Spoiler Alert

You already know

What will happen.

It’s more 

Like a rerun 

Than a new


Of thoughts

And prayers


Each Episode.

Now every day

Is spoiled

By mass murders

En masse.

Families forever


Communities shattered.

And those 

Who relish


The possibility

Of success

Of an opponent

Will stand by


And allow


To be terrorized

By the tyranny

Of the crazed

With weapons

Of war

In anywhere,


Any time



To terrorize,


And brutally



Actual children

And their friends,

And teachers,

And preachers,

And relatives

Is freedom 

Of their


Demand action

From every






You know.

Spoiler alert:

For Mothers’ Day

I honored

My mother

With Contributions

To Moms Demand Action

For Gun Safety

And to the

Brigid Alliance.

Moms are being attacked,

And dare I say



By fear

And actual assault

On bodily autonomy

Of themselves

And of their living


My mother and father

Taught their children

To participate

And contribute

And improve 

Our communities.

I relish the gifts

My mother


To share with me

That inspire me

Each day.

You don’t need

Me to alert you

To those who

Would rather

Spoil our capacity

To live safely

Than limit

The possibility of 

One less


Demand better.

Do something.


Don’t expect

Someone else

To contribute

Or sign

Or call

Or protest

So it’s done.

Sorry to spoil

It for you,

But your inaction

Is complicity.

Just like 




At least 

For Mothers’ Day

Please do something

To contribute

To stopping

The current


Killing us


While expressing


Daddy Issues


El Papa issues an encyclical on the environment and our shared responsibility. He acknowledges human contribution to global warming in recent decades, and advocates ways in which we can tend to that (and those) which we have neglected. With poetry and prose, and scientific backing, he sternly urges all people to pay attention to “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for us all.” His assessment continues with connecting the environmental crisis to human and social degradation, as the poorest suffer the most. Beyond vanishing coral reefs and other plant and animal species, we are creating unhealthy and unsustainable conditions for our own species. El Papa urges conscientious actions and transforming our lifestyles toward environmental stewardship and being responsible to our entire world of humans and other animal and plant species.


Jeb! issues a statement in response to the (leaked) encyclical, “I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.” Bush, a devout Catholic, says that religion “ought to be about making us better as people, less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”


REALLY???? Isn’t the Pope encouraging all people to be better, through attention and care of the earth and each other? El Papa’s message is a moral message for everyone. And yes, it has profound economic implications that have been ignored for too long, and we are beginning to reap the consequences.


Jeb!’s response seems rather rich from the guy who, as governor, intervened in the Terri Schiavo case, deciding that Schiavo’s feeding tube should be reinstated, appeasing so-called pro-life supporters. Just 2 days ago, on the heels of issuing his response to The Pope’s encyclical, Jeb! proudly reminded an audience at the Faith and Freedom conference of his role in the Terri Schiavo case saying that he “stood on the side of Terri Schiavo.” (Except, of course, he stood on the side of her parents and others—not on the side of Terri Schiavo or her desperate husband.)


While Jeb! issues statements on issues that, at best, don’t inspire, he seems to have an issue with his name. He has replaced Bush with ! Although seeming to distinguish himself more from his brother than from his father, he is struggling to find a way to be the one to move us forward.


Of course, the two issues that blindside us each time they occur (and they occur with frequency) are murdering innocents and racism. This time they converge. The massacre is in a church—The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Dylan Roof, 21, sits among members of a Bible study group in the historic black church, and after about an hour, opens fire, killing 9 members, including the pastor, the Rev. Clementa Pichney. It is soon revealed that Roof espouses racist views of so-called white supremacy. He is arrested for this hate crime and charged in the killings.


We have been struggling with these issues of seemingly out of control violence, especially gun violence against innocents—sometimes singular, sometimes massacres, and we have been seeing racism especially as it pertains to law enforcement. These issues of extreme violence, especially with guns, and racism—perhaps more insidious than in previous generations—continue to cause profound disturbances and grief, yet little action beyond social media attention.
We may celebrate the work and wisdom of our fathers today, and acknowledge how much they have given us, but each generation must also forge ahead, and see what isn’t working and face it and change it. The Pope has shown us that we can use our knowledge and wisdom and character (as well as spiritual life) to better our world and restore ecosystems. We can affect our environment. We can change the climate. Literally and figuratively.


We won’t be able to prevent every disaster—natural or human, but we can do more. We can change gun laws, and how we deal with psychological and social ills. We can be conscientious. We can take down flags that are remnants of racist history, that have no place in the 21st century.


We can celebrate our dads by practicing what the great dads teach—that actions (and inactions) have consequences—intended and unintended. We have issues to address. This Father’s Day, embrace your father, and El Papa’s message to us to take conscientious actions to better our world.

Happy Father’s Day!

American Express

The recent story of Rachel Dolezal, the (now former) President of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, being outed as white is fascinating and sad to me. She has been accused of posing as a black woman which, given her heretofore leadership position at the NAACP, makes her quite controversial.Dolezal’s choice to identify as a black woman had journalists investigating her family for some revelations. Her racial heritage was exposed, which called into question cultural experiences and expressions, and what constitutes valid expression of identity.

As this story exploded over the weekend and continues to unfold, many are more disturbed by her being a fraud, than by her choice of identity. Still, many find her identity choice rather curious, and further evidence of white privilege.

I find the issue fascinating as it brings to the forefront the cultural constructs we have for race, while pretending that it’s merely biological and physical. Moreover, it relates to how we have been stuck in tribalism. Even the word tribe conjures up traditional societies, often with biological origins and/or ethnic ties that have been distinguished from other political/socio-economic entities. Modern nation states consider themselves beyond the tribal wars of earlier eras or distant locales, but the tribal instinct seems to be universal and eternal.

If we are to truly evolve, we have to look at our own tribalism. Even when we identify with a particular ethnic group, or regional culture, we may inadvertently clutch in such a way that reinforces our identity by clinging inwardly and asserting that belonging is not a choice. It’s ethnic and historic, and one’s actions are not as significant as one’s biological and historical roots. Membership has it’s privileges: Others are excluded, and possibly ridiculed or disparaged (or worse). Sometimes, the identification with the particular ethnic group or tribe is more important than anything.

Except it isn’t. We’ve seen Balkan wars in Europe; tribal wars in Africa; Sunni and Shia in the Middle East; genocide, ethnic cleansing, segregation, and separate subcultures across modern democratic societies that have become increasingly insular, despite social diversity and acceptance of differences in an ever more diverse and globalized world.

There is still a lot of insider-ness by those who descended from those of outsider status. The MOT (Member of the Tribe) conversations among Jewish people is often nothing more than acknowledging someone’s Jewish heritage, but the very existence of the acronym MOT is troubling to me. I understand the reflex toward tribalism and identifying with a group or sub-culture. Ultimately, though, the inherent exclusion that comes with that identification is what triggers negative reactions regardless of tribe or social or ethnic group.

Americans pride themselves on self-expression. We profess individual freedom and the right to express oneself, but we rarely face our own tribalism, and the ways in which that gets expressed.

Different histories of repression and privilege seem intrinsic to our identifications.Physical features certainly provide the most obvious characteristics to link to a lineage and history and culture. We profess not to judge individuals based on their physical features, but we quickly identify individuals with a group.

Our politics is so tribal. Our institutions claim to be at least legally beyond tribal, but usually exist with sub-cultures and divisions. We may self segregate (or be forced to segregate due to historical policies that ensured certain divisions even if they are no longer legally mandated). Americans are not comfortable looking at the realities of our own tribalism and the ways in which we exclude and degrade—regardless of status. We understand our history of racism, but we are still clinging to group identities that we claim supports our own expression.

So the story of Rachel Dolezal is fascinating and sad to me. Her story raises so many questions about American expression of tribalism and individual choice and circumstance, as well as the convoluted situation of race that we are currently struggling with so profoundly. Perhaps her story, which is unique as it pertains to her specific life and family, is also one that highlights our American tribalism. Our American expression of freedom is always diminished when we retreat to our tribal instincts.

Mom Genes

Mother— defined by a concept and/or conception.

Culturally, we have inherited concepts of Mother, that have often been confused with biology. Women have inherited mothering traits that are largely determined by our cultural DNA (supported by biological DNA). We tend to think that biology is supported by culture, but that is certainly not always the case.

Our cultural DNA still has us favoring Mom as the primary caregiver and nurturer. However, cultural norms are changing for men and women allowing biology to not be destiny, and enabling new configurations of family (and work) life. Still, our cultural DNA insists on a concept of Mother as primary caregiver and nurturer that has endured various sociological tweaks and scientific breakthroughs.

The biological necessities of motherhood are rather short lived, compared to the cultural ones. Of course, that is because children take so darn long to grow up (biologically and culturally). So, Mother, as a concept, may commence with knowledge of conception, but it lingers long after (or beyond) any physical imperatives. Our cultural DNA ensures that Mother is not only a physical event and a psychological necessity, but also a cultural idea.

Not an ideal, but an idea. There have always been adoptive parents and wet nurses, and ways around non-biological mothering. In recent decades, in vitro fertilization, and various hormone treatments, surrogacy, and other heretofore unimaginable methods have expanded the possibilities for motherhood. (and for TLC shows). We have an idea (and an ideal) of Mother, but when it comes to kids, our culture seems to be very non-maternal, and very unsupportive of mothers, especially struggling mothers.

The current concept of Mother dovetails on earlier cultural concepts of the long suffering but ever loving nurturer, nowadays schlepping all day every day. Always frazzled, running late, eating on the go, texting or skyping to stay connected. Dinner is an ideal. Basic nutrition is not so basic; nor is it convenient or affordable. It’s a luxury. Schools are stressors for kids and (mostly) Moms. Mothers are preoccupied with keeping their children occupied–for their safety; for scheduling around work; for building the kids’ resumes. There is little down time and, like the adult world, busyness is equated with productivity and worth. In our culture today, if Mom is busy, she’s doing it right. Mothers’ Day in 2015 means a day with answered texts and probably a call, and an opportunity to not schlep.

As a culture, we consider the nurturers and caregivers the least worthy of respect. Oh, there’s lip service, but not policy or compensation. We outsource caregiving and devalue it– at home, school, hospital, assisted living. The primary cultural concept of Mother as caregiver and nurturer–that which describes our Mom Genes– is in fact devalued in our cultural reality. Like an appendix, we are left with Mothers’ Day.

Perhaps starting with this Mothers’ Day, you can contribute to work/programs/organizations that make a difference to mothers and children. What can you do beyond Mothers’ Day? Consider how well those Mom Genes fit. Maybe it’s time for alterations.  Here’s to a Happy Mothers’ Day (and many more)!


The Gray Matter–The matter of 25 year old Freddy Gray’s death from a severed spine after being in police custody last week, has inspired peaceful protest for police reform, as well as outrageous violence, rioting, looting and arson. Gray was arrested by Baltimore Police 2 weeks ago. What exactly happened after he was taken into police custody is unclear, or at least unanswered to the public. The issue of police brutality has been painted in black and white, and the recent high profile cases of deaths occurring at the hands of police officers has much of the public outraged by excessive violence from the police.

The police departments have suggested that these tragedies have occurred within the confines of the law, and that violent suspects,or suspects near violence, have caused the police reactions. Kill or be killed. Is it just the rogue cop or two (in each precinct)? It’s got to be more than that.

Those who say that they understand the rage underneath the current violence in Baltimore because there are no longer decent jobs due to globalization, must be younger than I (and/or unaware of history). I was born and raised in B’more, and lived there until I was 17. Baltimore always seemed deeply segregated to me. Racially, economically, ethnically…..and there was a terribly impoverished inner city long before globalization. I moved from Baltimore in 1981. It was always an extremely dangerous (and sad) place to me, despite its other charms. There are beautiful areas, historic, cultural, quirky, and also the hideous stuff that provided the stories for “The Wire” and “Homicide”.

It is easy to lump all the recent police brutality incidents together; all these racially charged incidents together; impoverished areas with high crime rates together. There are indeed similarities and patterns.There also seems to be an unwillingness to acknowledge the entrenched tragedies on all sides: thugs who are cops and thugs who are not cops; an entrenched system of economic failure and a culture of violence; lack of vision; lack of hope; lack of change; lack of leadership; lack of decent homes, schools, or jobs; not being more.

The violence following the protests and funeral for Freddy Gray yesterday were disturbing and sad, but sadly, not unfamiliar nor unexpected. We wanted B’more to BE MORE. We want all of our communities to BE MORE for all of us. We want our police to BE MORE for all of us. We want our elected officials to BE MORE for all of us. We want our schools and medical facilities to BE MORE for all of us.

Maybe the takeaway from B’More is just that. Be More than your circumstances. Be More than your fears. Be More than your anger. Be More than your habits. Be More than your desires. Be More than you’ve been, or than you might have been. Be more for all of us.

Bubbling Crude

Today is the 5th anniversary of the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana, affecting the beaches and wetlands from Texas to Florida. The deadly accident on the Deepwater Horizon rig killed eleven workers when it exploded, and gushed oil for nearly 3 months uncontrolled. This environmental disaster has been our nation’s worst to date, affecting lives and livelihoods and wildlife across the region.

The spill’s impacts remain to this day.

Today is also the 16th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting– a devastating event that we thought was an anomaly. In the 16 years since, we’ve seen countless shootings–and several mass shootings–of innocents (and innocence). Those who gush about their right to protect themselves are quick to deny the consequences of gun culture and violence, and any sort of responsibility for ensuring freedom for those who are unlucky enough to be in the path of a disturbed individual (or two).

When madness bubbles over, and we lack sophistication in our abilities to de-escalate, we are left with the crude culture of violence and abuse, limiting lives long after the initial explosion,polluting our environment.

Those tragic anniversaries of devastation linger not only because they were utterly horrific and wake-up calls, but even more tragically, because they continue to devastate,  and remain unresolved and likely to happen again at any moment.

Policies (and certainly politics) related to guns and the environment have not changed significantly; nor has the culture at large changed with regard to environmental or gun regulation. Regulation is still considered by many to be an infringement upon freedom, rather than the standards for health and safety for all. And while our health care system has been fought over, those afflicted by mental illness are still too often not able to obtain necessary treatment. The effects are not only individual. Individual health affects public health. The ways in which we treat our ailments, individually and societally, still seem crude.

I’m not one to ascribe significance to a date that has had terrible tragedies. As we move through history, there will be more events (good and bad) occurring on the same date. Sometimes there is significance, and often it is crude. I seem to recall that the reason April 20th was selected as the date for the massacre at Columbine High School was because it was Hitler’s birthday.

Hate bubbles to the service in each generation, but how we deal with hate and indifference, as well as greed and ignorance, each crude states, can be (and must be) challenged anew.

The 2016 race has officially begun, but I feel like it’s still the bubbling crude. It’s as though we are coated in greed, indifference, hate and violence–stuck in the gulf. We have become a more crude culture, and we’ve seen the deleterious effects when it bubbles to the surface.

We have a lot more cleaning up to do. Maybe, remembering the flammability of that bubbling crude will inspire more alternative energies going forward.

It Is What It Isn’t

It isn’t bigotry; it’s freedom of religion. It isn’t mass murder; it’s Depression. It isn’t diplomacy; it’s appeasement.

It isn’t rape; it’s drunken sex. It isn’t obstruction; it’s Democracy. It isn’t murder; it’s self defense. It isn’t spying; it’s security. It isn’t union busting; it’s the right to work. It isn’t about public health; it’s about private choice.

It seems like we actually spend our lives on what something or someone isn’t. We have a tradition of distinguishing ourselves from others by emphasizing other-ness. Even with our history of civil rights and feminism, expanding rights for all sorts of people once excluded, the current zeitgeist is not one of inclusion and expansion. Critical thinking has largely been distorted into oppositional thinking.

Say it isn’t so!

We’ve shifted from what it is to what it isn’t, as we’ve been bombarded with challenges to our assumptions:

It’s a slam-dunk! (for which we are paying unimagined consequences in the Middle East).

It’s a no brainer!

It’s a sure thing!

It’s a 10!

It’s a boy!

It’s complicated.

The truth is, it is complicated. There are different views and facets and understandings and expressions of much of life. Concepts of gender, of life, of liberty, of religion, and so many constructs that were historically entrenched….are still evolving. It doesn’t feel like evolution when we seem so mired, and it is easy to feel despair.

It is what it is. The sigh of stalemate. We don’t hear “c’est la vie”  any more. We say “it is what it is”, like pop zen masters (or Winnie the Pooh). When we don’t know what else we can do, we can acknowledge that it is what it is. Move on.

We don’t seem to be moving on by what it isn’t. It isn’t right. It isn’t safe. It isn’t about you (or me). It isn’t working.

So many articles are written to sound as though previously held notions were naive, or misguided, or wrong. It’s as though some people think they sound smarter by debunking anything we’ve known prior to now. It seems as though everything you thought was true isn’t. It is what it isn’t. Aside from being able to eat butter and drink coffee now, this new moment of deconstruction requires critical thinking, not just being critical.  Some previously held ideas and constructs that seemed to be true and even natural deserve to be queried. But, not everything must be turned inside out or dismantled.  In fact, there seems to be a dearth of common sense and wisdom, much less decent behavior. And there is certainly a lack of common good.

So how do we move beyond it is what it isn’t? Acknowledge that it is what it is, but doesn’t always have to be this way or simply the mirror opposite (that way). Movement happens between (and/or beyond) those points–where there is space to move. We know there is a better way, isn’t there?

Speech Pathology

While away visiting family and friends, I was not away from the horror of the terror that enveloped Paris. I may have been some 5,600 + miles from Paris, but I could be in the same zone of interest, despite the difference in time zones. I could converse via email with a cousin in Paris, and watch cable news and read analyses on my ipad, and post my sympathies.

Our extraordinary abilities to communicate through fiber optics, cables and signals anywhere, anytime, has transformed civilization in terms of immediate access, but what makes our civilization civilized is our capacity for consideration and compassion. Our advancement in technologies have allowed for an unprecedented flow of communication and movement, which has enabled expressions of hope as well as of hate .

Lately, the pathologies that have distorted and infected our lives with hate have manifested in abuse and violence in carefully orchestrated attacks upon innocents. The hostage takers at the kosher market in Paris spoke fluent French, yet did not speak the same language as their French hostages. The terrorists’ nihilism and dehumanization, was uttered using the same vocalized sounds and words that other French nationals would be familiar with, but there was no connection.

Some have argued that while there is absolutely no justification for violence or abuse, there must be social causes for such disaffection that would enable so many to seek a dangerous and violent path and wage war against Western Civilization. In essence, these people are looking for the pathologies in modern democratic societies that might explain the pathology of terrorism. Freedom, and lately our free speech, whether in the form of a silly comedy movie, or political cartoons, has been threatened with silencing. This is speech pathology!

Often, in cases of medical speech disorders, there is an auditory component. In order to learn language and speak effectively, one must have clear and accurate perception, as well as the structures and strength to create clearly understood speech. Too often, when toddlers are not articulating adequately, there is a hearing deficit. The relationship between being able to hear and speak is inextricable. Even without hearing, there is a capacity for language and communication. Sign language is every bit as expressive, and depends upon perception.

Those who don’t want to hear are seeking to silence the rest of us.This cultural speech pathology has affected those whose perception has them seek to destroy rather than to construct. The speech pathology that we have been witnessing has been so painful because our capacity for communication is so closely intertwined with our humanity and our culture. The pathology of repression and hate, expressed through abuse and violence must always be countered. There is certainly a deficit of hearing and a surfeit of misperception when such pathologies of repression and hate cause those to silence speech and fear freedom.

As I was en route to the airport to head home yesterday, I saw a sign for the “Museum of Tolerance”. I was struck by the idea of exhibiting tolerance. The thought that tolerance as a relic–something housed in a museum– was disturbing. Of course, using historical events as examples of tolerance (and intolerance) are powerful displays of human capacities (and pathologies). Then again, exhibiting tolerance is what we need to do in our daily lives. It’s a sort of speech therapy for the speech and hearing pathologies that have been so threatening.

The Sony Clause and the Gift of Humor

White Christmas. Miracle on 34th Street. Home Alone….The Interview?? Will The Interview forever be associated with Christmas?  What would have been a silly, adolescent sort of flick became an international issue just in time for Christmas. The shutting down of a comedy film, then it’s release in selected theaters as well as streaming online, has become a Christmas gift after all. Regardless of the quality of The Interview as a film, it now stands for freedom and peace on earth. Taking liberties with comedy has become giving liberty, after it felt  like our liberties were being taken. 

Sony had to confront the awful embarrassment and vulnerability of being hacked and threatened by North Korea. I appreciated the responsibility (and embarrassment) that the execs at Sony had to face, although I was rather disappointed with their decision to cancel showing The Interview (even if I had no intention of seeing the movie prior to this). Now, behold a Christmas miracle: The Interview will be shown!

Many have suggested the possibility that this is a brilliant marketing strategy by Sony. More likely, it is a Christmas Miracle for Sony. The reviews for The Interview have not been great, but now EVERYONE wants to see it. It’s practically a patriotic act.

Last week, President Obama expressed his disappointment with Sony’s initial decision to pull The Interview from theaters. He seemed to reflect popular sentiment that a threat by North Korea over a silly movie was truly an insult to everything we stand for, including Hollywood! Ultimately, Sony execs reconsidered.

“We have never given up on releasing The Interview and we’re excited our movie will be in a number of theaters on Christmas Day,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Entertainment. “At the same time, we are continuing our efforts to secure more platforms and more theaters so that this movie reaches the largest possible audience.”

Sony, in an attempt to save some face, or wash some egg off, reminds us with the clause that they are continuing to “secure more platforms”…. The issue of security, whether it’s their own internal e-security, or our cyber security, or our physical well being –especially in a movie theater on Christmas– makes everyone a bit jittery. Adding a clause about security (even in the most generic sense) is the best justifier for anything.

Parents have historically added security clauses after their own temper tantrums. (“I did it for your own good.”) Now we can know that Sony (and perhaps other corporations) can make decisions that are of geopolitical significance as well as corporate economic significance, because of the security clause. Sony was merely protecting us from North Korea.

We appreciate corporate responsibility, and the Sony hacking was revealing in its breadth as well as its rather uninspired (and racist) execs. Aside from the embarrassment that they suffered just from exposed emails, the embarrassment of being vulnerable had to be overcome. The subsequent threats if The Interview were shown, made it easier for Sony to focus on security for everyone’s sake.

But after the initial discomfort over the Sony hacking, Americans didn’t feel justifiably threatened;certainly not by North Korea. If anything, Sony’s initial decision to pull The Interview from theaters felt threatening. Could a corporate decision, about frivolity no less, threaten our freedom more than an enemy government or terrorist?

The Sony Clause gave us the opportunity to see (or not see) The Interview on Christmas or during the holiday season.  The opportunity (more than the movie) may not be a Christmas miracle so much as a gift. Opportunity is a gift, as is humor. We sadly said goodbye to The Colbert Report last week, before Sony shifted to show The Interview. What better gift, especially after the end of The Colbert Report, than the Sony Clause, ensuring more secure platforms, to give liberty to taking liberties!  The incident of The Interview may remind us of the gift of humor this Christmas.  Giggling is always the sound of freedom. Happy Holidays!  Wishing you laughter, joy and peace!

Background Noise

I don’t remember giving THE TALK. I talked way too much for my kids (and my students). Ask my kids (biological or school related)….if I talked constantly. I was always talking about issues, right and wrong, behavior, respect, race, gender, sex, emergencies, dignity, acceptability, responsibility, apologizing, looking, listening, communicating, points of view,circumstances, choices, consequences, health, safety,community.

THE TALK used to mean ‘The Birds and the Bees”. Lately, THE TALK has been referenced with regard to racial profiling. Many parents of older kids or adult children have commented about having to give THE TALK to their non-caucasian children. Recently NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio commented that he had to “train” his son (who is biracial) to be very careful if encountered by a police officer.

I had always assumed that all parents, regardless of race, taught their children, regardless of race or gender, to be low key with the police. Teaching acceptable behaviors toward authority figures as well as from authority figures was part of the job of parenting and educating. 

Likewise, when those in positions of power abuse their circumstances, they need to be discussed and challenged . These are constant conversations. We must keep talking about right and wrong, personal responsibility, safety, and all the other non-sexy stuff that kids hate hearing about, even if they don’t want to talk about them.

The dual outrages of racism and sexual abuse that are far too frequent, must be talked about. How is there still so much confusion? THE TALK, must not only be these conversations, but must be connected to so many other issues.

All my talking and talking may have seemed like background noise to kids, but I am confident that they actually heard and got the messages. Noise essentially disrupts. We need to disrupt the complacency that is not only disempowering, but dangerous. These conversations are the background for creating clarity and justice and hopefully, safety.

Conversations about racial profiling, criminal behavior, abuse of power, sexual behavior, etc., are necessary before kids are 18. Considering different points of view and potential misperceptions are necessary for clarity, and for avoiding unintended consequences. We need to provide some cacophony for our kids, regardless of their backgrounds. They need to know how to be responsible to themselves and to others.

The young woman who is wearing sexy clothes is not asking to be raped, nor does she deserve to be raped. The young woman who is drunk is not asking to be raped, nor does she deserve to be raped. Certainly, the young woman who is passed out, who can’t ask for anything, does not deserve to be raped. We still need to tell our daughters and sons that this happens; that people take advantage in so many circumstances, even when they can get away with criminal behavior. We need to talk to all boys and girls, men and women. These are conversations for everyone, and should be part of everyone’s background.

It is not THE TALK. It is the environment of healthy agitation; of regular reminders and questions, pointers and examples to disrupt assumptions or matters that kids may not think matter to them.  They matter to all of us, and all children and adults need to practice thinking critically and being aware of consequences–even unintended consequences.

We all had some background noise from our parents and teachers. Some of us are noisier than others. If only certain talks are had at certain moments between certain people, we are all missing out, too often to dangerous results. A singular talk needs to become more pervasive, like background noise that we can all hear regularly.