Equality for All…

Monday morning I saw a video of a man asking people why we celebrate July 4th, and the answers he received were appalling!  I have to hope that the video was edited down to remove the many people who actually knew the answer was that we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and that it happened in 1776, not 1985 as one woman stated.  But then I look around and see so many examples of people not knowing or understanding the fundamental principles that our nation was built on, and I have to wonder if videos like this don’t show the reality of our society.

In the past few weeks and months, there has been so much vitriol and hate over the idea of marriage equality in the news.  The religious right claims that allowing gay marriage somehow infringes upon their Constitutional right to freedom of religion.  They base many of their arguments on the Bill of Rights, but only refer to the first amendment.  I wonder if these people have ever read the Constitution or the even The Bill of Rights.

I am guilty of not reviewing these documents myself since my American History class back in high school (a long time ago), so I took it upon myself to read the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights again.    What I found is pretty much what I remembered:

    • All men are created equal.  I won’t go into the linguistics of this statement, but honestly, we are all human, we all bleed the same color blood, and we are all entitled to equality.
    • We all have the “unalienable rights” of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Nowhere does not say that we have the guaranteed right to be happy, only to pursue that what makes us happy.
    • Freedom of religion:  each of us is allowed to follow the religion of our choosing, without the government telling us we have to follow X, Y, or Z religion.  This does not mean that religion is to be absent from any part of our society, only that the government can’t make us all attend Sunday mass at the the local Catholic church, or to sing hallelujah at the southern Baptist churches located in the bible belt.
    • Freedom of speech:  we are able to say what we think without fear of censorship.  This does not mean that there are no repercussions for the things we say, only that the government does not have the authority of censorship.  Neither does this mean that people are free to say only the things you agree with.  If you are going to stand behind a freedom of speech argument, you have to be willing to tolerate your opponent’s stance just as strongly as you expect others to tolerate your stance.

I also found something that I had forgotten:  The 9th Amendment to the Constitution states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  Now I’m no Constitutional scholar, but that says to me that we cannot use the the fact that one right is specifically listed in the Constitution to deny another right that is not listed.

I would like to say to all of those people out there who are claiming that same-sex marriage somehow infringes upon their rights:

    1. If you are opposed to same-sex marriage, don’t participate in a same-sex relationship.
    2. A gay couple’s ability to get married in no way impacts your marriage.  If you think it does then you need to examine your own failings, not cast blame on others.
    3. Your freedom of religion does not give you the right to discriminate against anyone regardless of their race, sexual relationship status, or anything else (see “all men are created equal” above)

It is my opinion that all of those Americans who are so against equality for all need to take another look at the documents they claim supports their views.  We are all created equal.  We all have the right to pursue our own happiness.

I would also like to suggest that we need to get rid of the terms “gay marriage” or “same-sex” marriage and just call it what it is; marriage.

Positive Thinking

The internet is a wonderful thing most of the time.  Thanks to the internet, both detailed knowledge and general information are more readily available to the masses than at any other time in history.  With countless news sources available the average person can keep on top of world events with ease.  With a simple search using a few keywords you can learn how to knit or how to rebuild a car engine.  You can find a new recipe for tonight’s dinner, or you can learn about astrophysics.  Philosophy, mathematics, foreign languages, history, and instructions on any style of art are all available for anyone interested in expanding their knowledge base.  We have even begun to enter the age of free access to college courses (with the understanding that you are learning for the sake of learning and not in pursuit of a degree).  Looking for entertainment?  The internet has that too.  Games, movies, television, music; anything you are interested in can be found.  You can reconnect with old friends, or you can make new friends.  The possibilities are endless; all thanks to the internet.

With so many positive things available to the masses, it saddens me to realize just how much negativity there is out there right beside all of the good things.  Every one of the major news outlets only reports on stories designed to be sensational and draw in more page visits.  As such, we are bombarded with stories of murder, abduction, child abuse, racism, animal abuse, terrorist occupations, terrorist attacks, and political stories that are deliberately presented in a way to incite the masses to argue and fight with each other.  And it is working.  A few days ago, a woman I know asked a question on social media.  It was an innocent enough question, and Person A commented with an answer for her.  At this point, Person B jumped into the comments and started calling Person A names and slinging insults.  The situation devolved from there, and reading through those comments made me feel as though my head was going to explode.

The internet gives us a sense of anonymity.  When we sit down at our computer keyboard (or with our smartphone or tablet) to write out an email, social media update, or blog post, there is a separation between us and the people we are interacting with.  This can be a good thing in certain situations, but more often than not it leads to people thinking it is okay to say awful, mean, and hurtful things to other people.  These people are willing to write things they would never dare say to someone’s face because there is no fear of reprisal since they feel safe in the knowledge that they are anonymous.  In the case of my friend’s question, Person B accused Person A of being a bigot because they have differing views on a certain subject.  Now, I do not know either of these people, but I would be willing to bet that if this conversation had happened in person, Person B would not have been willing to say any of the horrible things that she wrote online for the world to see.

Anyone who spends any amount of time on the internet knows that you “do not feed the trolls” because it is an exercise in futility.  Even with the knowledge that there are people out there who thrive on stirring up trouble, I just do not understand it.  How have we allowed our society to fall so far that the rules of common decency and courtesy no longer even enter into these people’s minds?

The situation described above led me to write my own general post where I stepped up on my virtual soapbox and ranted about this problem and the meaning of freedom of speech.  Here is a copy of that post:

I am so tired of people attacking each other on social media. Each and every person alive has their opinion on the “hot topics” and just because somebody disagrees with your opinion does not give you the right to attack them and call them names. Freedom of speech does not mean that people can say what they want as long as it is in sync with your views. It does mean that we can each speak our belief on a topic and if you disagree you can:
1. Ignore the person
2. Stop being friends with the person
3. Listen to the person, and form reasoned arguments to use in a discussion based on what they have to say.

Freedom of speech is just as much about allowing people to shout views diametrically opposed to your own as it is about allowing you to state your views. And without both factors in play there can never be an open and honest dialogue on these topics, which is the only way to create a better society for all of us to live in. If you attack a person and start name calling there is no chance of changing that person’s mind because they will dig in and return attack rather than listen to you.

And before anyone tries to turn this post around on me…
1. I do not care, even a little, what color a person’s skin is.
2. I do not care, even a little, what a person’ sexual orientation is
3. I do not care, even a little, what religion a person believes in.
4. I DO believe that every person deserves respect as a human, regardless of if you agree with them or not.

Okay, this post is a bit longer than I intended…

Stepping off the soap box now.

After I posted the above rant, another friend of mine, romance author Mistral Dawn, invited me to check out the Positivity Blog Tour that she and several other authors are participating in for the month of June.  Each of these fine ladies have their own reasons for taking part in the Positivity Blog Tour, but it comes down to the fact that they saw the need for more positivity in the world and decided to do something about it by devoting the month of June to discussing and promoting positivity.  This could not have come at a better time for me personally, and I would like to thank them for their efforts!  Here is a list of links to each author’s blog, and I would like to encourage all of you to check them out!

In addition to the ladies on the Positivity Blog Tour, I follow another author who does his part to spread positive vibes by promoting  his favorite charity.  Patrick Rothfuss heads up a couple of fundraisers each year in support of Worldbuilders, his nonprofit group that raises money to support Heifer International.  His latest fundraiser, Geeks Doing Good 2015 was, as always, a resounding success!  The goal was to raise $25,000 in 8 days, and as of this writing there is 3 hours left and a total of $245,821 has been raised!  That is a whole lot of positivity, both from Mr. Rothfuss and every one of his fans who contributed to this worthy cause!

On another positive note; tomorrow marks 6 months since my daughter underwent her second open heart surgery and she is doing amazing!  In the last 6 months, she has grown like the proverbial weed!  For those of you new to my blog, she was born with a group of heart defects called Tetralogy of Fallot with pulmonary atresia.  It has been a stressful two years with a total of five trips to Gainesville for surgeries or other procedures.  I have learned so much over these past two years, not the least of which is perspective. We learned early on that as bad as we thought our situation was, there were so many families going through something worse.  That realization gave my husband and me the ability to be positive while facing the worst time of our lives, and that positivity paid off.  We have a happy beautiful little girl who has taught us what it means to be strong.

My point is, without making a deliberate effort to seek out positive people and events in our lives and the world at large, it is easy to get bogged down in the overwhelming negativity found all around us.  So it is up to each of us to chose the positive over the negative. We must choose to seek out the silver lining in whatever this life puts in front of us.  What do you do to stay positive in dark times?  I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Return to the keyboard

It’s been a few weeks since I have posted anything here, and for that I would like to apologize.  I won’t go into the details of why I haven’t been writing, but I do want to say that I am working on a couple of new posts for the upcoming week. So please don’t give up on me just yet, and know that I look forward to your comments!  Thank you for stopping by today.

Over the past couple of weeks, there have been a few items in the news that have left me feeling like my head was about to explode.  I will be doing a series of posts on these news stories, so please don’t give up on me just yet, and know that I look forward to your comments!  Thank you for stopping by today.