I'm Not Ready To Laugh With Sean Spicer

I'm Not Ready To Laugh With Sean Spicer

I'm just not ready to make people's suffering a punchline.
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Sean Spicer, the angry muppet whose previous job was Press Secretary to the Donald Trump administration, appeared at the Emmys on Sunday. Spicer nodded towards Melissa McCarthy's portrayal of him on SNL by rolling up to the stage with the White House podium, and there were scattered laughs throughout the crowd.

But I'm not ready to laugh with Sean Spicer. I don't even think I'm ready to laugh AT him, which is what those who coordinated the Emmys are claiming was their intent.

By making jokes about how the crowd was the "largest audience to view the Emmys ever, period -- both in person and around the world," Spicer is admitting to the fact that he knew the Trump administration was having him feed the press lies, and he went forth and did so with pride. He continued to do so with pride, anger, and aggression until he was asked to step down.

"Who cares?" people will say. "It's funny that he's turning his back on the administration that is trying to ruin the lives of those who aren't rich white men!"

No, it's really not. The taxpayers paid for Spicer's salary, paid for him to feed the press lies and stretched truths, and the dreaded "fake news." Taxpayers -- ahem, hard-working Americans whose rights are slowly being stripped from them by the Trump administration Spicer so proudly defended -- paid his salary as he attempted to shut media out and prevent them from doing their job.

His appearance on the Emmys was validating himself -- what he did wasn't wrong, he was invited to appear on a major awards show and celebrities laughed at his jokes! So obviously he didn't do anything wrong! In this country, the court of public opinion is what matters, and Spicer was able to rebrand himself as a "critic" of the Trump administration in three short minutes.

Except it isn't funny, it isn't acceptable, and it isn't good enough to make a joke of an administration you defended. This administration continues to lie, stretch truths and be "shady" without you, Spicer, and don't think that that excuses your behavior.

I'm not ready to laugh with Sean Spicer. I'm not ready to let go of my anger, my disappointment, my horror, or the deep hole in my chest that the Trump administration has caused. I'm not ready to forgive him for associating with that crew, for agreeing with those decisions, for blindly following his leader instead of questioning him. I'm not ready to pretend that these past nine months haven't broken my heart time and time again. I'm just not ready to make people's suffering a punchline.

I'm not ready to laugh with Sean Spicer, and maybe I never will be.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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I'm A Christian And I Have A Tattoo

Stop judging me for it.
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Like most people, I turned 18 years old during the course of my senior year of high school.

I'll never forget the months prior to my birthday, though, because I spent hours making a decision that would be with me forever, the decision of where I would go to get my first tattoo and where that tattoo would go, and of course I spent a lot of time deciding on the font, the colors, and all of the other aspects of the tattoo I wanted.

Throughout this time, two things stood firm 1) the fact that I was going to get a tattoo, and 2) the six letter name that it would consist of.

Now, three years later, I'm 21 years old and I still get the occasional dirty look at church on Sunday or in line at Walmart, and more often than not this look is accompanied by the following words: “Why would you do that to your body when God says not to?"

A few weeks ago at a new church, a woman came up to me and said, “How can you consider yourself a Christian when you have that blasphemous thing on your foot?", I simply smiled at her and said: “God bless you, have a good week." I let it roll off of my back, I've spent the past three years letting it “roll off of my back"… but I think it's time that I speak up.

When I was 8 years old, I lost my sister.

She passed away, after suffering from Childhood Cancer for a great deal of my childhood. Growing up, she had always been my best friend, and going through life after she passed was hard because I felt like even though I knew she was with me, I didn't have something to visually tribute to her – a way to memorialize her.

I, being a Christian and believing in Heaven, wanted to show my sister who was looking down on me that even though she was gone – she could still walk with me every day. I wanted it for me, for her. I wanted to have that connection, for her to always be a part of who I am on the outside – just as much as she is a part of who I am on the inside.

After getting my tattoo, I faced a lot of negativity. I would have Leviticus 19:28 thrown in my face more times than I cared to mention. I would be frowned on by various friends, and even some family. I was told a few times that markings on my body would send me to hell – that was my personal favorite.

You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks on you: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:28

The more I heard these things, the more I wanted to scream. I didn't though. I didn't let the harsh things said about me and my choice change the love I have for the Lord, for my sister, or for the new precious memento on my left foot. I began to study my Bible more, and when I came to the verse that had been thrown in my face many times before – I came to a realization.

Reading the verses surrounding verse 28, I realized that God was speaking to the covenant people of Israel. He was warning them to stay away from the religious ways of the people surrounding them. Verse 28 wasn't directed to what we, in today's society, see as tattoos – it was meant in the context of the cultic practice of marking one's self in the realm of cultic worship.

26 "You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27 You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28 'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD. 29 'Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot, so that the land will not fall to harlotry and the land become full of lewdness. 30 'You shall keep My sabbaths and revere My sanctuary; I am the LORD. 31 'Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."
Leviticus 19:26–31

The more I have studied my Bible over the past few years, the more I pity those who rely on one verse in the Old Testament to judge and degrade those, like myself, who made the decision to get a tattoo for whatever reason they may have for doing so.

This is because, you see, in the New Testament it is said that believers are not bound by the laws of the Old Testament – if we were, there would be no shellfish or pork on the menus of various Christian homes. While some see tattoos as a modification of God's creation, it could also be argued that pierced ears, haircuts, braces, or even fixing a cleft lip are no different.

24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."
Galatians 3:24-25

In Galatians, we read that the Old Testament law was created to lead people to Jesus. However, we know that Jesus has come and died on the cross for our sins. He has saved us, therefore we are no longer held to this law in order to have a relationship with the Lord. Our relationship with Him comes from believing that Jesus came to Earth to die on a cross for our sins, and repenting of our sins – accepting Jesus as our Savior.

I am a Christian, I have a relationship with the Lord that is stronger than it has ever been, and - I HAVE A TATTOO.

I have a beautiful memento on my left foot that reminds me that my sister walks with me through every day of my life. She walked with me down the red carpet at my senior prom, she walked with me across the stage the day I graduated from high school, and she continues to be with me throughout every important moment of my life.

My tattoo is beautiful. My tattoo reminds me that I am never alone. My tattoo is perfect.

Stop judging me for it.

Cover Image Credit: Courtney Johnson

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Poverty in the Past: Still Poverty in the Present?

Every child should have the opportunity to have food on their table, a roof over their head, and an education.
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It has been evidenced in the past that presidents such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson have all attempted to help Americans living in poverty better themselves and get back on their feet; however, today there still has not been much emphasis in our American government that any of this is happening with any consistency. Part of having a welfare state is making sure that most Americans are not only surviving, but also making sure that they have food on the table, a roof over their head, and hopefully, a job, but the American government is not doing its part to ensure that these necessities are being met. It has been seen in the past that various deals and movements have been organized to help these people, however, just how much of an impact do they make? Although through the New Deal and The Great Society played a role in lowering the poverty rate, the government should do more now to help the forty-five million Americans not only live but thrive.

The goals of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal included relief, recovery, and reform; by doing this he hoped to help the poor and unemployed in order to “promote a general welfare.” During the New Deal, Roosevelt strived to fix the problems that occurred during the Great Depression. In 1935, the Works Progress Administration was established which created many jobs. The government also enacted a Social Security Act that gave people who were unemployed the benefit of still receiving insurance. Moreover, it also provided aid for poverty-stricken mothers and children. This act (like the Wagner Act, an act that was aware of employees rights to join labor legislation and gave employee’s rights to collective bargaining) created a platform of

becoming more aware of those people that were struggling. Along with the Fair Standards Labor Act, which provided workers with some additional rights, set up a minimum wage, as well as outlawed child labor. Subsequent to this, unemployment accelerated. Later on, during the Great Society, the government wanted to focus on equal pay to make more of a “welfare state.” At this time, President Lyndon B. Johnson was in office. He cared about American citizens, especially those in poverty. Johnson attempted to train jobless people, educate the uneducated, and provide health care for those in need (Medicare and Medicaid). Although the situation is better today, there should be more political leaders such as President Johnson who care about the total picture and not only the one percent.

During the 1930s and 1960s, the government attempted to improve the poverty rate,. Fourteen and a half percent of Americans live below the poverty rate today. It is evident that the American government needs to take more action. Some progress has been made; although, Paul Ryan (Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives) states that, “After a 50-year war on poverty and trillions of dollars spent, we still have the same poverty rates.” Ryan,along with many other conservatives, believes that social services provided by our government in order to lower the poverty rate, in actuality hurt the poor. Many conservatives, along with some liberals, have taken on the idea that the services the government provides are in fact unhelpful or bad. Although the government should be more involved in helping these people get back on their feet, the primary question remains, how else are these people going to thrive? In order to help Americans who live in poverty get back on their feet, there should be a funded social safety net to aid these people in getting back on their feet (Poverty). According to a poverty measure, “in 2016 refundable tax

credits, SNAP, and housing subsidies lifted 8.2 million, 3.6 million, and 3.1 million people out of poverty”(Opposing). These government programs (such as SNAP) give people a push without only relying on the government’s aid. Some people may argue that with all of the government’s help, these people will not do anything for themselves; however, by giving low-income people an opportunity, the government is giving them a chance to actually have a good life, which is part of having a welfare state.

Helping Americans in poverty not only benefits them, but also goes along with other important values such as bettering our economy, making a stronger middle class, and keeping the idea of the American Dream. If fewer people are in poverty, the government could invest more time in other areas to foster economic growth. According to the American Progress Action, “Child poverty alone is estimated to cost the U.S. economy more than $500 billion annually in lost productivity, increased health care costs, and higher criminal-justice expenditures.” Beginning with the fact that that many children live in poverty, coupled with its related cost is not only depressing, but unAmerican. Every child should have the opportunity to have food on their table, a roof over their head, and an education. The government should be providing more programs for children living in poverty so that they can have the potential to not only make a living, but actually do something important with their lives. In addition, poverty actually weakens the middle class. Every day more and more Americans are falling out of the middle-class and into the lower-class. This is not good because “America’s economic strength is based on a strong middle class with purchasing power to fuel our economy and workforce contributions to increase our economic growth and productivity”(Brown). Without a

strong middle class, there will not be a strong economy. Poverty affects everyone in one way or another; therefore, there is much the government can do to fix this situation that they are not doing. Finally, poverty takes away democracy in the United States because these people feel powerless. Everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their “American Dream” whether that is getting back on their own feet or becoming wealthy. Poverty conflicts with American values “equal representation and political equality” (Brown). Therefore, government should hear these people out who are living under such horrible circumstances and strive to help them, not only because it is the right thing to do, but by helping them, the government can devote more time on other issues, improving these other issues that occur in the United States.

Although the government can not help every single low-income American, there is still much more they can do to make sure that 45 million Americans are not struggling. In the past, through the New Deal and The Great Society, we have seen the government attempting to make changes, but obviously these changes have not made much of an impact considering so many children and families still live in poverty today. The government should be doing more to create programs that will not make low income people rely on the government itself, but give them something to not only get back on their feet, but to also live successfully.

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