Tag Archives: politics

What T-Shirt or Hat Do You Wear?

img_0055 t-shirts_smw

After observing elderly veterans proudly wearing their military caps, retired firefighters wearing a fire department cap or t-shirt, and retired union or company members wearing a branded cap or jacket, I thought about a thought-provoking statement someone once made regarding our identity. He said something like, “If your identity is wrapped up in what you do, you can lose that identity when you can no longer do it, like a pro ball player becoming seriously injured. But if your identity is based on who you are, no one can take that away.”

Who are you?

I asked a few people what they considered their identity to be. I guess most people have never been asked that question or really even given it much thought, because most seemed mystified when asked. I tried to make it a bit less daunting and intimidating by asking, “What t-shirt or hat would you wear to tell people who you are?” Their expression went from overwhelmed to intrigued to confounded. Most adults do relate their identity to their profession, but as they think about it more deeply, they wouldn’t necessarily say it’s their identity. Many young people relate their identity either to what they are good at, like an artist or an athlete, or they mention their sexual orientation. Both adults and young people might also mention their passion, or the political, religious, racial or social group to which they belong. We all want a sense of belonging or feeling like our life matters—like we matter, and we will often wear the t-shirt that helps communicate or attract that.

Some people consciously or subconsciously allow their identity to be found in their disabilities rather than their abilities, or maybe their physical appearance, financial status, or their past. How many stories of athletes with disabilities have you heard? They did not allow their disability to keep them there. We will live out what we think or believe and allow that to be our identity. Even though we are who we are because our past has molded us, we should not allow our past to define us and keep us from growing into who we would like to be. A young friend once said:

“Someone’s past does not define who they are; it’s who they’ve chosen to be today.” —Keith Duane Soules, Jr.

The t-shirts in the photo are both mine and my husband’s. His daughter made the white t-shirt for him for Father’s Day when she was a little girl, and he still wears it every year for that occasion. He’s a good father. Although he wears the Mr. Incredible t-shirt given to him as a gift, he himself is too modest to claim the identity of Mr. Incredible, but he really is.

Who am I?

I am and have been many things. I used to be very religious and wore Christian t-shirts, not because I wanted people to think of me as good and religious, but because I was taught that our purpose was “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever” and “to make Him known” so everyone could know and be loved by Him, too. Some of my beliefs, understandings and practices have changed since then, but that’s another topic. I’m a photographer—but then again, isn’t everyone now?  Ha ha! I do have a camera t-shirt, but I can often be seen wearing a fire department or first responder t-shirt or jacket. Even though I think I will always be a first responder at heart, a time will come—and I’m already beginning to feel it coming on with age—when I will no longer be able to perform all the tasks necessary to remain one.  I still have a few more years left in me!  I recently became a rehab tech, which also requires a certain level of strength and mobility, and I’m grateful that it’s a physical job and one that allows me to care for and assist others. Having wonderful therapists as co-workers is a bonus, because they have helped me overcome injuries, regain mobility, and learn better body mechanics. But when I think about who I am and who I want to be, what it really comes down to is simply this: a kind human-being growing in love. I delight in finding and photographing hearts, so if I could pick only one t-shirt or cap to proclaim my identity, it would have a heart or the word “L O V E” on it.

What t-shirt or cap would you wear?

Asians & Cameras, Whites & Trump, Klingons & War


Last night, my husband and I watched NFL football players take a stand or a knee against police brutality and racial injustice during the National Anthem, we listened to a panel of West Michigan Trump and non-Trump voters have a discussion with Oprah on 60 Minutes, and we watched the first episode of the new Star Trek: Discovery. One statement, made by First Officer Burnham of the USS Shenzhou, really struck me. She said, “… it would be unwise to confuse race with culture.”

Although stereotypes are generalizations and not true in every instance, stereotypes exist because there is some truth to them. Not all Asians are paparazzis, but there was a time before cell phones when it was not uncommon to see Japanese people sporting cameras. My husband once lamented, while he was scraping doggie do from his shoe during a hike, that I take pictures of everything! I chuckled and said, “Well, I am Asian!”

Both negative and positive stereotypes or cultural characteristics exist. Cultures are not only restricted to nationalities. They can be regional, geographical and social. Police officers are not all white nor are they all brutal. The majority of police officers of various nationalities are compassionate peacekeepers and first responders. If your race or culture is carrying a certain negative label, doesn’t it make sense to be proactive and seek every opportunity to do the opposite and dispel the label, like some police officers are doing to connect with their communities and live in peace?

In most instances, the divisions we are experiencing in our country and in the world are not so much about race or even culture. Most of it stems from fear and a lack of understanding. Babies aren’t born prejudice and suspicious; they learn it. Whether it’s conservatives and liberals, blacks and cops, Christians and Muslims, or Mexicans and Trump, although our cultures and environments have shaped us into who we are, we are really all of one race—the human race—and we need to stop warring with each other. If we want to survive and experience satisfaction, it would be in our best interest to pursue peace by seeking to understand each other. As one of the West Michigan panel members expressed, we need to learn the art of discussion and compromise again, else I’ll take a stand, and you’ll take a stand, and neither of us will obtain what we want or need.

Instead of becoming defensive or offensive when ideas and cultures clash, maybe we should do what some Trump rally members did when a Black Lives Matter group showed up. Invite your ‘opponents’ to the stage to speak, too, start a dialog, gain some insight, and come to an understanding. I could even take a picture of you working together!

Wisdom Wednesday: The Power of Giving

"A man's gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men."  —Proverbs 18:16

Photo credit: Charles Thompson via stock.xchng

Have you ever tried to ‘open a door’ by giving a gift? Maybe you wanted to get a special someone’s attention, make a good first impression, or gain favor. Proverbs 18:16 says that giving a gift has the power to open doors and give access to important people. Gifts are often given to people in positions of authority such as presidents, royalty, and judges. Part of doing so is etiquette or what is expected, but part of it is done in hopes of finding favor.  If an appropriate gift is given with knowledge about the person’s likes and desires, it can find its way into the recipient’s heart.

“An official never flogs the bearer of gifts.” —Chinese proverb

“A gift given in secret subdues anger, and a bribe given secretly subdues strong wrath.” —Proverbs 21:14 NET

Proverbs 17:8 well says that a bribe can work like a charm and bring success. We know how well bribes work in politics, because governments are well-known for being corrupt. So am I advocating the giving of bribes?  No, because if a person can be bought, then someone else can buy them for a higher price. It is better to not offer bribes nor to accept them.  When a bribe is accepted, there are often strings attached.

“A friend that you buy with presents, will be bought from you.” —Latin proverb

“He who would stop every man’s mouth must have a great deal of meal.” —Italian proverb

I once heard a friend say it is hard to say anything against someone who gives gifts or does nice things, even if the person is not really all that nice or even leads people astray in some way.  You probably know someone that is well-liked by a lot of people and either don’t know the real person or don’t care about moral ethics because what really matters to them is the end result and how it benefits them.  This, too, often happens in politics, whether it is in government, organizations, or even within families.

People with lots of wealth, especially if they are generous, often wonder who their real friends are, but it is not only people with a lot of money who eventually find out who their real friends are when the well runs dry.  I have heard a lot of people say when they ran out of drugs or booze, they also ran out of ‘friends’.  Reminds me of the account of the prodigal son.  (Luke 15:11-32)

“Many will seek the favor of a generous man, and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts.” —Proverbs 19:6

Sometimes people are generous simply because they want to be liked or to gain power. It’s like buying votes. But that works for only so long.

“You can get by on charm for about 15 minutes. After that, you better know something.” —H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

I like giving gifts, and although my motives are usually to brighten someone’s day or to meet a need, I’m sure I have given a gift or two to open a door or make a good first impression. Is there anything wrong with that? Well, it really comes down to whether the motive is purely selfish and deceptive or whether it seeks the best interest of others as well, which is why we should be discerning when it comes to befriending or endorsing someone simply because they are generous with their time, possessions, and power. Jesus gave a principle when he sent the apostles out and said, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. “ (Matthew 10:16)

“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” —English proverb referring to the Trojan Horse


If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: When It’s Never Enough

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