The Mundling Zone

Thoughts, rants, and raves from the desk of Michelle Mundling

Friday, January 05, 2001

The Worth of Web Awards

To get an award was to say that the recipient had something outstanding. Awards are to be earned, and only a few people would get nominated for an award.

Not in the case of website awards. Just because you have 50 or more web awards doesn't mean you have an award-winning website. Seems like everyone is either giving or receiving them. I've seen too many websites that have pages of assorted "awards" given to that particular website. I've seen websites that give awards to just about anyone that applies for one. Either one of those examples would make any award worthless.

At the urging of a friend, I tried getting into the website award thing, but I just didn't feel right judging other people's personal websites, plus I really didn't have the time to look at all the websites who applied. Besides, judging from the websites I had looked at, it seemed like all the webmasters were interested in was just adding to their collection. One of them had the nerve to scrunch my award out of shape to make it fit with the other awards on that particular page. I wrote a letter to the webmaster and told him to restore it to its original shape and size or remove it from his collection (would you shrink the Oscar just because it didn't fit on your shelf?). We eventually compromised, and I sent him a smaller award, but by then my discontent with web awards was peaking quickly.

The bottom line is: an award's worth is based on how hard you had to work to get it. The easier they are to attain, the less they are worth. In the case of website awards, quantity does not equal quality.

Thursday, January 04, 2001

School Violence

Stop blaming the guns! Stop blaming the video games! Stop blaming television and the movie industry! The parents, the school officials, and the media are all missing the point!

You want to know WHY there is school violence? Let me ask you this: what is the most common denominator in these situations? In a large majority of these cases, one or the other was mercilessly picked on or scapegoated by some of the other students (bullies). I'm not talking about light-hearted kidding around that we all get at one time or another; I'm talking about non-stop mean-spirited hurtful picking on or tormenting the victim. What is a bully? If you threaten, injure, coerce, humiliate, and/or harass another person with the intention of hurting that person, you're a bully.

There have always been bullies. People who pick on other people ... the reasons are numerous: insecurity, neurotic need for control, peer pressure, or just for the sheer meanness of it! I believe that we as a society need to come down harder on the bullies. Bullies have a tendency to provoke negative actions out of others. A lot of people feel that if you ignore the bully, he'll eventually get bored and leave you alone. I have news for those people: most bullies will keep at you and get worse until they get a reaction out of you, and then they still continue their verbal and/or physical torture. This is from personal experience. Until you take action to stop the bully's actions, he'll continue to pick on you and other people. The school principal and the bully's parents need to be made aware of the situation and take action. Then they need to monitor and correct that bully's behavior. If that doesn't work, it's time to contact law enforcement and the courts. TOLERANCE EQUALS ACCEPTANCE. NEVER TOLERATE BEING BULLIED.

A student bringing a gun or knife to school is definitely a sign that a situation needs to be looked into PRONTO! Either that student is desperate to defend himself or he has a vendetta against someone (is being bullied or is bullying someone else). For whatever reason the student uses to justify bringing a gun or other weapon to school, the underlying provocation needs to be addressed.

Teachers used to be able to discipline unruly or mischevious students. Parents used to make their children behave. Not in today's society. Yes, there are teachers and parents who care and are involved in the children's lives to inspire them to be better people. However, a greater number of teachers and parents are quick to duck their heads in the sand at the first sign of trouble and don't act until things really get out of hand, then claim that they had no idea that anything was wrong. That's a copout, folks! There are signs, and with some observation, they can be easily spotted. Until the students are made to behave, they will continue to be progressively disrespectful and disruptive.

The parents that care about their children are alarmed at how their children are being treated by some of the disruptive students. These parents fear for the safety of their kids in school today. Many of these parents have resorted to taking their children out of the offending school and placing them in either private school or utilized home schooling. They've read the news stories of students being stabbed or shot, and they're acting on this information.

The zero tolerance rules for weapons and drugs was a good idea, but it needs to be modified so that common sense can be used to determine the severity of any action taken if a violation of the rules occurs. For example, I don't believe a student should be suspended or treated as a criminal for giving another student over-the-counter pain medication for a headache, especially if that recipient has taken that medication before. However, with the zero tolerance policy for drugs, those very students have been treated as if they brought crack cocaine to school. Common sense needs to be applied here.
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The bottom line is ... until parents and teachers hold the students more accountable for their actions and are allowed to take stronger disciplinary measures, the problem of school violence will continue to get worse.

Wednesday, January 03, 2001

Religion

This is a very tender subject to me. First of all, my religious beliefs are very personal to me, just like they are to everyone else who believes in a higher power. The key word is respect.

There are so many different interpretations of the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Bible, not to mention the additional books written by men who believe they were inspired/ordained/chosen/authorized by God. We were presumably given a book of instructions to live by, and it seems nobody can agree on the exact wording, description, or definition of any part of it. If we did, there would not be so many different religions..

Within the last year, I had decided to redirect my faith through the teachings of Christ. However, I am not one who will be going out to "preach the Word." I believe that living by example will send a stronger message than anything I could say verbally. Besides, I still have a lot to learn, so who am I to be telling anyone what or how to believe?

I have a bumper sticker that displays, "There is no freedom of religion without freedom from religion." I feel very strongly about that statement. Some people do not realize just how pushy they can be with their religious views. It has been proven time and time again that when you try to push your views (religious or other) onto other people, those people tend to resist those views even more; and I am certainly no exception to that tendency. It angers me when some well-meaning person with an agenda to "save my soul" will not take "no" for an answer, just because I don't think or act the way he/she does. I call these people religious bullies, and I refuse to deal with them.

This also goes for the e-mails that I receive with stories and poems of a religious nature. The stories and poems in and of themselves speak volumes and are worthy reading, but the message is almost overshadowed by the e-mailer's added message of, "If you believe in God, you will forward this to ten people..." or "if you're not ashamed to show your love for God, because Jesus died ..." or other guilt-provoking statements. Why not let the story or poem speak for itself? No, because someone had to tack on that "If you believe in God ...." or a similar statement and not leave well enough alone. The tacked-on comment implies that you do not love God if you do not forward the message on to people on your e-mail list. Gee, sounds like another chain letter to me. Oh dear, I guess I lost the message I was supposed to be getting from that e-mail. Seriously, if the story or poem is worthy of reading, just send it! If the recipient thinks it's good enough, it will get forwarded on its own merits.

The bottom line is: educate yourself, follow your own faith, and stop pushing your religious agenda on people who are not interested in your viewpoint. You are responsible for yourself, not other people.

One more thing: the word, "God," when referring to the Almighty, is supposed to be capitalized, folks. Give Him that aspect of respect, please.

Tuesday, January 02, 2001

Racism

I hate it.

The color of your skin does not determine your character, your personality, or your worth as a human being.

I'm glad to see that there is a greater acceptance of interracial relationships; not just romantically, but platonically as well. There are so many diverse cultures to learn and grow from ... why must people still isolate themselves from those who are of a different race? If I go to the movies with a group of girls, and I'm the only white person, does that mean there is something wrong with me? No! It means I'm going to the movies with a group of friends. If I happen to be dating or hanging with someone who is Hispanic or African American, there is nothing wrong with it, and it's my business.

It is a shame that there are bigots (of any race) who see a group of people who are of a different race and feel the compulsion to pick on those people by annoying/harassing/injuring/torturing/killing them. Sometimes these same bigots will target someone of their own race who associates with people of different races. If we live in fear of these people, then we're letting them win. What's really scary is that most of these people think they're doing God's work!! I have news for these people: there is nothing written in the Bible that people of different races should not love and associate with each other. These people do not have a covenant with the God of the Holy Bible.
I've discovered that people of minority races are just as capable of racism as the proverbial middle aged white male. That doesn't make sense. Why practice the same behavior of those who oppress you while trying to overcome being oppressed? Every one of us as human beings, no matter what race we are, deserve to be treated fairly. And no one, I mean NO ONE is superior over another.

In light of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I would like to stress that we are not to assume that someone who looks "middle eastern" is automatically a terrorist. Judge the person by his/her actions, not by the physical appearance. Many innocent people are being attacked and/or killed because they look "middle eastern" and are assumed to be on the side of the terrorists. Two wrongs don't make a right.

We've come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.

Monday, January 01, 2001

Fatbashing

Maybe it's been around a long time, but it's making its presence known more strongly today. Being judged by how you look instead of your character seems to be more the norm these days. If you're considered too fat, too thin, too tall, too short, too ethnic, too old ... whatever, you can be denied opportunities that you would normally have a right to. Bosses have been known to hire and/or promote employees with better looks over more qualified but homelier looking people. Clubs and organizations have been known to invite members based solely on their looks and not on their potential for contribution to the club. Even public nightspots have been known to turn potential patrons away simply because they weren't pretty or handsome enough for the nightspot's "image."

People who base their relationships on looks more than personality or character may find themselves alone, betrayed, and/or disappointed when life throws them a curveball. This is not to say that all good-looking people are shallow ... far from it. But there are people who know that they are good-looking and use their looks to their advantage, even to the point of taking advantage of and/or hurting other people in order to get what they want. This is why it is so important to have relationships based on mutual interests and respect for each other and not solely on looks.

I have personally witnessed another disturbing perception that people are believe in ... that fat people are offensive. Why are they considered offensive? How are they considered offensive? If someone sees a scantilly clad fat person, it is considered offensive. If a fat person is eating in a restaurant or is out in public, it is considered offensive. If a fat person experiences sexual feelings, it is considered offensive. The only thing that I find offensive is the shallowness of people who actually believe that.

Yes, there are health considerations in being fat. There are also heath considerations in smoking tobacco products, drinking alcoholic beverages, working in a dangerous work environment, etc. However, most of the social discrimination in comparison to everything else in the name of "health factors" is against the fat person.

And for the record ... I am a fat person, although I prefer to call myself a BBW (big beautiful woman). I may not be slim and trim, but I'm certainly not ugly, and I'm not a freak show either. I love myself and who I am ... I am a sensitive, caring, responsible person. I have wants and desires, just like every other woman in her 30's. I have friends who love me, and I love them just as much. I consider myself blessed for having the friends I do.

Because I've been fat all of my life, I have also been targeted for ridicule, cruel humiliating pranks, vicious gossip, and outright hatred, all because of what I look like. I resent the reputation that fat people don't bathe themselves well, are sloppy, are pigs when they eat, are lazy, are lonely losers starved for affection ... None of that applies to me nor to several other fat people I know!! To quote a character out of the movie Witchhunt with Dennis Hopper and Penelope Ann Miller, "Put any ten people into a room. They may not pick a leader, but I guarantee you they'll pick someone to hate." In my case, "Let's pick on the fat chick!" And just when it seems that there might be an effort to try to gain acceptance for fat people, there is an equal if not more overt effort to trash, bash, and demean us. Well, I am a firm believer that what goes around comes around ... how you treat me (and others) will eventually reverberate back to you. I refuse to allow these kind of people make me feel ashamed of myself. They are the ones who need to be ashamed, not me.