I'm Not a Bad Person

I'm Not a Bad Person

Thoughts and reflections after a destabilizing election result.
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I'm not a bad person.

I'm driven to tell myself this so I can keep some modicum of stability in my life right now. Like everyone else, I'm reeling from the election results. Perhaps more than anything, I'm stupefied by just how badly those battleground states went. Ohio? Iowa? Pennsylvania? Michigan? I would add Wisconsin as well, but let me put it this way: I have lived in both sides of Wisconsin (the rural part and the city part, with the city being the Milwaukee area). That almost every area that wasn't Madison or Milwaukee voted for Trump doesn't come as a surprise to me, really.

If anyone had checked my Facebook in the last several months, they would know that I was on a MASSIVE anti-Hillary Clinton bent. And for that, when the results came in, I received backlash/snark from a few friends/family members. Did I want Trump to win? Overall, no, though an anarchic/pragmatic part of me understood that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be worse for a reason I'll get into later. I'm under no pretense of just how awful his policies and rhetoric are, and the revelations starting last month (which is still too horrifying to put into text) should've disqualified him right there. And given the kind of flooding I did, I'm sure people will pounce on me for the lack of anti-Trump stories on my feed. But my primal scream against Hillary Clinton was in reaction to the kind of future I could see before me. Perhaps unfortunately, I like to take a long view when it comes to politics, and given what we know about how elections and politics work in the Obama era, if Trump as president is a true horror for anyone who considers themselves part of the left at the forefront, a Hillary Clinton presidency would've been a more slow-motion, more terrifying train wreck.

Let me put it this way. Above anything, the one truth that endlessly fired me up, and why I hated how the Democrats ran this race, is the reality of the midterms. The 2010 and 2014 midterm elections were mind-boggingly lopsided victories for the Republicans, and not just in Congress. One statistic that gets shared now and again is that by after the 2014 midterms, the Democrats lost over 900 state legislature seats. After what happened on Tuesday, not only do Republicans control almost 70 state chambers, they now control 33 governor seats, thanks to Vermont, New Hampshire and Missouri switching (North Carolina at this point is flipping to the Democrats). I don't put this lightly: the Republicans have a laughably huge dominance at the the state level compared to the Democrats. Add control of the House and the Senate with a Trump presidency, and this might make The Hunger Games look like the Garden of Eden. Now, I add this (now irrelevant) scenario: Clinton wins, 2018 comes, and it's open season on the Democrats because all the Republicans would've had to do is paint Clinton's name, face, and voice on everything in range, and they would descend upon the Democrats like locusts, vacuuming up Senate seats the Democrats can't afford to lose, and whatever House and state legislature seats are left that aren't impenetrably blue. Worst of all, imagine if Clinton ended up losing to a President Paul Ryan, or a Trump 2.0. In 2020. A Census year. Yes Democrats, that could've happened, and we truly would've entered a new dystopia. Didn't talk about it or think about it? That myopia is your own fault, and that's what I was largely fighting against.

Of course, there are caveats that I'm sure Clinton supporters would love to shove down my throat again, particularly how she was treated so differently, especially compared to Trump. That is pretty undeniable. Were the emails overblown? Depends on how you see it (given the history of Clinton scandals, the email server was a truly stunning case of hubris, and a permanent facepalm kind of scandal to boot). Was the FBI wrong in breaking long-standing norms? The full answer is complicated, but at the same time, this is the FBI we're talking about; somehow, fair and honorable aren't words I'd associate with them. Were Clinton and Trump treated differently by members of the media? If Matt Lauer was anything to go by, yes. Was she flooded by sexism and misogyny? Absolutely; I probably don't need to explain in great detail any examples, since they're so easy to find on the Internet. There's also what Van Jones had said. The list is very long, to say the least.

But you know what? I cared about the Democrats. A LOT. And the fact that of literally everyone they could've chosen, so many people went lock, stock and barrel with the one person who was the most tone-deaf choice in a year raging with anti-establishment sentiments and cries for change (and I'm not the only one who feels this), they have no one to blame but themselves, though there have been other voices who had differing views concerning Bernie Sanders. It's not that there were choices that would've blitzed through the election without any effort. If it wasn't for the 22nd Amendment, and President Obama could be able to run for a third term (though he has clearly stated about not doing so), I would've been on his side without any hesitation, even with his range of flaws. Also, every Bernie Sanders supporter has to be positively seething at not only the election results, but at something that's being discussed vigorously: the chances of Sanders winning. In fact, in my view, had Bernie secured the nomination in a fair primary (what we got, instead, is exceedingly hard to defend that it was fair), by the end of the DNC, he would've been measuring the drapes. Red-baiting fears aside (though things like this are weird), he was a movement candidate; just look at how many young people he won over. Whatever troubles would've laid ahead, the base he has (and would've had) would've weathered the worst of storms. The same goes for Elizabeth Warren; despite this kind of polling, remember that there was a movement launched called Ready for Warren in anticipation of her (ultimately not) running for President. Had she run, she probably would've been measuring the drapes as well by the end of the DNC. Would've she have faced misogyny? I don't doubt it. Nor do I doubt that any misogyny that Warren would've faced would be child's play compared to what Clinton faced, and that any backlash to Warren would be outshone by the kind of movement Warren would've engendered. Any flaws that Warren or Bernie have, I believe they could reasonably be moved to change positions on for the better (which Sanders showed he was capable of doing to a degree). And remember, any of those three would've been up against DONALD TRUMP, and I shouldn't need to remind you how unpopular he is.

These are my perspectives. You can hate me for them, and you can hate me for the fact that I voted for a third-party candidate in Iowa, even though Trump's blowout in Iowa was much bigger than I had ever anticipated.

I'm not a bad person.

Now, here we are. And despite whatever anger you have at me for what I did, I'm prepared to fight for a future that's worth me fighting for. It shouldn't have had to become fighting against Donald Trump, but here's a truth that needs to be reckoned with: Many of the fights that will define the future would be there, regardless. Now more than ever, with supremely racist acts being committed in the U.S., we must not only continue proving that Black Lives Matter, but fight against all forms of racism. And, newsflash: this includes being anti-war, and targeting every institution that perpetuates the suffering and oppression of people of color everywhere. The Electoral College must be destroyed once and for all, and be replaced by a system that more truly reflects democracy and the 21st Century, be it popular vote or a system that I find more preferable (and complacent Democrats: welcome to the party). The Dakota Access Pipeline must continue being resisted until it's abandoned (and by the way, Clinton supporters, your candidate's statement on the matter was pretty much unforgivable). LGBT rights must continue to be secured and advanced (Democrats, who dropped the ball appallingly on this matter after the Orlando shooting, can join us if they definitely prove that they're sincere about this). Income inequality must be torn down and replaced with a better economic system (and it might involve this). Perhaps most importantly, global warming/climate change must be ended, and that means keeping in the ground fossil fuels (at least most of them). And to drive the point home further this is something that SCIENTISTS have said.

I'm doing what I can to heal myself. For the first time in a long while, I made a sincere effort to find prayers to provide comfort, and I have found some from the Unitarian Universalist Association website. I continue to listen to music that feeds my soul in different ways. I continue talking with friends who love me and are there for me (as for my family, my sister reached out to me on Facebook on Thursday and we made up). I will continue living my life, doing things that I love, working, and hoping. This isn't the end; coming from someone who has struggled with his emotions and autism, and to keep his outlook positive in the past, this is huge. I need time to heal. We all need time to heal. Then, we fight, and never give up.

I'm not a bad person.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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A Little Skepticism Goes A Long Way

Be informed citizens and verify what you see and hear.

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rahma
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These days more than ever before we are being bombarded constantly by a lot of news and information, a considerable amount of which is inaccurate. Sometimes there's an agenda behind it to mislead people and other times its just rumors or distortion of the facts. So, how do you sift through all this and get accurate information? How can you avoid being misled or brainwashed?

This is an important topic because the decisions each of us make can affect others. And if you are a responsible citizen your decisions can affect large numbers of people, hopefully positively, but negatively as well.

It's been said that common sense is not something that can be taught, but I am going to disagree. I think with the right training, teaching the fundamentals behind common sense can get people to have a better sense of what it is and start practicing it. All you will need is to improve your general knowledge and gain some experience, college is a good place for that, then add a little skepticism and you are on your way to start making sensible decisions.

One of the fundamental things to remember is not to believe a statement at face value, you must first verify. Even if you believe it's from a trusted source, they may have gotten their info from a questionable one. There's a saying that journalists like to use: "if your mother said, 'I love you' you should verify it.'" While this is taking it a bit too far, you get the idea.

If you feel that something is not adding up, or doesn't make sense then you are probably right. This is all the more reason to check something out further. In the past, if someone showed a picture or video of something that was sufficient proof. But nowadays with so many videos and picture editing software, it would have to go through more verification to prove its authenticity. That's not the case with everything but that's something that often needs to be done.

One way of checking if something sounds fishy is to look at all the parties involved and what do they have to gain and lose. This sometimes is easier to use when you're dealing with a politics-related issue, but it can work for other things where more than one person/group is involved. For example, most people and countries as well will not do something that is self-destructive, so if one party is accusing the other of doing something self-destructive or disadvantageous then it's likely that there is something inaccurate about the account. Perhaps the accusing party is setting the other one up or trying to gain some praise they don't deserve.

A lot of times all it takes is a little skepticism and some digging to get to the truth. So please don't be that one which retweets rumors or helps spread misinformation. Verify before you report it.

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