Quote

Today’s Quote – several quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I find myself today in a very sad, heartbroken place; the senseless violence from the mass shooting in Las Vegas, how Trump hatefully spoke out on Twitter about the people of Puerto Rico over the weekend, people being angry, nasty, and spiteful about others utilizing their right to peacefully protest in the U.S., and the injustices going on in other countries, where people are trying to be peaceful and live out their lives but are being oppressed, murdered, and enslaved.  I think what saddens me the most is when I see hate and ignorance spreading like wildfire all over social media, and people jumping on ideas and ‘news’ that may or may not be accurate, simply because it fits their idea of what is right and true and they have no desire to seek out the truth about whatever is going on.  It hurts me deeply to see members of my own family posting some of these things, and they refuse to listen or learn the truth (I plan on writing more on this later).  I so desperately wish that the lines of communication would open for all sides so that we can all come together and start moving forward.  So, in light of all of this, I am sharing a handful of quotes from the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who bravely gave his life fighting for justice, love, equality, and peace, and worked hard to make the world a better place.  I know this is a bit lengthy, but there is so much to Dr. King’s legacy that needs to be shared and remembered, especially now.  My heart goes out to everyone who has been affected by recent events.

“It is no longer a choice between violence and nonviolence in this world; it’s nonviolence or nonexistence.”

“Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they cannot communicate; they cannot communicate because they are separated.”

“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.”

“An individual has not begun to live until he can rise above the narrow horizons of his particular individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity. And this is one of the big problems of life, that so many people never quite get to the point of rising above self. And so they end up the tragic victims of self-centeredness. They end up the victims of distorted and disrupted personality.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”

“Man is man because he is free to operate within the framework of his destiny. He is free to deliberate, to make decisions, and to choose between alternatives. He is distinguished from animals by his freedom to do evil or to do good and to walk the high road of beauty or tread the low road of ugly degeneracy.”

“It is not enough to know that two and two makes four, but we’ve got to know somehow that it’s right to be honest and just with our brothers. It’s not enough to know all about our philosophical and mathematical disciplines, but we’ve got to know the simple disciplines of being honest and loving and just with all humanity. If we don’t learn it, we will destroy ourselves by the misuse of our own powers.”

“We must meet hate with love. We must meet physical force with soul force. There is still a voice crying out through the vista of time, saying: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” Then, and only then, can you matriculate into the university of eternal life. That same voice cries out in terms lifted to cosmic proportions: “He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.” And history is replete with the bleached bones of nations that failed to follow this command. We must follow nonviolence and love.”

“True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.”

“There is little hope for us until we become toughminded enough to break loose from the shackles of prejudice, half-truths, and downright ignorance. The shape of the world today does not permit us the luxury of softmindedness. A nation or a civilization that continues to produce softminded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”

“…violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones. Violence is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding: it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends up defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.”

“We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was “legal” and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was “illegal.””

“There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”

“The time has come for an all-out world war against poverty. The rich nations must use their vast resources of wealth to develop the underdeveloped, school the unschooled, and feed the unfed. Ultimately a great nation is a compassionate nation. No individual or nation can be great if it does not have a concern for “the least of these”.”

“Together we can and should unite our strength for the wise preservation, not of races in general, but of the one race we all constitute – the human race.”

“We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation and for those it calls “enemy,” for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.”

“Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence, when it helps us to see the enemy’s point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.”

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 1929 – 1968

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Random Thoughts

Ok, I know I’ve become very sporadic in writing.  I’m working on getting better about it, while I juggle motherhood, taking my preemie baby to extra physical therapy appointments to help her catch up, taking a class on jewelry making, working like crazy on my artwork and photography and keeping up on social media (as best as I can), keeping the house clean, organized and running, and trying to lose weight and get back into shape.  Whew.  I’ve also been writing thoughts on the current state of events in the U.S. that is more of a rant than anything.  Originally, I was going to publish some of these thoughts, along with references… – just a few nights ago I hammered out 4 single-spaced pages in a matter of 30 minutes – but, I have restrained myself from doing so.  The reason I have chosen instead to sit on these writings and think before publishing is this:  My original intent of this blog was to reach out to help others, to create awareness for various problems, to provide inspiration through quotes, music, and words, and to share some of the knowledge I have gained over the years pertaining to art, science, and sobriety.  I really want to keep this as non-political as possible, but with the state of things today, that becomes increasingly difficult because what is going on in the White House directly impacts so many things I am passionate about, and as someone who works hard to fight for civil rights for many, it is hard to sit back and say nothing.  However, in my ranting to myself, I realize that the only people I would likely reach by posting those thoughts are those who basically feel the same way, and those on the other side of the fence will only dig in their heels more; and by doing this, it only adds to the divisiveness we are currently experiencing in the states.  My goal is to bring both sides together, to demonstrate that we are all people and no one person is better than the next, and that if we can put these differences aside, we can accomplish great things.  One example is how many people along the Gulf are reaching out to each other regardless of race, sexuality, creed, etc., and helping one another.

So, rather than railing against Trump and the current administration in the White House, I would like to simply mention a few things and provide a couple of solid references that can be referred to if one so pleases.  To start, let’s clear up a few things – I do not support hate groups in any way, shape or form.  By stating I would like to bring both sides together, I am referring to the ‘left/liberal’ and the ‘right/conservative;’ knowing that hate is learned and taught, I do hope that those who are members of these groups or supporters of the ideas pushed by these groups, can one day unlearn this hate and embrace their fellow human.  Sadly, I grew up around hate and intolerance, but I was able to look beyond the rhetoric, as can others.  There are many hate groups all over the world; one highly reputable source on hate groups currently operating in the U.S. is the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).  The SPLC has been widely recognized and highly regarded for over 45 years by law enforcement, academia, and others in the U.S. for unbiased accuracy for reporting hate and hate crimes, teaching awareness and tolerance, and what you can do to help.  I am well aware that this is a free country, however, there should be no tolerance for these groups publicly gathering with the sole purpose of infusing their horrible message into the masses, bringing attention to their cause, and ‘riling up the other side,’ as some have stated; this goes against everything this country represents and what many have died for in wars and on the streets.  Also, I by no means believe that everyone who voted for and/or supports the current administration falls within these groups.  Sure, there are those who most certainly do – all you have to do is turn on the news to see this, but not all of Trump’s supporters agree with these ideas.  And subsequently – not everyone who is left-leaning thinks this, and those on the left do not all fall under the ideology that Antifa supports.  As for Antifa, for those who are not aware, this is a group whose name is short for Anti-fascists, they typically represent those who are anti-government/anarchists, and rather than supporting liberal ideas or promoting working together, they instead fight against right-wing ideals, largely via destruction of property and violence.  This group has roots that trace back to Nazi Germany (as early as the 1930’s).  They also do not associate with the Democratic party, as they rather be anti-government, and the vast majority of those on the left do not agree with their methods.  The big take away here is, no matter which side you are on (left or right), remember that if you don’t like being lumped into these categories – whether it be Antifa or a known hate group – please don’t turn around and do that to the side you oppose, for that only increases judgement and divide.

As for racism, at no point in American history has racism ceased to exist.  I have seen much commentary in social media that ‘racism was gone until Obama…’  This is simply not true.  Again, you can go the the SPLC’s site and read up on this for yourself.  And while some argue that what is currently going on today is not Trump’s fault, it’s the fault of the media, keep this in mind – sure, the media plays a role, they tend to focus more on the negative than the positive, it has always been this way, this is nothing new.  I am not defending the media or condoning their behavior, I am simply pointing out that this is not a new occurrence.  That said, words spoken as well as actions, especially by people in power, are extremely powerful; one only needs to open a world history book to see the evidence.  All throughout history, leaders have been able to either bring people together, or divide; they have been able to mobilize people to work towards the common good, or commit atrocities.  The vast majority of historical events caused by these leaders took place long before there was ‘media’ as we understand it today.  Sure, there were means to get the word out, to push propaganda, to push agendas, and the evening news has been around for a little while, but remember the internet and social media are all still fairly new when you look at the big picture.  Also worth noting here – Black Lives Matter is not a hate group and certainly not a terrorist organization like so many seem to think.  Are there black hate groups?  Yes, again, refer to SPLC active hate groups 2016.  I deeply wish racism would end, but I realize it’s complicated.  Those making simplistic statements regarding slavery, such as ‘no one alive today…slavery,’ ‘the reason for violence amongst particular groups of people is…,’ and so on, trivializes the real problem we as a people need to address.  Professing that if people would stop bringing it up, there wouldn’t be such a problem is incorrect too – not having open dialogue, awareness, and discussion of these issues only allows the problems to fester and continue.

When it comes to the LGBTQ community, everyone has the right to love and be loved, and to live their lives the way they were meant to be.  I honestly scratch my head at why some people are so obsessed with what someone does in the privacy of their bedroom.  As long as the people there are consenting and of sound mind and age, and no one is getting hurt, then what is the problem?  If you don’t like seeing someone holding hands or kissing someone of the same sex in public, then politely look away.  People who are transgender do not choose to be – they are born in the wrong body and are brave enough to take the necessary steps to live a full, meaningful life.  Please keep in mind, that for those in the LGBTQ community, life is not easy; they are constantly met with hate, stares, violence, and so on.  If their lifestyle is against your religious belief, no one is asking you to change your belief, but to only accept that they are human too and deserve the same rights and freedoms you enjoy.  Shutting out an entire group of people is the same thing hate groups do.  I do not wish to discuss my religious beliefs here, but I will mention I was raised in a Christian household, and I took Biblical Study in college.  For someone to state they are a Christian, and then turn around and make disparaging remarks about any group of people completely goes against everything Christianity represents.  After all, according to the Bible, Jesus says to ‘love thy neighbor,’ and to not ‘cast the first stone.’  When people come together under the guise of Christianity and publish articles of hate, such as the recent Nashville Statement, it perpetuates ignorance and fear.  Many of the articles in the above mentioned statement include ideas that are absolutely false.  In fact, two of the groups represented are recognized hate groups (the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Family Research Council).  One of the original signatories, Tony Perkins, has also made claims regarding those in the LGBTQ community that are nothing but conspiracy theory and falsehoods.  Before thinking ‘well, this is just your opinion,’ read up on it in medical, scientific, and psychological journals.  Last I checked, this is not how we love one another.  My suggestion?  Let it go.  Homosexuality has been around since the beginning of time, and it is frequently found throughout the animal kingdom.  Transgenderism has also been around; try to remember those who are transgender already have turmoil in their lives as they often feel trapped in a body that is not theirs.  Rather than admonishing those in the LGBTQ community, why not take time to just talk to someone who identifies with this community?  Get to know them, and remember no one knows the struggles another is experiencing.  You might be surprised to find how beautiful someone can be.

Immigrants are the backbone of the U.S.  We are a nation of immigrants.  Every single person in this country, with the exception of Native Americans, is either currently an immigrant or a descendant of immigrants.  Throughout U.S. history, immigrants were responsible for the building of much of our infrastructure, tending farms, and often doing menial jobs that others did not want to do.  I want to ask those who love stating ‘we’re taking our country back,’ who exactly are you taking it back from?  White men (this includes, the English, French, and Spanish amongst others) stole the vast majority this country from the Native Americans, and a large portion of it from Mexico.  Many people were brought over from other nations against their will and forced into slavery (Some whites came over as indentured servants; and although not slavery, it was still a form of bondage, nonetheless.)  To this day, many large corporations and some of the wealthy employ illegal immigrants for ridiculously tiny wages and horrible working conditions and get away with abuses with the threat that they will call ICE and turn them in.  To be fair, the government and some of the population has wanted, and tried, to clamp down on immigration in the past.  This is not the first time this country has seen this.  However, that does not make it excusable.  Also, for those who get angry and annoyed that immigrants bring their heritage and ways of life with them – this is also not new.  All immigrants throughout history have done this.  Some of us retain that part of our culture and past, and some don’t, it’s just how it is.  (Consider it this way: do you like pizza?  Does your grandmother make the best fish and chips on this side of the Atlantic?  Have you tried Sushi?  Do you like BBQ?  As in real barbecue with smoked meat and not grilling?  All of these and so many, many more owe to the transplantation of people from one part of the world to here.  And that is one small, yet, tasty, cultural benefit of immigration.)  Please, rather than shunning the person seeking a better life for themselves and their family, find out what you can do to help the transition.  Think about how difficult and scary it would be for you to uproot and leave for another country with next to nothing in your pocket in the hopes for a better life.

I am not so naive as to think I can change minds or even the world by publishing a statement, a quote, or a song.  But the thing is, it all starts somewhere, even if it is just one person at a time.  I also do not profess to be perfect, I’m just as flawed as the next person.  Admittedly, I have gone on Twitter to speak out against this administration, and I have struggled greatly with how I now feel about members of my family who not only voted the president in, but continue to blindly support everything he does.  I find it difficult to discuss things with those whose beliefs are starkly opposite of mine; yet, this is exactly what we need to be doing (and in a civil manner).  These are things I need to work on within myself.  My hope is that this doesn’t fall on deaf ears and that it engages people, and they not only feel encouraged to share this message, but to act on it.  Remember, diversity is what makes the U.S. great!

Here are some reputable resources should you wish to do some of your own reading into U.S. history, science, medicine, or psychology.  Some of these require a paid subscription; if you are a student, check with your school, as some schools and universities already pay for these subscriptions.  Some employers also pay for some of these subscriptions, so depending on your line of work, you may be able to access some of it that way.  Otherwise, check with your local public library or university for assistance.

***This is not an inclusive list – there are many other great journals and resources out there, please check with a university librarian for further assistance on what you want to know more about.  They are experts on assisting with research and reputable sources.  This is simply a list to get you started.

U.S. National Archives

U.S. Library of Congress

Various U.S. Presidential Libraries

American Historical Association (AHA)

The Society for Military History

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)

The American Medical Association (AMA)

American Psychological Association and Affiliated Journals (APA)

The Journal of Psychology

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Science

Sharing my thoughts on an addict’s story published on NPR

Article:  Longtime Heroin Addict Fights for Recovery

As someone who has struggled with various addictions throughout my life, the worst being alcohol, reading this story about Andrea Towson touched me and hit home.  I was never addicted to heroin, but I feel that many of my days while active in my disease mirrored hers… get up, start drinking, make sure I have enough to get through the day and into the next, plan on how I was going to get more, then continue drinking until finally passing out.  Every day was the same.  And it was a nightmare.  I also had more than one near death experience, but still continued to drink for some time before finally ‘waking up’ to the idea that I needed help.  On July 13th, 2017, I gratefully celebrated five years of sobriety.  It also happened that an AA event that my spouse and I attend every year was a week early this year and fell on the same weekend of my sobriety birthday.  My favorite part of the event is the countdown.  Now mind you, upwards of 1000 people attend this event every year, and what is staggering about this number is that we live in a small community.  During the countdown, the person at the podium starts by finding out who has the longest sobriety – it’s usually someone with 45-50 years.  Then we countdown one year at a time, and those who have that period of sobriety stand up to be recognized while everyone claps and cheers for them.  Once the countdown gets to one year, then we continue by month, and once we hit one month, we countdown by day.  There is always someone who has only one day of sobriety.  That person walks to the front along with the person who has the most time, they hug, and the person with the most time under their belt gives the person who has the least time a copy of the ‘big book’ and words of encouragement.  I always tear up during the countdown, especially when I see those who have only days or weeks stand up.  I remember that time so clearly and how hard it was and wondering how anyone could make it a whole year, or even longer.  As time has gone by, I have grown and gotten stronger and no longer wonder how, as I am living it day by day.

Sadly, there are many who will never experience sobriety because their lives will be taken too soon as a result of their addiction.  It is unfortunate too that rehab is very costly, and often there are no available beds, leaving those who want and seek treatment out on their own.  Addiction is very complex; there are many factors in play as to why someone becomes addicted.  Too often people who have never been there do not understand this, all they want to do is point a finger and place the blame.  And unfortunately, the U.S. currently has an administration who largely does not understand addiction and they are going about fighting the current epidemic all wrong.  Most of the people who are out there still struggling are good people; many have the qualities our society deems as good, but we can’t see these qualities because they are masked by drugs and/or alcohol.  Many would be very shocked and surprised as to how many people who currently hold, or at one time held, positions of power and prestige also have a past that includes addiction.  The point is, addicts are worth saving, and building walls and returning to a 1980s-style ‘war on drugs’ absolutely will not stop the problem so many are facing.  Instead, educating people and the public, creating safe places for addicts to go to, and providing support and programs is what will help.  Congrats to Ms. Towson for finding sobriety and reaching out to others, I wish her the best!

Why March for Science?

Why science is not just important, but critical.

George Lakoff

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The enormous role played by science — especially government-sponsored science — in our everyday lives is barely appreciated.

Start with modern medicine. We, the public, paid for it through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and research universities where the medical researchers, surgeons, doctors and nurses were trained, and where tools like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) developed. Modern drugs were also developed through basic research sponsored by NIH. Modern medicine is the dividend of our investment over decades in medical science.

Next, computers. Computer science didn’t just appear. It was developed through grants from National Science Foundation (NSF) and Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARP). The Internet was developed by the Defense Department. It was originally called the Arpanet. Satellites were developed through NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Defense Department, with vast amount of new science: rocket fuels, physics, new materials for rocket shells, advances…

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My Hopes for my Daughter

Though she is just an infant, like most parents, I have hopes and dreams for my daughter.  While I am trying my best to make a good life for her and to expose her to culture, diversity, and the arts, I hope to help her reach her full potential and revel in the simple things.  I want the best for her and for her life to be full and happy.  I want her childhood to be magical, not filled with constant fear.  I want her to feel free to express herself and most importantly, to be herself.  I want her to not be afraid letting the world know who she is in love with, no matter their gender, color, or ethnicity.  I want her to have choices when it comes to her health and well-being.  I want her to know it’s ok if she is unsure about her gender.  I want her to grow up respecting the planet and the plants, animals, and people living on it.  I want her to know we are all one in the same and to not let hate fester in her heart.  I want her to have the freedom to follow her personal spiritual journey and to not feel coerced into a specific belief.  I want her to be strong and independent, and to stand up for what she believes in.

As a side note – I know where I personally stand on political, social, and religious issues, and my intent is not to shove my beliefs down someone else’s throat.  The U.S. is a free country, and with that, we have the freedom to have our own thoughts and feelings, ideas and choices.  However, I do find it deeply disturbing what is going on all over the world today.  I can’t sit back and pretend I am not bothered by reports of animal abuse, hate crimes and hate speech, different groups of people living in fear, being marginalized, profiled, and shunned because of their color, ethnicity, or identity, and people passing judgement because someone goes against what they deem as ‘normal’ and/or ‘right.’  At the end of the day, we all share this planet.  At the beginning of every day, we have an opportunity – an opportunity to do good, to care about others and not just ourselves, to learn and become educated about topics that make us uncomfortable, to remember history and work to not allow it to repeat itself, to realize we don’t know the struggles someone else is facing, and to simply be nice to one another.

~LadyDom13