Search This Blog

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Parallel Sign Of The Times

Parallel Sign Of The Times
By Silvia Uribe

At eighteen, my grandma spent her afternoons sitting in a balcony sewing and watching people pass by. In the crowd was the 26-year-old handsome man who 2 years later became her husband. Their contact was limited to a few glances through the balcony's bars and letters they exchanged with the help of one of my grandma's maids. In the early part of the 20th Century, communicating by letter was a sign of the times.

Their verbal communication never went further than "buenos días" or "hasta luego" until the day he came to her house to talk with her parents about his intentions to marry her. I always thought that they were so contained and repressed that they were forced to marry a complete stranger. Little did I know the wealth of opportunities to fall in love that they had literally at their fingertips.

Using only written communication they figured their compatibility to the point of making the decision to get married. Later they had a family, and they were in love with each other until my grandpa died 22 years later. How were they able to accomplish all this? It was like a riddle that I was not able to decipher until I realized the secret of their communication method - efficiency!

All BS aside, they only wrote about the important things they wanted to say. Pouring their hearts out, they expressed the way they felt about each other and about life. They took the risk to tell each other about plans and dreams, and they shared about past and present. If you ever tried describing your character and your feelings in writing, you would probably agree that it is like an honesty exercise. This, in return, gets the reader to respond in a similarly candid way.

Conversely, our conversations today either by telephone or in person have become quite inefficient and irrelevant. In an attempt to not be intrusive, we refrain ourselves from asking important questions that could provide crucial information about our person of interest. In trying to always be politically correct, we rarely touch on the "sticky" issues that could give us a very good idea of the values, beliefs, and ethics of that person. And, since immediate gratification is over-rated, we have somehow decided that sex is the infallible tool that will ultimately bring us together, right?


Various studies on US Divorce show that the rate of divorce in America after the first marriage is from 41% to 50%, after the second marriage is from 60% to 67%, and after 3 marriages the US divorce rate is from 73% to 74%. (The mere fact that we have multiple marriage stats proves that our communications, as well as our negotiation skills, are not as effective as they should be.)

However, inadvertently, we have stepped back to my grandparents' communication system. A sign of our times, the internet, dangerous in many levels if not used with precaution, has given us the opportunity to meet people that might very well be at the other side of the world. We are forced to pace these relationships for obvious reasons. Efficiency in our communications is again a must if we are to understand each other. When emailing or chatting, people seem to be more willing to ask those important questions in a casual way. As a result, they can actually determine whether there is understanding and chemistry between the two. How exciting!

In other words, the Internet might have resurrected the art of good, effective communication. Maybe that's why so many use eHarmony,, or other sites of the sort. So, my single friends, next time that you meet someone that sparks your interest, be it in person or online, remember to use your time wisely by making your conversation relevant and entertaining. And, pace yourself. These two somewhat easy steps might just be what you need to close the "real deal."

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-posted at

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Waking Up With A Hangover

By Silvia Uribe

For the purpose of this column, I would say that it doesn't matter who won or who lost the presidential race. It also doesn't matter for whom you or I voted, which propositions passed, or which didn't. Today, the anxiety, excitement, campaign ads, and anticipation are not distracting us anymore. Now we can be realistic. It is like waking up with a hangover; the night before was fun, but the next day we feel terrible and have a deep feeling of disappointment about ourselves. Yes, we have elected an African-American President, but other collective behaviors will doubtfully allow us to feel proud.

We know - whether we want to accept it or not - that the candidates and their campaigns repeatedly lied to us just to sway our vote. Their political statements were often gross exaggerations, if not plain lies. At best, they were twisting the truth to accomplish their goal, providing us with a "suspicious truth." The same can be said about those who funded propositions and measures.

The media is another example of non-anticipated shameful behavior. It showed its bias and sexism in the way TV personalities and comedians attacked Clinton and Palin.

We also saw shameful examples of oppressive behavior in our own communities. Some people's homes were vandalized and others received hate messages written on their property because of their position on controversial propositions. And let's not forget about the racial attacks and the recently busted plan of white supremacists to kill Barack Obama.

On Sunday I was looking for something to watch on TV while waiting for the rest of the family to wake up. In my channel surfing, I found a religious service with a preacher named Ed Young. He got my attention. The stage had a Democrat donkey and a Republican elephant in the background. The front of the stage was decorated with a striped red, white, and blue skirt. It looked as if one of the candidates would suddenly appear. Instead, the preacher was reading from the Bible and forcing all sorts of political ideas on the audience by attempting to connect these ideas to what he called "Jesus' message."

Although I was in complete disbelief, I continued to watch. He was vehemently trying to convince everyone that Obama's more progressive positions were against what the Bible says. He was not preaching, he was acting - walking vigorously from side to side of the stage with his hands in the air, putting up a scene that would be worthy of an Oscar. If only his script had been more credible! He reached my limit when he said, "As Christians, let's forget about McCain or Obama, and let's vote for Jesus Christ." Excuse me! As a Christian, I do not appreciate phony, manipulative preachers.

We shouldn't be proud of religious leaders who forget who they are, and what purpose they serve. They become one more piece in the political machinery, ready to manipulate their constituents to achieve a very non-spiritualistic goal.

As a country, we've done it all: lied, been sexist, showed a complete lack of tolerance, committed hate crimes, pronounced racial slurs, and manipulated Christians through their faith. Not that we were much better before, but it's hard to believe, in the 21st Century, that we still are so oppressive!

Coming from another country, I know that the U.S. is perceived as the most open and progressive society in the world. If, as American citizens, we think that we can be that society, we will need to work harder and faster to accomplish it.

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latino perspective.

Cross-posted at

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day Waste

Goleta Politicians and Others Spend Way Too Much Money on Garbage

By Silvia Uribe

Recently, USA Today reported that the total cost of this year's presidential and congressional elections will reach $5.3 billion according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the nonpartisan nonprofit that tracks money's influence on U.S. elections and public policy. But what we desperately need is a "Center forResponsible Politics," to track how campaigns choose to spend their money, and who or what gets negatively impacted by them.

More than $5 billion seems to me to be an irresponsible expenditure, especially considering the financial situation of our country. Most of this propaganda goes directly to the trash can! At this time, it seems like a slap on the face of those who are facing serious financial hardship. What's wrong with our political parties and their leaders? Leaders are supposed to be level-headed and make sound decisions. Is this how they demonstrate their financial planning skills and responsibility? I'm terrified!

Think about it, these figures reflect only federal races, but what about individual state races, such as the State Senate race between Tony Strickland and Hannah-Beth Jackson, with its preposterous ad battle? They have raised and spent more than $7 million for their campaigns. In the past few days, I've received around four pieces of printed propaganda from each candidate per day. It is ridiculous!

As for the Goleta City Council candidates, the Coalition for a Healthier Goleta, a "mysterious" group that supports Jean Blois and Don Gilman, has not even filed, as of October 28, financial reports as required, hiding from voters what its sources are. This group has already spent approximately $20,000 on printed ads and TV commercials in favor of Blois and Gilman.

I brought my concern to a person involved in campaigns, and his response was, "How else would candidates promote themselves?" Don't get me wrong. I believe in campaigning. I know that it is hard, valuable work and that it is needed. I have volunteered my time for campaigns before. But there's something called limits, you know?

Because it doesn't stop with print media; there's also the so called "robo calls" and the "voter ID calls," notwithstanding the infamous telephone surveys. (Mine being a Latino household, we get all of the above, plus the ones that focus on minorities - woo-hoo!) And let's not forget - how could we - the numerous TV ads. It is not only irresponsible, but quite impolite to jam citizens' minds, mailboxes, and recycling containers full of this stuff. They have already worn everyone out - even political junkies like me! There's something to be said about that.

You may have watched last Wednesday's half-hour "infomercial" that Barack Obama aired on NBC, CBS, Fox, Univision, BET, MSNBC, and TV One, with which he punctuated his broadcasting strategy. Reportedly, the spots cost him almost $1 million apiece. If this is not extravagant and excessive, I don't know what is.

It begs the question: What about regulations? There are regulations for nonprofit organizations prohibiting their participation in political campaigns; counties can set limits on where political propaganda can be displayed; online political advertising has been regulated, and the contributions made to a campaign are regulated as well. Broadcasting political "issues" and/or candidates has its regulations, as do print pieces regarding their content. But when it comes to setting limits to spending or to bombarding the public, no political party wants to talk about regulations, and so far, the Supreme Court has not taken up this issue either.

For future elections, I propose that at least all printed propaganda should give the public an option to unsubscribe when they don't want to receive more mailers. Each piece should include a telephone number and an email address where people can opt to have their name and address removed. I would've unsubscribed a long time ago if I had been given the opportunity. I don't appreciate when politicians portray themselves as financially and/or environmentally conscientious while they spend valuable resources, and also step over people's boundaries.

The good news is that the election is here! After almost two years of political propaganda, I just want to vote and be over with it!

Please vote!

Silvia Uribe is a freelance writer with a Latina perspective.

Cross-posted at the