Goodbye 2017, You Will Not Be Missed

Goodbye 2017, You Will Not Be Missed

Here's to you, and your sweet, sweet ending.
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There is a special something in the air this time of year, though perhaps there is something more than the smell of pine tree candles and sugar cookies that lingers in 2017. This year, the year 2017, has been particularly and unfortunately eventful. Tensions in our country rise and rise, and people become worse and worse, and I am left feeling eager, even anxious, for the end of this year. Perhaps I am excited for what good things have the potential to arise, though it is more likely that I am excited about the symbolic turning-of-the-page, for the starting fresh that comes from ringing in the New Year.

There’s been an accumulation of horrors that I think have marked the end of this year: the allegations against nearly every man in Hollywood; the president continuing to be the president (though, with considerably greater consequences I think than before); and a series of attacks taken on men, women, and children, both overseas and domestically. 2017 has taken rights away and given them back, has taken opportunities away and not given them back, and has sold off a lot of taking aways as “giving backs” (that’s a euphemism; I’m talking about the tax bill). A year loaded with fake news and all-too-real news, 2017 has marked, in my opinion, some of the first real consequences of the tech boom and information age that we’ve seen since the internet was born. Suddenly we’re all interconnected, and we’re all sharing and participating in the culmination of political and gendered warfare- and it’s terrifying.

Yesterday, somewhat delayed in comparison to the rest of the world, I apparently saw the video of the young man whose mother videotaped him after he was picked up from school for bullying. That same day, I saw various celebrities reach out a helping hand to the young boy, just eleven, still in grade school, offering him a brighter outlook on life. Also that same day, I saw actual attacks taken on that boy for his mother’s political views, and for a series of fake allegations against the young boy, just eleven, for his own political views. Attacks taken by liberal individuals, preach love and peace, while also attacking a young man for his mother’s own political views.

Was this, is this, 2017? Is it a political dichotomy formed so deep and so developed that it culminates in a young, bullied child being attacked online for his mother’s political injustices? Or is it our president, claiming allegations of sexual assault against him were made by people he didn’t even know, despite having been pictured with these women? Is it political dichotomy and jingoism so obnoxious that it refuses human, individual rights? Is this 2017?

I am excited to see the end of 2017. I’m almost shocked I am going to live to see it. I am hoping that maybe things won’t be so bad, though they most certainly won’t. I am hoping that Donald Trump will stop being Donald Trump, though he most certainly won’t.

I do not understand how to incite change; how to instill empathy in a world that is slowly but surely losing it. I don’t know who to blame for that, be it social media that is slowly desensitizing us to tragedy or a dwindling education in liberal arts. I see my siblings, who are much younger than me and do not understand that the country, the world they are growing up in, is slowly but surely dividing into two halves, both full of hate and anger. I do not think they will understand why I hate politically charged enamel pins, which I personally think incite nothing but uneducated banter between someone who decided to buy a pin to tell the world they think their cause is important, and someone who decided to pick a fight with someone wearing an enamel pin.

I do not think they will understand how 2017 has hurt so many, and how much hate it has perpetuated in people like myself, who try to use that word sparingly, though appropriately. In some ways, I do not think I quite understand what happened in 2017, but I am sure glad it’s almost over.

Cover Image Credit: tigerlily713 / Pixabay

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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There's More To Political Change Than Just Voting

We've got a long way to go, and casting your vote on Election Day is just one stop on the way.

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I told myself that I would write on something else this week. Perhaps on a more lighthearted topic, I thought, but my heart is telling me otherwise.

We celebrated a small victory with the guilty verdict of Jason Van Dyke in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. Hours later, we suffered a great loss with the confirmed nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court Justice.

I have to say, I was surprised and delighted by the guilty verdict of Van Dyke. It gave me hope that perhaps this one black man out of so many that get slaughtered daily, did not die in vain. I was not surprised by the Kavanaugh decision.

Despite its unpredictability, it still made my stomach churn.

It made me wonder how long we will continue taking one step forward and ten steps back as a country. It made me overwhelmed, thinking of how much we have yet to fix in this country. It made me sad, knowing I am only one voice that feels so small against the many greedy, sexist, and racist pigs that run our country.

One thing to remember, however, is that although one voice may be small, 125.9 million female voices are not. 37.1 million black voices are not. 52 million Hispanic and Latino voices are not. 313.9 LGBT voices are not.

So, why are we letting such a small number of prejudiced and privileged voices make the decisions for us?

They let us believe that we have no voice. They have tried to make us believe that they have silenced Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, as they have countless other women, women of color, men of color, and LGBT folks. But they haven't.

Being a woman in America right now, as it has been for centuries, is scary. More than that, being a person of color or LGBT is and has been terrifying, more notably recently. We think we have moved forward, but something always seems to slap us right in the face with the reality that we may have moved forward, but we have a long, long journey awaiting us.

How do we shorten that journey? How do we make it more bearable?

The easiest option is, of course, to vote. I'm sure your newsfeeds have been flooded with articles and posts begging you to register, and to get out there and vote.

If only it were that easy.

More than voting, the most important thing you can do with your voice is using it for those who can't. Volunteer at shelters. Advocate for issues that matter to you. Call your local and state representatives. Campaign. Read up on different candidates, and find ways to best support them in the upcoming election. And most important of all – educate yourself. Fact check. Don't believe everything you read on the Internet – especially when reading opinionated pieces, like this one.

Your vote matters. But more than that, you matter. Your power as a United States citizen is vastly understated. It's time that we understand just how powerful we can be when we choose to take action.

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