America, It's Time To Drop Your Abusive Relationship With Gun Violence

America, It's Time To Drop Your Abusive Relationship With Gun Violence

When will you realize it's not beneficial for you?
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This month, between mass shootings at schools and police officers not being convicted for killing innocent civilians, gun control has been a topic of conversation for almost everybody. For those familiar with guns, we know the power of these tools and the destruction they can bring. Whether you've fired one or just saw one on television, you know that these tools can cause serious damage to not only one person, but their family and friends for years to come. As a minority who has grown up between urban and rural areas his whole life, I'm no stranger to the .45 pistol or hunting rifle. I've held both, and feared both, because at the end of the day I know what they can do and how they can drastically change your life forever.

When I was 8-years-old, I lost my cousin to gun violence.

This started my journey into learning what guns can do to human beings and how they can affect us. Thanks to my family, I learned how to control the weapons and was taught to only use them in dire situations. Still, to this day I hold the fear of what they can possibly do to us.

When I was twenty, I lost my childhood friend to gun violence.

When you lose someone to a gun, it creates a fear and anger that is often difficult to contain. You wonder what provoked the cowardly act of taking another man's life with a firearm, and how it could've been prevented. The same way I felt when I was eight is the same way I feel today as I am now twenty. I do not like guns. I do not believe we have any valid reason to use them as civilians. I do not believe any person should be able to purchase an automatic high-caliber rifle.

Guns in urban areas seem to carry a much different weight than guns in rural areas. I find that people more so in rural areas are burying animals once a gun is shot, but I am burying a loved one in an urban area once a gun is shot. To those who own guns in areas that are not like my own, I can understand how owning a gun may seem essential to your life, but think about what's happening to those in other areas of the United States. Gun violence and control has been a subject that urban communities have fought to get a hold over for decades. As they may not get as much publicity as a protest in the public eye now, best believe people in areas like New York City, Chicago, California and New Jersey, have been fighting for the government to place stricter control on gun laws for longer than a lot of people can actually remember.

In order to understand guns, we must first understand the second amendment. This amendment held dear by many Americans (seemingly more than the lives of their own children) allows individuals to own firearms as they please. I ask you now, to understand when it was written, and understand how it was written. The first ten amendments, also known as the Bill of Rights, were accepted by the states in the year of 1789. At the time, America was fresh out of a revolution and needed a way to ensure that its citizens would not be under siege by those under British rule. The second amendment states, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

A well-regulated militia, everyone. A militia is defined as "a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency." Individuals can create a militia, but individuals themselves are not militias. The state of emergency the United States is currently under is that of gun violence.

Over the years, America has fallen in love with these firearms for the fear of losing control or dominance over our own property and those around us. If you're allowed to take someone else's life, no matter their size or strength compared to yours, I understand that you may feel a power unmatched by any. But it's that selfish thinking, accompanied by the lack of control, and in my opinion, concern from the U.S. government, that has placed us in the position that we are in today.

Guns kill people.

Nikolas Cruz did not stab and injure 17 kids; he shot and murdered 17 kids.

My cousin and friend were not killed by knives, or by the physical hands of another; they were killed by guns.

Once you understand what guns can do to an individual, physically and psychologically, you begin to understand what the problem really is with these tools. We are not a generation of killers nor do we need to be a generation of those who fear being killed.

I should not have to watch the emergency exit in class because I fear anyone can unload a rifle magazine within seconds. No one should. My cousin should not be dead, my friend should not be dead, all the people killed wrongfully by police should not be dead, and every kid that has fallen victim to the bullet during a school shooting, should not be dead.

To those who feel the same way I do, I love you, I am here for you, and I thank you.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Your Wait time At Theme Parks Is Not Unfair, You're Just Impatient

Your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself.

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Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios "unboxed" on June 30, 2018. My friend and I decided to brave the crowds on opening day. We got to the park around 7 AM only to find out that the park opened around 6 AM. Upon some more scrolling through multiple Disney Annual Passholder Facebook groups, we discovered that people were waiting outside the park as early as 1 AM.

We knew we'd be waiting in line for the bulk of the Toy Story Land unboxing day. There were four main lines in the new land: the line to enter the land; the line for Slinky Dog Dash, the new roller coaster; the line for Alien Spinning Saucers, the easier of the new rides in the land; Toy Story Mania, the (now old news) arcade-type ride; and the new quick-service restaurant, Woody's Lunchbox (complete with grilled cheese and "grown-up drinks").

Because we were so early, we did not have to wait in line to get into the land. We decided to ride Alien Spinning Saucers first. The posted wait time was 150 minutes, but my friend timed the line and we only waited for 50 minutes. Next, we tried to find the line for Slinky Dog Dash. After receiving conflicting answers, the runaround, and even an, "I don't know, good luck," from multiple Cast Members, we exited the land to find the beginning of the Slinky line. We were then told that there was only one line to enter the park that eventually broke off into the Slinky line. We were not about to wait to get back into the area we just left, so we got a Fastpass for Toy Story Mania that we didn't plan on using in order to be let into the land sooner. We still had to wait for our time, so we decided to get the exclusive Little Green Man alien popcorn bin—this took an entire hour. We then used our Fastpass to enter the land, found the Slinky line, and proceeded to wait for two and a half hours only for the ride to shut down due to rain. But we've come this far and rain was not about to stop us. We waited an hour, still in line and under a covered area, for the rain to stop. Then, we waited another hour and a half to get on the ride from there once it reopened (mainly because they prioritized people who missed their Fastpass time due to the rain). After that, we used the mobile order feature on the My Disney Experience app to skip part of the line at Woody's Lunchbox.

Did you know that there is actually a psychological science to waiting? In the hospitality industry, this science is the difference between "perceived wait" and "actual wait." A perceived wait is how long you feel like you are waiting, while the actual wait is, of course, the real and factual time you wait. There are eight things that affect the perceived wait time: unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time, pre-process waits feel longer than in-process waits, anxiety makes waits feel longer, uncertain waits are longer than certain waits, unexplained waits are longer than explained waits, unfair waits are longer than equitable waits, people will wait longer for more valuable service and solo waiting feels longer than group waiting.

Our perceived wait time for Alien Spinning Saucers was short because we expected it to be longer. Our wait for the popcorn seemed longer because it was unoccupied and unexplained. Our wait for the rain to stop so the ride could reopen seemed shorter because it was explained. Our wait between the ride reopening and getting on the coaster seemed longer because it felt unfair for Disney to let so many Fastpass holders through while more people waited through the rain. Our entire wait for Slinky Dog Dash seemed longer because we were not told the wait time in the beginning. Our wait for our food after placing a mobile order seemed shorter because it was an in-process wait. We also didn't mind wait long wait times for any of these experiences because they were new and we placed more value on them than other rides or restaurants at Disney. The people who arrived at 1 AM just added five hours to their perceived wait

Some non-theme park examples of this science of waiting in the hospitality industry would be waiting at a restaurant, movie theater, hotel, performance or even grocery store. When I went to see "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom," the power went out in the theater right as we arrived. Not only did we have to wait for it to come back and for them to reset the projectors, I had to wait in a bit of anxiety because the power outage spooked me. It was only a 30-minute wait but felt so much longer. At the quick-service restaurant where I work, we track the time from when the guest places their order to the time they receive their food. Guests in the drive-thru will complain about 10 or more minute waits, when our screens tell us they have only been waiting four or five minutes. Their actual wait was the four or five minutes that we track because this is when they first request our service, but their perceived wait begins the moment they pull into the parking lot and join the line because this is when they begin interacting with our business. While in line, they are experiencing pre-process wait times; after placing the order, they experience in-process wait times.

Establishments in the hospitality industry do what they can to cut down on guests' wait times. For example, theme parks offer services like Disney's Fastpass or Universal's Express pass in order to cut down the time waiting in lines so guests have more time to buy food and merchandise. Stores like Target or Wal-Mart offer self-checkout to give guests that in-process wait time. Movie theaters allow you to check in and get tickets on a mobile app and some quick-service restaurants let you place mobile or online orders. So why do people still get so bent out of shape about being forced to wait?

On Toy Story Land unboxing day, I witnessed a woman make a small scene about being forced to wait to exit the new land. Cast Members were regulating the flow of traffic in and out of the land due to the large crowd and the line that was in place to enter the land. Those exiting the land needed to wait while those entering moved forward from the line. Looking from the outside of the situation as I was, this all makes sense. However, the woman I saw may have felt that her wait was unfair or unexplained. She switched between her hands on her hips and her arms crossed, communicated with her body language that she was not happy. Her face was in a nasty scowl at those entering the land and the Cast Members in the area. She kept shaking her head at those in her group and when allowed to proceed out of the land, I could tell she was making snide comments about the wait.

At work, we sometimes run a double drive-thru in which team members with iPads will take orders outside and a sequencer will direct cars so that they stay in the correct order moving toward the window. In my experience as the sequencer, I will inform the drivers which car to follow, they will acknowledge me and then still proceed to dart in front of other cars just so they make it to the window maybe a whole minute sooner. Not only is this rude, but it puts this car and the cars around them at risk of receiving the wrong food because they are now out of order. We catch these instances more often than not, but it still adds stress and makes the other guests upset. Perhaps these guests feel like their wait is also unfair or unexplained, but if they look at the situation from the outside or from the restaurant's perspective, they would understand why they need to follow the blue Toyota.

The truth of the matter is that your perceived wait time is always going to be longer than your actual wait time if you can't take a minute to focus on something other than yourself. We all want instant gratification, I get it. But in reality, we have to wait for some things. It takes time to prepare a meal. It takes time to experience a ride at a theme park that everyone else wants to go on. It takes time to ring up groceries. It takes patience to live in this world.

So next time you find yourself waiting, take a minute to remember the difference between perceived and actual wait times. Think about the eight aspects of waiting that affect your perceived wait. Do what you can to realize why you are waiting or keep yourself occupied in this wait. Don't be impatient. That's no way to live your life.

Cover Image Credit:

Aranxa Esteve

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With Liberty And Justice For All

Does granting justice to others mean we have to sacrifice our liberty?
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Like most public elementary school kids, I grew up saying the Pledge of Allegiance before the start of class every day. But to be honest, I always dreaded it. It was something extra we had to do. A box we had to check.

No one understood the true meaning of the words. As an eight-year-old, no one taught me what justice or liberty were. It wasn't until years later that I finally understood the true meaning of the words I said in a classroom so long ago.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…

To what are we pledging our allegiance, our loyalty to? The United States of America, sure. But what does that entail? Not many know. Does it mean to vote? Does it mean to fight in the military? Everyone has a different answer to that question. For me, the answer is to fight for the rights of migrants and other immigrants.

And to the republic for which it stands…

What exactly is our nation standing for? What are its values? Its beliefs? Does it involve treating those less fortunate than us with compassion? Or is it everybody for themselves?

One nation under God, indivisible…

Indivisible. United. Are we united? As a country are we united? On April 30, 2018, President Trump tweeted in response to a group of 1,200 migrants that traveled from Central America to seek a better life for their children. Only 200 of them, most of them children, desire asylum in the United States.

Asylum is a legal immigration process where those that have been victimized or fear being victimized in their home countries “based on their race, religion, nationality, political belief or membership in a particular group" can apply for a special type of visa to live in the United States.

According to his tweet, President Trump viewed the migrants as a prime example of how ineffective U.S. immigration laws are. On April 30, 2018, eight of the migrants were allowed to apply for asylum. This does not mean they will be granted citizenship. It simply means they are starting the process to legally enter U.S. borders.

With liberty and justice for all…

Many of the migrants want a better life for their kids. Many of them are fleeing their countries due to poverty and threats of violence from gang members. As a child, I never had to worry about sleeping on a cold, cement floor because my parents didn't make enough money. As a child, I never had to worry about my parents being threatened in the dead of night by a gang member, demanding something in exchange for my life. One thing is certain for these migrants: there is no going back.

Everyone deserves justice. It's easy to judge the situation from so many miles away. But I am not in their shoes. And neither are so many others. It's easy to dismiss what you can't see.

But what can I do? I have my own family, my own life to worry about. I have bills to pay just like everybody else. But what would you do if it was your kid? Your mother or father? Your friend who was treated without compassion when they entered another country?

Everyone deserves liberty. Does granting justice to others mean we have to sacrifice our liberty? Not necessarily. Not if we act. As corny as it sounds, not doing something is the worst thing to do. Vote. Write. Protest. Let your voice be heard. And one day, change may happen.

Cover Image Credit: Everypixel

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