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Mourning the loss of America as I knew her

I won’t lie. Today has been very difficult for me. I cannot quite find the words to describe how I feel: disappointed, disheartened, stunned, sickened, scared. I am even more shocked at how this is affecting me emotionally. It is almost like the bits of hope and promise to which I was clinging simply dissolved. I have never ever felt this way after an election. Normally, I would just shrug my shoulders and move on with life. This time it is different, and it hurts.

 

I am not interested in trying to dissect the exit polls, demographic data, campaign strategies, and voter turnout. I am not interested in hearing conspiracy theories, stories of illegal voting and “missing” ballots, and what-ifs. I do not want to hear rallying cries or victory speeches from either side. I do not care about who controls what house and who did or didn’t do what. I just do not want to hear any more politics, propaganda, or lies. I have had enough.

 

While I can understand, respect, and even appreciate the celebrations of those who support President Obama and voted for him, I cannot stomach the blatantly racist tweets and comments pouring forth from the ignorant and illiterate. They are probably the same ones who threatened riots and violence if Obama lost or posted hateful comments about voting white or black. They are the ones tweeting, posting, and shouting,” ‘obamas president!’ ‘yeah fuck white people!’ hahaha” -Danni@SugarGummy. (Don’t believe me? Look it up on Google. “Fuck White People” actually trended.) I know that type of people have always been out there, but thanks to social media, I get to see it up close and personal. I will never find it cute, funny, or in the slightest way acceptable to talk, write, sing, or act in that way. For me it shows the erosion of polite and intelligent society.

 

For some, yesterday was unimportant. Some argued that things would not change with either candidate, so they did not vote. Or if they did, they did so without any real thought and scrutiny. There are those who voted solely based on color. There are those who fell prey to negative campaign ads.  There are those who so strongly believe in the party line that they gave up all independent thought. What most don’t understand is that this was not about winning or losing, republican or democrat, white or black, rich or poor. If things had been that clear, it would be much easier for me to reconcile. This election was not about uteruses, gay marriage, or immigration. This election was not even really about the economy. This election was about a fundamental way of life, a guiding philosophy for our country. It was about choosing a path for the future of the country- choosing an ideology. Anyone who has been paying attention closely understands that. Now, it is clear that Americans have chosen one.

 

Unfortunately, for me, the president that the voters chose is not the one that I support. I am not upset for the reasons some would argue. It is not because he is black or a democrat or liberal. It’s because the direction in which he wants to lead this country is so opposite of what I believe. I won’t belabor the talking points and arguments. They have already been made, and we heard them all. I will even admit I did not agree with Romney on several things. However, I don’t believe that Obama ever cared one percent about me and my family or our values and quality of life. I do believe that Romney was America’s best chance to move forward in a way that is true to what our founding fathers and the Constitution intended. I do believe that Romney could have gotten the job done, helped heal the economy, worked in a bipartisan fashion. I believed in America, that was until last night.

 

Now that is all gone. If anyone thinks that Obama and his supporters care about the 100%, they are sadly mistaken. It only took 50% to win, and the rest of us are irrelevant. Yes, they intend to move the country forward but on a path that is very different from what many think. A path where self-reliance is seen as selfishness and weakness. One where those who work hard will be forced to compromise their own values and hard-earned livelihoods in ways that they may not support or agree; they will have no choice.  One where exceptionalism is not embraced, encouraged, or even tolerated; only celebrities and athletes receive a free pass. One where responsibility and accountability no longer exist; instead, excuses, lower standards, and entitlement dominate.  One where lying, bullying others who believe differently, and division rules; racism, intolerance, and violent threats prosper. This is the vision I have for Obama’s America.

 

So, now I have to come to terms with the results of the election. Obama will be president for another four years, at least. How much or how little damage there will be to what I thought was my country I do not know. How much will change I do not know. Nevertheless, I do know this: I accept the fact that the American people voted for Obama. I accept the fact that he will remain president. I accept that my values and beliefs are now part of the minority. However, I do not have to hide or control the revulsion I feel inside whenever I hear either of the Obamas or Biden speak, especially when it is about compromise or American spirit. I do not have to pretend to “respect the office.” I do not have to play the good little American and feign support for a president for which I did not vote.  As long as there is free speech, I do not have to keep my opinions to myself.  I do not have to agree, smile, or accede nor do I have to argue, fight, or blame. I do not have to change or sacrifice my principles. I do not have to change who I am.

 

My sense of charity, my sense of national pride, and my belief in real hope and change have all vanished for now. I will mourn the loss of America’s greatest qualities and move on. I will continue to teach my children about personal responsibility, a strong work ethic, and true freedom. I will continue to be a good person, but on my terms for what I believe is right, not what someone else tells me I am supposed to believe.  I will focus only on those who are closest to me and hold on dearly to who I am. I will find a way for my family to survive the ensuing mess. Moreover, for those who voted for and support Obama, I pray that you are right and I am wrong. It is done, and now we all will reap whatever consequences YOUR choice has brought. 

Tired of the bigotry on both sides of the political spectrum

Bigotry is the state of mind of a bigot, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance”. Bigotry may be based on real or perceived characteristics, including age, disability, dissension from popular opinions, economic status, ethnicity, gender identity,language, nationality, political alignment, race, region, religious or spiritual belief, sex, or sexual orientation. Bigotry is sometimes developed into an ideology or world view.

So as I sit here, skimming Twitter and the news (thereby avoiding the task of writing a research paper), I sigh and sigh. As the presidential election creeps closer, it seems the attacks grow more vicious, the rhetoric more misleading and childish, the desperation for campaign contributions more feverish. The heated vitriol among the most loyal supporters has always been there, but now it spreads through everything like a virus, infecting even those who had been more moderate and tolerant in their opinions and commentary.

I know this seems like a pretty harsh observation, but understand that I am not singling out one campaign or another, one group or another. I am pointing to both. Those of us who are in between become swept up and overwashed by the tide of vicious attacks and false accusations. Some who do not wish to receive figurative black eyes from the fervent remain silent. Some dare to express their thoughts but do so in fear of being misjudged or misunderstood. Some just do not care, seeing the entire process as futile as in their eyes nothing will ever change. Those who attempt to educate themselves about issues become exhausted after sifting through a barrage of bias. One side calls Romney a liar saying that he flip-flops, will present whatever works to get elected, and only cares about the rich. The other side says that Obama is the liar, distorting and cherry-picking facts that only support him, placing the blame on others, and keeping his real agenda hidden. If one votes for Romney, he or she must be a racist, an elitist who doesn’t care about those less-fortunate. If one votes for Obama, he or she must be a radical feminist/environmentalist, poor and uneducated, or a socialist (socialism is NOT communism by the way). No matter how a person feels, no matter which issues are important to that person, no matter what beliefs are best supported, the other campaign and its lackeys seek to break that person down (or lift them up) to earn another vote for their candidate.

So here is how it is for me…An American citizen with very real concerns and beliefs that are shaped by my personal experiences…a person who has worked hard to educate myself about my opinions and the issues that are important to me so that I can reach an informed decision: I have spent many hours researching and reading articles, blogs, documents, and information. Some of it is biased, although I try to find both sides. Some of it is boring, tedious, “want to shoot myself in the head” rhetoric in the form of laws, bills, and statistics. The point is that I have not allowed ANYONE else to do my thinking for me. I have questioned everything, and I have made up my mind. I know who I will be voting for come the time. I know why I am making the choice- why I believe and feel what I do. My choice is popular with some and unpopular with others (about 50% either way according to polls).

Now, even though I have made up my mind and am not afraid to express myself, I do not wish to persuade anyone else to feel the same way. I will argue proudly for my own beliefs, but I will not dismiss someone else’s simply because they are different. I do not view someone else’s  opinion as inferior to my own. I might wonder to myself what motivates them, but that is because I recognize and understand that we are all very different individuals with different situations, experiences, and needs. I want to understand not change them. We are all at different places in life. Even if I might disagree with another person’s choices, I do not question the integrity or ability of others to make their own decisions. I fully embrace the right that each individual has to choose to vote or not. I embrace the right that each has to choose a candidate.  AND I am sick and tired of listening to those who put down, attack, and vilify others because they think differently. I am sick of hearing about “libtards” and “republictards”, “Socialists” and “Facists.” I am sick of the finger-pointing, name-calling, and nastiness that oozes from political  commentators, media outlets, and Americans. This is not high school. We are supposed to be rational, educated adults. So the likes of Rush Limbaugh resorting to calling Sandra Fluke a slut and Lawrence O’donnell challenging Mitt Romney’s son to a fistfight are infantile and unacceptable. Sadly enough, I could go on and on about this, but my entire point is that the behavior turns my stomach and serves nobody well.

In turn, I wish to be respected for my choices. I would like to be able to say something in a conversation without someone calling me “Darwinian” or “provincial.” I would like to be able to read and listen to civil, rational conversations. I would like to be able to read something that isn’t so heavily biased it makes my head spin. I would like people to quit implying that because I feel the way I do or believe what I believe there is something wrong with me.

When the election is over and done, when a president is sworn into office, life will continue regardless of who it is. My life will go on as it always has, and I will adapt accordingly as I always have. Some things will be harder; some things will be easier. I will do whatever I must to protect myself, my family, and my beliefs with integrity because in the end that is what really matters to me. Whether we have to change our lives completely will depend on how the tide flows. As always, I will find a way; my family will find a way; we will survive a President Obama or a President Romney.

This is sad and funny at the same time.

An email from Beyonce!! And a celebrity POTUS

To date I have received 72 emails from the Obama campaign and 44 from the Romney campaign. Basically, they all want the same thing and are the same nonsense rhetoric. I haven’t even had time to read the last dozen or so. Anyways, the one I received today is absolutely the most ridiculous of them all. The pure absurdity of it, along with the hypocrisy, may very well be one of the things that help me to make a decision- and not in Obama’s favor. Sadly enough, I believe that celebrity support does have an impact on so many Americans who think it is cool to have a celebrity president…

 
 
Read for yourself as I have copied the text directly. The sender comes as “BEYONCE KNOWLES” and the subject line reads:  “I DON’T USUALLY EMAIL YOU
 
Friend —

I usually don’t email you — but I have an amazing invitation I have to share.

Jay and I will be meeting up with President Obama for an evening in NYC sometime soon. And we want you to be there!

Until midnight tonight, if you pitch in $25 or whatever you can, you’ll be automatically entered to be flown out to join us.

I’ve had the honor of meeting President Obama and the First Lady a few times — and believe me — it’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss.

Don’t worry about the airfare and hotel, it’s taken care of. And you can bring a guest.

But the countdown is on — this opportunity ends at midnight:

https://donate.barackobama.com/Meet-Me-in-New-York

Can’t wait to meet you!

Love,

Beyoncé  

Being a non-traditional student

My first college experience was over twenty years ago. I was 15 and had just finished my sophomore year of high school. Even though I had not yet graduated, I was fortunate enough to be part of a program for high school students who had been recommended by their English teachers. The class was a fiction writing course of approximately twenty students. We stayed in the dorms and attended class during the week, returning to the safety of our homes and parents on the weekend. We did have a list of policies to follow but outside of class very little supervision. The only exception was a midnight curfew in the dorm, which my roommate and I managed to violate one time within the first two weeks which resulted in almost being kicked out of the program in the first two weeks after a verbal lashing by our professor. Nevertheless, he cut us a break, and we behaved better. I finished the course earning a B and three credit hours. This was probably the closest I ever came to having a “typical” college experience.

My next venture into college life was the summer after I graduated. I had not been a stellar high school student, so part of the condition for my acceptance was taking a summer course to prove that I could handle it. This time I took a philosophy course and once again managed to pass the class with a B. However, I realized that my focus really wasn’t on academics and that it would be a struggle to prioritize. Whether it was selfishness or maturity that motivated me, I had a long discussion with my parents and decided to delay pursuing a college education until I was ready.

By the time I returned, I was no longer a traditional student. It had been nearly three years since I graduated high school, and in that time I had managed to get married and give birth to a son. It was his birth, the ups and down of a rocky marriage, and a dim future that led me to the conclusion that I would need to go back in order to be able to give him or myself any sort of meaningful life. I jumped in full time taking 5 courses. I still had not decided on a major, but I knew that it was the right time. Despite no support from my husband, I was able to take care of my 1-year-old son and be a successful student, earning A’s and B’s. For the first term, my mother would watch my son while I was in class. About halfway through the term, he had to have a major orthopedic surgery, and I completed much of my studying by his bedside while he recovered. The second term I had to put him in daycare three days a week. I spent many late nights typing out papers on an old typewriter. I wasn’t able to engage in any social activities or empathize with my fellow students. I felt very alone as I navigated the academic rigors of college, but I never thought about just how different I was. 

I had planned on returning the next semester, but my parents had moved over a thousand miles away. My marriage continued to disintegrate, and when my husband was laid off, I felt that it would be nearly impossible for us to survive or for me to continue my classes unless I had more support. We moved to Florida, and I waited for over a year to return to school. Nevertheless, I was more determined than ever to succeed, so when I did return, I jumped in full time. Now, not only was I married and a mother, but also a good 5-6 years older than my fellow students. My life experiences had forced me to mature quickly, and I didn’t have the same distractions as those who shared the classroom with me. My second full year of college was filled with 5-6 classes per term, a full time job at McDonald’s, and the emotional turmoil of a broken marriage and subsequent separation. I moved back in with my parents for help. I kept my job for two reasons: first because I had no financial support from my estranged husband and two because I wanted a real reminder of why college was so important. Every day as I would look at my 4-year-old or work the drive-thru, I was reminded that I did not want the rest of our lives to be a struggle. That was perhaps my best year in terms of grades. I earned nearly a perfect 4.0, with the exception of one horrible physical science class where I earned a B.

After completing enough coursework to earn and A. A., I transferred to a university. At that point I had decided that I wanted to become an English teacher. The transition between majors and schools created a  slight problems as I had not completed some of the coursework I would need. This required me to continue my enrollment of 5 classes per term in addition to some summer classes. Before it all began, I had taken leave from work to spend the summer with my son; I decided not to return knowing that the demands were too much. Nevertheless, with persistence and determination, and the support of my mother who cared for my son while I was in class, I was able to complete the rest of my degree in two years. During that time I sat by my son’s bedside after more surgeries and divorced my husband. Although there were a few students in the program like me, I was very much alone. I spent little time on the bustling campus and never had the time or ability to participate in any of the activities. I did not share the dating woes and gossip of many of my peers nor attended the parties. It wasn’t that I was not invited, I just had other commitments at home. Many of my peers could not understand that or step into my mindset. Although it was lonely at times, it was also good that I did not have the distractions that other college students face. I had a much more tangible goal than many of them- to be able to graduate and support myself and my son. That is probably one of the many reasons I was so successful as a college student. I earned all A’s and B’s (with the exception of one C). I completed my degree in 4 years total, and I knew what I was doing after graduation.

So here I am again, 13 years after earning a bachelor’s degree, returning to the same university in order to earn a second. It won’t take much time as I only need 8 classes, and technology has advanced so much that I will be able to complete most of the coursework online. I am a different person now. Not only do I have ambition, but I also have the real-life experience of teaching for nearly a decade. I am re-married, and my son is almost 20, pursuing his own college degree. One thing that is similar is that I have a 3-year-old at home, a little girl. My perspective has changed in so many ways from being a parent and a professional, and I will be 40 in less 17 days. I am a non-traditional student once again, but this time so are many of the students in my online classes. There are people who work jobs and raise children. One is a single mom of three kids with a 9-7 job. Another is a married father with two young children who lives hours away. The online courses are filled with non-traditional students who each have different stories. Most are trying to balance a life of family and work with the demands of school in the hope that when they finish they will be in a better place.

I don’t mind being a non-traditional student. Sometimes it can be lonely, and it is difficult to empathize with the needs and concerns of the more traditional- this makes group work a special challenge. Honestly, it is all I have known really. And I attribute a large part of my success to my circumstances in life that made me non-traditional.

Wanna Fight?

I am tired of people who wish to argue or debate but cannot make the effort to support their viewpoints with unbiased evidence. They simply regurgitate information that they hear on radio and television or read on the internet and in newspapers without looking for bias and bothering to educate themselves or understand the issues further. The irony is that as we grow up, we make every effort to provide strong, well-substantiated arguments to our parents and others as to why we should be able to do certain things like drive the car. We struggle against their viewpoints so that we may develop our own. But as adults, many of us are simply willing to adopt someone else’s argument as our own rather than expend the energy- either because we don’t have it or we choose not to use it.

If you want to present a valid argument, you should be able to do two things:

1. Prove that you understand the issue AND
2. Be able to use or apply supporting points/ evidence in ways that go beyond what you read or hear.

Politicians and campaigns are very good at suppressing and manipulating information to serve their purposes. That is where the individual must be responsible for sorting through evidence to come to a fair and objective conclusion. Unfortunately, it is time-consuming and tiring to do so. Sometimes it is downright confusing. Nevertheless, the individual who does not truly understand the issues (beyond reciting information from the media) easily falls victim to logical fallacies and misdirection- a tactic widely used in campaigns. To complicate matters, individuals have a tendency to identify with a person or “team” (ie. democrat, republican), and they then take cues on their positions from someone influential in that team. Some become extremely loyal and refuse to entertain anything outside of that circle. This leads the individual to accept arguments and evidence consistent with the position without being critical and to reject opposing arguments and evidence without understanding them. Even the wisest individuals are susceptible to this.

The key is to THINK for yourself. Resist the urge to side with the “team.” Be aware of tricks. Understand and consider the evidence. Come to your own conclusion. In order to do all of this, educate yourself about the claims that anyone makes, no matter what side of the issue. Ask yourself: How much of it is biased? Is there any missing or misdirected information? Question everything and learn as much as possible before coming to a conclusion.

Image

Image from Haley’s Comic by Haley Wolfe
http://www.haleyscomic.com/2012/01/race.html

I don’t care which side of the issue you take as long as you can have an educated and passionate discussion that is devoid of insults and epithets. Be reasonable and civil. Prove to me that you can think beyond what others say. Show me that you care enough to understand and know the issues, making the argument your own rather than a recitation of someone else’s talking points. If you can do those things, you may very well bring something new to light that I hadn’t known. You may even succeed in convincing me to consider more or think differently.

A Long, Loud Sigh

The sigh- a noise that inevitably escapes my lips many times throughout the day. It can be a sign of a multitude of things. Sometimes it is slow, like air escaping from the tiny hole in a balloon, and I am deflating. Sometimes is fast, like air forced out of a paper sack, and I am releasing pressure. All things important in life can be defined in one sigh: contentment, fatigue, and frustration.

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