Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough

Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough

Thoughts and prayers are great and all, but we shouldn't stop there.
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After last week's shooting my mind has been in a whirl. How could this happen? Why does this keep happening? What can I do? What can WE do? My senior year of high school I walked into my house after school and my dad was sitting on the couch with his eyes glued to the TV screen. He asked me if I heard what had happened, and when I looked at the screen I was in complete shock. It was news about the Sandy Hook shooting. Pictures of children and teachers that were killed that day flashed up on the screen. Picture after picture. Life after life. I broke down crying. How could someone take so many innocent lives? I couldn't wrap my head around it. Twenty children and six adults.

Since Sandy Hook happened, over 400 people have been shot in school shootings and approximately 138 have been killed. These numbers are unacceptable. As intolerable as those numbers are, it doesn't surprise me one bit. No wonder I have lost count of lives lost when there have been 239 school shootings since Sandy Hook happened in 2012.

I have become desensitized to shootings. Yes, I think it is sad and my heart breaks for the victims and their families every time, but do you know what crossed my mind when I heard about the Parkland school shooting? I thought to myself, "wow, another shooting" and went on with my day. I went on with my day. As the updates continued, the magnitude of what had happened started to hit me. Seventeen lives. Seventeen lives were taken by a senseless violent act at the hands of a hateful, mentally unstable teenager.

This makes me so mad. It should make you mad, too. This should not be happening here in America. I am so tired of just thoughts and prayers. Yes, I believe in prayer, but there is more that needs to be done. You can't pray for an A on a test you didn't study for and expect to get an A. We are praying that things like this won't happen anymore, but we aren't taking the action required to prevent these things from happening. These students that are now survivors are demanding action. In the wake of their mourning they are using their voices to beg for help.

We need to listen. We need solutions. We need to take action. We need to stop fighting over things like gun control and mental health or what is causing this to happen. It. Is. Happening. Something isn't right about our system if this is a reoccurring problem. It is evident that changes need to be made.

Do what you can. If you're religious, then pray, but don't stop there. If you live near Parkland, give blood. If you're a gun owner and know the ins and outs about every gun law, come up with a solution. If you know a lot about mental health, raise awareness. If you're a lawmaker, MAKE CHANGES. Talk to your representatives and work together to find a solution, because this is a problem. We can't expect to make no changes and to see changes. We are doing the same thing over, and over again, and what have we seen as a result? We have seen more innocent lives lost. It's insanity.

Who cares if it's a little harder to purchase a dangerous gun? Who cares that you need to be a little older? Who cares if mental health and background checks are taken more seriously? Who cares if we make changes with the intention to protect innocent lives? We all have the same goal, but we all have different approaches. We need to swallow our pride, listen to every side (no matter how much you disagree) and do something other than argue.

We are one of the most powerful nations in the world, and at this rate we are going to be our own demise. Listen, take action and make changes.

Cover Image Credit: Vanity Fair

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An Open Letter To Democrats From A Millennial Republican

Why being a Republican doesn't mean I'm inhuman.
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Dear Democrats,

I have a few things to say to you — all of you.

You probably don't know me. But you think you do. Because I am a Republican.

Gasp. Shock. Horror. The usual. I know it all. I hear it every time I come out of the conservative closet here at my liberal arts university.

SEE ALSO: What I Mean When I Say I'm A Young Republican

“You're a Republican?" people ask, saying the word in the same tone that Draco Malfoy says “Mudblood."

I know that not all Democrats feel about Republicans this way. Honestly, I can't even say for certain that most of them do. But in my experience, saying you're a Republican on a liberal college campus has the same effect as telling someone you're a child molester.

You see, in this day and age, with leaders of the Republican Party standing up and spouting unfortunately ridiculous phrases like “build a wall," and standing next to Kim Davis in Kentucky after her release, we Republicans are given an extreme stereotype. If you're a Republican, you're a bigot. You don't believe in marriage equality. You don't believe in racial equality. You don't believe in a woman's right to choose. You're extremely religious and want to impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are rooted in truth. There are some people out there who really do think these things and feel this way. And it makes me mad. The far right is so far right that they make the rest of us look bad. They make sure we aren't heard. Plenty of us are fed up with their theatrics and extremism.

For those of us brave enough to wear the title “Republican" in this day and age, as millennials, it's different. Many of us don't agree with these brash ideas. I'd even go as far as to say that most of us don't feel this way.

For me personally, being a Republican doesn't even mean that I automatically vote red.

When people ask me to describe my political views, I usually put it pretty simply. “Conservative, but with liberal social views."

“Oh," they say, “so you're a libertarian."

“Sure," I say. But that's the thing. I'm not really a libertarian.

Here's what I believe:

I believe in marriage equality. I believe in feminism. I believe in racial equality. I don't want to defund Planned Parenthood. I believe in birth control. I believe in a woman's right to choose. I believe in welfare. I believe more funds should be allocated to the public school system.

Then what's the problem? Obviously, I'm a Democrat then, right?

Wrong. Because I have other beliefs too.

Yes, I believe in the right to choose — but I'd always hope that unless a pregnancy would result in the bodily harm of the woman, that she would choose life. I believe in welfare, but I also believe that our current system is broken — there are people who don't need it receiving it, and others who need it that cannot access it.

I believe in capitalism. I believe in the right to keep and bear arms, because I believe we have a people crisis on our hands, not a gun crisis. Contrary to popular opinion, I do believe in science. I don't believe in charter schools. I believe in privatizing as many things as possible. I don't believe in Obamacare.

Obviously, there are other topics on the table. But, generally speaking, these are the types of things we millennial Republicans get flack for. And while it is OK to disagree on political beliefs, and even healthy, it is NOT OK to make snap judgments about me as a person. Identifying as a Republican does not mean I am the same as Donald Trump.

Just because I am a Republican, does not mean you know everything about me. That does not give you the right to make assumptions about who I am as a person. It is not OK for you to group me with my stereotype or condemn me for what I feel and believe. And for a party that prides itself on being so open-minded, it shocks me that many of you would be so judgmental.

So I ask you to please, please, please reexamine how you view Republicans. Chances are, you're missing some extremely important details. If you only hang out with people who belong to your own party, chances are you're missing out on great people. Because, despite what everyone believes, we are not our stereotype.

Sincerely,

A millennial Republican

Cover Image Credit: NEWSWORK.ORG

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Why The Idea Of 'No Politics At The Dinner Table' Takes Place And Why We Should Avoid It

When did having a dialogue become so rare?

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Why has the art of civilized debate and conversation become unheard of in daily life? Why is it considered impolite to talk politics with coworkers and friends? Expressing ideas and discussing different opinions should not be looked down upon.

I have a few ideas as to why this is our current societal norm.

1. Politics is personal.

Your politics can reveal a lot about who you are. Expressing these (sometimes controversial) opinions may put you in a vulnerable position. It is possible for people to draw unfair conclusions from one viewpoint you hold. This fosters a fear of judgment when it comes to our political beliefs.

Regardless of where you lie on the spectrum of political belief, there is a world of assumption that goes along with any opinion. People have a growing concern that others won't hear them out based on one belief.

As if a single opinion could tell you all that you should know about someone. Do your political opinions reflect who you are as a person? Does it reflect your hobbies? Your past?

The question becomes "are your politics indicative enough of who you are as a person to warrant a complete judgment?"

Personally, I do not think you would even scratch the surface of who I am just from knowing my political identification.

2. People are impolite.

The politics themselves are not impolite. But many people who wield passionate, political opinion act impolite and rude when it comes to those who disagree.

The avoidance of this topic among friends, family, acquaintances and just in general, is out of a desire to 'keep the peace'. Many people have friends who disagree with them and even family who disagree with them. We justify our silence out of a desire to avoid unpleasant situations.

I will offer this: It might even be better to argue with the ones you love and care about, because they already know who you are aside from your politics, and they love you unconditionally (or at least I would hope).

We should be having these unpleasant conversations. And you know what? They don't even need to be unpleasant! Shouldn't we be capable of debating in a civilized manner? Can't we find common ground?

I attribute the loss of political conversation in daily life to these factors. 'Keeping the peace' isn't an excuse. We should be discussing our opinions constantly and we should be discussing them with those who think differently.

Instead of discouraging political conversation, we should be encouraging kindness and understanding. That's how we will avoid the unpleasantness that these conversations sometimes bring.

By avoiding them altogether, we are doing our youth a disservice because they are not being exposed to government, law, and politics, and they are not learning to deal with people and ideas that they don't agree with.

Next Thanksgiving, talk politics at the table.

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