What's Wrong With Our Country

What's Wrong With Our Country

The question that everyone seems to have an answer to, and is more concerned with proving why they’re right instead of trying to actually fix the issues.
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Computers, cell phones, cars, houses, a college education. What do all of these items have in common one might ask? They seem to have value. They mean something to our society. Our small minds have dispensed a big portion of the attention we possess to these so called valuables. We willing devote our time, our money and our attention to these tangibles because we have deemed them worth it.

Where there is one list there is always another, so on the flip side let me give you a list of items that do not seem to have value in our society. Human life. Wow, that’s a pretty short list isn’t it? In our desire to own and worship all of these objects we have begun to objectify ourselves. Life has lost its worth. Death has lost its sting.

That’s why we know the name Philando Castile. That is why we have Alton Sterling cases. That’s why someone took the opportunity to turn a peaceful Dallas protest into the massacre of officers ending the lives of five people. Life is worthless. Someone else’s life is worthless. This is not an issue of race. It is not a problem of civil rights or racism from both parties. This is not an issue of politics and taking the correct political stand. This is the product of a nation who is swift to decide blame. A nation who believes it is better to respond in the heat of the emotion-heightened moment than it is to stop and evaluate situations. This is a problem of both officer and civilian matter.

We are a nation with officers who go on average, though it varies by state and department, 19 weeks to an academy and expect that and some mentor training to be enough preparation for the intense situations they will face day-to-day on the job. We are a nation who sings along to rap songs degrading and disrespecting the very men and women we call when we need help. We are a nation that turns peaceful protesting in to looting in the name of some sick and twisted justice. We are the nation that chooses to honor the fallen societal members by blasting their last moments of life all over the internet. We are a nation that would rather argue over gun control and our amendment rights than focus on the fact that we have no rights when we are dead. We are the nation that repeatedly uses the phrase “people kill people” as an excuse without realizing how utterly true and disgusting those three words are. It’s not just one group’s fault and we can’t just keep killing each other and pointing fingers.

The Washington Post reported in early January of this year that the 50 biggest cities in the nation had an increased homicide rate of nearly 17 percent in 2015. With the media being so immensely focused on pushing political agendas and selling stories, it is hard to narrow down those homicide numbers to the past six months because we as a country seem to only be interested in the deaths that involve bigs guns and hate crimes. Regardless of weapons or motive, one idea rings clear through all of these tragedies- our response is to kill. And, while as a society we would eagerly like to pretend we know the rational behind these situations, whether or not the decision to end a life was made for the sake of vengeance or out of fear can only be determined by the killer himself. You know, that’s a word we don’t hear a lot anymore? We’re much more concerned with labeling the life-ender a shooter, an officer, or a terrorist. I guess killer doesn’t have such a sting. Despite the external components of these issues- the name we call, the verdict we give, the excuses the accused provide — the problem is the internal immunity we have to caring for anyone but ourselves. We seem to walk around this earth in three states; oblivion of the turmoil we live in with the chirps and dings of our social media profiles distracting us, upheaval and unrest about the latest tragedy and political argument our friends our posting about, or fear of the opposition taking the only thing we truly have, the thing we seem to only think about moments before it is taken from us. We don’t evaluate and we don’t think critically. We have created a society stuck in the middle of some false dilemma.

The truth is, I’m done caring about the statistics of black on black crime. I’m done caring if more police officers died by the hands of a white guy than they did by the hands of an African American. I’m done caring about the Black Lives Matter movement or the Blue Lives Matter movement or the next movement that will just be a furthering division among the people of our country. What I do care about is human life. I care about the people on this planet and more specifically in this country. I care about the chance they have at making something of themselves. I care about the only thing in this life we are entitled to: opportunity. This country is one of the few where you have the chance to become whatever you want, regardless of your political beliefs, your personal morals and the excuses you’ve made for not doing so yet because of your skin color, or gender, or sexual preferences, or financial status. If you want something bad enough, if you’re willing to work for it, America is where you can achieve it; and if you don’t believe me you should take a look at where some of our finest started out.

But, you can’t do it if you’re dead. So let’s start leaving our futures and our destiny's up to each other and stop making martyrs and murderers out of ourselves. Stop living in the era of fear and hate and start trying to compromise. Are we going to agree on everything? No, but let’s stop fighting for the sake of fighting. As white people, as black people, as hispanics, as every orientation, can we just start being people? Not republicans or democrats. Not gays and straights. Not majorities and minorities. Not officers and civilians. Just people respecting other people.

I can name off several intelligent and world-altering individuals who spoke of the dangers of violence for the sake of violence. It gets nowhere. It has gotten us here, a place that I think we can all agree is pretty devastating. So let’s end it. Let’s stop arguing about it and starting talking about it. Let’s start conversing about solutions and offering condolences instead of sharing "witty" negative remarks. If you’re an officer being subjected to unfair stigmas — and trust me, I believe they are unfair — then go out and put forth the effort to do a random act of kindness to change them. I know your plate is already pretty full, but don’t let the only thing the news has to report be that of you ending a life. If you’re an African American being subjected to unfair stigmas — and trust me, I believe they are unfair — then go out and prove everyone wrong. Encourage each other to rise up with your words and not your fists and stop letting your legacy be defined as one filled with violence- even the violence committed against you, because I’ll be the first to acknowledge that you’ve had your share of historical injustices. Let’s spread a little more hope and a lot less hate, because at the end of the day no agenda matters. At the end of this week, seven families are mourning a death. No anti-gun lobbyist wins. No race group wins. Lives were lost. People lose, humanity loses.
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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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