A Letter To My Sister

A Letter To My Sister

Just in case you needed to know how awesome you are.
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Dear Sydney,

When I was growing up, you were always the one that my parents wanted me to be like. I know that each person is their own individual self, but it was awesome to know that I had someone in my family that I could emulate.

Ever since I was a kid, you have been there for me when I was facing some pretty tough choices, and you took time out of your day to talk to me when I really needed it. While you lived 442.9 miles away from me, you still cared about me, and it meant and still means the world. No amount of distance could ever alleviate the extent of your impact on my life.

I don't like to have favorites, but let's just say that I tend to put an emphasis on THAT side of the family. I do not particularly enjoy talking to my mom's side of the family all that much. I love them in the sense that they are family, but our bonds don't really go beyond the surface. With you, though, it is a deeper, more comedically inappropro bond.

As I write this, it's actually kind of hard, as it is hard to put into words on how you have impacted me. While we may not share the same parents, we share the same DNA somewhere. (I think? I mean, we were both granddaughters of a doctor, so we should know this, right?)

I am grateful that you are the other blue dot in a red state. You get it. You were there for me the day after the election when I was crying, and you did not just listen, you actually understood it. Why? Because you were feeling it too. It has been comforting to have someone who is related to me that gets what being a Democrat is. It is the so called "little things" that make your impact on me that much stronger.

Just as you have changed throughout the years that we have known each other, I have, too! I mean, we both made the transition out of the awkward years, but one of the few things that has remained constant is your presence.Oh, and can't forget the I was grateful for it then, but I am even more grateful for it now as I tackle adulthood. You were the one who inspired me to get into photography, and supported my books. It means so much that you have seen me change into the strong woman I am today.

We both have a lot to be proud of, ya know that? I mean, you are kicking some serious buttocks at the school of law, and I am going to kick some buttocks in undergrad. I mean, you got to meet Nancy freakin' Pelosi, and only buttocks kickers get to do that. You have encouraged, not discouraged me to follow my personal goals both in and out of the college classroom. While my other side of the family looks at me with sarcastic "ohhhs," you and that side in general has told me to go for it. Or if we are in Louisiana, to geaux for it.

I think that the way you turned out is not only a testament to you, but to Uncle Jim and Aunt Tammy, too. I mean, I tend to think that they are pretty cool, and while I know you don't see eye to eye sometimes, they are pretty awesome. I am also heavily biased as Uncle Jim is my godfather, and getting to compare him to Marlon Brando is SO COOL.

While you may not be my biological sister, you are the closest thing that I will ever get. I am so glad that you get to fill that role. You really are the "cool older sister." I cannot wait to see you again! I miss you so much, but I just thought that I would tell you how cool you are. I would say that you are the Barack to my Joe, but you are more like the Tina Fey to my Amy Poehler. After all these years, you have still managed to be someone I can go to, but at the same time, can make inappropriate jokes with. I promise, though, that in my Inaugural Address, I will make sure to mention how you Barack my world.

I love you!

Emily

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam

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Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

Cover Image Credit:

https://unsplash.com/photos/JFirQekVo3U

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To The Girl Who Felt Excluded In The International Order Of The Rainbow For Girls

Exclusion is never a word I would use to describe my experience in Rainbow.

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As I write this, I am preparing to attend my 3rd Ohio Grand Assembly for The International Order of the Rainbow for Girls. (And as it posts, I will have just gotten home.) It will be my first time attending as a Grand Officer and I can't be more excited. I recently read an Odyssey article called "Girls In The International Order Of The Rainbow For Girls Have Only One Color: Exclusion." While I understand her point of view, I think there are some things that need to be said.

You basically said you had good and bad times, and that the people are what made the experience great. Sadly, once they left you felt the experience was less than ideal. Thank you for recognizing that Rainbow has great ideals and goals, but I personally think your article is misleading.

I'm in Fremont Assembly #128 in Fremont, Ohio. I am currently 18 years old and joined Rainbow in 2016. In other words, I am only able to be in Rainbow for a little over 4 years. Which, frankly, stinks, but I will still cherish the short amount of time I have.

I, too, have trouble making friends. I might be intimidating at times due to my demeanor. But once people talk to me, they realize that I'm not so bad. As you, my time in Rainbow hasn't exactly been fostered by having super, super close friends, but I really don't think that matters.

What matters is the love I see. The love I constantly observe between girls. The love I see directed at me. That love is something that doesn't need to include a constant connection to my sisters. I know that if I chose to approach one of them, I would be greeted with nothing but love.

That was incredibly apparent to me since day one in Rainbow. The day I was initiated into this organization I was terrified. Yes, I was 16 and yes, it really shouldn't have scared me so much but I'm not great at new things. I'm not great at doing things without a set plan. For initiation, there is a set plan but because I was not yet in Rainbow, I wasn't allowed to know it.

Still, throughout the entire process, I constantly felt welcomed by these girls. All of them had smiles on their faces and nothing but kind words to say. I didn't feel like they looked down on me due to my lack of experience. I felt like I was being supported by these girls that I didn't even know.

That first year and some of my second year, I participated in many different Rainbow events, but mostly from the audience. Still, despite how untalkative I was and how little experience I had with the group, I was always welcomed in with loving arms.

And what is Rainbow without our Mother Advisors, Deputies, and other supporters? Nothing. All of these women have made it a point to get to know me and to welcome me wholeheartedly.

So, fellow Rainbow sister, I want you to know that I see where you're coming from, but let's be clear.

Your experience is the exception, not the rule.

You and I are similar in our shy demeanors, but I am still able to see the best of my time in Rainbow.

Maybe I stay in the background and it's very possible that I will have none of my Rainbow sisters (except my biological sister) in my wedding party. Still, I will not blame the group that has given so many amazing experiences to me. I will support this group because I want other girls, just like you and me, to find their place. I don't want them to be discouraged by a few subpar experiences. I see what Rainbow is to some people and I want to give that experience to as many girls as possible.

I am a Rainbow girl, through and through.

And Rainbow, you'll always be mine.

Cover Image Credit:

Martha Laughlin / Facebook

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