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Posts for Opinion Piece Category

2016 Election Aftermath

Lessons, Non-Fiction, Opinion Piece, Thoughts - Emily - November 9, 2016

I see a lot of people saying, “well, we’re still a country united and we have to accept what happened” or “what happened happened, let’s move on,” and to that, I say – NO. This was not the average election situation of Republican versus Democrat. I’ve lived through that type of election before, and won some according to my beliefs, and lost some according to my beliefs. I can live with that, I can accept that’s the reality of a democratic state. But that was not this election.

This was an election where a completely unqualified, hate-mongering reality TV show star with sexual assault accusations in the double digits and an endorsement from the KKK was running against a highly qualified and experienced woman. Maybe she wasn’t everyone’s favourite, maybe we had some qualms with her actions – like we would have and have had for any politician in the history of politics. But any choice – any choice – was better than Trump. I started my “I would have voted for 101 Dalmatians over Trump” thread as a sort of tongue-in-cheek way to deal with my frustrations, a sort of way to whistle in the dark on a very dark day indeed. But I meant it – anyone was better than Trump, a man who peddles fear and hate, a man who has no experience in running a political office of ANY size, much less one of the hugest and most powerful nations.

Maybe you’re not scared today. Maybe you’re only a little disappointed, or maybe you feel America made the right choice. But to that, I say – maybe you’ve always been exactly where you needed to be. Who you needed to be. Maybe you’ve never questioned your sexuality. Maybe you’ve never been targeted for an act of aggression just because of the color of your skin. Maybe you’ve never questioned your religion. Maybe you’ve never been sexually assaulted. Maybe you’ve never been undermined and ignored just because of the gender you’ve been born with and had no choice about. Maybe you’ve never felt like you were born in the wrong body, completely trapped there with no way to escape.

Maybe you were born white and straight and Christian to white and straight and Christian parents in America. Maybe you have never felt the need for change. Maybe your beliefs have never been marginalized. Maybe you have always aligned with the most common, acceptable way of life, and therefore, you’ve never had to question that the world needs change because the world isn’t accepting of anything different from you.

Maybe that’s you – but that’s not me. That’s not my family or my friends. That’s not so, so very many people in this country. We have been attacked or assaulted or ignored or threatened. We see the need for change. We are citizens of this country and citizens of the world just as much as anyone else, and we are scared. We are scared for our future. And guess what – it is not unpatriotic to want change for your country when your country is making dangerous decisions. We who want change are just as patriotic as you – because we don’t want to see our country become what it is poised to become. We don’t want to go down in the history books as another black mark on the page of humanity. We believe in our country, and our leaders – and we believe we are better than this. We are better than Trump, and although I wish I could wake up to find all of this a bad dream, in the next four years – we are going to prove it.

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On Being Seen.

One of the most infuriating opinions I often overhear is this degradation of poverty, of those so down on their luck they’re homeless or panhandle on the side of the street, or need assistance with bills or health care. I hear too many people say they deserve it, or they’re freeloaders, or drug addicts, or basically just worthless non-people, people whose existence apparently doesn’t count anymore.

There are a lot – a lot – of things I could say in reply to this opinion. And sometimes I do – and yet, there’s a very specific memory I have, one that stuck with me for a few years. I wrote about it a while back, and any time I reread it, I just think – yes. This is why it matters.

As we turned off of Third Street, and onto Grant, we passed a woman standing on the corner. She looked tired. Not in the I didn’t get enough sleep last night way.  More I’m tired of how hard life is, all the time, nonstop sort of way.

Lauren, Becky, and I had just spent the morning lounging on the IU campus in the sunlight, and then had a delicious lunch at a Creole and Canjun style restaurant. We were tipsy on sunshine and laughter.

We drove past this woman and I read the small cardboard sign she was holding: Single mother. 2 kids. Homeless. Anything will help.

She looked tired, but strong as she stood there at the corner. Cars rolled by, people on the sidewalks walked around her. It seemed like she was completely resigned to the fact that most people were going to overlook her, let their eyes wash right over her and pretend not to see her, a person. But she felt like she had to at least try.

We paused at the stop sign and I purposefully didn’t look at her. I started to be one of those people that walk on by without acknowledging her.

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Reasons Not To Ask People, When Are You Gonna Have Kids?

How to Be an Adult, Opinion Piece - Emily - January 16, 2016

Trigger warning: mentions of infertility, infant loss.

When are you {two] gonna have kids?

The people asking this question are normally well-intentioned, bless them. They mean well, they really do. They’re just so excited about children and people having children and how happy the children in their lives  have made them, so why wouldn’t everyone else share in that joy? Why wouldn’t everyone else want to join in the amazing experience of having offspring?

The askers of this question, I’ve noticed, tend to be middle-aged people past their own childbearing years and into the grandparent stage, or else recent parents who are happily and suitably babied or currently with-child or trailing a few adorable children behind them. And there’s nothing wrong with – any of that. Kids are great. Having a baby is amazing. Raising your own little ones is an incredible experience.

The problem with this question, and asking it of anyone between the ages of 21 and 35 – particularly the latter, as it’s usually followed up with a You know you’re running out of time? – is that it tends to be a near-sighted question. In the asker’s obvious excitement about the prospect of someone else having a child, the asker tends to forget that this can be a sensitive subject for some – many – most people – and there are many reasons that, no matter how well-intentioned, you should probably think twice before actually asking this.

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I got mad.

Life, Non-Fiction, Opinion Piece, Thoughts - Emily - November 16, 2015

This is a thought that I’ve had many times over the past couple years, and I’ve never quite taken the time to articulate it, thinking perhaps no one would listen, or no one would care, or that I would be attacked for expressing it this way. Now, in light of recent crises in Paris and Beirut and the refugees fleeing ISIS, not to mention the growing violence and disregard for minorities in our own country, I have to verbalize it.

I don’t claim to be a politically-savvy person. I will admit that sometimes I bury my head in the sand rather than stare down situations that often require choosing the lesser of two equals, because no real clear good choice exists.

But I have been a student of history, and more so, I have been a student of Germany – its language, its people, its history. I once took a course entirely dedicate to Berlin through the 20th Century, starting in 1900 and working all the way up to the year 2000 – which means I spent a lot of time studying World War II.

I remember, in high school particularly, hearing fellow students wonder how in the hell Germans allowed the Holocaust to happen. Couldn’t they see what was happening? How could they let this atrocity happen right under their noses? Surely they were partially to blame, if they didn’t try and stop it. Surely they knew, surely they just let this happen, let all of these innocent people die, all these millions – millions – of Jews and other minorities. How could they let this happen?

You know how this happened? Hitler and the Nazi party used propaganda. Propaganda, in case you’re just a bit fuzzy, is inflated, intentional use of opinionated, sometimes – oftentimes – even falsified information to sway public opinion towards a particular direction. Hitler and the Nazi party used propaganda to blame the Jews for everything, from the crucifixion of Christ to the economic downfall of Germany after World War I.

Hitler blamed the Jews for all major issues in modern day Germany, he made them scapegoats, and he made them easy to blame for all the hard times German felt as the Third Reich rose to power – so much so that the Nazi Party seemed like a reasonable choice, getting those villains out of the picture, and giving their jobs, their homes to “true” German citizens. So much so that when the Jews were rounded up and forced into ghettos, people could feel it was for their own safety. So much so that after the ghettos, most citizens could turn a blind eye to what happened to the Jews after they left the ghettos and headed to the work camps, and could remain unaware as they moved from the work camps into the gas chambers, and the ovens.. The Jewish people were so marginalized in their own society, their humanity was so reduced that they stopped being humans in the eyes of those who wanted to be rid of them.

If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, I’m worried about you. I’m scared about you.

In light of recent upheavals in all areas of the world but particularly here at home, in the States – there is a growing movement to marginalize those who would call out injustice, either aimed at themselves, or behalf of others. Those who would call racism. Those who are not content to sit idly by and let the majority steamroll anyone who dares to stop and ask questions, who stops to say, hey, something about this doesn’t seem right, something about this seems scary.

Now, far be it from me to call our current situation anything remotely like the Third Reich in its hey-day. Our modern day Hitler is hopefully not in power yet. But the pieces are in place. The climate is right, the water is boiling, and every day, we are turning up the heat.

We’re not there, thank God. But to me, a sometime student of history and a one-time, long-term student of Germany – it’s not difficult to see how it began, all those years ago. It’s not difficult to compare the marginalization of Muslim lives, black lives, Mexican lives – to the marginalization of Jewish lives in the twenties and thirties. It needs to stop here. We need to wake up. We need to stop the train from rolling forward. We need to stop ourselves from become so desensitized from human suffering that we say certain lives don’t matter because they’re not like us. We need to stop saying the lives of women and children don’t matter because they were born in a country that – like ours – is also home to religious extremists who will stop at nothing to promote hate and violence. We need to stop ourselves from becoming so indoctrinated that we are unable to see lies presented as truths, and demonize anyone who dares to differ from public opinion.

That is scary to me, and it is scarily familiar. Nazi Germany is only one of many historical examples, and look what a great and beautiful nation they have become since that dark time. Look at their industry, their accomplishments, their people – how all of it is grown. This can be us. We can stop this parade of hatred and drawing hard lines to separate humanity – and we can stop it before we too become a black mark on history’s page.

Clear and shining moments of humanity happen not when we stick to our guns and demand that things stay the same because that makes us feel safe. Clear and shining moments of humanity happen when we choose to look past borders, past creeds and ethnicities and genders, and choose to see human beings for what they actually are – human beings, just like us.

In conclusion, I can only end with a quote so frequently used by a great professor and a great woman. She used it in almost every course she taught me, and it has stuck with me. It sticks with me now:

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out —
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”
-Martin Niemoeller (1892-1984)

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