A March In The Right Direction

A March In The Right Direction

The Women’s March was about more than abortion rights. It was about more than equal pay. It was about more than opposition to Trump. The Women’s March was about the empowerment and equality of women around the world.

I participated in the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. this past Saturday. After the march, I was in a store wearing a shirt from the event, and I received hateful language from some people. One woman in particular made me think about the mission of the march. She approached me and blurted, “Oh yeah, women’s rights in America, like we don’t already have them. We don’t have people mutilating our vaginas or excluding us from society. People here need to stop complaining. We are lucky to live in the United States as women.” I politely agreed, probably to her surprise, and simply said that I completely understood what she was saying and that I feel very grateful to live in the U.S.

I have often dealt with the feeling of guilt when thinking about how good I have it compared to women in other countries. But after thinking about that women’s comment, I realized something: just because others have it worse doesn’t mean that we stop working toward total equality where we are, and where it is actually a close reality. Other countries have so far to come in understanding and accepting women’s rights, but that doesn’t change that America still needs progress.

Saying that people are selfish for fighting for rights that women in other countries could only dream of having is ignorant. We as individuals, and as women, do not neglect underprivileged women in other countries. We understand, we listen, we watch, and we act on behalf of every woman. And we are not limited to supporting one single movement. Just because we fight for certain rights in America doesn’t mean that we aren’t also working for more equality in other countries as well. We are not limited to one purpose, to one mission. We can advance our purposes here while also advancing others across borders.

This empowerment and equality was not confined to the U.S., in fact, there was a march / protest on every continent. This was far bigger than “liberals complaining about not getting what they want”. It was about the world coming together in response to an inferiority complex reflected onto women in all societies.

A lot of individuals displayed contempt toward the march because of certain values it represented. Many people refused to march because it supported things (i.e, abortion / planned parenthood) that they did not agree with. But I think this march was about far more than those things. This was about overall equality and fair treatment – this was about empowerment.

I am neither a staunch Republican or Democrat. I do not affiliate with a specific party nor profess preference on a lot of issues. I think that I would consider myself pro-life, but I am not sure how I feel about planned parenthood and every aspect that it provides to individuals. I don’t despise Trump, and I do not like Trump. I support equal pay, and equal treatment of women in the workplace. I believe in equal opportunity. And I believe in the empowerment of women.

Although I do not hold strong viewpoints on some issues, I decided to march. Not for a particular issue, but for the broader issue. I marched for women all over the world. I marched for peace. I marched for empowerment. I marched for myself, my sisters, my mother, my friends, and all of the women I don’t know. I marched for every woman who feels oppressed, unequally treated, or discriminated against. I marched for those who have experienced sexual assault. I marched for the women of the world.

On the issue of the march participants not welcoming pro-life women I have a few thoughts. First of all, I participated in the march as a pro-life woman, and I found common ground with all of the women at the march apart from that issue. I wish that the march was not hostile toward outwardly pro-life women; however, I do understand that the march was put on by and supported by Planned Parenthood. They, and all of their supporters, have the right to feel put off by people who disagree on such a large women’s rights issue.

I wish that people could have put specific issues to the side and marched for a bigger issue, but uneasy feelings on the specific issue is understandable. I would have liked to see women of all beliefs come together and march for empowerment and equality all around the world without being divided by the issue of abortion. And I think that time will one day come, and this march was a stepping stone toward a more equal and accepting future even between females who hold different views.

The Women’s March was the most peaceful protest I have ever experienced or even heard of.

There were all sorts of protesters at this march, not just women or even people fighting solely for women’s rights. There were men, women, and children. There were people standing up for women’s rights (and every different issue associated with such a topic), environmental action, LGBTQ equality, and other issues. It was incredible to see so many different people come together and stand up for what they believe in while rallying around the idea of women’s rights.

And this march was not a rally to show hatred toward Trump. While there was some rhetoric used opposing Trump and his new presidency, that was not the point, nor the main issue of the event. Granted, there were mostly liberals at this march, because many of the issues are more aligned with their viewpoints; however, they were not there to solely bash Trump or republicans. They were fighting policies, not a person – ideologies, not a party.

People need to learn how to empathize – how to listen to a person’s viewpoint without bashing or judging them. We are to be people who consider every side, who listen to others, and who desire understanding when it comes to someone else’s opinions. People live from experience, they believe what they believe because of their environment and experience. And you are far different than the person sitting next to you in every aspect. Reach out. Listen. Learn from others’ experiences. Research issues. Radiate love.

I think what I learned most from this experience is that this world has so much passion and so much love, and we need to focus that in the right direction in order to create good change in the world. Hate does not create long-term, positive change. It is love, empathy, and understanding that produces enduring change in the end.

Listen.

Learn.

Seek to understand.

Be the change.

Be the love.

The Morals Of America Cannot Be Tarnished By One Man

The Morals Of America Cannot Be Tarnished By One Man

After last night’s election results, a lot of Americans are feeling disturbed, disappointed, and some even frightened. As a privileged, white citizen, many of Trump’s words, and possibly soon to be actions, do not affect me; however, as a woman, many of them do.

But I want to try to look at this situation in a different light.

Among feelings of racism, sexism, and other horrible misconceptions, parts of this election have looked these wrongs in the eye and replied a confident, “I don’t think so.”

Aspects of this election have been a huge win concerning race and gender. Hillary Clinton is the first woman to ever top a major party’s presidential ticket. Pramila Jayapal is the first Indian-American woman to be elected in the US House of Representatives. Kamala Harris became the first black Senator in two decades (Cosmopolitan). Kellyanne Conway is now the first woman to successfully run a presidential campaign. So how could we say that this election was a complete loss for all minorities?

There were many historical breakthroughs that resulted from this election, and Trump’s win cannot stop that.

Yes, Trump has proven to promote racist, sexist, homophobic ideas, but that does not mean that the rest of America does, or that we ever will. Saying that all Trump supporters are clearly racist, sexist, and a bigot is completely inaccurate. Many people who voted for trump are simply ignorant to some of the main threats he poses to America, which we have to force ourselves to understand, because they are not going to be affected by any of these threats. Many people have grown up privileged, uninformed, and comfortable. We simply cannot expect them to understand the reality of racism and other harmful ideas. Yes, this is a problem, but it can much more easily be changed because these are not stone cold individuals with no heart. They have the ability to change, and we must help initiate that change by showing them love and grace.

There are many other examples of people who voted for trump that are not bigots, but simply confused individuals who had to choose the lesser of two evils in this election. We have to refrain from unfair judgement on all Trump supporters.

I am not, however, ignoring the fact that there are definitely intolerant, racist, sexist, homophobic Americans in this country. There are. And it is horrible. But that is not the majority of Americans, and I firmly believe it never will be.

I think we can use this election to make minority communities stronger than ever before. Women, blacks, hispanics, Muslims, and other groups can use this election as a fuel to strive toward a better future. Instead of taking this election as a loss, we can use it as a reason why we need to keep fighting, even harder than before, because we are so close to breakthrough in so many ways. I believe that this election may very well be the driving factor for minority groups to stand up and say, “No, I will not sit by and watch. I will participate. I will fight for my rights. And I will succeed.”

The thoughts and actions of one man, even if he is the President of the United States, cannot and will not change the hearts of the millions of hopeful Americans who so badly long for change. This time can be seen as one of unity, strength, and determination.

We, as a country, must continue in love, grace, acceptance, and understanding. We must love our neighbors as well as our enemies, because our enemies can never become our neighbors if we do not love them first.

I hope that Americans realize soon that it is often what feels like a huge defeat that ends up being the driving factor for radical, positive change.

If you’re feeling forgotten, unloved, unrepresented, and cheated, look to the future, because we can make it greater than we could even hope. The American people are stronger together than they are divided, and I hope we can all learn to love radically. And we are stronger as a collective than Trump is as one man.

Let us live up to our name as the home of the brave as we challenge the system and demand equality.

Words: Why They Matter So Much In A World That Tells You They Don’t

Over the past year I have learned so many valuable lessons and gained so much wisdom. This has been a direct result of the school I have been placed at and the people that I have been blessed with in my life. I surround myself with wise, Christian friends who uplift and encourage me in my faith; but I am also close friends with a lot of non-Christians who are really great people. Over this past year I have become a lot more open about my faith and the wisdom that God has placed in my heart. I don’t post these things to make myself look righteous, or to feel prideful when people comment on my posts. This isn’t about me. The things I post, say, and do are a direct result of the movement of God in my life, and it is all for him.

With that said, it has been interesting to see and hear different people’s responses to the things I post, whether that be from strangers, mutual friends, or my close friends. I have noticed that people I don’t know well are the ones who regularly respond positively to my posts and follow up with me about a question they have or just a text saying that the words I had spoken really helped them at that moment in their life. And that sort of thing really keeps me going and makes me realize that a small post can impact someone in a huge way – someone I may not even know. God is incredible and he works in crazy ways.

Now, on the other hand, I have gotten a lot of ridicule about my posts from my close friends, and from those I know very well. I am told that I am a different person at Loma than I am at home, that I seem to be crazy about Jesus and post about him every day when I’m at school but then I don’t when I’m at home. Im told that no one reads my posts. That what I say is irrelevant because it’s too long and no one reads it. And sometimes I believe them. And I think it’s part of the reason I haven’t posted as much about Jesus since I’ve been home this summer. And that makes me sad.

But I want you guys to know that I am the same person everywhere I go, and that my love and heart for Jesus does not change depending on where I am and who I’m with. But, with that said, it is very hard transitioning from school to home, especially when they are 2 drastically different environments. At school I am surrounded by people who share my same faith, morals, and beliefs, and I am reminded of my purpose and the love of Jesus every day. However, when I come home, I’m either working, hanging around the house, or doing something else that’s a part of everyday life. And in these moments I am not surrounded by Christians who are constantly uplifting me and encouraging me to live out my faith. I don’t have chapel 3 times a week, I don’t have Bible class, I don’t have Bible Studies with my friends. It is different here, and that is undeniable.

So yes, it is different being here and not at school, and yes, it is really hard on me. I make mistakes, I don’t post as much as I wish I did, I don’t talk about Jesus as much as I should, but I am imperfect and I am working on it. I do not want to be another stereotypical Christian that turns so many away from Christianity and the Good News of God. I want to be someone who is consistent, trustworthy, and wise.

Through all of the criticism I receive from those around me and through the criticism I put on myself, this journey is never easy. But I whole heartedly believe that what I’m doing matters. What I share matters. What I say matters. I matter. And that’s what matters. And I know that because Jesus has told me first hand. So if you find yourself in a similar position, know that you don’t have to listen to the criticism, you don’t have to get down on yourself, and you don’t need to be afraid of being who God needs you to be. Every post, every word, every action, can make a larger impact than you’ll ever know. And you may never know what an impact you are truly making, but trust me, you are making one. We are all making an impact.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

-Hebrews 12: 1-3 (NIV).

Just Be You

Relationship Advice 101: Do not ever pretend to be someone you’re not in order to impress the other. Do not mold your morals, your beliefs, and your desires to fit that of the other. When you first start dating someone, it is so important to be straight up about your beliefs, your future plans, and anything else that may be pertinent to who you are intrinsically. I know it’s tempting to want to be everything that the other would desire and put on a front that appeals to them; however, this “pretend” version of yourself will soon get worn down and tired of the expectations held by the other because of what you led them to believe about you in the beginning. The other will seem overbearing and irrational in what they believe and the ways they expect you to act. But the truth is, they don’t have crazy standards, and they aren’t trying to control you, they are trying to keep you accountable to the life they thought you lived and wanted. And the truth is, you can’t take back what you said, you can’t take back the pretend version of yourself, and mostly you cannot make the other understand your frustration with their standards.

So when you crave that beer so badly that you cannot help yourself any longer, after you swore to the other that you were 6 months sober and had no intention of living that way again, you will realize what you got yourself into. The other will try and try and try again to convince you that you’re just slipping and you can be strong again, but the truth is you won’t want to “be strong”. It’s not wrong to drink that beer, it’s not wrong to want to do many of the things that you want to do, but thats your belief. To the other, it is wrong, and that’s okay, but because of the lies you told in the beginning of your relationship, they will never understand how you could turn into someone else, when in reality you were always that person. So you cannot be angry at the other for wanting to “change” you, for wanting to help you, for wanting you to be the version of yourself that you made them fall in love with. And when you start to get tired of this new life, you will start to behave differently, and the truth will begin to unravel. Because the truth is you cannot change yourself in order to impress someone else, because you will eventually crave the old life you led, and that desire will always triumph over the life you’re faking- the life you really don’t even want to live. You cannot sustain a life built on beliefs that you don’t really feel conviction enough to uphold. They were never your beliefs to begin with, they were theirs. Love is not about impressing the other.

Love is not about molding yourself to be what someone else wants. Love is not built on lies. Save yourself the heart-wrenching experience of trying to recreate yourself out of obligation, and save the other from having to endure the unbearable heartbreak of losing someone that they truly never even knew. Save yourself the trouble and please, be straight up from the beginning. You hold your future in your hands; you get to decide how this ends. S0 be honest, be up-front, be transparent, and the person you are meant to be with will love the person you are.