Saturday, February 16, 2019

The problem with generalizations

We live in a world in which so much information is thrown at us with amazing speed and our brains must quickly process this information. Sometimes generalizations help organize this information and other times it does great harm. I have a problem with generalizations and with the people who use them. Generalizations are statements or concepts which make an inference from specific cases. In other words, it is a broad statement about a group based on one individual from that group. It irritates me when sometime makes a generalization statement especially when I know individuals who do not fit the statement. You can know when you use generalizations is when you use the word “all.” What are generalizations? What is the problem with generalizations? How can we avoid them?

Generalizations can be used like stereotypes. Stereotypes are widely held but fixed and oversimplified images or ideas about a person due to their inclusion in a group or category. Sometimes the stereotypes are valid and true for one individual, but they can be false for others. There are five types of generalizations. First, racial profiling in which an entire race has a specific skill, like all Blacks are great athletes, or all Asians are very smart. Second, gender profiling in which members of this group behave in a certain way. For example, since Valentine’s Day was a couple days ago, all women want jewelry and expensive gifts. While I do know some women, who do expect to be showered with expensive gifts, I know a lot of women, myself included, who do not. Third, cultural profiling is basing everyone together based on their cultural or national identity. For example, all Irish are drunks, or all Jews are greedy. Fourth, profiling based on group identity. For example, all goths are depressed, or all geeks are socially awkward. Lastly, sexual profiling in which assumptions are made based on someone’s sexual preferences. For examples, all feminine men are gay, all masculine women are lesbian. 

The problem with generalization is that it lumps everyone who identify with a group with having a specific attribute. Stereotypes are quick tactics people use when talking about the problems of the world (Greene 2015). Some stereotypes seem harmless and even individuals in those groups make use of the generalizations for comic effect. Many comedians use stereotypes to make shed light on the stereotypes themselves. Humorist Mary Hirsch once said, “Humor is a rubber sword- it allows you to make a point without drawing blood.” Even positive stereotypes can be very hurtful and dangerous. People who don’t live up to positive stereotypes often feel like failures and those who do, don’t get the credit for the effort they put in (Devarajan 2018). A black athlete who is praised for his “natural talent” may feel his hours are practice are ignored. Even believing in the positive stereotypes, like a strong black woman, can lead to believing in the negative stereotypes, like all black men are deadbeat dads (Devarajan 2018). What stops us from believing negative stereotypes when we believe in positive ones? “Generalization is just another excuse to use stereotypes and it oversimplifies issues” (Greene 2015).

How do we avoid using generalizations? First, stop using the word “ALL.” Simple as that. When you use the word “all” you include everyone, and everyone may not fit. Not all Blacks are great athletes. Not all Asians are super smart. Not all Mexicans are here illegally. Not all whites are racists. Not all Muslims are terrorists and not all terrorists are Muslims. Second, pay attention to broad and generic statements. These statements tend to distort reality and often play on our emotions. I see these types of statements all the time in politics and religion especially in the media. It only takes a moment to stop and question the statement. Even if you ultimately believe it to be true, stop and analyze it first. Third, ask yourself for real life examples of those who fit the statement and those who do not. Challenge the statement. You may come up with more examples of those individuals who fit the statement because that is what you pay attention to; however, challenge yourself to find examples of those who don’t. You may find yourself seeing more and more examples of those who don’t fit the stereotypes.

In conclusion, generalizations are statements which are made about individuals within a group. Generalizations are made by race, gender, group identity, culture and sexuality. Negative and positive generalizations are hurt those who the statements are made, sometimes creating an image that individuals cannot escape or live up to. Avoiding generalizations is hard; but not impossible. It takes active awareness of when generalizations and stereotypes are used. I try my best to avoid thinking about people in terms of generalizations and I realize it is difficult. Sometimes the people who fit those generalizations are the ones we notice more but we might be surprised to find many individuals who don’t fit these statements. We need to be aware of these generalized statements.

Devarajan, Kumari (February 17, 2018). ’Strong’ Black Woman? ‘Smart’ Asian Man? The Downside to Positive Stereotypes. Retrieved February 14, 2019.
Greene, Ava (November 30, 2015). The Problem with Generalization Retrieved February 13, 2019.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Dream Daughter: what will a mother do to protect her child?

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain is the story of one mother’s fight to save her unborn daughter. The story opens in 1965 where Caroline “Carly” Grant is an intern at a physical therapy facility where a mysterious man named Hunter Poole insists that she be his physical therapist. This man is strange and seems familiar with information that puzzles Carly. Fast forward to April 1970, Carly is a widowed pregnant woman who is being seen by her doctor. Her husband, Joe, has been killed in Vietnam and she is staying with her older sister, Patti and brother-in-law, Hunter. The doctor reveals that her baby has a serious heart defect and would not survive outside the womb. Soon she will hear a story from Hunter that will blow her mind and possibly give her baby a chance. Hunter is from the future and his idea will send Carly to the future to a time of medical advancements to save her unborn daughter. Will Carly take the chance? Will her baby survive? Will she be able to return home?

I received a copy of The Dream Daughter from NetGalley for my honest review. It took a while for me to be able to sit down and read but once I did, I could not put it down. From the open chapter to the last page, the story of Carly’s journey to save her baby gripped me that I couldn’t wait to see how it ended. It is a beautiful story with twists and turns. It wasn’t the story I was expecting, it was so much more. Just when you think you have it figured out, you found out that you don’t. My favorite line from the book, which sums up the story for me, is “The love of a mother could make a hero out of everyday woman.” I highly recommend The Dream Daughter!

The Dream Daughter
is available in all formats at all major booksellers

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Sex and the Bible: not just for procreation

I read online recently that someone made the claim that sex is bad, evil and dirty to Christians. I serious dislike the generalization because while there are churches which teach people to feel dirty about enjoying sex but there are many churches which see sex as it was intended to be. Sex was designed by God to be a gift to a husband and wife. What is the purpose of sex? The Bible gives us a very romantic and intimate story in the Song of Songs. If sex is a gift from God, how did it become bad, evil and dirty?

When asked what the purpose of sex is, many people will immediately say “procreation.” Yes, sex is how humans procreate but there’s more to sex than just the production of children. Another purpose of sex is for intimacy and enjoyment in marriage. Yes, sex was designed for marriage. Sex within marriage can be a relationship builder. Outside of marriage, it can destroy relationships and people. Proverbs 5:18-20 says “A loving doe, a graceful deer; may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?” God does not intend faithfulness in marriage to be boring, pleasureless and dull. This is certainly the world’s image of marriage aka “the old ball and chain.” Sex is a gift God gives to married couples for their mutual enjoyment. Real happiness comes when we decide to find pleasure in the relationship God has given us and commit ourselves to making it pleasurable.

Song of Songs, or in some translations Song of Solomon, is an intimate story of a man and woman, their love, courtship and marriage. The most explicit statements on sex in the Bible are in this book. For example, chapter 7:7-8, “Your stature is like that of a palm, and your breasts like clusters of fruit. I said, “I will climb the palm tree; I will take hold of its fruit.’” It is a wedding song honoring marriage with three speakers. First, Lover, which tradition holds is a young King Solomon before he was obsessed with women, sex and pleasure and represents the husband in a marriage. Second, Beloved is a Jewish maiden he falls in love with and becomes his wife. Third, friends who encourage the couple as they fall in love. The purity and sacredness of love is represented in this book. One of my favorite verses is “Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.” It is a phase that is repeated three times in chapter 2 verse 7, chapter 3 verse 5, and chapter 8 verse 4. It is repeated because it is important to know that true love isn’t rushed. It blooms when the time is right. Another favorite verse is “My lover is mine and I am his (2:15 and 6:3), some translations use the word beloved. In a marriage, a husband and wife belong to each other. They are one body united by God and by love.

If God had created sex and intimacy for marriage, how sex became bad, evil and dirty? Easy, man did. Even within the Christian church, man took a beautiful expression of love, a gift from God and made it a thing to be tolerated. The idea that women shouldn’t enjoy sex was dictated by man.  It is hard to say in Judaism or Christianity, the thoughts on sex are simple because it ignores the different sects or denominations of each faith. However, in my research, I found that in Judaism, “a man may do with his wife as he wishes provided, he has her consent” (Judaism and Sex), which means any sexual acts between consenting spouses is not forbidden. In Christianity and especially in the history, things get murkier. “Christianity remains among the most “sex-positive” religions, even if segments of the church have on one hand, cloaked it in shame or, on the other, given it a mystical power bordering on idolatry” (Sex and Sexuality). St Augustine (354-430) and other theologians promoted the idea that sexual desire was a sin (Kuruvilla). Other church leaders would go further and state that being too passionately in love or having sex for pleasure was a sin (Kuruvilla). These ideas are far from what the Bible teaches as I have statement on above. Lust and desire for your spouse is an expression of love; however, it needs to be only for your spouse.

In conclusion, sex is a beautiful expression of love between a husband and a wife. A beautiful thing that has been twisted and distorted through the ages by men in power. Unfortunately, the effects are those policies and ideas are still seen today in many churches and many who resist God because of what they think they know. Our society has such a distorted attitude about love and marriage that for many people love equals sex and getting married is just to have a party. Sex is only one expression of love. It is important in a marriage, but it is not the only thing. Sex is a gift from God. It is to be an expression of love between a husband and a wife. It is to be motivated by love and commitment.

Retrieved February 9, 2019
Kuruvilla, Carol. 6 Things you probably didn’t know about Christianity and Sex (February 26, 2016) Retrieved February 9, 2019
Sex and Sexuality Retrieved February 9, 2019

Friday, February 8, 2019

Being childlike vs being childish: what's the difference?

What is the difference between childlike and childish? Is it okay for an adult to be childlike but not okay to be childish? When I was researching this topic, I found that many people use the terms interchangeably. While both essentially mean the same thing: “resembling or suggesting a child,” each have very different connotations. For an adult, to be childlike is having the good qualities of a child: innocent wonder and curiosity, trusting, being unfeigned (genuine/sincere) or pure. While being childish is to act with the negative behaviors associated with a child: immaturity and puerile (silly/trivial) behaviors. What does it mean to be childlike? What does it mean to be childish? What are the benefits to be childlike?

Many Christians believe that the Bible calls believers to have a childlike faith. There is no verse which exact says this; however, there are a few verses which imply it but not in the way most Christians believe. Matthew 18:3-4 “And he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.’” In this situation, the disciples had become preoccupied with the organization of the ministry and lost sight of its divine purpose. Instead of focusing on their position of service, they were seeking positions of advantages. Jesus illustrates that we are to be childlike with humble and sincere hearts rather than childish and arguing over petty issues. Mark 10:14-15 is another verse which Jesus tells his disciples that a childlike attitude is needed. We need to trust God with a child simplicity and receptivity. I believe God calls us to trust him like a child would trust a loving parent. We are to mature in our faith, to learn more, to understand more but we need to retain that childlike trust.

To some, being like a child is to be childish. One of the most quoted verses for this idea is 1 Corinthians 13:11 in which Paul says “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put away childish ways behind me.” Does Paul mean to stop enjoying things children enjoy like toys and movies? No, he doesn’t. What he is saying is that we need to stop doing childish things. We must leave behind childish manners and habits. Childish thoughts and reasonings are often weak, inconclusive, shortsighted and immature. Childish adults will often have severe emotional escalations like tantrums and pouting. They will place blame on others rather than themselves. They will lie to get out of trouble and can resort to name calling when they don’t get their way. Sometimes when we get hurt, it is easy to resort to being childish and lash out. However, it takes great control to respond with maturity. Unfortunately, there are individuals who do not possess that control and maturity especially when they feel attacked and unable to defend themselves. I see this immaturity in many of the political disagreements in the world today.

I see benefits to being childlike and enjoying things that children enjoy. First, as a parent, it can help me spend time with my daughters if I enjoy what they enjoy. If I watch and enjoy My Little Pony or any Disney film with my daughter, I can have conservations with her about what happened. I can help establish memories she can look back fondly on when she is grown up and has children of her own. Second, being able to enjoy childlike things is a way to destress and enjoy life. Getting lost in a Disney movie or a children’s adventure book allows adults to forget the cold, cruel world that awaits them. The escapism is important for our mental health. It is one of the reasons why I prefer to watch movies which entertain me rather than be thought provoking. While I enjoy thought provoking films, I need to be in the mental capacity to handle the topic. Life is hard enough, we need an escape every now and then. Third, it’s fun. Being able to let loose and be a kid again is very freeing. It allows us to laugh and be carefree.

In conclusion, being childlike is okay. We are called to have a childlike trust with God. even a benefit to us as we live this hard life. It can help us be better parents to our children, to escape the harshness of life and have fun. While it is easy to resort back to childish ways, it takes maturity to turn away from childish behaviors. We only get one life. I feel if someone gets enjoyment from childlike things, there is nothing wrong with it. It is when someone behave childish is when individuals create problems in their lives. So be childlike not childish.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Quiet: an in-depth look into the power of introverts

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain is an in-depth investigation of the difference between introversion and extroversion and the power of both personality types in business, education and society. Ms. Cain opens with definitions of the two types as well as what they are and aren’t. She explores the history of how extroversion became the desire personality type in American culture. The psychological research which began in the 1920s with Carl Jung’s first coining the terms and, as Ms. Cain claims, the prejudice against introversion, and the current psychological research which shows introversion has its own advantages. Ms. Cain also explores the biology of temperament as well as the possibility that personality types are nurtured as research has shown that heritability of temperament is about 40-50%. She also explores how one can live, work and relate to others according to their personality type.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I slowly read each word and absorbed the information she was providing. As an introvert, I found myself cheering as Ms. Cain spoke against the idea that extroverts are more desired in business, leadership and education. Introversion is more than just shyness. It is sensitivity, seriousness introspection. Almost from the beginning, introversion became a second-class trait considered something between a disappointment and a pathology that needed to be cure. Ms. Cain challenges the notion that extroversion is the better personality in all areas of our lives. I highly recommend Quiet!

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking
is available in all formats at major booksellers

Monday, February 4, 2019

Strong Girls of the Ordinary People Change the World series: a great educational series

My daughter received the Strong Girls Set of the Ordinary People Change the World series by Brad Meltzer for Christmas. It contained four books each book featured an historical figure who had an impact on the world. First, I am Harriet Tubman is the story of a woman and her heroic acts to help fleeing slaves escape the South for freedom. Second, I am Jane Goodall is the story of how Ms. Goodall fell in love with chimpanzees and devoted her life to the study of these beautiful creatures. Third, I am Sacagawea is the story of a young woman who was the only female and only Native American on the Lewis and Clark’s expedition of the Pacific Ocean. Lastly, I am Amelia Earhart is the story of a aviation pioneer who became the first female to fly solo across the Atlantic.

What I love about these books is they not only male historical figures fun and engaging but they encourage further reading into these people’s lives and contributions. Mr. Meltzer not only includes his own sources but suggests other books for further reading. Other titles in this series include George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Lucille Ball and many others. I highly recommend this series for any family and classroom library.

Ordinary People Change the World
is available in multiple formats at major booksellers

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Magic Treehouse series: great books for young readers

The Magic Treehouse by Mary Pope Osborne is a series of adventure stories featuring Jack and Annie, brother and sister, who discover a magic treehouse in the forest near their home in Frog Creek, Pennsylvania. Magical books send the pair to far away places in times all gone. Originally published in 1992, the series which totals 28 books and spawned the Magic Treehouse Merlin Mission series and other titles has been beloved by young readers for almost 30 years.  The series is recommended for ages 6-9 and cane be read aloud or independently with short chapters. The books are educational and encourages problem solving as each book gives a clue to the mystery of the treehouse.

My daughter was introduced to the series by her kindergarten teachers who read the books to the class. Ever since she begged me for the “Jack and Annie” books. She received a set of the first four books for Christmas. We read a couple chapters every night and she eagerly listened to each story and asks questions about the setting of the book. The next step is for her to read them on her own. I look forward to getting her the entire set. I highly recommend The Magic Treehouse series for any family or classroom library.

The Magic Treehouse series is available at all major booksellers