Tag Archives: humanity

An Open Letter to Matt Walsh

Dear Matt:

*Trigger warning: the post below discusses sensitive issues, including abortion & abuse.*

I read your response to the Women’s March that took place on Saturday. While I could respond to the myriad of inaccurate things you said–including thesuper cala fragile....png
assertion that the wage gap between men and women doesn’t exist, or how masculinity and femininity are defined, or how you missed the point that the mission of the protest(s) directly correlates with the fact that a man who has openly assaulted women, degraded minority groups, rejected Climate Change and mocked the disabled was just inaugurated as President of the United States of America–I
am not going to.

I am going to address one thing. Abortion. Since your perception seems to be that all women attending the event seek to kill their young, let’s talk about that. And remember, I am talking about it because YOU made it the big issue.

“It [feminism] rejects all that is inherently kind, giving, compassionate, sacrificial, and loving in womanhood, encouraging women to live only for themselves instead — even if blood must be shed in the process.” – Matt Walsh

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Matt: Where are all of the vagina-clad, genitalia-obsessed women here?

Before I continue, I should preface this post with a few things, as I am confident you may disagree with me, chalking my comments up to being a “liberal” or one of “those” women or [insert other label you’ve called  women that disagree with your position].

  • I am a follower of Jesus, maintaining that if more lives were modeled after his example of compassion, love, self-sacrifice, and holy discontent, we would be living in a very different world.
  • I fall in the pro-life camp, believing that life develops upon conception; however, I am not without compassion, and I reserve judgement, for individuals that have been faced with the decision to terminate a pregnancy.
  • I am a feminist, acknowledging that each of us as individuals possess unique skills and abilities. We–males and females–should be treated equally. And when I use the term “equal” I am referring to basic human decency, which includes being judged or examined by our merit not our gender. In a married relationship, for example, each partner contributes to making the relationship work by using his/her gifts, which may or may not align with what “traditional” marriage roles dictate. If a husband enjoys cooking and is better at it, then he should do the cooking. Or, if a wife is an accountant, it makes sense for her to manage the family finances. Do you see the difference? Meritocracy over gender.

Now that that’s out-of-the-way, let’s talk about your condescending, judgmental, divisive, and awe-inspiring post about [mostly] abortion. You see, while my preference is that an individual never feels the need for an abortion, history has shown us that people make tough decisions when they feel desperate.

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This image also seems to be void of the vagina costumes and the like. Based on the signs we can see clearly, I read: “HOPE”, “Truth & Science”, “Don’t Frack in Maryland”, “We Go High”, “Mother By Choice”, “Resist Hate”, “Real Men Aren’t Bullies”, “Love”, “Fight Ignorance” and “Build Bridges Not Walls”.

This leads me to one question:

Why do you think a woman goes to Planned Parenthood?

I am guessing you think it’s because she needs information about how-to conduct “baby murder”/ is looking for a place to “murder” her baby. Sound about right?

From my vantage point, women started seeking out organizations like Planned Parenthood because it provided them with a SAFE place and non-judgmental advice/support regarding sensitive issues like unplanned pregnancy, as well as receive cancer screenings (pap smears, breast exams…), discuss infertility options, or accept care for general health needs like anemia testing, screening for cholesterol or diabetes, and vaccinations. In the case of something like an unplanned pregnancy, I anticipate women were (are) looking for a place where they wouldn’t be ostracized or slut-shamed.

Personally, I know six people who have terminated pregnancies, and all were due to complicated situations–not because they celebrate “murder”.

  • The first woman was married to a horribly abusive man –literally, he tried to kill her– and she already had two children. Since she didn’t have an escape plan, and couldn’t fathom bringing another child into a horrific situation, she chose an abortion.
  • The next four women were all in high school, three of whom attended a Christian boarding school. Rather than be ostracized, rejected and talked about publicly, they chose to terminate their pregnancies privately.
  • The third situation involved a woman in college that was pursued by a married man, promising he’d leave his wife because he didn’t love her anymore. When she became pregnant, he refused to share the responsibility and insisted she have the abortion. He drove her to the clinic to have the procedure done.

Each of the aforementioned women found themselves in terrifying situations that would have required an enormous amount of support to make it through their pregnancies let alone actually raise a child. And, if non-judgmental support doesn’t exist, it’s not hard to see what choice a woman may be forced to make.

  • If a man is going to beat a woman senselessly because she got pregnant, it may seem most logical to her to save herself (and another person) from additional abuse, right?
  • If young women find themselves in positions where they may be excommunicated or seen as tainted, used and damaged, isn’t it possible that they simply want to avoid that, and it’s not that they hate children and seek to “murder” them, as you say?
  • If a hopeful young woman falls in love and gets pregnant by a selfish man who never planned to stay with her anyway, does it seem SO ridiculous that she would fear having a child that only ever reminded her of her greatest mistake?

I anticipate that you may say something like: “Those women should never have been in those situations to begin with. They shouldn’t have had sex…” Sure, abstinence is the only proven method to prevent pregnancy, but have you ever done something that equated to undesirable consequences?

My point is that many (of course, not all) women make the decision to terminate a pregnancy out of desperation, as society is not in a good position to support families–especially single mothers. If the government, the Church, commentators (that’s you), and society as a whole did more to tangibly support and love women in general–including women with unplanned pregnancies–then maybe we would see a decrease in the number of abortions? Maybe women wouldn’t feel like they HAVE to fight for their own rights and fight to be heard?

It should also be said that if I had known about the aforementioned situations while the women were grappling with what to do, I would have stepped up to help as best as I could, understanding that the decision was ultimately hers to make.

So here’s a tip: Instead of shaming and condemning women, and intentionally disregarding the heart of what they’re saying, why not offer productive alternatives to what you disagree with?

Hate Planned Parenthood? Okay, then offer some alternative safe places for women with unplanned pregnancies to go to.

Hate abortion? Provide information on adoption agencies, complete with statistics about how many people are awaiting to receive a child.

Finally, here’s what not do to: What you just did. Make sweeping generalizations about why between 3 and 4 million women AND men marched in the United States, and why thousands more across the globe marched in solidarity.

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Dear humanity: let’s try to suck less

I opened Facebook on my iPhone tonight and was welcomed with:

Last week it was the:

Last month it was the:

And I feel like someone has just taken a sledge hammer to my heart, smashing it into a billion pieces.

This world sucks. Humanity sucks.

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The inhumanity of humanity seems particularly bitter today.

And despite my best efforts to stay rational about how news cycles work, knowing that  the bad stuff gets WAY more coverage than the good stuff, I’m struggling. I’m struggling because love needs to be louder. I know it’s out there, but why can’t it speak louder than all of this other garbage?

So tonight while I check on my daughters nestled in their beds, I am going to remind myself of the love. I am going to actively remember that:

  • For the one sick individual that kills a child, there are thousands of people mourning with the victim’s family, demanding justice.
  • For every person impacted by a lunatic that chooses to drive over people at a celebration in France, there are dozens of people who run to the aid of others.
  • For every right-wing group that takes to their soap boxes to spout hate speech at the mourners of the Orlando massacre, there are ‘angels’ there to block them.
  • For every event where a police officer incorrectly targets someone or misuses their authority, there are thousands of other officers doing AMAZING things in their communities.
  • For every fear-inducing, hateful act, there are loving acts.

And tomorrow when I wake, I am going to act.

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I’m going to start by extending kindness to my neighbours, hoping my actions will be marked by generosity and love instead of fear and hatred.

I’m going to hold my kids a little closer, and teach them empathy and compassion by my actions not by empty words.

Love is a verb and I (we) need to show our children and communities that it’s still there.

You with me?

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The Phenomena of Internet Trolls

***Trigger warning: the content below addresses issues of sexual violence and abuse as well as contains strong language.***

If you have spent any time on social media or reading the comments sections of YouTube or online articles, you’re familiar with internet trolls. Individuals that seem to lurk in their parent’s dark basements, waiting for the next best opportunity to disrupt online dialog. Undoubtedly, I have been amused by a troll or two. But, the number of times I have chuckled or appreciated harmless, clever or off-topic comments pales in comparison to the number of times I have gasped, felt rage or sat dumbfounded at the cruelty and heartlessness of some commenters. Last week was no exception.

On Monday, a friend of mine commented on a photo related to the United States’ National Infertility Awareness Week. There was some banter between my friend and another male. He stated several unsavory comments, which he deleted, but felt the need to follow up with my friend in a private message.

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On Wednesday, I watched a video released by the #morethanmean movement regarding the abusive Tweets female sports journalists receive on a regular basis. Sportswriters Sarah Spain and Julie DiCaro sat opposite to several volunteer males as they read some of these Tweets directly to the journalists. The men were not given the opportunity to preview the Tweets prior to reading them. Visibly moved, appalled and uncomfortable, the men read through the series of Tweets, including:

  • Sarah Spain sounds like nagging wife on TV.
  • I hope your dog gets hit by a car, you bitch.
  • One of the players should beat you to death with their hockey stick like the whore you are. C*nt.
  • This is why we don’t hire any females unless we need our c*cks sucked and our food cooked.
  • Hopefully the skank Julie DiCaro is Bill Cosby’s next victim. That would be classic.
  • I hope your boyfriend beats you.
  • Why bring up your own rape in the story? Is it your way at firing back at critics who say you can’t get any?
  • I hope you get raped again.
  • Sarah Spain is a b*tch I would hate f*ck.
  • You need to be hit in the head with a hockey puck and killed.

Statements like: “I don’t think I can even say that” and “I’m sorry” and “I am having trouble looking at you when I am saying these things” are uttered from the men, emphasizing how damaging these statements are, not to mention that it’s just as unacceptable to write these things as it is to say to another human being in person.

On Friday, I read an article from The Guardian that outlined the results of a research project regarding disruptive and abusive language in the comments section of the publication’s online articles. 70 million blocked comments (comments that were removed because they didn’t adhere to their community standards) were examined. Of those comments, the top 10 number of writers to receive the most number of abusive and disruptive comments consisted of eight women and two black men. On the opposite end of the scale, the top 10 number of writers to experience the least amount of trolling were all men.

Included in The Guardian’s summary of research findings are interviews with three of the writers in the “top 10” list of most number of abusive/disruptive comments on their articles. Two of whom are females Jessica Valenti and Nesrine Malik. Both are brave enough to be interviewed, and kind enough to share how abusive and disruptive comments impact them.

Valenti says that she often receives “the most horrible rape and death threats,” continuing that she get nervous “when someone comes up to me one-on-one to talk … Is this the person that threatened to rape me this week?”

To get to that place where you are used to being called a ‘c*nt’ everyday, that’s a terrible thing to get used to – that does something to who you are. – Jessica Valenti

As a result of such horrific online abuse, she decided to guard herself very carefully: “I have a P.O. box; there is no physical address listed [online]; I don’t check into hotels using my real name.”

As a humanist, I am stunned at the audacity abusers have when commenting.

Would they actually state that they’d rape a woman to her face? 

Would they heartlessly, in person, tell my friend to adopt a cat? 

Assuming online abusers wouldn’t actually say this in person, why do they feel it is acceptable to write it online?

Guardian authors Gardiner, Mansfield, et al say, “Anonymity disinhibits people, making some of them more likely to be abusive. Mobs can form quickly: once one abusive comment is posted, others will often pile in, competing to see who can be the most cruel.”

Malik believes that the “fundamental sense of entitlement enrages people [because] they don’t have that position and someone else that they do not respect does … I feel the motivation behind the comments is to wound rather than to make a legitimate point.”

The point is to intimidate, and the point is to hijack, and the point is to ensure that the conversation becomes about the troll and your position as an undermined person. Once that happens, they have won. – Malik

Admittedly, I am uncomfortable writing about this topic because I know I am making myself susceptible to online trolls. But, I firmly believe this conversation is far too important to shy away from it. This phenomena is growing at an alarming rate, and the disconnect between people is being amplified by online trolling. As a society, we have forgotten that behind each smart phone, tablet and computer screen is a human being. A human being that is digesting each word. A human being that is actually affected.

While most of us have not uttered death or rape threats, or preyed upon on someone’s personal misfortune, we have likely been less than courteous when dialoging online, or laughed when someone said something distasteful. And, we may have forgotten that behind the screen is a person.

Let’s remember that each online profile or username is someone else’s daughter or son, and that we have the opportunity to impact them, and online discourse, positively. We can be the change we’d like to see.

Let’s just be kind to each other, okay?

 

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Mourning for my children

Have you ever had one of those days where all of the pain and suffering in the world comes into focus, deeming you incapacitated to do anything? Yesterday was that day for me. As my three-year-old tried to recruit me into play, I obliged but couldn’t truly engage. My thoughts and my heart were, and still are, elsewhere. I am mourning with the people of Paris, Lebanon, Beirut, Syria, Baghdad, Mexico… I am mourning with the world.

I am mourning for my children.

The source of my mourning is rooted in the cruelty and selfishness of humanity, not specifically terrorism. While social media – specifically Facebook – erupted with hashtags of support, new filters to put over profile pictures, and news articles about the calculated attacks on Paris, other posts quickly cropped up, too. Attacks on Muslims and anti-Syrian rhetoric. Memes claiming that the welcoming of Syrians correlates to the welcoming of terrorists, specifically ISIS. Individuals that countered this notion were met with resistance and the conversations reached a stalemate, at best, and became volatile, at worst. With each post and disagreement, I felt increased sadness, and admittedly, disgust, for humanity.

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Photo released by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). Residents of the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, lining up to receive food supplies, in Damascus, Syria. Photo credit: UNRWA via AP, File

Sadness for those that have lost people due to an earthquake or hurricane or the horrific acts of terrorism. Disgust by the selfishness, cruelty and lack of empathy for human life, specifically the lives of over 4 million Syrian refugees currently displaced. For those of you that don’t know, here are a few facts, courtesy of Amnesty International and World Vision, regarding the Syrian refugee crisis:

  • Approximately 220,000 people have been killed.
  • 12 million people have fled their homes; half are children.
  • 12.8 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance inside Syria.
  • More than 50% of Syria’s population is currently displaced.
  • More than 4 million refugees from Syria are in five countries: Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.
  • The UN humanitarian appeal for Syrian refugees is just 40% funded.
  • Funding shortages mean that the most vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon receive less than half a dollar a day for food assistance ($13.50/month).
  • More than 80% of Syrian refugees in Jordan live below the local poverty line.
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Infographic courtesy of http://www.mercycorps.org

Here’s the deal. Bad things are already happening.

  • Sex trafficking/child pornography
  • Genocide
  • Terrorism
  • Natural disasters

With the exception of natural disasters, each issue shares some commonality: each has a person or group that seeks to exert power over another person, group or nation; each is often birthed from people experiencing poverty, socio-economic challenges, social-political challenges, cultural dissent and/or war [ii] [iii]. Often, natural disasters create an environment of poverty and socio-economic challenges.

What’s my point?

When people/groups are vulnerable it gives root to exploitation and desperation, and a person will often make poor decisions when he/she feels desperate.

The current living conditions in refugee camps can easily perpetuate or breed issues within an already vulnerable population, leaving them susceptible to crime, abuse, and terrorist recruitment [iv] [v] [vi]. Yes, terrorist recruitment. Terrorist leaders target vulnerable populations, specifically youth, during transitionary and uncertain times. Don’t we want to prevent the expansion of terrorism? Assuming this is a unanimous “yes!” then why wouldn’t we choose to assist those most susceptible to recruitment?

Why don’t we choose to embrace compassion over cruelty, acknowledging that by not doing anything we are basically saying we are willing to watch them die?

Why don’t we choose to cling to faith over fear, remembering that despite the worst of humanity we have the opportunity to be the best? (If you’re a Christian, what does Jesus say about faith and fear [vii]?)

Why don’t we choose to see that love and light conquer terror and darkness? (Again, if you’re a Christian, look to Jesus [viii] and remember that He has already conquered death – the battle has been won.)

Yes, something must be done about terrorism and ISIS in our world; however, denying the refugees from Syria access to a better future shouldn’t be considered a step in the right direction to end or prevent terrorism. We cannot punish millions of people for the destruction caused by a few.

Further, making decisions while in a state of fear means we are making irrational decisions. Fear clouds rational thought, much like hate or rage. And, if we are making decisions rooted in fear, how are we any better than terrorists that are making decisions rooted in hate and rage?

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Syrian children at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. Photo credit: Khalil Hamra, Associated Press

Look, we are all anxious about the future of our world. Rather than perpetuate the problems of our current day by acting out in fear, let’s choose to rise above it, embracing the good and being the good in humanity.

So, while my heart hurts today, and I am mourning for my children, I am going to choose to show them what light, love, compassion and humility look like. I am going to share stories with them about the people I have observed rise above fear. People like my former University Professor that has offered her professional skills to teach ESL to newcomers. People that have given to the Red Cross, hoping to see the UN’s Syrian Humanitarian fund grow from 40% to 70%. People that have chosen the harder road, challenging themselves to ache and feel the pain in our world, yet endeavour to still see the good in humanity.

It’s easy to hate and fear, but it’s better to love.


References

i. http://journalistsresource.org/studies/international/human-rights/refugees-around-the-globe-statistics-and-research-on-living-conditions-health-assistance-efforts

ii. http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/157181193×00013

iii. http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2001-00140-000/

iv. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1024269052000344855

v. http://abs.sagepub.com/content/44/6/982.short

vi. http://www.worldvision.org/news-stories-videos/syria-war-refugee-crisis

vii. Matthew 21:21; Matthew 8:23-27; Luke 12:1-11; John 3:20; Hebrews 11; 1 John 4:7-21

viii. Matthew 5

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