My thoughts on the Ray Rice debacle for those that are so upset with the decision to terminate his contract and indefinitely suspend him from the league:
He made more than a mistake. He made a conscious choice (one that I am sure has been made on more than this one occasion where he happened to get caught). His life has not ended. Yes, it is a definite set back. But he can always find another avenue for recreating a life for himself. A NFL career is a privilege, it is not a right. And quite frankly, he should be in jail for aggravated assault. I agree that he can change and perhaps his poor decisions will allow him to redeem himself. I hope he does. However, we learn from our “mistakes” from consequences, NOT slaps on the wrist. For me, the worst part about this whole situation is that if this video had never leaked, the outcome would not be the same. People choose to place domestic violence on a back burner like it does not exist. I applaud the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL for coming to what I see as the right decision. A decision that should have been made months ago. What happens in the dark always comes to light.
Christians often talk about actively changing the world, but too often, we just sit still and passively watch the struggles of others without participating, leading, or caring. We don’t love.
Why? Because many Christians have an inability to use their imaginations.
People who can’t imagine are susceptible to bigotry, racism, hatred, and violence toward others. Why? Because they can’t imagine any other scenario, perspective, or opinion other than their own. They have an inability to see themselves in someone else’s shoes. They can’t see beyond their own narrow reality. When you can’t imagine, you can’t empathize, understand, or relate with the actions, struggles, pain, suffering, persecution, and trials of others — you become apathetic, unmoved, stoic, and inactive.
Whether our differences are gender-related, age-related, race-related, culturally related, politically related, economically related, socially related, theologically related, value-related, or related to any countless number of factors, overcoming them requires imagination.
When you can’t imagine, you can’t celebrate, appreciate, admire, and joyfully love others. You disconnect yourself from humanity.
Imagination leads to empathy, empathy leads to understanding, understanding leads to action, action leads to experience, and experience leads to wisdom — which leads to even more imagination.
This is why travel, exploration, dialogue, listening, building relationships, engaging, reading, learning, and keeping an open mind is so important — it helps expands people’s imagination. Because once you see, hear, interact, and experience something, you suddenly imagine it much better.
And realistically, we can’t experience everything — even if we try. So we must imagine.
When imagination is missing, the void is filled with preconceptions, stereotypes, assumptions, biases, prejudices, and presuppositions. Imagination unlocks our potential to gain knowledge and understanding, to go beyond our comfort zones.
Choosing to utilize our imagination requires risk, vulnerability, and bravery, and it’s often easier to ignore — and avoid — the suffering of others instead of empathizing and communally adopting the sufferings of others as our own.
It’s not easy.
Christianity isn’t meant to be a form of passive escapism. Following Jesus means embracing others — everyone: family, friends, enemies, and strangers. But we can’t do this without using our imagination.
Imagination is essential to faith. Imagination is a spiritual gift — a spiritual discipline to be practiced daily.
It’s impossible to follow God without imagination. Just read through the Bible:
An ark and global flood, a burning — talking — bush, a talking donkey, a man surviving inside the belly of a whale, giants, plagues of frogs, water being turned into blood, water being turned into wine, the parting of a sea, visions, miracles, and numerous unbelievable events.
God becoming a man, being killed through crucifixion, and then being raised from the dead three days later!
God embodies imagination. It’s a Divine trait.
Following Christ’s example by serving the world around us requires immense amounts of sacrifice, discomfort, and humility. Talking to others about racism, injustice, inequality, spirituality, violence, abuse, and the really deep, important, and meaningful things about life is hard, uncomfortable, messy, and awkward. But it’s within these moments that we learn to love — where we realize that everyone is created in the image of God.
Earlier this month, Verizon Wireless released a video to spark dialogue for encouraging women to pursue STEM careers. The Verizon video followed a girl named Samantha, who shows interest in math, science, and engineering, but is continually pushed away from these things by her parents. Quotes such as “Don’t get your dress dirty” and “Maybe you should hand that to your brother” drive Samantha away from her natural love of the STEM fields, and at the end, we watch a teenage Samantha eyeing a Science Fair poster, then applying lip gloss and walking away.
Samantha’s parents aren’t monsters, and they aren’t trying to make their daughter unhappy by keeping her from pursuing her passions. The ambitions of these parents are never explicitly stated, but the concept is pretty familiar: girls should like different things than boys do. These parents seem to believe that encouraging feminine behaviors in their daughter will lead her to greater peer acceptance and, as a result, more happiness in the long term. The end of the video shows the viewer that this is not the case, as we end with a look of disappointment on Samantha’s face as she resigns to applying the same makeup that separates her from the boys who are allowed to do the things that she loves.
There is a lot of truth to this video. Every phrase that the parents say to discourage Samantha’s masculine behaviors is one that I have overheard in my life. These are truly thoughts that permeate throughout our society, and consequently, many women who might have pursued STEM careers otherwise do not. Today, the world is looking for more employees in STEM industries, and we will be hard pressed to fill those vacancies without more women in the industry.
But how do we change the trend? How do we teach women, as well as men, that your career goals shouldn’t be limited by your gender when we teach them the opposite all through childhood? How do we teach people to create their own dreams and reach for the stars when others around them are too busy dreaming for them, telling them who they should or should not be and what goals are realistic?
If we want more women to pursue STEM careers, it’s time to stop telling them that’s not what women do.
It feels pretty obvious when stated like that. It is not the easiest task though. Gender roles are deeply ingrained in our society. Many women grew up reading Cosmopolitan while their brothers played with Legos; both of these behaviors were validated for meeting their gender norms while Samantha was chastised for expanding hers.
I think it is time that our society starts considering what it means to be feminine or masculine. Right now, the concept of a gender spectrum is an incredibly popular topic. In a nutshell, this concept holds that gender is fluid, and that even though someone’s anatomical gender is, in most cases, female or male, that person very rarely enjoys exclusively feminine or masculine things. The truth is that everyone enjoys different things. Our differences make the world a more interesting place, and labeling these differences and imperfections hinders growth, limits creativity, and delays societal progress.
If your son picks up a Barbie every now and then, it won’t kill him. If your daughter climbs a tree, that doesn’t make her a tomboy—just be ready to bandage her up if she falls. Let’s do away with “boys will be boys” and bring in “kids will be kids,” and let’s see what our kids want to do. If we do that, I think we will be living in a world where men and women are happier to be doing whatever it is that they do.
“Most of the world’s exploited labor comes from women. Women work in the sweatshops and the giant factories. Women sow and tend and harvest the world’s crops. Women carry and birth and raise children. Women wash and clean and shop and cook. Women care for the sick and the elderly. All of this - layer upon layer of labor - is what makes human society possible. Ripping it off is what makes capitalism possible.”—Exodus and Reconstruction: Working-Class Women at the Heart of Globalization (via amodernmanifesto)
There will always be someone prettier than you, someone with a bigger ass, someone with nicer hair, better skin, longer legs, a flatter stomach…I could really go on forever. But these are elements out of your control (or at least for most). What you can control is what you know. You have a brain that effectively functions in a way that allows you to make smart decisions that will always provide you with more than your looks will ever allot. Your self worth is more than your physical attributes. Because at the end of the day, you are not responsible for the way you look but you are responsible for what you know, what you do, and how you make people feel. It seriously saddens me to see women who cannot see their value beyond their physical appearance—whether its a positive or negative image of one’s own self. You are so much more than that. There is so much more to life than dependency on something so superficial. So deteriorative. So unimportant.
"The people who ‘learn by experience’ often make great messes of their lives, that is, if they apply what they have learned from a past incident to the present, deciding from certain appearances that the circumstances are the same, forgetting that no two situations can ever be the same…All that I am, all that life has made me, every past experience that I have had— woven into the tissue of my life. I must give to the new experience. That past experience has indeed not been useless, but its use is not in guiding present conduct by past situations. We must put everything we can into each fresh experience, but we shall not get the same things out which we put in if it is a fruitful experience, if it is part of our progressing life…We integrate our experience, and then the richer human being that we are goes into the new experience; again we give ourself and always by giving rise above the old self."
When Mother’s Day comes around, I like to reflect on the relationship I have with my mother and the lasting impact she has had on my life. Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a mother who was supportive of me, but also set the bar high and pushed me to excel. While I often did not understand it then, I fully appreciate it now.
I see my mother as a woman with a strong, perservering character—a hard worker, determined, and a woman who more often than not puts others before herself. I was her first child. Her “minnie me” experiment—and I say that because if you know either one of us, you know that I am truly a “minnie Pranati” whether I like it or not (and I like it most of the time, just don’t let her know that!). As her first child, she has always made sure that I could experience opportunities that were not afforded to her and that would help me grow into the woman I am today—dance lessons, gymnastics, cheerleading, violin lessons, art lessons, swimteam, basketball…I could really go on for days. She gave me options. No wonder why I am so artistically and creatively confused as to where my true talents lay—she pushed be to the best at all of them…and thanks to her, most of the time I was. =)
When I think back on all the important lessons she taught me through the years, it makes me smile because I realize how her advice has shaped my leadership style and influenced the values that I try to live in my life, as well as trying instill in others.
“Believe in Yourself”
First and foremost, my mother taught me to believe in myself and follow my passion. She is a phenomenal little Indian woman with the mindset and endearment of Napoleon. My mother embedded in me that anything is possible and there are no barriers—not race, not gender, not cast—not anything. She understands the importance of believing in yourself and working hard to achieve goals. She knew what I was capable of anything and everything I did, and nurtured my confidence in my own abilities.
Participating in competitive activities soon turned into a career for me—“follow your passion…do what makes you happy” were her words. And I did. I transplanted myself to Chicago auditioned for a dance company and for the Chicago Bulls dance team. I did that for a year and I loved it. But I wanted to do more. I decided to pursue a Masters degree, and when I was nervous about getting into graduate school because of my inexperience, she stressed that a lack of work experience could not stop me. And she was right. When I completed my graduate degree and decided to shift careers—she was there, cheering me on. And now that I’m finishing up my second Masters degree—she’s still here. Just as supportive as she was when I first told her four years ago that I as moving to Chicago.
In so many ways my mother was and is ahead of her time. Her words and inspiration helped guide me. I hope she is proud that at the age of 25, I hold a successful position at one of the top risk management firms today, I am the owner of my own consulting firm, and that I am on the verge of completeing three degrees. But I know my mother, and I know that she is likely more proud of the fact that I’m happy and that I live my life the right way and my own way.
“Trust Your Instincts”
My mother has great instincts about people and life in general. She is the one that taught me how important it is to trust your instincts, your gut—and that your heart is usually right. I am just now realizing how insightful this advice is and that it has influenced my success in life. EQ (Emotional Quotient) is often more important than IQ in many aspects …in your relationship with others and your work life for sure.
“Always Give Back”
My mother instilled in me strong values at a young age and believed that giving back was a privilege and the right thing to do. I passionately share this belief and I am so proud to have the opportunity and ability to give my to my community monetarily and through volunteering by time.
I have always loved volunteering my time to help others—it is what I have always been taught. It is what I know. When I moved to Chicago, I made sure to find ways that I could contribute my time and services to those who needed it most. In my time here, I’ve raised money for charity through my work, spent time tutoring children, and have volunteered weekly at one of Chicago’s many homeless shelters on Saturday mornings. And even with those dedicated activites, I still hope to do more by starting my own charity that will impact causes that I am most passionate about in a positive way. I want my work to be personal and truly embody what I stand for.
As I reflect on the many lessons that my mother instilled in me (these are only a few), I hope she is proud of how I am living today, both in work and in life. Being a mother is a special job. And if you are a mother already, unlike myself, it is you that helps shape the values and character of the next generation. I know I am proud to be the daughter of such a phenomenal woman. It is truly one of my greatest merits.
I can’t even imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t made the decision to leave Mississippi & move to Chicago four years ago—BEST THING I EVER DID FOR MYSELF. Don’t get me wrong, Mississippi is a great place and will ALWAYS be home. I will forever be grateful for the values and morals instilled in me, and the opportunities that were afforded. I would not be the person I am today without Mississippi. But I wasn’t made for it..that life wasn’t for me. I had too many dreams, too many goals, too many aspirations, and too many things to accomplish to be held back by a place and people who didn’t understand me. I lived everyday feeling constrained. I didn’t fit and I couldn’t understand why. And then I looked around and I realized…there wasn’t one person whose life I wanted. Not one. I knew I had to leave if I were ever going to live a life that I aspired to. Four years later, I live every day of my life, with all of the good moments and the bad moments, wanting MY life. And that is a phenomenal feeling. #blessed #dontbeafraidofchange #dowhatsrightforyou #ileftandineverlookedback
One of the many reasons why I believe Satya Nadella will transform Microsoft...
“Many who know me say I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning,” he wrote in the same email. “I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things. So family, curiosity and hunger for knowledge all define me.”
And in case you were wondering, those online courses include neuroscience classes.
“I’m not going to be the girl you marry, but I’ll be the girl you’ll be thinking of 20 years from now while you engage in polite sex with your boring wife who fakes her orgasm to make you feel better about your receding hairline.”—e.b. (via esolswooonn)
“I’m quirky, silly, blunt and broken. My days are sometimes too dark, and my nights are sometimes too long. I often trip over my own insecurities. I require attention, long for passion, and wish to be desired. I use music to speak when words fail me, even though words are as important as the air I breathe. I love hard and with all that I have…and even with my faults, I am worth loving.”—Danube Grayson (via oldieworldyme)
"You can’t ascribe great cosmic significance to a simple Earthly event. Coincidence, that’s all anything ever is, nothing more than coincidence. There are no miracles. There is no such thing as fate. Nothing is meant to be."
“Humility is the only true wisdom by which we prepare our minds for all the possible changes of life.” - George Arliss
Humility reminds us that we’re no more important than anyone else.
Humility reminds us that no amount of success we’ve in the past guarantees success in the future.
Humility reminds us that it’s not about us.
Humility reminds us that each individual in this world matters.
Humility reminds us to focus on what really matters.
Humility makes us more authentic, which breeds trust.
Humility makes us better professionals, better leaders, and better human beings.
The truth is, no matter how many wins you have, no matter how successful you are, no matter how happy you are, a dose of failure (whether at work, in a relationship, or any other aspect of your life) - as hard as it can be, can lead to a dose of humility, which to me, is one of the most valuable ingredients to prosperity.
I received that dose of humility, and for that, I am grateful.
“The center of all theology, of the entirety of the Christian faith, is Christ himself. The Christ-event—in particular his death and resurrection—is the center of time: everything before it leads up to it; everything after it is shaped by it. If Christ were not God in the flesh, he would not have been raised from the dead. And if he were not raised from the dead, none of us would have any hope. My theology grows out from Christ, is based on Christ, and focuses on Christ.”—A Bibliology Grounded in Christology (via azspot)