America: Could Be's and Should Be's

America: Could Be's and Should Be's

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I thought I was educated. I went through elementary school, middle school, high school, and here I am at college. This means I probably have a lot of knowledge stocked up in my brain like books on shelves, knowledge that I access every day. Every interaction I have, every word I say, and every opinion I have draws off of what I've learned over the last eighteen years. But here's the thing about college: most of the things you thought you knew are wrong. And honestly, I think a lot of people are thinking that right now.

College has been one of the most eye-opening experiences in my life so far. I met people that became my best friends after only two weeks, in fact, I still meet new people almost every day. Just the other day I met a girl from China while staking out a spot for class registration (four hours early, might I add). We talked for almost forty-five minutes, and I don't even remember how it all started. The hardest part about meeting new people is that you never who they are or what they are like until you've have multiple interactions with them. You won't be able to understand the way they think just by looking at them. This misconception is the origin of generalization.

It has been a very emotional few weeks. Political tensions have risen on campus, some classes were cancelled, and tears were (and continue) to be shed. I watched two of my professors struggle on the verge of crying, as they tried to explain to us what had happened to the world we thought we knew. I heard people speak up and say such heart breaking things that I had to take a minute and breathe. The part that hurts me the most is I didn't even know about it. I didn't know about all of the discrimination that goes on here on my own college campus; it goes right over my head. So hearing about these things breaks my heart, and what is even worse is I don't know what to do about it. I sat in on a small discussion after my American Government class, and I listened to people that I see every day speak up about how hurt they feel every day. One said he stayed off campus during the entire election because it was just too hard. I heard these things, and felt utterly useless. I felt ashamed that I didn't know, I felt bad that I hadn't experienced these things, and most of all I felt afraid. I'm afraid for those around me that have to cope with flaring emotions in this country right now as a reaction to the election. Today I heard about a Muslim woman who was attacked and beaten by two men, because the idea had been instilled in their minds that it was okay. It's not okay.

Perspective is a scary thing, especially when you become exposed to thousands at once. Having an open mind is very important in a time like this, because we have to be there to support each other. Partisanship and division only makes it worse. James Madison wrote that factions are the "mortal diseases" that make governments everywhere perish, so don't let America be another one of those governments. Have perspective, have empathy, and be open-minded. I end with a monologue by Aaron Sorkin from the hit "The Newsroom", because I believe it captures what America could and should be. In his words:

"We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reason. We passed laws, struck down laws, for moral reason. We waged wars on poverty, not on poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest. We built great, big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists AND the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men. We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn’t scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed… by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.” ― Aaron Sorkin, The Newsroom Script Episode 1

Cover Image Credit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/20/Americanflags.jpg

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10 Things Someone Who Grew Up In A Private School Knows

The 10 things that every private school-goer knows all too well.

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1. Uniforms

Plaid. The one thing that every private school-goer knows all too well. It was made into jumpers, skirts, shorts, scouts, hair ties, basically anything you could imagine, the school plaid was made into. You had many different options on what to wear on a normal day, but you always dreaded dress uniform day because of skirts and ballet flats. But it made waking up late for school a whole lot easier.

2. New people were a big deal

New people weren't a big thing. Maybe one or two a year to a grade, but after freshman year no one new really showed up, making the new kid a big deal.

3. You've been to school with most of your class since Kindergarten


Most of your graduating class has been together since Kindergarten, maybe even preschool, if your school has it. They've become part of your family, and you can honestly say you've grown up with your best friends.

4. You've had the same teachers over and over

Having the same teacher two or three years in a row isn't a real surprise. They know what you are capable of and push you to do your best.

5. Everyone knows everybody. Especially everyone's business.

Your graduating class doesn't exceed 150. You know everyone in your grade and most likely everyone in the high school. Because of this, gossip spreads like wildfire. So everyone knows what's going on 10 minutes after it happens.

6. Your hair color was a big deal

If it's not a natural hair color, then forget about it. No dyeing your hair hot pink or blue or you could expect a phone call to your parents saying you have to get rid of it ASAP.

7. Your school isn't like "Gossip Girl"

There is no eating off campus for lunch or casually using your cell phone in class. Teachers are more strict and you can't skip class or just walk right off of campus.

8. Sports are a big deal

Your school is the best of the best at most sports. The teams normally go to the state championships. The rest of the school that doesn't play sports attends the games to cheer on the teams.

9. Boys had to be clean-shaven, and hair had to be cut

If you came to school and your hair was not cut or your beard was not shaved, you were written up and made to go in the bathroom and shave or have the head of discipline cut your hair. Basically, if you know you're getting written up for hair, it's best just to check out and go get a hair cut.

10. Free dress days were like a fashion show

Wearing a school uniform every day can really drive you mad. That free dress day once a month is what you lived for. It was basically a fashion show for everyone, except for those upperclassmen who were over everything and just wore sweat pants.

Cover Image Credit: Authors Photos

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My Hometown Just Experienced A Mass Shooting, If We Don't Do Something, Yours Could Be Next

You never think it will happen to you until it does.

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I was on my way out the door to work when I got a panicked call from my mother.

"Can you look at the news online?" she said quickly. "There is a mass shooting somewhere nearby."

My heart stopped. For me, Aurora, Illinois is home. I was born there, I grew up around the area and I attended high school there. My siblings go to school close by and my boyfriend works for a neighboring fire department.

How could my beloved hometown become the victim of the latest tragedy?

After calling my boyfriend, who was at the fire station getting ready to deploy ambulances to the scene, I discovered that it had taken place at a factory nearby. My anxiety hit an all-time high as I watched the updates on all of the local city Facebook pages and groups. Officers down. Gunman at large. Mass casualties.

Hours later, all of the facts came out. A former employee of Henry Pratt's Company, a local industrial warehouse, had recently been let go and decided to get revenge. He entered the warehouse with a gun and began to shoot at random, killing five people and wounding many others, including five police officers. He was killed by local SWAT forces.

I am the kind of person who is pro-gun and pro-gun rights because of the second amendment and all of the freedoms I believe we deserve. But that doesn't make what happened okay and it never will.

While this situation doesn't change my mind, it does change my view of the world.

Why would somebody decide that shooting former coworkers was the way to go? Why would anyone want to hurt others? These are the questions that flooded my mind in the hours after the mass shooting. I don't necessarily think we have a gun issue in America, but issues with mental health and valuing life.

We pass bills to kill unborn children. We repeal bills that take away healthcare from million. We devalue life in its most basic form and respect those around us to still have enough respect for each other's lives. We stigmatize those who need psychiatric care and expect things to still be alright.

This is not alright.

Our country, our system, our values, and morals, they are all broken and backward. We have let mass shootings become normal and violence becomes accepted. It needs to be stopped. There needs to be a change.

One of the people killed was an intern from a local college during his first day on the job. Being a college student applying to internships myself, this hit far too close to home. Nobody deserves to die, least of all in their place of work while trying to further their career.

Five people lost their lives due to someone's disrespect of them. Yes, a gun was the weapon, but a mind was the actor. I pray that someday, our country will return to valuing life and respecting others enough to help them instead of pushing them away. This is not the first mass shooting, but it can be the last. If, and only if, we make sure of it.

If you want to help the victim's families in any way, a GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral expenses

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