An Open Letter To The NFL: Stand With Your Country

An Open Letter To The NFL: Stand With Your Country

#TakeAKnee? #GiveMeABreak
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You know what I really love? Living in America. I firmly believe that this country is the greatest one on the planet, and I wouldn't want to live anywhere else (call me old-fashioned or blind...I prefer patriotic). Do we have problems? Definitely. We fight over race relations and pay-gaps like the fact that they're still issues isn't a problem, and we also like to throw money at our problems when any decision in Congress is made at all. We've still got a ways to go. So, why do I love this country? Because I can write a sentence like that without fear of imprisonment or injury to my person. We can have debates about progress and what that actually means without some dictatorial regime silencing our thoughts. We have people willing to die to protect that, too. So, yeah, this country is kind of amazing.

And that's where my biggest annoyance comes in: not standing during the national anthem. And yes, NFL, I'm calling you out.

I get it: freedom of speech, good for you. I respect your right to say what you want. But, and who said it again, with great power comes great responsibility? Did you catch that last part? I'm not sure what statement you're trying to make, but I know it's aimed at President Trump. Kneeling during the anthem started as a protest against police brutality, not some tiff with the President. But did you notice no one is talking about police brutality? We're talking about the form of protest that you're using. If no one is talking about your issue, the protest isn't working. Let me boil that down for you: you're protesting, and you're protesting badly. We get it, you don't like President Trump. Not a lot of people do. And you have a right to your opinion. But let's make something clear: that flag does not represent the Trump administration. It doesn't represent the Republican or Democratic parties. It doesn't represent anything but the values the country was founded on and the men and women who died to protect and/or advance those values. So go ahead and kneel in defiance of the man you despise. Just realize your spitting in the faces of countless people who died to protect the ground your knee touches.

But the flag is printed on everything, they say. How respectful is an American flag print tie, or cigarette case, or insert-random-object's-name-here? This form of protest is obviously respectful. I mean, they're kneeling, right? Wrong. It's not respectful. The flag on whatever commercial item you want doesn't promote patriotism or loyalty. Your gaming console is just that: a gaming console, and I don't care if it has the American flag on it or the flag of Seychelles. Making a statement during a solemn moment when you're supposed to rise with your fellow Americans in respect of the thing that symbolizes everything good you stand for? That's disrespect.

So, plainly, you're a disgrace. Anyone affiliated with you who supports any of your affiliated teams' actions is a disgrace. You make the national pastime a disgrace. You're all for reaping in cash you wouldn't be able to make anywhere else in the world, but you won't stand for the anthem of the country that permits you to make it?

Feel free to continue. Your refusal to stand is your freedom of speech, one of the rights that you have living in this fantastic country. I know a lot of people agree with you. That's their right. I know a lot of people are going to hate this article. But I'd like to remind them: I'm exercising my freedom of speech. That's my right. And I'm going to use it to defend the sacred symbol of this country that you care so little for. We've already agreed that your protest isn't working; we aren't talking about the issue that started all of this (because apparently a crass comment made by the President usurps any issue worthy of discussion). So here's my question for you: are you protesting, or are you just being defiant because your feelings are hurt?


Cover Image Credit: Euclid Public Library

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

I hear you over there, Bible Bob.
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It won't.

Wait, what?

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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Who Boko Haram Is, And Why YOU Should Care

The terrorist group you don't read about in the headlines.
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Who is Boko Haram?

Boko Haram is a terrorist group which has been steadily taking over the country of Nigeria for the past several years. It has killed more people than terrorist groups such as ISIS (from 2010 to 2016 Boko Haram killed 29,360 people compared to ISIS killing 18,070.)

As a radical terrorist group, Boko Haram categorizes itself as “Muslim” but follows ideals starkly different than any religious laws Islam prescribes. They disregard “Western ideals” such as women’s rights, education, and voting. They target civilians, especially women and children, and were responsible for the kidnapping of the 300 schoolgirls in 2014.

Why should you care?

If they are allowed to take control of the entire country, inflicting terror and destruction in the process, they might expand outside of Nigeria, and potentially take over other African countries. At the rate they are growing, there may be little hope for the nation’s future. Nigeria has been fighting Boko Haram since 2002 and has been unable to defeat them. Clearly, the Nigerian military needs significant help in order to achieve this goal.

In February, the United States sent a dozen troops to Nigeria to train soldiers, and in a recent phone call with the Nigerian President, President Trump promised to reopen negotiations on the sale of attack planes to Nigeria, which are valued at around $600 million. However, this sale has been criticized as an empty gesture by the US to put down criticism that the US hasn’t done enough to fight Boko Haram, by people like Matthew Page a former State Department expert on Nigeria.

It’s appalling and unbelievable that this situation has gone on for 16 years with no end in sight and no solution for the problems that Nigeria faces against Boko Haram. Few people know who Boko Haram is, or that they are taking over an entire country. The scale of the problem in Nigeria is not consistent to the degree of which it is reported on. Why?

The answer to this question is the lack of focus on issues that matter by the mainstream media. The media largely controls the world’s knowledge of pressing issues. They have the liberty of not publishing stories about nations being overthrown but publishing stories about the Kardashians instead.

The fact that the mainstream media has enough power to contribute to mass amounts of people not knowing about such an important topic in the world is distressing, because if the media has control over the news of Boko Haram not being spread, what else do they have control over and are we not aware of?

Two important questions we have to ask are, why is this issue not being covered to the degree that it should be, and what other global issues are not being solved because of the lack of knowledge people have on these topics?

There may not be a way to force the powerful nations of the world into doing more than enforcing economic sanctions in Nigeria and withholding weapons from them, but there is a way to control the knowledge of the people.

People fighter global issues they are most passionate every day: religious freedom, the rights of women, racism, the basic human rights of people across the world. What would happen if the number of people that knew about Boko Haram doubled, or trip? How many people would stand up and say something, do something, to change this problem? What would powerful leaders of the world see this change and this movement, not just surrounding Boko Haram but other global issues, and decide to use their power to fight for these causes?

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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