Home Of The Free And The Brave?

Home Of The Free And The Brave?

This outright exclusion of a rather largely growing population in the United States is not what America stands for
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Early Wednesday morning President Trump tweeted transgender people "cannot serve in any capacity in the US military," arguing it will disrupt military ranks and add medical expenses that could pose a threat to military victory.

Perhaps it may be my outspoken millennial opinion fueling my complete disagreement with this proposed action by President Trump, or perhaps it is that America prides itself on being the home of the free and the brave and this is most certainly not in accordance with our country's core values. Regardless of the origin of my opposing opinion, the outright exclusion of a rather largely growing population in the United States from their right to serve their country is not what America stands for.

When we sing our national anthem, we feel an overwhelming sense of pride when we sing the words "for the land of the free and the home of the brave." But this proposed action of preventing transgender individuals from serving in the military is a slap in the face to the LGBTQ community. The "free" and the "brave" are a complete representation of transgender individuals who feel empowered enough to go through their chosen transition and furthermore, have the desire to fight for their country.

If expenses are truly a concern when people are transitioning while active duty, then create a law in which an individual must have completed their transition prior to enlisting. I can understand the thought of disruption due to cost, but then create a policy to prevent that problem, but do not exclude a vital population of US citizens from actively participating in being a part of their country. We should feel honored that they feel compelled to serve for the country that allowed them their freedom to be themselves!

These phenomenal, free and brave individuals are human beings that are no different from you or me. They are just as much of a deserving, loved and important part of this country and we have no right to make them feel otherwise. Exclusion is never the answer & in America, we don't exclude, we take pride in diversity. The military's primary function is to protect our country, but it is also a representation of the citizens this country is built off of. So, allow America to be represented by every diverse and amazing citizen of this country and allow us to be an example of what inclusion and acceptance really looks like.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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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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Everybody Has Room To Grow In Being Loving And Kind

Is anyone wholly kind? Is anyone wholly loving?
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Everybody loves kindness. Everybody loves love.

But is anyone wholly kind? Is anyone wholly loving?

A deficit I see (and experience myself, seeing that I am an imperfect human) very prominently in our world, as I know it, is of a gaping lack of authentic, non-transactional kindness and love.

I’d like to preface this by once again highlighting that I do not consider myself outside of this deficit. My love and kindness are impoverished, surely not what love and kindness could truly be. I feel that I can speak on this because I am part of it.

Do we fight for social justice? Do we advocate for human rights? Do we believe in universal human dignity and the protection of it?

Do we also treat each human being we encounter with the same ferocious, passionate care we claim for humanity?

Do we insult people behind their backs? Do we fail to be intentional and genuine with everyone? Do we fail to make certain people feel cared for by our disengaged, disenchanted demeanor?

The answer, by the way, is yes. If you’re human, yes. Our love and kindness are not what they proclaim to be. My love and kindness are not what they proclaim to be.

I can admit this without shame because I know my worth. I know that my flaws and weaknesses have no effect on my value as a human being. And yet, I also know it’s important to admit these truths, and to acknowledge what they mean.

There is no such thing as loving “enough.” There is no such thing as being kind “enough.” The world is shattered. We are a broken, imperfect people. There will never be a day where we will be able to claim that we were perfectly kind, or that we loved perfectly.

What shall we say then? Shall we go on hopelessly, or apathetically, since imperfection is inevitable? By no means!

Acknowledging that our love and kindness needs growth creates room for that growth. It’s not self-deprecating to accept imperfection. Imperfection is a fact— but it shouldn’t lead to shame. Shame is a lie. Shame would claim that we need to be perfect to be priceless. Shame is dehumanizing and devaluing. We were not created to feel shame.

But we were indeed created to grow.

Love needs us to be open to growing in it. Love needs space to expand into. Love requires true intentionality. Love requires genuine relationship.

Love requires our acknowledgment that we can work on it.

How are we going to go about doing that? I might try setting my pride aside, so that I never treat anyone in my heart as if they’re a means to an end, or consider someone unworthy of my care. I might try to look people in the eye a little more. I might try being less quick to jump to annoyance or frustration. I might attempt to put away a bit of my judgment.

I might hold my tongue if my thoughts are about to release something dark and negative into the Universe. I might say sorry when I hurt someone, even if I think I’m right, because their perspective matters. I might listen to others’ thoughts and feelings, even if they differ from my own experience. I might have more intentional conversations.

I might be honest, even when it hurts. I might take a deep breath and work through an argument thoughtfully, instead of remaining closed minded. I might take a little more time to make sure others feel cared for.

I might allow room for myself to grow in love, something humanity can never get enough of.

How are you going to grow in your love?

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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