These countries are not shitholes, but they do need our help

Here’s the deal: I fail to see the point of me calling out the misdeeds of political figures in this country without also spending effort to do good. So, that’s why I’m writing this.

If you’re mad, disappointed, shocked, or appalled at the recent comments and longer-term racist undertones of one or a number of political entities, then this post is for you.

If you’re mad, frustrated, exasperated, or incredulous that a certain political party seems to paint everything your political leaders say in a bad light, then this post is for you.

I don’t care what color your political affiliation is, I care that we often lose sight of the other humans who are struggling to make their own nations as great as possible. So, without lecturing you on why you should care about this or racism or any of that, I’m going to simply leave a few links below.

These links are to charities that I’ve heard good things about. Feel free to look at them or find your own. Whatever you do, do something positive first, post about what you did in the comments so we can all be inspired together, and THEN go back to Twitter and Facebook and continue yelling at each other.

https://hopeforhaiti.com/ – This organization is focused on Haiti, especially helping children. They look like they’re doing good things.

https://www.worldvision.org/donate – World Vision is a large organization and does a lot of good work around the world. I don’t know if you can donate to a specific country, but donating to their general fund will definitely be helping people who need it.

http://www.ijm.org/give – IJM is focused on justice, specifically with modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

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Finding Your Voice

My intro to writing professor in college led us through a curriculum on ‘finding your voice’. It all made sense at the time – it’s what your words sound like on paper, it’s your style, your rhythm. I get that.

What I have always had a hard time figuring out, however, is how to pick out MY voice from the myriad of voices that are in my head.

I’m not schizo; I’m a good imitator. I can pick out a person’s tone, cadence, inflection, etc… and will alter how to speak to better resemble that person. It’s automatic and it helps me connect with people; it’s really a nice talent to have.

The problem is that I can can easily start to dislike my own voice.

I’m not sure if this is all made worse because I was never really a cool kid. People generally liked me (and I assume still do), but simple comparisons to other people who I thought were better than me made me disappointed with who I was.

Oprah session aside, I think I’ve mostly come to terms with who I am. In fact, I would like to think that I am happy with who I am. This doesn’t stop my super-competitive side, however, from constantly comparing myself to everyone else to measure how well I’m doing. If I think that someone else’s voice is funnier, smarter, more like-able than mine, I’m tempted to copy it.

And, like we found out earlier, I’m good at copying voices.

A few years ago, I started a sarcastic blog inspired by the hilarious dude at Tremendous News. All three people who read it (thanks Mom) liked what I wrote.

Actress and singer Eri Kitamura

Via Wikipedia

(I don’t know why I put this image here, but I know Tremendous News would have)

I only posted 2 articles.

That’s the problem with imitation – it drains you. When you are intentionally trying to be someone else, you have to think like they think; be motivated by the things which motivate them; and create like they create. That’s just not fun…

…and writing should be fun.

Writing should allow you to create something new.

Something that is your own.

Something that sounds like you.

I don’t know if I’ve really found my voice, but I definitely feel like I’m much closer to it.

The Power of a Blog – Ending Slavery

As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.
– Benjamin Franklin

There are dozens of ways that I wanted to start this post, but the most honest opening is to admit that I don’t really know how to start. So I just will:

An estimated 27 million people are held in slavery – right now.

27,000,000 – That’s more than the population of the top 13 cities in the US combined (1).

Staggering.

There are three problems with a statistic like that:

  1. 27 million is a number that is hard to imagine.
  2. The idea of people being enslaved doesn’t seem possible; especially because it’s not right here in front of us – we’re all so far removed from the slavery we read about in history books that it doesn’t mean much to us as a society any more.
  3. Even if we can wrap our heads around the situation, how could you and I ever have an impact on a problem that is so monumental?
While I can’t do much for the first problem, I have two simple ideas that will help with the other two issues.

1. Learn about modern day slavery

This is the internet, you can find information on everything and this is one of the most important Google searches I think you’ll ever do. (Here’s a good place to start: http://www.ijm.org/our-work/injustice-today)

2. Do whatever you can to help

My motivation for writing this post is to give you a place to start, one that I think will make a world of difference. There is a letter being sent to President Obama asking him to stand up for freedom. They need 27,000 signatures and I am one of them. You should be, too.

Sign Your Name Stand For Freedom

Leave me a comment after you sign the letter and let me know why you decided to stand for freedom.

 1. Wikipedia – List of United States cities by population

Facebook, huh, yeah, what is it good for?

Absolutely something…

To be honest, this was almost a post about the unfortunate increase in terrible, useless and mind-numbing content that is starting to clutter Facebook. But then…

…then my friend asked about SEO.

And I helped him.

All of a sudden, a light illuminated my keyboard and Facebook became a place of connection, a place where friends can get help from friends, a place of hope. OK, so I’m exaggerating a bit, but the truth of the matter is that Facebook, like any number of social media tools is only as good as it’s content and filtering.

While I was brooding over the mass influx of LOLCATS variants and useless pictures (like a list of numbers 1-15 with the words “Like when you find the mitsake” [sic]) screaming for “likes” and comments, I considered sitting back and blasting the downward spiral of social media culture.

I decided instead to take control of my situation. 

It’s something I learned a few months ago: “If you can’t predict the future, create it.”

So, I thought for a minute and realized that I could easily unsubscribe or – *gasp* – unfriend the worst offenders, thus clearing the way for me to see important updates – like what my buddies ate for dinner or how my sister’s new dog is fitting in. I did the same with my Twitter account (@thestosbias) a few weeks ago.

It makes sense, really. My mom used to call it “operator error.” Some people call it “garbage in, garbage out.”

What I’m cliche-ing about is simply this: Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc… are part of the internet and the internet is a place of mass ‘user-generated content’ which is code for ‘some good, but mostly really really bad stuff.’ The power of these tools comes from the ability they give you to categorize and filter what you see.

This is bigger than just avoiding annoying people. When we clear out the garbage content, we allow ourselves access to the small percentage of the really good content that is out there. It also opens us up to share that exceptional content with our friends and, as a result, spreading content that is worth digesting. All the while supporting and encouraging the content creators.

Take a look at your Twitter, Facebook, et al. feeds and ask yourself a question: “Am I contributing to the mass of crap floating around the internet, or am I being a conduit of thoughtful, useful content?” (no matter your definition of ‘useful’ – I trust you)

Have you noticed an increase in garbage from well meaning people who are trying to get some lulz? Am I being too harsh? Leave me your thoughts in the comments (and please, only one LOLCAT pic per person).

Of Music and Inspiration…

After thinking about my last post a little longer, I realized that finding something you really love to do often takes inspiration. This idea has changed some for me in the past few years because I have a wife and daughter who I love simply to spend time with. So, when I talk about needing inspiration to do something I love, I’m looking to do something productive that reaches outside of my family.

In that regard, I’ve found inspiration in a number of things. Music, though, has always proved to be a powerful motivator. I don’t know if it matters what type of music, but it helps if it’s either loud or at least playing through headphones because music is meant to be felt – not simply heard.

It’s sort of a mood-thing – the right music for the right time. Right now I’m listening to some mixes at designers.mx; I started on Let’s Make Sweet Pixels 2, then moved to How Each Friend Departed for a few songs and then realized that I needed something more mellow and… I’m not sure what to call it, but I found it on Night Tremors.

Sometimes I think that I use the music to help block out a portion of the crazy thoughts in my head long enough to focus on creating something.

Whatever the reason, whatever the inspiration, just find some and then do something you love – something that will shake the world and make it better because you found your inspiration.

1 Step to Happiness and World Transformation: Do Something You Love

This post is simple – Do something you love today.

In fact, do something you love – every day. I can’t image a better way for us to transform the world than for us to sit down and think “What can I do, create, change, etc… today that would really make me happy?” and then do it.

Some would argue that I’m empowering people to live self-indulgent lives and even do things that would harm others.

I would tell those people that I’m not concerned about bad people doing bad things – they’ll do those things if I encourage them to or not. I’m concerned with encouraging good people to do good things. And doing good will come naturally to good people because it’s what they really love to do. I’m convinced that happiness can only be maintained by doing good consistently.

And I’m sorry if you don’t agree.

Well, maybe I’m not. Go do something you love and let me know if it made you happy – if it didn’t, maybe you should reevaluate what you love.

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
– Unknown