Friday, November 18, 2011

"Whatever you bring in, you bring out"

It is unlike me to go so long without a new blog post, but the busy season has hit. 

Good things have come to pass (a new mini cooper in the driveway for example two weeks ago) and some not so good (deciding whether to admit The Boy for another week of hospitalization or not).  See what I mean.  Weightier matters.

Another thing I have thought about the blog lately is that with the links and connections from the Facebook, more folks read it. I want to be careful what I write, and no longer think of it just as my personal rambling sort of journal.

Through all this thinking and pondering about life and those around me, I have something that will not leave my mind.

Stay with me here.  It will make sense.
Meet Barry Bridger... a man you have never heard of.

Two weeks ago, The Girl and I went to Rotary and met and listened to his POW story of survival in the Vietnamese "Hanoi Hotel."  He was there for 6 years. 

Six years.  Six years of torture.  Six years of deprivation.  Six years of survival. 

(look how good he looks)

I have met some pretty amazing people on this planet.  I have met almost every president of Rotary International since I joined 8 years ago.  An organization of 1.3 million members.

I have spoke at big LDS Church meeting with the current president of the Mormon Church, Thomas Monson. An organization of 14 million members.

I have shook the hand of a Nepalese Sherpa named Pem who has climbed Everest twice without oxygen and holds the world record of the being the only couple to be married at the top of Everest.

I have touched the numbered tattoo of Holocaust Survivor. 

I have met and was complimented by one Mitt Romney, the current Presidential candidate.

I must say, shaking the hand of Barry at our meeting at the Northtowne Bowling Alley was perhaps the most humbling person I have been in presence of. 

He travels around the country speaking to anyone who cares to listen to how we can use our trials to deepen and empower us.  He believes in the power of example.  That his adverse experience can lead people to live better lives.

He spoke to us about his prison life and how survival boiled down to a few simple things.

He is not bitter.  He does not speak ill of the Vietnamese.  He is optimistic and saw his time there as a time to deepen his convictions regarding his God, his country, and an opportunity to refine the guiding principles of his life. 

Barry has done something remarkable with those six years.

"You are what you value.  Whatever (attributes) you bring in (to your challenges), your bring out.  Only deeper."
Meet Rihanna. 

A young Barbadian woman who has allowed herself to be shaped and marketed into a rock star goddess.

She released her first album in 2005....yep, six years ago.  Six years.  The same amount of time as Barry's six years.

In her six years, she has sold 20 million records, received several important awards, and has become rich and famous.  She has everything many people dream of.

She has also survived a domestically violent relationship with her equally rich and famous then boyfriend.

For all intensive purposes, you would think that it is Rihanna that would be the role model, especially to young women.  Like my daughter.

The power that she wields surpasses anything Barry will know as far as notoriety in this life.  Compared to Barry, Rihanna as all the power to get it right.
Three weeks ago I read an article in the newspaper that I cannot surprisingly release from my terrible short-term epileptic memory.  It was in the Kansas City Star, written by a bright and socially conscious young black woman named Jenee Osterheldt. 

It talks exactly about what Rihanna has done with her domestic violence experience.  What she "brought out" of that trial.

She has made some videos.  One of them is the 4th most viewed video in the history of YouTube:
397,664,841 million views
Two of which are mine I am sad to report.

It is called "I Love The Way You Lie."  It is a duet song with Eminen, a well-known humaritarian and advocate for women's rights and respect (not).  The song includes the line "Maybe our relationship isn't as crazy as it seems..." as the house is burning to the ground and the "happy" couple violently go at each other.

No dude.  It is way crazier than that.

Her new video is "We Found Love."  It spends four minutes and 36 seonds showing "true love" which includes serious drug use, alcohol, and physical violence.  However, the video ends with the chick walking out of the relationship that last split-second scene of the story.  A split-second isn't very long to influence lives.

I loved this paragraph in the newspaper:
"Rihanna's sexuality overpowers her message and pop culture as a whole paints a poor picture of what love really looks like....Almost every popular teen show features some sort of unhealthy relationship and even the blockbuster "Twilight" glorifies that.  Many young women want a relationship like Edward and Bella's.  They think that love means you can't function without the other person, that you will do anything for them, even if it hurts.  The "Twilight" relationship twists love into possessive and overly dependant,"  according to Allison Basinger, a leader of the local domestic violence agency.  "We have stop dismissing these things are entertainment." 

Allison went on to report that 1 in 5 high school students REPORT (what about the unreported?) being abused or sexually assulted by their partner....that is 1.5 million girls annually.

Young people are being "educated" by pop culture.  No doubt.  With media showing the majority of relationships that are related to their age, they are receiving the message that "love" involves physicality, possession, verbal abuse, and intense sexual interaction.

Remember the School House Rock videos?  How they could teach skills though a short visual and song?  I can still sing them all that I saw those Saturday mornings.  Burned in my memory. 

How burned in their memories are these kinds of videos that young people see today?
Barry said that when he was in the Hanoi Hotel, not a single man surrendered and turned to the Vietnamese. 

The men who did not survive were those who died from one of two reasons:
they were tortured to death or they literally lost their minds.

So, how DID they survive?  He said there were three main contributors:
communication between each other
and prayer.

Pretty much the opposite of a Rihanna video.

I was feeling bad about Barry and his trials.  But as I have pondered it, it is actually Rihanna I feel sorrier for.  If the videos that are coming out of her are representive pieces of her soul, there is no doubt that she feels some sort of torture and maybe in some ways, has lost parts of her mind...stripped away by the abuse she suffered.  Just like those POWs.

I am sorry she wasn't at the Northetown Bowling Alley a couple weeks ago to shake Barry's hand as well.