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Deer In Headlines: The elusive art of small talk

In Health, Local News, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on June 5, 2017 at 9:03 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer
I recently read a 2016 article in the New Yorker, in which journalist Karan Mahajan wrote about his personal experience as an immigrant trying to comprehend and learn to use American small talk. After a decade in the States, Mahajan, originally from Delhi, finally mastered the art of small talk and discussed its role in American society.

The complexity and difficulty of small talk aren’t lost in the fictional world as well. I recall an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which Lt. Commander Data, the android character on the science fiction show, was fascinated by the concept of small talk and spent a good part of the program trying to mimic the innate skills of another officer.

Although I grew up in the American heartland, I can completely relate to Mahajan and Data’s struggle to comprehend and apply this most useless but unmistakably necessary communication skill. But what is small talk and why do we do it?

According to UrbanDictionary.com, “small talk” is defined as, “Useless and unnecessary conversation attempted to fill the silence in an awkward situation. Usually is initiated by comments regarding the current weather, weather pattern of the past/future few days or major weather disturbances in the recent past.”

In day-to-day conversation, can be characterized in a casual exchange at a checkout counter when someone says, “how’s your day,” or waiting in a long queue for coffee, “they’re really busy today, huh?” I’ve also noticed that the person who initiates the attempted conversation is generally the one who feels most uncomfortable in the situation. Oddly, when I feel that way I tend to get quieter, not more talkative, probably a symptom of my lack of assimilation to this concept.

In his article, Mahajan suggests that American society is one where we all want to believe we like each other and that conversation should be easy among strangers. However, we only want to communicate to the line of privacy that should never be crossed leaving a sort of empty space where the meaningful conversation should be if we allowed it. Small talk is how we fill that void.

Politicians use small talk to placate voters on the campaign trail or at public events. Hairdressers and barbers are master small talkers, as often are restaurant servers, cashiers and others in the retail industry. Don’t misunderstand, that isn’t an insult by any means, quite the opposite.

Phone small talk is another thing at which I’ve never been very good. I really don’t like the phone at all. I don’t understand getting on the phone and talking and talking, largely about nothing. And I see people doing this all of the time. I just don’t get it. If I’m taking the time to call you, it’s important and needs some level of substantial discussion. Otherwise, text me. I can answer when I have the chance and it doesn’t interrupt my day.

I consider myself to have someone of an above average grasp of the English language and still this talent eludes me. It’s a valuable skill in many respects and sometimes people think it’s a “city” thing.

In my opinion, however, the “gift of gab,” as it is sometimes called, is far more common in rural communities than in more urban settings. You may have heard it said of someone that he or she, “never met a stranger.” What that means is that the individual in question has an easy time saying hello and striking up a conversation with pretty much anyone.

Many people in my family tend to be that way. When I was growing up I’d watch my dad go back and forth with a restaurant server or gas station attendant for what seemed to me as hours. I’d sit and wait while he discussed the traffic or the gas mileage of his farm truck or whatever. I never understood it.

I am just not the open communicator that one might need to be in those situations. I’m never rude, but I can be brusque. I just want to get in and get out. That said, there are people in or near my hometown that I know who work in various places and I’ll say hello or talk to them about something more meaningful. I enjoy those interactions, but I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to do so for my sake.

To me small talk is uniquely American and it has an important, albeit innocuous place in our society. I do wish, though, that when we could find more substantial common ground upon which to begin a dialogue with one another. Maybe someday.

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More at deerinheadlines.com

 

Resisting the scientific ignorance of the GOP

In Education, history, National News, News Media, Opinion, Politics, Technology, Uncategorized on May 15, 2017 at 6:44 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

I am the product of science. Well, the fact is, we are each a product of biological and chemical chain reactions that create human life. But, in my case, I was far more dependent on science than most people. I was born with myriad congenital defects that, without scientific research, would have otherwise left me, at best, hopelessly disabled, and at worst a lifespan of maybe 2 years.

While I do credit the faith of my doctor and family for their determination to see me through it all, I am far more grateful to the men and women who did the research and applied the science to my situation that saved my life and gave me a hopeful and healthy future.

Science is responsible for most things that we take for granted in modern, 21st Century first-world life. From penicillin and the electric light to computers and advanced cancer treatment, without science fact, our lives would be incomprehensibly different.

It’s for this reason that I cannot seem to grasp why so many Americans today turn a deaf ear to the scientific facts placed before them. Various representatives of the current presidential administration are continually making statements ignorant to known scientific facts, followed blindly by their supporters. None of this makes any sense.

So why do some people today seem to ignore scientific fact? That’s a very good question and one worth exploring. I have a hard time believing that people are just, well, stupid. It’s far more likely that a certain ignorance of scientific fact is a personal choice, based, I believe, on the following.

Trump and other Republican ignorance of science remind us of a child who doesn’t want to hear something a parent is telling them so he covers his ears.

First, I think that the average person just doesn’t understand most of the scientific information to which they are exposed. I’m not suggesting that people are stupid, but that most people simply aren’t trained or educated to understand the scientific jargon.

I wouldn’t expect the average person to have any clear understanding of factual climate change data. And once that data is encapsulated and truncated, even “translated” for use in a news broadcast, some of the information could be lost or distorted in some way.
Scientific data also lends itself to some degree of interpretation by the observer. If someone hasn’t the background to interpret the information being shown to them, it’s unlikely that an educated conclusion will result.

Next, comes politics, and a concept I find completely insane. What I can’t understand here is the staggering number of intelligent, educated people who follow the party line so blindly as to completely ignore facts in favor of rhetoric.

Just going along with what party leaders are doing, whether right or wrong, is certainly one of the main causes most of the trouble in America’s political system. Where are the intelligent, educated, GOP members on the inside who could stand up for scientific fact and be the voice of reason in an otherwise incomprehensibly ignorant administration?

It’s as if they were all whisked off to some bunker to be kept quiet until properly brainwashed to be the robotic mouthpieces of the administration defending whatever destructive policy is next proposed.

Finally, and again this is my own observation of people rather than an official survey, it’s my opinion that science too often conflicts with religious beliefs. Many people choose to what I have come to think of as pick and choose what science they decide to believe in.
Try to keep in mind that all science is the search for fact, not truth. Truth should be left to religious studies and philosophy. Scientific fact is not something you get to “believe in.” It either is or it is not, there’s no middle.

Why would we, the most powerful, supposedly the most technologically and socially advanced country on the planet, completely ignore an area of study that has saved the lives of millions of people throughout history in favor of political ideology?

Makes one wonder, if the White House and Congress can ignore scientific fact on things like climate change and health care, then what other important facts are they ignoring in something like national security?
Yes, the interpretation of scientific data can be inaccurate sometimes because fallible humans are involved. But flat-out ignorance of that information is inconceivable.

 

Gery Deer is an independent columnist and business writer based in Greene Co, Ohio. More at deerinheadlines.com

 

 

The Value of All

In Children and Family, Local News, Opinion, psychology, Uncategorized on May 12, 2017 at 8:56 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGOEach one of us, at some point in our lives, experiences a time when we’re uncertain of our own value; not just to others but to ourselves. When most people think of the word “value,” a monetary concept probably comes to mind. How much do you make from your job? What is your financial worth? How much real estate do you own? That’s not the kind of value I’m referring to here, although money does play a role in the concept, as you’ll see shortly.

I’m mostly referring to the value we place in what we value as individuals, or “self-value.” More behavioral than emotional, self-value is different than self-esteem, which is more about how we feel about ourselves when compared to other people. Self-value has more to do with how we behave toward the things we value, including people.

If you’re going to “value” something, you have to do more than just think of it as important. There must be an inherent appreciation of its characteristics and qualities, good and bad, while investing the time to nurture and maintain your association with it.

In order to truly value something material, you must accept everything about the object and appreciate all of its inherent characteristics. If, for example, you value muscle cars, you probably enjoy far more about any one vehicle than its financial worth. Your value in the vehicle rests in a full appreciation of the machine’s components, handling, paint finishes, and so on. Much in the way someone might appreciate a piece of fine art, or chef’s signature creation.

The same is true for the people in our lives as well. When we place a higher value in others, we do the same for ourselves. And, conversely, when you devalue others, your own value suffers as well. Here is an example.

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Deer In Headlines author, Gery L. Deer

Suppose someone who you employ is not performing as you expected. First, you need to evaluate if the expectations were clearly laid out at the beginning. Does he or she know what you expect from them as well as they knowing what to expect from you? If it was not clearly defined at the beginning, a misinterpreted expectation can cause you to devalue each other.

Additionally, when we place and express value in those around us, our own self-value increases. Plus, this behavior is generally reciprocated in many ways. When people realize their valued with you, they are more cooperative, more open to change that might originate from you, and allows you to more fluently communicate with those who might have been resistant otherwise.

So how do you get there? How do you go from being less self-focused, to more able to value the things and people around you? Personally, I think most of it can happen by just lifting your eyes from the floor and be more aware.

We have a terrible tendency today to live our lives in a bit of a vacuum. Part of that is caused by technology but also our society. Modern Americans are isolationists and self-segregators. We tend to gravitate to what’s easier, what’s mostly like us and what we’re used to, rather than put in the time to appreciate differences.

Literally and figuratively, we walk around with our heads down and faces in a screen, so we miss a great deal of what’s going on around us. How are you supposed to value what you never even see? There is no value on the Facebook post you just shared or in that two-hundred-thousandth cat video you watched on Instagram today.

For our lives to have value, beyond money, we must embrace differences, explore new opportunities, and be open to fresh experiences. It’s hard, I won’t minimize that, but it can be done. You have to want it and commit to it and sacrifice for it.

To value anything outside yourself, and in turn, giving your own life more meaning, you have to commit to a higher standard of physical, emotional and professional well-being. Nothing of value is easy. But you have to start by honoring your own values, keep your eyes open and be wary of those people and things that cause you to devalue yourself, and, above all, be compassionate.

Watch the TV version of this content on WDTN-TV2’s Living Dayton

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communication, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com

Assault in the unfriendly skies

In Business, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, Uncategorized, World News on April 22, 2017 at 11:04 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

In recent weeks, United Airlines has been battling a public relations nightmare, to put it mildly. The video of 69-year-old David Dao being savagely dragged from the airliner by police has been viewed now millions of times and more details are emerging daily about the incident.

To bring you up to speed, Dao, a Vietnamese-born medical doctor who lives in Kentucky, was one of four people randomly selected to be removed from the overbooked flight just before take off from O’Hare International Airport on Sunday, April 9. When he refused to surrender his seat, Chicago Aviation police officers were recorded on cell phone video beating and dragging the man from the plane.

The video shows Dao insisting, quite politely and calmly under the circumstances, that he paid for his seat and he needed to be back at work the next morning and could not miss his flight. He resisted but put up no physical fight. All of his pleas fell on deaf ears and the Gestapo-like behavior of the police was clearly a grandstanding effort to make an example of him for the other passengers.

As you might expect, Dao’s attorney, Thomas Demetrio, has filed a civil suit against United Airlines citing excessive violence. “If you’re going to eject a passenger, under no circumstances can it be done with unreasonable force or violence,” Demetrio said during a press conference. “That’s the law.” And United’s troubles don’t end with this one incident.

Over the Easter holiday weekend, a couple headed to their wedding in Costa Rica was kicked off of a United flight from Houston. According to reports, Michael Hohl and Amber Maxwell had boarded the plane and preparing to take their seats but someone was sitting in one of their seats and fast asleep.

The couple said instead of waking the man, they took up empty seats a few rows ahead. But after being refused an upgrade for the change they were asked to return to the original row, which they say they did without argument. Once there, a US marshal came aboard and removed them from their flight.

Both of these incidents are, we hope, isolated and certainly atypical of the treatment of passengers by air carriers. However, there seems to be a growing trend in the air travel industry to treat paying customers more like baggage than human beings.

For quite some time after the terrorist attacks of 9-11, security is still on the minds of most travelers. But this kind of treatment is about business and money, not safety. It is the responsibility of the carrier to ensure that tickets are only sold to available seats on any flight.

And if someone needs to be bumped, chosen at random so they say, they should take into account the circumstances. By no means should force ever be used where unwarranted, as with the case of Dao. It’s being suggested that Dao’s beating was a horrific act of discrimination, and, given the ease with which the Houston couple was removed, there may be evidence to support that claim.

United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz, has made several public apologies repeating that no one should be treated the way Dao had been. But that is no consolation to the victim, nor does it do much to soften United’s reputation as an “unfriendly” business. Unfortunately, the airlines are becoming more and more powerful and there is no end in sight.

As a businessperson, I have flown extensively in my professional life, less so for personal reasons. But given the incredible cost of even a short flight, passengers on any flight should be treated the way anyone else should be, with understanding, humanity, and dignity.

The airlines have a strangle hold on customers since they were deregulated in 1978. The Airline Deregulation Act removed any governmental oversight over fares, routes or even market entry of new airlines.

It may have introduced a freer market for smaller air carriers, but removed any level of consumer protection. The government should be investigating United, or any other carrier company, with such egregious acts of assault or discriminatory treatment of passengers. I guess campaign donations speak louder than justice.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com

What is “fun” to you?

In Entertainment, Health, Local News, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on April 11, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

To me, the concept of “fun” meant to waste time in frivolous pursuits. I mean, I’ve probably had fun doing things but completely oblivious as to how to recognize it. As it turns out, a little fun can do wonders for the psyche, as most of you probably already know.

There are those of us out here who weren’t raised in a “fun” environment. There weren’t party or card game nights, elaborate social functions or trips to fancy resorts to jet ski or go horseback riding. The most “social” thing my family ever did were reunions and holiday parties, all motivated by my mother’s need for social interaction which my father thoroughly loathed.

Sadly, I’m more like dad than mom in that regard. I’ve never been much of a social butterfly, keeping my circle of friends tight and close and never really reaching outside of that for fun. I’ve learned over the years, however, that it’s not a good idea to isolate yourself so much.

Having fun through socialization doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, it should be thoroughly enjoyable or else it shouldn’t happen at all. For me, though, it has always been hard. I’m sure some of that comes from a working family, there simply wasn’t time for leisure fun when survival was so prominent.

Being the kind of person who doesn’t perceive “fun” the way others do, I can’t always relate to the way others experience it. For example, I don’t get the idea of putting your life in danger or even taking the slightest risk of injury or harm for the sake of having a good time.

I’m not a drinker, and I will never ever be a skydiver, bungee jumper, or anything else that requires signing a liability waiver because you could die from doing it. I’ve had enough risk in my life that I didn’t ask for without intentionally piling on a bunch of other hazards. So, I’m left being “no fun” for some people to be around because I won’t take idiotic risks.

The idea of people going to a bar and getting drunk for “fun” is completely foreign to me as well. I can’t wrap my head around any of that. It just seems, at least when it’s in excess, like immature, sad behavior. That might seem a little judgmental, but so be it, I’m judged often enough by the rest of the world for not drinking at all, so to each his or her own.

One thing I have learned is that in order to have fun, you have to let your guard down a bit and be open to experiencing the moment as it’s happening. That’s not easy for some people, myself included. I think that’s why alcohol is such a huge part of the social fun because some people need to knock down those inhibitions first, quiet (depress) the nerves, and take the edge off that normally keeps their behavior leveler.

I have always had a tough time attaching the word “fun” to anything I’m doing. Yes, there are activities and events I enjoy, but to label them as fun, by definition, would be hard for me. If I were to do something that added an element of danger just for the “rush” of it, I would be so stressed out by the risk, even if it’s irrational, I just wouldn’t get any fun out of it anyway.

No matter what your sensibilities, you have to choose what “fun” is to you. Most of what I consider to be fun is more about who I’m with and where I am than what I’m doing. I doubt that’s a strange concept, but trying to understand when and how I’m having fun certainly is to me.

What is “fun” to you? How do you relax or spend your down time? I think how we spend our down time and what we choose for fun says a lot about us as individuals and as a society. In a world where we spend so much of our waking hours trying to survive and provide for ourselves and our families, it’s important to take the time to re-energize the body and the spirit.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Catch the Deer In Headlines Podcast online at MyGreeneRadio.com! More at gerydeer.com

 

Don’t go changin’ to try to please me.

In Health, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on April 3, 2017 at 6:01 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

People are who they are, regardless of how we may paint them in our minds or want them to be otherwise. Some people are practical, pragmatic and detached, while others are driven by their emotions. You may know people who are defined by their occupation while others seem like any job will do, so long as it pays the bills. And then there are political, religious and sociological beliefs, about which we won’t detail in this short work.

What this all adds up to is that people are different and we can’t change each other and shouldn’t try. We have to accept our differences, or we should anyway, out of respect for the other person.

Even when someone exhibits dangerous, reckless or destructive behavior, it’s not our place to interfere. Of course we can always try to guide someone who’s harming his or herself or others to seek help, but we can’t make them, nor can we do anything to alter their personality or way of thinking. Probably one of the most common examples of people trying to change each other’s behavior or personality is in romantic relationships.

Even when they don’t intend to do so men and women try to change each other when they enter into romantic relationships. When we meet someone, an image of that person forms as we learn about them. Over time, the image alters as we get better acquainted and sometimes the person seems different to us than we initially thought. This is when a relationship can take a hard turn, for better or worse.

Probably the worst thing we can do is to try to change someone’s personality, outlook, basic behavior, or whatever it is that makes them who they are as an individual. Like it or not, we are who we are, and no outside forces can alter those characteristics.

The only way someone can change is by doing so on their own. Yes, there can be external influences that may initiate or motivate some kind of transformation, but long term adjustments must come from within.
So what kinds of changes are we talking about here? Suppose someone does not respond to you the way you expect and that upsets you. Here’s an example.

John brings home flowers, candy and a nice gift for his wife Marsha’s birthday. He arrives at home to be greeted at the door by Marsha who is all dressed up for a formal evening out. John has either clearly forgotten about something or Marsha has her schedule mixed up.

If we ignore, for the moment, the obvious communication problem between these two – a much longer topic for another time – how would you expect each person to respond? Oddly, we expect someone to react to things exactly the same way that we do. It’s like being expected to gush over a colleague’s iPhone video of her cat doing something interesting when you just think it’s dumb.

So in the case of John and Marsha, she expects him to have been home a half hour sooner and dress for an evening out, and he thinks they’re staying in for a movie and pizza. But the reaction is what matters. Immediately, Marsha asks where he’s been and does he know what time it is?

She’s upset, confused and angry. She thinks he just forgot her birthday and made a drive by at the local convenience store for some fast birthday gifts. John, on the other hand, expects her to be appreciative that he remembered her birthday at all and made an effort to do something nice.

Expectations have a lot to do with communication problems and why we wish we could change someone’s behavior. What should happen is for people to be more understanding of each other, taking into account our emotional state, or even our lack thereof.

Communication is really the key. We can all be different and be ourselves if we’re willing to talk and accept those differences in each other. Our diversity is what usually brings us together as human beings, it’s high time we started to recognize it in our personal relationships as well.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com

Indie films offer originality and escapism

In Business, crafts, Entertainment, Media, Movies, Opinion, Uncategorized on March 25, 2017 at 8:08 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

“The Movies are great medicine. Thank you Thomas Edison, for giving us the best years of our lives.” – The Statler Brothers

In 2010, I wrote one edition of Deer In Headlines that discussed how a good movie can transport you to a colorful land somewhere over the rainbow, show you what it means to have true grit or take you into the final frontier of space. At the movies, you can travel through time in a DeLorean, see pirate ships battle on the high seas or even visit a galaxy far, far away. But in the short time since my first, brief exploration on the subject of film, a lot has changed.

The first known film production ever recorded was a British piece called Roundhay Garden Scene, filmed in 1888 by inventor Louis Le Prince. When first introduced, people hardly took notice of motion pictures as they were more a science experiment in optics than an entertainment medium.

Shot at only 12 frames per second, on highly flammable celluloid plastic, that first grainy movie lasted a mere two seconds but pioneered what would become one of the most lucrative industries of the 20th Century and beyond. From silent features starring Douglas Fairbanks, to the first talkies, movies have a special place in the history of American culture.

Many lines from feature films have worked their way into our cultural dialect. Who can forget Sean Connery’s first delivery of, “Bond, James Bond,” or Roy Scheider’s astonished look as he calmly noted, “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.” What about Clark Gable’s straight-forward parting line to Scarlet O’Hara, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a,” well, you know the rest of it.

Today, however, while I believe movies still offer a level of escapism, I don’t believe they’re as well done or memorable as in the past. There was a time when, whatever your taste, someone out there was making a movie just for you. For all of us there is that one, special movie or that single line of dialogue that we carry with us our whole lives, but it just doesn’t seem like the most recent generation of films have the same staying power.

One of the reasons, at least in my opinion, is Hollywood’s complete and total disregard for originality. Everything seems to be a reboot, either of a previously successful film franchise or television program. The best movie I’ve seen in a while was the “Lego Batman” animated film. It was entertaining, full of nostalgia, and just a fun movie. Oddly original too, despite its familiar characters and settings.

If you want originality today, you have to get away from the mainstream box office and explore the countless number of independent films being produced around the country. Distributed on a much smaller scale, indie films can offer the same escapism as the summer blockbusters, but usually with original stories told in a much more creative way.

Created by small production companies, and lacking the mind-blowing budgets afforded to mainstream movies, an indie film must be more solid at the story level, unable to depend on “whiz bang” special effects to keep audiences engaged. And they’re not really geared toward moviegoers with short attention spans. These films tend to be rich in storytelling and move more slowly.

Independently produced films are tough to find at your local multiplex, so you’ll have to scan local newspapers and event websites for listings. And if you’re a streamer, Netflix and Amazon Prime both have a great selection of indies, from romantic comedies to more dark features. You’ll have to read some reviews and get some background before choosing one because the titles are not always as descriptive as they could be.

So my advice is that if you want to see high quality movies with great storytelling and an emotional hook that really makes you feel and think, you’ll have to look outside Hollywood. Great, new films are still, and I was skeptical too. But indie films offer a great alternative to the unoriginal, one-dimensional movies now flooding the cinema. See you at the movies.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More atdeerinheadlines.com

Pursuing your passion

In Children and Family, Health, Opinion, psychology, sociology, Uncategorized on March 18, 2017 at 9:36 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

I once read that great things are unique and unconventional. I’m certain that’s true and in order to achieve great things we, ourselves, must be equally unique and unconventional. We have to step outside our comfort zones. Or, as is often the case with me, run screaming outside them and be willing to screw up big time and embarrass ourselves in the process. To do any less will mean perpetual mediocrity.

I used to believe that everyone searches for purpose in life. But, what I’ve learned in my nearly half-century on this earth, is that there are people who just don’t care. That’s not meant to sound harsh, I just mean that day-to-day living is, for all practical reasons, their “purpose.”

Still, some can find meaning in the most superficial of accomplishments however self-serving others might see them. Achieving great things means different things to different people, some more superficial than others. But it’s all in how you look at it.

In my experience, finding that sense of self-worth is incredibly difficult and a constant personal journey for me. I have no real answers to how to get there, but I have discovered that the path begins with three steps – locate your passion, apply your talent and help others. Let’s look at the details.

First, “locate your passion.” According to Dictionary.com, the most accurate definition of the word “passion” in this context is, “a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.” Such as, “he has a ‘passion’ for music.”

My friend Jim Karns, and the rest of “The Brothers & Co.” and I find some of our purpose in bringing laughter and music to others.

This is probably the most difficult part of the process because even the very concept is ambiguous. I know it’s always been hard for me to nail it down and then figure out how that fits with work, family responsibilities and goals.

Finding your passion requires a great deal of personal exploration, reflection, and trial and error. The journey to discovering your passion is the search for that one “thing” that makes you forget to eat or go to the bathroom.

Whenever I hear someone talk about “passion,” particularly related to an occupation or job, it usually comes from some crunchy granola-type artist or non-profit worker. I’m not sure I’ve ever found a single, motivating passion in my life. I have several, all of which have equal importance to who I am. I’m still working on it, and it’s very likely to be a continuing effort of weeks, months, or even years.

Second on my list is, “apply your talent.” Here the idea is to take whatever talents you have – natural or learned, yes there are both – and apply that skill and energy to your passion.

For example, let’s say your passion turns out to be writing. You’ll probably first want to decide what kind of writer you want to be. Do you pen Shakespearean drama, or do your talents flow more towards “Fifty Shades of Grey?” What makes you want to write? What kind of writing makes you want to sit down and just let the stories flow onto your computer screen, to the exclusion of everything else? That’s where applying your talent to your passion really comes into play.

Third, and possibly the most rewarding and important of your first steps, is helping others. As you achieve a certain level of awareness and success, it becomes more important for you to share your knowledge and understanding with those less accomplished.

This in no way implies that you have to be an expert or have every aspect of your life’s pursuit nailed down. It just means that you should try to help those who may not be as advanced in their search. Mentoring is one of the most rewarding of experiences to come out of this process.

Mentoring is not the only way to help people while continuing your personal growth. I’ve found that volunteering to work in an organization or for a cause that falls within your passion interest can also be incredibly valuable to both the beneficiaries of the effort and to yourself.

Giving your life more meaning by pursuing a personal passion is not easy and it’s certainly not right for everyone. We only get one life and one future so don’t waste it.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd.  More at gerydeer.com

 

What’s in a label?

In Education, Health, Local News, National News, Opinion, Politics, psychology, Religion, sociology, Uncategorized on March 18, 2017 at 9:22 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

One things that human beings have in common is an insatiable need to label each other, both individually and by groups. I’m no expert at human evolution or psychology, but I’d guess that categorizing our fellow man must have been a leftover from prehistoric times. Our instinctive ability to size up a potential adversary may have served us well as cave people, but today, those emotions can inadvertently damage our relationships in the civilized world.

For our discussion purposes, the term “label” generally implies a negatively-focused word that’s used to identify someone based on visible stereotypical characteristics, like behavior, clothing, language, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. It’s not a factual assessment but rather an assumption, and it’s nearly always wrong. I’ve never found labels particularly helpful and arrived at from a single action or characteristic.

It gets a little confusing when you think about how to accurately describe someone without bias or negativity. If I were a Muslim, for example, it would be OK to say, “He’s a Muslim,” if you are stating a fact. On the other hand, if it’s stated in a way that has a negative connotation behind it like, “He’s one of those Muslims,” that’s not a fact, it’s a label. It comes with images of terrorism or other undesirable stereotypes.

In fact, trying to find any unoffensive example of labeling was a challenge, but I figured if I use myself as the subject that would be OK, so here it goes. I was raised on a farm in a rural community. Some people have a predetermined “image” of what someone like me should look, act and sound like.

My corn-fed brethren might even be labeled with a term that I find incredibly offensive – redneck. Despite what some might think, it’s just as intolerant to pin a racial slur on a white person as anyone else. It does, indeed, go both ways.

People are people – not labels. (Infographic courtesy of TrustLifeToday.com)

The general assumption is that someone with my background is uneducated, ignorant, with a “hillbilly” accent, bad grammar, less than stellar dental hygiene and who prefers to date within his or her own family. Throw in some right-wing, gun-totin’, Bible-quotin’, racism and that’s pretty much the way the liberal left sees us too.

Absolutely none of this is accurate where I am concerned, nor is it for most people I know. I’m well educated, I have no discernible accent, I’m not racist and, while my grammar isn’t perfect all the time, I’d like to think I’m above average in that area. The point is that the “rural” label is usually so far off as to be laughable. In fact, when people meet me they generally have no clue as to my background. None of this implies anything positive.

All that said, a close friend reminded me recently that labels have a positive side as well. In some cases, when people are vastly different from ourselves, a label can sometimes give us a reference point to understanding.

If you’re like me, a rural-raised American, you may have never met someone from, say inland China. When that opportunity arises, a label might be helpful as a starting point. If I say, “she is Chinese,” you probably already have an idea of what that means in your mind and an image forms based on your past understanding.

This type of labeling can be helpful provided the assessment does not end there and you keep an open mind about the individual. We must be respectful of the fact that we are each far more than the sum of our parts. I’m a farm boy, but a quick Google of my name will tell you there’s nothing “typical” about me. And that’s true for most of the people I know who grew up like I did.

Remember that labels are generally bad, but could have a positive application if people are willing to look beyond the surface and learn about the individual. Categorizing anyone can be incredibly destructive and serve only to perpetuate nonconstructive stereotypes. Give people a chance and learn about them before you slap a tag on their forehead. Our diversity in the world really is our strength. Let’s start behaving that way.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. more at deerinheadlines.com

 

Even legal immigrants fear ICE raids

In history, Local News, National News, Opinion, Uncategorized, World News on February 27, 2017 at 10:18 am

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

DIH LOGODuring the third week of February, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), part of the Department of Homeland Security, arrested hundreds in operations across the United States. Raids on homes and businesses in New York, Illinois, Florida, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, resulted in the arrest of approximately 600 in a two-week period, 160 in Los Angeles alone.

So, who are those being arrested? Reportedly, 75-percent of them had felony convictions, the rest had either misdemeanor convictions or were in the country illegally. More than three dozen were immediately deported back to Mexico.

Officials have stated that these raids are part of routine operations and not necessarily a result of the presidential crack-down on illegal immigration. DHS Secretary John Kelly stated in a news conference that ICE is, “Upholding the law,” and insists, “No one is being ‘rounded up.’ The people being arrested are illegal immigrants, and then some.”

What does not seem to be taken into consideration anywhere in this problem are the children of illegal immigrants who are United States citizens by birth, but whose parents are undocumented. When the parents are deported, kids are left with family members, often who are illegal themselves and may be sent away as well.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SWAT officers.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) SWAT officers.

Still, people are scared. Immigrants, legal and otherwise, their American relatives, friends, and other immigrant family members are terrified. Parents are being ripped from children, and anyone who is here legally that may need to return to their home country for any reason is scared they won’t be able to return.

This is a sticky conundrum. The great majority of illegal immigrants have risked great danger are to come here and work and make a better life for their families. Are they breaking the law? Yes. Are they felons and rapists and murderers? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. Can they be helped to obtain legal status? Yes – easily. But no one working for the current administration is ever going to do that.

The fact of the matter is that when someone comes into the country illegally, they’re taking a risk, one made even bigger where other family members are concerned. The risk of being deported is always there and it’s hard to get Americans on board with the idea that these individuals should be allowed to stay and provided easy access to citizenship.

But there actually are some genuinely negative economic effects of illegals working in the country. According to a February 12 New York Times article, “Similarly-skilled native-born workers are faced with a choice of either accepting lower pay or not working in (a particular) field at all. Labor economists have concluded that undocumented workers have lowered the wages of U.S. adults without a high-school diploma — 25 million of them — by anywhere between 0.4 to 7.4 percent.” That’s bound to bring on some resentment by Americans.

 

But what Americans should also know is that undocumented immigrants are already taxpayers. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a research organization that works on tax policy issues, reports that, collectively, illegal immigrants paid an estimated $10.6 billion in state and local taxes in 2010. Apparently, the U.S. Government is fine with “looking the other way” on illegals, so long as they’re paying taxes.

The big issue here is awareness; awareness by Americans to the real problem with immigration – crime. Yes, we should be deporting criminals at every turn. Not a year after their convictions, but the instant the sentence is handed down. They should go from the court room to the authorities of their country of origin to be deported in custody, not released at the border like some captured raccoon from your trash cans.

Those who are here working and making a better life for their families have rights. To those people reading this I say, know your rights. An ICE officer cannot enter your home without your permission and a warrant signed by a judge. If you’re arrested, say nothing, sign nothing without talking to an attorney. Hang in there. America really is the place you came here for – it’s just that sometimes even good people make bad decisions. Have faith and stay strong.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at gerydeer.com