Babies Behind the Wheel? Driving In a Police State

I make no quip about my driving skills.  On a scale from 1 to 10 I’m probably closer to 20.  The funny thing is, even after all these years I still find a way to impress myself occasionally with my driving skills. It puts a smile on my face.  But there is one thing about driving that is NOT funny.  Yes, there are a lot of terrible drivers out there.  Way too many if you ask me.  Yet, the more I drive, and the more places I drive, why am I starting to get the feeling that I am constantly being filmed, monitored and babied behind the wheel of my own car?

A police state is one where the government exercises strict and repressive controls of its people.  I can find no better example of this in America today, than what is going on with the Department of Transportation.  I honestly believe that they want to make the driving experience as horrible as possible so that people will leave their cars at home and take public transportation, thereby having fewer cars on the road as an attempt to solve car emission/ environmental issues.

At first, I thought it was just a Washington D.C. issue.  Before I moved to DC, I was looking for an apartment close to the Howard campus.  Coming from the Pacific Northwest, an apartment three or four miles isn’t that big of a deal.  I could narrow that down to a 5-6 minute drive.  But for some unexplainable reason, when I Google mapped the driving distance from the apartments to campus, it would always tell me it was a 20-plus minute drive.  I kept thinking to myself, “why does this drive take so long?”  It wasn’t long after that I was picking up my rental car from the Dulles Airport.  My first experience driving to the hotel included running through a toll road.  I had no idea about having to pay a fee to get off the freeway!  Talk about ridiculous!  So if I don’t have any cash I have to pay a fine or just keep driving?  Shame on whoever’s idea that was.  The rest of my time spent driving around DC that first week was spent randomly pulling over on the side of the road for no reason because the cops ALWAYS had their lights on, even when they weren’t pulling anyone over.  Again, I was not used to this method.  I was under the impression that cops only turned their lights on when they were actively pursuing someone; otherwise they were a regular driver like the rest of us.  But not in DC.  Every cop on the road had his or her lights on.  I was so confused I couldn’t wait to turn my rental in.  Of course, to do so would mean driving back across town.  So, why does it take 23 minutes to drive 4 miles?  Because there are so many lights!  Even when there is no block.  Just a random light for no reason.  It was then I understood why before I left for the east coast everyone was talking about how great the train was in the DMV and how nobody in the area has a car.  Yea, because driving around town is absolutely miserable!  With all the monuments and history around town, it’s like a maze.  On top of that are all the speed zones with photos and cameras.  Sending people tickets in the mail? Is that really how low we as a society are going?  I know we are better than that.

Just when I thought that I had left all that foolishness behind, I returned home to find that the Oregon Department of Transportation has also decided to put pacifiers in the mouths of Oregon drivers.  I was recently profiled for my excellent driving skills and had to take a seatbelt safety course, and I must say, the entire process was pretty offensive.  And for once it just wasn’t the other people in the room.  Usually it’s the barrage of stupid questions coming from the audience because they fail to realize we can all get out a lot faster if nobody asked questions and just let the presenter speak.  But in this case, what was offensive was the presenter on behalf of the Department of Transportation.  I understand that seat belts save lives, speed limits are “suggestions” that they pass off as maximum speed allowed, and that backing up and parallel parking is a skill lost on many drivers, but cars with back-up cameras, Wi-Fi, and the ability to  “communicate” with other cars and hit the brakes before the driver?  Doesn’t that sound a little creepy and invasive?  I mean, what’s next?  People won’t even steer their own car?  The wonderful employee from the Department of Transportation informed us that these new “improvements” will soon be coming to all newly produced vehicles, in addition to a few of my already driving favorites I’ve seen lately such as:

  • Roundabouts: the state of Oregon, among some others, wants to eliminate the left turn. Apparently the majority of t-bone car accidents take place when vehicles are attempting to make a left-turn.  Thus, roundabouts will be replacing 4-way stops.  Shame on you Oregon!  Talk about one of the worst ideas ever. Have you ever tried to switch lanes in a roundabout? Seriously, if you can’t make a left turn, how in the world did you get a license in the first place?
  • Random marked/ unmarked crosswalks: you wonder why there are so many fat people walking around?  One reason is because people won’t walk one block to the light and push the button and wait.  Boy, that sounds like too much work.  I swear, some of the crosswalks are about 100 feet away from a stop light.  It just makes no sense!  Even in a 45 mph zone, you expect a driver to stop immediately whenever a person decides to take off across the crosswalk?  For shame.  I am all for pedestrians’ having certain privileges, but this is in no way safer for anybody.  Walk to the light, hit the button and wait.

We are going the wrong way in the country on a lot of things; too many to mention here.  And here is another example of treating people like babies and dropping our standards for the lowest members of our society.  I’m not even a big climate change guy in the first place, but clearly it is the mission of some to make the driving experience completely miserable and horrendous to the point that people don’t want to drive and are resigned to taking public transportation in its various forms.  Surely people will always drive.  But with gas prices and the horrible driving conditions, including drivers, we are pushing people to their respective, if albeit mediocre, limits.

I propose instead that states make getting drivers licenses more difficult.  Don’t take away left turns from all of us great drivers out there because some moron doesn’t know how to look both ways before crossing the street.  Why do people only take a driving test once?  You should have to brush up on and prove you driving skills on a biannual basis.  Some people are just terrible and unfit to be behind the wheel.  Unfortunately, they are taking away the rights from all the great drivers like me.  Why do we have to always treat everyone like babies just because a few people don’t get it?  Give the drivers license to the big boys and girls and let the babies take the bus and train.  Some of us enjoy the privilege of driving and treat it with the respect it deserves.  And yet, all too much in 2014 the government treats everyone like the lowest members of society.  Raise the standards to get better drivers on the road, not ruin the driving experience by “dumbing-down” the road for every moron checking their Facebook on the freeway.  Shame on you for consistently basing the status quo on the intelligence and reason of the lowest, most deplorable members of society.

And if you disagree with me you’re a racist, homophobic, androphobe…


Celebrating Mediocrity: the Lowering Academic Standards and Expectations of America’s Youth…

The last thing I want to do is come off as a “negative Nancy.”  I certainly agree that every person deserves their day.  But we have got to stop the madness.  Are we really throwing graduation ceremonies for graduating Kindergarten? 6th grade?  People, we have to start celebrating SERIOUS accomplishments.  Here is one way to measure:  if you have a class of 20 Kindergarten students, and they all pass on to 1st grade, what is there to celebrate?  Now, if only 5 children graduate, or a much smaller proportion, fine, you win.  But don’t we expect all kids to pass kindergarten?  Are we expected to reward children for meeting not only our own expectations, but accomplishing what 100% of their classmates also accomplished? Graduating from Kindergarten is no big deal and should be treated as such in a society with high expectations for itself and its children.  I have seen pictures of kids’ graduation from 6th grade wearing gowns, robes, and sashes like they just graduated from law school!  Students in other countries probably care less and get less for such an achievement; the standards set forth by the country are much higher.

High school is a whole different issue, but I would argue that the principle is essentially the same.  86-88% of the student population currently graduates from high school.  To me, that pretty much moves it right into the “societal expectations” category, and thus, no longer warranting celebration.  Now, that is not to say that we should do away with high school graduations.  But do they really need or deserve such a big ceremony and outfits that make them look as if they are graduating from Harvard to symbolize accomplishing what 86% of the general population has also accomplished?  And in our current state, is no longer as significant when it comes to getting a job?  If 86% of the population can do it, does it really warrant celebration?  Or should we be celebrating a higher standard?

I feel for the poor, especially poor Black people, so I understand how important that accomplishment may be.  Particularly in cases where the parents didn’t even graduate from high school and the joy one can feel to see their kids accomplish what the parents could not.  Please, celebrate!  But at some point, even we have to move pass that.  Even we have to set the expectations much higher for ourselves and our children.  Graduating from high school can no longer be the bar.  It’s unacceptable; especially given current conditions.

There should be no rewards for meeting society’s expectations.  For one, we already know that the standards set by the majority of the population are already set low; hence, the first reason not to celebrate.  So we certainly want to set our standards much higher than the general population’s.  Secondly, we want to set the example that we are going to celebrate and promote EXCEEDING not only society’s, but our own expectations.  Can you succeed or accomplish more than what society has set for you?  Now that is worthy of celebration!

I have an idea: instead of rewarding kids, we should challenge them.  You graduated from kindergarten? Nice, now go learn the piano or violin.  Congratulations, you graduated from the 6th grade, now here is some community service for you.  Now we as a society are getting somewhere!  We should match each educational transition with a new challenge.  Only then will we set a new standard for ourselves and our children.  When you throw such a celebration for the accomplishment of mediocrity and the status quo, we give children the impression they have truly accomplished something in the world, when in reality they have done nothing of exception.  Then they will want to be rewarded for everything that society expects from them, or just by participating in the status quo, when as we should all know by now, participating in the status quo is far from worthy of appreciation or celebration.  And it starts with our kids.  Let’s not give them the wrong impression; as if they have accomplished some magnificent task worthy of celebration when it couldn’t be further away from the truth.

The worst example of this behavior is the fact that “C’s get degrees.”  “C’s get degrees” is the WORST part of America’s educational system.  It teaches young people that you can succeed working at being average and mediocre.  It sets the trend of rewarding average behavior!  Rewarding mediocrity and mediocre behavior leads to promoting mediocre behavior and society should never get to the point where it actively promotes mediocrity; it will ultimately come at the expense of the exceptional.  We all can’t be winners… the sooner we learn that in life the better.  America’s falling/ declining educational achievement position in the world will continue as long as we continue to promote and reward the average and celebrate mediocrity.

Listen, I understand that we as a country are going through a tough time; a time of transition.  The economy is trying to grow; people need work, school shootings.  The easy thing to do is comfort the people, making them feel better with symbolic celebrations.  It’s very Keynesian:  when going through a rough time, spend money, celebrate, have fun.  I couldn’t disagree with this approach more.  In tough times is when we need to raise the bar a little bit.  Let’s not baby people during tough times, let’s prepare them and give them the tools they need to confront tough times.  I can hear my mother’s voice: “Look baby, we are going through tough times right now, it’s time to buckle up and work extra hard.”  Isn’t the saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”?  Well America, it’s been tough and it’s time to get going. Raise the bar.  Expect more from our children and ourselves.  Challenge them.  But by no means should we accept and celebrate the accomplishment of the status quo and promote mediocre success.

The Voting Rights Act and the Art of Phony Outrage…

I thought the best thing to do about this issue was give it a week or so, come back and see how I feel about it.  Anyone who knows me well – particularly any of my students – know that I am not particularly fond of the U.S. voting machine in the first place.  In the Black community, the significance of U.S. elections is even more of an illusion.  So last week when the Supreme Court eliminated a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, I was neither surprised nor outraged.

On June 25th the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — the map that determines which states must get federal permission before they change their voting laws.  The Voting Rights Act required nine states with a history of discrimination at the polls, mostly in the South, to get approval from the Justice Department or a special panel of judges before they change their voting laws. The rule also applies to 12 cities and 57 counties elsewhere.  In their decision, Justice Roberts cited census data showing that Black voter turnout now exceeds white turnout in five of the six states originally covered by the law.

My attention was immediately grabbed by the ridiculous amount of “phony outrage” by political pundits and analysts from America’s leading news networks.  What perplexes me the most is the ignorance of those claiming to be “outraged” by the decision.  Are you really shocked?  Where have you been the last 10 years? Said Justice Roberts, “our country has changed,” and no doubt all the clownish pundits of progressive political talk (particularly MSNBC) will validate this opinion.  The country would not have elected a Black president in 1965, 75, 85 and probably 95! So clearly the nation has changed. Progressives, Blacks included, are quick to emphasize that our new and enlightened America is moving past race. Black academics and politicians don’t want to be bound by race.  Musicians, athletes, and actors despise being confined to the issues and roles particular to the Black community.  Race is no longer an issue to them.

You wanted a more “diverse” America were race was no longer the issue, well you just got it. Like it or not, the Supreme Court, finally, agreed with you.  Oh you don’t like that? All of a sudden you have a problem with a race-less society? You’ve worked so hard to beat the drum of inclusion and moving past race so you can make money, go to predominately white schools even if you have to take 2 busses and a train to get there.  And now you want to beat the drum of Black discrimination? Excuse me if I’m not buying it.  Apparently, the Supreme Court isn’t either.

Most importantly the Supreme Court decision shows how little Black people (especially elites, politicians, and academics) care: we are officially behind Mexicans and the LGBT community in priorities for the Democratic Party and political decision makers. Those are now the votes democrats want to maintain, and republicans feel they need.  Obama never even addresses or mentioned Black causes during his last inauguration speech; we aren’t on his radar; and the Supreme Court had a front row seat.  “Black leaders” convened at Howard University after the election in 2012 to address a Black agenda aimed at President Obama after they noticed the Black community’s lack of interest from the President as other members of the democratic base, primarily Hispanics and gays.   If the President, who is Black doesn’t care, why should the Supreme Court?  The voting laws in southern and western states today aren’t meant to deny Blacks, they are meant to curb the Mexican and Latino vote, which is why most of them focus on id’s and documentation that most illegal immigrants don’t, or shouldn’t have. Hence, the uproar when states were issuing illegal immigrants id’s and drivers licenses; the problem was that when it came to voting, these could be used as identification at the booths.

The fact of the matter is, not much has really changed.  America and its institutions are still racially charged and discriminatory towards Blacks.  Read the comment section of any article or blog as it relates to Blacks in this country and all of them are racially charged.  What has changed is the coup on Black elites and professionals who have sold their souls for the power of the dollar and convinced them all to abandon Black identity for a more “diverse” America.  Until we revert back to a time when being Black was just not something a person happened to be, but was rather a focal point of that person’s identity; not an American who happens to be Black, but a Black person in America, with a unique history and experience that shapes how they perceive American politics and institutions, we will continue to see less attention paid to the issues and conditions facing Blacks in America.  The reality is, not everyone’s issue and cause is a Black cause.  But every Black issue and cause is an American one.

A Degenerative Culture Part I: Put Up Your Dukes

Everyday someone posts some new video on Facebook: some patriotic scene of a US soldier or a heart-warming tribute to some young, cancer-stricken teenager.  Or even some funny video of a monkey slinging it’s feces.  But I never click to watch.  No, there is only one type of video out there that I consistently take time out of my day to watch: fights.  That’s right.  There’s nothing like a slightly grainy video of two people throwing hay-makers until someone gets knocked out.  They take me back to my youth.  Reminds me of a better America, you know, before we became a nation full of sissies and tattle tells.  I am reminded of one of my favorite Eminem lyrics: “Whatever happened to catching a good-old fashioned passionate ass-whooping/ and getting your shoes, coat and your hat tooken?”  Yes, I long for the days when we used to stand up to bullies, even if it meant going home bloody and bruised.  At least we could look ourselves in the mirror with pride and feeling courageous.

I can remember getting jumped by two white Russian boys when I was just in the 4th grade.  There was no running. There was no crying to your parents about how so and so called you a name.  My mother worked two jobs all day and had enough to worry about raising three boys on her own.  The last thing we wanted to do was waist her valuable time talking about how some uppity kid from the hill didn’t like our Raiders jackets.  We stood there and put up our dukes like we were raised and the next day at school at least those kids knew if there was going to be a problem, physical altercation was not out of the question; make them think twice if they really want to go through all that again.  If you called me the N-word in those days, you could expect swift and violent action. No need for principles or parents or putting your business on blast on some silly Facebook post, craving for attention and asking people to like your status. No, if you had a problem with someone back then we were raised to confront them.

Here is a simple strategy that works wonders that somehow our culture has seemed to forget.  It goes: “what is your problem?”  That’s right.  If someone had a problem back then it was as easy as “hey, what’s your problem? And if it’s that serious we can go to Candy Cane park or the playground of your choice.” It was short, sweet, and effective.  If the problem they had was fight-worthy: fine.  If not, laugh it off and go on about your business.  Either option is better than being picked on and bullied.  We were boys raised to be men then; before Progressives hi-jacked society with their “social constructs” of “masculinity.”  Our father’s would be proud win or lose.  If we won: “great! Son, give me details.”  If we lost, at least we stood up for ourselves.  You see, that was the lesson.  Standing up for yourself and not allowing a teacher or principle to do it for you.

Now we live in an age where kids are taught NOT to confront bullies and face their problems.  The line to the principal’s office is a mile long of students complaining how so and so made fun of their hair, personality, or clothes.  And next to that is the mile-long line to the counselor’s office with student’s waiting to explain how they are so “different.”  Everyday some outcast teenager feels isolated and tormented by those around them. But do we teach them to confront the problem? Oh no, instead they go home and play video games and sing along to Drake songs about how lonely and depressed they are until they explode and do more harm than if they would have just taken the 10 minutes to confront the person straight up.  If that ended up in a physical altercation so be it.  But at least you could walk around with some pride.  When did we start raising a nation full of snitches and Facebook muppets?

The cultural advantages of fighting and confronting problems head-on are priceless.  Fighting, like wrestling, is the original sport of man.  It teaches us values and develops our character.  We can never rid ourselves of bullies and tattle tales don’t make the situation better, they make it worst.  Most bullies won’t even listen to reason.  Physical altercations are all they understand, and being a snitch doesn’t curb their behavior, it intensifies it.  It’s a classic case of: “Oh, you went and told the principal on me?”  Thus, the bully is no longer angry at the individual person, they get upset at a culture and society that allows tattle tells to win and rewards kids for running away from their problems. That somehow running from your problem and waiting for some adult to come to your rescue is ok.  Well it’s not.  And it is in all of our best interest that it remains this way

The underlying problem here is mainly fear.  A fear of confronting your own problems.  Fear of declaring your own moral and personal shortcomings.  Fear of being rejected.  Fear of the unavoidable pain.  Fear of getting an ass-whooping!  But with every ass-whooping comes a grain of truth and dignity.  We are all capable of getting our ass-whooped on occasion and nobody is ever too big or small, cute or ugly.  At some point we’ve all walked that line as to where we stop being civil and it’s “oops upside ya head.”  All capable of feeling pain.  But it makes us better people.  Most importantly it makes us stronger; teaches us our limits.  Some things are worth fighting for.  Other things you can let go.  But at least we get to learn and give it a try for ourselves.  Don’t deny our next generation of the pleasure and opportunity to catch a good old-fashion, passionate ass-whooping.

America: The Spoiled Teenager…

My international relations class is filled with international students.  In a class of 23, only three of my students are American born.  With so many students from other countries and now receiving their education in America, one would think that words of admiration and unbridled enthusiasm for America’s way of life would pour out of their mouths.  Some have come from war-torn, poor, and religious intolerant nations. Sound familiar?  Yet with so much diversity, the feeling of anti-Americanism dominates the classroom.  Discussion in the classroom centers on how America should not promote its values, way of life, or democracy on anyone else.  “America has its own problems to figure out before they go telling other countries what to do.” And “Americans are immoral and selfish.” But, America also continues to have the highest percentage of immigrants moving to the country. How can this be so?  Is it because America is so great? No.  The fact is America is the spoiled teenager that people only like because of its toys.

Follow me.  You know the rich kid from school? They have all the cool toys and gadgets you and your parents could never afford.  Their cupboard is full of tasty treats and snacks that your parents never buy.  Everyone loves to hang out there, so the kid has a lot of “friends.”  Whenever you guys go out as a group he offers to pay or his parents always take the kids out to dinner, which your mom could never do.  When people hit hard times or can’t afford to go out with the rest of the group they always offer a helping hand, not from a generous heart, but because it makes them feel important and gives them the reputation of a good person.  As you got older, his house was the safe house that kids would go in order to drink.  Your parents had no problem with you hanging out there; everyone was doing it.

Personality wise, this kid is poor. Not very attractive, says awkward things.  If they didn’t have all the latest toys and cupboard full of snacks, people wouldn’t hang out there.  In fact, behind their back, they are ridiculed and consistently made fun of and as soon as another kid, preferable much cooler and attractive, shows up with cool stuff they can’t wait to move on.  Of course, this kid thinks that they are cooler than they really are.  They believe people like hanging out with them because of their personality or think the girls like him because he is attractive.  They act with the confidence and arrogance of a cool kid that the other students can’t do without.  He has to be cool.  If he wasn’t, why would people hangout there?

What am I saying? America, too, believes that people migrate here and befriend us because our values and way of life is so great.  No, people migrate to America because overall, we unethical and it’s a place where people can move to and get away with anything, especially if you have money.  Selfishness and individualism are not only profitable, it is encouraged.  Now if lack of money is your problem, in America you can get rich fairly quickly.    And not for the “hard work” associated with the American dream.  It was once believed that if you come to America and work hard you can live a good life.  This is no longer the case; the secret is out.  The truth is, in America you can get rich and famous for very little work, effort, and for filthy and disgusting acts, worth little honor or glory at all.  The fact that the Kardashians are popular only proves this point.  You can have no talent whatsoever, make a sex tape, and the next thing you’re rich and famous!  In America, just being good looking can make you rich.  If you’re not good looking, being extremely ignorant and short-sighted can make you famous too, see Honey Boo Boo.  Smart, dumb, poor and ugly, if you’re willing to demean yourself and lower your standards, yes, you can have whatever you want in America.  If you’re not rich, there are enough shallow people in America who are willing to “show you a good time” just because you’re good looking.  You can stay in all the finest hotels and hangout at the best nightclubs, a much better life than you once had, basically for very little substance.  No talent, no great idea or contribution to society, just a shallow dream to get ahead.  And in America, that attitude gets rewarded.  People around the world know America is full of shallow, materialistic people, who have replaced God with money.  They don’t have to come here and learn the rules, learn a language, or customs.  Most liberals will be quick to tell you that there is no American customs or traditions for people to belong to.  We all come from somewhere else and that’s what makes the country so great.

America thinks our freedoms and liberties make us special and separate us from the rest of the world.  Anyone who thinks this is clearly out of touch with reality.  America has the highest prison population in the world, meaning, we incarcerate more people than any other country in the world.  You think people in America are free?  This is one of the LEAST free places a person can live.  You think America is the land of opportunity? America has the largest economic inequality than any other industrialized nation.  The rich and poor are furthest apart in this country than anywhere else, and the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep getting poorer.  Over 90% of the people die in the same economic class they were born into.  So the idea of class mobility is also an American myth.

But we are so open-minded.  Americans are accepting of other cultures and people who are different.  Remember, we all came from somewhere else.  If you believe this, I have a beach house in South Dakota to sell you.  Look how we treat Muslims and the racial problems in this country.  America isn’t tolerant of difference.  We are some of the most intolerant people who dislike anyone who looks different, talks different, or believes different.  To think that people migrate to America because we are so open-minded and accepting of peoples’ differences is to suffer from the highest degree of disillusionment.  The streets have never been paved with gold but that was once the myth of immigrants who came to America too.

The problem in America, back to the analogy of the spoiled teenager, is divorce: all of a sudden there isn’t as much money and the person really isn’t that cool in the first place, so befriending them becomes less important.  Yet that person fights tooth and nail to maintain prestige and friendships.  You really see what a terrible friend and shallow person they are when the money isn’t as strong, and their attitude changes when they notice that people were just using them for the cool place to hangout.  America, too, is running low on funds and we are starting to see the country for what it is. Not so free, not so tolerant, and people are starting to question its brilliance and significance in the rest of the world.  It used to be that other countries around the world didn’t have the opportunities, wealth, and way of life as Americans had.  But in 2012, there are many countries that people can choose that have democracy, women’s rights, economic prosperity, but also come with national health care, education, and more tolerant people and government.  As soon as another country, preferably not China, has new and better toys than America, perhaps a little more tolerant with better things to offer, America will be the $2 dollar prostitute that only gets attention when the party is over and you ran out of crew love.  Sure it still has potential; every now and then it shows signs of life and can pull off a few tricks from its younger days.  But for the most part, its position as a special place with great ideas and unparalleled freedom is gone.  American exceptionalism is a great idea, but no longer backed by facts.  Truth be told, we aren’t as cool as we think we are. And the world is starting to notice too…

Sometimes the answer is NO…

People want a lot of things. We pray for a lot of things.  Every morning I wake up I pray for the prosperity and health of my family and friends, and the focus and strength to accomplish all the tasks that I need to do that day.  But every now and then our prayers get a little more specific. We pray for a job. We pray for the perfect relationship. We pray for wealth and the health of ill family members.  All prayers get answered, but we do not always get what we specifically pray for.  Thus, the question eventually becomes, why not?  Sometimes it’s not even for us!  We pray for others to get a job.  For others to get healthy.  For others to find happiness.  When we do not get what we prayed for does it mean that God doesn’t care or that he ignored us?  As in everything in life, it’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t get the things we feel we need or really want.  But the good news is that God does hear our prayers. He knows what we need and want before we even ask for them.  When we don’t get what we specifically prayed for the answer is simple: Sometimes God’s answer is No…

But “doesn’t He want to say yes?”  “I thought The Bible says that he wants to give us the desires of our hearts?”  Well, yes, God does want to say yes, and give us the desires of our heart.  But more importantly, the fulfillment of God’s will on earth takes precedence over any one individual’s wants or needs.  The problem is that we have tried to make our will for our life God’s will for our life and not the other way around.  We want God to operate on our time instead of His.  Sure, God wants to say yes and fulfill every single one of our prayers filled with wants and desires; but he also wants you to want and desire the same things that He wants and desires.  It’s up to us to learn those things.  More importantly, we should want God to say no to prayers that are inconsistent and incompatible with His will for our life or that would harm our relationship with Him.  God would be doing us a great disservice if He led us into harm, or worst, sin.  He loves us; and just like anyone who loves another person genuinely, He wouldn’t willingly lead us into harm’s way.  Thus, when we ask for things that lead us away from His will for our life, we should be grateful that we did not get it, lest we be worse off than we were before we prayed!

If God wants to “give us the desires of our hearts,” then why does He say no?  For many things in life that we pray for the answer is simple, it’s not in His plan for us.  What about the seemingly meaningless things, or small, day to day or personal wishes that we make?  That job that you really want, really need, or maybe you’ve put in the hard work and years of schooling and you really deserve it; why don’t we get those prayers answered?  The first question you have to ask yourself is what are you praying for and why?  For a good portion of the population, what you prayed for is for your own individual wealth, health, and prosperity, and simultaneously, the harm of someone else.  Sometimes we really pray that the joker who did us wrong really gets what they deserve.  Or maybe you pray for others for selfish reasons; you pray that someone gets a job so that they can pay back the money they owe you.  You pray for someone to get back on their feet so they can finally get out of your house.  Yes, we can specifically pray for things that benefit us and others specifically, but we must continually be praying for God’s will to be done in our lives and those we love no matter what.  Praying for individual wealth is a popular one, and yet the majority of the people remain poor.  This is by no means an accident.

Now, if you really want, need, or feel like you deserve to have a prayer answered then why, still, does God say no?  The answer is you either: (1) don’t need it, (2) don’t deserve it, or (3) you’re not ready to have what you’re praying for.  Every day we pray for things that we want but don’t need, and if we got those things, it would be a disaster.  Never get a want mixed up and confused with a need.  Secondly, we pray for things we think we deserve but have done nothing to merit.  We barely pick up our Bible or display any gratitude and yet we think just because we haven’t killed anyone today or committed any significant crime that God should cut us some slack.  Hey, there are a lot worst people out there, right?  But a lot of things we pray for we aren’t ready to receive.  Some people pray for a new, fancy job that they want, really need, but don’t deserve.  You could barely handle the responsibility and schedule of fast food.  To be placed in a position of higher authority with greater responsibility would be an injustice!  Why would God want to do you a disservice by giving you a job you can’t handle, and responsibility you’re not ready to receive?  Thus, many prayers go unanswered because we want them but don’t need them, want them for selfish reasons only, and we aren’t ready to receive what we’ve been praying for.  Again, it is in our best interest that God says no to prayers that we aren’t ready for or that do more harm than good in the fulfillment of His plan for our lives.  We should be thankful…

What should you do if God says no?  Whatever you were praying for, don’t force it.  How many people have prayed for a relationship or to get married so badly that they grew impatient, operating on their own time, and found out that they weren’t ready to be married, married the wrong person, and their life just got worst?  Forcing yourself or someone else to have something they’re not ready for, don’t need, or don’t deserve is more likely to result in suffering than happiness.  Patience is a great way to exercise and reinforce one’s faith.  When something does not come when, or how you want it, this is the perfect time to operate in faith.  Meaning, God has something else, better, in store for you and your life, and if you just be patient and wait for it, you will recognize how much better off you will be.  But again, how many people are capable of delaying their own personal satisfaction?  Thus, when God says no to what you’ve prayed for, move on and discover what God wants in your life and go after that thing.  Be patient, because when one door closes, God has always opened up another.

Most people are always looking for the answer to getting what they want, thus it’s necessary to ask: what must I do for God to say yes to my prayers?  Simply, align your will with His.  This means, make what God wants and what you want one and the same; one and the same will.  How do we learn God’s will?  How do I know God’s will for me?  To know God’s will you have to get to know Him.  Personally.  This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go to church and sit in the front row every Sunday.  Start by reading your Bible.  Just like knowing what your wife or significant other wants, you have to seek it; ask and listen.  Open your Bible, or whatever source you consider to be the foundation of your beliefs, and read it.  Once you get to know God intimately, you will want to want the same things as He.  You will yearn to accomplish His will for your life.  There is nothing more fulfilling than realizing and accomplishing God’s will for your life.  But you have to take to the time to ask and listen to what that is.  If you find something that doesn’t comply with your lifestyle, desires, or what you think you want, then ask God to help you see His way and give you understanding and strength to overcome your fears so that you can see it His way.

Everyday I pray.  It’s a personal and intimate experience that should be a major part of everyone’s daily life.  Sometimes I would get discouraged when I fell on hard times, and I would pray to God that I needed a job “right now,” or if he would just bring this person into my life, then I would be complete and happy, and those things didn’t happen.  At first it would make me question my faith and ask if He even cared or if He was listening.  But the more I learned about Him, and how He cares for us, spent time in the word and reading my Bible daily, I came to the realization that: sometimes the answers to our prayers is “No.”  And for that I’m grateful…

Downside to high standards, everyone holds you to them…

The general level of what is currently acceptable behavior in society is low; what is required of people in America is less and less, especially morally.  People set low expectations and have low standards for themselves, others, and society so that they can be unaccountable and don’t have to do anything significant without being judged too harshly.  They also have low values and sense of self-worth which adds to their low level of expectations and low standards; settling for BS because deep down they know they are full of BS too.  The best they can do is to hope to never be found out by others exactly how full of it they are, or find someone else equally full of it and the two go on and live “happily” ignoring the nonsense of the other, or going along with it.  Perhaps they find someone equally full of it so that they cannot be accountable for their own inadequate life.  People want to be able to get away with living a hypocritical, contradictory, and completely inadequate and unexamined life so they choose people with similar standards and objectives.  If you set the bar low, people will expect less, judge less harshly, and lower their standards to accommodate the high proportion of hypocrisy and ignorance that is currently flourishing throughout society.

One aspect of the corrupt nature of our society is that people set high standards, then settle for much lower standards; which is another example of low self-worth.  You hate people who smoke, and yet you smoke nearly a pack of cigarettes a day.  How many people say, “I would never date a person who has kids, or does XYZ,” when they have kids of their own and participate in X,Y, and Z continually?  Right now some young lady is looking for a man over 6ft, no kids, light-skin, athletic body, professional/ educated, owns a car, and lives alone.  On the other hand, she is 5’4, closer to a 2-liter than a coke bottle, as dark as night or as pale as the snow, two “baby daddy’s,” working at Taco Bell while finishing your associate’s in general education, loves with her parents while she shares a room with her little sister, and consistently needs to borrow money to put on her metro card.  But you better come at her correct!

You want a man with a muscular, athletic body type when you don’t look like you’ve missed very many meals lately.  Really, BBW?  Apparently your idea of athletic for yourself is somewhere on the offensive line of your favorite football team.  Either that or you are completely delusional; that type of body requires exercise and it doesn’t appear that you’ve broken a sweat outside of digging your way to the bottom of the tub of Rocky Road ice cream.  “I would never date a man without a degree.”  Ok, and your certificate from nail and hair school counts?  You want a man who’s a professional and has more than just a Bachelors degree, and you’re still working on your Associate’s from an online college that you’ve been “attending” for 5 years.  “I hate girls who slept with a lot of people including people I know and consider friends.”  Oh yea?  Never stopped you from sleeping around or with her friends.  So pretty much you wouldn’t date yourself!  No wonder… You’ve set a standard that not even you can meet, good job.  Now here’s the lesson:  Make sure you have the courage and discipline to be who you say you are and be what you’re looking for.  Otherwise, your hypocritical and contradictory character will be returned unto you…

Contrarily, if one has high expectations and sets a standard of excellence, be prepared to be judged harshly.  Once you decide to stop being mediocre like everyone else, you cannot fall victim to the same problems and issues as everyone else; you expect better and so does everyone else, and they will criticize you accordingly.  Thus, the current solution in America is: if you don’t want to be held to a high standard, don’t have any.  If you’re not prepared and willing to follow through on the moral or ethical code that you promote and identify with, then don’t have any morals or ethics at all.  Otherwise your hypocritical and contradictory nature becomes the norm and people who do follow a moral or ethical code become ostracized.  Everyone loves a person of high morals and character; ALMOST as much as they like to witness that same person fail and fall victim to the high standards that they set for themselves and that other people in society are not able to meet.  Watching someone else fail at meeting their own level of expectations make the rest of society who would rather keep the bar low, feel better about their own level of ignorance and moral shortcomings.  To say, “I would never do that,” means that if you get caught doing “that,” you will receive the public’s wrath more harshly.

Don’t participate in behavior that you believe is unacceptable – hypocrisy is the root of confusion and ignorance.  People get confused due to lack of knowledge of standards and morals.  As a result, anything will do, and anything generally means low.  Ultimately, you will be judged to the same level, degree, and basis for which you judge others.  Thus, it’s ok to judge others; we must!  How else are we supposed to determine who we should stay away from and who poses a threat if we don’t judge?  They key is to not let your judgment of others supersede your own level of expectations and standards that you have for yourself.  The level of ignorance and hypocrisy has reached an all-time high.  The decline in America is the result of reduced expectations and low standards…