Category Archives: Social Issues

The Digital Bubble

The world is in a digital bubble

The world  through the eyes of digital media

If we were told 100 years ago that we would be able to send little packages of information through cyber space faster than the speed of sound, we would have thought the whole idea was ridiculous. We had some ideas of how technology would revolutionize everything, but not to the extent of which we see it today. Technology is growing and changing faster than we have time to comprehend and catch up with it. I remember the simpler times growing up as a little boy in Zambia when we only had one broadcasting station for TV and two local radio channels. Some of my fondest memories were when we gathered around the radio, and we would listen to songs, the news, story tellers, and skits that captivated our imagination. The news was told like it happened and without experts throwing around their opinions – it was simply information and the listener was free to come up with his/her own conclusions. We had social gatherings which were face-to-face conversations and interactions.  For many who did not have a home telephone, the only mode of distant communication was through word of mouth, snail mail, or telegraph.

The last 20 plus years has seen a rapid increase in technology. The race to personalize products for individual consumers is on. It’s now all about your life, your happiness, your device, your personal computer, your profile, your timeline; you can’t live without your social media or electronics. Companies like Apple have come up with clever ways of naming and marketing their products – iPhone, iPad, iTouch, iPod, I this, I that. You are the center of attention and it’s all about you.  Thousands of apps are developed everyday for almost anything we can dream of. Some tech companies have even hired psychologists who study consumer behaviors so products they develop will resonate with buyers. Google and Facebook have developed complex algorithms to track browsing habits of their users so they can create personalized ads and suggest information they think users wants to see — creating a digital bubble.

Is the advancement in networking and communication bringing our world together or creating a virtual wedge between us?

From the palm of our hands, we are able to get in touch with family and friends everywhere anytime; get the latest news of what is happening around the world from TV, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets.  GPS enabled smart devices help friends or potential enemies track our every move. We have developed technology that syncs to every device we own, providing us with information we want from any place with internet connection. The world is getting smaller and smaller everyday – we can travel around the globe through cyber space in seconds. Even remote places in the world are getting connected through the use of battery powered cell phones. I saw an article a few years back in the National Geographic magazine with a picture of a young man in one of Congo’s rainforests climbing a tree to look for a cell phone signal. Technology will continue to change our way of life, and there is no going back unless some technological catastrophic event happens.

Most of our interactions are done online nowadays. Take for example, our smart phones. We think we cannot live without them. The first thing I check in the morning is my phone, going through my emails and social media. And before I go to bed?  Well, you guessed it; I’m on my phone. It’s addicting, and we are becoming more and more uncomfortable interacting with people in person than online.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with using technology or social media. I am very thankful for the internet and websites such as Facebook which has made it possible for me to connect with people I lost touch with, and staying connected with family and friends around the world. The affects of social media are not limited to just our personal lives. Like in Egypt. Tired of political upheaval, the people connected through social media and organized demonstrations against tyranny that eventually toppled their dictator.  A lot of injustice has been exposed. Organizations that help others have had a big boost. Great talents have emerged out of social media. And the list continues.

While the internet has connected people, improved business transactions, and made it easier to research, it is also a source of false information, a virtual highway for predators, and has created a pseudo reality for many. Many online communities have emerged where people interact with each other through chat rooms, gaming, and video conferencing. For the most part, these are great opportunities to meet others who share similar interests. But we can become consumed with the virtual world, and neglect our responsibilities and the people around us.

Remember the story of the teenage boy who died playing online games for more than 24 hours without taking breaks? He did not want to give up his winning streak but ended up losing more than the game – his life. This troubles me greatly. His sad story illustrates the reality of how addicting the internet can be. We can be locked up in a virtual world such that the real one becomes boring.  Unfortunately, many young and adult alike have a hard time separating between the reality and fantasy. This has brought a lot of grief to families. People have even lost jobs and have had relationships torn apart.

And the damage is mounting. We see young kids who lack adult supervision getting sucked into the digital bubble. Our kids are more vulnerable to potentially harmful information on the internet or online predators now than in the past few years.  They are bombarded with garbage and information overload from TV and the internet. They face a greater challenge interacting with peers than we did growing up.

The digital bubble has created a false sense of friendship by making us feel we are connected with a lot of people, yet we are not.  Divisions have derived from us posting our feelings and our frustrations about people we don’t agree with, and sometimes we say things that are hurtful without caring who will read them. The name calling. The fear mongering. The political bashing. Some of us are out to create controversy by posting things that stir up heated arguments. All for what?

We need face to face human interaction; a time to go eat out with friends or family. My wife and I have enjoyed spontaneous outing with dear friends; playing games and just plain old fashion face to face conversations. Building friendships that goes beyond the superficial. Building relationships that matters – all done outside the digital bubble.

So, how do you get away from this digital bubble and connect with people on a more personal level? Maybe sharing here can help us all find ways of turning off our smart devices and spending precious time with friends and family.

Fear

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In 1999, I was in Zambia at a meeting and people were asking me what I thought about Y2K. I jokingly replied, “You won’t have to worry about it, if you’re Amish, or live in a village.”

People in the computer industry believed that the computer internal system clock was going to misread the date 1/1/2000 as 1/1/1900, causing catastrophic malfunctions and miscalculations. The so called experts had warned that this one single event could be catastrophic for businesses around the world and would take years for companies to muddle through the mess and build their technologies back up again. With much of the world dependent on the computer technology, it was nerve racking to imagine the aftermath of an event deemed apocalyptic. Anything that ran on a microchip could be affected and fear was mounting. Our society was believed to be so fragile that this on single Y2K computer glitch would bring us to our knees. People had stocked up on water and groceries; preparing for the technological nightmare. Books were written to warn people of what not to do as we move into the new millennium. CNN, MSNBC, and FOX had their experts lined up to speculate on how this might go down, and how we could survive if indeed something happened to the computer systems. Thousands of Y2K computer experts emerged and were bringing in big profits from companies that hired them.

A lot of developing nations were not as worried about the supposedly impending disaster because they lacked advanced computer technologies, but the rest of the world was in a mad dash to stop Armageddon.

And then, there were those who made fun of the whole idea of Y2K and did nothing to upgrade their systems. They were the crazy bunch; the unprepared fools. I was among the crazy ones who did nothing to upgrade my operating system to Windows ME (Millennium Edition) which was supposedly a Y2K compatible version.

The countdown started after Christmas of 1999. Even though I knew somehow that the whole Y2K thing was a fluke, I still had little voices in the back of mind that said, “what if the Y2K is in fact true? How would we survive if the computer systems would crash? What if after spending billions of dollars to fix the Y2K issue, the catastrophic event still happened?” The clocks kept on ticking, the fear kept growing.

And then, nothing happened.

No power outages. No major system failure around the globe for both compliant and non compliant systems. No food shortages. No flight delays. Nothing. One good thing that came out of Y2K debacle is the business boom in the tech and food industry. Out of fear, a lot of people had spent thousands of dollars buying products to prepare for an event that never happened. Sure, a few companies like GE Medical Systems had reported about 14 issues out of their 400 Y2K compliant and non-compliant systems. Ontario Hydro Power Company discovered a few bugs in their systems and had them fixed within a few hours and had no power interruptions for their customers.

Y2K, one of the biggest flukes of recent times caused by experts, carried on by us. What did this all come down to? Fear.

Fear drives the stock market and politics. Fear drives hatred. People are fearful when they do not know or understand each other, thus resulting in hatred against those who are different from them. People have committed heinous crimes against humanity, all because of fear.

In recent years, fear has become a major money making machine. Politicians use fear to raise money for their campaigns and to win votes. I was watching some TV attack ads before the last elections and was just appalled by how nasty political campaigns have become. Each side was out to convince us that the other guy would ruin our way of life. We see corporations do the same in their ads as well. Some prominent TV and radio hosts have used fear to drive their agenda. They have used it to sell books and market other products even if what they say for the most part is based on speculation and not facts.

Not all fear is bad. As a matter of fact, positive fear is a good thing to have. Positive fear is founded on fact and not speculation. For instance, I know not to drive my car 160 miles per hour on the highway even though my car can go that fast. The fear of losing control and crashing at high speeds helps me to be cautious when I am driving.  This kind of fear will not paralyze me; it will in fact make me aware of how my reckless driving will not only affect me, but others as well. Positive fear allows us to make wise decisions and is needed for us to function properly on a day to day basis.

The fear that comes because of speculation and negativity is the deadly kind. Some radio and TV hosts have become experts in spreading speculation to boost their ratings. They are more concerned about their bottom line rather than having healthy conversations that make a difference in people’s lives. They have figured out that fear is a great money making business and are bringing in millions from diligent listeners and corporations. Unfortunately, their fear mongering has resulted in hatred and harm for certain groups of people. This fear derives from propaganda; it is unfounded, based on misinformation or just plain lies. It usually comes out of mistrust and self-absorption.

And we perpetuate it. We buy into this fear and we share it on Facebook, Twitter, at the local salon, barbershop, hardware store, bar, religious gatherings, etc. When we allow this type of fear to rule our thoughts and our actions, we distant ourselves from each other and discord grows. We can get so caught up in our speculation and fear mongering, that we forget to live. We forget about the important things in life. We forget to love.

And the cycle of fear continues, growing worse until something bad happens, or until we stop it. So let’s think twice about the messages we are spreading. Research it. Is it fact? Or opinion? Or pure speculation? Is it necessary? Let’s not forget that there are humans on the other side of the screen, reading what we are saying on social media. That human could be your employer, mom, dad, ex-girlfriend/boyfriend, ex-spouse, your spouse, your kids, kid’s teachers, (or you are the kid’s teacher venting about the difficult students) extended family, your coworkers, your neighbor (who you’ve been trying to reach for Christ) or a future employer (who might scan your Facebook timeline). Are we building bridges or burning them? We want others to understand us, to accept us, and to not push their beliefs on to us. So, why shouldn’t we do the same?

One Bad Apple

bad-apple

I check mail at the post office about twice a week, and I don’t think too much about opening the door and waiting for someone to come through, but it is something I do very often; sometimes unconsciously.  I notice people begin to hurry up when I have the door open for a while as if they didn’t expect this act of kindness.  Each time I have the door open for someone, I get all kinds of complements from people. They will say things like, “you are such a gentleman” or just a simple “thank you”.  I don’t expect people to show their appreciation, but it is always nice to hear people appreciate a simple gesture such as opening a door for a stranger.

I have also had moments when someone I opened the door for came zooming in without saying a word of thanks. Some even have had an attitude of “you better open that door for me because I am better than you”. When that happens, it makes me want to stop opening doors for people. And then these thoughts go through my mind: Maybe I should have let go of the door right in their face instead. Who do they think they are? Why should I be the servant of all? Maybe I should not be nice to people anymore since everyone else seems to be so self-centered and unappreciative. A single incident like this could possibly ruin the evening and affect not only me but my action towards others.

I am sure all of us have felt like we are the only ones who are making an effort to be nice or help others. We sometimes go out of our way to do an act of kindness to strangers only to be disappointed by the response we get back. We have heard many stories of good Samaritans getting hurt even killed because they helped someone who appeared to be in need.

I am reminded of an incident that had happened late December of last year. A South Carolinian young lady gave a ride to a stranger who seemed harmless enough. Little did she know that this harmless looking man was a dangerous criminal who would change her life forever. She was attacked and assaulted. Her vehicle was totaled. Her medical bills have piled up to over $250,000, and she is facing paralysis. With no medical insurance, she has been moved from one hospital to another.

I can’t imagine what she must be going through in her mind as she spends time in rehab, having to re-learn how to do everything; going through the terrors of the attack. She is probably blaming herself for being naïve and for being kind enough to help a total stranger. She will never open that door again. She will never trust a stranger again. Her innocence was taken. All it takes is one bad apple to spoil the rest.

We live in a world where people feel entitled to things; they feel there is no need to be thankful for things they have, even if someone went out of their way to help. I know of family members who have been burned time and time again for their kindness, taken advantage of, and even had property stolen by the very same family members they have helped. Sometimes it could be ungrateful kids who seem to complain about everything we do to provide for them. We buy them clothes, and they turn around and complain because they are not brand names.

My wife and I had an old car we wanted to get rid of. We were looking at selling it for $2500 and using the money for the school in Zambia. A family we knew was going through some tough times financially. The husband had expressed to me they needed money quickly or they would have their utilities shut down. I wrestled with the idea of giving them the car verses selling it to help the school. I told them the car needed a new battery and a few minor fixes that wouldn’t cost a lot. They could sell it as is, or fix it and then sell it and use the money to pay bills. A week later when I signed the car title over and handed the keys to the couple, the first thing that came out of the husband’s mouth was, “I was hoping it was drivable so we could sell it right away.” I was dumbfounded by his comment. I was tempted to tell him to give me back the title and keys, but I restrained myself. They went on to sell the car and never said a word of thanks; not even a thank you card in the mail. We felt used, manipulated, and unappreciated, and that the school in Zambia could have used the money more than the couple, but we never regretted our act of kindness towards them.

We never know how people will respond; whether they will appreciate our generosity or brush it off as nothing. People can be self-centered and can totally disregard the feelings of others to get what they want.  Should we stoop so low to their level and stop helping others? One of the most difficult things in life is to forget when our act of kindness has been violated or worse yet, having to suffer because we opened our door to help others. How long can we keep being kind or keep giving when people we help seem to step on our toes?

As a Christian, I am called to do good to all people, even those who would hurt me. The world tells us, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. The problem with this kind of mentality is that there is no end to the cycle of revenge. If you burn my house, I burn yours. If you treat me badly, then I will do the same in return. There are bad apples out there, but there is also good ones. Do not let the bad apples spoil the good ones.

Have you had an incident happen to you that made you think twice about showing kindness to others? How did you handle it?

Standing Up For What Is Right

stand-up-for-what-is-right

On one of my trips back home to Zambia, I had gone into the city to buy some African wood carvings and paintings for friends and for my apartment back in the United States. After I was done shopping, I made my way to a bus station. A man, a little older than me, was heading in the same direction a few feet in front of me.  There was a group of young boys between seven and thirteen ahead us, begging on the street. They were totally ignored by people passing by. One of the boys went to the man and asked for money to buy food. The boy looked dirty and hungry. The man grabbed the boy’s head and pushed him to the ground. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I reached in my pocket for some change and handed it to the boy and continued to walk behind the man. I felt the urge to say something to him, but did not know how he would respond.

We walked a few blocks without any incident. My anger was growing. I had to say something. He stopped at one of the street vendor’s shops to buy himself a snack, and I gathered enough courage to talk to him. I politely asked him why he pushed the boy away. He responded, “Which boy?” His question made me even angrier. I couldn’t believe he had already forgotten what he did a few blocks away, or maybe he was trying to play dumb. I reminded him where the incident had occurred of which his response was, “Those Street kids are a problem; we had helped a few at our church, and one of them ended up stealing church property. These kids choose to be on the street, and they are nothing but trouble.”  I tried to plead the boy’s case. He really needed help but got shoved in the face instead, which was unnecessary. He told me he didn’t want to talk about it anymore and left.  I watched him walk away and disappear in the crowd. And this guy was supposed to a Christian?

I bought some food and made my way back to the spot where I saw the boys, but could not find them. I waited a few minutes to see if they would come back, but they had already moved on. What if those boys were angels in disguised?

The incident inspired me to write a song called “Reach Out” about a little boy and little girl who were pushed away by the very people who are supposed to help them out. Jesus taught a lot on taking care of the little children; the most vulnerable and defenseless; the least of these.  The church is not only a place of worship, but a place where the sick, the helpless, the hurt, the disillusioned, the fatherless should find refuge and healing. It’s a place where everyone should feel welcomed and loved, and should not feel like an outcast.

Unfortunately the church has become more of a country club where if you don’t share the same political views or wear certain clothes or look a certain way, you are not welcomed. It has become a place of hypocrisy and condemnation. We care more about the color of carpet than our neighbor next door.

We are faced with situations where we see injustice, corruption, abuse, and hatred, but are too fearful to stand up for what is right because of what others might think. For instance, a little church out of Topeka, Kansas became infamous for going to funerals of servicemen to protest for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The forty member church believed the death of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan was the result of America’s tolerance for homosexuality. The church’s mission was to show up at funerals unannounced picketing, holding hate signs.  I can’t imagine how families of the deceased felt seeing hateful signs that said: “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.  God Hates America. Jews Killed Jesus. God Hates Jews. God Hates Fags. Fags Doom Nations.” Wow! A time of mourning for a loved one turned into a nightmare. No one stood up to counter their hatred until 2000 bikers created a human barrier to stop their plans to picket at a staff sergeant’s funeral in Hinesville, Georgia.  In recent years, they have been met with counter protest which has derailed their hateful mission.

I have always cringed when people of faith spread hatred in the name of God. As a Christian, churches like Westboro or any other supposedly religious organizations who have preached hatred does not represent my religious belief and what I know about Jesus’ teaching. The teachings of Jesus were centered on love: For God so loved the world; love your neighbor as you love yourself; love your enemies; do not judge, and the list goes on.  Anything that is preached contrary to what Jesus said is anti-Christ.  If we do not stand up to condemn injustice and hatred towards people who do not have the same belief or political values as we do; people who have been bullied to the point of committing suicide because of their lifestyle; people who have been abused and taken advantage of, we are simply endorsing the hatred, the abuse, the bullying, and the injustice.

Unfortunately, the media focuses more on stories that encourage division and hatred, but there are people who stand up for justice and speak out in the face of evil. A picture surfaced on the internet of people picketing at a high school holding signs with hateful and derogatory words.  Some motorists were even honking showing their support as they passed by. No one stood up against their hatred until a young boy wrote a small sign with words, “God Does Not Hate Anyone” and stood in front of one of the signs. The picture of the boy was all over the internet. It took a lot of courage to do that. Standing up for what is right can be costly at times. It can mean rejection, being ridiculed, and even risking our  lives. People like Abraham Lincoln  and Martin Luther King Jr. did stand up for what was right and paid the ultimate price.

Are we willing to stand up for what is right? Going outside of our comfort zone to help our neighbor?  What we say or do can make a difference. If we all loved our neighbor, the world would be a better place.

How Does She Do It?

mother_imageTwo hours with the kids and I am almost pulling my hair out!

I work 8 hour days, 5 days a week, by 5:00 p.m., my brain is all mushy from writing web programs or dealing with the technical issues of the day. I always look forward to getting home so I can have a few minutes to relax and spend time with the kids before their bed time. My wife who is an excellent cook always has a meal ready for us to eat. After the meal, we try to get the kids to help with cleanup and getting the dishes in the dishwasher, even though it is messy at times; it’s the thought that counts. Once we have the dishes all cleaned up, it’s time to play tickle-kiss with the kids—some kind of game we invented. Our oldest son is the loudest and most active and our youngest is obsessed with stuffed animals; she has quite a stash in her room. All it takes is several minutes for the house to look like a mini tornado went through. If my wife told anyone that she had cleaned the house and had everything in order, no one would believe her because of the lack of evidence.

How does she keep up with the never ending list of chores, menus for the week, cooking, laundry, cleaning and whiny kids? And the list goes on. Where does she get the strength to keep going? When does she have a quiet time to reflect and rest? Can you imagine a single parent who has to raise children, work, go to school and worry about the day-to-day chores?

The other day, I heard a man argue with his wife; he told her “all you do is stay home with the kids while I bust my [tail] with these 10 hour shifts at work to put food on the table”. I couldn’t believe what came out of his mouth. Yes, he definitely deserved the dog house. I am afraid that was probably the way he regularly talked to her. The lady, who was visibly shaken, picked up the crying baby and proceeded to check out the groceries in silence. The guy kept grumbling on the way out the store.

One thing that came to mind after I saw the incident was the story of a Texas woman Andrea Yates, a stay at home mother who drowned her children. No one really knows what drove her to commit such a crime, but what we know is she was suffering from postpartum depression after her fifth child. When I read an article “Andrea Yates: Ill or Evil?” by Katherine Ramsland , I couldn’t help but feel sorry for a family that was fully involved in their local church and appeared to be happy on the outside,  go through something so horrendous. When I read comments from people, calling her a monster and that she deserved to be hanged, I was amazed at such rage coming from the readers of the article. Wow! I am not trying to lessen the crime she committed; I am just appalled by people who commented without a clear understanding of what mental issues can do to a person. Her oldest son’s final words to her were “I am sorry”. Could it be the challenges of raising five kids that drove her to the breaking point? Is it possible that her husband was so busy trying to provide food, clothing and shelter for the family that he neglected a crucial aspect of their relationship, her emotional well being?

A lot of people who are suffering from depression and in need of help are afraid to reach out for help because of how we respond to them. We tend to isolate ourselves from people who are dealing with emotional or mental issues. We have created an environment where there is no room for people to be real. People like Andrea Yates who do reach out to the church or people around them, get a “you got to fix your life first” before you can come into my little circle of friends. This kind of treatment could be the reason why a lot of people dealing with depression and other emotional issues remain silent. What Andrea Yates shared with the cops in the 30 minutes interview after she was arrested, was what she should have shared with her husband or her church group. She believed she was a bad mother and the kids were getting out of control. She needed to do something to save them from hell. This to me sounds like an outcry of a mother who felt alone and did not have anyone to share her issues with. Could the whole situation have been avoided?

What makes us human is the ability to process information and able to make sound judgment. In most cases, people going through depression or extreme stress have a difficult time making rational decisions because their reality has been warped by isolation and compounded by life demands, cultural expectation and the little voices that circulate and condemn. Sometimes family and friends who know of a loved one dealing with depression or other mental issues live in denial, and would rather not deal with the situation instead of seeking help through counseling or other means.

I can’t comprehend what it is like for a mother carrying a baby for 9 months and going through labor, the everyday demands of giving without receiving, sacrificing herself for the needs of the kids and her husband over and over. Moms never have a break. They keep going even if they are in pain or sick. Parenting is hard, harder when you feel like you are carrying it all. It is easy to go off to work, earn a paycheck, and come home and check-out of this world through watching TV. I know of mothers who work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week who still go home and cook, clean and do all the household chores. We all need a break, we all need a rest and refuel, but how does a woman find the time? Since she is so in the groove of self-sacrificing she will not ask for time alone, she might. Sometimes she does, but it feels wrong to her….is it culture telling her that she cannot rest, refuel? We guys can zone out in front of the TV, computer, iPhone, play games, be totally oblivious to what is going on in the house. Sometimes it is easier for a woman to do the chores herself, rather than try to communicate to a spouse who has checked out to what needs to get done or how to help. Wives are expected to assist their husbands, to listen, be sensitive to pick up on the cues of what they like, dislike. Why can’t men try to do the same?

What a mother does is more than work, it’s LOVE. It’s sacrifice. So how does she do it? I can honestly say that I don’t know. But I can help her.

When Cultural Expectations Don’t Lineup With Reality

cultural_expectations2When my wife and I got married, like any other young couple, we had a list of things we wanted to accomplish which included having kids. We thought we had this whole marriage thing figured out during our courtship, and since we were not guaranteed tomorrow, why not get on with the program and have kids right away. I had always dreamed of a baby boy or girl running around the house getting spoiled by daddy. Whatever the challenges this little munchkin brings my way, I would be able to handle them as grown up men do. After our two-year honeymoon was over, I was more than ready to be a daddy. My wife always talked about being a stay at home mom, that was her dream before we even met.

Two, three, four, five years had passed, no baby. We had started to wonder if this whole children thing was for us.  Me being on the road, traveling with a music group did not help the situation. We felt time was not on our side. It seemed everyone around us was getting pregnant, even couples who were not ready to have children. We talked about adoption if we could not have children of our own. My wife’s work was getting more stressful, she wanted to quit her job, but her dream of becoming a homemaker was getting shattered, and I knew she felt bad. If she stops working, what would she become? A stay at home wife? It would have helped if we had a bunch of pets, she would have at least quit work to take care of them at home. Ha! 

Finally, we accepted the possibility that we might not be able to have children – and we were okay with it. But then what would she do? Her purpose in life was supposed to have kids and take care of the home–at least that is what culture taught her. And me.

During my time of reflection, I began to realize my cultural expectation of what marriage should be was getting a kick in the rear. I grew up in a culture where married couples were expected to have children. I remember even at a young age how people who had failed to conceive were isolated and ridiculed. In every case, the woman was to blame even though there was no proof that indicated the woman was the culprit. I couldn’t imagine how women felt who expected support from their husbands, family and friends, but instead got a slap in the face – a baby making machine that does not work.

We have literally created these cultural boxes where roles for men and women are stored. Everything expected of a man or woman is defined by the checklist within the box. My wife who was born and raised in Minnesota was challenged at one point by someone she knew. She told the lady that her desire was to get married and raise a family but she wanted to go to college to get an education first. The lady told her “why do you want to waste money getting an education when your desire is to get married and be a homemaker?”

That kind of cultural expectations hung over my wife’s head as she tried to figure out what she should do until meeting Mr. Right. So, she became a lady-in-waiting, waiting for prince charming to whisk her away to a castle where she will live happily ever after. Then she met me…LOL. In the following six years she remained childless. What was she going to do in the meantime? Be a housewife? No, she went off to college and discovered her true passion. Not that her desire for having kids lessened, but sometimes we have to face the inevitable. What if my wife never had kids? Was she supposed to work menial jobs? Or could we perhaps be called to more? Do we allow our culture to hold us back? To dictate certain expectation but only to find that these cultural demands does not line up with reality? Then what? Maybe we need to take a step back and think what we are teaching our sons and daughters.

Challenges we face now are definitely different from what our forefathers faced a century or two ago. There is nothing wrong with keeping up with traditions, but if our traditions become a source of strife and harm to our loved ones, then maybe we should think twice about holding on to them. I have seen families who hated each other’s guts get together for cultural  or traditional holiday gatherings because it is expected of them. At what cost? Perhaps we should spend more time mending broken relationships and empowering people to use their talents to their full potential. This world is full of pain and suffering, we can all use a little encouragement from loved ones.

What are some of the cultural expectations you faced that did not lineup with reality? How did you deal with them?