Mixed Messages

Mixed messages

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A girl can be anything in this day and age
Her mind and her body are no one’s but hers
She’s free to explore and to learn all she can
Science and reason will improve the world

Emotional creatures like women can’t lead
She must smile and give hugs and kiss on command
If she’s not a mother then she’s not a woman
Progress is evil and must be restrained

Men like strong women

Obey without question

Be pretty, be sexy

Women are sluts

Using her talents and knowledge is vital
She can think what she wants in the land of the free
Everyone’s equal and deserves basic rights
She can live how she wants, walk in public with pride

Boys don’t like smart girls, she should play dumb
She must keep her thoughts private to be safe in the crowd
Some deserve scorn because they are different
If she does not conform she’s a hag or a whore

Be true to yourself

Be a good little girl

Live an authentic life

Live a perfect life

Her feelings are hers, she does not have to hide them

She is ordered to smile by strange men in the streets

She is told she is special and loved and respected

She is told she’s a sinner, unworthy of grace

Her intelligence shines and brings her success

She is never to boast, she must humble herself

Why aren’t you happy?

Why are you angry?

Why won’t you smile?

Smile, bitch, smile.

The World is not Black and White

Absolutist thinking only makes things worse.

(I originally posted this as a response to someone on Facebook, but I decided due to its length it would work better here.)

My problem with simply making abortions illegal is that without finding ways to eliminate the perceived need for them — through programs such as nation-wide comprehensive sex education and access to birth control (https://mic.com/articles/98886/the-states-with-the-highest-teenage-birth-rates-have-one-thing-in-common#.dZnzMbb69), free or low-cost access to comprehensive medical care for pregnant women and new mothers, extensive paid maternity AND paternity leave (https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/08/these-10-countries-have-the-best-parental-leave-policies-in-the-world), and massively increased social and financial support for all new mothers, especially those from low-income families or those whose children have severe disabilities (http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/04/18/another-nation-giving-parents-free-box-baby-supplies) — making abortion illegal will not make it go away. It will merely drive it underground, and women will suffer and die needlessly as a result:

The world is not black and white. All living creatures have sex; they are driven by biological forces to do so. And while many species do so only because of the drive to pass on their genes, many others (not only humans) also do so for pleasure. When societies ignore that fact by simply saying “sex is bad and don’t do it; if you do, the baby is your punishment,” without preparing for what will happen when (not if) that directive is ignored — whether intentionally or through coercion (incest or rape) — they criminalize women and girls simply for the fact that they contain a reproductive system that functions like reproductive systems are supposed to.

Until our society fills in all of the gaps to prevent unwanted pregnancies, rape, incest, poverty due to the cost of raising a child, or bankruptcies due to paying the long-term medical expenses of a disabled child who will never have any sort of quality of life, abortions will continue to happen. And as long as people hide behind morality to avoid REALITY, billions of dollars will be spent on protecting potential humans while ignoring the millions of actual, here-on-earth humans who are suffering every day.

For those who choose to base their entire worldview on a handful of verses in the Bible, here are some suggestions:

On Protecting the Environment

  • Genesis 2:15: The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
  • Proverbs 12:10: The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
  • Psalm 24:1: The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

On the Importance of Education

  • Proverbs 10:14: The wise store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin.
  • Proverbs 17:27: The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered.
  • Proverbs 18:15: The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge, for the ears of the wise seek it out.
  • Hosea 4:6: My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
  • Ecclesiastes 7:12: Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: Wisdom preserves those who have it.

On Helping Those in Need

  • Matthew 25:40: The King will reply, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
  • Proverbs 19:17: Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.
  • Acts 2:44-45: All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
  • Philippians 2:3: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.
  • Luke 6:31: Do to others as you would have them do to you.

On Equality and Human Rights

  • Psalm 67:4: May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples with equity and guide the nations of the earth.
  • Leviticus 19:33: When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them.
  • Luke 6:31: Do to others as you would have them do to you.
  • Mark 12:31: The second [greatest commandment] is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
  • James 2:8-9: If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.

(translations taken from the New International Version)

I fear not for myself

I fear not for myself:

  • I am straight, white, and cisgender, privileged with a high level of education and a stable job with full healthcare benefits.
  • I can love whom I choose; live my life freely according to my religious views; and walk in public without being targeted as an “Other”.
  • I can afford doctor’s visits, medical tests, surgical procedures, prescription medications, and birth control.
  • I have been fortunate enough to avoid being sexually harassed or assaulted.
  • I have not been demeaned in the workplace or in public because of my gender.
  • I can use a public bathroom without fighting for the right to do so.

I fear for those who are not like me:

  • Those who are condemned for who they love.
  • Those who are viewed as “Other” due to their skin color, religion, language, or gender.
  • Those who are victimized, injured, or killed because they are different.
  • Those who work so hard at low-paying jobs but cannot afford to feed their families or treat their health problems, who need the social safety net to survive and who are labelled as “lazy,” “leeches,” or “Welfare queens” for it.
  • Those who need to see a doctor, have a medical test or surgical procedure, or use a medication and cannot afford any of it
  • Those who are called “sluts” for using birth control.
  • Those who have been sexually harassed, assaulted, or raped, who are not believed and do not seek help out of fear of reprisal.
  • Those whose histories of abuse, job loss, or addiction have driven them to a desperate life on the streets, whose pleas for help are answered with arrests, beatings, or death.

I fear for children:

  • Children who are deprived of food, shelter, or clothing because their parents cannot afford to support them, no matter how many hours they work.
  • Children who are deprived of the love and attention of their parents because those parents have to work two or more jobs just to survive.
  • Children who have been told their parents are bad people because they are not straight, white, or cisgender.
  • Children whose existence is one of abuse and suffering because the same society that fights (often violently) for the rights of the unborn blocks efforts to support them once they are born.
  • Children who will never escape the trap of poverty because funding that could be used to improve their schools is instead used to build weapons for a bloated military or to try to take away rights from others.
  • Children who need medical care or dental care to set them up for a healthy life, but cannot get it because their parents can’t afford it.
  • Children who have been bullied because they are different from their peers.

I fear for our world:

  • A world in which scientific consensus is too frequently ignored in favor of emotionally-charged talking points.
  • A world whose well-being is strongly influenced by the choices our country makes, whose populations may feel threatened by this most recent choice.
  • A world in which our country has to exist alongside everyone else, and yet our future leadership promotes a nationalist, “us versus them” stance.
  • A world with dwindling animal populations, increasing pollution, and worsening climate change that have already impacted the physical and economic wellbeing of people in this country and across the globe, while our future leadership believes that these things either do not exist or do not matter.
  • A world with people who look to us for hope for a better future, inspired by the “American Dream” and the call to “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…,” who have now been told that this dream is only for those who conform to specific racial, religious, economic, and gender statuses, and the tired and poor may never breathe free here.

And I fear for those like me:

  • Those who conform to the “appropriate” race, religion, and gender identity, but want to stand in solidarity with their fellow humans who do not.
  • Those who struggle to stand up for their beliefs within a community in which their beliefs are the minority.
  • Those who want to make the world a better place for every person, not just people who look, worship, and love the same way they do.

A final thought: A society is only as strong as its most vulnerable member. If we do not help those more vulnerable than us, we weaken society for all. Jesus said that “whatever you [do] for one of the least of these, you [do] for me.”

We must continue to fight for the “least” of us:

  • That their rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (many of these rights so recently gained) are not lost.
  • That they really have equal opportunity for success and happiness: social support, education, and healthcare.
  • That they are not forced to live in misery due to laws passed by the least vulnerable and most privileged members of society.

I fear. I hope. I fight.

Values

Been thinking about my core values. Or trying to — it’s hard to think past anxiety and depression. But I believe it’s so very important to live an authentic life. I have spent too much time being afraid to be myself 100% of the time. I don’t want to live that way the rest of my life.

I can’t do anything about the state of the world. But I can do something about how I live in it.

I know that I value human rights and personal autonomy — the right of every person to live his or her life according to his or her values, in the way that brings him or her the most satisfaction and contentment. If a person lives his or her life without causing harm to others, he or she should receive no condemnation from others.

I value human lives — thus I believe that it is important for every person to have access to medical care and comprehensive health education, regardless of that person’s social or financial circumstances. When every person is given the opportunity to understand how his or her body and mind works, and what its needs are, he or she can make the best decisions for his or her physical and emotional well-being.

I value education — providing every person the tools and skills to encounter, understand critically, and utilize whatever information he or she needs, and to gain from it the knowledge and wisdom to be productive and happy members of society. From ignorance comes fear. And fear is a powerful weapon for those who know how to wield it.

Likewise, I value reason over emotion. “Feeling” that something is true does not make it true. History, the physical and social sciences, and the arts and humanities have recorded all that humanity has learned. Ignoring that record of knowledge in favor of (often highly-charged) emotions leads to a society governed by fear, hate, and anger.

Instead of fearing the unknown, embrace the fact that there is so much left to learn. Instead of hating those who are different, try to understand them and empathize with them. And instead of letting anger control you, view the world with compassion.

Every person has his or her own path. Instead of blocking the way, try lighting it.