7 Productive Alternatives to Messy Behavior

Misbehavior

(Photo Credit: The Education Insider)

Although it’s quite unfortunate that many are increasingly embracing messy behavior—often including it in the wildly popular use of “petty”—this growing acceptance of messy behavior poses a grave threat: the loss of numerous important possibilities. Time is valuable—incapable of being redeemed—and we need to develop into better stewards of time and the resources we possess. Your notion of “having fun” should be wholesome, as some dubbed their messy behavior as “having fun” or “just playing.” Are you being truthful, though? Or, do you frequently engage in messy behavior because you’re a messy person? The purpose of this piece is to offer 7 productive alternatives to engaging in messy behavior.

1. Read at least one book a week. With countless wonderful books available, including many classic works of fiction and non-fiction, spend more time reading these works. If a week isn’t long enough for you to finish one book, then keep reading it until you’re able to finish it. The goal is to spend more time reading and gaining more knowledge and skills from reading. Take time to reflect on what you read. Keep a reading journal. You might even find it fun to share thoughts about what you’re reading on Facebook, Twitter, and/or any other social media platform. This will be healthier and far more productive than engaging in messy behavior on social media platforms.

2. Start a charitable organization. Use your time to help others—to make a real, measurable impact on people’s lives. Don’t just say you already have and do.

3. Actively participate in an existing charitable organization. Existing non-profit organizations could benefit significantly from your time and support.

4. Exercise more. Purchase a membership to a fitness center and spend more time there.

5. Start your own business. If you have time to resort to messy behavior, then you have time to launch a new business.

6. Take some educational courses. With many online courses and degree programs available, no one has any excuse not to continue to educate themselves.

7. Organize a Neighborhood Clean-Up Day. If your neighborhood is clean, then find a neighborhood that needs to be cleaned and clean it with the help of others in the neighborhood.    

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Pop-Up Sermon: Stop Crippling People

Stressful Practices

(Photo Credit: Odyssey)

Although a true commitment to helping people is commendable, don’t become their crutch—don’t cripple them. At some point, you have to allow them to do things on their own. Yes, show them how it’s done, and then leave them to demonstrate that they want to put your teaching into practice. If you fail to end an unhealthy practice of attempting to solve everyone’s problems, or fail to discontinue doing everything they don’t want to or cannot do, then you’re placing yourself on a path to experiencing serious mental health issues (if you don’t already have them).

When will people ever grow if you never give them an opportunity?

Without a change of these toxic practices, people will take advantage of you—and you may never recognize it. You will inevitably destroy your body by trying to be a Superman or Superwoman for everyone. Let me take a moment to unsettle you: you’re really not a Superman or Superwoman—you’re really a “do-boy” or “do-girl,” meaning you’re getting used, hoodwinked, bamboozled.

Ameliorate the quality of your life by teaching people how to execute tasks, and then let them do the work. Learn to be more than a crutch for others.

#PopUpSermon

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Is Your Last Name Affecting Your Job Search?

 

What’s in a name? Apparently, if you’re job hunting, it can mean everything.

Implicit Biases

As a nation and as individuals, implicit biases inform every aspect of daily life, from which neighborhoods we’re willing to visit to our job hiring practices. A good job correlates directly to improved living conditions, happiness, health, and a plethora of other positive incentives. However, as a minority, obtaining a quality job in a country rooted in predominantly white history and culture can be tough. Even people who are white-identifying, but have an ethnic-sounding surname, face this problem: they receive less callbacks and less offers for interviews, despite their resumes clearly indicating they’re qualified for the job. Why?

Otherness and Race

This phenomenon has been studied extensively in academia, whereby surnames that fall outside of an established norm (i.e. a culture of whiteness) inevitably elicit a knee-jerk response of distrust and “otherness.” A study conducted in 2003, “Are Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination,” by Marianne Bertrand and Sendhil Mullainathan, evidences this point.

In this study, fictitious resumes were sent out in response to wanted ads in Boston and Chicago. Each resume was rife with references, relevant experience, and deftness of form—the only difference was the name attached to each. Resumes had either stereotypical white-sounding names or stereotypical African-American names. The results were staggering.

For white-sounding names, callbacks for interviews occurred at a rate 50% greater than African-American names. And that wasn’t all: even when African-American names were attached to glowing resumes, they still received incredibly low levels of interest. White-sounding names attached to similarly stellar resumes received a 30% increase in callbacks. The conclusion? The amount of discrimination is uniform across all occupations and industries, and when an applicant has a white-sounding name, it is the equivalent of having eight more years of experience.

Unfortunately, phenomena haven’t changed since 2003. In 2014, another study was conducted that substantiated the findings of the 2003 study—proving that employers, in their hiring practices, are inferring something apart from race in a potential employee’s name.

In fact, it seems employers are making several assumptions based on preconceived notions about the cultures attached to ethnic-sounding surnames. When a white-sounding name is held as the golden standard, anything that falls outside of that realm finds itself faced with accusations of being unreliable, a less productive worker, or incompetent (i.e. an untrustworthy, “othered” individual). Certain ethnic names might carry with them the weight of assumed criminal responsibility, too, and be subject to excessive background checks or even more scrupulous Google searches for social media accounts.

Names Do Matter

In a culture like this, names are everything. Employers want the best candidate possible, and in that search, it is difficult, if not impossible, to detangle oneself from the web of preconceived notions and implicit biases that inform our culture of whiteness. As such, white-sounding names, names that are “easier to pronounce,” “more familiar,” and, most importantly, “non-other,”  unfortunately, take precedence, and equally talented minorities struggle to find a job they are more than qualified for.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Connect Intellectual Diversity to Justice Work

Diversity and Justice

(Photo Credit: Democracy Now)

Although an aggressive pursuit of racial, social, economic, and educational justice is admirable and necessary, those engaged in justice work must connect intellectual diversity to their efforts. You cannot claim to champion justice while failing to welcome and appreciate ideas and viewpoints divergent from your own. Justice isn’t justice when it’s disconnected from love. In fact, Dr. Cornel West, one of the greatest minds, public intellectuals, and fighters for justice in world history, often says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Are you so “woke” that you only see your ideas and viewpoints as the vehicles through which change can be instigated and engendered?

Democracy, Intellectual Diversity, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When looking at how to create change, one doesn’t have to look any further than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a real change agent and justice leader, the man who changed America forever. King met, engaged, and debated everyone, including racists and those desiring to kill and undermine him. He understood to develop solutions that have broad support discourse with those known and perceived to be disagreeable is required. The world-renowned slain civil rights leader was serious about democracy, keenly aware of how frank debate, especially with various opposing sides, is essential to an authentic multivocal, multiethnic democracy.

Kingian democracy, therefore, longs for inclusion, inclusion of all voices—regardless of how unsavory—revealing an unwavering faith in democratic ethics and possibilities. In Prophetic Fragments: Illuminations of the Crisis in American Religion and Culture, Cornel West (1988) asserts that: “King was convinced that despite the racism of the Founding Fathers, the ideals of America were sufficient if only they were taken seriously in practice. Therefore, King’s condemnation of and lament for America’s hypocrisy and oppression of poor whites, indigenous peoples, Latinos, and black people was put forward in the name of reaffirming America’s mission of embodying democracy, freedom, and equality” (p. 11).

King didn’t exclude the racist Founding Fathers from his notion of democracy. Unfortunately, though, too many in the postmodern epoch isolate themselves from others for far less critical differences. In this moment of increasing moral, social, cultural, political, and religious decadence, people will isolate themselves from others over the most inconsequential personal choices, including a choice not to “boycott” the NFL or make posts on social media platforms that pledge allegiance to their capricious brands of “woke.”

King embraced the reality that any valid notion of freedom and democracy must welcome intellectual diversity. As Booker T. Washington stated in his 1895 “Atlanta Compromise” speech delivered at the Cotton Estates and International Exposition in Atlanta, “In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.” Washington, sharing some affinities with King, understood the power of intellectual diversity. Washington anticipates the Kingian “beloved community.” With agapic love, King evinced for a nation, for the globe how potent, how beautiful diversity in all of its flavors can be and how we can enjoy being “separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand.”

Postmodern Fragmentation: A Challenge for Justice Work

In Postmodernism or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, leading Marxist cultural theorist Fredric Jameson (1991) asserts that one of the central problems in postmodernism, the cultural and historical period in which we reside, is a general proclivity to cherish fragmentation and reject totality. This fatuous acceptance of fragmentation figures prominently in whether efforts to achieve racial social, economic, and educational justice are successful. Late capitalism’s cultural logic leads too many individuals, individuals claiming to work for justice, to quarrel with one another over their petty differences, sacrificing their collective interests and aspirations for their own selfish interests and wishes.

Selfishness and Justice

To overcome this troubling propensity for selfishness, courageous and indefatigable justice activists and leaders must expose the rot, the funk selfishness is. We should never allow our personal agendas and interests to hinder and supercede the collective good, interests, and aspirations. When we do, we equip and permit the elites, the oppressors, the ruling class to erect additional barriers to the work of justice that’s crucial to achieving justice.

Before you disengage with people, especially those who have the same interests and goals as you (just with differing ideas and methods pertaining to those interests and goals), recognize when your words and actions are self-defeating, frustrating the very justice work you profess to hold dear.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Overcoming Adversity by Carl Garrigus: Book Review

Overcoming Adversity The Book of James

(Photo Credit: CrossLink Publishing)

In Overcoming Adversity: Life Lessons from the Book of James, Dr. Carl Garrigus demonstrates how the Book of James can be employed to aid people in rising above life’s challenges. For Garrigus, who holds doctoral degrees in History and Theology, defeating adversity requires a stronger relationship with Christ and an increasingly maturing faith in Him. A false relationship with Jesus will leave one powerless to combating the trials life presents, and a person may struggle with these trials for many years, years without joy and peace. Garrigus teaches the reader how to establish and maintain an authentic and effective relationship with Christ, one that leads to pure gratitude for such a relationship.

Garrigus emphasizes the significance of responding to God’s call to perform good works, which strengthens their ability to experience victory over the adversities they face. Instead of viewing trying circumstances through a negative lens, the scholar exhorts readers to use these circumstances as opportunities to perfect one’s faith.

As a believer, one has to recognize he or she is not seeking victory; he or she is operating from victory. This is a biblical reality for believers I wish the author would have explicitly stated. To experience such victory, one does not need to “reengage” with God as Garrigus posits; he or she simply needs to believe what God said: Christ leads us to triumph in all phenomena we encounter. “Reengage” seems to communicate that believers need to do something, perform some work, some work of the flesh, to earn their victory. This couldn’t be further from the truth: Jesus has already made our victory available to us through the finished work of the Cross.

To his credit, though, the scholar does explain that believers have God available to aid them in developing a constantly maturing and effective faith. Dr. Garrigus provides a powerful word of wisdom: “When a trial comes, don’t turn away from God but toward Him” (p. 13).This statement would be even stronger by instructing readers to remain focused on God and never “turn away from” Him. If he would’ve made this point, then there wouldn’t be a need to advocate for his readers to “reengage.”

Overall, this is a worthwhile read that can help many believers, especially those struggling with their faith, to rely on God for their strength to conquer adversities. I very much appreciate how Dr. Garrigus articulates such confidence in the efficacy of a true and engaging relationship with God. Each chapter of this short book (fifty-five pages total) ends with “Five Questions for Exploration,” affording readers opportunities to plumb nuances of ideas communicated.

Book Crash provided a copy of this book to assist with this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Texas A&M’s Historic Collapse Against UCLA

Josh Rosen

(Photo Credit: LA Times)

On Sunday night, September 3, 2017, UCLA made history, mounting the second largest comeback in NCAA Division I-A football history. The largest comeback in NCAA Division I-A football history occurred in 2006 when the Michigan State University Spartans overcame a 35-point deficit to defeat the Northwestern Wildcats 41-38. After trailing 44-10 in the 3rd quarter to the Texas A&M Aggies, the UCLA Bruins ended the game in dramatic fashion—Josh Rosen, UCLA quarterback, faking a spike and throwing the game-tying touchdown, followed by the go-ahead extra point conversion. From now on, Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M’s head coach, will vividly understand the meaning of playing a full 60-minute game. This loss is unacceptable, putting Sumlin at an even greater risk of being terminated.

Kevin Sumlin Shouldn’t Be Fired

Although Sumlin does not deserve to be fired, considering he’s one of the top coaches in the nation, having a victory over Nick Saban’s Alabama Crimson Tide on his resume during Johnny Manziel’s time at A&M, surrendering a 34-point lead in the 3rd quarter warrants frank and robust criticism. Texas A&M Athletic Director Scott Woodward would make an unwise decision to fire Sumlin. Yes, this loss is embarrassing and disappointing, and expectations are high in College Station for the football team, but Sumlin deserves a little more time to meet those expectations.

Should John Chavis Be Fired?

In his long tenure at LSU, John Chavis, former LSU defensive coordinator and current Aggies defensive coordinator, demonstrated that he was a great defensive coordinator. Keyword, though, was. Before leaving LSU, Chavis seemed to be decline—evidenced by his defenses not performing as they should against several teams. Sumlin, therefore, might want to consider replacing Chavis in an effort to ameliorate his defense, a defense that yielded 35 unanswered points in the second half to the Bruins. Yes, the offense could’ve done more in the second half. The offense was responsible for 44 points on the board, which should’ve been enough points to win this game, however. Simply put, A&M’s defense was pitiful in the second half. While it’s not time to panic in College Station, it’s time to make the right changes. The right changes may include finding a new defensive coordinator.

Don’t Count Out Texas A&M

Again, Texas A&M does not need to panic. Make the proper adjustments before entering into SEC play, and the team has enough talent to have a successful season. It would be a grave mistake to think the Aggies are finished. This team will still contend passionately for the SEC West title.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Never Give Up by John Mason: Book Review

Never Give Up by John Mason

(Photo Credit: Amazon)

John Mason’s Never Give Up: You’re Stronger Than You Think offers readers 52 powerful “nuggets,” motivation keys, to encourage them to choose faith in what’s possible over toxic unbelief. Mason, a minister, inspirational speaker, and best-selling author of many books, including You Can Do It—If Others Say You Can’t and You Can Be Your Best—Starting Today, desires for people to remain committed to their dreams. The author contends that people fail to tap the perseverance that lies within them.

Mason’s principal inspiration for penning this book is those on the verge of surrendering their dreams. He desires for them to regain their commitment to their dreams and to pursue those dreams with passion. As I reflect on the millions of people living in poverty, I wonder how many of those individuals stopped believing in their dreams, how many stopped believing in themselves before falling prey to poverty.

The author notes that everyone has been blessed with certain abilities, and those abilities can propel them to success. Unfortunately, too many people compare their abilities with those of others, leading them often to feeling inadequate, an inadequacy that emerges because they’re too busy concentrating on what they don’t have instead of cherishing what they do have.

For Mason, when a person receives God’s salvation, He places purpose, His purpose, on the inside of him or her: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). The author states that one of the most vital points in this verse is “the fact that God doesn’t quit. Therefore, we can have great confidence that He will complete the good work He has begun in us” (p. 15). When we place our confidence in God’s confidence about us, then fear doesn’t have an opportunity to disrupt our belief in what God declares we can accomplish.  

I teach my students about the value of a question, and I was pleased to see Mason share a similar value and enthusiasm for inquiry. People often rush to arrive at an answer without investing the necessary time to pose the right question.  

Even if a person is not deeply spiritual or is an atheist, this book still offers significant value. Mason’s book serves as a constant reminder that believing in yourself is essential to executing any task and achieving your heart’s greatest desires.

I strongly recommend everyone to purchase and read this book. It’s one of those works you can treat as a devotional, one you can use as daily motivation to overcome challenges the day may present.

Revell Books provided a copy of this book to facilitate this review.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison