Students’ Letters to Congress about School Safety

lessons, social activism, youth ministry

The other day I published a list of ideas to help talk to students about school shootings. As I stressed, I believe that the church should be a place where students feel safe–on both a physical level but also safe to have hard conversations…even about the most controversial issues.

School safety is one of those; everyone has a different idea of how to make our schools safer from mass shootings. But I know that all of us do believe that there should never be another mass shooting again…especially on a school campus.

Right now in our 8th grade class we’re talking about the spiritual gifts of prophecy, givers, and encouragement; gifts I’ve called the movers. Movers are people who speak out, who get things done, and who push for social and personal change.

At the end of each section of gifts, students have an opportunity to put those gifts into action. With recent events, I asked students to write letters to our Senators and Representatives.

I stressed repeatedly: I am not telling you what to write. I did provide a sample letter that I found online and beefed up a little. I also encouraged them to focus on one of the three main factors that people believe impact school shootings: gun laws, mental health, and general school safety. That was all I gave them.

Afterwards, I did give them some questions to process this. In truth, they didn’t have time to discuss my questions because they were so into the letter-writing and discussing their ideas for change. It was really cool to watch them think critically. Often times our kids only hear us diss our politicians, not think about how to constructively interact with them.

But the questions I gave them were about what it means to mold our politics and our faith together:

  1. How is this “speaking out?” How does this activity change your view of a “prophet?”
  2. Why is it our “Christian duty” to speak out against injustice?
  3. Why should Christians not only speak out, but also put their words into action?
  4. What else could we, as Christians, do to prevent school shootings?
  5. Often times we talk about a need for “separation between church and State.” When and why should your faith impact your political beliefs? How does your faith personally impact your political beliefs?
  6. When prophets predicted Jesus’s birth, they prophesied that Jesus would be a “great king” that would bring about “great political reform” to save them. It’s interesting that, even then, religion and politics worked together. What do you think Jesus would want to change today?
  7. (this question can get dicey, but let’s go for it) Why do you think religious people can have such different political beliefs? (be nice, don’t just blast Trump/Hillary/Bernie/Republicans/Democrats…think critically)

But onto the letters, because that’s the main reason I’m writing this post: I want to share some excerpts from the letters that these precious students wrote. I loved that our students had a range of political beliefs (I super-love that about my church), but that they were able to think really constructively and talk with one another about their differences. At the end of each teen’s letter they asked the senator/representative to write them back.

Aren’t you glad that these kids will one day rule the world? (Snapchat debaccles aside)

Here’s what they wrote:

“I am writing to you to ask that you help make school safer. I don’t know about other schools but the only form of security seems to be a police officer. I feel that we should have the type of security that airports do. Even if it will cost a little more it is worth it to keep us safe. I feel like kids should also be monitored better because the shooter in Florida had talked about it for months but no one did anything. I just feel like I should be able to feel safe while learning.”

“My friends are scared. They don’t come to school sometimes because of their fear. I am also spooked, by stomach aches and my head hurts because of it. It’s hard for me to focus and it’s hard for teachers to teach.”

“Recent events have sparked conversations on social media, at school, at church, and within my family. I recently learned something that had never occured to me before. It recently occured to me that this didn’t happen in past generations. My generation is the only generation that knows how to do a lockdown drill. I have memories from first grade of hiding in the corner of my dark classroom, being silent, and waiting until we got the all clear. A feeling of fear in my own school, a place where I should never be scared of losing my life, was planted in me at a young age. I do not feel safe in a place where I am forced to go every day. I should feel safe at school, a place I go to learn how to be functioning member of society. Giving guns to my teachers would not help that.”

“We are asking you to consider how we feel, and we are using our voices to the fullest extent that we can. We are asking you to do the same.”

“I am writing you to ask that you help make school safer. I am concerned that going to school can put my life at risk. That EVERY student at my school may be at risk of a school shooting. School should make you feel safe, not in danger.”

“I am currently aware of the political debate over gun control. I may just be a student, but I have a voice that needs to be heard. I want to speak up about my perspective on gun control. Our president believes giving more guns out to the teachers of our district can benefit our schools. I believe that there should be stricter gun laws. Putting more firearms in a harmful situation can only make it worse.”

“I hate that kindergartners have to know how to hide from a person with a gun, trying to kill them. School should be a safe and secure place where you don’t need to be afraid. Now days people can easily buy a gun as long as they have enough money. This needs to stop. I can’t imagine losing my best friend in a school shooting, or getting a call telling me there has been a shooting at my child’s school.”

“School should be a safe place to learn, not a place to question your safety.”

“I am writing to you after hearing of the shootings in Florida. Although I’ve supported Republicans all my life, I feel as though we need a flat-out ban on assault rifles. NO good comes from semi-automatic rifles. When our founding fathers wrote the second amendment, they had no army and therefore relied upon citizens to take up arms against enemies of the United States. Also they had muskets, not assault rifles back in the 1800s. We can protect ourselves without military grade assault rifles now. We also have a military to protect us, unlike back in the 1800s. We can protect ourselves with handguns, shotguns, crossbows, etc. I appreciate your help and ask that you please send me a response and maybe an autograph?”

(that one made me laugh)

“I’m already a very paranoid person and school is scary enough on its own, but with the threat of a school shooting my brain goes crazy. Columbine, Sandy Hook, and the most recent school shooting in Florida are some of the worst and most terrifying. I shouldn’t have to worry about going to school, and while I don’t believe we need to band guns I do believe we need to make a change. From my observations, some of these kids that are planning to or actually do commit these crimes are social outcasts, people who don’t know how to fit in, people who are bullied by what they believe to be “popular” people. For example in Columbine the shooters wanted revenge on their popular peers. We, the schools, need to stop talking about laptops in the lunchroom, we need to be talking about caring for people, we need to destroy the whole “I’m popular and you’re not” philosophy. Maybe then, after making these kids feel loved and helped, the problem won’t be so bad.”

Y’all… let’s do right by our kids. Let’s give them an opportunity to use their own voice, from their own perspective, to speak their own truth. For some of these kids, their truth was a little different than my own. But that’s why it’s important that I listen to them–because that’s the only way to learn from them. And I think in this situation–it’s the only way to bring about change that can positively impact their lives.

When Students Ask About Trump

america, Evangelicalism, lessons, politics, social activism

The only thing Trump and I have in common is that we both cannot control our facial expressions.

One of my favorite parts of our 7th Grade Confirmation is the “Questions Jar” that students can put questions about anything in. It says on it “Write ANY question you have down on a piece of paper, and Heather may answer it on a Sunday morning! It can be about God, Confirmation, family, friends, a weird Bible verse, sports, the meaning of life, food, whatever you want! Think of this as a human Google machine.”

Students ask a variety of questions, and I kind of love it. I love answering their hardest questions on-the-spot (even if it makes me sweat and panic a little). We host three panels each Confirmation year and commit to answering all the questions.

At our last panel, I pulled out the question, “How does God feel about Donald Trump? What do you think about him?”

I handed it to my boss and said, “Do you want this one? Or do you want me to handle it?” I didn’t know what I wanted in that moment, whether I wanted to go for it or defer, but he told me I had it.

I read it out loud, took a deep breath as everyone giggled, and said something like this:

There’s a story in the Bible that goes something like this: A rich man came to Jesus and asked him, “What must I do to live eternally?” Jesus told him, “You must sell all your possessions and give them to the poor.” The rich man walked away from Jesus, and Jesus told the crowd “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19)

What does this have to do with politics?

Well, Donald Trump has a lot of money, like many other politicians. Many view running for president as a way to get more power and more possessions. And when you are fighting for power, often times you are forgetting the least-of-these that Jesus talked about. When you’re focused on getting more, you forget the people who have less.

We know that our purpose on earth is to take care of one another. Many politicians have lost sight of this. So what do I think that God thinks of Donald Trump? I think that God is very disappointed with him, because he could be using his money and power to help people. But I think God is disappointed with most politicians, because they all seem to be doing the same thing–taking advantage of others in order to gain more for themselves.

But the thing is–God still loves them a crazy amount. It can be hard to see at times, but they were also made in God’s image and God loves them very much. So as much as some politicians disappoint God and disgust us, they still deserve a certain degree of respect and honor. They are still our leaders, even if we don’t like them.

But let’s not forget that Jesus fought to change the political systems in place that oppressed people through his own actions, and that’s what infuriated people and got him killed.

So, don’t hate Trump or other politicians that aren’t taking care of the people. Be part of the solution by doing the things that Jesus asked of us, even if our government and president won’t.

I think that was about the best I could do on the spot. But the more I think about it, I think that the Holy Spirit guided what could be a really messy conversation (Trump literally makes me vomit and cry) into a conversation about our role in the world. We can’t rely on the president to fix our problems.

On a personal note, today in the primaries I voted for the one person in this crazy circus who I think resembles Jesus. But even if they were to make office, it doesn’t take away from my role on earth to take care of the least-0f-these.

No president will ever “trump” our role to take care of one another.

This is MY Ferguson

america, social activism

My hometown is a national headline, and for reasons that feels surreal, yet admittedly it’s representative of a problem that has been there my entire life.

Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, MO, has been headlining news the past few days. Michael Brown, a recently graduated senior from Normandy High School, was killed by a police officer. There are multiple accounts of the story going around; however, one thing is clear: Mike was walking away. He had his hands up. He was unarmed. He was shot multiple times.

Words cannot express the tragedy.

I grew up in Ferguson and the cities that surround it. St. Louis County is made up of a bunch of tiny little cities that are practically on top of each other. We call Ferguson and the cities that surround it (Florissant, Berkeley, Calverton Park, Jennings, Normandy, Hazelwood, Dellwood, Riverview, Kinloch, and so on) North County.  North County has had a terrible reputation for a very long time. One of the most segregated cities in the country, you can see it here. North County has a lot of low-income housing made up of primarily minorities, especially blacks. However, there are little pockets of white communities, far nicer than the hoods, that are in the midst of it. Put that together, and you have a ghetto right next to nice suburban neighborhoods.

Because of the socioeconomic difference between whites and everyone else, this caused extreme segregation. People mostly stuck to their race.  The first school I went to was in Normandy, and I was beat up almost every day because I was the only white person. Even though we were young, we were all taught the differences between “us” and “them” in a very ugly way.  My house was tagged by gangs with spray paint. There were drug dealers on my street. Then I turned 8 and moved to the edge of Florissant, which is Ferguson’s sister.

Fortunately, my experience in Elementary school didn’t stick.  I went to McCluer High School, which is in the Ferguson-Florissant School District.  We had a lot of different races, including a nice population of exchange students and immigrants.  I didn’t really fit into the “white crowd,” because my family was extremely poor and full of addiction, very like most of the black communities in the area. Truthfully, I didn’t really fit into any crowd.  I found myself starting “Club International,” a school-sponsored organization that was to unite people, no matter their race, socioeconomic background, or religion. My inner circle of friendship consisted of all kinds of different races and skin tones. It was beautiful.

This was what Ferguson had to offer me: a thorough education of the different cultures and customs of our world. It’s what inspired some of my friends to pursue degrees in international business, foreign languages, and missions work.

Even though most  who are impoverished find themselves stuck in a place of poverty, Ferguson was a place where a person could gain redemption through education.  I was able to take the ACT twice, not needing to pay either time. My high school offered free prom tickets to those who scored a 21 or higher on the ACT, and I wouldn’t have been able to go to my senior prom if not for that. I had teachers work with me on my writing skills, my grammar, and my attitude.

This was my Ferguson; my North County. It wasn’t perfect.  But it had something to offer me.  The difference is that, as a white female, I had an advantage. Everyone expects you to get out–after all, there was a major White Flight from North County many decades ago. However, if you are black, and especially a black man, there are little expectations, especially because the majority of the city is run by white people.

As I watch my friends from high school and church back home in the midst of these riots, my heart aches. I wish I could do something.  I wish I could go home and remind them of the Black History classes we took every year, about how it was those who stood for PEACE that we celebrated in class, not those who caused riots. Those who stood their ground, who didn’t back down, yet did it without the added violence.

And as I think about Ferguson, my home… I think about all the beauty that’s there, things that were added to add life.  I think about Whistle Stop, and how at Ferguson Middle School we would walk there as a class field trip every year for ice cream.  I think about Street Fest. I think about live music in the summers.  I think about having home-field advantage there as outfielder on my winning softball team, the Ferguson Fire. I think about Girl Scout parades through the town.  I think about the new bicycle path put there in just the last few years.  I think about all the little family-owned restaurants and bars. I think about how I want to avoid Marley’s, a bar that consists 90% of people from my high school.  I think about January Wabash Park, how we’d watch fireworks every Independence Day, and how we did the mile run there in school…with the terrible hills. I think about the church I grew up in, which is right across the street from the looted shopping center on West Florissant Rd. I think about all the times I told my mom I was staying after school, but really roaming the streets with my friends.

And I think about the injustices that never seem to end. Racist white leadership. Black-on-black violence. A struggling economy.

So this is MY Ferguson: Complex. Yet it has beauty. Ferguson was a city really fighting for something to give its residents…and it infuriates me that people (who, are PS, mostly not even from Ferguson) are looting, burning, and causing violence.

But if you ask me the truth, I have to wonder: The things put in Ferguson to give it beauty and life–who are they reaching? If we have 2/3 black and 1/3 white, why are there country music concerts in the summer time? Why are there bike paths–not for commuting to work, but for exercise?  The beautification isn’t for the poor, but for the middle class to have something nice to look at, widening a gap and making blacks even more disenfranchised. “MY” Ferguson is in most cases, the white Ferguson.  Even though I’ve seen the poverty, I’ve also had interests catered to my Caucasian culture. Because again: I am white and therefore have a privilege in that area, whether I’m poor or not.

Despite not having the automatic white privilege I have, Mike Brown was making better for himself. He graduated high school from Normandy High, a school that is one of the roughest around. He was to begin college this week at Vatterott, a trade school with a great reputation. Mike could have made a great life for himself. Whether he did anything “wrong” in this situation, he didn’t deserve to lose his life. He was no threat. He was a kid achieving things that most don’t get to do.

I ask that you partner with me in prayer for my hometown. It shaped a lot of who I am, and although I’m in a different city now, I miss it. I wish there were easy answers.

I also ask that you pray for Mike’s family. I can’t even fathom what they’re going through right now, watching Mike’s legacy being “honored” by riots full of vandalism and violence.

Lastly, I ask that you join me in prayer for prejudism to be removed from our hearts. That we’ll learn to give respect to one another, no matter their color, their gender, their religion, their sexual orientation, their background, their socioeconomic status, their waist size, etc.  I pray that the Kingdom of Heaven will slowly be revealed more and more on earth, and that we can be restored…and quick.

Don’t just "understand" the other side, EMPATHIZE.

america, Blogs about Heather, christianity, church, faith, freedom, leadership, lgbtq, love, sin, social activism, theology, unchurched
I have half a dozen or so documents in my laptop right now of “potential blogposts” of different rants and ramblings about politics; from Chick-Fil-A to the ability for a Christian to vote different political parties to my stance on gay marriage, I have been wanting to speak out for a while now.  But I have held back.  Why?  Because there are others who can say it better.  Because I’m no expert.  Because I’m still learning.

That is what I want to emphasize today in my all-encompassing post on politics, ethics, and anything else that seems to matter these days.  I am extremely irritated with the election, as both “sides” of the United States are exposing their dirty ignorance and disregard for people who do not agree with them.  It is this mentality of, “If a person does not agree with my political stance, which is the only way, then their entire character must be attacked publicly.”  One day I posted on Facebook, “I think it says a lot about President Obama’s character for him to visit Joplin a year after the tornado came through.”  I wasn’t making a political statement, just a statement of appreciation for the remembrance of a small town near me that had been devastated by a storm.  One parent of one of my youth wrote, “I think we should all worry about Heather’s character.”  Then a full-fledged debate began on my status about gay marriage, Obama being a dirty Muslim from Kenya, etc.  One of my friends wrote, “Shame on all of you.  This status wasn’t about any of that.”  And it wasn’t, but to many Christian brothers and sisters that I respect, a politician that they don’t agree with can’t have any redeeming qualities.

I think it’s extremely dangerous to claim to hold absolute knowledge of any subject.  I’m sure some of you are shocked, as I am a Christian and you probably are too; how can I say that I don’t know undoubtedly that God exists?  Simply, if I knew it wouldn’t be called faith.  I know it in my heart, but empirically I do not know that.  I’m not a skeptic, and I’m not saying that if I don’t know things, that I can’t express my opinions on them; in fact my faith in God precedes all other faiths I have and consequentially demands me to express that faith.  The point I’m trying to make is:  It is extremely important to be empathetic to opinions that differ from your own, for you do not know your opinions to be fact.  In fact, it becomes dangerous when you claim to know it all and aren’t empathetic.

Why?  Because once you claim to hold the key to knowledge on a particular subject, you get arrogant.  You push people away from you with your words and your attitude.  For example:  Those Christians who are outspoken about gay marriage push people who agree with it away; it scars the LGBTQQ community and its allies and pushes people away from the Christ who ate meals with prostitutes, tax collectors, and the self-righteous.  Christians (and everyone else) definitely have the right to discuss their opinions and alleged knowledge on a subject; but if we aren’t empathetic of the other side, we can and will push them away.  I took some time trying to understand the LGBTQQ community a few years ago when a group came to my conservative Christian university to speak out against our allegedly persecuting contract that we had to sign in order to be a student there.  Instead of pushing my doctrine, I took the time to listen; a time of learning and growth.  Once I heard the stories of how they’ve been treated by people inside the Church, I began to understand that it’s not necessarily my place to indoctrinate a homosexual upon meeting them (and that’s just the beginning of that journey).  It went without being said what I believed.  I spent time trying to be empathetic, not with the sole goal of strengthening my argument, but because there were things on the other side of the debate that I never even considered.  And my opinion, although not perfected today, has come a long way.

I think this is also apparent in the Neo-Calvinist movement within the SBC, trying to take it back to its supposed Calvinistic roots and forcing churches to adhere to them and teach them as if it’s an essential truth in order to believe in God.  Every time I found out someone that I knew was a Calvinist, I would judge them.  I am currently very sympathetic to Calvinism, but took a long time telling anybody; I was fearful that I would be labeled as an arrogant, close-minded reformer like many of the Neo-Calvinist leaders are looked at. Also, I’m not 100% sure on any of it.  I once thought I was when I was anti-Calvinist, and then I read scriptures and listened to people and changed my mind.  I might change my mind again.  But more importantly, why is it necessary to be sure on this topic?  It cheapens God’s sovereignty in my claim that I am all-knowing on any subject.  When we become face-to-face before God, we’re going to learn that a lot of our political, ethical, and even religious beliefs were wrong (I honestly can’t wait for God to go, “Heather, remember how you were so arrogant about __? Well, you were wrong, and there’s grace for you because I was more important to you than even that.”).

This goes beyond politics and quarrels within the Church.  This comes to our everyday life.  It is well-heard, “Before you judge someone, walk in their shoes.”  I think it’s dangerous to form an opinion, and especially to claim knowledge of a subject, without hearing all sides.  More than hearing them, but understanding them (taking their place and walking in their shoes).  Understanding a side different than yours takes more than reading a few books or listening to a few podcasts.  It takes learning from people, talking with people.  This should be especially true within the church.  We are to be in community with one another, and it strongly discredits Christ’s love for the Church when we break off communion with one another on topics that we haven’t taken the time to understand.  Maybe that person is a Calvinist because they don’t believe they could have found God without Him choosing them.  Maybe that woman hates hymns because she didn’t make it past 8th grade and has a small vocabulary.  Maybe that man isn’t a fan of small groups because his last one gossiped the entire time.  Maybe that man doesn’t come to church on Sundays because the only job he can find works those days.  Maybe that woman is pro-choice because her sister could have died in a pregnancy.  Maybe that Christian man is a Democrat because the fight against social injustice overrides the need to ban gay marriage.  Maybe that lady is for gay marriage because she separates legal marriage from covenant relationships.  Instead of judging people, understand them.  You don’t have to agree, but you don’t even need to tell them that either (with proper discourse, that will naturally come in a non-pushy way).  You just need to see people the way Jesus sees them: broken, fallen, and beautiful.  Christ sees you that way too.  You are just as much His bride as the rest of the Church; in fact, you are His bride together and that entails the need for empathy.  And at the end of the day, if you still disagree with them, that doesn’t mean their entire character should be shattered, especially if they are a follower of Christ; if you agree on the essential truths of salvation, then you are still a part of the Church and should edify one another.

Occasionally, you are going to run into a person who says while debating with you, “I’m listening to you, but I’ve heard this all before.  I’ve thought through this topic and have my opinion.”  This translates, “I’m listening to your comments, but I already know all there is to know on the subject and there is no new information you can give me.  There is no point in debating me, because I won’t change my mind but will debunk all your arguments in the most mocking way I can.”  THIS. IS. DANGEROUS.  I can’t tell you how much I have thought through, prayed through, and talked through different topics.  I may have strong opinions on subjects, but the day I claim to have it all together: please take me out of the local church before I infect people with my arrogant ignorance. Can you tell I am hurting right now?  Yes.  Because I used to be the person who was arrogant to think that they knew it all and only struck up debates to be the smart conqueror of them.  Because right now, people are discrediting me for being provocative in thinking and trying to be the “Devil’s Advocate” and understand both sides of issues.  But primarily because in a world where we have tragedies such as mass murders, children starving, public shootings, and great moments of glory like the young people beast-moding the Olympics; we are more concerned about our disagreement with a single politician or company that supports an ethic stance that differs from ours than for understanding our brothers and sisters.

ps, as I finish this post, I’m like “what do I even name this?!” hah.

Entitled…to what?

christianity, jesus, media, social activism

As Americans, we have rights: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  But we have other rights too, correct?  Right to a lawyer, right to vote, right to fair pay, right to etc.  All of our rights were fought for, and we still fight for them today.

We believe we have other rights, and although they may or may not be in the constitution, we still believe we are entitled to them.  We believe we are entitled to equality, a high-paying job, to be debt-free, successful relationships, success in general, etc.

As Christians (and also as ministers), we still believe we are entitled to things (not necessarily because of our Christianity, I’m saying in general).  We are entitled to that seat in church that “is ours,” entitled to eat first at the potluck, entitled to the best parking spot, etc.

Did Jesus have something to say about this?  Why else would I be writing this blog post?

And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place. But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”  Luke 14: 7-11

Yesterday our guest-preacher at church talked about a “Mop Bucket Attitude.”  Even when you are the highest position at your company, you should still be humble enough to mop the floors of the bathroom. He gave to illustrations–When he himself was the school principal, he was the one who, for some reason, was called every time a toilet was clogged.  Perhaps it was because he was accustomed to having his hand in deep crap all day as a principal (cue laugh).  He also told the story of a young man who was beaten in Africa.  When he came over to school in America, the principal told him he could have any dorm room on campus.  The young man says, “Give me the room that no one else wants.”  The principal wept, as did I when I heard this.

I have been feeling extremely entitled when it comes to…everything.  “I’ve been here longer, so I should get more benefits.” “I am an expert in X, therefore you are lucky you are even being graced with my presence.” “I know more than you about X, therefore I should be the leader of this organization.” Etc. We all feel this way sometimes.  But what we need to be is humbled.

Phillippians 2 talks about how Jesus Christ, although God, humbled himself to be just as a man.  This is the “Mop Bucket Attitude” that we need. “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”  Not even that, but he died for men.

We have the show “Undercover Boss”, a show where the CEO of companies start at the lowest job in their company and see how things run, as well as attempt to do the “Mop Bucket” jobs.

The difference between this guy and Christ is plain: Christ was willing to do these jobs, and never complained.  Also, Christ is not a Cubs fan.

As Christians, we are called to abandon our rights.  Our life is supposed to be about glorifying God.  To hold onto what we believe we are entitled to is futile.  We are not entitled to anything, but death.  Yet God gave us grace, something that we SURE don’t have the right to have, and he sanctified us and made us righteous.

Happy Birthday to the King

social activism
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. A random fact about me is, I LOVE Dr. King. He was a Baptist minister, a civil rights activist, and an amazing speaker. He mixed politics with religion in a healthy way. He was amazing. This is one man that I cannot wait to meet in heaven.

[For you debbie downers out there who are going to comment on this and tell me that Dr. King was a terrible human and cheated on his wife, please remind yourself of the sin in your life. Kthanks.]

Also, the national holiday is on my birthday this year! Growing up I’d have the day off from school, but I’m not taking a class so I’m going to sleep in and make an omelette! Or something. I don’t know. I’m just making this up. I really don’t have a birthday. Who is Dr. King? Just kidding. Just kidding. Just kidding. bahahaha. :)

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made straight and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

I submit to you that if a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.

We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.

We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.

What Are You Wearing?

social activism

What did you eat for dinner tonight? Say you went to McDonald’s (or any fast food restaurant, or any restaurant, or even the food that you popped in the microwave). What was in your hamburger? That hamburger meat, did it come from a well cow? How do you know? Was that cow tortured? Was it injected with steroids? The lettuce and other vegetables, were pesticides poured all over it? Do you know how much processing went into your cheese? Did a happy cow make that cheese? That paper sack in comes in, how many trees were cut down to make all the bags put out that day by just one restaurant? Did you thank the people who handed you your food? Or did you complain and curse at them when they forgot your ketchup? What about the clothing you wore there? Where did you get it? Who made it? Where did they make it? What were they paid? Did they volunteer to make it, or were they forced to? Are your garments made from threads of slavery?

Americans say all the time that we are fortunate. And oh, we are, but you see we have gambled our fortune away, and I would contend that there isn’t any turning back for our country as a whole. We buy things that slaves made. We put things into our bodies that are pumped full of things that shouldn’t be going into our body. And we treat the people who serve us like crap. Why? Because it’s the norm…but does that mean it’s okay? Definitely not. We have rationalized, justified, and made excuses for our poor eating habits because things “taste good”. Am I saying that you can never eat potato chips ever again? Definitely not. I’m saying that maybe you should think about where they came from–the potatoes, the packaging, the farmers, etc. Am I telling you to go completely organic? For some this is impossible, as the price on that type of food is expensive; that is another fallacy of our country–that poison is cheaper than nourishment. And am I telling you to quit shopping at Walmart, Nike, etc? Once again, that is all that some can afford, because our country has put slavery over quality.

This is something that I have been thinking about for quite a while now. There is no way that I can possibly quit buying things that are bad for me or that were made by slaves; I am poor and America has made it impossible for me. But it is free to be a social activist and volunteer your time somewhere. It’s free to pray for the people who make your clothing and furniture for dollars a week. It’s free to be kind to people who serve you through the drive through or at the grocery store. Or how about recycling? And maybe you could make some sacrifices as well–forgo Starbucks and bring food to the homeless in your town. Downgrade your phone plan and send money to a child in a third-world country. Instead of buying a few new pairs of shoes, you could buy just one slightly more expensive pair from an organization that gives shoes to other countries. Instead of buying your loved one the newest iPod, you could give families in third world countries goats this year for Christmas. There are small things that everyone can do.