Gun Control? How About Tongue Control?

I know what you’re thinking: REALLY?

Gun control is a concept as easy to enforce as tongue control would be for a bully. Here’s what I mean… I would support both if everyone played along. If all the bad guys willingly turned over their guns, I’d be more willing to turn over mine as a regular, law abiding citizen. But we all know that day will never come. Haters are gonna hate, right? Bullies are gonna say and do mean things. If we all agree that gun control isn’t the answer and tongue control is an equal impossibility, then what is the solution for our society?

In my school visits, I work to get kids to see their part in the problem and the solution. I think too often we are focused on what’s going wrong or who’s against our belief system, without seeing our part in the scenario. We all have a part. I’ve heard it said, “There’s his side, her side, and the truth.” It’s not that people lie; people just see the world from their own skewed perspective and forget to see it from anyone else’s.

Do you want to see bullying cease to exist?

I do. I could live the rest of my life without learning of a new school shooting or mass murder on a college campus. I could happily die without another mention of child abuse or spousal abuse. To me, the answer is simple, yet extraordinarily difficult simultaneously. In it’s easiest form–and what I share with students–is following the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule says to treat others the way you would have them treat you. Not HOW they treat you, necessarily. No one wants to be bullied or abused. No one wakes up in the morning and gets excited to think they won’t find acceptance or love in the world. So if that’s truth, then the Golden Rule in practice means none of these events would ever take place again.

But that’s like saying “Gun Control” or “Tongue Control” is the answer. They look great on paper and sound good in a meme. They just won’t work, because people are broken. We just are. Broken people are in pain and people in pain hurt. It’s really that simple.

So what’s the solution?

Part of the solution could be trying to live each moment and make each decision based off the Golden Rule. Truthfully, if we did that as a collective group, when one of us fails, the others would fill in. If we live others’-focused we will develop a sense of empathy, which will zero out our sense of entitlement, status, and ego. When you live by the Golden Rule, if someone bullies you, your first thought isn’t about how it makes YOU feel, rather what must THEY feel to be acting this way? It flips your thinking, and if we all did it, then 95% of bullying would disappear.

Another strength we could develop to fix this crisis is accountability.

Accountability means I take responsibility for my actions and words. It means I think things through and say words like, “I’m sorry,” instead of giving the middle finger. It means I don’t make excuses for my behavior. When people become accountable, they think and act differently. Knowing you can’t pass the buck onto someone or something else means you might have to do the hard work of changing yourself, or allowing another the freedom to be who they are and love them anyway. These things are not easy, but don’t we want people extending those same kindnesses to us? Don’t you want someone to be accountable when they make a mistake or extend grace when you’re the one who messed up? Here we are back to the Golden Rule.

Words truly do hold power.

We can build one another up, stand up for someone who can’t, and allow those around us to speak what they believe while we listen with courtesy, even when we vehemently disagree with them. We can let someone who is hurting know that we have hurt too and found our place in this world, in spite of our shortcomings. How many young people have nothing to build their hope on except the opinions of others who are also building their hope on the opinions of others? Throw a parent in the mix with an addiction or their own junk that life throws out, and you’ve got someone who feels desperate…dead inside…beat down.

Hopeless.

Today is the day we can each decide to live by the Golden Rule. We can become the voice of hope for someone who is desperate. Our lives can be the answer someone is looking for. And through all of this, when we face our own despair and pain, there should be someone on the other side living the Golden Rule waiting to be our support with open arms. Gun control isn’t the answer. I’m not saying I am for or against it; I’m just saying that gun control won’t fix the problem it’s being attached to. Until we are able to treat others the same way we want to be treated, there will be no end to the destructive behavior of hurting people. While we can’t change them, we can change ourselves and in so doing, maybe…just maybe…they will begin to see hope in our lives and accountability for their own.

ABOUT FEATUREJaimie Engle writes dark thrillers where magic turns ordinary into extraordinary. She loves weaving lore into her books and creating the Stories that Shape You through JME Books. Fun facts: Jaimie danced at the Aloha Bowl halftime show & played an alien on TV. Learn more at ABOUT.

Identity Theft: Social Media Stole My Identity

I was born in 1977, which makes me a Gen X-er. I’m proud to be a Gen X-er. We learned the power of working hard, thinking outside the box, and being proactive in our lives. We exercised competition, free thinking, and the American way of free enterprise. In fact, when I was seven, I walked door-to-door in my neighborhood selling hand drawn pictures and colored pages from my favorite coloring books. I came home with more than $40 bucks, something that shocked my mother. In middle school, I bought boxes of Blow Pops from Sam’s and brought them to school to sell for $0.25 a piece. I would pocket about $50 a week, until I got called to the principal’s office for interfering with the vending machines’ making money. (I’m serious)

I guess part of my competitive, entrepreneurial spirit was a result of growing up in the 80s. We didn’t have the internet, so if it wasn’t in the store, you weren’t getting it. I remember my first Cabbage Patch Doll was the last in the store (after we ran from the entrance to the back to grab one). It was a little boy with dark, curly hair and I put a barrette in that doll’s hair and made it a little girl (until I was made fun of and I tossed that thing in the corner so fast…)

In light of the world I’m living in, I wondered what happened to kill that entrepreneurial spirit in society; where did the desire to work hard for and earn your place in life go? I watched videos of kids claiming status as sovereign citizens and I was awestruck. The level of disrespect for the law, for the lives of those who died in war to give them the freedom to even make that choice, disgusts me. Then there are kids shooting up schools, the most recent and newsworthy being in my home state at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I can’t even wrap my brain around anyone thinking they have the right to take another’s life, especially in a school, especially as a child.

As an author, I talk to kids–mostly in grades K-12–about their part in bullying, with my focus on treating others with the Golden Rule as a compass and that their words have power to build worlds or destroy people. I teach accountability, because it is the only thing we have control over in our lives. These simple ideas would eliminate bullying completely if everyone followed them.

The truth is the upcoming generation has a fatal flaw: ENTITLEMENT.

Growing up in a society which promotes self through social media, participation awards, and celebrations of every single milestone, even if none exists, has created a society of young adults that expect. In a sense, it happened in my generation too. Gen X-ers lived with the sitcom society of “happily ever after” by the end of the 1/2 hour segment, told we could be anything we wanted, and we believed it…we expected that one day we would gain fame, fortune, and our own happily ever after. This new generation has just drank more of the Kool-Aid. And you can’t necessarily blame them, with YouTubers playing video games or goofing off to the tune of millions of fans and just as many dollars.

But someone needs to pay. Accountability is gone.

Social Media is a wonderful tool, but it steals accountability. It’s easy to unfriend and unfollow. It’s much harder to listen with respect. Identity is personal and should never be found in opinions, likes, or follows of others, yet too many are so wrapped up in the numbers they disregard the person. Watch people in a restaurant or waiting for a bus. We aren’t accountable to each other because we don’t even interact with each other. It’s identity theft when you allow social media followers to determine your worth, dictate how you spend your time, and decide your value. Social Media is a tool, not a place to find validation. 

I am in the process of altering my life from being just a writer / speaker into becoming a licensed real estate agent to assist my husband. I won’t lie: it’s been torture. Who am I if I stop being a writer? What happens when I slow or stop posting on social media? I realized the truth was none of that defined me, yet I allowed it to shape my own thoughts about myself. I gave my identity away to followers of forums I had no faith in. The world of social media had become so predominant in my existence that I didn’t know who I was without it. And my identity as an author had become so encompassing that I felt empty inside without it.

What changed? My accountability.

I am accountable for giving away my life to social media and allowing identity theft to take place. I am not a result of likes and shares, but what I do might result in them if done for the right reasons. Today, my identity is found in myself and who I am is not what I do. Will I still use social media? Absolutely! I just won’t let it use me anymore.

ABOUT FEATUREJaimie Engle writes dark thrillers where magic turns ordinary into extraordinary. She loves weaving lore into her books and creating the Stories that Shape You through JME Books. Fun facts: Jaimie danced at the Aloha Bowl halftime show & played an alien on TV. Learn more at ABOUT.

Barnes & Noble Book Signing!

It’s like a dream come true.

As an indie author, I was told you will NEVER get a B&N book signing. You can PROBABLY get your books on their website for people to order, and you MAY get lucky enough to have them in the store.

But you will NEVER get a signing.

January 22nd at 6:30pm, I will be signing my self-published books at the Barnes & Noble in Melbourne, Florida, at 1955 New Haven Avenue. The event will raise funds for Brevard Adult Education and jump off Literacy Week for ALL Brevard County Schools.

bandn

Get pre-registered at FACEBOOK and be early. The first 100 guests to arrive will receive FREE gifts and EVERYONE is eligible to enter to win a $25 B&N gift card for attending. I’m planning to sell 90 books and raise the most funds ever for Brevard Adult Education.

I hope I can count on your help and will see you in January!

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