, confused twenty-something’s out there looking for answers, something to do when you’re bored at work (or bored searching for work), or trying to comprehend the world while making sure your own basic human needs are covered…this one’s for you.

Bee a Force for Good

“Not a single bee has ever sent you an invoice. And that is part of the problem – because most of what comes to us from nature is free, because it is not invoiced, because it is not priced, because it is not traded in markets, we tend to ignore it.” Pavan Sukhdev, United Nations Report The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity

More Than Sound’s collaborative photo series on Instagram, #MindfulFilter, is back from hiatus just in time to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday! The Dalai Lama only had one birthday wish – be a force for good.

But what does that mean?

According to the Join a Force for Good website,

“A force for good is not simply a phrase or a book, but a vision for the world…a world where transforming ourselves makes us better at helping others…a world where small actions can add up to a big impact…a world where #RealGood – actions that are motivated by genuine concern for others – are everywhere.”

Good deeds come in all shapes and sizes, and no act is too small. Our latest Instagram post concerns the decline of the honeybees, which would fall under embodying compassion, choosing human economics, and healing the earth. A compilation of different forces for good can be found here.

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Business Insider tells us, “A world without honeybees would also mean a world without fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.” One third of the world’s produce – from apples, limes, and mangos to zucchini and squash to celery and leeks to broccoli and kale – would disappear from the shelves should the honeybees decline continue at its current pace. A Rhode Island Whole Foods grocer imagined what the world would look like without bees, and took 237 of 453 products off their shelves. Over half of their produce department was empty! BBC also has a fantastic page loaded with infographics about bees.

Chensheng Lu, Kenneth Warchol, and Richard Callahan at Harvard’s School of Public Health have all but closed all debates about the reason for the decline of the honeybees. Unsurprisingly, sub-lethal exposure of pesticides (specifically neonicotinoids, imidacloprid, and clothianidin) and the general state of contemporary mass agriculture caused the colony collapse disorder (CCD), starting around 2005. These insecticides exist in high levels in planter exhaust materials when plants are treated.

Honeybees in both the control and neonicotinoid-treated groups functioned normally in the summer and fall, but half of the neonicotinoid-treated groups abandoned their hives and died by the end of the winter. The control colonies, in contrast, thrived and re-populated after the winter, with the exception of one that died due to infection. Their article was published in last month’s Bulletin of Insectology. In addition to pesticides, bees are also declining due to diseases, parasites, habitat loss, weather, and the stress that comes with constant transportation between orchards to pollinate.

The collapse of honeybees is apparent and impending, and we have few prevention measures set up. The Farm Bill passed in 2013 and only allocated less than $2 million a year for emergency assistance. Don’t fall into despair, though. There are plenty of things you can do in your own backyard to help.

How to Bee a Force for Good

  • Plant bee friendly flowers and herbs. Spring – lilacs, lavender, sage, verbena, wisteria. Summer – mint, cosmos, squash, tomatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers, oregano, rosemary, poppies, black-eyed Susan, passion flower vine, honeysuckle. Fall – fuchsia, mint, bush sunflower, sage, toadflax.
  • If you’re financially capable, buy local, organic food from farms in your area. Shop at farmer’s market and local grocery stores. Get a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share.
  • Buy local, raw honey.
  • Learn how to become a beekeeper and look up local bee associations that offer classes with natural approaches. Morgan Freeman’s doing it, and you can too!
  • Don’t use chemicals and pesticides in your lawn or garden.
  • Understand the differences between wasps and honeybees. Wasps are carnivorous. They want to steal your turkey sandwich and sodas. They will sting you without hesitation because they know they won’t die. Honeybees are vegetarians, so as long as you aren’t eating pollen for lunch, chances are they aren’t interested in you. They will only sting you if they feel threatened, and will die soon after.

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  • They don’t want to sting you! Stay still if one is near you. If it lands on you, chances are you smell sweet or remind them of a flower! That’s sweet, if you think about. Imagine them as a weird, flying dog and let them sniff you out until they realize you’re not a flower. Then they’ll be on their way!
  • If you see a bee on the ground, chances are it isn’t dead but will be soon. Gently transport it to a small saucer with sugar water so it can regain strength and continue on its way.
  • Put a small basin of water outside your home with little stones and marbles to crawl on so they can drink.
  • Spread this information far and wide!

It’s not just honeybees, either. Thousands upon thousands of butterflies, moths, and other types of pollinating bees are in peril. If everyone stands in solidarity with the honeybees, the powers that be will be forced to take notice and do something about CCD and the insecticides poisoning the only home we have.

Available now: Daniel Goleman’s audiobook, A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World.

Only Compassionate Action Can Bridge the Empathy Gap

(One of my articles for the More Than Sound blog!)

Annie came to America while she was pregnant to assure her abusive husband would never be able to reach their children, as being born on American soil would make them citizens. She has been waiting for her green card for seven years, terrified she’ll be deported and separated from her twin boys. They live in a small, two-bedroom apartment and her boys walk five miles to school through a questionable neighborhood to get to school every day while she works three jobs. She leaves before sunrise and gets home well after dark every day, and hasn’t had a day off in three years. Her only solace is their elderly neighbor, Rosa. She loves cooking dinner for the boys and helping them with their homework, as her own children are grown and gone.

Susan is a CEO at a major corporation, and can not only afford childcare, but to have live-in assistance around the house. She can stock her fridge with the best, organic food, and her children are able to take weekly horseback riding and water polo lessons. She lives in a gated community, drives an eco-friendly car, and is able to take time off at her leisure to spend with her children. She went to college for business so she could take over her father’s corporation when he retired, and her children will never have to worry about affording a higher education.

Annie and Susan are similar women who live in the same city. They’re both single working mothers. They love their two children, and work hard to provide them with the best lives possible. They are the same age, like the same music, and are both reading a Milan Kundera novel in their free time. Annie tries to order a coffee (the sole luxury she allows herself to splurge on) and is fumbling around for change at the bottom of her purse. She’s desperate to avoid the public embarrassment that comes with not being able to afford $3.92 for a drink. She apologizes profusely for holding up the line, and manages to leave a crumpled, well-intentioned dollar bill in the tip jar. Susan, behind her in line, taps her foot impatiently and audibly sighs, even though she could easily buy Annie twenty coffees without ever noticing a lack in funds. When it’s finally Susan’s turn, she doesn’t look up from her phone as she orders, and puts an X over the tip space on her credit card receipt.

Why wouldn’t Susan just help Annie, or the hard-working people at the coffee shop?

In Daniel Goleman’s recent book, A Force for Good, he interviewed Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Throughout his studies and a series of experiments, Dr. Keltner has concluded that in direct encounters, a person of higher status – or privilege – is significantly more prone to disregarding a person of lower status. On the contrary, a person of lower status is much more likely to pay attention and show compassion to other people, regardless of their status.

“Those with few resources and fragile circumstances – like a single mother working two jobs to pay her bills who needs a neighbor to look after her three-year-old – depend on having good relationships with those may one day turn to for help,” Goleman writes.

Wealthier individuals, in contrast, are able to afford help as needed – they don’t rely on the goodwill of the people surrounding them. Keltner suggests that because the rich can afford to tune out other people, they also learn to tune out the needs and suffering of others. In organizations and corporations, he observed that when high- and low- ranking people interact, the higher person avoids eye contact, interrupts, and steam rolls over the conversation.

John Ogbu, the late Nigerian anthropologist from UC Berkeley, noted that Berkely had a de facto caste system, much to Goleman’s surprise. Ethnic minorities and the while middle class were centralized in different, but defined, parts of town. The schools were in between them, separating the caste lines.

“The moment he pointed [the caste lines] out, I saw he was right. But until then that glaring fact had been under the social radar for me – while I was going to those very schools, I hadn’t given it a second thought,” Goleman reflects.

The Dalai Lama has a lot to say on this topic of socioeconomic divides, and added the aspect of faith to the conversation. Followers of certain religions believe social order determines their destiny. If someone is in a lower class, it is because they deserve to be there. If someone is in a higher class, it is because they have a greater destiny.

[Listen to The Empathy Gap, an excerpt from A Force for Good.]

The wealthy and elite have many reasons for justifying their choice to ignore the needs and suffering of those around them. They displace the blame to the elect, saying change is out of their control or this is the way it’s always been (a feeble guise for their willful ignorance). They may profess “God made them [the worse off] that way,” or believe a divine being decided these people should be below them. The Dalai Lama dismisses this as totally wrong, and nothing but flimsy excuses for callousness. He calls upon people with the privilege and ability to make change to do so.

“You can repeat ‘equality, equality’ a thousand times,” the Dalai Lama says, asking his followers to act, not just sympathize. “But in reality, other forces take over.” Awareness without action following means nothing.

There is little empathy in the business and political leaders of today, and little thought is given to how it will affect those without access to power when they make decisions. This callousness makes the gap between the classes, between the tops and bottom of organizations, between the castes invisible. This lack of compassion becomes the norm when it isn’t acknowledged, and isn’t just a problem in Berkeley, California. It’s prevalent everywhere, and can only be changed by action.

Like Gandhi once said, “Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use.”

A portion of this article contains excerpts from Daniel Goleman’s book, A Force for Good: The Dalai Lama’s Vision for Our World.

Is Shakespeare an iPhone or a Droid Guy?

When I first saw these pictures of YOLO Juliet, a book from Random House’s “OMG Shakespeare” series, and I didn’t really have opinion. The OP didn’t appear to have an opinion either, simply posting the picture with #WilliamShakespeare. I was about to move on with my life…that is, until I saw all the comments.

“what.”

“NO. STOP. NOPE. NO. I AM DRAWING THE LINE.”

THIS S*** SHOULD NOT EXIST AND YOU KNOW IT. GET IT THE F*** OUT OF MY FACE.”

I was floored by the rash reactions the mere sight of these books immediately caused. It came as no shock that academics (*cough* elitists) were horrified at the “dumbing down” of Billy Shakes. Why shouldn’t OMG Shakespeare and similar texts exist? If a young student hates reading, but finds this intriguing, so be it. If someone reads this and realizes, “Hey! You know what? Maybe Shakespeare isn’t so scary or intimidating or boring. Maybe I should try reading the real play, or go see it performed!” …Is that really so bad?

Newsflash: not every YA-aged reader is going to become an English major, or literary academic, or traditional scholar. Most kids are trying to get by with passing grades and at least trying to enjoy school (while balancing accumulating masses of homework, sport, extra-curriculars, community service, part-time jobs, and whatever semblance of a social life is left over after all these requirements to living in 2015)

Even if the readers of OMG Shakespeare and the like don’t find a passion for Shakespearean text, at the very least they were reading and got a grasp of the plot/symbolism/characters etc, and classic literature continues to evolve and stay relevant. This is creative and intuitive, and targets a demographic (obviously young adults, meaning grade school students) that is constantly turned away from exploring/experiencing literature by elitists who think it’s a medium that can only be expressed one way.

This is just like the negative reactions people have to Instagram, saying the app is only used to “boast about their hiking” or “spend more time taking pictures of their sneakers at the gym than working out”. I think these nay-sayers are missing the point…the person who posts these pictures climbed a mountain. They went to the gym. If applying a filter is what it takes to get you outside, take thousands of pictures! Climb those hills and Instagram all you want!

I have a degree in English, Latin, and Medieval Studies. I work at a publishing firm and will be going to graduate school soon for library sciences. Even I find Shakespeare hard to read…I’m a fully grown woman trained in the art of reading! A seventh grader though? Psh, Billy Shakes was so hard! I know for a fact when I read Romeo and Juliet in 7th grade, I didn’t understand a word of what I was reading until I saw the movie. Besides which, Shakespeare was a playwright, and his pieces were meant to be interpreted and performed. Is this not an interpretation?

I think this is great. And cute! If you don’t, why don’t you try opening up your mind sometime and see something from someone else’s perspective for once. Language is fluid, and how it is interpreted and conveyed constantly changes! Accept it!

tl;dr: Shakespeare doesn’t care. Get over it!

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