Current Events, Everything

The Bubble of Ignorance

This is a post I wrote after a particularly public beheading. I started it in February of this year. I haven’t published it because I’ve been scared to. I don’t usually share my political opinions on social media, and to be honest, I’m scared of the backlash. On social media, I’ve been silent on the events in Paris, Beirut, Nigeria, and the rest of the world. At home, I’ve cried so many times for people I’ve never met. 

When I visited Paris, I hated it. I hated how they treated the people experiencing homelessness there. I hated how that, in one part of the city, it was beautiful, but two blocks down, it was awful. I have no personal connection to anyone that’s died in an attack that I know of, but that doesn’t stop me for feeling for the families and friends of those lost. 

There has been so much violence, hate, and sadness lately, and I’ve been silent because I am speechless. I don’t know how to respond. I don’t know what to do.

I’m sharing this now because I need to for me, and I’m sharing it because it needs to be said.

I haven’t edited it, so some of the questions might have answers. 


Sometimes, it can be really easy to sit comfortably in our American Bubble of Ignorance and ignore what’s going on in the world around us.

I am not blind to the events and injustices happening in other parts of the world as well as those happening in the US. I am not blind to the events in the Middle East and the horrendous acts of violence taking place there.

The actions of the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” don’t make sense. They kill anyone they perceive to be their enemy, even their brothers and sisters in Islam. They are spreading fear and hate and without accomplishing anything other than destroying the lives of many.

I have so many questions and no answers…

Why do they continue to commit horrible acts of violence? Why can’t they be stopped?

Why does the media only help spread the fear and hate by only showing the murders they commit? Why can’t they tell us what’s going on and what the “IS” is after? Why only show the violence?

What the “Islamic State” is doing is wrong. We all understand that.

But what do we do? How can we, who so often love to sit in our Bubbles of Ignorance, stop this force from halfway around the world?

I don’t know. I really don’t know.

Hearing about what they’re doing over there whilst I sit here happily going about my life destroys me. I wish I could just wave a magic wand and make it come to an end, but the world doesn’t work that way…

Here’s what I do know.

The actions of the so-called “Islamic State” don’t represent the actions and feelings of Muslims everywhere.

Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into fearing and hating all Muslims because of the actions of the “Islamic State.” We all need to band together against them.

Until we figure out something better to do, don’t add fuel to the fire by hating and bullying others, especially because they happen to be Muslim.

Just do what’s right.

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Center for Service and Learning. Sam H. Jones Community Service Scholarship Program Jacket
Everything, GA Adventures, Grad School

GA Adventures – Reflection: September 2015

This is a reflection I’ve written for the Family, School, and Neighborhood Engagement Scholars I work with. Read my introduction to these here, and read the original post here.

PromptCenter for Service and Learning. Sam H. Jones Community Service Scholarship Program Jacket

  • Based on the overview from our Community 101 Training, your review of the Quality of Life Plans, and your first few weeks working in FSNE (Family, School, and Neighborhood Engagement), what social issues do you feel are most pressing in our community?
  • How do you feel your work this year will contribute to improving the Quality of Life in the Urban Core?

Response

There are a wide variety of social issues that affect the Indianapolis urban core, and each of them affect every single person in Indianapolis regularly. Getting to the root of what causes many of these social issues and tackling that might be better than trying to tackle each one individually.

For the purposes of this reflection, I will talk about two pressing social issues in the Indianapolis urban core.

My main areas of focus in my position have to do with education and health.

Health

In order to get to a healthier Indianapolis, we have to tackle some major issues: the healthcare system, the cost of and access to healthy food, safe places where people can exercise for free, among many others. If we can fix those issues and have healthy people living in our communities, we might have less people getting into debt caused by medical bills. If we have healthy people, we might have lower mortality rates.

Education

In order to have an educated population, we have to tackle a whole host of other issues: we need to prioritize how we want our students to learn (and pay our teachers!), we have to find a way so students are focused on their education (and not have the admin focused on what they’re wearing), we have to find a way to get every student access to education (and do we want a system where two students in a city can grow up K-12 where one goes to a private school and one goes to an underfunded public school just because one child’s parent has more money?), and I could go on for years about the issues plaguing our education system.

However, if we have a functioning education system that actually supports and encourages its students, we might have less people in what’s called the school to prison pipeline. If we have a better education system, we might have people who are educated on ways to be engaged in society (so maybe we elect people who can really do their jobs). Maybe they’ll make more money. Maybe they’ll be more independent. Maybe there will be less crime. Who knows what might be?

Other Issues

Unfortunately, even if we have healthy and educated people living in Indianapolis, we still have a system that puts some people in a place of privilege while stopping others from advancing in society, no matter how healthy or educated they are.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution; we have to make our society a one based off equity, where everyone gets access to the things they need.

How? I don’t really know. Right now, we have many organizations trying to improve education, health, livability, opportunity, and more. Many of these organizations focus on helping individuals, which I think is a great idea, but is it sustainable? Maybe. We really need our system to change, but that’s harder than moving ourselves to Mars.

My Contribution

I will continue my work as a Graduate Assistant working to build partnerships in the Indianapolis urban core to improve the health and general quality of life of its residents. I will help train the five scholars I work with and help them grow into civic-minded graduates who are able to make change in our society. I will work to help fund my colleagues in their projects that make improvements in workforce development, education, health, and human services in the urban core. I will apply what I’m learning here to my future career in library sciences.

Everything

On Turning Twenty-One

I turned 21 this year, and I think the experience was different for me than it was for a lot of my peers.

After starting at university at 15 and graduating at 20, I felt like I have been 21 for a long time.

All of my friends are in their mid-twenties at this point, and there I was, the minor. But nobody remembered my age (which didn’t help me remember it either)! I cannot tell you how many times I was invited to 21 and over restaurants, bars, parties, etc. and had to decline because of my age.

Then, I would be met with the awkward conversation of, “Oh, I forgot how young you were… sorry.” But then a little while later, I would find myself back at that conversation. However, worse than having to decline an invitation is being neglected completely, and luckily, that hasn’t happened often.

Second, I have been left out of so many opportunities because of my age, and it sucks.

How I spent my birthday: Breakfast with family. Dinner with my husband and a friend. Trans Siberian Orchestra concert.
How I spent my birthday: Breakfast with family. Dinner with my husband and a friend. Trans Siberian Orchestra concert.

Twice, I missed opportunities to network with people in my career field because their chosen venue did not allow those under 21 years old. Most recently, this happened just ten days before my 21st birthday.

I don’t blame my peers (the world does not revolve around me; there will always be more networking opportunities), but I do think that we, as a country, need to reevaluate our legal drinking age.

How insane is it that I was able to have a B.A., vote, be married, and do a lot of other things, but I couldn’t network with people in my career field because of my age?

With that, I wouldn’t have even been able to sit in the passenger’s seat while my husband drove with a learner’s permit. No matter that I had five years of driving experience, a college degree, or that I was married to him; I couldn’t sit there because I was only twenty.

My young age hasn’t just been a curse and a source of angst for me, though. I have been able to learn from watching my friends turn 21 and go through the struggles of being “old enough.”

I have learned that drinking too much leads to getting too friendly with the commode.

I have learned that being “old enough” means bearing more responsibilities for yourself than you previously had to.

I have learned that drinking isn’t the point of turning 21. The point is to learn self-control.

The best part is that I didn’t have to learn any of this “the hard way.” I was able to learn it all from the comfort of my home and “under-21” venues (i.e., restaurants).

I still have four years until my brain is fully developed, so I still have a lot of learning and growing to do. However, the lessons I learned before turning 21 are those that many people don’t learn until after 21. I believe that the best way to learn about our limits with alcohol, to prevent alcohol-related injuries and driving violations, to allow students to focus on their work, and to let us learn these lessons is to lower the legal age of drinking and let kids get it out before they get behind the wheel.

I definitely don’t have the answers, nor have I personally done research on the matter, but I do have my own personal experiences, and I believe that it’s high time we reevaluate our policy towards alcohol… especially since so many kids drink anyway. Let their first experiences be with their parents, not hiding away with friends.


Turning 21 was very symbolic for me. It meant that, for the first time, I would feel truly a part of my circle of friends and feel somewhat competent in front of my peers. I am no longer “that girl that had to stay behind.” Now I can go out with my peers, not drink (or drink just a little), and not be conscious of my young age.

Current Events, Everything

On Making Change

Every person has the ability to make change in their own way.

Many people choose to use their voice. Some voices are louder than others. Some are more articulate and thought-through. Some are emotional. Some are timid.

I know people who use their ability to captivate an audience to their advantage. They are able to inform others online and in person with facts at the drop of a hat, and they know it. I have a friend who can express everything I’m feeling long before I’ve ever figured out the right words. Those people are inspiring.

I also know people who may not be so good at coming up with what to say, so they “share” or refer to those who use their words well. That’s okay. I’m one of those people a lot of the time.

My friend does a lot to make change. She uses her voice, her right to vote, her influence on social media, and so much more to make change. It’s in her blood.

Like her, some people make change by using their voice. Some use media (social and otherwise). Some look to politics. Some look to education (for themselves and others). Some prefer to team up and work with people. Some choose to hold demonstrations and protests. Some take a strong and public stand against injustices in our world. Some are terrified, for reasons that don’t have to be known, to express their opinions publicly.

There are so many ways to make change; you just have to pick one. You don’t have to be like my friend and take a strong public stance, but you have to do something. If you don’t want to be in the public eye, reach out to those who do speak up loudly and ask how you can make change. They’ll have ideas. The only thing you can’t do is nothing.

I’m a fan of the band Rush, and they have a lyric that goes “If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Though they aren’t talking about making change, the lyric still rings true for me.

My biggest point is that, no matter how you choose to make change, understand that everyone has their own way of making a difference. No one facing the same goal should criticize one another on how they choose to make change. We all need to stand together and use our strengths to our advantage. Not everyone can stand up and be a strong-voiced leader, but we all have our own way of making change; we just have to start doing it.

And we all have to stand together and support one another.

No goal gets accomplished if we all bicker over how to best make change. We all make change differently, and we all have to support each other. So if you would rather demonstrate with a group, do it. If you would rather be a loud voice on social media, do it. If you would rather make a movie about injustices, do it. If you would rather be a supporting voice rather than the main voice, do it. If you don’t know what to do, ask someone.

Working as a team gets more done than fighting with one another about who’s making the best change and why. We all just have to work together and do it.

So whether you want people to know how what’s happening in Ferguson affects us and that #BlackLivesMatter; or whether you want to make your community stronger; or whether you want to fight racial (or any other) injustices; or whether you want to make any other kind of change, find your way and do it.

Every person has the ability to make change in their own way.

Now you just have to find your way and do it.

Current Events, Everything

News and Nightmares

I’m one of those people who has at least one dream every night. Usually I average two or three, and I typically remember most details from them. For the most part, I have good dreams, but there was a solid two weeks where I had nothing but nightmares.

I blame the news.

My current living situation has my husband and I living with my parents until the new year, and my dad watches the news nonstop.

What has been on the news in the past couple of months? ISIS, beheadings, Ebola, plane disasters (in the local news), MH370, shootings (local and national), Ferguson, serial killers (local), and so much more.

I am not ignoring the importance of these news stories; Ebola is killing thousands of people abroad, ISIS is a horrible organization that is also killing thousands of people, there are still almost 300 people missing in the MH370 disappearance, one local father is missing in another place tragedy, racial injustice and racially-motivated deaths are still prevalent in our society. I understand the importance of bringing awareness to these and other issues. These are important issues. 

However, I have problems with how these important stories are written and presented.

When these stories are sensationalized, dehumanized, and blasted all over the television and internet, they miss out on the important conversations that need to happen about them, and they create hype and terror.

Here’s how the news affected me: I had two weeks of nightmares where planes crashed into my home, I was beheaded, and I was attacked in multiple ways. As happy as I am about the fact that I am alive and well, I would rather be having conversations about these issues rather than nightmares.

I expect the news to tell me what I need to know, not to scare me. The news should be a place I go to learn about what’s happening in the world around me and to hear important conversations about the root causes of some of the issues. I also expect the news to tell me what I can do to help improve the world around me.

I believe that every single person can make a difference in the world, as long as they are equipped with knowledge and (sometimes) given examples on what they can do to help.

10498043_10152639805621554_5540103886214924500_oFor example, Babar Suleman, a local father and pilot, went missing after the plane piloted by his son, Haris, crashed during a world-round trip to raise money and awareness for education in Pakistan. I attended the launch party for the pair, and many of my friends knew them personally. After the crash, the family launched a #BringBabarHome campaign to keep the search for Babar and the plane going as long as possible. It was a fairly successful campaign, but the searchers were not able to recover Babar. Hopefully, the searchers will continue trying to find the wreckage and bring peace of mind to the family and friends of Babar.

My point is that people have power, and there is power in numbers. With a hashtag, we were able to encourage and support the searchers for the plane, we were able to bring further awareness to the Seeds of Learning campaign they were flying for, and it gave people here, on the other side of the world, the power to make change.

No, it wasn’t the greatest or most successful campaign to ever happen; it didn’t change the world, and it hasn’t yet brought Babar back, but we took up the cause because we were empowered, not scared, by the media to do something. That is what needs to happen with all of these issues.

The media should educate the public in an unbiased and helpful way. They shouldn’t search for what will bring them the most viewers. To be frank, I honestly would watch more of the news if they did hold conversations about the root causes of violence, poverty, etc. and what we can do to help. I get that the media wants us to know what happened, but instead of telling us what happened and moving on to the important conversation, they continue to repeat what happened in different ways. That doesn’t educate me; it makes me sad, angry, and feel completely helpless.

The media should simply do the job of sharing information.

Why the media chooses to present news in a way that gives some nightmares is beyond me, but it won’t stop me from trying to learn about the important issues in the world and what I can do to make things better. However, I might have to turn off the news first.

Of course, this is just how I feel about the news. If you have anything to add to the conversation, I’d be more than happy to read it. Keep Reading!

Everything, Theatre

Thoughts: Clark Gable Slept Here

Last week I had the chance to see Clark Gable Slept Here written by Michael McKeever and directed by Bryan Fonseca at The Phoenix Theatre. Aside from the amazing acting (as to be expected), I was very happy to have several interesting topics emerge.


1. Does it really matter if someone enormously famous is gay? 

Without giving away too much of the plot, there is someone who is famous that is gay, and according to everyone around him, the news that he is gay would totally ruin the careers of everyone involved. Is that really true? Do we as a society really care so much about the gender of who a person loves, sleeps with, etc. that it would ruin their acting career (let alone the careers of those closest to them)? Why?

Along with that, Raven-Symoné was in the news this week after appearing on Oprah saying that she rejects the notion of labels, especially related to her sexuality. This TIME article sums it up pretty well. She’s got a point that speaks closely to the plot of the play: sexuality shouldn’t define a person or their career.

2. A play can have both English and Spanish in it while still flowing well.

I don’t speak Spanish (though I am learning), and I can almost guarantee you that most of the 35 other people in the audience that night didn’t speak it either. Not being a speaker of the language myself, I can’t attest to the quality of the Spanish (check out this article about Spanglish in television). The actors playing the Spanish speakers did an excellent job, and I would hope it’s because the Spanish dialogue was well-written. 

With that said, there isn’t enough Spanish to make the show understandable for Spanish-only speakers, though there’s enough English to make it suitable for English-only speakers. However, it’s a play being performed in a place where there are mainly English speakers; it doesn’t have to cater to Spanish-only speakers, but it would be neat if it did.

I don’t know much about Spanish-language theatre, but I plan on looking into it. Regardless, I’m happy there was a lot of Spanish. It tells the English speakers in the audience that there is more than just English in the world and to not be scared of other languages appearing in theatre. Good plays challenge us to think, and I think that having a bilingual play challenges the audience to learn more about another language and culture.

I hope I’m able to see more bilingual plays, and I hope the dialogue is done well.

3. There’s a lot we might not know about the world of Hollywood.

It should come as no surprise that what comes out of Hollywood influences the way we think and do things. From advertising to the TV shows and movies we watch, we are being fed ideas (good and bad). However, as it’s said in the play, the people behind the scenes create the legacies of the people on the screen. It hints that there’s a lot that goes on that we mere mortals never see. They make these people into supposed super-beings. They aren’t humans who make mistakes (though they really are and we all know it). To the audience, they appear to be perfect beings, and that is the image that is crafted for us by Hollywood.

The real question here is what are the motivations of people in Hollywood? Why can’t celebrities be normal humans with a very public career? What are they hiding from us about celebrities and why? Is it a privacy thing, a money thing, both, or something different all together?

I’m not saying I want to know every detail about their lives (nor do I have a right to know), but why do actors need PR managers? Can’t they just be themselves without someone micromanaging every detail of their lives? I don’t know. I’d like to know more about what goes on behind the scenes in Hollywood and why certain things are the way they are…


Back to the play, Clark Gable Slept Here was a very interesting eighty minutes. Though it wasn’t the greatest comedy in the world, it brought up a lot of interesting topics that still need to be investigated further.

That’s the great thing about theatre. It asks questions. It makes the audience think. It questions our beliefs without us being totally aware of it. Michael McKeever does a great job of challenging us without making it overly obvious.

That’s good theatre.

Everything

Why Do Opinions Matter?

In my fairly brief lifetime, I’ve come across some fairly abysmal and horrifying opinions. I’ve been told to ignore the opinions that don’t align with mine, and I’ve also been told to listen to each opinion. I know people with who believe that listening to other opinions is akin to poison, but I’ve never understood why. To me, differing opinions can open doors to new and insightful conversation. And just because a new opinion is given audience, it doesn’t mean that the listener must agree with it…or else.

Also, the person giving the new opinion should be just as interested in your opinion as their own. Too many times have I seen arguments break out where it’s clear that only one person truly cares about listening to the other person. All too often, the other person just spouts their opinion in a way that makes it seem they didn’t even hear (or read) the other person’s comment. What is accomplished by this? It seems that these conversations just run around in circles. The people who don’t listen to other opinions could be missing out on a great learning opportunity. They could also be missing out on an opportunity to state their opinion in a way that will be beneficial to the listener.

At my university, I helped run a student organization that asked difficult questions to open discussion. Some of these discussions were written down publicly and anonymously (unless you were seen writing your comment, of course) and some of them were in person. The opinions represented were generally varied and made for an interesting conversation. However, we always had critics. They generally thought that we were either wasting our time (no change would come from the little people like us), or they expressed that talking about things only makes them worse. But I don’t think so. I think that discussion is necessary–especially on a university campus. Sometimes, the discussions were great examples of how to present an opinion and value that of the other person. That is what discussions should be like. Valued. They should never end with hard feelings, but they should get you and the other person thinking.

If everyone agreed on the same thing or if no one stood up for what they believed in (unless the world was perfect, but it isn’t now), the world would probably fall into some sort of scary dystopian bandwagon where differing opinions were few and far between. It would be easier for people to be taken advantage of, and intellectual growth would be slim. I’m not saying that’s going to happen (or is even realistic), but I do believe that opinions matter. More than that, I believe that the ability to not only have your opinion matters, but I believe that the ability to state and have a dialogue where both opinions are valued is essential.


But of course, this is just my opinion. I’m not an expert, and I would be hypocritical not to welcome discussion. So feel free to comment with your opinions.