Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank a Veteran - Veterans Day 2014

Photo credit: Veterans Day National Committee,
U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
What I love most about being a citizen of the U.S.A. are the rights and freedoms I enjoy, especially regarding freedom of speech and religion.

I hope that many of you exercised your right to vote in our mid-term elections which were held on November 4, 2014. If so, I personally would like to thank you because your vote is a validation to the years I spent in the U.S. Army as a combat medic (91W, medical specialist for those who appreciate that.)

When I returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, it was time for me to hang it up. I remember to this day when I left the dental clinic as part of my out-processing that a Staff Sergeant in woodland camouflage from the National Guard approached me. I was a Sergeant, wearing my desert camouflage (DCUs), so my first thought was, Oh, great, this guy thinks he found something wrong with my uniform and wants to say something. Instead, this man said to me, "Sergeant, I heard about what you all did over there. You're heroes, and thank you for keeping my family safe." He then extended his hand to me, and I gave him a surprised handshake, then he was off to his car.

Photo credit: Jerry Dugan
To this very day, that is my greeting whenever I have a moment to speak with someone serving in our armed forces. Veterans Day is November 11, and I would like to invite you to do the same for the veterans in your life and for the veterans and active service members you come across from now on. It's hard for me to do that without getting choked up. I'm teary-eyed right now as I type this!

Thanks as always for letting me share my updates with you, Jerry.

Comment below: Who are some veterans living today you’d like to thank for their service? What are some ways you have thanked a veteran?

The Silent Patrol. I decided to ruck march for about 12 miles for Memorial Day.

Silent Patrol - Memorial Day 2014
Photo credit: Sylvia Vega
Why I Will Go on a Memorial Day Silent Patrol (Part 1) - Memorial Day is about remembering those we who served who gave their lives for us. Veterans Day is about thanking those who are still with us. Here’s an article on how I remembered those who gave their lives.

Use It or Lose It - Inalienable Rights - We are still a country that embraces the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Protecting our rights to free speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom to assemble is important to me, but USING those rights is even more important.

My Own Replacement .jpg

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Download Strength Revisited, a free eBook download based on my TEDxCorpusChristi Talk about how we define strength in manhood.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Episode 36 - The Olivia and Jacob Family Time Session: What is Your Favorite Movie

Photo credit: Sylvia Vega

I noticed that Jacob just wasn’t looking forward to recording Episode 36 with me, so I asked if he would like to record with Olivia instead. Not only did he jump on the opportunity, it sounded like they had a lot of fun recording.

My only role in Episode 36 was showing them how to click on Record and Pause with the Audacity software we were using as well as do the intro and outro. Of course, Emma now wants to record a session with Olivia in the coming weeks. That’s okay with me. This show is all about recording real family interactions. I’m now on a campaign to see if I can get a brother-sister session going. You’d probably just hear them disagree with each other for 20 minutes though.

Disclaimer: Olivia does not hit me. She was clapping and I was playing along. I am seriously obsessed with sound quality though.

Also, I wanted to share with you some stats for Family Time Q&A Podcast as of 11/8/2014:
  • 35 episodes
  • 3,624 Total Plays
  • The last 3 months account for ⅔ of our activity with 2,278 plays!

Thank you for listening, subscribing, and sharing our podcast. We enjoy sharing our podcast with you.

Jacob’s question to Olivia: What is your favorite movie of all-time?

Olivia’s question to Jacob: Why does it give you such great pleasure to annoy me all the time?

Our question to you: What is your favorite movie of all-time? Share your responses in the Comments section below.

Let’s not use the word “retarded” as an insult. We had to say something to Jacob about this in the episode, and had a talk about it afterwards.

Pulled from a Facebook campaign.

Subscribe and receive a copy of Strength Revisited, a free eBook download based on my TEDxCorpusChristi Talk about how we define strength in manhood.

Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway. Use Group Name “Corpus Christi” and save up to $100/couple.

Movies mentioned in this podcast episode:

  • Titanic - Olivia’s all-time favorite.
  • Home Alone - Olivia can stop on a dime to watch this if it’s on television.
  • Christmas Story - Family tradition to put this movie on during Christmas when it plays on TNT.
  • Wayne’s World - Olivia had a moment where she felt like Garth when Jacob left her alone to in the recording session.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Reader/Listener Survey Results from 2014 (Still Anonymous!)

Your responses will help me improve my writing and podcasting with focus. The average time spent on the reader/listener survey was 3:06 minutes. Your time is valuable to me. Thanks for those who took the time to give feedback. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

We Will Never, Ever Get Rid of Bullying! So, What Should We Do? (Part 1)

Bullying Meme.jpg

I came across this meme on Facebook, and it immediately triggered me to cry foul on it being a victim-blaming, bully-supporting meme. While I was blessed to have a very civil and intelligent conversation with friends about the meme, I noticed that the public (Facebook) discussion was far from civil.

So, what’s the problem? Those arguing for the merits of meme argue that we should teach our youth to be able to stand up for themselves and cope in healthy ways. I totally agree, and that’s about the only thing going right with this meme.

I want to be clear that it’s the meme I don’t like. The discussion I had with my friends was awesome and insightful which inspired me to write this post. Okay, let’s move on.

“We will never, ever get rid of bullying,” implies that bullying is a fact of life, acceptable. From a defender’s, self-defense standpoint, this is a wise assumption to make. It’s the assumption my fellow soldiers and I made on the battlefield, and it’s an assumption I make with my own children when it comes to their personal safety. I take the approach of, “That risk is out there, so let’s be prepared for it,” rather than a nothing-will-ever-change approach. I believe we are here on this Earth to make a difference, make it better than how we found it.

From a perpetrator’s perspective, this is justification to do bullying or any crime for that matter. “It’s the way things are,” is something I’ve heard from perpetrators of violence time and again. “Get them before they get you,” or “The strong rule over the weak,” etc. Accepting the mindset of we will never get rid of bullying, would be the same as thinking we can never address other forms of oppression like racism, sexual violence and domestic violence. In fact, just over 50 years ago, it was “just a fact of life” that African-Americans in the South had to ride at the back of the bus, and much, much worse. It took educated, brave people from the outside to challenge that status quo to help those who were living in the South in oppression of segregation laws. So, again, I agree we must teach our youth to stand up for themselves and others.

The meme goes on to say, “...instead of wearing pink shirts and passing anti-bullying bylaws. We are creating a society of victims.”

How is that victim-blaming and bully-supporting? I believe that we are each responsible for our own actions. The person doing the bullying is responsible for that behavior just as the person who robs a convenience store is responsible for that crime and the parent who talks on a cell phone while dropping his or her children off at school. Yes, I notice you. Therefore, the only person who should be held accountable for wrongdoing is the person doing the wrong. This meme, however, does not in any way put responsibility of bullying behavior onto those who bully, or onto bystanders. Responsibility is placed solely on those who would be victims of bullying. Therefore, victim-blaming. (Actually, we’re blaming adults/parents, but indirectly blaming would-be victims.)

The phrase “instead of” says that we should throw the responsibility of addressing bullying behavior onto the child who is picked on, AND not have anti-bullying (laws) or observe bullying awareness with pink shirts. The whole premise of oppression is that those who are oppressed feel powerless to rise up. They need a hand over time to stand up, and overcome the beliefs that have been ingrained into them. In marketing, people talk about doing drip campaigns where people start to think or believe in a product or service because they have heard about it over and over and over. Consider the person who is bullied. They hear they are fat, ugly, or stupid over and over without anyone ever challenging that around them. In fact, those messages are reinforced every time other students laugh along, no one challenges the bullying behavior, and at worst when adults committed to protecting and raising youth dismiss the wrongdoing by not holding the offending person accountable.

The meme further blames anti-bullying laws and observance days as the reason why we are creating a culture of victims. Laws are meant to keep us all accountable and protect us. They are only as good as we are willing to enforce them. Most bullying is gender-based, so my daughter would face things like boys grabbing her butt, touching or talking about her breasts, or harassing her about her sexuality like calling her a tease, a slut, or a prude. The absence of laws like Title IX, anti-bullying requirements for schools, sexual assault laws, and dating violence laws would make it okay for students to sexually harass (sexualized bullying) my daughter and give me little legal recourse to do anything about it. Also, the absence of such laws would send a message to all of society that our culture is okay with this kind of behavior.

But, wait, there’s hope! (Stay tuned for Part 2...)

Tim McGraw Stop Domestic Violence Live in Concert - How Men Can Use the B.U.S.T.E.R. Model as a Strategy of Intervention

Episode 2 of Family Time Q&A Podcast - A Father-Son Discussion on Using Dr. Michele Borba’s Bully B.U.S.T.E.R. intervention model by students to stop bullying situations.

Episode 15 of Family Time Q&A - Preparing Our Daughter for Middle School...Already?! Husband-Wife session where we discussed whether we taught our daughter enough to build her self-confidence and resiliency to possible bullying and harassment.

Dr. Michele Borba is an expert on addressing bullying in schools by teaching resiliency and positive bystander behavior to school-age children and their parents. Check out her website, or purchase a copy of her book, Building Moral Intelligence: the Seven Essential Virtues That Teach Kids to Do the Right Thing.

Coaches Corner (an evidence-based curriculum created by Futures Without Violence) has resources where coaches of youth sports can incorporate character education in their weekly practices.

Effects of Absent Fathers by Frederick Goodall (@MochaDad)

Download Strength Revisited, a free eBook download based on my TEDxCorpusChristi Talk about how we define strength in manhood.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Episode 35 - A Daughter’s Advice for Fathers, and Remembering the Late Socks

Our late Socks who passed away in 2008.

My question to Emma: What advice do you have for fathers of daughters, and for fathers of sons?

Emma’s question to Me: In the movie “Ramona and Beezus,” why does it make you cry when the cat dies?

Our question to you: What advice do you have for fathers of daughters as well as fathers of sons? Share your responses in the Comments section below.

Thanks Kim B. for finding this picture for us. Socks' last night with all the kids.
Subscribe and receive a copy of Strength Revisited, a free eBook download based on my TEDxCorpusChristi Talk about how we define strength in manhood.

Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway. Use Group Name “Corpus Christi” and save up to $100/couple.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tim McGraw Stops Domestic Violence Live in Concert

Back in 2011, Tim McGraw stopped a concert, walked onto the catwalk of his stage, and pointed out a man who was hitting the woman next to him. “You don’t treat women like that!” McGraw shouted into the microphone while pointing to the person he was addressing. Eventually, the victim is brought onto stage, the perpetrator is removed from the concert, and we are given a great example for men on what we can do to intervene when we see domestic or dating violence happening in front of us. (Related: Tim McGraw Kicks Fan Out of Concert.)

So, what can men do to stop domestic violence?

For years, I have taught students how to apply Dr. Michele Borba's Bully B.U.S.T.E.R. method as a positive bystander process to stop bullying situations. When we understand that both bullying and domestic/dating violence are relationships built on the exercise of power and control over others, it makes sense that the B.U.S.T.E.R. action steps can also be applied in dating/domestic violence situations. That’s exactly what I saw happen in the Tim McGraw concert video!

B.U.S.T.E.R. Action Steps

McGraw first Befriended the victim by making it clear that he was on the side of the woman who was being roughed up. He has her come onto the stage where security personnel stand alongside her. McGraw clearly points out the person who was in the wrong. Other ways that we can draw this line is by simply standing next to the person who is being harassed. There is no "staying out of it" once we've witnessed abuse. There is only choosing a side. Inaction actually sends a message to the abuser that the abuse is okay.

Use a Distraction - A distraction can be using humor, pointing out or drawing our attention to something positive which lets the abuser know in a discreet way that people have noticed, or in McGraw's case be the distraction yourself. McGraw uses his concert, stage, and celebrity to draw his audience's attention to the situation. With the spotlight on the abuser, it becomes very difficult for him to continue the abuse. Shine light into darkness.

Speak Up/Stand Up - The moment McGraw saw the situation happen he didn't hesitate to use his stage, presence, and microphone to speak up for the victim.

Tell Someone, Get Help - SECURITY! Two security personnel backup McGraw from the stage making it even clearer where the line is drawn. McGraw then calls for additional security to escort the abuser out of the concert.

There is a huge difference between telling and tattling. Tattling is what people do to get others into trouble. Tattling is manipulative. Telling is what people do to get others out of trouble. Telling is about helping people for safety and justice. That’s a huge difference we all need to understand, and teach to our future generations.

Exit with Friend or Alone - The victim is asked to come onto stage and is escorted away by staff and security towards safety and away from the abuser. She seems grateful with tears in her eyes, but that may be me reading into the situation at that point.

Redirect - “You don’t treat women like that!” McGraw takes a moment to share a moral standard with the person in the audience by pointing out the abusive behavior as wrong. This is probably the one area where we need to train ourselves and be mindful of what we are saying.

Good phrases and actions to use:
  • “No one deserves to be treated that way.”
  • “You are better than that. Please act that way.”
  • Redirect responsibility of actions where they belong. “Your behavior is scaring ME and MY family. I need you to stop.” Abusers feel entitled to scare and dominate their partners. This move takes some of the pressure off the victim and shifts the responsibility back onto the abuser for his or her behavior.
  • Insist on using names and redirect from name calling. Abusers dehumanize their victims with slurs and nicknames like “Baby Momma,” “My Lady,” “That B*@#h!” and so on.
  • To the victim - “Are you okay? I saw what was happening to you, and that wasn’t right. No one deserves to be treated that way. I can help. Can I call the police for you? Can I call a local hotline with people who are trained to help in situations like this?”

Phrases and actions to avoid using:
  • Take your business behind closed doors.
  • That’s not how we treat people in public.
  • Agreeing with the abuser that the victim probably did something wrong to deserve what is happening.
  • Avoid telling the victim what the victim “needs to do.” That victim is already in a situation of power and control where the decisions in a relationship are often made by the abuser. When we tell victims what they “need” to do, we are coming from good intentions but are merely creating a new power and control relationship to replace the old one. Instead, offer up lifelines, lot of lifelines.
We tend to think that domestic violence is a private matter. I have met many men in my life who have shared they witnessed an abusive situation, but didn't do anything because they felt like it wasn't their place to say anything. In some cases, it was a matter of "Bro Code" to leave it between the two in that couple to "work out their marriage (or dating) issues."

The facts are that roughly 75% of us in Texas will know someone who is a victim of domestic violence in our lifetimes. We may see direct signs of violence, or we may experience the side effects at work such as someone coming to work late or leaving early, or a workplace accident. (Side note: roughly 19% of participants in a Batterers Intervention and Prevention Program reported they either caused an accident or a near miss at work because they were pre-occupied with harassing their victims.)

Safety considerations afterward:

The first thing we must do in order to help someone who is a victim of abuse is try to see their perspective. It’s easy for us to make assumptions from our positions of safety. We aren’t the ones who have to go home to abusers, see them the next day, or fear the abuser will stalk or harass us. They do.

Download the free Personal Safety Plan Checklist brochure from Texas Council on Family Violence.

Where will the victim go afterwards? The abuser may have been the victim’s ride. The victim may also be living with the abuser, or runs the risk of seeing that abuser at home. Intervention is important, but it has to go beyond the moment. I’m not saying this becomes your burden until the end.

What help is available besides just police? There are a variety of services available such as battered women's shelters and agencies, victim advocates, county attorney, legal aid organizations who can provide free legal help, local, state and national hotlines, etc.

How far does that victim want to go with resolution? Ultimately, once you have established safety, make this about what the victim wants to do. That victim understands her or his situation better than we do. All we can do is be supportive, and be ready to help again when the time comes whether it is that same person or someone new.

See it through with accountability, especially if that abuser is a friend, family member, or fellow believer. Abusers do what they do because it is what they learned. The best way to ensure that future generations do not continue this behavior is by having more men held accountable for setting a positive example. This will take courageous action by most men to take a stand.

We can send the message that manhood is not about domination over other people. We can be positive example for men and boys that is worth following.
Violence Against Women - It’s a Men’s Issue, TED Talk by Jackson Katz

Download Strength Revisited, a free eBook download based on my TEDxCorpusChristi Talk about how we define strength in manhood.