Weekly Challenge: Status Quo

YOU. Yes, you. I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: Status Quo

I’ve mentioned before about my upbringing. About growing up on the wrong side of the tracks. Foreclosures, food stamps, government welfare, constantly moving- it was all the norm for me. I was the outsider in school; as I got older, I remained the one that nobody noticed. That girl over there, not saying anything? Her? What’s her name again? Yeah, that was me.

I grew up feeling like one of the “little people.” Politics? Way beyond me. Not necessarily being rich, but at least the opportunity to go shopping once in a while? Too far out of reach.

I grew up feeling like nothing would ever change. I would always be on the lower end of the spectrum, always be on government welfare, always separate from the “cool” crowd.

It’s time for change. The status quo is a prison, a chain that binds your hands and feet so you are unable to move forward.

It’s time to break those chains. It’s time to step up, to move out, to make a difference.

Because you can make a difference. You can change the world.

Making a difference has nothing to do with circumstances. It has nothing to do with our place in life, how much money we have, or our social status. It is simply stepping out.

Today, you can make a difference. You can make change. It begins with yourself.

Change the status quo.

 

The $5 Challenge

YOU. Yes, you. I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: $5

What can you do with five dollars? Buy a cup of coffee? Get a meal at McDonald’s? Maybe a new shirt off the clearance rack?

What can five dollars do? As that Abe Lincoln crosses the counter to the cashier, it seems small. Insignificant. It won’t pay your bills. It will hardly put gas in your car- not enough to be worthwhile.

Helping someone? Reaching out? What can five dollars do? It won’t solve the hunger crisis. It won’t buy a house for a single mom with no home for her kids.

Five dollars can mean a lot. This tiny, insignificant bill can mean the difference between a smile and a frown. It can change a life.

A small meal for the guy at the corner. A few items for the lady behind you at the Dollar Store. A coffee for a tired co-worker. A card to say you’ve missed seeing someone at church.

5 dollars

5 dollars (Photo credit: leff)

What can five dollars do? Five dollars is a lot. You don’t need a million bucks to change the world. Just $5. That’s all.

This week (and if you’re brave, do it every week!), use five dollars JUST on someone else. Don’t skimp- if the tax pushes it over $5, pay it anyway.

Five dollars. Change a life.

Weekly Challenge: Taking Action

YOU. Yes, you. I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: Taking action
Some of my posts are inspired by daily events. So it is in this case. News travels fast. In the Internet world, it’s even faster. This morning, this world exploded with the stunning, horrifying news: school shooting. 27 dead. Most of them are children, far too young for their lives to be cut so short. Those who made it through- did they really? Their innocence is destroyed; that childish sense of safety, where all the world is their playground, where the bad guy always gets his- that illusion is broken by the chaotic sounds of shots firing.

Most of us, however, lay untouched by these events. We sit shocked, horrified, but in the morning we’ll get up just as we always did. We’ll sleep tonight, wondering how such horror could happen, and we’ll get up in the morning and go to our jobs, our holiday vacations, family times, and party nights. We might go to church on Sunday and stand vigil, meditating in prayer for those who died.

But what has changed? We’ll spend Sunday morning in vigil, and then dismiss to cheer for our respective football teams at the next game. Has it really made a difference?

I want to challenge you today. We’ve all heard the cliche phrases about holding your loved ones close, about living your life fully because tomorrow is not promised.

Today, I want to take that a step further. Tomorrow is not promised- all the more reason to do all that we “would have done.” What’s holding you back, really? There’s always a reason not to. Today, you have more reason to just DO IT.

Mourning over those lost changes nothing. It’s sad, but unless you were there or someone you love was affected, you won’t be. Because until then, it’s just a story. It’s just a story, until it happens to you. And so we sigh over a story, we talk about what must be done, we wonder what we would feel like in the same situation. We argue and debate over how to prevent this in the future (yes, I find myself guilty of the same), and we tsk that such a horrible incident could ever occur in peaceful Connecticut.

We mourn, and we move on, and in the end, it’s just another day in the life, another bad story in the headlines. But stop for a minute- what if it WAS you? Read the personal stories of those affected, listen to the news accounts… and then act. Maybe do something directly- campaign for gun laws, or against them, or raise money for safer schools.

But you don’t even need to go that far. How about reaching out to someone around you, someone who needs it? We are surrounded by people every day, people that we walk by with nary a word. We glance at them, maybe we nod, and we move on, unaffected.

Today- be affected by the stories around you. Make them your stories, and take action.

Weekly Challenge: Thinking Beyond

YOU. Yes, you. I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: Thinking Beyond

Earlier this week, I posted a video about insane business ideas. They were ideas that were radical, odd, and very unconventional. Seriously, a website just for dating? Nothing new there, but what about one just for those already in a relationship? Have you considered potty-training your cat so you don’t have to clean the litter box?

These are just some of the ideas in the video. They are vBeyond The Journey July 2011ery different ideas, but they all have one thing in common. They are original. They are unique.

Too many people are afraid to think outside the box. It’s so comfortable to fit in with what you know. You have a defined skill set, a mold of qualifications that classify you for a specific job.

But what about beyond that? In your job, in your company, in your life. Your family, the things you do together. For fun, for work, for a hobby.

Live radically. Live eccentrically. And you might be surprised and what you may find.

Weekly Challenge: America’s Values

English: Muammar al-Gaddafi at the 12th AU sum...

English: Muammar al-Gaddafi at the 12th AU summit, February 2, 2009, in Addis Abeba. Français : Mouammar Kadhafi au 12e sommet de l’UA, le 2 février 2009 à Addis-Abeba Русский: Муамар Каддафи на 12-м саммите Африканского Союза в Аддис-Абебе. 2 февраля 2009 года. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s a little behind the times since I wasn’t able to update last week, but I still thought this was good. Today’s weekly challenge comes from a post made by someone I know; his name is credited at the end. Enjoy- and think! Then post in the comments and tell me how this made a difference to YOU. Do you agree/disagree? What are your thoughts?

I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.

Today’s challenge: America’s Values

“”I think it’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values. That instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage,” he said. “An apology for America’s values is never the right course.”
-Mitt Romney

This buffer statement was released by the Romney camp as part of a follow-up to Romney’s earlier condemnation of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. Specifically, it is a condemnation of the US Embassy in Cairo’s statements against an inflammatory movie, made by an independent California filmmaker, entitled “Innocence of Muslims,” which depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer and child molester, among other things.

This video, and it’s subsequent priming of the protests sweeping US embassies in the Middle East and North Africa, was also largely responsible for the riot conditions that allowed militants to successful launch an attack on the US embassy in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, including respected US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

I have chosen to speak out about this particular statement because it represents for me a serious escalation in the partisan rhetoric that has engulfed our nation these many months.

The above statement from the Romney camp begs a very serious question:

“What are America’s values?”

This question should cause all of us to shudder, considering the sudden upswing in hatred and bigotry in recent months. Firstly, the supposed apology that Romney has latched onto was, in fact, a condemnation of the film that sparked the protests. In doing so, it made the attempt at defending our purported American values, which is thus: The freedom of speech must be tempered with a respect for the listener.

To rebut Romney’s statement that our first response should be outrage, I say this:

Our first response should be solidarity.

Claiming outrage toward an outrageous act of violence in no way demonstrates your values. Far from it, it merely demonstrates you are human and are prone to the same passions that guide, drive, and sometimes mislead us all.

That solidarity I speak of was shown quite vividly by the Libyan people, who by most accounts, have largely renounced the actions of the militants. The Libyan ambassador to the US has unequivocally condemned the attacks, and has gone to great lengths to distance his people from such hate-mongering.

Would Americans show such solidarity under the same circumstances? Given Romney’s statement, I am not so sure anymore.

Secondly, we as a people can, and should, apologize for the inflammatory film. We can do so and still not need to take credit over its authorship. That burden falls squarely on the filmmaker, who produced the film under the pseudonym Sam Bacile, and has since gone into hiding.

Part of being an American People is that we, as a people, must also accept responsibility for the actions of our fringe. They, too, represent us to the world, much to our collective chagrin. While it is unfair to force upon ourselves such a heavy burden, it is the burden any people, claiming to lead the so-called Free World, must accept, or be forced to relinquish any such claims.

Consider this: What if a Muslim businessman funded and released an independent film portraying Jesus Christ as a pedophile and charlatan? (Highly unlikely as Jesus Christ is also a crucial figure in the Islamic faith)

Has the Christian world demonstrated any more restraint in the past? The events of 9/11 was met with swift and brutal retribution against not one, but two nations, for the actions of their perceived fringe. Domestically, the opening salvos of America’s fury resulted in the deaths of American Sikhs, Muslims, and most telling, Coptic Christians.

I return once again to the Republican nominee’s statement. What are our values as a people? Romney’s attacks against the Obama administration occurred less than 24 hours after the attack in Libya. The families had not been notified, the memorials had not been set, and the accounting of the day’s events had barely begun to form into a cohesive image. Is this course of action what we, as a people, value? The politicization of a national tragedy, and to what end? Votes?

The above statement was released as part of a second round of attacks. From all indicators, it appears that his campaign is planning to continue pressing the issue. Whether it is for fear of being perceived as weak, or for fear of appearing (for shame) apologetic, we will not likely know.

What we do know, however, is this: The worst atrocities of human history were only made possible through the perpetration of the Hostile Other. The idea that “they” want to harm “us” and that “we” must kill “them” before “they” can do so to “us”. But who are “they”? And more importantly, who are “we”?

Make no mistake, we most certainly have our enemies, foreign and domestic. They are the fringe elements of all societies, the unthinking mass, the self-appointed saviors of our collective futures, bloodshed and suffering be damned. They are the harbingers of a Golden future, a path paved in the corpses of the Hostile Other.

It is the rhetoric of Wade Michael Page, who attacked the Sikh Temple in Milwaukee last month. It is the rhetoric of Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City. It is the rhetoric of Osama bin Laden, whose infamy and impact need no preamble for anyone in the world. It is the rhetoric of Mao, of Stalin, of Polpot. And, it is the rhetoric of perhaps that greatest symbol of man’s shame and capacity for atrocity: Adolf Hitler.

With Romney’s vociferous attacks on our President, so soon after a tragic event, it becomes clear to me who the Hostile Other is in Romney’s eyes. He has the right to question President Obama’s methods.

He does not have the right to attack our President’s loyalties.

That is a course of action designed to create a Hostile Other where none exists.

I love my country. And, being a Taiwanese citizen, I make no attempts to hide that my country is America. And as an American, I am once again forced to ask, “Who are we?”

“What are our values?”

Do we stand with the world, apart from the world, or against the world?

I no longer know, and I believe only in the deepest trenches of our collective soul-searching will that answer ever be made clear to me again.

With Concern and Humility,
Hau-Wei Chang, 11:58 AM, 9/13/12

Weekly Challenge: Dangerous Labels

I have a challenge for you.

Every week, I’ll post a challenge. It can be about anything, on any topic. They will challenge the way you think, the way that you see the world. It will make you think, forcing you to step back and reevaluate. In the end, you may find that it will change your world.
Today’s challenge: Labels

Labels are everywhere.  It seems that everyone is a part of a label, a particular “group” that defines who they are. Some are harmless. Sports fans and writers enjoy the particular topic their label refers to. In this case, the label is simply an expression of their interests.

But what about those labels that come to define a person? That’s when it gets tricky. When labels become a definition rather than an expression, then they become stereotypical. And that spells danger. Stereotypes = isolation or even hatred.

Do you label people with stereotypes? No? Well, let’s check. I’m going to be bold and jump right into it with a hot topic- Muslims. What do you consider when you think of a Muslim? For many, especially in America, it’s the image of the blanket-wearing, gun-toting terrorist whose sole purpose in life is to blow people up.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. It’s all over the place- I see it all the time on Facebook. But that’s a label. Not all Muslims are trying to run the Jews to the sea or take over America. Not all those who observe Ramadan or spend their holy days in a mosque instead of a church are plotting the destruction of American troops.

I saw two women in the grocery store recently, both dressed in “traditional” Muslim outfits (which, ironically, in itself is a misconception. But that’s another story). I have a hard time thinking that these women are going home to terrorists husbands.

That’s where the problem lies. Not all people are the same, no matter what banner they flock to. Muslim, Christian, or whatever other label you want- they all have extremes. Christians are famous for the brutalities during the crusades. Does that mean I want to force a “convert or die” mentality simply because I attend church? Certainly not.

And so it is with them. Yes, I’m addressing a hot issue right now. Religion is one of those topics people shy away from. But you know what? Some things just need to be said.

So there’s my challengeinstead of seeing a label, rather consider the individual behind the label. You just might be surprised at the person you’ll meet. They just might turn out to be very much like you.