Monthly Archives: November 2010

Year-Round Cheer

With the lure of the holiday season just around the corner, many anticipate the good cheer that is associated with the holiday spirit. From Thanksgiving until New Years, you are bombarded with well-wishers, whether you happen to know them or not. Even the clerk at Wal-Mart is wishing you the best during the upcoming season. The minute January rolls around though, a dramatic change is felt and people revert back to their old selves, graciously cutting you off in traffic, gesturing in only the kindest of ways, and being generally inconsiderate.

Although I can only speak for myself, I think it’s fair to assume that part of the charm of the holiday season is the good mood that everyone happens to be in. Despite age and greed, the celebrations surrounding the end of the calendar year give everyone something to look forward to and the genuine happiness of the majority of humankind is an amazing spectacle to observe. Most of the upcoming holidays of are religious nature, but even atheists can enjoy the break from work and school that most of society comes to expect in correlation with the holidays. People cannot be blamed for being in such a chipper mood, but what they can be rightfully accused of is only engaging in such friendly good cheer during the short span of the month of December. If people were nice year round, than we wouldn’t have to look forward to a particular season of well-wishing. Instead, we would wake each and every morning, looking forward to the good intentions of people worldwide.

For some, the bright bustle of the holidays is seen as fake and cheesy. While this might sound very characteristic of the famed Ebenezer Scrooge, it makes sense. If someone is only kind and cheerful during the holiday season and is an self-centered egomaniac the rest of the year, it appears that personality falsification is a game the individual enjoys playing around the holidays. This is none more apparent than in giving thanks on Thanksgiving. I refuse to engage in any type of behavior, as I am thankful for the great things in my life year round. Not a day goes by that I am unappreciative of my wonderful family and friends and the privilege of receiving an education that so many people are deprived from. Other people do not see this notion of giving thanks as I do though, only publicly stating their appreciation around the holiday season when the sense of family unity is obligatory.

Without totally admonishing holiday spirit, it’s time to carry the warm feelings with us year-round. Imagine how delighted someone would be in April if you looked them in the eyes and honestly told them to have a good day. For me, this practice is second nature. My mother is a strong, positive influence who is kind to everyone despite the season and takes the holiday practices of most, applying them to all aspects of her life. It can be expected that not everyone is having a good day, but the kind of rude behavior observed on a regular basis suggests that a great amount of people are always having bad days – until December hits, and then instantly a new-found bounce in step is picked up by thousands.

This holiday season, see if you can see what I see in regards to this theory. It’s fun to get caught up in the festivities, but don’t let it stop there! The retail outlets should not be the only ones preaching the benefits of Christmas in July. Let the holiday spirit ring out in July as well! There is no reason to stop celebrating, so practice being a happy, joyous person year round, and see the positive reaction people have towards your genuine well-wishing and kindness. In a world abound of cursing and ill will, a positive spirit can really make a difference.

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Sing it, Aretha! R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

As sad as it is, chivalry is dying a most brutal death. Rarely now do you observe men holding doors open for women, calling older females m’aam, or bravely putting their lives on the line for the fairer sex. While it might be a bit of a storybook fantasy to seek a man who treats a woman with loving respect, not enough men these days care about putting their ladies first. However, males are not entirely to blame. It’s hard to respect today’s modern woman; one who swears like a pirate, outdrinks a redneck, and proudly wears revealing clothing.

Just head over to the Bear Brew on a typical Thursday night. For the first time ever, I actually went to the local establishment last week and observed many things I wish never to see again. Call me sheltered, but there is nothing attractive about a dress that shows more booty than a cheerleader’s uniform or a metallic number that could easily pass as a cocktail napkin. With no regards as to how utterly trashy they look, these women proudly strut around the bar with their goods on display. Leaving little to the imagination, men literally treat them like meat and these ladies have no problem in this disrespectful form of interaction. Although the term “I’d bang her” might work on these women, I wouldn’t recommend that men use this form of flattery in any other type of environment. Before these woman wear their tight tank tops in attempts to lure men into their boudoir, they might want to step back and think for a bit. It wasn’t that far in the past in which women were oppressed by men, valued only for their reproductive abilities. If it weren’t for our fore-mothers, it’s unlikely that any female would have the right to vote, let alone obtain a higher education and advance up the corporate ladder as so many women do today.

It truly baffles me as to why anyone would be willing to stoop so low as to dress in glorified lingerie in order to secure some sort of relationship with a man. It is quite clear that these women do not wish to be loved for their mind or their charming wit and charisma – by wearing some of the outfits frequented at the local bars and clubs, you’d be quick to realize that these women rely heavily on their toned bodies and youthful beauty to dominate the field of male affection. The real irony of these situations come when these ladies are horrified to receive a late-night booty call from one of their alleged admirers, criticizing the man for his forwardness in pursuit of sexual gratification. Really though, what can be expected? By wearing an ensemble that bears a stripper’s stamp of approval, it can be assumed that men are not going to treat you with any sort of respect, let along open doors or pay for dinner. In this case, I can’t help but side with men. When women start respecting themselves more, they can expect more respect in return from males.

Ladies, its time to raise your standards for yourselves. Let’s bring back chivalry. After all, doesn’t the idea of a proper gentleman make even the most independent of women swoon? While What Not To Wear might have a field day in Orono on thirsty Thursday, the real issue at hand is respect, and in order to achieve it, you have to be confident in yourself without bearing it all to the public. After everything that has been gained through women’s liberation and the suffrage movement, the least we modern women can do is live up to the legacy of women such as Eleanor Roosevelt or Jackie Kennedy. Not only did this women garner respect from the nation, but also were role models to women everywhere.

Next time you find yourself skipping out to the bar, tuck the unmentionables away and see what happens. Maybe, just maybe, men will treat you with the respect you deserve.

 

Voter Apathy is Simply Pathetic

In the aftermath of last week’s election, many people are disgruntled about the GOP takeover. Although this might be disappointing to some, the real tragedy of the election is voter apathy. Of the 1,023,556 registered voters in Maine, 556,542 actually voted in the gubernatorial race. That’s just over half, meaning a large group of people either deem voting a waste of time or were unsatisfied with those candidates listed on the ballot. Although the selection of candidates might have been insufficient for what our state needs to be turned in the right direction, it is our civic duty as Americans to vote and there are no excuses for avoiding the task.

The importance of voting is inarguable. We take great pride in living in a democratic society where we allegedly have a say in our governmental procedures by electing candidates to represent us. By not voting, it is unfair to assume that the candidate elected will be an adequate defender of the concerns of the constituents. So often you hear people complaining about the political situation plaguing our country, yet when you ask them whether or not they voted in the last election, the answer is often “no.” These people have no grounds to critique the public officials that were elected by people other than themselves. If they were truly displeased with the results, they would take the matter into their own hands and gather as many like-minded individuals to vote with them in the next election. Instead, people get discouraged and refuse to vote, continuing their displeasure in politics.

While many people might not vote simply because they are disappointed with those elected to office in the past, others feel that their one vote won’t make a difference. Ask Eliot Cutler and Paul LePage if one vote matters. During the wee hours of November 3rd when few votes separated the two from each other, each vote did make a difference. However insignificant one may be in society, the democratic process puts everyone on an equal level, making each vote count the same. A neurosurgeon has the same voting power as a potato farmer. This should be encouraging to voters, particularly those who don’t vote. When it comes down to it, close elections can make or break the political environment. If a republican governor hadn’t been elected on November 2nd, than the GOP wouldn’t have a lockdown on state government, which would have greatly changed the climate for state politics. With roughly 7,000 votes pushing LePage in front of Cutler, it came down to the rural precincts to decide who would take the title. Although one vote might be seen as lacking influence, this past election is proof in itself that that belief is a misconception of reality.

Not all voter apathy can be blamed on the voters though. Typically, candidates aim their campaigns towards people who are already active in politics and vote on a regular basis. To target a campaign toward a group of people who are apathetic to voting and politics would be a huge effort and a big risk. The attack ads on television and debates are not geared toward an audience of uninterested people; instead they are aimed at a demographic who care deeply about the issues or wish to become well-informed voters. Speaking from a student’s perspective, one of the things that made Barack Obama’s 2008 bid for president so legendary was the targeting of a younger audience, particularly students. Were more candidates to use these tactics and go after voters in typically inactive political circles, the results would most certainly be interesting to say the least.

In reality, if politicians wish to run an effective campaign, they should target voter apathy as their primary issue. A turn-out rate of just over 50% is pathetic and should be seen as an embarrassment, but you’ll notice this low-interest in politics across the nation. It’s time that the youth of the nation step up and take an interest in the future of the country, as we will be the ones living here the longest. Although this past election saw few people at the polls, maybe more disgruntled Americans will be casting a ballot in 2012. If you were one of the many who didn’t vote in this past election, shame on you. Don’t let apathy consume your interest in politics.

Aging is a Real Bummer

We’ve all heard our parents grumble about it, but there really is some validity in the argument that growing old does indeed suck. As you come to terms with aging, a wide assortment of activities are eliminated from daily life, under the pretense of not being socially acceptable considering age restrictions. This was no more apparent than during this past weekend at Dysarts. For those of you unfamiliar with the establishment, Dysarts attracts a wide variety of individuals and the more obscure hours bring out a particularly colorful crowd. Braving the first snowfall, my friends and I ventured to the truck stop around 3AM, greeted by one of the classiest men that the area has to offer.

Judging by his physical appearance alone, its safe to say that this man was probably in his early 40s. After loudly proclaiming to my friends and I the phenomenal amount of Twisted Teas he had consumed during the course of the evening, he then proceeded to tell us inappropriate details about his dining companions. Needless to say this behavior would have easily been acceptable for a 20-year-old college student, but not for a middle-aged man, who we later learned had two kids.

Despite our antagonizing of the man, I genuinely felt bad for the guy. After listening to him talk, it was discovered that the man was unfaithful in his marriage and was clearly not ready to take on the responsibilities of being an adult. He enjoyed drinking and did so heavily. Being a late-night regular of Dysarts, many of the staff recognized him and knew him by name. For most of us, this doesn’t sound abnormal whatsoever. Partying and trips to Dysarts is part of what round-out the college experience, but this man wasn’t able to get over his youth. Desperately clinging on to the past, he was still doing the same activities he was engaging in twenty years ago. Had he been sober, I think it’s fair to assume that this man would wholeheartedly agree that getting old is a real bummer. No longer is it socially acceptable to carouse around during all hours of the night, drinking yourself into a stupor and making a total fool of yourself in public. Although it’s important to remain youthful as we age, there is a fine line between irresponsibly having a night out on the town and falling asleep on the couch before the evening news has even aired.

This issue of aging is one that we must deal with as the years go on. Even as a 21 year-old student, I struggle with the notion that I am indeed getting older and with that, more responsible. During a recent shopping trip with my mom, she deemed a few of my favorite stores “too young” for me, saying that the types of clothing I enjoy are too casual, instead picking out things I would consider far too boring and lackluster in style. This is a harsh reality though that we all must face. Within the next four years, most of us will be graduated from this university, embarking on a career in which professional behavior is demanded and expected. It will be time to put away our favorite dancing shoes, remembering the times we had in our youth fondly. Instead of harping on the past, it’s better to reminisce on prior events as things that have gone by, and the future as an opportunity for new and exciting adventures.

Although the future is scary and there isn’t a proverbial crystal ball to foresee what will happen within the upcoming years and months, we hold the power within ourselves to make the aging process less awful. Sitting around grumbling about gray hairs and crows feet gets nothing accomplished, but working out and eating properly are ways in which we can stay feeling younger longer. Responsibility is part of the progression of life and without it we’d be dependent on our parents for much longer than is necessary. By welcoming aging with open arms, maybe we can teach our elders something in the process. Getting older isn’t the greatest thing ever, but with a positive mindset, we can take the edge off of it.