The Well Known Cycle Of "Thoughts And Prayers" Is Coming To An End

The Well Known Cycle Of "Thoughts And Prayers" Is Coming To An End

People are no longer staying silent after seeing more lives end.
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Welcome to 2018, where history continues to repeat itself like a student trying to reach the word count.

Tragedies occur everywhere on any given day, but a significant amount of horrific events have recently taken place in the United States. On Valentine’s day, as a result of a heinous act of violence, 17 lives were lost in the matter of minutes.

Since the tragedy, survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been extremely active in their quest to try to save the lives that have not yet been taken. The Twitter hashtag, #NeverAgain has been trending for weeks. One hundred students travelled to Tallahassee just days after the shooting to march on the state capitol and to demand reform.

News coverage of the marches has been extensive. Every media outlet has highlighted the movement and disputes about gun control have stirred on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Thousands of students around the state of Florida, and the country as a whole, have participated in walkouts to show their support. I opened the Snapchat map on February 21st and saw an overwhelming amount of local stories that read, “School walkout” or “Gun Control Rally.”

I am in awe of students like Emma Gonzalez, who are standing their ground and organizing these marches after such a traumatic experience. Instead of sitting back and letting things remain static, they have stood up and been a voice for so many. They’ve spread their message far and wide in hopes that laws will change. These kids have acted more grown up than the adults around them. They know that their future is not safe unless something is done to ensure that.

There have been 25 school shootings since the Columbine shooting in 1999. Lives have been taken in each one, yet nothing has been done to stop the number of casualties from growing.

After each shooting, there has been a cycle. First, people are in shock, then they send prayers and condolences, later on they get angry that nothing has been done about the violence, and then they forget about the whole thing until more lives are ended. Not this time. The students of Stoneman Douglas strive to break this cycle; a cycle that should have never even started to spin.

News of shots fired at Dalton High School in Georgia came out on February 28, the same day that students returned to Stoneman Douglas High School. Students at Dalton, terrified after hearing the gunshots, evacuated the school and were taken to safety while an investigation took place. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the shots ended up coming from a teacher who barricaded himself in his classroom and began to shoot. He locked his room, showing that he had no intention of harming others.

Twitter has made this news a huge controversy. Some users have said that the teacher could have done it purposely, to show that teachers should not be armed, something that President Trump has proposed as a solution for gun violence in schools. Others think that the teacher is suffering from some sort of mental illness, and shot things for inexplicable reasons.

Whichever way people look at the situation, I think they will have an easier time recognizing that teachers should not be armed. Giving teachers guns may lead to the creation of even more problems. I think that either scenario is plausible, because I find it interesting how the teacher decided to open fire on this day specifically, but coincidences can and do happen.

The case is still under investigation but until then, the country will be left asking the same question it’s been asking for years, what is the truth?

Cover Image Credit: alligator

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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