Facebook — A Modern Day Memoir

MemoirsI was emotionally stirred this morning, as I read seven accounts of writers experiencing the effects of having written their memoirs. The authors bared their soul to the world and received a form of validation in the process. The artful pleasures that illuminated their past were tastefully raw and revealed the human condition in a universal manner that all readers easily understood.

The one comment or point of revelation shared by all seven was that of making choices. In reducing ones life to the page, a selection of entries were decided upon. The chosen stories were filtered for entertainment value and truth. A morsel of revelation was also present. A modern day “ahha” moment, if you will.

I contemplated if I were capable of sharing the intimate parts of my private life publicly. Would I be condemned or praised for sharing my reaction from a conversation with Mrs. Van Husen, a gold medal Olympian from Germany who became a publicist for Adolph Hitler? Or, in our politically correct society would I have the courage to share the internal thoughts I debated in my childhood, while holding a woman’s swimsuit in my hands after talking with a gay neighbor?

Having grown up in the world of theatre and motion pictures, I’ve had more experiences within our liberal world than most would see in a lifetime. The stories would certainly shock the weak minded and amaze the intelligent with insights into the human condition. But, few would expect to learn, that with all the freedoms and generous offers afforded me, I chose to live a conservative life.

It’s all about choice. Not tendencies or leanings, but decisions.

We are free to Facebook what we want others to know about us. Some write too much, giving us no room to contemplate the depths of their soul. Others write little for fear they won’t be accepted. Then there are those who write only the positive, trying to make us think they are perfect, removing themselves from any form of humanity.

Facebook is like memoirs. Every entry is a choice to reveal something about ourselves. We can chose to entertain or bore our readers. We also chose how vulnerable we’re willing to be — Demonstrating our true self or creating a false image to hide behind.

The seven authors were courageous and opened my eyes to the power of revelation through vulnerable sharing. It made me wonder how many followers a person might have on Facebook if they honestly shared their thoughts and feelings. Would their numbers rise incrementally or drop rapidly into the basement? Would the person be praised for their comments this year and be haunted by it twenty years from now?

I have learned that the more tolerance community requires, the more judgmental those around us become. When the Ten Commandments guided our nation, camaraderie was present because we all had fallen short. Listening to each other’s experiences and stories gave us insights into life that helped us fight the good fight. But, today we hesitate to hear those who may disagree with our position or beliefs, for fear we may not be able to defend our perspective with persuasion and dignity.

The risk of revealing our true self is greater today than forty years ago. Yet society needs truth more than ever. Unfortunately there are few willing to risk their future in order to share elements from their dysfunctional life for the sake of humanity. Instead we are entertained by extremists who seek only attention, rather than the common good that benefits us all.

Today, the greater the spectacle the more followers. But our hearts need the truth. We need some imperfect person to remind us of our humanity, while instilling hope into our lives. We need real people to live as an open book. Then we will have the courage to decide what revelation from our life is worth sharing in our modern memoir published on Facebook.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers
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Politically Correct Words Alter Friendships

© apops - Fotolia.comCommunication is critically important in our lives. Every year men attempt to control this powerful tool in order to persuade others to their perspective. For decades journalists told both sides of a story to stop any one person from gaining control over the masses. But with the new millennium came a barrage of politically correct (PC) rules in the name of what is “right” that was accepted blindly by the country.

Freedom of speech, the kind that existed when I was a kid, no longer exists.

If you make a statement today that contrasts the current PC culture, you are bound to receive a barrage of comments “punishing” you for stating something outside of what is “right.” You no longer can voice an opinion that isn’t in agreement with those who are currently in power.

This is most unfortunate, since those who saw life differently than those who were in power birthed our country’s liberation. The cool trends in media also came from those who saw life from a different perspective. In fact, someone who disagreed with our status quo introduced all of our country’s great accomplishments over the past millennium.

This new PC language has since infiltrated our friendships. For decades, a friend was someone you opened your heart to without the fear of rejection. They knew your deepest and darkest secrets, but cast no judgment. You were accepted for who you were and the positive elements of your life were celebrated.

In his book, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words, David Whyte explains friendships in this way, “In the course of the years a close friendship will always reveal the shadow in the other as much as ourselves, to remain friends we must know the other and their difficulties and even their sins and encourage the best in them, not through critique but through addressing the better part of them, the leading creative edge of their incarnation, thus subtly discouraging what makes them smaller, less generous, less of themselves.”

The Bible is another resource that recommends the sharing of heartfelt words over PC language. The author suggests that close friends confess their sins to one another and encourage the withholding of judgment since we have all fallen short. Even more verses are aimed at lifting up our friend’s best attributes for God’s glory.

When I was a young teen, my dad loved to promote the best in us kids. He saw my charismatic stage presence and ability to perform illusions as a skill worthy of promoting. During our massive three week driving vacation, to see everything west of the Mississippi, my dad had us visit old friends who had moved away. Every visit was around a great meal, where dad nonchalantly introduced my skills of illusion for the purpose of entertaining his friends.

During that trip I made saltshakers stand on edge, bread rolls float in the air, wedding rings disappear and reappear, and spoons magically bend without anyone touching it. The entertainment value was high for all and I had a lot of fun. Not once did dad point out my faults or shortcomings.

We had a lot of fun during the days when my family was far from being politically correct. I remember a camping trip when we hit a skunk with the car. We had just comeback from a laundry mat with clean clothes in the trunk. Sharing our misery and the skunk’s scent seemed like a fun and humorous idea, so we drove around all of our friend’s campers before retiring for the night. We woke up the next morning and found a sign posted above our camper that read: “Stinky Hollow.”

Our friends and family were always able to laugh off our failures and promote our best attributes before the days of PC language. Today, few friends and family members are willing to risk comments or activities that might be perceived as politically incorrect, creating an atmosphere of hesitation, less sharing, and little revealing of who we really are.

Facebook tends to encourage the same shallowness. Rarely will someone present anything negative about themselves for fear that their next employer might read about it and decide not to hire them. And the positive posts are so pristine that no one can really live on the pedestals of half-truths that they seem to balance on.

Our freedom to speak our mind and reveal our true self was greatly altered by the introduction of PC language. Few people have the guts to buck the system in order to maintain their own personal freedom, especially once its no longer vogue to believe things that are not accepted by those in power.

These choices force us into thinly veiled friendships that are temporary and judgmental. We couch our words instead of boldly stating what we really believe. And, our careful words blind others from seeing our soul, our true self. The real person that we are is sidelined. People only see a manipulated PC projected version of us.

It’s no wonder that there is a growing desire deep inside each of us that longs to be known. We desire to be accepted in spite of our shortcomings. We want to be loved for who we really are, not who we appear to be on the surface. We are significant, but can only shine in a friendship when we let go of what those in power think is “right” and we live based on who we are and what we know is right.

Let’s be real friends.

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers

The Right to Object

PCPolitical Correctness has made it “wrong” for me to have an opposing opinion, or at least voice it. Worse yet, it has empowered many to become PC police that attack anyone who voices contrary views, ruining companies, careers and friendships. This atmosphere has created an unsafe environment for vocalizing important matters, which has led to the longest period of silence by America’s majority.

The words, “…by the people and for the people…” once referenced what was good for the majority of Americans. The Senate was made up of professionals and the House was made up of commoners – Bringing all viewpoints to congress concerning important issues. Lobbyist groups now tell Congress how to vote on the bills they’ve provided, many of which were paid for by a few interested in controlling people at large.

But who’s to blame for this new form of controlling the masses?

THE JOURNALISTS

Sharyl Attkisson, an Emmy award winning investigative journalist, said the media is at fault. As a keynote speaker at the Right Online 2015, Attkisson shared how the once watch dog media has allowed the current administration to stop the proliferation of hard facts and replaced it with self-made pieces that alter the “truth.”

In her New York Times bestseller, “Stonewalled,” Attkisson describes that when the media sided with the politically correct, it was forced to drop facts from many reports. This led to the control of the media by the current administration that now limits the coverage of certain breaking stories to friendly biased reporters.

During her keynote, Attkisson shared how this led to the demise of trustworthy journalism and the reason she left the business. Today, she travels as a speaker sharing how “journalism is suffering from a crisis of it’s own making.”

THE MEDIA

After a recent interview on behalf of Amnesty International, the PC police attacked moderate Sir Patrick Stewart for his stance concerning Irish bakers who refused to put the words, “Support Gay Marriage,” on a cake. His comment during the interview was not questionable, as it brought balance to the subject.

“In my view, this particular matter was not about discrimination,” said Stewart, “but rather personal freedoms and what constitutes them, including the freedom to object. Both equality and freedom of speech are fundamental rights— and this case underscores how we need to ensure one isn’t compromised in the pursuit of the other.”

Some tried to discredit Stewart as being homophobic, but he has no issues with gay people. In fact, before the accusation, he had asked his openly gay best friend and cast mate, Sir Ian McKellen (X-Men, Lord of the Rings), to officiate his wedding to Sunny Ozell.

THE ENTERTAINERS AND EDUCATORS

Clint Eastwood was attacked publically for being politically incorrect behind the scenes. During the taping of the Spike TV’s Guys Choice Awards, Eastwood introduced “San Andreas” star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson with a side comment about athletes who had transitioned into acting, including “Jim Brown and Caitlyn Somebody…” This political attack was purposeful, as his side joke never made it past the editing room floor, yet was used publically by the PC police to promote its agenda.

Jerry Seinfeld and other comedians have become increasingly nervous about their future with the PC police jumping on anything that might leverage their agenda. Comedy has always risen from our pain or circumstances, but in recent years universities push so much political correctness that it stops comedians like Chris Rock and The Cable Guy from performing at those venues.

THE REAL ANSWER

It’s the people who decide if we are to show respect to those with opposing opinions or not. Our government officials have to conform to the needs of the majority when they are not silent. Our journalists must provide the facts and not bias when the majority demand it. And, for freedom of speech and humor to exist, we must allow our comedians to experiment without being judged.

The one really at fault are those who jump on the bandwagon of joining the PC police instead of standing for freedom of speech. As a communicator, I hope more people start to listen to all the arguments and not hinder any from being made. After all, had political correctness been instituted back in the 50s and 60s, we would never have learned that smoking was bad for our health.

Copyright © 2015 by CJ Powers