We Cant Let Fear and Hate Divide Us

We Cant Let Fear and Hate Divide Us

If we let fear divide us then we will hate each other and when that happens we are doomed
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Monday we saw a failed terrorist attack take place in a busy subway station in New York City. The perpetrator, whose name I refuse to utter or write out of the principle of not giving him martyrdom thanks to his attack, apparently wrote on facebook, the morning of the attack, “Trump you failed to protect your nation.” The man has been in the process of radicalization since as far back as 2014 at least and has been inspired by ISIS to attempt this attack on the United States. At a basic level I can understand the anger that people like this could feel towards America. Our president constantly berates Islam and makes them all out to be evil, he has attempted on many occasions to ban Muslims from entering the country and as of late has succeeded in banning some. To any Muslim that already felt left out by us as a country this would only fuel the fires of hate. But killing solves nothing.

Killing innocent people or attempting to kill innocent people in this case only further spreads the divide between Islam and the rest of the world. Those who are not already radicalized should not be allowing themselves to become radicalized and we should not be assuming that all Muslims are radical just like we don't assume all Christians are in the KKK. People cannot let fear and hate divide us. No one wins when fear and hate rule the day. Trump and ISIS have that in common in that they both use fear and hatred as tools to control us. The only way we win is if we do not let people like them feed off of our hatred and fear.

We got lucky on Monday, this terrorist attack could have been devastating. All five people who were injured have since been treated and everyone is okay, there is no lasting damage in the tunnel and no one died. It could have been worse, this should be a wake up call, this should show us all that we are stronger when we stand together and letting fear divide us will only hurt us in the end. This battle cannot be won with guns, or bombs, or knives. The more we use military options against ISIS, especially those that cost civilians their lives, the more we radicalize the middle east. And, the more followers of Islam that let themselves be radicalized and carry out attacks like the one we saw in New York on Monday, the more Americans will begin to believe that Islam is a blood-thirsty religion. The only way we bridge this divide is by talking, and the only way we talk is if we stop fearing each other.

Cover Image Credit: https://www.wtvq.com/2016/08/11/21c-museum-hotel-unveils-interactive-art-installation/

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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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Mr. President, Stop Attacking Our Allies

President Trump has decided that adding tariffs on allied nations and insulting their leaders is a good strategy

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Shortly before attending the G-Summit, Which is a meeting between the top democratic industrialized economies, President Trump placed tariffs on metal products imported from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. During the summit, Trump refused to back down from these tariffs unless these nations did the same, and after the summit ended, Trump took to twitter to insult each of them. Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, was tweeted by trump exclaiming that he is dishonest and week.

The Divide between our allies and friendly trading partners have never been greater than it is today.

I respect Trump for fighting for American interests and companies, but in regard to this, while he may think what he is doing will help this country, its actually doing the opposite. These countries are our allies and friends who present no threat to us. They had our back during 9/11 and still do to this day, even through all the disagreements. But by insulting their leaders and targeting their economies, Trump is untying the bonds that have been built and creating a more isolated America.

In addition to the diplomatic reasons, it is bad for the economy to add tariffs on imported products. Many businesses in the US. rely on foreign resources to make their products, and higher prices for these resources will only negativity affect these businesses. Also, American consumers will have to pay more for products, which is especially harmful for lower-class families who are struggling in the meantime. Free trade, such as NAFTA, has been benefical by creating a multitude of jobs and opening markets for the United States.

Going forward, I believe that it is better for Trump to avoid adding tariffs on the products of our allies and instead negotiate with our allies, or at least refrain from going on twitter tantrums.

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