Thursday, June 30, 2016

Who Will Win?

2016 has been quite the little bitch, hasn’t she? We’ve lost musical geniuses, been caught up in Brexit and a bizarre (to say the least) U.S. Presidential election, grieved over increasing violence and terror … some days it seems the whole world is spinning out of control, hatred begetting violence and violence begetting hatred ad infinitum.

I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve gone to sleep with a dull sense of dread, but I probably don’t need to. I’m sure I’m not alone. It seems every day brings more bad news: Orlando, Istanbul, endless others … this month alone there have been 199 terror incidents around the world. How do we not grow numb from grief? Sometimes the numbers are hard to process, or the violence seems so far away, or we just need to shut it out so we can keep functioning.

But let us pause and acknowledge one moment in the horrible history of our world:

Last night, while her parents took her two younger sisters to some planned activities nearby, a thirteen-year-old girl crawled into bed. What did she imagine as she lay her head on that pillow? Did she have plans to play with friends the next day? Go swimming? Read a book? Did she dream of horses or dancing or boys? I’m betting she fell asleep confident there would be a tomorrow. Because at thirteen, why would she consider any other option?

But a seventeen-year-old boy broke into her home. While she slept, he drew a knife and stabbed her. Multiple times. She was transported to a nearby hospital in critical condition, and died shortly after.

She was thirteen.

Let’s take a moment to let that sink in: She was thirteen. Do you remember thirteen? I do. I was into dance and soccer, wrote really bad stories about puppy love, dreamed about a boy I’d met at summer camp, wouldn’t admit I still played with my dolls, listened to Prince and Michael Jackson, traded Garbage Pail Kid cards … And yes, I had fears: I was pretty sure there was a ghost in my closet, and I knew about stranger danger and predators and Freddy Krueger. I’d stood in front of a bathroom mirror and whispered “Bloody Mary,” I’d played on a Ouija board. These were the scariest things I could imagine. But the possibility that a boy just a little older than me, fueled by hatred and rage, would break into my home and stab me to death … ? Unimaginable.

Now, if you’re paying attention to the news, you’ll know this happened in Israel’s West Bank—that the girl was Jewish and the boy Palestinian. I purposely left that information out until now. I wanted you to imagine this little girl without prejudice. Because today a mom and dad buried their daughter, and two young girls said goodbye to their oldest sister. Somehow, they’ll have to face a lifetime without her. Can you imagine? The fact that she’s a Jewish girl from the West Bank shouldn’t matter. It shouldn’t.

But –

Political agendas and misinformation and bigotry and anti-Semitism are thriving in our media … in our country … in our world. We’re being stripped of our humanity. We’re being taught that isolation and weapons and walls equal safety, we’re being radicalized in all kinds of ways. Hatred and evil are riding neck-and-neck with ignorance and intentional blindness. And this blindness: It’s born of laziness. More and more, we form our opinions without digging past the headline of a news story. We’re too busy to get informed. We’re too lazy.

And being blind and lazy allows hatred and bigotry to win. We need to educate ourselves. We need to read past the headlines, and do so with the knowledge that our news is not factual and unbiased, so we need to consider the source. And dig deeper. And read more.

Today, radicalized hatred killed a thirteen-year-old girl. But radicalized hatred cannot survive where education thrives.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Excuse me, there's been some kind of mistake ...

I haven't done a lot of writing lately. Sure, I've thought about writing a lot. But when it comes to actually putting the pen to paper (or fingers to keys), I've been sorely lacking in the motivation department. It bothers me. Sometimes more than I admit. Which is silly really, because no one has control over how much I write except me.
Regardless, at the end of the day, no new words. It makes me feel not very accomplished. That age old question: What am I doing with my life? It's easy to look at that 0 daily word count and think 'I've accomplished nothing.' This also can be a worryingly easy thing to think about in this age of social media. We are literally barraged with constant updates on what everyone else has achieved. Oh, look at Jim Bob, he bought a new car and won $10,000! And Jessie Lee? She ran a marathon, baked 4 pies, and has washboard abs. And look at those awesome beach photos she took on her 12th vacation this month? Let the jealousy and inferiority complex commence.
I try to remind myself that I'm only seeing the highlights of everyone's s lives. I mean, no one is posting about their failures. Well ... usually. I seem to take perverse pleasure in letting people know how many times I've tripped each day. Or fallen up the stairs at the light rail station. Again.
Before you think this is just a post about my walking skills, or lack thereof, let me get to the point. I'm working very hard to recognize what I have accomplished in my day to day life, instead of focusing on what I have not. They always say life is what happens when you're busy making plans, right? So I'm trying to focus more on life, and less on the plan. We owe it to ourselves to dream big, but to also recognize when we've succeeded in the small things.
So that's what I'm doing lately. Focusing on the successes. Currently that involves forcing my lazy butt off the couch and too the gym. Because, guys,  I did something stupid. Like really, really stupid. I somehow, in a fit of insanity, agreed to do Tough Mudder. Really, this has to be some kind of mistake. A clerical error. I couldn't have agreed to do that?! Oh, you don't know what that is? It's only 10-12 miles of obstacle hell. And it looks horrible. And awful. And ... I'm not scared, you are!
But honestly? I'm kind of excited. Young me would have never dreamed of trying something like this. Never dreamed of thinking she could do something like this. And it's so exciting to feel myself starting to get stronger, to reach for something that scares me and thrills me all at once. I'm terrified of starting the race, but I can't wait to prove to myself that I can cross that finish line.
I hope the words come soon. I have so many stories to tell, and I want to get over whatever block is keeping them from getting on the paper. But until then, life is amazing. With its ups and downs, its little successes. I'm trying to focus on that. To enjoy what I'm doing now, and not beat myself up for what's not happening. Hopefully I succeed in this goal too. And maybe reading this helps someone out there refocus on their lives. Or at the very least, you enjoyed the gifs and had a little laugh.