The Diary of an Unhappy Nobody: Day 32

I mentioned in a post last month that I’m going to be a more generous and giving person in 2018. The goal is to donate to a different nonprofit organization in or around the city of Houston each month of the year. My first choice was the Houston Museum of Natural Science. I’ve made my first donation. Now it’s time to announce the second organization I’ve chosen. But again, I want to explain why.

It really doesn’t matter where you stand on the political spectrum to recognize that over the past year or so hate in many different forms seems to have increased in the public eye.

Now I’m not going to sit here and say that I previously thought racism or sexism or any type of hate or discrimination or prejudiced behavior had completely been eradicated. Of course not. For example, I’ve just read that white supremacists are targeting college campuses more and more with each passing day. It’s obvious why college campuses are the target. Because if a particular group or individual are not allowed to speak or hold a gathering, then that evolves into the university limiting free speech.

Look, if you believe white people, especially men, are the supreme Race, that’s your business. But this IS still 2018. And however many in your sphere believe that, it simply isn’t mainstream. Even with all the talk of immigration that may somehow lead you to believe you’re on the right side of this.

The point I’m making is that we’ve seen things like this before. Some have witnessed first-hand what happens when a group persecutes another group for being different. It’s what history books call the Holocaust. I’m absolutely not comparing what we experience in the US to what took place at the hands of the Nazis. But I visited the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC almost two years ago. After my visit I bought a small wrist band that says “What you do matters”. I’ve worn it everyday since to remind myself to speak up and speak out against hate when I see it. And to do everything I possibly can to prevent anything close to the Holocaust from happening again. I’m just one person in a sea of billions, but my second organization of the year is the Holocaust Museum Houston for their work educating so many on what happens when the world turns a blind eye to hate and genocide, but also for their work to prevent both.


Five Books I Recommended to a Non-Reader

This was my video topic for this week, but I decided that I’d better express myself through a written post.

I typically don’t recommend books. It doesn’t matter who is asking or why, but I’ve made exceptions to my rule over the last couple of years. The following is the most recent example.

Earlier this week a friend of mine told me he wanted to start reading in an effort to adopt more healthy habits. With all the things one can do with free time, I think reading would definitely qualify as a healthy habit. What did I do when he told me this? I took him to Half Price Books, of course! Not kidding.

The first thing I did when we reached the store was ask him what he enjoys reading. His response was anything that keeps his attention, he’s open to any topic. So I did the only thing I could do in that situation, I referred back to my own reading history. Kind of like your Google history in books. I came up with five books to tell him about.

Lone Survivor – Marcus Luttrell

No matter your position on war or the military, I’m well aware that nonfiction war books are not for everyone. But to say this book is only about war would be a disservice to Marcus Luttrell and every other man who died during the operation to save him and his fellow Navy SEALs. This book is about faith, family, survival, life and death, and yes, war. Most people living today will never know what it means to trust another person with your life and have them entrust you with theirs. The men described in this book are the best the United States has to offer, and their story is one to remember.

Unstoppable – Bill Nye

I’ve read a few hundred books during my lifetime, and this one (like I said here) is easily the best book I’ve read. It’s science. Another type of book that simply isn’t for everyone. But this book isn’t written for scientists. That would defeat the entire purpose. The book takes on climate change, one of those topics that people seem to want to give up on or kick down the road. But not Bill Nye, nope. The reason this book holds so much weight with me is because of the optimism. Bill Nye is part of the generation currently in power. It’s his generation that has moved technology further than ever before, but it’s this same generation that has gotten us to this point in the climate change debate. This isn’t about blame, it’s about what’s happened. The beauty of this book is that Bill Nye recognizes who will ultimately enact the necessary changes to really combat climate change and begin the the process of preserving our planet for generations to come. Millennials. That group of young adults who gets blamed for things completely out of their control. It’s that same group of young people who are more aware of current issues than just about any generation of people who have come before them. Some would say the issues aren’t as important as the ones previous generations have had to tackle, but to say this is to once again belittle the issues Millennials face today. Humans are imperfect, but we have the ability to preserve this beautiful world we have. I believe history will hold Millennials in particularly high regard when humans look back at who decided enough was enough and that the issue of climate change is not something to leave for others to deal with.

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

Atticus Finch. I can go on and on about Atticus Finch. I’ll be short and simple. I recommended this book because even when everyone around you is guilty of buying into society’s backward and wrong beliefs, one person can stand up for what’s right and what’s true to the human spirit. That’s what I believe Atticus did in this book, and it’s an idea still relevant after nearly 60 years in print.

The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank

With social media today we’re able to get a glimpse into the lives of persecuted individuals. Anne Frank’s diary is more than just a glimpse. It’s her life. Now that I’m sitting here writing this I realize that her diary is her version of a blog or Facebook account. Through her words we know what a young girl and her family endured during humanity’s darkest hour. She gives us an idea of what it means to be unwanted, untouchable, and hated. She shows us that we always have the ability to be kind, even when facing the worst of circumstances. Another book that has never lost its relevance.

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

Society has expectations for just about everyone. It’s up to the individual person and the people they’re surrounded by to stick to what they’re supposed to be doing or to exceed every expectation imaginable. That’s what this book is about. And that’s why I recommended it. In this world the districts are expected to contribute to the welfare of the Capitol by maintaining the status quo and doing as previous generations have done. There’s really no avenue for any individuality. Katniss turns the whole thing upside down. She proved that no matter what society expects of you, you can use your voice to accomplish and change just about anything.

An honorable mention was Elie Wiesel’s Night.

I won’t tell you which book he ultimately decided to buy, but he did buy one.

So those are the books I recommended to an admitted non-reader. I took several minutes to describe the message I took away from each one. This wasn’t a planned thing and I did the whole thing in real time, but I think the books I mentioned shed light on the topics and issues important to me. Every one of these is a notch above their counterparts in my eyes.

Sorry for the LONG post! Have you ever had to suddenly recommend books and felt it was more important than a typical recommendation? What do you think of the books I came up with?

I’m Getting Old

I was just scrolling through another of those lists of books I should read before I’m 30, and I realized something. I’m fast approaching 30! Oh boy. Am I ready for this?

But really, I started thinking about which books I actually think would be beneficial to read before the big 3-0.

To Kill a Mockingbird

The Hunger Games

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

The Diary of a Young Girl

I won’t sit here and pretend that these four books have everything a young person needs to know to live a fulfilling life, but I believe there is so much to be learned from these four works. The topics addressed in these books are different from one another and important for any generation.

Which books would you recommend to your not-quite-30-years-old-self?

Amazon is in Some Hot Water

Amazon is in hot water right now. The website has Holocaust denial books listed for sale.

This is difficult for me to defend at all. Some might say free speech. Others might say history. But is it okay to sale a book most likely branding itself as fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth?

I’m not sure where this falls on the list of issues facing the company, but it’s mist definitely an issue. I’d argue Holocaust denial is one of the most dangerous things we encounter as humans. Why? Because it opens the door to repeat history. To repeat a major aspect of the worst armed conflict the world has ever known.

I have a wristband I bought at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum last year when I visited DC. It says “What you do matters.” Take note, Amazon. Because what you do matters.

I’ve worn that wristband everyday since I bought it. To remind myself that my voice and actions are important to ensure that we never go back to our worst days as humans.

2016 Reading Challenge Book #5: Night by Elie Wiesel

Immediately after quitting my job at Half Price Books I got to reading. I finished this book over a month ago, but I’ve been too busy to make a video.

Night is the autobiographical account of Elie Wiesel’s experience during the Holocaust. The book is just over 100 pages long, but not a single page is wasted. There’s no fluff or filler. There’s no dramatization. It’s simply the retelling of what happened to him.

He takes the reader on a journey no man or woman should have ever taken. He describes a feeling of hopelessness that most simply can’t comprehend. He describes losing his faith. Most importantly, he holds nothing back. The events described are brutal, terrifying, and beyond humanity. No detail is spared because to do so (in my opinion) would be to take away from those who didn’t make it out of the camps. The story of the Holocaust must continue to be told in this manner. We can’t afford to lighten up on the details. Every person who experienced the Holocaust deserves better.

My takeaway from the book is rather simple. Anne Frank’s diary has given millions of people a look at what it was like to be persecuted and in hiding during this dreadful period. Night has given millions of people a look into the lives of those forced from their homes into camps like Auschwitz.

Both stories need to be told. Both books should be required reading for every high school student in the world. Why? Because the Holocaust is an important world event, but there’s more to it than that. These students are going to be politicians, world leaders, military personnel, and voting citizens. It’s important they understand the evil humans are capable of so that when the time comes to act against a group or regime or leader, there’s no hesitation.

I surely hope you’ve read Night by now, but if you haven’t I believe it’s a book more than worthy of your time.

The book satisfied the requirement on my reading challenge to read a book by an author I hadn’t read before. 

Elie Wiesel has Died

Elie Wiesel died yesterday at the age of 87. I immediately realized there are countless ways to describe this man. Survivor. Activist. Advocate. Nobel Laureate. Author. And the list goes on and on. He impacted the world and affected people like few before him ever have. Today the light shining over humanity is just a little bit dimmer than yesterday because we’ve lost one of our greatest voices.

Elie Wiesel will not be forgotten, not in my lifetime and hopefully not ever.

I said yesterday I wouldn’t share any more videos from the new channel on here, but I didn’t anticipate such a force (and author) dying. So here are my full thoughts on the life and death of Elie Wiesel:

Come to DC With Me: Day 4

You’ve now reached the end of my little series documenting my trip to Washington DC. The trip came to an end much too soon, and I can’t wait to go back. But the final day was another busy one for us. We finished visiting the monuments and memorials on the National Mall. We visited the Holocaust Museum. We finished the trip with the National Archives and the Newseum. The best part of this final video is that I give my thoughts on the entire trip as we’re driving to the airport. These are my thoughts just as I was thinking them.

Now watch! And thanks for visiting DC with me! Back to normal programming tomorrow.