Archive for November, 2012

Keep on keepin’ on

-Baby Bear

Men of Phi Tau, one of my favorite things about being a little religious has to be the comfort I get.  Some people may think this to be a crutch but I believe that if someone hands you a hammer and says “drive in that nail”, I’m probably going to use the hammer.  Whether it be exams or money issues, humans are social creatures, everyone has or needs a little support when things get stressful.  I urge you to find out who your support is whether it be friends, family, a God, or many gods and thank them for getting you through life when it gets to the point of lame times infinity.

I’d like to share with you men my what I personally do when things seem to overwhelm.  It’s a little prayer that I stole from a saint who said it a long time ago.  It’s short, sweet, and nice and I even abridged to where my small attention span can get through it and remember it.

Lord,

grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage

to change the things that I can,

and the wisdom

to know the difference.

That’s what gets me through the day.  I’d love if you readers could comment and say what gets you through exam week and the like.

A message about living

– Baby Bear

Men of Phi Tau, I’d like to tell you about something I learned today.  As you all know it’s election day and Americans all over the country are casting ballots trying to decide who will be in charge of leading the free world for the next four years.  I, of course, am away from home today and because of a weird mixture of exams and quizes this week I’m resigned to vote with an absentee ballot.  I put off sending in my registration until the last minute, all the information was available to me but I waited anyway.  It turns out though that what I think is the last minute is much different than what the state of Michigan thinks the last minute is and I missed the deadline.  Now I’m stuck having told many haughty people that I was going to cancel out their votes with mine and not being able to.  The importance of voting varies from place to place and person to person but my family holds it in especially high regard so I can’t tell them I didn’t vote and i definitely can’t tell my roommates and other friends who know how I feel about voting because of the fall out.  Weirdly this bothers be, bothers me quite a bit, thoughts about it keep running through my head and I can’t shake it, what if the state votes the other way by one vote? Things like that, silly but they bother me.  

The moral of the story is, when they say “live without any regrets” they don’t mean go out and do crazy things like bungie jumping and stuff, they mean in your day to day life, avoid things that you’ll regret because however small, you have no idea what will keep you up at night.  And for pete’s sake, I have enough trouble sleeping as it is.  

Ann Coulter

– Topher Endress

Men, we have read posts on the importance of words, but I need to take some space to write about a very problematic issue that many of us (myself included) face. All to often, it is easy for us to call something by the wrong name. We willingly forsake accuracy for emphasis in many conversations – not always a bad thing, of course. However, sometimes this lack of consideration for our terms is very damaging to others.  Take, for example, Ann Coulter’s recent tweets about Obama.  During one of the presidential debates, she referred to him directly as a retard, then later said that if Obama was the smartest man in the room, it must be one retarded room.  Now, especially on election day, I’m not going to pick sides and say that she’s right and saying it wrong, or that she’s wrong and saying it really wrong.  I will, however, never mention Ann Coulter again in an effort to keep her off the airwaves.  Someone who is so blatantly disrespectful does not deserve our attention for it.  Of course, as I think about her word choice, I can’t help but think about what I hear from the people around me.

When was the last time you said someone was retarded?  Not too long ago, if you are anything like the general 20-somethings population that I’ve known.  See, our culture has taken this word and misapplied it because, as a descriptor, it adds emphasis to what we say.  I didn’t just make a mistake, I’ll apologize for being retarded.  That person isn’t just asking a question in class, they are retarded for not getting it right away.  The ref didn’t make a bad call, he is retarded for missing that obvious foul.  It is quite literally akin to using the word literally to describe feelings (when it is far more likely that you intend to say emphaticallylegitimately, or passionately).  We like being able to emphasize our words through these types of hyperboles.

However, let me point out two main reasons why misusing the word retarded will ensure a swift kick to the face from me next time I see you in person: retarded was never meant to describe a person and retarded is an emotionally charge word that places the power in the listener’s ear.

First, there is a proper use of the word.  Today, it is used to only to describe a system or process that is slowly down or being hindered.  In music, you have a retardando when the tempo slows.  We have machines that retard and baby clothes that are flame retardant.  While this could have described those with mental handicaps several years ago, I would hope that each person reading this blog would realize how inappropriate and  inaccurate that term is if used to describe a human.  I don’t mind anyone using that term properly, but it is never the correct usage to use it as a description of a person.

Second, the biggest reason that this word is offensive is because it is.  Simply put, because a critical mass of people have used it inappropriately as a pejorative term, anyone using it now is necessarily bringing in the negative connotations that come with it.  We don’t have those same negative emotions associated with other adjectives – I wouldn’t be offended if you called me “quixotic,” but if enough people started using “quixotic” as an insult I would eventually be offended by that term no matter how good of a descriptor it once was.  We are Men of Character.  Not knowing that something is offensive is an excuse that can be used once at most – we do have an obligation to understand how to best relate to and see the value in each person around us.  Part of that means educating yourself on how to interact in a way that is fair to both parties.  Of course, that is the general ideal.  The word retarded is well-known to be offensive, so I personally wouldn’t give anyone that one-time pass.

I understand that as guys, it is natural for many of us to rib each other.  Most insults and bickering are more parodies of masculinity than they are true expressions.  But there is no reason for a group of dedicated Men, Men who want to change the perception of fraternal life at Purdue, Men who want to cause an impact in their community, Men who strive to be a light in already too-dark world, should ever jeopardize their efficacy by using words that serve no purpose other than furthering a divide with an already maligned community.  Many people hearing the word retarded recognize that it stands for a label that dehumanizes someone with mental handicaps or disabilities.  And no Man of Character I know would ever stand for that.

How can you work on changing your vocabulary to exclude words that only serve to insult?  When do you find yourself using terms like that, and how can you change those situations?  What other words might you be using that offend those around you?

As a final read, I highly recommend this open letter, penned to Ann Coulter after her tweets.

Movember

– Topher Endress

So October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month – I know that involvement around Purdue was steadily increasing each of my years there, so I assume everyone was made aware and possibly donated some money to research.  Overall, I think the communities that I have been in have done a great job to not only raise lots of research funds, but have really changed the way that we talk about women’s health.  While breast cancer and heart disease are the two biggest factors for early deaths in women, it seems like it is no longer a strange and/or awkward conversation on the community platform.  Women seem to be more able to converse about mammograms, screenings, taking care of their bodies and helping men learn about the unique issues facing women today.  And this is a great thing that should absolutely continue.  However, October is over and November is here.  This means that basketball has finally started, plans for gorging oneself at Thanksgiving are being made, and National Men’s Health Awareness Month is here!

A group in Australia started a campaign to coincide with the college males’ favorite season – No Shave November.  Now, our laziness and unwillingness to buy a razor can finally pay off!  Dubbed “Movember” (as “moe” is slang down under for moustache (yes, I’m using the formal English spelling)), the campaign has raised almost $22 million so far this month to be donated to Prostate Cancer initiatives and other men’s health organizations (they have raised about $300 million since 2004, with their donations increasing almost exponentially since then).  So, yes, I am growing a moustache in support of men’s health awareness.  Additionally, I am embarking on a campaign (with help from a nurse) to create some dialogue about how to bring health issues before communities.  I think this is very important, because the main issue with men’s health is not a singular issue (nor is it for women, but the prevalence of breast cancer makes it one of the biggest single targets for research).  While 1 in 6 men can expect to get prostate cancer in their lifetimes, the biggest issue facing us XYs is that too many men refuse to seek medical attention until very treatable problems have become major issues.  Prostate cancer is almost never as aggressive as other cancers, but when left unchecked it can cause serious issues.  Realistically, many of the top causes of death for men could be prevented with a higher willingness to access medical treatment.  Part of that is economic, which is it’s own issue, but part of it is simply men being hard-headed.  I am asking each of you to remember the power of preventative care and early detection.

Now, I am creating this campaign within my school because I believe that my classmates and I have a voice.  Being in Divinity school, I will likely have the opportunity to stand before a congregation, and I would love to know how to best address issues like these.  And while my current position and community are different than yours, I think we can all learn from this years Movember.  At the end of the month, I will be hosting a Moustache Bash, where all of my classmates are provided with and encouraged to wear a fake moustache all day to help show to others the importance of understanding the issues.  I will be posting all of the notes from our discussions here so that you all can begin to think of effective ways to use your times, talent and positions to help men better understand health issues.  This is one great way we can be discharging our obligation to others that arises from the fact that we are fraternity men.

*I don’t have an account to donate to, but you should send your money to my buddy Anthony (http://us.movember.com/mospace/3657205) and for more information on Movember, please check out their site here.