You’ve probably read and heard umpteen remembrances of Dr. Oliver Sacks by now, and it’s only a day after his passing. The groundswell of mourning, even among those of us who never saw him in person, is a testament to his gifts. He was not only a scientist and physician of neurology, but passionate and compassionate, eager and humble, healer and patient, patient and restless, a seeker of knowledge and a friend to humanity. He embodied what so many of us wish we could.

Toward the end of his fascinating life, he shared many of his own personal experiences. He expressed his scientific explorations as well as human sensations, and as we got to know his work (about his patients), he began to express his own unusualness. Despite his expertise and stature, his later writings made him all the more human, and relatable. He reminded us that we may not even know that people may experience the world differently in some capacities than we do.

His fascination with so many facets of the natural world, particularly of the brain, was expressed with such enthusiasm and joy that it was contagious. We mourn the loss of such joy and knowledge. The world needs more knowledge and joy, not less.

It was with his sense of joy and pursuit of knowledge that he came to explore neurological conditions, and with his magnificent gift for prose, to express his clinical experiences (and later, his personal experiences) to a lay audience, while educating our hearts and minds. It was not that the extraordinary would seem ordinary, but that we could be introduced to experiences and conditions seemingly far from our own, and feel the humanity and compassion for an other. The bizarre was no longer hidden, but “awakened” for us.

We may be blessed enough to not have such neurological disorders in our lives, or we may recognize that disorders may arise in some other fashion in our lives. We may be caregivers or incapacitated ourselves at some other time. The introduction to that which is so different from our experience thus far, has far reaching implications.

We have seen social changes that were unthinkable two generations ago. What is considered bizarre, changes. How we include and care for those who struggle to function says much about us. Many struggle much more than we may realize. The “bizarre” may be hidden—at least temporarily. Or, the bizarre may burst forth and we must learn to pursue knowledge over fear.

Easier said than done, of course, but Dr. Sacks, gently and brilliantly had us become acquainted with not only neurological disorders and personal distresses, but took us into the world beyond our own. Ultimately, it’s all our world. Nature has so many facets to explore and from which to learn that may, in turn, increase our ability to impact other conditions. The more knowledge we can acquire about the natural world and make connections, the more we can affect positive change.

Dr Oliver Sacks seemed as unique as his case studies, but for many different reasons. Ultimately though, even his case studies and his personal seemingly unconventional experiences, were oh-so- human. Oliver! Consider yourself one of us!

And that’s the precious part. He was a gifted doctor and writer and educator, who relentlessly pursued knowledge and shared his joy and knowledge. He was generous of spirit and through his sharing, connected not just ideas, but souls. I may only wish I had his prodigious gifts of heart and mind—those that seem to separate the extraordinary from the ordinary, but despite those differences, like the differences he wrote about, we’re all facets of nature. Truly extraordinary.

Breaking the Sound Barrier

Is this the Second Summer of Love? Almost two weeks ago, a few days before the summer solstice, we were once again startled by a sickening massacre of innocents—this time in a church. Even more startling, perhaps, was the forgiveness bestowed upon the gunman a day later by the families of the slain victims. Many of us didn’t realize we had barriers to forgiveness until hearing of their incredible mercy. It was extraordinary!

That same day, Marc Maron interviewed President Obama on Maron’s WTF podcast. This was a first for any President. Those who listened to it on Monday June 22nd when it was released, were treated to an historic conversation not only because it was unprecedented (unintended pun), but because it was amazing!

The President and Maron had an easy conversation about difficult things, especially the excruciating massacre in Charleston, and the seemingly unbreakable hold that racism has on our culture. Obama spoke thoughtfully without seeming to have to think. We could hear what sounded like a natural conversation—unscripted, although the ideas seem to have been developed.

News outlets and the rest of media, social and anti-social, took a sound bite from the conversation and attempted to create an issue over the scariest sound heard in America—the N-word. Of course when I listened to the podcast, I listened in its entirety, and the barrier that I heard broken was not that the N-word was uttered, or that it was said in a complete sentence without emphasis, or that it was vocalized by the President. The barrier that was broken, was that the President said what needed to be said in a way that could be heard (if one were actually listening). Being polite about not using the N-word is not the same as the end of racism in America. BOOM!

That same day, Nikki Haley, Conservative Republican Governor of South Carolina, made a moving speech calling for the removal of the Confederate Flag from government property. She was emotional and compassionate and her voice has led others to follow in removing the Confederate Flag from government properties. She acknowledged that the flag has been regarded as a symbol of hate and oppression. Music to our ears!

Later in the week, enormous barriers were broken as The Supreme Court ruled to uphold Obamacare, allowing millions more access to health insurance. More work needs to be done to ensure and insure affordable health care, but the Affordable Care Act was solidified as a start. And just as the sighs of relief were exhaled, the Supreme Court legalized Same Sex Marriage in all 50 states. Love is winning!

While these Supreme Court decisions are historic, something else happened on Friday, the same day Same-Sex Marriage became the law of the land, and it was momentous. President Obama gave the eulogy for the reverend Clementa Pinckney who was gunned down the previous week at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. After what was arguably one of Obama’s greatest speeches (which is saying quite a lot), he startled the mourners there as well as the rest of us. He broke into song. He did not perform as a troubadour or soloist, but he did start solo. Some were audibly startled and one could hear some nervous laughter at first . His voice broke a barrier. The President sang Amazing Grace.

There is something about singing that breaks barriers. We are unguarded when we sing; we just use what we have. I think that’s what was initially startling when the President began to sing. It was outside of the categories that we are used to. But he was quickly joined in song.

The rapid succession of historic moments that seemed to break barriers over the last couple of weeks felt remarkable. Undoubtedly, many will continue to feel threatened by such changes and will continue to sound off. But calling discrimination, freedom won’t work. Attempting to disguise the sounds and symbols of hate won’t work. They have been barriers to living fully in America. We have always become better when we have broken barriers to participation. In what has felt like an unheard of couple of weeks, we are in an historic moment, that sounds pretty great.

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?

Fine Lines, Wrinkles and Age Spots

The wrinkles in Brian Williams’ story (stories?) have caused his six month suspension, and plenty of outrage on social media. Some on the left have said that his embellishments are less serious than the embellishments and lies that are regularly put forth by politicians and other news outlets.(I say, that’s no excuse.)  Of course, the story points to the iconic role of the American news anchor(man) on network broadcast news–a model that has weathered feminism (sort of), but not the information age.

Perhaps it’s a fine line between an embellishment and a lie, but it seems clear now, that if Williams was not even in the same helicopter that was under fire, his story constitutes a lie. The wrinkle for Williams is that his job is based on trust. The public depends on accurate reporting and truth. Mistakes happen, but knowingly reporting falsehoods is not a mistake. It’s just wrong.

The anchor is the person or thing that provides stability and confidence, particularly during uncertain situations. Jon Stewart, anchor of The Daily Show, has always maintained that he is a comedian/satirist (and has since added writer/director to his resume), but over the last 17 years, has become a real anchor. His faux news show has been more truthful, and taken more seriously, than many non-comedic news programs. His recent announcement that he will leave The Daily Show will undoubtedly be a wrinkle for Comedy Central, but the program, or whatever will replace it, will probably have an audience. He built trust and kept us informed and giggling through extremely uncertain, and often painful, times.

What is most revealing in these two stories that played out this week, practically back to back, is our profound need for an anchor. We may not necessarily need the 6:30 or 7:00 Nightly News, as our lives have changed so dramatically from the days when that was the news time. There have been many wrinkles for broadcast news that have rendered the past and current broadcasts beneath their tasks. The fine lines between news and entertainment continue to be injected with fillers. The comedians do a much finer job of treating wrinkles in the news stories. They may be entertaining first, but the intelligence and integrity are apparent, and engage us completely. It’s what the news programs used to do–anchor us.

Spotting the need for an anchor is one that we might not have thought about in previous  generations. Each age of television has had its anchors and standard bearers in news and entertainment. The broadcast news and late night talk shows have endured with their basic formatting for a few generations now. The Daily Show combined those formats and blended the faux news show with a talk show type interview (think Jack Parr) that has been must see tv or wherever for young and young at heart for about a generation and a half in tv years. It remains to be seen if the Daily Show will continue beyond Stewart, but his leaving has left so very many feeling adrift.

The age of The Daily Show has been one fraught with formerly unimaginable craziness and extreme everything–political,environmental, social, religious climate change. This, of course, has intersected with the internet age and the miracles of googling, wikipedia, youtube–all standard and in the palm of one’s hand–rendering network television news quaint, at best. At worst, well…..that’s what we have now.

What I noticed with the surprise and sadness this week, and the profound need for an anchor, is that despite the sense that many have that we are in a steady decline in practically every domain, we have not lost our sense of excellence. We want mensches–those who can discern the fine lines between embellishment and lying, and then be truthful. We can spot truthiness (thank you Stephen Colbert), and in this day and age, we need all the intelligence, rich vocabulary, critical thinking, challenging questions, compassion, integrity  and generosity that has been on display on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. These attributes are what anchor us.

So, while there may be some wrinkles to be smoothed out, we know that what’s true for the ages will keep us anchored. And laugh lines are beautiful.


I can’t wait until Sunday night. I have been eagerly anticipating being swept away into another world — looking forward to the past.

Sunday night is the premier of Better Call Saul, the prequel to Breaking Bad. Aside from looking forward to revisiting rich (and hilarious) characters from one of the truly great tv shows, and getting to watch the art that is the combination of great writing, directing and acting, there’s something compelling about a back story.

We love prequels–the stories written after, but that take place before, the stories we already know. Think: Godfather II, Wicked, Gotham, to name a few very successful prequels. These are the backstories of characters whom we originally met as adults in other stories, with qualities that made them distinctive. The prequels give us the stories of circumstances and relationships that gave rise to those distinctive qualities and formed those characters.

When watching or reading a prequel we already know what will happen years later. Many prequels, however, are less satisfying than the works that preceded them. It is a formidable task to re-create all the elements that worked so perfectly in preceding forms. It can also be confusing to talk about later works that are supposed to predate earlier ones, because in real life, we presume that the present includes all the knowledge and wisdom and information possible to make our circumstances the best possible.

In real life, we’ve seen a blowback to those who seem to live in a prequel to 2015. The 2015 outbreak of measles proves that vaccinations have been one of the crowning achievements of science of the 20th century. The measles vaccine has been available, albeit in different forms, for 50 years. Measles and other illnesses that once regularly killed, have been mostly eradicated with the use of vaccinations. But vaccinations only work if everyone uses them. In the 21st century, some have chosen to live a prequel–a recreated fiction that does not include the actual (scientific) knowledge that exists to date, but without considering consequences to others (who live in the present). The current outbreak suggests that those who have not vaccinated their children have actually contributed to this current outbreak of measles.

I understand the fears and questions relating to vaccines and other medical interventions. We have learned from medical mistakes (e.g. thalidomide, among others) and the concerns that we over use antibiotics and other medications and interventions are valid ones. That doesn’t diminish the essential value of antibiotics and vaccinations. They are life saving, and in the 21st century, their use and antiviral use, as well as other immunological interventions will evolve to be more individualized and precise so that they can be more effective.

When we read and watch prequels, we are always aware of what will ultimately happen. We have the most up to date knowledge and wisdom that the characters in the prequel don’t have. I am looking forward to watching the prequel of the character who looked like the ultimate ambulance chaser with his Better Call Saul ads on Breaking Bad. In real life, I am looking forward to the 21st century sequels to 20th century medical breakthroughs, and encourage those who seem to prefer the prequel, (those who have rejected vaccines), to consider their choices in the context of public health and safety. We already know the consequences.

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.

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.