Social Media Isn’t Ruining Our Generation, It’s Revealing It

Social media is good for your soul. Those words have definitely never been said together before, but they should be. As much as the older generations want to believe that technology is destroying the authenticity of living life and that young people these days are morbidly obsessed with their phones, they aren’t seeing what’s really going on

When I scroll through Facebook out of pure boredom or maybe even out of habit, I’m not seeing worthless pictures and status’s about what people ate for dinner. What I’m seeing is real joy. The smiling selfie of two friends who just had an amazing day together, the picture of the delicious looking dessert that just brought an excited foodie to tears, and the engagement status of a happy couple splattered across your computer screen.

The thing about social media is that people aren’t posting pictures of themselves as they cry and eat a tub of ice cream post breakup or a status about how much they hate puppies. People are posting the best and happiest moments in their lives for others to see. So when I scroll through these feeds, I’m getting the beautiful opportunity of seeing happiness and young life. Your friends want to share the joyful moments in their lives with you, however simplistic, and that’s a real privilege.

Yes, I’ll admit there are some ridiculous things being posted on social media that can be a complete waste of time. While no one cares if you just ate a whole box of pizza on your own, most things ARE worth sharing. Even if it’s a video of a cat sitting on the toilet, because the odds are anyone willing to watch will have a smile on their face. So instead of aimlessly scrolling through your social media feeds waving off yet another selfie from your friends cruise to the Bahamas, take it in, enjoy the happiness, and take note because these social media obsessed young people ARE living. If they choose to share these moments on Instagram (even though posting more than once a day is obviously social suicide) than that’s okay. Spreading happiness is merely a mitzvah.

Keep doing your thing young people and don’t let anyone tell you Facebook stalking your high school friends on a Saturday night is a bad thing.

Give To Others Even When You Don’t Receive

The best thing in life is to receive. Receive love, help from others, great advice, positive wishes: receive anything. For some reason, though, the hardest thing in life for people is to give. To give usually means to sacrifice, to give up, more than anything, and our society seems to have a really hard time with this. There is a constant fear among today’s generation to have to compete with others, and more importantly, to win. Some think that giving means losing, but in reality, when you give, you actually gain. To give yourself is to gain yourself. Point blank.

So give your love and compassion, always. Give your love to your friends and family not only when it is needed, but also when it isn’t. There is something nurturing unlike anything else about getting a message out of the blue from a friend or family member, or receiving a phone call because the caller just wanted to hear your voice. Love really cures anything. Life is short and there is nothing worse than not feeling loved or receiving compassion. But give compassion to strangers, too. When someone does a favor for you, or they did something that unknowingly helped you a great deal, give thanks. When you give compassion and thanks, you gain appreciation and respect, and others will help you in some way.

Help others. Give your guidance and support to those in need, whether it is an elder needing a seat on the subway, or your coworker struggling with an assignment at work. Helping heals: it provides solace where needed and understanding for benefit. Furthermore, in life, you will always be part of a team, whether it is in your job, in your family or among your friends. The only way to succeed in a team is by explaining your ideas, by asking questions to reach further understanding, or by offering ways to compromise. You have to either help others or you help yourself in order to reach your maximum potential. Everyone wants to move forward, and we can all survive a little better with some assistance.

I have always believed that strength is one of the greatest characteristics that one can possess. I believe that you can do anything with great strength, but it is not easy – unrealistic, really – to be strong all the time. When you come across others who are weak, in the moment or at that point in their life, give your strength. Remind them that everyone can gain strength and find the courage to survive, and better yet, to thrive. Give them strength to keep going, to find their way. In giving strength, you will gain stability: it enables and enhances the feeling of power to overcome anything.

And give your life lessons and all kinds of advice. We struggle, we fight, we hurt and we love: that is life. We experience happiness and pain and there are no secrets to survival, but if we are given just a few words to help us get through, to help avoid or to help minimize the pain and the hurt, we should share it. There is nothing heroic or courageous about getting ahead while consciously letting others suffer. Our culture has somewhat become a popularity contest, but life is really about growing and learning over all else. You must give advice to enrich the experiences of others so that there is opportunity for growth. And not only will you help others to grow, but you, too, will grow because by re-evaluating your experiences, you may alter how you move forward in certain situations or experiences in the future.

There is a lot of good to give, but you have to give pain, too. Give pain when you have toxic people in your life, when you are not being challenged, when you are being treated less than you deserve. When you can’t be strong anymore, you’re allowed to give pain. Because pain is good sometimes: more than anything, we learn from pain. We learn from heartbreak, disappointment and failure. We learn to improve and to succeed and to change. But the thing is, giving pain is not unlimited. Only give pain when necessary, to make a point or take a stand, not to put someone else down. You give pain when you need to move forward or change direction in life, and you give pain to express feeling. You show pain to reach positivity – not only for yourself, but for others, too. But remember this: you never use pain to hurt.

Giving is more than just a good deed, you see. It opens doors, it fills voids – in your heart, and in life – and it helps, never harms. You need to give, even if and when – especially when – you don’t receive. When you give, you gain strength and knowledge. You receive a sense of gratification, and sometimes you may be challenged, but by giving, you can only grow. So, give always. Give everything. Give to everyone. You will be given back to in time.

Where Social Media Activism Goes Wrong (And No, It’s Not ‘Social Justice Warriors’)

There have been few other movements to spark as much controversy, confusion, and gut-wrenching passion as social media activism.

If we back up, it all started with the immersion of technology and the prominence of Internet and tech culture. The 21st century has brought us so many different innovations. With this, it has shifted every corner of our culture, even ones that we believed to be untouchable.

Activism is no different. One of the best things that has evolved from this shift has been the amount of community that has been able to flourish. For many people, social media was just another outlet to reach an audience.

But for marginalized groups – specifically people and youths – it has become essential to the advancement of our independence from oppression, for raising our voices to injustice. Social media activism invigorated the social justice that was bubbling below the surface.

The secret to the effectiveness of social media activism does not come from the catchy slogans or popular hashtags, but the ability of this medium to be used consecutively with other outlets. Without social media activism, these marginalized groups seeking change are left stagnant, and separated. There is indeed strength in numbers, and this is the thread that connects activists to a global power cord, tapping into their full potential.

There is a saying in social justice education that you need to meet people where they are. For me, that means it’s impossible to talk about social justice movements, social media activism, and identity without stating one crucial fact: these are all linked ingredients that contribute to the creation of injustice. This makes social media activism mandatory for marginalized groups to be heard. But even this comes with complications.

It is nearly impossible for marginalized voices, especially those of Youths – to be heard, credited, and respected.
One of the most prominent (and effective) uses of social media activism.Brutality and unjust legislation has gained international notice, and continues to be an effective outlet for information and outreach.

However, this movement also highlights an all-to-common trend when it comes to tech and cultural movements: It is nearly impossible for marginalized group to be heard, credited, and respected.

As much as social media activism has evolved to allow for these voices to rise above and be heard despite these hurdles, it cannot escape its dependency on oppressive norms, ripping the legitimacy of these movements from their creators. There’s a fantasy that one day technology could transcend this dependency, but in reality, there’s been cause to question if this kind of cultural theft and appropriation has actually increased online.

As social media continues to act as a millennial meeting ground for support and encouragement to flourish.

Together, As Artists, We Are Hope

I am a writer. I always have been, I always will be. It is something inside me that doesn’t give me a choice but to arrange and rearrange sentences, and edit pieces, and manipulate letters into words – some which string together to transfer a simple thought or idea from my mind to a page, others which come together to change someone, many more that exist to change me.

I am change. I am movement. I am a step in a direction leading towards an end I do not know. An end I hope I never know. To know the end is to be stagnant. To know the end is to have the present predicted. You cannot write an epilogue without knowing the full story, and to know the full story, you must know the details, the affects, the characters and scenarios, the surprise turns and the sudden twists. To know the end is to accept that life has been written, and will be as is, and cannot be altered.

To know the end is to believe you cannot be altered.

And you can be altered.

There is a belief that a person is incapable of change. I don’t believe that, though. If change were impossible, if a person is forever resigned to be the same as they are at one point in their life, there would be no hope. There would be no chance of something better, or becoming someone better. There would be no healing.

We are brought into the world without an option. We come into it, and for a while, we have no means of choice. We simply know need, and anything beyond that is inconceivable.

We grow. Our speech develops, our eyes learn to focus, our senses learn to recognize familiar sounds, smells, taste. We come to understand that what is not seen may still exist. We learn our capabilities, and we learn our boundaries. Some of us devote our lives to crossing these boundaries; others of us are content within the lines.

Elementary school friends are where we get the beginning indications that not all families are built from the same kind of dirt, and not all of us have the same kind of comfort. We sense the inkling of something else, better or worse, than what we have, and what we are.

The coming to terms with what you are, and deciding if that’s who you want to be, and deciding if that’s whom you’re going to be, happens then. The part where we choose what we believe and what we do. What we are. It’s all a part of this growing up thing that we can’t hide from, that we can’t avoid. That we can’t put off.

Growing up is difficult and sometimes it hurts like bloody hell.

I told you I am a writer. Did I tell you I am an artist?

I am.

But I never knew it until now. I had always envied those ‘artists’ among us, those with the fingertips that are one with the imagination, those who feel deeply enough to allow pieces of their souls to impress upon human senses through color, dance, imagery; those who can stir a something from a nothing.

Art is a beautiful thing, wondrous and unique in its effects. It is unique to you, as it is to me, as it is to him, and her, and them. It is personal.

Art is the expression of the mind, of what moves us at the core of our being. To bring out what is inside, to live to truth, is art – be it in any form. Travel, painting, music, writing, design, family, friendships, cooking, teaching… if it is what moves inside of you, if it is what you create, what you build, what draws you in and what brings you out, this is art.

The way you live your life is art.

The decisions you make are like strokes of a paintbrush against a blank canvas. The curves of the strokes, the lines, the points, the colors… they represent something. They represent you. They paint a picture of your soul. Every decision, every movement, every thought, feeling, habit, they are all a part of this work of art that is you.

Much of my art is dark. Dark colors, dark descriptions, straight lines. Mysterious and private, and if you read them, you’ll feel like you’re looking in on a secret, maybe one you shouldn’t know about.

Other pieces are painted with the colors of the sky and the sea. They are made of colors and shapes and stories that capture my desire for freedom; they represent the ocean and the clouds, a part of my soul that I have clung to for inspiration, for comfort, for reminders of hope when I feel a weariness hanging over me.

Others of these works of art are more precise, blander. They articulate little, and reveal nothing. They exist as objects and not much more.

I identify myself in these. I feel as though they are tethered to my heart in a way, as though they are extensions of who I am.

Don’t all artists feel this way? That this thing, whatever it is, that we created, as separate and distinct an object it may be, remains attached to us forever?

What is it we are creating? What is it we are releasing into the world? What is it we are crafting?

As artists, as creators, we must strive for this – we must offer what is real, even if it is ugly, or unpopular, or risky. We must give what hurts. Even when it is painful, and it threatens our comfort or our ease, we must give from the most sincere parts of ourselves.

What hurts most to give has the greatest power to heal.

We must be authentic.

I told you I am a writer, and an artist. Did I tell you also that I am hope? It is not just me, though. It is not just my work or my creation or my words. It is me, together with you, together with us, together with them, bound as one, giving of ourselves. We are art. We are hope. We represent something. We offer something.

And isn’t that what we are about? Isn’t that what we exist for, to stand beside each other, and to build with each other, and to form together? To dance together as fluidly as a river towards the sea; to be motion.

We are motion.

We are human. We are feeling, and thought, and creation. We are art.

There are so many lies, and so many false images; so much created that is fake. To be authentic in this age is a rare gem. To find beauty in our own art, without feeling the need to compare it, to hide it or to destroy it, is a battle in our own hearts.

We destroy ourselves so often because we do not find contentment in the pictures we’ve painted of our lives. We have forgotten to paint hope into our lives. We have forgotten to be transparent. We have forgotten to be real. It is in these real images that we find true satisfaction, because we are giving of our real selves.

It is not easy to be see-through. It is not easy to reveal our raw parts.

The slippery slope of titles and labels. And why I’m content just being called a Christian

Apostle. Prophet. Pastor. Evangelist. Teacher.Words that spark an immediate sense of awe, whether knowingly or merely somewhere deep within the shadows of our subconscious. These words leap from the pages of Scripture attached to names such as Paul, John, and a famous Nazarene named Jesus.

It’s easy to become transfixed on titles and labels, while completely forgetting the essence of who we are, and why we were created to live on this planet in the first place.

Every single one of us were fashioned in the image of our Heavenly Father. We bear a striking resemblance to the Creator of all things. We are forever sealed with his watermark. We were created to display that image to the entire world.

I was thinking about this the other day, and realized that many people, whether they admit it or not, are intimidated by titles. There is a belief that just because someone doesn’t wear the mantle of Prophet, God can’t speak through them. Just because they aren’t ordained, they can’t preach the Gospel. The list goes on and on.

That kind of thinking is nothing more than the enemy playing mind games in the hope we will never discover our true identity.

Think about it. Look who Jesus chose to be His disciples. Some of them were fishermen. Brash. Uneducated. Most likely illiterate.

I absolutely love Acts 4:13. It says:

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

No education. No training to be evangelists. They didn’t have to spend countless hours being groomed for ministry.

There was one vital ingredient that formed them into brazened men of God. They had been with Jesus. They spent three years in the presence of the Messiah.

I’ve said this before, and I will say it again. I never went to seminary, didn’t even go to theological college. I don’t have a degree in Theology. I write what God puts on my heart. Some may think it’s BS, others may find truth in my words. Whether or not you agree with me, we are all the stewards of our own hearts.

I’m not here to force any beliefs or convictions down your throat. When you read my articles, read them through the lens of Holy Spirit. Let Him be your truth meter.

To be honest, I don’t want a title. I am perfectly content with being called a Christian. A Christ follower. That keeps everything simple. It’s a slippery slope when we start seeking after titles and accolades and stop seeking after righteousness.

The amazing truth is that the Holy Spirit encompasses the entirety of the gifts. Prophecy. Healing. Teaching. Miracles. Discernment. Words of knowledge. Anyone who is born again and filled with Holy Spirit has the full capability of walking in any one gift at any time. There are no exceptions.

They key is submitting ourselves to God, denying ourselves daily, and allowing the Spirit to move through us.

I don’t believe we have to focus on a particular gifting. We don’t have to chase after any one title.

We’re sons and daughters of God. The miraculous is just a by product of that relationship.

Matthew 16:17-18 says:

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

If you’re a Believer, there is your job description. Jesus didn’t say these things are only for apostles, prophets, and preachers. They are for Believers.

I’m not saying titles are bad or un-biblical or anything like that. I’m

Generosity

Generosity is arguably a human trait that comes naturally. However, to truly realize your generosity potential, it needs to be continually exercised and strengthened. Generosity involves sharing our time, our treasure, our possessions and our passions. Developing a practice of generosity makes it easier to give, creates flexibility, and develops creativity. Just as strengthening your physical muscles has many benefits, strengthening your generosity muscles will benefit your life in a multitude of ways – connectivity, purpose, positive energy, and more. When we give, we are less isolated, more connected to communities and issues greater then ourselves. Giving truly can result in greater joy and a life full of meaning.
Barriers: Generosity does not always come easily and there are many real barriers. In a culture enamored with celebrity and great wealth, many people believe that their time and charity is too small to make a difference. This can lead to a feeling of isolation and hopelessness. But truly, every bit of generosity makes a difference, and small sums add up to a greater whole. In both of his elections, President Obama raised his impressive war chest not only from mega-gifts, but also from hundreds of thousands of smaller gifts from around the country.
Another barrier is information overload. With the explosion of technology, we are receiving an avalanche of solicitations from every possible avenue. The sheer volume of requests from so many charities can make us feel overwhelmed and we may tune out.
There are several tools and techniques that can break down these barriers to help you actively build a practice of generosity that will expand your world.
Stretch: One technique is to give a small amount to every request that comes directly from someone you have a relationship with. This takes away the anguish of deciding what is, or is not, a worthy cause, and weeds through the piles of requests. If someone you know decides that a particular cause or illness or social crisis is worthy of their time to run, swim, bike or call, just make a small donation to everyone. The amount can be modest and will not break your budget. You can opt out of any further correspondence from a charity so that your generosity does not backfire and result in even greater requests. As you build your generosity practice, you will begin to educate yourself about the many issues and organizations. This can help to alleviate information overload as well.
Bend: Another technique is to mark every special occasion as an opportunity for generosity. Whether it is a birthday, wedding, or the loss of a loved one, including generosity as part of the experience adds greater meaning and helps to mark the occasion. It is an easy way to honor someone’s passions and connect to something beyond your self and your own experience. When planning a special event, a donation could be an essential part of the celebration and even part of the budgeting process. Giving to others as an essential part of every special event can be an expression of the shared passions of those involved.
Flex: Another tool is to have a little stash of money that you can give spontaneously, emotionally and impulsively. It could be a bag of change that you keep in your car or some bills ready in your wallet. You can keep a few cans of produce on hand so that you can easily respond to boxes collecting for a food pantry. Maybe it is the kids sitting outside of the supermarket raising money for a particular illness or a bell ringer at the holidays. Prepare for these moments of spontaneity to make the most of them.
Rotate: Donating and/or recycling your possessions is an easy way to engage children in expressing their generosity. As they naturally grow out of their things, consider working with them to find an engaging way to donate their old cloths or toys. Let them explore the possibilities and decide – kids in a homeless shelter, the charity clothing box at a place of worship, the donation box at the town dump. This provides a natural cycle for talking about those in need both in their own communities and beyond.
Exercising the generosity muscle on a regular basis can only make it stronger. The actual act of giving builds knowledge and confidence and yes – joy.

Why Honest Conversations About Tribalism Are Almost Impossible

Is there a subject that is sure to make the average Kenyan more uncomfortable than Tribalism? In my experience as a
Kenyan looking in, the answer is undoubtedly “no.” But it’s no secret too that I take a particular interest in talking about Tribalism.

That interest is personal – I’m a Suba living in Nakuru -Rift Valley, constructions of tribe directly affect me. That interest is academic and professional.
As I write this, #Tribalism trends. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to us because change is a difficult thing.

And the kind of change that Kenya needs is not one that occurs within a year. It does not occur when a politician leaves a place of contention, of which many believe he verbally incites without just cause. And even the legal proceedings that would have proved his innocence or his guilt, were ignored.

The kind of change that is needed is the kind that an entire nation must undergo, on behalf of their descendants, and for their children’s children. It is the kind of change that is painful and terrifying and the stuff of true courage. It seems the nation forgets too often, but to borrow from Post election violence, courage is more than a man [person] with a gun.

The courage to be a part of this change exists at the institutional level – where everything from education to housing to employment to health care becomes tarnished with Kenya’s deep-seated tribalism. Changing this is the work of many generations. But there exists too a courage that is individual. It is a courage that begins with the discomfort of having to confront and question all you’ve been told.

For many – for the majority of those who exist in power and privilege as far as identity goes – it begins with the willingness to question the reality you live in; to admit that reality does not belong to everyone. Standpoint is important. Because how can we even begin honest conversations about tribe when we cannot agree that you and I live in the same country, but because of history and all that it brings, that Country is unequal and just? We do not experience the world the same way as each other.

And many cannot admit this. Many refuse to see that one’s perception of the world is not the only one that exists. And indeed that goes for everyone, but especially those who exist in social positions of power. But if you want to find how well a society is doing in any one subject, you ask the least privileged and least powerful – and it is there that you will find your most important answers.

The truth is not always easy or simple. But the truth is an empty stomach, a long, hard day that become long hard months trying to make ends meet; the truth is a dead body in the ground. The truth is Tribalism prevails in Kenya in 2015 in a way that is sometimes subtle and sometimes obvious. But it is always terrifying.

I find there is little courage when people are asked to admit these truths. Perhaps that is what is so frustrating about our conversations on tribalism. We seem to disagree fundamentally on the fundamentals – depending on who you are. Sometimes it is a matter of mere education and other times, it is willful ignorance.

You can’t force people to believe what you do. But you can provide sound arguments, you can observe and explain social experiences of different groups – you can show patterns. But ultimately people must be left to their own devices to make up their own minds. The problem of course is that before we approach these conversations, many minds are already made up. The science, the stories, the realities cease to matter. It is unfortunate.

I do not think however, that because these conversations are almost impossible that they should not be tried for. On the contrary, I believe that trying to do the impossible is necessary. As a young Boy living in Nakuru at the time, we would make quips such as telling people something that was unlikely, was about as likely as the United States having a Black president. The impossible happened.

Apart from education, apart from the willingness to make one’s self uncomfortable, empathy and humility must be at the forefront of conversations on all social experiences, and because of this country’s history, especially Tribe. Of course empathy and humility are hard to legislate, and you certainly can’t teach them. Those things, I think, you garner from life and experience and encounters with people who are very different from you – and yet you fall in love with them as people.

Let us talk about Tribalism. Let us do it with courage. And for those who will get left behind, let them get left behind. History has shown that some people must always be left behind. I read too somewhere recently that any movement needs long-term revolutionaries, not short-term radicals. Let’s each take that to heart.