To Collaborate or Not?

Collaborating with others on an endeavor is no easy matter. People have diverse personalities, work styles, and learning styles. You may say, “I prefer to work alone,” or “Collaborating isn’t for me.” Granted, it’s tricky. It’s risky. It’s complicated. It’s intense. It’s also exciting and rewarding. My past collaborative experiences have been in team teaching and theatre production. I’m currently working with an associate on a book.

My first experience was team teaching in a public school. My partners and I wrote units of study combining historical events, literature, music, the arts, and science. We explored the layers of an event such as WWII to give students a deeper understanding of man and the society of the time. The goal was to show how events influence, mirror, and direct society, that people and events don’t exist in a vacuum.

We worked with approximately 60 students in large and small groups. We added media, guest speakers, projects, performance, music, student work, hands on activities. We had flexible space – movable walls, portable screens, and furniture.

 

"Patrol - First Snow by Edward Reep, WWII Combat Artist

“Patrol – First Snow” by Edward Reep, WWII Combat Artist

 

Second was working in theatre as an actor, director, and teacher. Mounting a play is a collaborative effort. From casting, to directing, to rehearsing, to acting, to staging, to tech, to box-office, to publicity. When the production is a musical, add the vocal director  and a large cast plus the orchestra director and orchestra. Mounting a play or musical starts by working in small groups or scenes. These groups are slowly combined to build a complete whole.

As an actor, you rehearse in small and large groups, depending on the play. You use each other’s energy, depend on each other to work for the good of the whole. As a director, you depend on the actors, tech, wardrobe, make-up, and stage crew to do their jobs as rehearsed. When the curtain opens, it’s out of your hands. As a teacher, you coach, guide, and challenge young people to discover.

 

Scene from "Our Town" by Thornton Wilder

Scene from “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder (photo courtesy of internet)

 

Last is a current endeavor working with an associate to develop a book combining poetry and art. The process began with the selection of a basic theme. Once we decided on the theme, we each did a search of our own existing work.

What pieces of poetry were suitable? What pieces of art? We did some matching and tweaking of current pieces. We also created new work. Content grew, organization flowed, and the title arrived. Currently, we are moving toward publication. We work individually, via the internet, and in person.

Two Women at Table by Richard Diebenkom, 1963

Two Women at Table by Richard Diebenkom, 1963

 

When you think of all the potential complications, you may look at the above paragraphs and think, Are you kidding? Deal with all these personalities and variables? With a shake of the head, you may say, “Not for me.”

As with any endeavor, I’ve discovered a few tricks along the way when involved in a collaborative effort:

1. Come prepared.

2. Meet commitments.

3. Respect each other’s work and ideas.

4. Don’t compete with each other.

5. Respect each other’s process. People have different ways of arriving at a mutually desired result.

6. Negotiate when visions differ.

7. Compliment.

8. Listen.

9. Be flexible and stay focused. Discoveries may be made. Plans can change. People are human. Life can get in the way.

10. Recognize that during the creative process, stress and tensions may develop. Remember nos. 3 & 5.

 

There’s great reward gleaned from creating and completing a joint project. Creativity builds on creativity. Ideas flow. There’s discovery. There’s learning. There’s excitement. And, quite frankly, some days you’ll be more brilliant than others. C’est la vie. But when you see a student’s Aha! moment, or mount a play that moves an audience to laughter or tears, or hold that completed book in hand, all has been worth it. And along the way, you’ve built special memories and relationships. Worth the journey.

 

"Cellular Memory"

“Cellular Memory”

Posted in Authors, Books, Creativity, Finding Ideas: The Creative Process, Inspiration, poetry, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ah! Summer in the desert. This too shall pass.

If you’ve never spent summer in the desert, you may have trouble imagining what it’s like, except you know it must be hot. That is what is known as an understatement. In case your curiosity runs a little deeper, let me share a few analogies and thoughts about summering in the desert.

 

Desert Near Palm Springs by Carl Eytel

Desert Near Palm Springs by Carl Eytel

 

Not to waste words, at times it’s like being trapped in a sauna. That’s when local dwellers talk about the heat and the curse of high humidity. At other times, it’s like being locked in a room with the thermostat cranked up high. That’s when local dwellers tell you it’s sure hot but at least it’s a dry heat.

For you who live where snow falls and the winter is long and dark, it’s getting reverse cabin fever. Just as snow piles outside the door, heat settles outside the door, an invisible barrier.

It’s a time when you become disenchanted with your house because you only leave it at night, if at all, like a nocturnal hunter or in the early morning before the heat reaches an endearing 114 degrees or more. When the temperature is at 99 or 100 degrees, it feels like a cold snap.

You become sick of  your clothes. They’re always wrinkled and too warm. No matter how cool (and I don’t mean stylish here) they’re supposed to be, they’re always clinging to your back. Bad hair days and hat hair abound.

 

On a Desert Island by Melanie Florio

On a Desert Island by Melanie Florio

 

You carry a cooler in the car so your groceries don’t ferment or spoil between the market and the house. Your purse weighs on your shoulder because of the two bottles of water in it. The beverage container in your car always contains a bottle of water. By the end of the day, it’s half used and hot.

Your disposition fluctuates between depressed and irritable. You may become annoyed with the other person in the room. You can look in the mirror and get into an argument. The air conditioner, its sound and unnatural breeze, begins to grate on your nerves.

Plants wither, people and animals must be kept hydrated, things acquire a dusty luster.

And, after all of the above, why stay? It’s simple. The desert is a seductress.

Nothing is more beautiful than a desert sky on a summer’s night. In the blackest of darkness stars glisten, making you feel you can reach as far as infinity. Imagine a desert landscape where flowers, delicate and rich in color, bloom, ignoring the starkness of their surroundings.

 

Prickly Pear Cactus by Sherry Kimmel

Prickly Pear Cactus by Sherry Kimmel

 

Nothing is more stately than bighorn sheep seen on a mountainside or tall Mexican fan palms, pencil thin, strong survivors. Imagine white billowing clouds against the bluest of desert skies. The sound of a summer’s rain is like music. A date garden shares its dignity and bounty. Where I live, I marvel that I’m standing on the sandy floor of an ancient lake with its watermark etched on the mountainside.

Gathering with a group after work or breaking out of the house to meet a friend on a summer’s evening is pure delight. Imagine that first cold glass of wine or sip of beer or something stronger if your day has been a real beast.

Nothing is more soothing than the pure, unsullied sounds of silence in the early morning or late evening, a time when you can commune with yourself.

 

Borrego Desert by Edith Purer

Borrego Desert by Edith Purer

 

You step into the rhythm of the summer desert. Up early. Out early. Home. Out in the evening. Dinner. Sleep.

When summer finally breaks into autumn and temperatures slowly cool, nothing is more grand than the weather and the freedom to go out and play. Weather which stepped on your last good nerve in late August now sells real estate to those who want a desert paradise, lures snowbirds from the tundra, and charms the heck out of you, making summer just an old dream.

Of course, you cheat. You might escape to another home in another clime. You might take a trip or three. You might drive up to the local mountains to feel a cooling breeze on your face. You might drive over to the Pacific Ocean, two and a half hours away.

You may wonder what a person does during these long hot summers. Here’s a list in case you find yourself with a desert summer on your hands. (You can add your own in the comments section at the end of the blog. I’m always open for more!)

1. Binge watch TV.

2. Go to the movies. The local movie house becomes a close friend.

3. Clean closets, cupboards.

4. Do house maintenance.

5. Shop online. I like amazon.com, wayfair. com, overstock.com., Chico’s.com.

6. Read – everything from books to online newspapers to medicine bottles.

7. Eat … Drink.

8. Linger on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked-In.

9. Submit your DNA to ancestry.com.

10. Sort and organize photos.

11. Study something new like photography or playing the guitar.

12. Write. In a journal, emails, letters. Work on a novel.

Re: number 12, I completed a short story called “The Long Playing Record” and submitted it to several literary journals. The RavensPerch picked it up. You can read it here. http://www.theravensperch.com.

The-RavensPerch-for-SpreadshirtI also worked on a collection of poetry and art with an associate which involved several meetings at the local coffee house. More to come on that project in future posts.

And there you have it. Summer in the desert. I used to come to the desert only in the winter. To play. I didn’t realize it would talk to me and lure me to stay.

 

trail6841

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Flashbacks – Good and Not So Good

What is it about the urge to revisit our past, either in our thoughts or in person? Why do we do it? What are we hoping to feel, learn, experience, see? A few years ago my husband and I decided to take a trip “home” to where we were born – Rockford, Illinois and Buffalo, New York – both once heavily industrial cities, both trying to rebirth themselves.

 

Rockford, Illinois, courtesy of illinoisreview.typepad.com

Rockford, Illinois, courtesy of illinoisreview.typepad.com

 

One of the first stops in Rockford was at a childhood home of my husband’s which his father had built. We parked in front of a neat, well-tended bungalow. When we went to the door and introduced ourselves, the owner invited us in, gave a home tour, served cider and cookies, and told us all about the changes in the neighborhood.

From there we went to a baseball field where the Rockford Peaches once played fast pitch softball. Remember the film A League of Their Own? For a brief time, we stepped back into that world. My husband had practiced his own baseball skills here.

Then we went to his elementary school. When we arrived at the front door, it took us a minute to register the sign posted on it: Abortion Clinic. M-m-m-m. Focusing on the place and not the abortion debate, it was not quite the school he remembered.

Flashback success score for the feel good factor? 2 – 1.

When we reached Buffalo, I wanted to go to the Grosvenor Research Library, pronounced Grove-ner, built in the late 1800’s.  It was a reference library only, books and resources had to be used on the premises. There were valuable collections, primary sources, and pieces such as Mark Twain’s original manuscript Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. (Twain had been part owner and editor of a Buffalo newspaper called the Buffalo Express from 1869 to 1871.) It was here at the old Grosvenor I’d done a bit of studying during college and a great deal more of meeting a boyfriend.

 

courtesy of grorarebookroom.wordpress.com

Grosvenor Library courtesy of grorarebookroom.wordpress.com

 

Since the parking lot near the library was full, we parked on the street. I ran along the sidewalk, up the steps, eager to go inside. But that wasn’t to be. Yellow tape and a big sign on the double doors announced: This Building Condemned. My body sagged like a deflated balloon.

Several blocks from the library was another spot I wanted to see, a place called The Encore. It was a coffee house and the place students went to discuss the state of the world and life and love. I remembered its dimly lit atmosphere, small tables, coffee, and smoke. Sadly, the coffee house had been replaced with a printing business.

 

Buffalo, New York, courtesy of www.audioconnell.com

Buffalo, New York, courtesy of http://www.audioconnell.com

 

From there we drove to see a house where I spent my teens. It was located in a small town on Buffalo’s outskirts called Getzville, originally a German farming community. It was a dull little place with a long bus ride to school over in the town of Williamsville. But the house I liked. The backyard sloped to Ellicott Creek which meandered its way to the Niagara River and eventually over Niagara Falls.

 

Getzville, New York, courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

Getzville, New York, courtesy of en.wikipedia.org

 

Built on close to an acre, the house, a two-story Craftsman style, had a white picket fence, gazebo, carriage style garage by the road, and a boathouse. (We used to go canoeing along the creek.) The place had once been the summer home of a wealthy Buffalo businessman.

When my husband and I drove up, I saw a front lawn full of untrimmed trees and bushes, the house barely visible. We parked and I got out of the car, camera in hand. The plan was to take several pictures and then we’d go to the front door and introduce ourselves.

As we took a few pictures, I became aware of a woman making her way through the trees toward us. She moved like a battle ship. She spoke like a navy commander.

“Why are you taking pictures of my house?”

“I-I-I-I used to live here,” I stammered. We introduced ourselves.

Still suspicious, she grilled me. We learned she was the person who bought the house from my parents.

“What happened to their baby grand piano?”

“I have it,” I replied.

“I wanted that piano, but your parents wouldn’t sell it to me.”

Good grief, was she still angry from not being able to buy a piano? Happy to finally dump that anger? No, it turns out she thought we were from the county. It seems she and Erie County were in some sort of litigation. Needless to say, we were not invited to do anything. I’d really wanted to walk onto the property, down to the creek, see the old boat house, stand under the weeping willow trees along the water’s edge. The stroll down memory lane that day was like a character’s bad flashback in a short story.

Flashback success score for the feel good factor? 0 – 3.

When I did my intern teaching, I taught at an elementary school in the city of Niagara Falls. Everyday I saw the Falls, heard the roar, felt the rising mist. Everyday the sight had thrilled me. We drove to that city the next day. I discovered the sight still held the magic. At least one place we visited hadn’t changed much at all.

 

 

What did the trip accomplish? There were real surges of excitement at seeing the places that helped shape us as individuals. There were surges of sadness that places had changed, knowing, of course, that time marches on. There were feelings of nostalgia, knowing, despite everything we’d encountered growing up, the drama and the trauma, the ups and downs, that things turned out pretty well. Mainly, there was a sense of understanding and appreciation for the environment, the people, and the society that had given us so much and so many precious memories. Unexpected signs on doors had not changed those.

Posted in memoir, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Fiction Writing – Like Your Own Political Convention?

Fiction writing is like your own political convention. Pardon me? Really? Okay, hang with me on this. First, let’s look at what happens when you’re writing a short story. I attempted to analyze this conundrum with a story I just finished.

The idea for the story had been with me for some time. I had a beginning and an ending which could be dark or happy. I had a feel for the scenes and settings the protagonist had to navigate. There was an antagonist and a champion. The hero had an internal and external conflict. Great. The mystery was the middle of the story, not quite so clear. I jotted down a sentence outline, very minimal.

Conversations in Color by Lorri Kelly

Conversations in Color by Lorri Kelly

My story writing steps seemed to go something like the list below, the steps sometimes happening solo, sometimes simultaneously. (Writing gurus tell us there are two types of writers: planners and pantsers. I seem to be a combination. Does that make me a plantser?)

  1. I wrote the story through to the end, doing some editing as I went along. My main thought was to keep the story moving forward from the opening, to the conflict, to the  denouement. Some sentences arrived pretty, some arrived ugly. Some were deleted immediately. But I kept going.
  2. I gave the story a makeshift title, the hero’s name, in this case Stephen.
  3. With the story written down, I evaluated it to see if the basic storyline and plot hung together, although I knew discoveries would be made in many areas.
  4. Next came fleshing out the bones of the characters. In my mind, they often talked at once and had to be sorted out. Or else they said something I wasn’t expecting. The protagonist had to have depth. The reader had to care about him and his plight. He had to be human with strong traits, with weak traits. His champion couldn’t be too goody-two-shoes. His antagonist had to flex some unpleasant muscles.
  5. The settings had to be woven in, enough description to be visualized and understood, but not too much. Transitions had to help the flow from scene to scene.
  6. Midstream the title changed.
  7. I looked for any significant object or action I had dropped and then discovered I needed later in the story.
  8. Next came checking for the use of the senses, beyond what a character could see. Taste, smell, sounds, and textures were blended in.
  9. The ending could go one of two ways. I struggled here. Did the protagonist deserve to have success or not? Which ending would work better with the tone and mood of the story? I tried it both ways, more than once.
  10. I played with paragraph and sentence structures, varying the length of each. I moved paragraphs around.
  11. Next came reading for wordiness and for flow, adding, deleting, and changing words where things were bumpy. I wanted the writing clean, direct.
  12. Word patrol was next. I checked for the words and, was, as, like. I checked for words I seemed to enjoy overusing. In this story the word was session.
  13. At last came the final edit.
  14. For the final title, I created a word cloud around the central character and selected from there.
  15. A search of literary journal listings in Poets and Writers for places to submit was the last step.

During the story writing process, I allowed the story to sit for a few hours or overnight or for a total day. Whatever the time span, at the next session new ideas flowed, new discoveries were made. I fleshed the story bones. Some days the story felt good, other days I wanted to burn it.

As I wrote, I realized I was in my own political arena, with choices a lot like the recently concluded Republican and Democratic conventions. (I watched them both.) At my convention, the vote for what happened next was my keyboard.

Good Rockin' by Debra Hurd

Good Rockin’ by Debra Hurd

This writing/political convention analogy could go off the deep end with humor or vitriol or prognostications. I’ll just make this two scoops of vanilla. So here goes.

Like my story, the political story had been in process for a period of time. There were a variety of possible titles – The Conventions, The Next President, to name a few. There were characters in conflict against a wider world backdrop and a parade of characters all talking at once: protagonists, antagonists, best buddies, acquaintances, walk-ons, strangers. We had a convention setting rife with architectural detail, moods of light and shadow, high tech running rampant, nooks, crannies, halls, signs, music, and local color. Enough sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds abounded to stimulate the five senses for a lifetime. There were moods from hopeful to dark to funny to serious and a rising action building to a choice between two endings. There was a storyline rife with plot, intrigue, truth, fiction, and subplots trying to appeal to our human dreams and foibles.

As writers, we have to sort out the story, streamline the material, and arrive at a conclusion, all the while revealing man’s universal truths. In the political realm, we do the same, looking at promises, plans, and slogans. All the while making people care about the story. Whew!

Posted in fiction writing, Reading, short story, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The gift of the gathering

We’re all familiar with the interview question, “If you could spend a day with a famous person, living or dead, who would it be?” As I thought about the question, I decided if I did this, I would choose a woman. Then I realized I couldn’t decide on just one famous woman. What if I chose ten? It might be exciting to bring a group together for a conversation or a gathering or a retreat. And how would I choose? Long story short, I used a not so very scientific method. I narrowed the field by choosing women with birthdays in July. What kind of group might that commonality produce?

by Francoise Colander

painting by Francoise Collandre

Then the question became, who would I invite? After researching several lists of women with July birthdays, I chose Malala Yousafzai, Angela Merkel, Emmeline Pankhurst, Rose Kennedy, Amelia Earhart, Estee Lauder, J.K. Rowling, Ann Landers, Diahann Carroll, and Princess Diana. I’m curious as to what drives them today or what drove them during the society of their day. I’m curious as to their joys, their fears, their dreams. What are they like inside? Would I bond with some more than others? Would the group experience a moment of oneness, a lifting of hearts and spirits?

"Tapestry" by R. C. Gorman

“Tapestry” by R. C. Gorman

Why these choices? I chose Malala for her bravery and dedication to education for girls, Angela for achieving leadership of a world power, Emmeline for courage and perseverance in the fight for women’s suffrage, Rose for being the matron of a power family, Amelia for being a forward thinker and pioneer, Estee for her business acumen, J.K. Rowling for her literary success, Ann for her homespun advice, Diahann for the breakthroughs she forged, Diana for her struggle for identity. I think they would bring many roles, many ideas, and many gifts.

The Gift of the Gathering

together we gather
joyous
worried, contemplative
optimistic, stoic, sad
our world view guides our thought
our life experience bonds us
women … searching and strong

mothers they call us
bearers of children
nurturers of body and soul
family guide in crisis and joy

daughters they call us
our mothers’ students
learning daily life
peeking beyond its boundaries

wives they call us
joined in ceremony
partners through life’s
trials and uncertainties

sisters they call us
first playmates
safe havens for secrets
confidants and rivals

girlfriends they call us
coffee meets and
shopping treats
pillars for each other

teachers they call us
bearers of society’s values
its art, music, manners
culture, the written word

grandmothers they call us
keepers of the family story
of man, his traditions
protectors of keepsakes

trailblazers they call us
changing laws
changing institutions
opening doors and breaking ceilings

talents they call us
heroes for growing girls
making our marks
in everyday life and in the world

but mostly they call us women
governors of our own destiny
strong, constant,
ever emerging
finding strength in each other
in times of sadness
finding strength in each other
in times of great happiness
finding strength in ourselves
in spiritual silence

finding ways to go on
always

"The Group" by Itzchak Tarkay

“The Group” by Itzchak Tarkay

Posted in Inspiration, Looking for Inspiration, poetry, Reading, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

What the Attack in Orlando Taught Me

Life has a way of offering lessons. And Orlando, Florida, offered some of the starkest and, in contrast, some of the most beautiful, touching the depths of compassion in all of us. Forty-nine lives were taken on June 12, 2016. And, in domino style, lives of survivors changed. Families changed. A city changed. I wonder, did a nation? And what did I learn? I learned I could weep for victims, for survivors, and for a city. Again.

I learned Pulse Nightclub, the scene of the attack, was more than a club where people gathered to have fun. I had missed the bigger picture of its role in the LGBT community. It was a home, especially, if in your own home, people do not accept you for who you are or don’t know who you are because you haven’t “come out” to them. It was a safe haven from elements of a society who you know from experience aren’t always tolerant or understanding or nonviolent toward you. It was a community where you were free to be yourself, and you supported each other like friends do. It was a viable part of a city’s economic community, providing employment, paying taxes, dealing in commerce. I didn’t realize its depth and breadth. I apologize. Again.

I learned there’s a difference between a legal civilian version Sig Sauer MCX  and a military one. One is semi-automatic, the other fully automatic. However, the results are the same. Again.

I learned of the intensity of an ideology. I’m reminded of the song “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” from the musical South Pacific. Although the song addresses racial intolerance, the words ring true to the teaching of hate in any form. The three lines of lyrics I’ve placed in italics strike at the core of something we know. However, it often seems some have never seen or heard the idea before. Again.

You’ve got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught
From year to year,
It’s got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

I learned compassion comes in many forms and hope stays alive. For Orlando this feeling arrived in unique ways. A 49 foot lei called the Lei of Aloha arrived from Maui. It was composed of “flowers, tea leaves and 49 shells from the island with each victim’s name written on the shells,” made by Polynesians of Maui. Compassion arrived when Boston Marathon bombing survivors visited the hospitalized victims being treated at the Orlando Medical Health Center. It arrived with vigils being held in cities across many countries. It arrived in the form of 49 wooden crosses set up on the campus of the Medical Center.  The crosses were made by Greg Zanis of Aurora, Illinois, who said when interviewed, “Love your neighbor. Don’t judge.” People know this, but have trouble putting it into practice. Again.

I learned communities can unite, not only in Orlando, but across the nation. Again.

I learned that our society has individuals and groups with mental issues and hostile ideologies who can easily buy guns. Again.

I learned Isis inspired warfare is insidious, that attacks on soft targets are cowardly. Again.

I’ve always believed in change and new experiences and new vistas. In exploring ideas, new and old. I’ve always believed change is possible. Carl Alaska, Ph.D., in Psychology Today in an article titled “Change Your Beliefs, Change Your Life,” states:

On the individual level, real change can happen only when you recognize that it’s your responsibility to feel, think and act differently. The same is true for the wider society. The reason it’s so difficult to make meaningful social or political change is because a large bloc of people believe it’s neither possible nor desirable … until we simply decide, “I’m going to initiate a new set of beliefs.”

A country’s laws may begin the process, but individuals have to commit to change, to believe change is possible and/or believe coexistence is possible, whether dealing with religious, social or political values.

Orlando, your lessons are difficult and heartfelt. We have to keep trying. Yet again.

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Cut Off the Label

You know, when I wear a blouse and the label sewn into the collar or neckline bothers me or irritates my skin, I cut the damn label out. And, currently, in this political season, labels being sewn on people and groups are not only irritating my skin, but they are getting under my skin.

I’m tired of the labels and the labelers – the media, the candidates, the exit pollers, the political parties themselves. Let’s get rid of them, the labels that is. Instead of slicing and dicing the voting public and people by color, ethnicity, economic status, level of education, religion, and gender, let’s simply call the American people “voters.” And let’s debate the issues. Let’s offer solutions.

courtesy of geekalicious.co.uk

courtesy of geekalicious.co.uk

There’s constant talk of unification – unifying the nation, unifying “the parties,” – yet we keep using terms that separate us. Watching the coverage of a recent political rally, I saw a peaceful protester in one camp shoved by a not so peaceful protester from the other camp respond with, “But I’m an American, I’m an American.” Yes, she is, we are.

As a nation of immigrants, we all have roots in other countries. We all bear these roots proudly. And we’re curious about our past. Look at the number of people going to a site like Ancestry.com to find their roots and buy a DNA test. While we each enjoy our uniqueness, we are also team players on the American team.

We can’t ignore poverty, crime, gun violence, health care needs, shortfalls in education, economic differences, world crises, terrorism,  or turn a blind eye to segments of our society in need. We can’t view the world through rose tinted Ray-Bans. But why can’t we use, at least in the case of the upcoming election, inclusive terms like residents, constituents, and voters?

Certainly, labels have purpose and use. According to an article in Psychology Today called,Why It’s Dangerous to Label People” by Adam Alter:

Labeling isn’t always a cause for concern, and it’s often very useful. It would be impossible to catalogue the information we process during our lives without the aid of labels like “friendly,” “deceitful,” “tasty,” and “harmful.” But it’s important to recognize that the people we label as “black,” “white,” “rich,” poor,” smart,” and “simple,” seem blacker, whiter, richer, poorer, smarter, and simpler merely because we’ve labeled them so.

Labels have a way of sticking to people. The old adage of a “self-fulfilling prophecy” comes into play causing some to think, I’m labeled that way, I might as well behave that way.

Let’s realize what people labeling does. It affects our actions and beliefs.

“I read in a book once that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’ve never been able to believe it. I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Can we, for the remaining political season and general election process, retire the divisive labels? I’m campaigning for the use of terms like voter, American people, and team. Thanks for “listening.”

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