7 Easy Ways To Be Civically Engaged

7 Easy Ways To Be Civically Engaged

Make calls, vote... there are many ways the average citizen can make a difference.

In the current political and social atmosphere, it can be easy to feel helpless and like there’s no point in trying to resist the overwhelming tides of hatred, bigotry, and general unpleasantness. But there are things we can do!

Please note: if the most you can do is keep yourself going through each day, good. Do that. Living in and of itself is an act of rebellion. Take care of yourself and your basic needs before you worry about trying to fix the world as well. But if you have the time, energy, and ability to do something, please do. Here are a few things we as voting citizens can do to help make a difference in these troubled times.

1. Oh Crap! What Now?: A Survival Guide to Living in Trump’s America

“Planning for a Trump Administration When You're Not A Straight Rich White Dude,” proclaims the sidebar. With items like “Do Something,” “Responding to Hate,” and “The Legal System and You,” this site has everything you need to navigate safely through Trump’s America while also hopefully making a bit of a difference.

2. 5calls.org: Five Calls A Day

“Turn your passive participation into active resistance. Facebook likes and Twitter retweets don't create the change you want to see.” This site gives you five issues a day to call your representatives and other people about.

3. mycivicworkout.com

Get a daily email with an action item from this site.

4. thesixtyfive.org

“We are the 65 and we’re his problem now,” proclaims the site banner. This site features a weekly call to action/daily tasks like calling reps.

5. Keep America Great With a Thing a Day

Pretty self-explanatory. Their about page says, “we're here to research every issue that we come across to make sure it's credible, and provide you with easy ways to get involved and make a difference RIGHT NOW.” Sounds pretty useful, yeah?

6. Call My Congress.com

Not sure who to call? Check this site!

7. How to Call Your Reps When You Have Social Anxiety

Nervous about calling? Totally understandable, I personally hate phone calls. Check out this to get some tips on how to calm down and do it!

Finally, one extra one — the most important one — VOTE IN 2018!! The entire House and half the Senate will be up for re-election, and if you want your voice heard, the best way to do it is to vote for people who represent ideas that you support.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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This Is How Your Same-Sex Marriage Affects Me As A Catholic Woman

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.

It won't.

Wait, what?

SEE ALSO: To My Closeted Self, I Have Something To Tell You

I promise you did read that right. Not what you were expecting me to say, right? Who another person decides to marry will never in any way affect my own marriage whatsoever. (Unless they try to marry the person that I want to, then we might have a few problems.)

As a kid, I was raised, baptized, and confirmed into an old school Irish Catholic church in the middle of a small, midwestern town. Not exactly a place that most people would consider to be very liberal or open minded. Despite this I was taught to love and accept others as a child, to not cast judgment because the only person fit to judge was God. I learned this from my Grandpa, a man whose love of others was only rivaled by his love of sweets and spoiling his grandkids.

While I learned this at an early age, not everyone else in my hometown — or even within my own church — seemed to get the memo. When same-sex marriage was finally legalized country-wide, I cried tears of joy for some of my closest friends who happen to be members of the LGBTQ community. I was happy while others I knew were disgusted and even enraged.

"That's not what it says in the bible! Marriage is between a man and a woman!"

"God made Adam and Eve for a reason! Man shall not lie with another man as he would a woman!"

"Homosexuality is a sin! It's bad enough that they're all going to hell, now we're letting them marry?"

Alright, Bible Bob, we get it, you don't agree with same-sex relationships. Honestly, that's not the issue. One of our civil liberties as United States citizens is the freedom of religion. If you believe your religion doesn't support homosexuality that's OK. What isn't OK is thinking that your religious beliefs should dictate others lives. What isn't OK is using your religion or your beliefs to take away rights from those who chose to live their life differently than you.

Some members of my church are still convinced that their marriage now means less because people are free to marry whoever they want to. Honestly, I wish I was kidding. Tell me again, Brenda how exactly do Steve and Jason's marriage affect yours and Tom's?

It doesn't. Really, it doesn't affect you at all. Unless Tom suddenly starts having an affair with Steve their marriage has zero effect on you. You never know Brenda, you and Jason might become best friends by the end of the divorce. (And in that case, Brenda and Tom both need to go to church considering the bible also teaches against adultery and divorce.)

I'll say it one more time for the people in the back; same-sex marriage does not affect you even if you or your religion does not support it. If you don't agree with same sex marriage then do not marry someone of the same sex. Really, it's a simple concept.

It amazes me that I still actually have to discuss this with some people in 2017. And it amazes me that people use God as a reason to hinder the lives of others. As a proud young Catholic woman, I wholeheartedly support the LGBTQ community with my entire being. My God taught me to not hold hate so close to my heart. He told me not to judge and to accept others with open arms. My God taught me to love and I hope yours teaches you the same.

Disclaimer - This article in no way is meant to be an insult to the bible or religion or the LGBTQ community.

Cover Image Credit: Sushiesque / Flickr

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I Grieve For Asifa, But I Also Grieve For The Death Of Humanity

May we never rest in peace

As a child, when I went to art class I would always draw vibrant pictures of the different cultures being celebrated around the world and how people of different religions are able to coexist with each other. Those pictures were filled with vibrancy. But today, that vibrancy is dead and with a shroud lying upon it.

Today, there is no peaceful co-existence; there's just tension over the kidnapping, gang-rape and brutal murder of an 8-year-old girl. 8 YEARS OLD. Let that sink in. What does a child normally do an at age of 8? Probably learning how to ride their first bike, trying to color inside the lines of a coloring book, and going to school and dreaming about what they want to do when they grow up.

But, that poor girl didn't get to do all this. She was gagged, kidnapped, drugged, raped, tortured and murdered. All this, under a temple - a place of God, a place of holiness, a place of worship. A place where people come to wash away their sins is where men sinned.

If there is an all-forgiving God, today, I hope that God DOES NOT FORGIVE. I hope that God makes this one exception for the sake of a young innocent child whose only fault was that she was innocent.

I always am proud to be of Indian descent but I can’t explain what I felt after reading about this story filled with hatred and I'm speechless, hurt and heartbroken.

Every time that I scroll through my social media feed is every time that her face haunts me, asking me if there will be justice. And every time I see her face, I feel a gut-wrenching sense of helplessness that I cannot do anything about.

The fact that in 'a social sovereign country', there is an angry mob on two sides of a line - one demanding punishment for all the accused, and the other, siding with the accused parties, justifying the religious sentiment that made for the pretext of the rape.

We - not they - are justifying the rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl because of religious undercurrents! WE ARE JUSTIFYING NOT JUST RAPE; BUT, GANG-RAPE. AND ALSO, MURDER. I say 'We' because when the history books are written and when the world talks about the incident - and they will - they won't say 'they' sided with the wrong. They will say: INDIA sided with the wrong! We do not get to excuse ourselves from this!

It's not just the question of a social media post, in the hope that the country's honorable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, will have a change of heart and speak up against the horrendous crime and the accused. It's about the fact that there was a government elected with the hope that good days will actually come.But, is this the price that is payed for the good days? For the growing economy, for the job opportunities , and better living standards?

As I write this, my hands are trembling, my heart is pounding and my eyes are tearing up. I am angry and I am hurt. What hurts me is the incident that I wish had NOT happened and yet, it did. What angers me is my own helplessness.

Who do you turn to when one of the accused was a special police officer who requested to keep her alive so he could rape her one last time? Who do you worship when the caretaker of a temple conspired the kidnapping, torture and the murder?What kindness do we seek when one of the accused was invited from Meerut just so he could 'satisfy his lust' by raping an 8-year-old girl?

What do we do when one half of a nation actually justifies the rape in the name of some version of a God they've created?

No amount of words I utter will be enough to explain how I feel - how every woman and child should feel - right now. Today, I cannot write about the land of cultural diversity. Today, I can only lament about the land of communal monstrosity. Today, I grieve, not just for the victim. I grieve for a humanity that no longer exists. I grieve for the unborn children that every woman promises not to have because there is no safety for their innocence. And for the children who will never be able to enjoy their innocence in the sun. And for parents who wish they never had children.

Today, I grieve for her - no, she isn't a Muslim, or a girl child, or belonging to a lower caste. Today, she is India.

And so, I grieve for a world that is perishing because of the lack of humanity. May we never rest in peace.

If you still didn’t understand quite what I was talking about, click here to reveal a story that I hope and pray will be the last of its kind.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

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