September 25

Please Stand (and kneel) for Our National Anthem

 

As an American combat veteran, a true patriot (not Patriots fan), and strong advocate for Freedom, Liberty, and the basic Right to retain these things, I’ve been wanting to write about and discuss this issue for a while now.

 

But perhaps it took the President’s own ignorance to stir up the angry veteran inside of me just enough to go ahead and raise my voice.

 

Kneeling during the National Anthem, by overpaid athletes, in protest for equality.

 

Holy Hell, we’ve got ourselves a baited topic now, don’t we?

 

The National Anthem, Equality, Social and Racial injustice, 1st Amendment rights, Patriotism, Respect, Peaceful Protesting, and good old fashioned Blue Collared Stubbornness.

 

Seems like it should just work itself out, right?

 

Wellll… horseshit. We can’t even agree on pass interference, holding or if he actually caught the ball or not, let alone basic human rights.

 

Even still, throughout this whole heated headliner, I was hoping that common sense and decency would prevail. But unfortunately, that’s sort of like hoping for the Bengals to get their shit together and play good, solid, fundamental football.

 

It just ain’t happening…

 

More people have their under britches in a bunch about this than they do about our own Government’s abuse of power, or killing of innocent people. Please don’t diss our anthem, flag or country, but go ahead and steal my money, lock me up, and beat me with your badge.

 

Hey, don’t get me wrong, I have my own emotional connections to this issue as well. But if it wasn’t in your face and broadcast live every week through a twisted and agenda based media, would you even care?

 

Which brings me to a more basic, freedom driven argument.

 

Has anyone ever heard of the 1st Amendment? Raise your hand if you know what it says…

 

Well, according to Google (and Google doesn’t lie. Ever.) it states:

 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

 

The first change to the Constitution guaranteed our right to protest (peacefully) against things that we do not see as fair and just. The 1st Amendment promises us the right to have a voice, to have an opinion, and to speak out when we feel that we as a citizenry have been wronged, abused, oppressed, or treated in a way that goes against our own beliefs.

 

People, this is a RIGHT that is absolute by the very standard that you are trying to defend.

 

Alright, let’s break off into a passionate (civil) uproar about professional athletes “seemingly” disrespecting our National Anthem.

 

Does it piss me off?

 

Yeah, maybe on the surface, as I was always taught to stand, remove my hat, face the flag or music, salute, and give my full attention and respect to the symbol that stands for our Great Nation and those who have fallen to preserve it.

 

So yes, on the surface, it pisses me off.

 

But if we outlawed everything that bothered or upset us, then what freedoms would we really have?

 

As I look deeper into what is actually happening… not just assuming that these people do not care about what the Flag and National Anthem stand for… when I look at what is truly happening — People being upset about an issue and peacefully protesting their grievances — I can’t help but to feel a sense of pride, a sense of power and appreciation that they are using a right that I chose to go to war to defend.

 

Let me say that again, as a combat veteran, a volunteer serviceman, as a patriot of what our country stands for… God damn it, I’m fucking thrilled that we have the ability to stand up for, and protest the issues that we feel are unjust.

 

Alright, so now that I’ve pissed some people off, let me express my feelings further.

 

Quite frankly and honestly, I joined the Marines to fight against oppression, to fight for freedom, to fight for those who could not, and to give a chance, a voice, to those who did not already have one.

 

So how in the hell can you expect me to rip apart these men and women who are validating the very right that I chose to defend?

 

What kind of hypocrite would I be if I said that I believe full-heartedly in freedom, and am willing to fight and die for it… but only if that freedom does not offend me??

 

Quite simply, just because something is offensive, disrespectful, or makes me mad… it does not outweigh the freedom that we have to express that opinion, or have it, in the first place.

 

Alright, so do I find it disrespectful?

 

I mean, perhaps. Yes. I don’t know.

 

Look, I get the emotional connection. I understand why there are those who are so pissed off. Trust me, I WANT to be, too. But I just can’t, in good faith, blast them for doing something that is their absolute right to do.

 

And honestly, it would be a complete different set of circumstances if they were burning or stomping and spitting on the flag (though warranting a swift kick to the jaw, they would still be expressing a Constitutionally protected right).

 

So what is respectful?

 

Why is standing respectful? We kneel when we pray? We bow our heads to speak to God, yet we must stand tall and look high when the colors are flying??

 

Can we still be respectful even when we go against the social norm? Or better yet, could we be completely disrespectful while we are doing what is considered respectful? (Any minds blown yet?)

 

Here’s something truthful for your back pocket, the things that we do to show respect are absolutely subjective.

 

Let me explain. I’ve never been a fan of wearing fancy clothes. But I have been taught that it is respectful to wear these fancy clothes to church, weddings, funerals, elegant places and important events… but, just because I show up to your sermon in my torn jeans and cut off shirt, it doesn’t mean that I do not respect what you are saying, or Jesus, or God, or Religion.

 

That is your opinion, not mine. I’m simply wearing what I am comfortable in and here to pay my respects with a good heart and honest mind. But you’re over here judging me for my outfit… not my intentions.

 

So this is my point… these men and women who are peacefully protesting by taking a knee, or what-have-you, during the National Anthem… are their intentions to be disrespectful, or to bring attention to an important issue of unequal treatment in a country that boasts Freedom and Liberty for all?

 

I get it. You think that they should just play the sport that they are over payed to play and leave politics out of it. Okay. That’s your opinion. But they are American citizens who have every right to voice their concerns just as you do. Right? Or do they give up that right because they are rich and famous???

 

There has been so much anger directed at these protests. Hell, even the President added his two cents. But, when it comes down to it, shouldn’t we, as Freedom loving Americans, feel proud that our fellow Americans are using their rights to bring attention to an issue that they feel so passionate about?

 

I don’t know. But I do. I’m proud that we have the right to speak up. I am proud that we have a Constitution that promises our basic rights. I am proud that we are able to stand up for what we believe in.

 

And damn it, I am proud that we can bring attention to monumental issues by doing such a small, peaceful, passionate gesture.

 

If you want to bitch and moan about something, then maybe we should talk about inequality all over this free country. From every race, minority, ethnic background, creed, belief, religion, and ideal. Our freedom to life, liberty and happiness are contested every single day. Why are we not outraged and doing more to change that?

 

You know what, if we do not exercise our freedoms, not matter how mad it might make someone, then do we even deserve them?

 

We are so stuck in the emotions of someone doing something different, that we can’t even talk about the reason that they are doing it.

 

We are actually angry that someone is standing up against something that they feel is oppressive, prejudice, and intolerant. And we hurl stones at them for taking a stand (kneel). And we chastise them for being the minority. We hate them for making a stir. And we try to silence them while they are in protest about how they are being treated.

 

And damn it, THAT is un-American.

 

 

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August 18

A Nation Called Racist

 

Fuck. I don’t even know where to begin. Or, what’s worse, why I even need to, to begin with.

 

The hardest thing for me to wrap my head around is that there are people out there who adamantly believe that equality should not exist.

 

Let’s think about what that means….

 

There are actually free-willed minds, in our free nation, enjoying our freedoms, our rights and liberties made prevalent by the ideals that “ALL MEN are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” who are truly impassioned by the notion that a certain skin color voids whatever unalienable rights that were God given.

 

Reread that.

 

Alright, let’s take out all the big words: there are people in this country (and all over the world) who are positively certain, that the color of your skin determines what rights you should have.

 

Take it in. Let that lunacy sink in.

 

How are we not more enraged by this way of thinking? How do we walk around, as freedom loving Americans, accepting such a fallacy, such a blatant ignorance of the human condition?

 

How in the fuck is racism still tolerated?!

 

*****

 

Well, I think to further give merit and understanding to this social abomination, I must first honestly examine myself. (Bear with me, this is going to be long)

 

I claim to not be a Racist. Hell, the thought of hating others so bitterly based solely on their race simply disgusts me. But, I would be a complete liar if I said that I would not act, feel, or think a little differently if I went to a party where I was the only white guy there. I would certainly, if only initially, feel out of place.

 

So let’s break that down. I would feel different… why?

 

Well, I would feel different because I would have the inaccurate assumption that I need to be different in that situation. I would be worried about offending someone when I didn’t mean to. I would be ashamed because I am white and white stands for racism and I hate that Racism is still a thing in America, in the world. I would feel different because I would want them all to know that I am against that type of mentality. And I would feel like I need to prove to them that I am NOT an intolerant, ignorant, prejudice asshole.

 

But… is that racist? To feel that another race would assume that I am racist? Holly shit, I’m blowing my mind right now.

 

Truthfully, I think I would act a little differently at this party. If nothing else, I would be more reserved until I acclimated to my environment (although this is true with any party or social gathering, so maybe this feeling is void on this topic). But, I can tell you right now that I would probably attempt to be cool, when in actuality, I am nowhere near that type of caliber.

 

I would use words like “bro, chill, swag; and make references to Jay-Z or Ditty,” (and probably in the wrong context, because I really don’t use those words all that much, bro). Because, in my sometimes-idiotic-mind this is my stereotype of Black men. And, I think that I would want to blend in when it came to mannerisms, again, to show that I am not racist. I guess, I would be trying to ease their minds and make them feel more comfortable about being around a White Guy.

 

But even wanting to fit in, is fundamentally a diversity issue. Who am I to say that the people at this party, simply because they are darker complected than I, would even be different from me in the first place? Do you see how these stereotypes affect our decisions?

 

I would be thinking differently because I would want to prove their stereotypes wrong, while I, too, am stereotyping. I would be more worried about not offending them or making them feel uncomfortable, than just simply being myself and having fun.

 

Is that disturbing in any way? Is it sickening to have this type of mindset? That I should behave slightly differently if I was at an all Black party, compared to an all White party?

 

Well, it certainly arouses my attention about our stereotyping culture.

 

But, is stereotyping racism??

 

Here’s the thing, would that type of thinking (as explained above) be viewed any differently if it was a fancy mixed race party that was strictly suit and tie, with expensive wine, caviar, and a seafood buffet? Because I can tell you right now, that I would be thinking and feeling the same way. I would act according to the situation.

 

In other words, my crazy redneck ass would certainly be minding his manners.

 

And we can apply this same rational thought process to any party where I would feel out of place. I think it’s semi-safe to say that most people would probably feel similar in this way. Because, people adapt to their environment; they change certain small characteristics in order to feel accepted. Am I wrong in stating that?

 

When you really think about it, we stereotype all the time.

 

If I told you to name the first thing that you think of when I say “White, trailer-trash, redneck,” would a person resembling Joe Dirt come to mind? Or if I said “what does a terrorist look like?” Would you imagine someone of Middle-Eastern Ethnicity?

 

And if I said, “Describe a racist.” Do you immediately think of some country bumpkin, tobacco-mouthed, poor-grammared, tattooed white guy? Or maybe a Confederate flag waving, nazi-emblemed skinhead?

 

Alright, so the truth is, we stereotype people. For whatever reason, social insecurities, instincts, learned social behaviors, fears, or media brainwashing… the truth is, we do it.

 

And maybe this is the foundation for such hate? Maybe this is a genuine reason for fearing and hating what is not like us? And Hell, maybe understanding that we “naturally” do this, may even help us to not be so prejudice?

 

Are stereotypes where racism comes from?

 

(And honestly, if you’re still with me at this point, God bless ya. I’m just trying to understand where such hate and evil comes from.)

 

So, I’ll use my own experiences as an example…

 

I joined the Marines after 9/11. I went and fought in Iraq in 2005. I watched the news and headlines when Al Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist organizations threatened to behead me, to rape and kill my family, and fuck my goat… no no no, sorry, that was rude.

 

Using these experiences, I (naturally) stereotype people of middle-eastern decent as people who want to do me harm. Now, granted, I try think more rationally and logically than that, and certainly conclude that having those thoughts are incorrect, for the most part. But because of these experiences and perceptions, I am shamefully weary around people who speak Arabic.

 

I don’t hate them though. I don’t want to hang them or murder them (unless they threaten me or my family). And this is where I cannot understand the hateful racism that has, and currently is, fouling our nation.

 

*****

 

Now, let me ask this, from my white, middle class, intellectual-redneck perspective… are we underlining and making racism worse by trying to overly deny that we are racists? Are we, as a culture, sometimes putting these pressures on people to go so far above and beyond that they think that they need to act so anti-racist… that they are actually highlighting the fact that they are so different in the first place?

 

I guess what I mean is, the common expression I hear from my white peeps is, “I’m not racist because I have black friends.” Or, “I dated a black girl once,” or, “I can’t be racist because I dress like, talk like, and act like how the few black people I know act?”

 

 

And is that Racism? Is it racist to change your behavior around a different race? Is it racist to be culturally sensitive, or to, I guess it would seem, stereotype groups of people based on appearance or race?

 

(Yes, this shit is getting deep. I hope that you’re all still with me.)

 

Racism is defined by Dictionary.com (yes, I have the app) as “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others. Also, hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.”

 

For me, personally, I certainly do not hate a group of people based on their race or color. But, I think that I do judge other’s based on their culture, or maybe even “assumed” culture. And by “judge” I don’t necessarily mean with a negative connotation, I simply mean that I gather visual information based on what I initially see or think that something represents. I feel that that is human nature and instinctual to some degree, whether or not it is morally correct.

 

But when people talk about racism and prejudice, I don’t think that they necessarily mean that people act a little differently around different people.

 

I think it’s more of the hate and evil intentions. I think it is the negative perceptions that we have on those that do not look like “us,” that is the problem.

 

It’s the name calling with intent to mentally harm. It’s the belief that this person cannot perform as well, because of their skin color. It’s the passing up of opportunities because they don’t fit the right ethnicity that you are used to. It’s the differing of criminal records, because “I” got a warning, and “he” went to jail. It’s the blatant disrespect before they are even given a chance to show you their true character.

 

It’s the insane lack of compassion for another human being simply because they do not look like you, act like you, or come from where you come from. That is the problem of racism.

 

And what I don’t understand is that hate against diversity.

 

Do we just fear what is not familiar? Are too dense to understand what is different?

 

And let’s just be transparent here, Racism isn’t just White vs. Black. I’ve seen the ugliness of racism in many forms, against many different peoples. Hell, I’ll even raise a little commotion by saying that I’ve seen racism in the words and actions of Black folks against White folks.

 

While racism gets most of its attention in the media as being a White atrocity against a Black people… racism is not limited to one race hating another… it is ANY race hating another. It is the hate and belief that another race is superior or inferior based on their skin tone, culture or demographics.

 

To be clear, Racism isn’t just a White thing (though, it does seem to get the most attention). Racism is found in every race of people out there. It is worldwide.

 

And God Dammit… to Hell with it all!

 

Are we not all People? Are we not all human beings? Is your small mind so constraint that it cannot possibly fathom the concept that we are all the same people, experiencing the same struggles, the same emotions, the same pain, love, and hate. When you look at the big picture, are we not all from the same place, the same planet?

 

Hel, let’s get abstract for a moment, shall we?

 

I’m a lover of Sci-fi and Alien type doomsday movies and books (it’s the curious imagination inside of me). But I have to wonder how another intelligent species might view the people of Earth when or if they ever come? Would they laugh at our lack of unity? Would they immediately conclude that we are no better than the sharks in the sea who feed upon all, even their own?

 

Or would they pity us, and consider our intolerances a form of inferiority?

 

Would they conquer us, knowing that we are not worthy of what is precious?

 

Can we not think in such astronomical terms, that ultimately, we are all the same community?

 

Do we not all value love, life, and family? Are we really all that different? Do we not all feel, give, bleed, and desire?

 

Are we not all of the same flesh, of the same sea, the same air, land, and stars? Are we not all of one finite place, of one finite time, leaving one finite mark on eternity?

 

People… We. Are. The. Same.

 

*****

 

So what’s the solution when our actions are driven by fear and lack of understanding? How do we get better at treating things that are different differently? What should we do to remedy hate, prejudice, and bigotry?

 

Well, there’s not an easy fix when such hate and ignorance is so deeply rooted. But in my own humble experience and rationale, I think a good start would be to talk to each other, to interact in a respectful and calm manner with each other. I think that when you lack an understanding of something, then you should try to gain experience with what you do not grasp.

 

Go talk with someone whom you may have stereotyped or judged based on their looks and demographics. Find out what is important to them, what they value, who they are, what their opinions are, what they stand for and why they do what they do.

 

I imagine that we all will learn how similar we really are, if we just give each other a fighting chance.

 

You see, Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream of love, equality, human decency, and respect.

 

Well, I have a dream, too; one where a time of unity and diverse appreciation is common place.

 

A dream where I do not even think twice about how to act or to feel at a party of people who do not look like me….

 

Where we shake each other’s hands instead of beating each other’s heads. Where we listen and talk, understand and relate. A dream where we love instead of hate.

 

A dream where we… are all WE.

 

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August 9

Creative Control

From day one we are trained and conditioned to do as others tell us to.

 

As a toddler, we learn the word “no.” We are taught structure, schedules, how to wear our clothes, and how to act in public. In school we learn how to sit quietly, to be obedient, to fit in, and follow along; and then we are graded on our individuality and compared to our peers.

 

There, we learn about words like authority, power, directions, and respect… before we learn about compassion, understanding, tolerance, and creativity.

 

We leave the structured halls of  our high schools at the peak of our stifled curiosity and we are told to go discover ourselves.

 

So we venture out into the Great Grey Blur, not knowing who we are, but having learned how to color inside the lines, how to be uniform, orderly, and numerical. And then, we are expected to burst out into this chaos and make a difference.

 

Shit, so we get a job. One where we are forced to listen to our boss, to do as they say without question, without hesitation, without insubordination. We are told that this is the only way to make it to the top… to follow their lead. We are told not to be like Jake in the Creative Marketing Department, who wears a loose tie and un-tucked shirt. No, he is wrong. Here we have standards, we are expected to read the employee handbook, from front to back, so that we may know exactly how to conduct ourselves properly in every situation. And then we are reprimanded for stepping outside of those norms.

 

So why in the hell are you surprised when people do not have the ability to think for themselves and form their own rational decisions? Why are you surprised from the lack of one’s creative ideas, progress, and understanding?

 

We are formed and created to be subordinate.

 

Here, we are chastised, ridiculed, and punished for going our own way, for challenging ideas and power.

 

And we are so weak and impressionable, that we actually believe that THAT is totally acceptable.

 

What.

 

The.

 

Fuck.

 

Is there not a better system?

You see, we have it so bass-ackwards that we go along believing that power comes from fear. And the way that we teach young impressionable kids about respect is through fear and power, instead of love and compassion.

 

We say, respect your elders, to do as you are told, follow the directions of your teachers/coaches/adults. Don’t talk back. Don’t ask questions. Don’t get out of line.

 

And when we defiantly ask why, we are told, “because I said so; because that’s just how it is, because they’re an adult, a teacher, a coach, a person of authority, because that’s life.”

 

That is the reasoning we get, instead of saying, “because they are a human being who feels, and loves, and hurts just like you. Because they’re a person who struggles like you, who has good days and bad days just like you. Because they are a person and we are all in this together. Because if you treat them poorly, then not only will you be hurting them, but also yourself… because we are a community and a society that functions and breathes through each other’s actions.”

 

Hell, right from the start, we learn that we should respect a position of power, rather than the person who holds it.

 

So, instead of learning that we should treat people well simply because we are all in this together, we learn that we should treat them well because they could hurt us, harm us, take away our privileges, and make our lives more difficult.

 

Isn’t that a crazy perspective on life…

 

Forcing people to be something or to do something, because if not, there will be pain… teaching more about fear, power, and harm, than about love, compassion, and empathy…

 

Teaching the consequences of mistakes through pain… forcing people to go one way, instead of allowing them to discover their own path?

I know I’m asking a lot here. I know that I’m stretching a long standing practice about the way that we learn. I know that I am challenging the masses.

 

But look, why the fuck are we not teaching more though love, admiration, sympathy, and understanding? Why are we not coaching and guiding self-discovery though tolerance, encouragement, and an open mind?

 

Are we seriously too dull minded to learn what is right and wrong while also learning how to be ourselves? Or, how to set our own standards… how to determine our own limits?

 

Why are we not teaching kids how to think more critically, logically, rationally, creatively, differently? Why does structure overpower creativity? Why do we trample on individuality, self-identity, and uniqueness?

 

Can equality and the freedom to be an individual not co-exist? Can we not all be different but fight for the same type of decency?

 

Listen, I want to be me, not who you want me to be.

 

I do not need someone to tell me how to live my own life. It is not theirs to own.

 

Let me step out of line. Let me speak up. Let me be heard. Let me feel, learn, and make mistakes. I want to experience this life in my own creative way, of my own creative ideals. I don’t need someone to tell me who I am. And I don’t want some corrupt mind telling me that MY life is unjust, that my standards are unmoral, that my way is wrong.

 

Guide us, but let us fail. Encourage us, but don’t force us. Love us, but don’t smother us. We have to grow and strengthen our own way, or we will be nothing more than your subordinate.

 

Let us figure it out in the backfires and the blowouts of this beautiful thing called, living.

 

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July 31

The Strength and Consequences of Single Parenting

So far, the 2000’s have brought us smart phones, dating websites, skinny jeans, and well, single parenting.

 

But before we get into the semantics, offensive language, and ruffled feathers, I want my readers to go ahead and take a serious deep breath, pause, find your center, and exhale those instinctual, defensive, and eye-gouging, maternal protective impulses; don’t cut me, I’m not trying to offend anyone, I just simply want to open up an objective conversation about a serious social trend: Single Parenting.

 

Alright, now that we’ve all found our Chi, distanced ourselves from the kitchen knives, baseball bats, and 12 gauge shotguns, I want us to take a moment to think about all of those single parents that we know.

 

Think about their age, their struggle, their love and happiness for their kids. Think about the hard work, sleepless nights, double shifts, and nonstop cleaning, feeding, and caring that they proudly do for their children. Think about their sacrifices, their maturity, their responsibilities, and the smile that awakens their bloodshot, wrinkled, and sleep-deprived face the moment that their child bursts into laughter. Think about these things as we talk about those incredibly tenacious people.

 

Now, as much as I want this piece to be unbiased, I fear that my single, male perspective will play a large role in these careful words that I’m about to say. After all, the whole reason that I noticed this significant social issue in the first place, is through (shamelessly) searching social media for my future ex-wife, I mean, soul mate.

 

But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t feel a slight disappointment as I click on a hotty’s Tinder profile and read those very familiar words, “the proud mother of 1,2,3,4,100 kids, we’re a package deal, they are my world, and they come first.”

 

Yes, I feel disappointment. And I instantly feel like an asshole for not being more compassionate in that moment of swiping “no” and moving on. It’s selfish, I know. It’s judgmental, I get it. And it’s unflattering to admit, that, I don’t want to date someone else’s kids, I want to date you.

 

So here lies the issue: there is a stigma that surrounds single parents. Eww, I said iiit, Single Parent, yuck… eww… grooosss.

 

Some people hear that term and instantly label that person as being irresponsible, a whore, shameful, and beneath them. Some people, without even knowing a thing about them, judge them, feel sorry for them, subjectify them, and completely forget about their own struggles, mistakes, decisions, and moments of weakness. And then, right there in that moment, consider themselves better than that person.

 

How do I know?

 

Well, to better understand this evolving epidemic, I sent out a series of 32 questions to 40 different single parents, both men and women, so that I could educate myself about something that I have not personally gone through, so that I could hear and learn their stories.

 

Honestly, the information that I received was, in part, surprising… and… well… in part expected.

 

For starters, the majority of the people that I interviewed were in their late teens or early 20’s when they got pregnant. They also say that they were in love at the time, (and a lot of them admitted that they were naïve), they were not married but it was with the person that they were dating (although some say that they got pregnant within the first few months that they were seeing each other).

 

I discovered that the majority of the pregnancies were not planned, but even so, an abortion was not really considered. Astonishingly, some were even told that they could not have children and were using protection at the time.

 

Most of the women’s stories involved a man leaving at some point during the pregnancy or a short time thereafter. Which, is really sad in my eyes, as this shows how weak those men are, leaving during the most needed and important time. It also shows how strong women can really be.

 

I found out that even though the pregnancy was not planned, nearly all of the people interviewed said that they would not change a thing about it, that their child was the best thing that ever happened to them, that their love of their child and unconditional love that their child gives to them, is the best feeling in the world and that they would not give that up for the world.

 

Their stories talked about the challenges; the no sleep, no free time, losing friends, unpaid bills, late night stress, lack of help and support from the co-parent, and working 2 or 3 jobs and feeling guilty about not spending enough time with their kid while struggling to just barely get by.

 

A stronger person… I cannot think of.

 

One striking similarity really grabbed my attention: more than half of those interviewd described their dating life as “non-existent.”

 

This really hit home as I thought back to my own attractions, turn-ons and preferences while searching out my very own back-scratcher, my full-body-massager, my sex-on-the-loveseat-while-watching-football lover (yes, they do exist… Scorrre!). And I couldn’t help but think about how difficult it must be for them to even find the time to go on a meaningless date (which feels more like an interview, anyway) and hope to discover some mature, grown-up man, who deals well with responsibilities, is compassionate, caring, and able to raise someone else’s kids as his own.

 

Hell yes, that is difficult. From my own experience on the other side of that, it’s hard as hell to walk into someone else’s life, their bubble, their skeptical, comfortable, no-time-for-nonsense, busy life and know whether or not you can step up to the plate and fill that father figure role.

 

I’ll tell you, right now, that the expectation of a man stepping into your and your kid’s life, and raising some other man’s kids as his own, is bullshit, and unfair.

 

I know the difficulties, personally. Those awkward moments of not knowing how to react when their child is acting out; the feeling of wanting to help someone who is so independent and has “made it on her own” for so long that you have no idea when helping out is going to be appreciated or offensive; the disagreeing on the way to raise her kids, and the struggle of wanting to do it differently, but knowing how offensive and personal she may take your ways. Or their father not agreeing with your beliefs and there not being a thing that you can do about it, because ultimately, they are not your kids.

 

So you force yourself to deal with it. To try to be a responsible “father figure” without the true power to be their father. And it’s a constant battle of beliefs, struggles, second guesses, doubts, and emotions that blur your time of falling in love with this woman.

 

It’s hard. It’s sleeping in the same bed together, her and the kids, when you really want to be intimate, or cuddle, or just sleeeep, but can’t because there is a toddler laying on you, kicking you, smacking you in the face. It’s giving up your spontaneous, adventurous, fun-loving side, so that you can stay in and watch Despicable Me for the 100th time this week. It’s not being able to build that strong foundation that two people build when they spend months dating, nights alone, and long serious, deep conversations without kids screaming, fighting, and crying every 2 minutes.

 

It’s joining a family after it has started, trying to gain their trust and love, while also learning who these little people are, trying not to hurt them, and learning how you are going to love them.

 

Stepping into that “father-figure” role is a true sacrifice that men are “expected” to do.

 

But why?

 

Socially, having kids was meant to be a mutual decision between two lovers who have prepared their lives for such a monumental, life-changing situation.

 

But now, it seems that there are more people having kids at a young age, without being ready, without having that solid foundation, and without being able to have a lasting future with their co-parent.

 

What’s happening here? Is it a lack of responsibility? Is it baby fever? Is it a strong-willed man who refuses to use a condom and a young loving woman who will do whatever it takes to keep her man happy? Is it peer pressure? Is it emptiness in one’s life and the feeling that a child will fulfill whatever it is that is missing?

 

Is it even a bad thing? Are their negative affects to children who are raised by single parents? I received mixed responses when I asked that question. Personally, after my parents divorced when I was 12, I remember missing my dad in the evenings for backyard football, going fishing, or just having that constant male role model throughout the most influential years of my life.

 

To make it clear, my dad was a good dad. But he did work a lot, and I lived with mom. I would see him at sporting events, on the weekends, or when I’d go over for dinner. But the truth is, lacking that constant male influence, probably affected me in more than one way.  Without a doubt, there was a bigger distance between me and my father because he did not live with us.

(It’s probably why I’m so short.)

 

There is so much depth to this subject that I feel incompetent in covering it all.

 

There is a serious flaw in the system when it comes to custodial rights. Fathers have an uphill battle. Historically, the courts have sided with the mother. And if the two are not married, the father may be very limited in his rights to even visit the child.

 

This whole lopsided treatment adds a whole other layer of difficulty to raising children as single parents. Imagine how discouraged a father must feel when he is limited in the amount of time that he can spend with his child. In some cases, I feel that this is a contributing factor in the reason for some single fathers to just give up on raising their children, all together. I’m not agreeing with that belief, or condoning that irresponsible behavior, but having an influence on your child a mere 20% of the month, I’m sure, makes raising them extremely difficult. Not to mention parents who use their children to get back at the co-parent, when they are angry, by not allowing them to visit during additional hours.

 

Honestly, the system is flawed.

 

So, yes, single parents are some of the strongest people that I know. They endure some of the deepest pain, the toughest decisions, and the hardest sacrifices. They struggle mentally, physically, and financially. They want someone to be a good role model in their child’s life, but don’t have the time or energy to put into a new relationship. And when they do find someone who is the “right fit for a package deal,” their expectations are truly a heavy load to carry.

 

Is single parenting going to be the new normal? Are we going to allow divorce and unprotected sex to continue to rise? Are we going to take a chance on the emotional toll that our children may be exposed to because they lack a strong two parent upbringing? Where does this new trend take modern day relationships? Are we okay with having children and raising them in a “nontraditional way?” Does it do any harm? Can it be a good thing? Where does this take our moral, philosophical, and religious beliefs?

 

There are so many questions that we must ask ourselves about this issue. We, as a moral people, must evaluate this trend and ask ourselves if we are doing good for society, or if we are doing harm? Will our children grow up with a better, more open view of the world? Or have we unintentionally harmed them, emotionally scarred them, or changed them in some way?

 

I want you to understand that I believe single parents should be proud of what they have accomplished. I have seen many sacrifice all of the things that they want for the needs of their children. I am in no way, shape, or form saying that you are bad parents. Your strength is inspiring, and honestly, incomprehensible. You amaze me with your ability to stand strong, alone, and give your child what you think is best.

 

But we have to talk about this social issue. We have to. For the sake of the children that we love. For the sake of our social standards and beliefs. We have to have a serious and open conversation about where we, as a society, stand on relationships, love, parenting, and marriage.

 

And God forbid, that the choices that we make, harm those that we are trying hardest to protect.

 

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July 20

Welcome

Welcome friends, fans, family, and fabulous strangers who clicked on the wrong button. Thank you for coming to see what Jacob Paul Patchen is all about.

 

Well, let me start off by saying, I am so completely and utterly honored to have you as a guest on my author page/blog. It truly hits me right in the feels to know that there are people out there who actually “want” to read my words. I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

 

I started writing poetry around 12 years old while my parents went through a divorce and I went through puberty (your welcome). Honestly, I don’t even know where it came from, it just sort of… happened. I still remember parts of the very first poem that I wrote, it was a short piece that tried to describe the feelings that I felt about my parents divorcing and all the other teenage bullshit that gets thrown at you in middle school. I remember thinking about the different layers of who I am/was at the time and trying to put those layers into images or metaphors, or hell… just words. I specifically remember the metaphor “I am a bloody tornado raging on the wild sea.”  Like, seriously, what 12 year old thinks of shit like that?

 

Well, anyway, I don’t really remember the rest of my first poem, just a few lines that tried to describe who I was and what I was feeling at the time. But, being close to my mother, I thought it would be a good idea to run out to the living room and share my newly discovered talent with her. She was kind. Shocked in the face, but kind with her words. And for many years after, I would write something new, and she would be the first to hear it. Although, not always understanding of my words and strong confessionalist tone, she still supported what I was doing; just as she still does to this day.

 

I could go on and on about my experiences in high school sports, my youthful love life, my time in the Marines and fighting in Iraq. I could tell you about playing a few short weeks of college football, or having my heart chainsawed (metaphorically) from my chest time and time again. I could tell you all about PTSD, Depression, Anxiety, Self-doubt, Self-destruction, and Self-discovery… but this post is only big enough to welcome you. It was only meant to bring you into the crowd of hundreds (maybe thousands) of fans and friends who have discovered Jacob Paul Patchen, and fell in love with his wit, his honesty, his philosophical ideals, his investment in living, loving, caring, and investigation into why we do the weird, evil, and crazy shit that we do.

 

Instead, I want to give you a place to come and read about REAL fucking life. The bullshit. The hardships. The tragedies. The glory. The triumphs. The pain. The love. The comfort. The hate, anger, and sadness. I invite you into my world, to read my words about me, about us, and to hopefully be inspired, to relate, to find some kind of comfort knowing that you are not alone. That there are others out there who have felt the way that you may feel right now. And that there are those who are trying to piece together the language that will capture that feeling forever. So that you may revisit it. Remember it and cherish it. Learn from it. Grow from it. Feel it.

 

I want you to go ahead and explore my poetry (though limited, as many are meant for publication). Read my featured blog posts. Check out the “about me” section. And please, follow along with the “recent blog posts” as I continue to evaluate myself, us as a society, and this fucked up world that we live in.

 

Thank you for reading.

Always with love,

 

Jacob Paul Patchen

 

Click on one of these 5 star rated books to read more of Jacob Paul Patchen.

   

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July 19

Of Love and War

 I.

I don’t remember the last time that we got mail,

or which stained cot or shithole that I was in

when I opened it

 

and read about your summer days sun bathing

in your new 4th of July two-piece out at the lake

with Eric and Tori. Or about how softly your

mother cried, lifting and dabbing behind her glasses

with a wadded up tissue, while helping you pick

out new linens for your hour-and-a-half away

dorm room bed.

 

But now I sift through this pile of white and

mixed colored letters, moving my family’s

and friend’s aside, and stacking yours on top by

the date that you carefully wrote on the outside

seal.And, one dirty thumb print after another,

I open them all chapter by chapter.

 

“Jake, I love you.”

 

“Jake, I love you.”

 

“Jake, I love you.”

 

I kiss them all, one by one, fading away into

winter thoughts of us and the last time that

we touched. And still visible splashes of your

perfume reminding me of your neck, when

I would press my tongue and lips against it,

making you bump up with chills, just as

these thoughts of you do to me now.

 

I lie down damp and hope for dreams of us,

like that summer before, on a fuzzy blanket in

the sharp grassed field beside my father’s house,

where romance was slapping mosquitos from

each other’s backs under partially cloudy stars

and stirrings in the woods beside us. We made it

quick, but lasting.

 

II.

“Seventeen days until I see you… until I touch

you, until I kiss you.”

 

My voice quietly hiding the excitement in a

room full of hardened Marines murmuring

trying to hold back tears on phone calls home.

 

But your voice is not as I remember it from a

month ago. Your “I miss you’s and I love you’s”

sound shaky, barren, and empty. I pass it off as

nerves and swallow down a warm meal to fill

the pit in my stomach.

 

For the first time since nine months away, I fear

that I don’t know you.

 

III.

I’ve laid restless for hours beside your steady,

easy breathing. And mine is sharp, shallow, and

forced from gritted teeth. Between you and the

ceiling, I can’t stare anywhere else. The hugs

from earlier have worn off, and the kisses

weren’t as warming as I had imagined.

 

You’re bra is still fastened, your levi’s are

buttoned, and the long sleeved shirt I offered

you to wear, is sitting on the chair beside us. You

are wearing what you wore to my brother’s

football game, and I’ve spent hours

trying to figure out why.

 

IV.

Eventually, tomorrow morning will come, though

sleep will not. And you will finally tell me about

Stephen, with a phh, from school.

 

And I will mock him, threaten to kill him, to

gut him with my K-bar knife,

to gouge out his eyeballs and skull fuck his corpse.

 

You will cry; and I will rage.

 

I will scream out in a voice that I thought I buried

just weeks ago, and it will scare me to the core.

 

You will shed believable tears down your flush

cheeks, and I will still want to hold you. I will still

want to love you; though, I can’t.

 

**Published in The Deadly Writers Patrol Issue 12

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