What is up with People’s Bullshit?

By Austin B. Hahn

Fretting over the minutiae of life isn’t going to make your existence any easier. Being pissed over that parking space that someone took five seconds sooner than you isn’t going to make your life any harder. Complaining about your children won’t make them grow up faster, and releasing expectations won’t make them grow up any slower. Maybe you’ve been temporarily inconvenienced, but you’ll live.

Thinking that your words will change me, out of everything I will hear in a world with more than seven billion people, is about as foolish as a grain of sand anticipating that I will notice it. Maybe you’re too damn busy being ineffective in the world. You can shoot down a positive comment someone made about another, but if a homeless person were to ask you for that box of takeout that you’re just going to leave in your fridge until it’s stale, you’d make a scowl and tell them to fuck off.

When you’re in a room with people of a different culture or race, you’re the first person to point out that you’re the minority. Are you that much of an insecure bigot that you need to be surrounded by others who are exactly like you in order to feel that your existence has been validated? Life must be painful for you.

I’m really not that sorry to hear that your life is “difficult.” You’re upset by minor errors such as the curtains that you ordered turning out fuchsia instead of orange. You spend copious amounts of energy and time giving your opinions about others like they’re going out of style. You’re bothered by human variation, and when everything in your life is going right, you still find something to bitch about because nothing will ever be enough for you.

Instead of being irritated when the wind blows in your face, smile. Think of this as Mother Nature’s comical way of saying you need to get laid, so she figured she’d “blow” you. 😅

Anger

By Austin B. Hahn

You know what annoys the fuck out of me? When people say, “Don’t be angry,” or, “Express your anger through a creative outlet or sports.” Fuck no people! If I’m angry with someone because they’re being a complete asshole, or this person is going to physically harm me, you bet that I’m going to get angry and stick up and fight! I’m not just going to sit there on my ass and let this person harass me or beat the shit out of me until I have an eye missing.

Also, another thing.

I have different sides. I’m not just “happy” or “melancholy” all day. People have various emotions. They come, and they go. I’m generally a nice person. Just because I’m angry for a moment, does not mean that I am cruel. Anger serves a multitude of purposes: calling someone out on their BS, self-defense, sticking up for anyone who can’t defend themselves, and survival. I’m not saying act on your whims. If you’re one of those people who decide that just because someone pissed you off that you’re going to hit that person, you might as well consider yourself no better than a criminal. With the exception of murder, rape, and violence, if I’m angry, I’m going to directly express it to the source of whoever or whatever I’m angry with, and then I’m going to let it go and move on with my life.

Boom. The fight is over, and instead of bottling up your rage, maybe you helped someone become a better person by calling them out on their behavior. After all, no one can expect anyone to become better if nobody gives them the chance to fix themselves by being emotionally honest with them.

I Hate

By Austin B. Hahn

This was a cathartic release and therapeutic for me. Here’s a list of reasons why I hate:

1) People can belittle and ignore you when you’re alive, but they will spend all the time in the world appreciating you and making a biopic of your life when you’re dead.

2) You can do right by people ten times in a row, but they will hold the one time you fuck up against you forever.

3) You can unintentionally hurt someone’s feelings, and that person, out of petty vengeance, can go out of their way to intentionally ruin your life.

4) We’re lied to as children. We’re told, “It’s okay to make mistakes. We all do,” but then we can get a bad credit report, denied a loan, rejected on a job application, or thrown in jail once we do. All this talk about how these consequences are in place to help us “learn” is bullshit because the message is clear: it’s not okay to make mistakes. If the contrary were true, then these harsh punishments would only be reserved for delinquents and not for human beings who happened to make a few errors along the course of their life.

5) Everyone can voice their opinion on social media, but many will sit on their ass and refuse to pursuit a cause or to stick up for someone who’s being physically attacked in a public setting.

6) People attribute their misfortunes to circumstance, but when others experience the same, they’ll blame them for their “laziness.”

7) People want rights for their own group, but they don’t want equality.

8) Once someone is comfortable, they stop giving a fuck and could care less about how their actions affect others.

9) We all start somewhere from the bottom. Status and wealth come and go. We all should respect one another regardless of our social standing, but people seem to forget that once they make it to the top.

10) People live as if they’re never going to die.

Reap What We’ve Sown

By Austin B. Hahn

Why are people complaining about President Donald Trump? News reports, parodies on comedy television, posts on Instagram, retweets on Twitter, bla, bla, bla! The bitching is endless and has been non-stop in the media.

In the 2016 election, Trump received 46.1% of the popular vote, or 62,979,879 votes, and Hillary Clinton earned 48.2% or 65,844,954 votes totaling 128,824,833 votes for the two presidential candidates (“2016 election results”). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, population estimates on November 8th stood at 324,013,797. This data calls into question: out of the 196 million who did not participate in the 2016 election, how many were registered voters who did not turn in their ballots?

Irrespective of my political affiliation, I do not endorse Trump; however, I am amused by how many people can write their opinions on social media, but they won’t vote. Moreover, many people are worried now that he’s in office.

Why?

If his position of power is that much of a threat to you, then where were you people to give a fuck and vote when it mattered?

Sources

“2016 election results.” CNN. CNN, n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2017.

“U.S and World Population Clock.” United States Census Bureau. United States Census Bureau, n.d. Web. 7 Feb. 2017.

Lessons Learned in 2016

By Austin B. Hahn

  • Don’t be so critical of human nature. People are flawed, and we’re all learning. What you may already know could be new knowledge to others, so don’t expect them to believe what you believe and criticize them when they don’t. In addition, if someone doesn’t know something, then they don’t know, so instead of thinking, “Wow! God must love stupid people because he sure made a lot of them,” help them to understand it.
  • “Common sense” is vague, so toss it to the wind. What may appear to be obvious to you, whether it’s someone’s spouse cheating on them, an answer to a test question, or how to do a task assigned to you by your boss, may not be so obvious to the other person for various reasons. Maybe that person has been with their spouse, who was loyal, for over twenty years, and the thought of infidelity never crossed their mind. Perhaps English is someone’s second language, so they weren’t sure how to answer that test question, or after consolidating with your coworkers, you realize that each of them have a different take on the assignment. Regardless of circumstance, common sense is relative to personal interpretation.
  • You don’t need to be painfully serious and rigid to accomplish your professional goals. A person can have fun and still do their job. Attitude and work ethic are not the same. Then again, you may just find that getting work done is easier if you cultivate an attitude that allows yourself to have fun in the process.
  • Don’t do something for the sole purpose of obtaining financial security. You might end up taking a job that ruins your health or that you may not be able to get out of without some repercussions that could professionally undermine your life. Before applying for a job, read about other people’s experiences, research what are the long-term benefits, and ask your higher self, “Is this job in alignment with my goals?” If not, look elsewhere. There’s always another way to make money.
  • If you love someone, let them know. U.S. culture condemns saying, “I love you,” to someone who you don’t know well, but saying “I hate you,” to a complete stranger is tolerated in public. If you tell someone the latter, no one says anything, but if you say the former, everyone is quick to tell you that you shouldn’t love so “easily” or that you shouldn’t give all your love away so fast. Why is it anyone’s fuckin’ business to tell you how you should feel about someone regardless of how long you’ve known them? Who cares if you’ve known a person for a week or decades? When you feel it’s right, it’s right, so tell them. People don’t hear, “I love you,” enough, and we all need love to make it in this world. I’m not saying, “Be foolish and love others blindly,” but what I am saying is pay attention to your gut. Do not suppress your feelings and wait after years have gone by or the timing may be awkward; or, even worse, you may discover that person is gone.

Cultural Appropriation

By Austin B. Hahn

Cultural appropriation is defined as the adoption or usage of elements from one culture by another culture, and although it is generally understood as “Western appropriations of non‐Western or non‐white forms, and carries connotations of exploitation and dominance,” anyone can appropriate (Drabble, et al.). The topic has been a point of contention in social media. Franchesca Ramsey, an actress and videoblogger, spoke about the matter on MTV News stating that, “the main problem with cultural appropriation comes from dominant groups ‘borrowing’ from marginalized groups who face oppression or have been stigmatized for their cultural practices throughout history.” In addition, actress Amandla Stenberg stated in an online video from Hype Hair Magazine that appropriation occurs, “when the appropriator is not aware of the deep significance of the culture that they’re partaking in.” Evidently, there are multiple viewpoints on what constitutes cultural appropriation, but one interpretation remains consistent: it happens when a dominant cultural group incorporates aspects from another culture, usually less dominant, that are not perceived to be their own.

The debate doesn’t just stop at social media. In September of 2015, a yoga class at the University of Ottawa was cancelled, according to an email from a representative, due to “cultural issues of implication involved in the practice” (Moyer). The representative went on:

Yoga has been under a lot of controversy lately due to how it is being practiced and what practices from what cultures (which are often sacred spiritual practices) they are being taken from. Many of these cultures are cultures that have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy, and we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves and while practicing yoga. (Moyer).

The Washington Post later cited a similar sentiment expressed by the Hindu American Foundation, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., who is leading an initiative called “Take Back Yoga”:

As the multi-billion dollar yoga industry continues to grow with studios becoming as prevalent as Starbucks and $120 yoga pants, the mass commercialization of this ancient practice, rooted in Hindu thought, has become concerning. With proliferation of new forms of ‘yoga,’ the underlying meaning, philosophy, and purpose of yoga are being lost. (“Take Back Yoga”).

In short, the advocacy group wants to sustain the practice’s cultural authenticity.

Other communities have also voiced their concerns over preserving the cultural customs that their ancestors once held dear to them. As stated by Hoodoo practitioner Madame Omi Kongo in an article from Broadly, a website dedicated to the publication of women’s issues, “Ancestry is extremely important. It makes up your spiritual frame” (Bess). Hoodoo, also known as conjure or rootwork, is an eclectic form of magic that was used as a tradition of protection by African slaves (Bess). Madame Kongo believes that “without an African ancestral link, the practice becomes something other than Hoodoo” (Bess). Several blog posts from people of color coincide with Kongo’s opinion on heritage and detest the appropriation of their craft by “white pagans and general magic practitioners” (Bess). Ironically, as Gabby Bess points out, a staff writer for Broadly, the practice utilizes African spirituality and also “stems from an appropriation” of Christian rituals that slaves had “newly encountered in the Americas.” Maybe a deeper issue lies in the argument concerning cultural appropriation. “We have scammers appropriating and selling our traditions,” says IHeartFREDA, a blogger who was cited in Bess’s article, “Our community is not a trend” (“things”).

Some critics argue that the ideology implies “you are only allowed to behave in accordance with the culture into which you were born” (Patterson). Jenni Avins, a writer for the Atlantic, contends that “we have to stop guarding cultures and subcultures in efforts to preserve them. . . . [T]he exchange of ideas, styles, and traditions is one of the tenets and joys of a modern, multicultural society.” Furthermore, John McWhorter, a professor at Columbia University, asserts that “the debate over … cultural appropriation has roots in the justifiable resentment of white pop musicians imitating black genres for monetary gain,” but has now “morphed into a parody of the original idea.” McWhorter goes on citing Harlem during the 1920s when Caucasians used new styles of music they learned from African Americans to create today’s musical landscape and adds, “a stipulation that brown people in America must be shielded from [cultural cross-fertilization] will serve no purpose except to provide people with something to be upset about. It will keep happening.”

After examining both sides of the debate, they each have their valid points. Minority groups continue to be stigmatized today. For example, in 2013, a twelve-year-old African American female in Florida faced the possibility of expulsion because her natural hair was considered “distracting” (Sehgal). In states such as Ohio and Oklahoma, schools have tried to ban Afros (Sehgal). However, no sanction has ever been imposed against Caucasians by any public school system because of their hair. In spite of the fact that the United States is a multicultural nation, this double standard illustrates the cultural bias that ethnic communities still face in the twenty-first century.

On another note, telling someone what they can wear, how they can style their hair, or how they should conduct themselves based on their ethnic origins, regardless if they’re a part of the dominant cultural group, is not conducive to a progressive society. Doing so only creates more racism and separatism. No one’s culture is a materialistic possession that others have to ask permission to use or to incorporate into their lifestyle. Despite the efforts of some well-intentioned groups wanting to spread cultural awareness, labeling an entire race of people as “privileged” because of the color of their skin while ignoring socioeconomic factors and accusing them of stealing something as intangible and inconstant as culture fuels xenophobia. People are curious about other cultures in the age of rapid electronic communication. We cannot expect our children and future generations to be tolerant of diversity when they’re discouraged and shamed for exploring the cultural influences that compose the fabric of their nation.

By no means do I support perpetuating stereotypes, but taking historical events out of context, such as the exploitation or genocide of minorities from previous generations, and using racial identity to justify what is socially acceptable for someone contradicts any social progress we have made. By implementing a list of behavioral regulations according to group membership, we’re reverting to the pre-Civil Rights era. No one wants to be told what they can or cannot do because of their ethnicity just as no one wants to be told what public accommodations they can use because of their race, which is why we abolished the Jim Crow laws. Perhaps instead of telling people what culture they’re allowed to partake in, maybe we should focus more on addressing the root causes of cultural discrimination.

If someone cannot style their hair a certain way or wear an article of clothing because of their race, then we have failed at every effort to achieve equality.

Works Cited

“Take Back Yoga: Bringing to Light Yoga’s Hindu Roots.” Hindu American Foundation. Hindu American Foundation, n.d. Web. 26 Jan. 2016.

Avins, Jenni. “The Dos and Don’ts of Cultural Appropriation.” The Atlantic. The Atlantic, 20 Oct. 2015. Web. 23 Jan. 2016.

Bess, Gabby. “Black Magic: Hoodoo Witches Speak Out on the Appropriation of Their Craft.” Broadly. Vice Media LLC, 23 Sep. 2015. Web. 26 Jan. 2016.

Drabble, Margaret, et al. Eds. The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature. 3rd ed. n.p: Oxford University Press, 2007. Oxford Reference. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

Hype Hair Magazine. “Amandla Stenberg: Don’t Cash Crop On My Cornrows.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 15 Apr. 2015. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

IHeartFREDA. “things I have noticed online and offline.” Tumblr. Tumblr, Jul. 2015. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.

McWhorter, John. “You Can’t ‘Steal’ a Culture: In Defense of Cultural Appropriation.” The Daily Beast. The Daily Beast Company LLC, 15 Jul. 2014. Web. 5 Feb. 2016.

Moyer, Justin Wm. “University yoga class canceled because of ‘oppression, cultural genocide’.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2015. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

Patterson, Steve. “Why Progressives Are Wrong to Argue Against Cultural Appropriation.” Observer. Observer Media, 20 Nov. 2015. Web. 31 Jan. 2016.

Ramsey, Franchesca. “7 Myths about Cultural Appropriation DEBUNKED! Decoded MTV News.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 11 Nov. 2015. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.

Sehgal, Parul. “Is Cultural Appropriation Always Wrong?” New York Times. New York Times, 29 Sep. 2015. Web. 23 Jan. 2016.

 

Dear Advertisers

By Austin B. Hahn

I do not want to buy your products, and a pop-up ad that appears in the middle of my movie, YouTube video, or blocks an article that I’m reading because it’s in the frickin’ center does not encourage me to buy it. Do yourselves a favor: instead of wasting millions of dollars on advertising, spend some of that money by giving back to the economy. Donate, go fund a poor person who’s living out on the streets to help them get back on their feet, or invest in something that benefits everyone, such as medical research. The choice is yours, but please do something other than try to advertise to my generation. We do not want to buy your crap.

Sincerely,

Dissatisfied Millennial

Drill Sergeant

By Austin B. Hahn

I went to basic combat training from May until August of 2016. Basic combat training proved to be a tough experience, and humor was something that got me through it. To my surprise, I found the drill sergeants to be quite humorous. In fact, they inspired me to write these pieces, hence the title, “Drill Sergeant,” which parodies and pays tribute to the role of a drill sergeant. If you’re a drill sergeant or a former drill instructor, I hope you appreciate and enjoy these.

Please note: This parody is intended for comedic purposes only and does not reflect the actual U.S. military.

Scene I

(The year is 2055 in Fort Tumbleweed, Oklahoma. Seventy-five-year-old Drill Sergeant Mullberry, who has been a drill sergeant for fifty years and will be retiring after this cycle, makes an announcement on the intercom. Today is the first official day of basic combat training for the soldiers.)

Drill Sergeant Mullberry: Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!!! Soldiers, you have exactly thirty minutes to be downstairs on the drill pad. Time now. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!!!

(The soldiers wake up at 4:30 in the morning. They conduct personal hygiene and put on their uniforms for physical training. Before making their way downstairs to the drill pad, Drill Sergeant Mullberry gets on the intercom again.)

Drill Sergeant Mullberry: Soldiers! You have less than ten minutes to get downstairs and be in formation on the drill pad in PT uniform. Time now. Let’s go! If you don’t get down on time, I will hand out lyric sheets and make you all sing “Barbie Girl” during PT. It was popular back in my day. Let’s get movin’!!!

(The soldiers rush downstairs. All of them are standing in formation at the position of attention. Meanwhile, Drill Sergeant Mullberry makes her way out to the drill pad with the assistance of her walker.)

Drill Sergeant Mullberry: Hurry up you sons of bitches! Hurry up!

(Drill Sergeant Mullberry slowly edges her way to the platoon.)

Drill Sergeant Mullberry: I swear some of you guys are so slow! Come on soldiers! Come on! You don’t need to take all day now!

(Minutes later, Drill Sergeant Mullberry stops in front of the platoon and reaches down her cargo pocket. She pulls out a piece of paper with her reading glasses and puts them on.)

Drill Sergeant Mullberry: Hey soldiers! We have so much to cover in such little time. First of all, there is a new hygienic regulation in place. Last cycle, 1st Sergeant was deployed to China. When he came back, he told everyone that he could still smell their stinky asses while he was over there, so he recommended to the TRADOC Commander that a new regulation should be implemented. This year we are going to start douching!

(She opens the piece of paper up and quickly glances down at it.)

Drill Sergeant Mullberry: TRADOC regulation 3-56 says that you will all douche first thing in the morning. You can thank the last cycle of soldiers who were here for this one.

(The soldiers begin to talk amongst themselves.)

Soldiers: What!? No! Gross! Hell no … I don’t want to–

Drill Sergeant Mullberry: –Listen up soldiers!!! The Army doesn’t have a lot of money, which means we did not have the financial resources to buy you all a douche, so you will have to share the turkey baster that I left up in your bay. You will be briefed after PT by Drill Sergeant Hughes on how to douche. Soldiers, if you come back down tomorrow morning on the drill pad, and I can smell you, I will make you go back upstairs and do it again, and I will watch you to ensure you are utilizing the proper douching technique that Drill Sergeant Hughes showed you. Do you have any questions?

Soldiers: No Drill Sergeant!

Drill Sergeant Mullberry: Good. Do not forget your military bearing, and use courtesy when speaking to an NCO. You want to make a good impression on Drill Sergeant Hughes. That means no talking when he is talking, and when you speak, you stand at parade rest! Remember, he will be showing you how to douche, not how to be one!

Scene II

For those who have no military experience:

During basic combat training, as soldiers, we were expected to keep our personal space, which included our lockers, beds, and shoe displays, clean and ready for inspection at any given moment. Failure to meet this standard would result in disciplinary action.

(Drill Sergeant Fernandez walks into the male bay. The soldiers are standing at the position of attention next to their bunks aligned with one another.)

Drill Sergeant Fernandez: Soldiers!!! How come your lockers look like shit!!!???

(No one answers.)

Drill Sergeant Fernandez: Oh, so now no one wants to answer. Okay. I see how it is soldiers … You don’t want to clean your lockers? Hey! I got you. I got you. Some of you went ahead and just said, “Fuck you, Drill Sergeant! You’re not my real dad! You don’t get to tell me what to do!” Well guess what soldiers? Guess what!!!??? Since you want to leave your lockers looking like shit, I decided to take a shit in one of your lockers! That’s right soldiers. I took a SHIT in one of your lockers!!!

(The soldiers panic and start talking to each other.)

Soldiers: You secured your locker, right? I hope I didn’t …

Drill Sergeant Fernandez: Shut the fuck up! Shut the fuck up! Shut the fuck up! Soldiers, soldiers, soldiers. I’m giving you a simple task, but treat it like a mission: you must locate the shit, and if you don’t start looking for it right now, I’m going to take a shit in another one! You have thirty seconds to find it. GO!!!

Harold and Martha: A Phone Conversation

By Austin B. Hahn

(Harold as the narrator.)

I was on the phone with my wife telling her about the new mattress our grandson had bought.

“It’s a futon,” I said.

“A what?” she asked.

“A futon, dear.”

“Spell it.”

“F-U-”

“Harold!”

“What?”

“What the hell is wrong with you? I ask you to spell it, and all you can tell me is F me!? Don’t F me. Go F yourself!”

I said, “Martha, I’m not telling you to go F yourself. I’m telling you how to spell it. I’ve been married to you for thirty-nine years now. If I wanted to tell you ‘F you,’ I would’ve done it a long time ago. It’s a little too late for that now.” She tells me to go on, and I say “F-U-T-O-N,” and then she tells me to slow down, so then I say, “F … U … T …” and then she calls me a jackass for treating her like a moron. I said, “Well, whaattt? Here I am tryin’ to fuckin’ spell it for you, and you’re over here bitchin’ that I’m goin’ too fast, so then I slow down, and now you’re saying that I’m treating you like you’re stupid.” I can’t win with my wife. She’s exhausting!

I finally spell it for her, and then she asks, “Who has a futon???”