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Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Sky's The Limit! Or Is It?

This is a phrase that we use semi-regularly as a form of encouragement - the sky is the limit! It's supposed to mean that you can do anything, follow your dreams, that sort of thing. The origin of the phrase is thought to be around when aeroplanes started to be a thing, strangely enough. So in that reference, it makes sense.

But the thing is, this phrase is no longer true.

For decades now, we've been putting things beyond the sky, into space. And space - well, it probably has a limit. But we haven't been able to get there yet! And so saying that the sky is the limit is actually rather a limiting thing to say. It's an example of old thinking, thinking from nearly a century ago.

I'd even hesitate to say that space was the limit. I don't think that works. I think that we are unlimited. Not in every sense, of course. That's evident. But we are always able to do more than what we think or perceive. Our biggest limiter is always ourselves. Our self-imposed limitations and restrictions.

If we live thinking that the sky is the limit, then that's what we'll reach towards. But if we realise that we can reach beyond the sky - and, in fact, well beyond it - then perhaps we will be more daring. More adventurous. Live a more abundant life. And do something truly amazing.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Too Many.

If you've been on social media lately, particularly Facebook and Twitter, you may have noticed the #metoo hashtag showing up abundantly on women's posts. If not, tens of thousands of people are using and responding to this hashtag (and I think that's a fairly conservative estimate, or an old number). I saw it popping up for a while before I saw a post that actually told me what it was for. This is the gist of it:
"Me too... If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem. Please copy/paste."
I should note, here, that this is something I've been aware of before. I have friends whose stories I have heard in relation to this, and I know that it's a widespread issue. But there's nothing quite like seeing post after post of friends saying "me too" to bring it home quite how big this is.

To give you a bit of an idea; there's been a few different studies over the years, trying to figure out what percentage of women have been sexually assaulted or harassed. The figures that come back vary rather significantly, depending on the size, location, and audience of the study; from one in four, to 30%, to over 60% in some cases. That's too many. Way too many.

But how about if we turn it around? How many guys have done the sexual assault and harassment? Again, it varies. Some studies, again, say one in four; and some, again, say over 60%. I'll note that the figures I'm getting are all from the US, so aren't necessarily global. They come from this article. Feel free to have a look for yourself.

Some guys reading this may be pretty proud of themselves, thinking, well, I've never done anything. This is where I need to reinforce: this is not something to be proud of. Not sexually assaulting and harassing other people is the bare minimum of decency that is expected of you. It is the zero mark. Anything less, and you're in the red. You shouldn't be proud of achieving the bare minimum.

Because the thing is, this isn't going to change if people just get shocked every time something like this happens, make a post on Facebook about it, and then feel good about themselves until the next time. And the next time. And the next time. This is a pervasive, constant issue. Change is only going to happen when it starts with us - and particularly talking about the guys, here.

I mean, I can say that I think all the guys that do stuff like this deserve a solid kick in the groin.

....but again, that's just going to alienate and distance people more. (Even though that's quite tempting.) That's not what we need. We need change. We need every man to see it as their responsibility to be a safe person to be around for women, someone that they can trust, talk to, be with - and feel okay doing so. We need to be actively teaching those around us what that looks like, modelling that to other guys, and making sure that guys get the message that treating girls wrong is exactly that - wrong.

Here, I'm going to borrow a line from the Good Book. "Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters." (1 Timothy 5:2) Sisters. Mothers. Not objects. Not animals, and not yours. Every woman, every girl, is their own unique individual, with their own story, their own life, their own thoughts and feelings. You are not any more, or any greater than they are. They owe you nothing. They are their own. I can't say this enough.

Before, I said that the numbers from those studies were "too many". But let me tell you what too many is.

One. 1. Uno. A single person.

Even that is too many. One person that has been sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, is still unacceptable. Not 1%. Not one in a thousand. Not until this doesn't happen at all can we stop. Because this is too big. This is wrong. And it shouldn't happen.

Girls reading this - I do not offer any excuses for what has happened. There are none. There are no apologies or "sorry"s that can cover the sheer magnitude of what continues to happen, every single day, and what you all have to deal with from so many of us. And while I'm better at this than some, I'm by no means perfect. I think a lot of the troubles with this stem from porn and fantasy (though I'm sure that will be a contentious issue), and that's still something I struggle with. Added to that, I know there are times when I've made girls feel uncomfortable because of how I've pursued them in the past. I've been a bit.....obsessive at times.

But we need your help. We do not deserve your help, by any measure. But I think many of us will need it. Need women with a voice, who are willing to stand up and say no. Need women who are willing to say when a line has been crossed. Willing to tell us what we're doing wrong; and perhaps, even how we can do it better. You'd think it would be common sense. But unfortunately, common sense seems to be rather rare these days. I understand that many of you will not feel up to doing this; we have already destroyed your patience. And I am certainly not trying to say that this is your battle, your responsibility, or what you should be doing. It is our fault, and our responsibility, and our problem that we need to deal with. But I also know that the only way forward is going to be bringing as many people together as possible. Together, we can support each other; and together, we are heard.

Too many feel this pain. Too many cause this pain. Let's bring that number down.

Added note: If guys looking at the #metoo posts are getting angry at the "them" who cause all this - there is no "them", folks. There's just us. I guarantee you that at some point in your life, you've done something to make a girl feel uncomfortable. I know I have. It's not someone else's problem. This is something that everyone needs to deal with.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Not One, But Three.

I don't know what I'm writing.
I just know that I need to write.
I need to write, so that my mind will focus on better things.
Better things than what are plaguing it now.
Writing is a better thing.
Because, though words can be used to harm, and to hurt, and to wound -
They can also be used to heal, to build, to grow.
They are powerful.
And in writing, we are (hopefully) choosing words carefully;
Choosing the words with the most power in the right places,
Carefully constructing phrases and sentences to deliver a message well.
It's like making a building with explosive bricks.
Or nuclear bricks.
That's a better analogy.
You can use nuclear energy to build a bomb....
Or to treat cancer.
It is not too dissimilar with words.
And so we have a weighty task.
But one I accept gladly.
For I know words well.
Words are my friends.
They are familiar in my hands, and they do not abandon me.
Words have a beauty, a depth, each one unique and different, sounding and feeling unique.
And so many layers!
They are typed or written; seen; and spoken.
And each brings a particular focus.
A word that is awkward or brobdingnagian to type may be rather enjoyable to speak or see;
A word that is interesting to look at may be rather tricky to fumble the tongue around.
And a word that rolls of the tongue wonderfully may not be anything particularly interesting to see.
But this is the beauty of the word;
That it is not in one,
But in three.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Beautiful Butterflies.

This one's a bit of a quick one. But I thought it was worth posting about.

A few years back, either at the end of 2014 or beginning of 2015 (can't remember which), I came to the end of a time where I had been pursuing someone for a while, and it didn't work out. I went to Cataract Dam for a bit of breathing space/time with God, and one of the things that I saw was a couple of butterflies, like this guy:

Or maybe that's a girl. I'm not up on butterfly genders.
And I got this distinct message/promise from God: "I'm going to make something beautiful out of this." At the time, my assumption was that he was talking about a relationship happening down the road, because that's where my headspace was.

Since then, there's been a few times that he's floated butterflies across my path, to remind me about this promise. Particularly when I've been feeling a bit down - and rather a lot of late.

But last night, I realised that I'd been looking at it all wrong. The "something beautiful" wasn't a relationship - the "something beautiful" was me! I was what he was shaping, through that situation, and the many others since. I was what he was making more beautiful.

It's rather an awesome realisation, when you suddenly find that what you've been looking for you already had. I know this may seem a bit like a "Well, duh," moment looking back - but I'm really thankful. God has given so much to me, and I forget that all too often. And I forget how highly he thinks of me. So this was....a rather lovely reminder :)