Snowflakes, Delicate Little Snowflakes

A delicate little snowflake. That’s what the Right likes to call the Left – especially us bleeding heart liberals (since when did caring for human beings become a bad thing??). It’s meant to imply that we are weak and delicate. Sure, one snowflake can melt under the sun and heat, but 65 million snowflakes? Together, snowflakes are mighty.

When snowflakes come together, it’s a beautiful and majestic sight. People dream of it and when it happens on Christmas, it’s pure magic. One Snowflake can’t change the landscape on its own, but bring us all together and we can change everything.

Together, snowflakes are anything but delicate.

Together, snowflakes can bring power to its knees.

Together, snowflakes can move mountains and reshape landscapes.

Together, snowflakes can shut down cities and stop traffic.

Together, snowflakes can change the conversation.

Together, snowflakes can unite us all.

Together, snowflakes can blanket the ugly and reveal beauty.

Together, snowflakes stand tall and grow stronger with every additional snowflake.

Alone, a single snowflake will melt and wither away. But, when we come together, we add up to an unstoppable force.

Entitled Millennial

I am an entitled millennial libtard.

Some will say I am a delicate snowflake … or a delusional one, depending on who is doing the name-calling. This used to bother me. I used to argue that I was not a millennial, but rather a Gen Xer. And depending on who is defining the terms, I fall into either generation. After this election, I am embracing my millennial status fully and unabashedly.

We are not entitled, lazy brats. We aren’t asking for the world to be handed to us. We aren’t living in our parent’s basements – and those that are, aren’t there out of choice. We aren’t delicate little snowflakes asking to be coddled.

What are we? We are strong and we fight against injustice. We work hard. We are entrepreneurs. We are leaders. We are voters. We are contributing to society. We care – about America, each other, our families, our friends, our futures and our careers. And, like it or not, we are the future of America and we have some pretty big ideas. All we are asking for is the same respect you demand from us and an open table for discussion.

Why do they call us entitled? Is it because we demand to be heard? We demand equality for all? We demand social justice? We demand that our planet be taken care of?

Is it because they are scared that we are right and that the previous generations might just have screwed up so royally that our generation and the ones to follow will be cleaning up their mess for centuries?

Let me lay out just how “entitled” we are …

We don’t want free education. We know public education comes at a cost. We understand that making post-secondary education accessible for all isn’t free. What we don’t understand is how the greatest country in the world can place such a low value on education. How is it that in 2016 in America, college is a privilege? How is it right that college is nothing more than a pipe dream if you weren’t born into the right home, in the right part town and with the right skin color? You scream at us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, but what do those without bootstraps do? They fight cyclical poverty and oppression and are greeted with anger, hate and violence if and when they break free.

Healthcare is not a privilege. Period. End of story. The fact that we even argue about the cost to keep people – children, senior citizens, moms, dads, etc. – healthy is disgusting. No parent should ever have to worry about financial ruin if their child is sick. The arguments I hear against the ACA or even a single payer system are despicable. When you argue about the cost to tax payers or insurers to cover those with preexisting conditions or those high risk individuals, you are putting the value of a dollar over the value of a human life. That is entitlement. Desiring a good healthcare system that benefits all is not entitlement.

If my taxes are raised to cover the cost of these, then count me in. The few extra dollars I’ll pay each month far outweigh the consequences of not acting. I’ll gladly give up another 3-5% in taxes to ensure my son has a future in which all Americans, including him, are educated, healthy and equal.

Equal rights for every American is a fundamental right guaranteed by our Constitution. Our country was founded on the idea that all are created equal and should have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Again, demanding social equality and social justice isn’t being an entitled brat, it’s being a defender of the American Constitution and being a decent human being.

We also believe in science and we know that our dependence on fossil fuels is dangerous to our planet and our economy. The greed for oil has clouded our judgement on foreign affairs. Our greed for things like plastic, money, cars, etc. has started to destroy our planet. Science is not a fairy tale. It’s not a joke. It’s not a hoax. It is real and we are terrified for the future of our planet – it is the only one we call home and we are treating it like a toilet. Wanting a world to raise our families in isn’t being entitled, it’s being a good steward of the planet.

We believe in the First Amendment and our protests and marches aren’t just for show. We believe in the what we are fighting for – we aren’t whining or crying. We are fighting. You are intimidated because we aren’t just sitting back and taking it. Previous generations fought for and won social change, how are the protests of today any different? How is exercising the rights our Founding Fathers believed so strongly in being entitled?

You want to know what real entitlement is? It’s being born lucky and privileged and thinking that the world owes you something when you already have everything. Entitlement is dismissing those that are oppressed and ignored as being whiners. Entitlement is caring more about someone having more than you rather than worrying about someone that has less. Entitlement is putting the value of money above the value of your neighbor. Entitlement is having the privilege to ignore a problem because it doesn’t apply to you.

The next time you want to slap the label of entitlement on me or my generation, take a good, long hard look in the mirror.

But, You Did It

I often hear people complain about the poor and ask why can’t they just get a job. They look at the homeless with disgust and fear rather than compassion. Work harder! Go to college! They look to my path and story and tell me, “you did it.” Yes, I went from making a poverty level income to having a professional career. But, I was lucky.

I was born into a white middle class family. I had the luxury of choice. When I chose to not go to college after high school, it was an option not a mandate. When I chose to take a $20,000 pay cut to finally go to school, I had that option because I had a white middle class upbringing to fall back on.

Yes, it was hard and every monthly bill was a struggle. But it was a choice. Yes, I worked 40-70 hours each week while going to school full time. Yes, I still did it in four years and graduated with honors. But, I was lucky. I was so lucky.

Had I not had a mother to lean on when things became near impossible, I wouldn’t have made it.

Had I had children, I wouldn’t have afforded it.

Had I been unable to get student loans, I wouldn’t have even tried. Although, now as I stare at that mountain of debt, I wonder if it really was worth it.

Had I been born into a family where college was a pipe dream, I’d never have known I even had a choice.

Life and luck handed me a lot of privilege that made it possible for me to go to college and begin a career that gave me the opportunity to get ahead.

I didn’t ask for or expect handouts, but I am grateful that they are available for those that need them because they weren’t born into the situation I was.

For so many children in America a reality in which there is no choice truly does exist. Those born into abject poverty. Those born into a family where no generation has ever gone to college. Those who were brought here illegally as infants and children.

These children go to bed hungry and they wake up hungry. They miss class so they can work to provide for their families. They forgo their future in order to help their family make ends meet. They repeat the cycle with their own children because it’s all they know.

Let’s look at a quick, generic sample of how this plays out. Say they get a job at minimum wage after high school so they can start to save for college. Their pay is $7.25 per hour and they work 40 hours a week. Before taxes, they earn $290 a week; after taxes (assuming state income tax) they take home roughly $247 a week. That’s $988 a month or $12,844 a week. For fun, let’s say they add a part-time job that’s 15 hours a week and bring home an extra $100 a week to being their annual total to just over $18,000 and the monthly to $1,388.

Let’s assume the following information: they don’t live at home because their home isn’t safe or stable, they are single and don’t have a child to support. For the sake of argument, it’s highly likely that they are supporting at least one child, but let’s keep it simple.

Rent: $600
Utilities: $150
Groceries: $150
Transportation: $150 (maybe they have a car or they take public transportation – this is likely a lowball estimate)
Health Insurance: $200 (if they are fortunate enough to have the option)
Total Estimated monthly bills: $1,250

Working 55 hours a week at a full and part time job, they are left with just $138 to save for emergencies and their future. That’s assuming there is no debt and no unexpected bills. And that they don’t buy other necessities like clothing, household supplies, etc.

I wish I still had the budget sheets from when I was in this exact scenario … entire notebooks filled with numbers and attempts to make the ends meet.

Higher education is not affordable or attainable for all and that is unacceptable. Changing your stars isn’t something that can be done without blood, sweat and tears while tearing down the very walls put in place to keep you on your side of the tracks. So, telling someone to just get a job or just go to college isn’t a solution.

And when these people do break those barriers, some bemoan that they are taking our jobs and that it’s not fair.

What isn’t fair it right is tearing these people down whether they win or lose. Having compassion doesn’t make me a weak, pathetic liberal. It makes me a human being.

We need more compassion. We need more understanding. We need more support. We need more kindness. We need to do and not just say.

 

The First Amendment

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Freedom of religion. Freedom of speech. Freedom of the press. Freedom to peacefully assemble. Freedom to petition the government.

All right there in one amendment. The very first one. Our Founding Fathers found these six freedoms to be so important they wrote them first and grouped them together.

Why? Well, one would assume they believed strongly that these bore the weight of democracy. I’d wager to say they are grouped together because each of these freedoms are crucial together.

The First Amendment is not a buffet. You don’t get to pick and choose what applies, when it applies and to whom it applies. Every single citizen in America is guaranteed these rights regardless of whether you agree with what they are saying or not.

I share a lot of things that are my opinion and beliefs and I am passionate about all of them. When you disagree and comment, I respect your right to do so. I also reserve the right to respond. I continue to work on doing so more respectfully.

Freedom of Religion – the majority of America is of the Christian faith, but our country was founded as a haven for those seeking freedom from religious persecution. But, a few hundred years later and we seem to have forgotten this. There is a reason Thomas Jefferson fought for separation of Church and State; when the government meddles in religion or the church meddles in the government freedom of religion goes out the window.

Freedom of religion applies to Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Atheism, Scientology or any other religion. Before you argue about terrorism, let me remind you that I am talking about religion, not violence. Christianity has been on the giving end of violence, terror and fear over the course of its history and yet I can still separate the faith from the acts of those perverting their religion to further a personal or political agenda. Hence, separation of church and state.

Freedom of Speech – this is one that social media has put under attack. If we don’t like what you post, we feel you to shut up. If we don’t like what we see we attack. Over the course of history, we have defined what constitutes as free speech and what does not. Not included: hate speech, speech meant to incite or threaten violence, slander and libel. What is included: burning flags, sharing opinions, art, disagreement, etc.

Burning flags is a hot topic lately, pun intended. Here’s what I’ve never understood, getting up in arms as if by someone burning the flag they are attacking your freedoms. Yes, the fabric is gone, but the meaning still stands – the meaning of the flag lies with us, not the cotton or fibers that construct it. We, the citizens of the United States of America are the only true representation of our values. Can you imagine how angry someone must be to burn the symbol of the very freedom that gives them the right to do so? How threatened must they feel in their own country? It’s an act of protest and an expression of free speech. As someone who isn’t a minority, it might be hard for me to understand the true feeling of being oppressed by the country that touts freedom as it’s biggest calling card. But, the burning of the flag, the symbol of that freedom, is an act against the oppression. It is a way of saying “you say we are free and yet you refuse to provide those freedoms and protections to us based on skin color/religion/social class/etc.”

Freedom of the Press – without this small sentence the democracy that we live in would cease to exist. Dramatic? Yes. True. Absolutely. The press’s job is to report to the American people what the government is doing. And, yes, bias is often laced in the reporting. But, just because you don’t like what you hear does not mean it’s true.

Just as there is left leaning media there is right leaning media. You need to find a balance that provides both sides and reports it. And for the love of everything, please check facts. If you only follow Alex Jones or Michael Moore, you’re not getting he whole picture.

Freedom to Peacefully Assemble – If you’re still reading, bless you. I debated putting this first, but opted to follow the order the Founding Fathers laid out. The course of American history has been changed because our citizens are willing to stand up and come together for what we believe if right and just.

Rioting is not peaceful assembly. Taking to the streets and marching in protest is peacefully assembling. Blocking traffic is not rioting. Let me say that again … blocking traffic and marching are not rioting. They are not pathetic. They are standing up and coming together to fight what they feel is a violation of their rights. Just because you don’t agree with or understand their position does not make it any less protected by the First Amendment. For example, I despise all that the KKK stands for, but they still have the right to March. Where they lose that right is when they become violent or incite violence. Well, and the whole hate speech thing.

Freedom to Petition the Government – if we all stood back and just accept things are the way they are, we’d still be under British rule. The Declaration of Independent was the first time we exercised this right, although we didn’t have the right to do so at the time it was written.

If our Founding Fathers hadn’t had the gumption to stand up for what they felt was right, we’d still be sipping tea and singing Hail to the Queen.

The First Amendment the defining Amendment for American Democracy. These rights, which apply to all citizens, afford us the ability to stand up and fight for the good of our collective republic.

Election Postmortem

Two weeks later and I’m still wrestling with the idea that a quarter of America has enough contempt for their neighbors to elect a president willing to strip them of their rights. Perhaps I am naive, but I used to believe America was making progress on its racial, religious and gender divides. But, here we are.

It’s 2016 and we still haven’t grasped the concept of love they neighbor.

The United States will never succeed or last unless we all come together to support each other.

We, human beings, are all in this together. We eat the same food. We breath the same air. We walk the same earth. We are born and we all die. Why is that we use the little things to divide us?

We put ourselves it little classification buckets and we cling to those titles like they are gold. But, what truly defines us as human beings is how we treat each other. Do we help each other when we need it? Do we pick each other up when we fall? Or, do we laugh and mock those who struggle? It seems we gravitate towards the latter. And, that’s why we are where we are.

Since the election, I’ve amassed a large number of new “friends.” This group is, for the most part, like minded. We all had a similar goal and are seemingly connected. And yet, when one of us disagrees with a core belief of another, the wolves come out with pitchforks drawn. We are so quick to crucify our own when a dissenting thought emerges.

Aren’t these different thoughts and opinions the very thing that makes us great? Aren’t different ideas crucial to progress and growth?

I am just as guilty of dismissing an idea I disagree with, but I, we, need to learn to embrace those ideas and our differences. We all have common goals – we want the country we live in to be safe. We want to have a chance to succeed. We want happiness for ourselves and for our children.

In order to want and actually have these things, we have to want them for all citizens, not just those that are carbon copies of ourselves.

While I’m not fully ready to embrace President-elect Trump’s ideas for a utopian America, I am ready to find a path to move forward. How do we bridge the divide? How do we come back together and restart progress towards equality?

I think we start by loving thy neighbor.

Just Another Libtard Snowflake

Why have I been sharing so many political position posts? The answer is simple, I am incredibly tired of being called a libtard and I’m even more tired of being ignored and dismissed for thinking the way I do. I’m also sick of people assuming I am lazy, uneducated, begging for handouts or whatever liberal stereotype they’ve decided to label me with.

My political opinions aren’t trivially founded. They are based on my years of life experience and education, just as I assume yours are. And, just like yours, they are valid.

I’ve read a lot of posts lately that have called us sore losers. They said we are pathetic and need to just accept the results and move on. They want us to respect Trump as the president-elect and fall into line.

Just like they did with President Obama.

I nearly choked writing that.

The lack of respect that has been given to President Obama and the First Lady has been repugnant. The First Couple has been the very picture of grace and dignity, but were judged based on the color of their skin rather than their merit and work. His nationality was questioned to a distracting degree. He was called the antichrist. They shouted from the rooftops that he was not their president.

President Obama won BOTH the popular vote and the electoral college in both 2008 and 2012. Don’t believe that, look it up via a reputable site. Another fact, president-elect Trump did not win the popular vote, but he did win the electoral college. So, when you say the majority has spoken, that is true. They have and they spoke for Secretary Clinton. We just happen to have a system in place that prevents direct democracy. There are several reasons for this that I won’t get into or debate.

Regardless of that fact, he is still the president-elect. I don’t agree with it. I don’t like it. I don’t support the platform and rhetoric he ran on, but I do support the office. And, yes, that is possible.

That said, I will continue to fight for and stand up for what is right. I will stand beside those fighting for their rights and civil liberties to be protected. I will fight for the poor and disenfranchised.

If this hasn’t become abundantly clear, my voice will only be getting louder. I am certain those that don’t agree with me have already tuned out and that is ok. But, my goal is to share my positions is a safe place and to have the ability to explain the reasons why I believe what I do. Perhaps even shed some truth on what it means to be liberal.

Pro-Life is Pro-Choice

I’m pro-life. I am also pro-choice.

My personal belief and choice is pro-life, but politically I am pro-choice. If your first question is “how could you murder babies?”, there is little chance that what I have to say or share even matters to you. But, if your curiosity gets the best of you, read on. All I ask is that you have an open mind.

I am pro-life because I have felt a baby grow inside of me. I never doubted his existence or life. But, I was ready to be a mom and I was in a relationship ready for that life change. I chose to have a child long before becoming pregnant.

I am pro-choice because having a child is a choice. People choose to have children all the time. People choose not to have them as well. Family planning always has been a choice and it always will be.

I am pro-choice because I believe there is a better way. Let’s work to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortion, not outlawing it. Give women better access to prenatal care and women’s healthcare. Teach boys and girls how to prevent pregnancy and give them open access to contraceptives – and teach them they both own this. Support women in abusive controlling relationships and help them find a way to safety. Stop promoting a pro-rape culture.

I am pro-choice for all the women who have had to make impossible medical decisions and weighed the life of their child against their own life.

I am pro-choice for all the mothers who fought desperately to have a child only to have a late term miscarriage. After suffering this loss, they are now demonized and unable to get the medical care they need.

I am pro-choice because I strongly believe that a woman’s body is her own. No one should control what she puts in it and what she takes out of it, especially the federal government. She should feel safe in her body.

Pro-Life is Pro-Choice.

I Am With You

I am with you.

Regardless of the color of your skin, I am with you.

Regardless of who you love, I am with you.

Regardless of to whom you pray and how you believe, I am with you.

Regardless of which gender you were born with or identify with, I am with you.

Regardless of where you were born or how you got here, I am with you.

Regardless of your economic or employment status, I am with you.

Regardless of your level of education, I am with you.

Regardless of your political affiliation, I am with you.

Whether you are with me or not, I am with you.

These are not the characteristics which define us, but rather the things that make us us. They are what make us beautiful. They are what makes us great.

You can call me names and belittle me, but I am still with you.

Love conquers all. Love trumps hate. I am with you.

United we stand. Divided we fall. I am with you.

Call me delusional. Call me idealistic. Call me a dreamer. I am with you.

I will not back down. I will not give up. I will fight for love to win until my dying breath. I am with you.

I am but one voice. But, there are many like me and we are all with you.

We are more. We will do more. We are fighters. We are strong. We will stand up.

 

The Blame Game

I keep hearing and seeing a ton of blaming and finger pointing.

“If you voted for Jill or Gary, this is your fault!” “White women who voted for him are the problem.” “The FBI cost her the election.”

No. We did this. We let this happen. We watched and we did nothing. Until it was too late.

After a week of soul searching, that is the conclusion I came to.

We did this.

I didn’t speak up, I shared memes and articles. I got into Facebook comment wars. I didn’t do anything.

Well, I voted, which is more than half the country did. But, before that I sat at home and did nothing to fight the ugly and the hate. Instead, I shared it.

We have to do more than put on safety pins and post our rally cries. We have to get out and peacefully protest. We have to show up and act on the words we are sharing. Sitting back and being complacent is what got us here.

What else do we have to do? Accept that our privilege exists and do more to accept those that are different from us. Tolerance isn’t enough, tolerance is a backhanded compliment. We have to accept and love the differences between us. What’s more important is that we have to make others feel, welcomed, accepted and loved.

We have to learn that the struggle of our neighbor is our struggle. And, more importantly, we have to learn how to bridge those differences or we are never going to move forward. Because the only way we will ever move forward is if we do it together.

Stop blaming. Stop pointing fingers. Let’s use our energy to fight back and stand strong for what we know is right.

Love Trumps Hate

Today, I was comforted by a close friend and a conservative Trump supporter. She grieved with me and I with her as she grieved over relationships damaged by rhetoric and politics.

I assured her that I loved her regardless of the button she pushed in the voting booth.

As I’m sure you’ve all gathered, I’m incredibly passionate about politics and am firm in my beliefs. But, I’m even more passionate about those I love and I am fiercely loyal. I would lay down my life for a handful of family and friends and she is among that short list. Her Trump vote could never change that.

You see I truly believe that love trumps hate and I fiercely believe that not everyone that voted for him aligns with his actions or words. Some, like my friend, chose to cast her vote for the candidate whose policies matched hers. Just as I did. I may not understand the choice made, but I understand the reasons why. And I respect her and her right to vote and have a different opinion.

She is not the Trump supporter I am scared of. She doesn’t mock me or call me a libtard. She’s never once tried to change my mind. She hasn’t ever made me feel unsafe or unwelcome. I’d like to believe this is true for a majority of his supporters. Unfortunately, the loudest ones are and they are the reason we are scared. They are also the reason my friend is a quiet supporter.

The past few days I’ve wanted to reach out to assure her I still love and care about her and always will – politics will never divide us. But, I couldn’t find the words. It was breaking my heart as I wondered if anything I said hurt her.

Then she reached out. “We’re okay right?” A little piece of me broke at the thought that she even had to ask, but I know why she did. I replied immediately and assured her we were.

Will I ever agree with her politics? No. Do I despise Trump and the rhetoric he campaigned on? Yes. Does he represent my friend? Not even close.

We are divided. But, we have love and respect. That’s what makes us great. That is what used to make America great.

Trump is still a xenophobic, misogynistic, racist bigot, but she is not. Not even close. She is my friend and I am proud to have her on my team.

We have to come together. We cannot let this damage relationships. You cannot teach through hate. We fight hate with love.