Why We Should Stand United In America

Why We Should Stand United In America

On the Women's March, its supporters and opponents, and a divided nation.
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Some may call it old news (and I wouldn’t blame them for it, what with the frequency of inflammatory developments we’ve seen lately) but I want to take a look at the Women’s March, specifically its opponents, if I’m even justified in calling them that.

The march, however relevant it remains, occurred weeks ago. So why am I returning to it?

I suppose it’s because, well, it makes me sad.

I don’t mean the march itself, no. It’s the people who found in it an opportunity to pick another battle, to call others ungrateful or untruthful, to draw another thoughtless line in the sand — this is the part that makes me sad.

Don’t misunderstand me; I hear you, all of you who weren’t in favor of the march. I hear your cries, your justified insistence that things right now are the best they’ve been in a long time.

I understand that, yes, we have so much to be grateful for here in the United States. We enjoy so many rights; rights that some people have to fight for, and even die for, in other parts of the world. Most of us are fortunate enough to believe, and not too foolishly, that we can do and become anything if we just work hard enough.

But — here’s the but — our nation is certainly not a utopia. Far from it.

There are still so many people who aren’t getting the entirety of what they were promised when they became citizens, people who day after day see our country fall horribly short of the standards we set in our Constitution, in our very name.

We may be better off than those in many places around the globe, but we cannot fall into the danger of measuring our progress against that of the opposite extreme. (Who wouldn’t call herself a good person after comparing herself to Hitler?)

Instead, our primary measure of progress has to be our own; we have to look at our history, more importantly our present, and most importantly our future.

That said, allow me to ask: Were you really an opponent of the Women’s March? Or did you merely feel the need to justify your absence?

If the latter is the case, I am sorry that some of your fellow citizens made you appear to be in the wrong for not marching. Because you really didn’t have to march if you didn’t see a need for it; it remains your choice, after all.

But you also didn’t have to belittle those who saw the need and acted upon it.

Our needs and the needs of others are not one and the same. It’s such a simple thing to state, but it’s one we often forget: we’re all different. That’s the tragedy and the beauty of it.

Finally, let me leave you with this: respect.

I know how easy it is to condemn the people we disagree with, to label them as enemies, to critique them privately as we watch from afar.

But I believe I’m speaking for all sides when I say that anger dispersed among a group of like-minded people does not always have the intended effect.

I say “sides” only because I must. Such a concept should feel archaic to a modern, united nation. And yet it seems we can’t get through a single serious conversation today without picking one or the other.

There are, you see, enough sides carved into these United States already. There are too many of us with word-filled weapons at the ready, and too little of us with open arms.

All I am asking is for us to unite.

Let’s unite. Let’s unite.

After all we've done, let’s just unite.

Cover Image Credit: Omaha World-Herald

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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?

SEE ALSO: To My Closeted Self, I Have Something To Tell You

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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We Need To Call the Waffle House Shooting What It Is: White Terrorism

Ignoring the racial and political aspects of recent shootings only treats the symptoms, not the root cause.
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In my Environmental Ethics class, we talked about the idea of a "non-place" - industrialization leading to places that are the same no matter where you go, where you know what to expect each time. You walk in and each is a carbon copy of the last.

The core idea behind making each identical is that no matter where you are, you know what you can expect. Its familiarity is its comfort – you are home, even if it's somewhere you've never been.

But the effect only stands part of the time: as we've seen recently, many public places have been the setting for mass murder.

One of the most recent shootings covered to varying degrees in the news took place at a Waffle House in Nashville. While the shooting has been covered in basic terms, objective reporting removes an integral degree of what this violence means for its victims.

Everyone involved in the Waffle House shooting was in their 20s. Everyone shot was a person of color.

The shooter had a history of supporting Trump and his ideologies, in addition to a record of both racist views and run-ins with the government.

The AR-15 that was used in the shooting was previously taken from him in one of the run-ins, though the government returned the rifle to his father with the promise that he would keep the gun from his son. He gave the gun back to his son sometime between the run-in and the shooting.

The Waffle House shooting exemplifies white privilege and white terrorism in how the shooter has been treated and how people of color, especially black people, are targeted both by civilians and by enforcement.

The shooter's bond, which was later revoked, was widely publicized in contrast with the release of rapper Meek Mill two days later, who was not given bond when he was originally arrested last year for a much lesser charge than murder.

Multiple acts of white terrorism, including the Charleston church shooting, the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and the Waffle House shooting, were curtailed with the perpetrator arrested and unharmed.

Cops can nonviolently restrain, but only do so when the arrestee is white.

If the person is black, they will be targeted for living. They will be targeted for golfing too slowly. They will be targeted for giving change to the poor. They will be targeted for standing in their own backyard.

Racism and police brutality go long before the past few years, but the increase is unignorably tied to the current administration.

One of the Waffle House shooter's previous government run-ins was because he wanted to meet Trump.

Multiple other recent terrorists, including the Stoneman Douglas shooter, expressed wide support for Trump and his beliefs. The president himself said he could shoot someone and get away with it.

Taurean Sanderlin, Joe Perez, DeEbony Groves and Akilah DaSilva have their names remembered with love because they victims of this tragedy.

The two injured - Shanita Waggonerand Sharita Henderson - are remembered because they survived.

James Shaw Jr., who wrestled the gun away from the shooter, is remembered as a hero, even as he was humble in the aftermath: saying in an interview, “He was going to have to work to kill me.

He is remembered as a hero because he kept more from dying, but in another situation, another non-place, he could've been the men who were arrested in Starbucks.

It doesn't even have to be a non-place.

He could be any number of names from any number of places that have been carved into remembrance for fear of forgetting what #BlackLivesMatter stands for.

Multiple articles following the Waffle House shooting have said that the main detail unknown about the event is the shooter's motives. I don't think that's something we'll ever explicitly find out, but it doesn't take a detective to see the trail.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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