Real Talk

This week in current events…Equality for all.

Occasionally I like to take this little corner of the internet and talk about things more important than what I did last weekend, or what I cooked for dinner last night. Bigger more important things. Equality is on today’s agenda.

I like it when people of influence use their influence to say things to the masses that need to be said. And these are a few things that have been said  this week.

Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, and Mary Lambert with Queen Latifah and Madonna made a statement on marriage equality and turned the Grammys into a mass wedding ceremony. I don’t watch the Grammys. But, I watched this.  And it was awesome. You can watch the video here. Also, you can read the lyrics to the song here. No really. You should go read the lyrics. This is my favorite part:

Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it

It’s a good song in so many ways.

Next up…The President gave a speech, and a pretty important one at that. I watch the State of the Union every single year. This year he was feisty, and unapologetic, and humorous at times. It wasn’t the most ambitious SOTU that I’ve heard, but what he said he said well.  Here’s what he had to say on the topic of equal pay for equal work:

“Today, women make up about half our workforce. But they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work. She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship – and you know what, a father does, too. It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode. This year, let’s all come together – Congress, the White House, and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves. Because I firmly believe when women succeed, America succeeds.

If you want to read the whole 2014 State of the Union you can find it here.

Lastly, we have MLK. And granted we celebrated him last Monday, but I can’t leave a post talking about equality without talking about one of our most vocal proponents of it. And anyway, he said it the best of anyone.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
― Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail

Lets do our best not to forget it.

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Random Acts of Kindness

Photo Dec 18, 8 30 32 PM

It’s only been four days since the loss of 26 lives made our world both a little quieter and a little louder all at the same time. And, I still don’t know what to do about it. I could get back to blogging as usual. I could go on with my holiday shopping as usual. I could do those things while promising not to forget. But, that just doesn’t seem like enough. It’s not enough, because while I get back to business as usual, my heart and mind are still with that little town in Connecticut, and I realize that I don’t want to get back to business as usual.

Maybe because it’s the holiday season. Maybe it’s because i’m finding it tough to feel that festive spirit. Maybe it’s because talking about recipes, and posting silly pictures of my cats, and spending a bunch of money on gifts, all just feels a little hollow. Maybe it’s because these horrible crimes against our littlest angels has made me realize that kindness, hope, goodwill, and love are really what matter most in this world.

I don’t want to think about, or remember the people who took 28 lives last week (26 at Sandy Hook, and 2 back home in Clackamas, OR), but I do want to remember the twenty-eight  lives that were lost. And I want to do it in a way that feels meaningful. So what can I do?  Twenty-eight random acts of kindness, that’s what.  I can’t hug the families that lost loved ones. I can’t fly to Connecticut and participate in candlelight vigils for the lives lost. But, I can do twenty-eight nice things for twenty-eight random strangers in their memory.  It’s not enough. But, it’s something.

It appears that Ann Curry started this with a tweet that has taken over social media. #20Acts, #26Acts, #26actsofkindness all trending now on Twitter, and all full of people from across the world who feel the need to do something. The idea is this: Go out and do good in the world. Commit one random act of kindness in the memory of every life lost.

I’m in.  What better way to try to find that festive spirit? What better way to remember the loss of life? What better way then to put a little kindness and love back into a world that sorely needs it? So, I will be committing myself to twenty-eight random acts of kindness. Here is a link to some of the random acts this “movement” has inspired.  As you can see, they don’t have to be big, or expensive, or cost anything at all. They just have to be kind.

I hope you help spread the love too (even if it’s just one act of kindness you can commit to). I hope it helps you remember those lost in a way that makes your heart joyful instead of sorrowful. And mostly, I hope it helps you and your family feel and remember the true meaning of Christmas. But, I also hope it reminds you that it shouldn’t take awful, gut wrenching tragedies to remind us to be kind to our neighbors, our community, and our world.

Peace!

Vote. All the cool kids are doing it.

I’ve always loved politics. One of the most exciting things for me about turning eighteen was knowing that I would get to vote. I love to hear other peoples opinions, and love even more the occasional heated discussion. I love respecting another persons differing opinion from my own, provided of course that they can reasonably articulate why they believe what they believe. I love the passion of all of it. And I love that it all actually matters (and yes, I do actually believe that it all matters).

What I don’t love is how messed up the system is. How antiquated. How in need of reform. I don’t love that thousands of people on the east coast will find it difficult to actually  get out and vote today and tomorrow because their polling places have changed location due to Sandy. I don’t love voter fraud. I don’t love the electoral college.  I don’t like attack adds and word twisting and the negativity that always devours presidential elections.

But, I do believe that as Americans it is our responsibility to weed through it all and vote. And, it’s that time again folks.  That time that rolls around every four years where collectively we choose who runs our country.  And not just that, but there are local and statewide measures that are big and important too. Death penalty, food labeling, house and senate representation, presidents, school funding…the list is endless, and endlessly important. So I implore you to read your voters pamphlets, talk it out if your confused, make the effort, and go exercise your civic responsibility and VOTE.

 

my gym membership cost what??

It’s been a little while since I’ve gone off on one of my rants, but it’s also been a little while since I’ve felt energized enough to undertake the task. Tonight’s agenda is much like most of DC’s and the rest of the Nation’s, as the President’s speech to congress regarding health care was/is, in my opinion, justifiably the focus of the moment.

And though many of us have done our due diligence by voicing our opinions publicly, and giving the President an imaginary pat on the back for not putting off what has been put off for much too long, I still will argue that we aren’t all asking the right questions. Tonight, we heard what the plan actually is and we heard what the plan is not. We got deserved slaps on our wrists for partisan bickering, and we got deserved pats on the back for compromise and an awareness of our shared “American character” . We were told that we shouldn’t go broke because we get sick, and we were told that we shouldn’t die because we can’t afford health care. I don’t disagree with any of this mission, but what I want to know is this: When did “health care” become more about fixing you when your sick than preventing you from actually getting that way?

I want to know why my gym membership isn’t reimbursable through my health insurance. I know that I would go to the gym more if it was. How about you? We already have optional health flex spending accounts where we get reimbursed for buying toothpaste and pain killers, why not the gym?

I want to know why ALL medicine isn’t considered “preventative.” Why is an annual physical, yearly shots, and cancer screenings considered more important than trips to a nutritionist, and acupuncturist, or a psychiatrist. Yes, everyone needs to get their blood pressure checked, and no one should have to get the measles or the mumps, and certainly no one should end up with cancer if it can be avoided. But, does that make the other “specialties” any more or less legitimate in regard to preventative care? I would say that I consider mental stability and nutritional awareness to be as highly beneficial to healthful living as is knowing that my cholesterol is right where it should be and I’m up to date with my flu shots. But, how many of you actually have a nutritionist? I don’t. And, it’s a shame that these specialties are often considered desert, if you will; nice if you can afford it, but expendable if you can’t.

There isn’t any part of health care that should be considered expendable. And there isn’t any part of the “American charecter” that should sit back and be OK with the fact that the practice of medicine and insuring it has become a reactionary indurstry.

We are continually reminded that we are a nation of doers. But we forget that we can just as easily fall in to complacency. I’m glad the President reminded us of this tonight, and I am equally hopeful that even though a plan has been presented, that we aren’t done asking all the questions.

it’s election day, hurray hurray!

Today I get to be proud that I’m an American. I get to be proud that tomorrow we all get to wake up having participated in the largest voter turnout in 100 years. I get to be proud that regardless of a blue or red victory we’re going to end up with either this country’s first African American president, or our first female vice president (though I’m hoping whole heartily for a sweep for the Dem’s). I get to be proud that tomorrow starts the long road to healing for this country. I’m worried about that regardless of who wins.

Today we get the opportunity to change the world with the force of our fingertips, and at the same time help change the course of history. Today we all get a voice.

So get out there and get your vote on.

The lines are long, so vote early. Wear comfortable shoes, bring a book, a jacket with a hood, and a cup of Starbucks (they’ll give you a free cup o’ joe if you mention that you voted). But most importantly bring your brain, and don’t mess this one up. And, if you’re from Oregon, you haven’t voted until you actually drop off your ballot, so don’t forget to do that, OK? And, just as a reminder, the presidency isn’t the only thing we’re voting on today. There are hundreds of state wide measures, and governor races, and house/senate elections up for grabs. Don’t let all the other important issues fall by the wayside just because your pumped up for the president.

If you have any problem voting, need to know your polling location or find a way to get to the polls, please call a voter hotline: 1-888-696-7622.

And, come tomorrow lets all wake up with a big grin on our face, knowing that we did this. That after two years of campaigning, insult throwing, catch phrases, ads, conversations about black vs. white, jokes, analysis, and headlines, that we went to the polls, exercised our brains, and made our own informed choices. Lets be Americans and let’s be proud of it.

Happy voting.

And for those interested in how I predict it will turn out, here’s my electoral vote projection: