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Captain America Review

***Warning, contains spoilers***

I’m going to admit it right upfront, I’m not a big superhero fanatic. Oh don’t mistake me, I’m a huge nerd, I’m just more of the Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings fantasy hero type. My idea of real heroism is when someone who is very moral and vulnerable puts themselves in danger for the things that they love, and not just one girl, but usually for their country or in defense of those were are persecuted unfairly. Also, I see violence as a last resort and a failure on the part of intelligence which I value far over the ability to kill. So when I see someone who is endowed with unlimited body power who just has his one girlfriend to save, I don’t usually care so much. It’s not that I think the superheroes are bad guys, I just don’t really see body power as being particularly impressive. I’m an athlete who knows what it means to suffer to have an able body. I know there’s always going to be someone who’s stronger than I am, so I am appreciative of those who can push themselves harder than I can to achieve this, but for me, it’s their willpower that’s impressive, not as much their bodies. Yes, a built body is impressive on a primitive, lustful kind of way, but there are so many more impressive qualities to me. I prefer an intelligent or gentle mind for sure. I am also rarely impressed because of heroes like Batman, who while intelligent also has grown up his whole life filthy rich and had everything but a family handed to him. It’s no wonder then, that someone like Superman, who was handed everything from strength to laser vision, really has very little appeal to me. Do I hate him? Nah, but I don’t really give two shits that he can lift a plane with his bare hands. I know people who could probably knock you out with one punch but are assholes. Anyway, point being, I am rarely won-over by superheros and when I am, they tend to be the ones that do a lot of thinking and have real weaknesses…the ones that are more human.

My buddy was interested in the seeing the new “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” movie last Friday. Captain America is someone I have less experience with, mainly because in the past, I was very wary of exposing myself to a hero that seemed to be so obviously used as American propaganda. However, I had seen the previous Captain America movie and liked his attitude. Apart from his white privilege, here was a guy who was truly vulnerable. He wasn’t rich, was a 98 pound weakling, that no one, not even the american army who at that time was drafting people for World War II wanted around. He worked his ass off, asking only to serve and save his country that (at least in his mind, was the land of freedom) while others would have done anything to get out of it. Unfortunately no matter how hard he worked, he simply wasn’t big enough or strong enough to get into the army. It wasn’t until someone tested his training group per chance, throwing a dud grenade without a pin to the ground, that Steve Rogers had the chance to get ahead. Throwing himself on top of the grenade without even thinking about it, he screamed at the other soldiers to get away, to save themselves. People laughed at him, but his superiors finally saw the potential in him that made him stand out, bravery and selflessness to the end. He earned the right to try an experimental process that would give him great strength and mass. Anyone else might have used the power selfishly, but he had proven himself worthy. He EARNED his power by demonstrating kindness. How many superheroes do you know who became what they were in such a way?

Once given his powers, Steven Rogers (now Captain America) worked tirelessly to save troops in danger and end the war that threatened the freedom of the people of the world. He never underestimated his rivals, his friends, or grew an ego. He hate being used as or seen as anything other than just another soldier doing his duty. He was not a bully who could throw his weight around and get whatever he wanted.

In “Winter Soldier” Rogers realizes his ideas are now old-fashioned, the ideals of an older world that were even at that time considered out of date and impractical. He was seen as too self-serving and reserved in giving himself pleasures. Clearly the most innocent of the Avengers, the rest of the group and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents see him as a bit of an outsider. Useful, but not “onboard” with the team mentality. Nick Fury (head of S.H.I.E.L.D.) tells Rogers, “We need to stay one step ahead,” that they need to use their opportunity and power to intimidate and scare other countries into staying in line. Fury shows Rogers massive weapons and airships they are massing to demonstrate this power. Rogers relies stubbornly, “That is not freedom, that’s fear,” rejecting the imperialist attitude of his ancestors. Fury insists that Rogers is just too stuck in the old ways to see that it’s the right thing to do to save their future. Captain America was right however, as S.H.I.E.L.D. is quickly taken over and used for its powerful weapons, with the intent I might add, of taking away everyone’s freedom.

Other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents like the Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff) agree that Rogers is stuck in the past, even romantically. “You should ask out that nurse” “You should ask out that accountant, if you asked her, she’d go out with you.” However the director chose to do something I really liked, no romance. There are hints of attraction between Rogers and the Black Widow, but nothing happens. Rogers sees her as an equal on the field and treats her as such, trusting her with his life and also not holding back in criticising her if he thinks she’s behaved in a way that is less than satisfactory because he believes she’s capable of greatness and not some fragile thing to be protected (this actually suggests that he’s far ahead of the time period from which he came where women were not allowed in combat at all). He calls her a “friend,” an equal and never hits on her or brings up her gender. The most romantic it gets is at the end of the movie, with a quick peck on the cheek, practically nothing by most movie standards. I wouldn’t be surprised if the directors tried to follow it up with a romance in a later movie, but let me just say that this movie was a breath of fresh air. There “relationship” was always about being a team and never a major focus in the movie. Instead of using his male privilege and nice physique to get ahead and take advantage of his status, Rogers focuses his assets on saving his friends and the freedom of people he’s never met.

In fact, this movie focused more on the fast relationship that Rogers had with his old friend, Bucky. Previously believed to have died in the war, Bucky shows up very unexpectedly as a brain-washed enemy (the “Winter Soldier”) and physical monster, so obviously, Captain America is quite shocked. He has only ever fought to others to save the people he loves, but never to fight against them. Everyone tells him to just kill the guy, because even though it’s sad, there is no way around it. Rogers stubbornly refuses yet again to give his old ideals up. He and Bucky had promised to always be there for each other, no matter what the cost to themselves. Rogers does fight back when attacked and continues to fight until he’s certain the people of Earth are saved but the whole time, he pleads with Bucky to stop. Rogers pleads him to remember their friendship, remember who he is and what they had. Rogers has insured victory but Bucky continues to fight him. Rogers puts down his hands and goes limp, “I’m not going to fight you” he says as Bucky wails on Roger’s face mercilessly. Bucky continues to hit him saying, “I have to finish the mission” (to kill Captain America) and Rogers says, peering through a black eye squeezed shut with swelling, “Go ahead then, I’m with you to the end of the line.” Here was a man who could clearly kill Bucky, but instead doing nothing because he loved his friend, who had nothing to offer in return but terrible beatings and angry words. It was actually the most touching part of the movie. A highly intimate and completely unapologetic relationship between two huge men. Not only is Rogers not apologetic for refusing to act manly because he loves his friend, but he’s not embarrassed by it. He admits he has feeling of attraction for women, but it does not mean that he couldn’t also have affection for his childhood friend, whom he would have gladly given his life for. I’m not saying it was a romantic relationship, but who cares?

This is not the typical superhero movie. No romantic sex only to feature a highly imitate love between friends. A man who refused to use his white privilege, male privilege, or physical advantage to use people because he recognized “that’s not freedom, it’s fear.” Captain America realized that was not a world he wanted to be apart of making and certainly not the part of the world that he had set out to save, even if what he thought was real couldn’t be saved or didn’t exist anymore. No one could convince him or intimidate him into acting otherwise. I know we have enough movies featuring the white male superhero as the ideal person, but I think as far as popular superhero movies go, this one definitely showed progress and pointed cinema in the right direction. It was not a movie I’m ashamed to have paid for and I think that had the character been a real man, a real soldier, I would not have been ashamed to call him my friend.

Procrastination at the Office

Sometimes I get bored at work and wind up doing bad things, like writing an overly verbose email to my friend. This was the result today:

 

Dearest Evelyn, 

 
It was brought to my attention by our esteemed acquaintance Ms. Anderson that a kind of small “blurb” was required for the complete summary of the Rugby Alumnae newsletter. Having little time allotted to fulfill my countless duties at the office (evidence of which I’m sure you have personally witnessed through my countless comments via the social media website known to the peasants of the millennial generation as “Facebook”), I nevertheless agreed to the task of which was requested of me. I do hope you find it to be quite to your liking and not the egregious mess that I have envisioned it to be, as per my usual attitude toward anything that I have produced in earnest effort and with little to no artistic vision.
 
In brief summary, that is to say what I might have said if I was not committing criminal acts of procrastination of the highest order is:
 
“I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing, so here you go.”
 
I apologize for the rather blatant use of profanity. However, I found it essential in order to properly communicate the juxtaposition of that which may be considered a rather formal style speech with that of a more common style of dialogue used quite abruptly in the middle of this letter.
 
But I digress, please find the attached Microsoft Office Word Document within the contents of this electronic document. 
 
I do hope my letter has found you and your family well but now I must leave you, lest I could possibly waste anymore time at the office.
 
Sincerely,
 
A.J. Lion
Duchess of the Small IKEA Bed of the Smallest Bedroom at Misfit Mansion Estate 
 
P.S. – I may have had to double-check the spelling of at least two or three words in this letter.
P.P.S. – This letter may have taken longer to write than the actual blurb.
P.P.S.S. – This letter is not overly verbose in the slightest, how dare you judge me.
P.P.P.S.S. – I have no idea what actually comes after “P.S.” so I just chose a random order of the letters “P” and “S” in a way that I found aesthetically pleasing after google failed to aid me in my valiant quest. 
 
Needless to say, I eagerly await her response. Part of me is afraid that she’s going to be pissed that I forced her to read the whole thing…or maybe that I spent more time writing the letter than doing the project that was asked of me but I decided that’s a chance I’m willing to take.

The Problem that I Have with Hearing that a Privileged Person’s Feelings Don’t Matter

This could obviously be applied to other groups of privilege such as orientation, race, etc but in this post in particular, I’m focusing on men. Please do not excuse the idea that it could also apply to other groups however. This is just one area in particular that I have noticed recently and thought a lot about.

The reason I have a problem is misandry (in particular) is when we deny the hurt of men or focus our energy on telling men that we hate them for being “men,” we set a definition to the word. We give men a label and that label comes with expectations. Not only do I not believe in hurting someone who has hurt me because I think it poisons my own heart and makes me lessens my ability to be a good person, but it because I believe it actually has a much larger effect on the world and its women. When we label what a “man” is, we say that a woman is not that, we say that a man cannot do things that a woman can do, extra. Denying that men as well as women experience discrimination and hurt based on their label says that the labels and expectations placed on men do not also then affect women (who then can or cannot be those things that define a “man”). But how can they not? When gender is simply a flawed theory and false concept, pushed on everyone by society? Once you limit someone, it will limit everyone. We already know that when patriarchy defined a “women” and said those qualities were weak, that it also (at least to a certain degree) hurt men. The same is true in reverse. The sad thing is, that all of those labels and definitions and qualities that we deemed as “weak” or “strong” were all lies.

Now, I’m not saying that the people whom society call “men” do not experience privilege, they do, and it’s important that everyone, especially men recognize that privilege. However, to experience privilege in one area of life does not prevent you from experiencing discrimination and disadvantages in another. It is important that we all recognize these things and stop saying that any one person’s feelings don’t matter. Because if you care about yourself, you should realize that because you are defined as a human being, your labels and ties are connected to theirs, and sooner or later, limiting and denying their feelings will only limit and cause the denial of your own. I believe women have experienced enough discrimination in our short history on Earth without feeling like we need to be shooting ourselves in the foot.

Everyone needs feminism. Everyone needs justice. Everyone needs equality.

Dreading the Imminent Door Slam

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve got a degree in communications which means – I’m weird about people. I have a weird obsession with knowing, understanding, and analyzing relationships which means I have this weird chart that explains my relationship on an emotional/trust level with any given person. Most people tend to float loosely within the chart, which looks like a target with me in the center and people I care less about placed in circles further away from me and moving out and the people I trust more as closer to my center. For more details see the posted entitled, “My Facebook Page is My Room” here:

http://ajlion.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/my-facebook-page-is-my-room/?preview=true&preview_id=283&preview_nonce=8ab4334161&post_format=standard

The reason I bring this up again is for fear that someone I met recently is getting dangerously close to being permanently fixed (or already is permanently fixed in) my 6th circle. This is the very sad and depressing “Door Slam” circle. This is quite a rare situation for me to begin with because I hate shutting people out of my life but it’s even odder that I only recently met this person. For the Door Slam to occur, I have to have been close to that person, very personally offended. Otherwise, having not trusted them nor having an emotional connection to them, I would have thrown them into either the 5th circle (if I felt they were not a threat) or the 7th if I felt that they were both untrustworthy and dangerous. Which means, things got intense with this person quickly and went quite poorly. I am pretty upset and confused as to how to emotionally handle myself at this point. I do not want to door slam this person or anyone because all the people in this circle are people I feel for very deeply. It causes me a great deal of emotional turmoil and I usually feel the need to consult everyone I know that I trust before making the decision (much to their annoyance I’m sure). This person was someone I felt an attraction to right away. It was somewhat of a romantic connection I’ll admit and part of the reason it bothered me so much is that she reminds me of someone I loved who hurt me very badly. They were both very smart people, creatively unique, and had a sarcastic sense of humor that we shared and I loved. We could talk philosophically for hours and not get tired of it. However there is one big difference between the two people – my ex was more sympathetic and far more gentle with my emotions as where this person that I recently met was not at all. She’s open-minded to my thoughts, but not considerate of my feelings.

There have been several instances where I either offended her and she let me know it, won’t let me forget it, yet doesn’t want to talk about it and also several times where she hurt me, seemed completely unaware of it, didn’t care when it happened and was extremely defensive (in my opinion) when I behaved defensively (although was not accusatory, just stated why I was hurt). Because she feels slighted by things I have done unintentionally (and apologized for/tried to correct without success to prevent future upsets), she seems to have no problem bringing it up out of the blue, especially if something she’s done bothers me. These guilt trips are a huge problem for me. I place a great deal of my own self-value on how I affect other people because I highly value being a good person and I see treating others well as part of that definition. It makes me upset that I have hurt her, yet she will do nothing to allow me to fix it yet for some reason has no problem initiating contact and acting as though she wants to be friends. This is a nightmare for me, because it creates a vicious circle that I cannot get out of or fix. On top of the fact that I hate cutting people off because I feel that everyone’s worth as a human being demands forgiveness and feel attracted to her, she also feels left out of our social group and alone. To me, she has partly admitted to be very much in the closet and is so afraid of it that she borderline thinks it’s wrong (meaning I think she hates that part of herself). Because I have a bleeding heart, this makes it very, very difficult for me to walk away from her because I know that at least part of the reason she treats me the way she does is because she’s hurting and scared. Basically, she makes me feel attracted, empathetic (I remember and still know what it feels like to be an outsider AND to have been in the closet), and trapped. I feel like an emotional punching bag for her and to me…that sounds a lot like an abusive relationship. There’s no physical abuse involved, but I’d almost prefer it because feeling sad for her and feeling to a certain degree to be the cause of it really hurts my self-esteem and she doesn’t care. She cares when I direct my frustration at her, probably because it makes her feel unpleasant but not because she feels bad that she’s contributed to the reason that I’m sad. She just knows she doesn’t like feeling that bad feelings are directed toward her. I don’t think she cares why. And I highly doubt she will take any of that responsibility.

It’s very confusing to me, because despite being rather cold emotionally and having trouble with empathy, I actually do think she’s a good person. She wants to study medicine because she wants to heal people and help people. She even wants people to help people do better day to day and not just save lives when it’s dire. I think physical needs is something she understands very well, it’s tangible and measurable, so she sees right in front of her very plainly that someone is for a fact, hurting and what the source of it is, so helping them is not so hard for her in that way. When I got unexpectedly sick one night from (what the doctors assume) was a food allergy, she calmed me down, assessed whether or not it was an emergency and did everything she could to make sure I would be comfortable and recover. And this was also shortly after a big fight we had had and many of my friends were there to help me, so she could have easily walked away and let me suffer if she wanted to, but she chose to help me. She could have let my friends take care of me (especially after assessing that I wasn’t in life-threatening danger) but she stayed. And I think she really did it because she wanted to help me. I remember her saying things like “Do me a favor and breathe deeply, from your diaphragm like you do when you play your trumpet” (might not be word for word, I was very sick and couldn’t even open my eyes) but I remember because I know the reason she used the trumpet metaphor was because she knew I’d pay attention and respond. She knows we share that love of classical music and that it would distract me a little and also give me a clear idea of what she wanted. She’s not totally heartless, I do think she’s a good person. But…

Is it worth it? Probably not. We’ve gotten into like 3 or 4 serious fights in just the short 2-3 weeks that we’ve been talking closely. I think I also need to remember that we started talking with the intention of being just friends, she probably doesn’t have any of the romantic feelings of attraction for me that I do for her, and I think that my feelings of attraction make me feel exceptionally rejected every time she gets mad at me. She’s also very good at compartmentalizing her feelings, which may be useful in a professional setting but in another other and especially in close relationships, I really don’t think that’s helpful. I couldn’t do that even if I tried. I can hide feelings at work if I must but make no mistake, it all comes pouring out to my trusted friends and journals. I don’t want to hide them either. I think it’s unhealthy and causes even more stress on your body. However, I sometimes wish that I just didn’t feel so much to begin with. It’s a completely useless thing to do because I can’t change what I have no control over, but I still wish it against my best logic. If I didn’t care so much, it would be so much easier to just throw her into the sixth circle of friendship, slam the door, and move on. But then again, I guess if I could do that, I wouldn’t be me…I’d be her. And I don’t want to be like her. I don’t want to be cold and uncaring about someone’s feelings. I don’t want to be closed off to the world and hidden in the closet (I’ve been there once and I will never go back). I don’t want to be distrustful and impatient. But…I’m tired of hurting. And I also don’t know what I’m going to say to her when she eventually says something to me. I don’t know how to turn her down.

This is all seems so dramatic and I don’t understand how it got that way, we’re not even physically or romantically involved. It’s like a romantic relationship with none of the benefits and ALL the fighting. I also don’t know what I’m writing this for…it’s not like anyone can help me do what I obviously need to do. I know the answer, I’ve said it all over and over again to many people so hearing more answers isn’t going to be helpful and at this point is just over-analyzing. I feel like sooo much of my life is like this situation. I’m tired of it. Maybe I just needed to vent.

Or maybe I just needed to see the answer as black and white in front of me. 

Amber Alerts

This article begins with a Facebook status that a friend of mine, a student-teacher, posted yesterday saying, “Amber alert tripped off six of my students’ phones in class today. Hope the kid gets found.” One of her Facebook friends (after having the term “Amber Alert” explained to her) responded to the post with the following comment, “seems like an invasion of personal property to me… i mean, the sound thing just goes off without your consent, you could have been sleeping, near a baby that was sleeping, in a library, drs office…anywhere where being quiet and having VERY LOUD, SURPRISING NOISES would be a bad thing.”

It’s true, there are places that would be inappropriate for this to happen, but as I understand it, the Amber Alert (which is a default setting) can not only be changed, but also will not make noise if the phone is on silent. It behaves as a usual text message would, if your phone is on the proper setting. Basically, someone who was upset about this, probably doesn’t know how to properly operate their phone or doesn’t know how to take any responsibility for themselves. For example, it would be a very bad thing for a loud text message to go off while a brain surgeon was operating…but I would also expect that someone who lives under those conditions every day would know to shut their phone off, put it on silent, or even leave it out of the room if they were operating. For Christ’s sake, they’ve got their hands in someone’s delicate purple alien brain goop! Therefore, a good surgeon would recognize that their situation is both unique, important, and take the responsibility to take the necessary precautions to ensure that their own phone didn’t go off. The same goes for anyone else who’s daily life depends on complete silence. Your problem, your responsibility, you have the option available to you to fix it right under “settings.” It’s not hard or time costly to figure it out.

That being said, I do not believe Amber Alerts are in “invasion of privacy,” they are an emergency. Emergencies are not an inconvenience to you, they are your fucking responsibility as a halfway decent human being. Someone’s child is being abducted and could die. While it’s true that suffering is relative and people are dying all the time all over the world, and you can’t just stop to save everyone, those people’s problems are indirectly related to you. They live far away and you most likely have few or little resources to do much about it. However, Amber Alerts go off for child abductions in your local area. This is for more directly related to you – this is your community. Do you really want some scumbag criminal who hurts minors of all people, running around free in your area? Do you have children? No? Oh well, know someone who does? How comfortable does it make you feel knowing people who could potential hurt or take them are close to you? How do you think the mother or father or grandparents of that child feel? How would it make you feel to be in their position?

This scenario is very similar to that of an ambulance behind your car in heavy traffic with its siren on. Yes, it is loud. Yes, it has annoying flashing lights. Yes, it slows everything down. However, someone is DYING or in a very serious health situation. True, it doesn’t involve you because you don’t know them and you don’t have the skills or resources to save them…but at the very least you could get the FUCK OUT OF THE WAY. Your refusing to move quickly could be directly related to why that person dies. Do you really want that guilt on your hands? Of course not! Regardless of the fact that it’s also illegal not to move your vehicle, most people pull over without a second thought simply because it’s the right thing to do. After all, if it was you or your wife, husband, best friend, you’d want people to move too – giving that person at the very least, a chance to make it. Life is so fragile and precious, dying before we’re ready is a fear that we all have in common.

Amber Alerts are no different and in fact, are even less of an inconvenience. It only goes off on your phone, should you be too lazy not to change the setting, in the form of a text. You don’t even have to read it! But honestly, would it kill you to take a peak when it was at an appropriate time to do so (i.g. not driving your car and/or getting out of the way of that ambulance)?

And secondly, how is it an invasion of privacy? The text does not read your phone’s information (other than your current location to know if the event happened close to you and also can also be turned off by the user). It does not send information on your location, take any pictures or download any of your phone’s content. I’m pretty sure what that person meant was that it felt invasive because it bothered her because felt out of her control or made her feel annoyed. And yes, to a certain degree, it is out of there control in that the phone came with that app whether you wanted it there or not. It’s an emergency, and the iphone makers were brazen enough to dare to deem an emergency worth reporting to you immediately. Heaven forbid you should know some very basic information about a suspect’s hair and eye color or the model/make of the vehicle that may be hiding a child. How dare they startle you like that!

The second though lesser benefit that Amber Alerts create is added pressure on the kidnapper. They may or may not have an iphone with them, but if they do and get the message, that’s got to be unsettling. It’s like getting a text that says, “Hey guess what asshole? Now everyone’s on the lookout for you, not just the cops!” Even if they don’t get the text on their phone, people’s phones all around them could be going off. All message boards on the freeway, all radio and television broadcasts are stopped dead to deliver that message. Imagine how overwhelming that could feel. Why does that matter? It will give the abductor anxiety and worry. People who are worried make fast and often irrational decisions and some make mistakes. They are more likely to be caught, or maybe even feel so guilty or scared of being harmed that they’d give themselves or the child up. The minor is more likely to be saved.

Amber Alerts, especially on your phone are a good thing. People are glued to their phones (for better or for worse) and take them everywhere, so it’s the best way to notify the community that there’s a problem.

I don’t want to hear anyone complaining about emergencies being an “invasion of privacy” or an “inconvenience” again. Remember that it could be your child or family’s child missing and think about how it would make you feel if people felt annoyed or upset about one text alert.

Before this online argument over Facebook, I couldn’t imagine there was even a need to write this kind of article, but then someone had to go and prove me wrong…again. At least the good news is that they found the little boy who caused this whole argument, alive and well. Maybe there’s a little hope for humanity after all.

http://ktla.com/2014/03/10/amber-alert-issued-after-alleged-child-abduction-in-long-beach/#axzz2vbjxlbOT

Putting Myself in Ron’s Shoes

For the sake of a writing exercise and philosophical musings, I wonder what I would see and experience if it had been me in Ron’s place during the destruction of the locket in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” The locket showed Ron his greatest fears and insecurities in a last attempt to protect itself, “I have seen your dreams, Ronald Weasley, and I have seen your fears. All you desire is possible, but all that you dread is also possible… Least loved, always, by the mother who craved a daughter… Least loved, now, by the girl who prefers your friend… Second best, always, eternally overshadowed…” He saw his mother and father favoring Ginny over him, the youngest of several brothers all of whom had done things he felt he could never achieve, never be as talented as. He saw his two best friends forming a romantic relationship, ousting him and calling him the weakest and most worthless of the group. He felt there was nothing he could do to be worthy of love and attention. Personally, I was constantly angry with Ron for his lack of regard for knowledge/books, the way he talked about house elves, his rare but too often mean digs he took at people who were misunderstood, and obviously, his having abandoned Harry and Hermione (though I admit it was under the influence of the horocrux). Perhaps if he had been a little more understanding of people who were just as much an underdog as he was and even just tried a little harder to pay attention to his studies, I’d feel less sorry for him. In short, Ron was lazy and not very sympathetic. However, I do understand feeling so beaten to begin with that nothing you could do would matter. I also acknowledge that despite Ron’s insecurities , he did prove them wrong and sometimes corrected the moral errors that he made. He was not without talent, he passed his exams and was even a quidditch hero at one point, proving he was not without talent altogether. He returned to Harry and Hermione, he bravely destroyed the locket even though it attacked him where he was most vulnerable. Now , I think I could have destroyed the locket facing Ron’s fears because I believed they weren’t true, but what about if it had been my own? The locket wouldn’t have shown me what Ron fears, it would have attacked me with what I fear.

I raise the sword, Harry hisses in parseltongue, opening the locket and several voices surround me in a circle. They all start yelling at me so fast that I can’t think to argue, My mother appears in front of me ,”You’re just not trying hard enough,” children on the playground “What are you doing? You’re so weird” teammates from rugby, “You’re not good enough for this level” “Did you really think you could compete with someone like us?” professors from college, “What makes you think you’re any different?”  My boss, ” What is this crap? What’s wrong with you?” My coach from college,”Why don’t you just tell yourself it will be fine, why don’t you just decide to be happy?!” My sister, “Too bad you didn’t keep studying, I’m younger than you and I already know far more, you should have kept studying social issues. You’re ignorant.” My own voice booms like it’s on a loudspeaker so people can hear for miles, “What makes you think you could possibly have a new idea, one worthy of the greatest authors of our time?” “You are worthless, you are insignificant, nothing you do matters!” “You’ve been wrong this whole time” “You’re not kind to others, you’re so self-centered!” “You’re a bad person.” If the locket itself were to speak, it would say “You know you could have been worth something if you’d just have tried harder, but it doesn’t matter because you have no great talent anyway. Had you really had potential, had you really been a good person, she would never have left you, or you’d at least have someone new. Everyone’s got someone but you.” And then a figure would form that I’ve feared for two years, a face I hoped I’d never have to face again, the person that brought me the most joy I’ve never known and also the greatest sadness. She says flatly with no emotion at all, “I don’t think about you at all actually. You made me miserable. I regret it more than any relationship I’ve ever had and I’m going to repeat to you the same thing I said then because clearly you didn’t get the message and nothing has changed…”

I’d crumple to the ground and throw my hands over my head, “No! Please, don’t say it! Just leave me alone!”

Her cold voice ignores my pleas and her lips part to kill me, “You aren’t worth loving.”

“Please, NO! You don’t mean that! How could you say that to me?! To me?! After all the things we shared! I loved you!” Then I’d realise all over again, like I do every day, I probably will never have a relationship like that one again. I want so much not to care, to believe that the only thing I care about is what I do in the world, but it’s just not true – being alone scares me and it, she, will haunt me forever. I will never be rid of her.

The locket would laugh at me, “You see your insignificance? Have all your past failures not taught you anything? Why would you think someone like you, someone so weak could stop me when so many people so much greater than you failed?!”

Could I stand up, grip the sword, charge up to the swirling figure of the girl who brought me to my knees with just a few words, swing the sword though her face, a face I loved too much to have ever said the words she had in fact said to me just years ago to smash the locket on the other side? I don’t know that I could. I like to think I’m strong enough to fight all my inner demons, but I don’t know that for sure. I know there’s a truth to all the things I fear but there is also lies. A person is not what they fear, a person is the actions that they take. The question is, could I make it past the pain, see past the lies and destroy evil? If that’s what it took to stop evil, could I do it? Aren’t these also battles we face every day? But how humiliating would it be to have them broadcast in front of our friends like Ron had experienced in front of Harry. I see myself crumpled to my knees in front of my teammates quite possibly crying, huddled under my own arms. They all hear what a failure I really believe I am, that I think I’m never enough, that I’m never trying hard enough or doing enough to be worthy of respect, that I don’t think I’m attractive enough or kind enough to deserve a girlfriend and worst of all, they’d hear what my last girlfriend had really said to me. It’s not that they’d believe her, but they’d wonder what I could have possibly done to finally make her snap and say something like that to me. They’d wonder why I couldn’t just get over it and forget that she’d said something like that, because who would allow one person to hurt them so badly? Who’s self-esteem is really that low? In reality, I think everyone has some bad memories and fears of the future like mine but we all fear we’re the only ones. I like to believe I’d fight back and remember that who I am is someone who could set all those insecurities and wants aside to save not only myself, but everyone else. Evil can’t be allowed to win because I’m afraid of myself. I think that’s what evil counts on more than anything, our being afraid and feeling alone. We must just remember that we’re not alone and to stand up for each other. When one person stands up, stand up with them, don’t let them go alone. Be brave and be together.

The Olympics, The Triwizard Tournament, and Cedric Diggory

“Today, we acknowledge… a really terrible loss. Cedric Diggory was, as you all know… exceptionally hard-working… infinitely fair minded… and most importantly… a fierce, fierce friend. Now, I think, therefore, you have the right to know exactly how he died. You see… Cedric Diggory was murdered… by Lord Voldemort! The Ministry of Magic does not wish me to tell you this. But not to do so, I think, would be an insult to his memory. Now, the pain… we all feel at this dreadful loss reminds me… Reminds us. …while we may come from different places and speak in different tongues, our hearts beat as one. In light of recent events, the bonds of friendship we’ve made this year will be more important than ever. Remember that, and Cedric Diggory will not have died in vain. You remember that. And we’ll celebrate a boy who was… kind and honest and… brave and true right to the very end.” Albus Dumbledore/J.K. Rowling

The horrifying thing about this is that this event and death of a boy is not truly fictional. Right now many, hundreds, maybe even millions of gay/lgbt people in Russia are being oppressed and many have been killed.

It seems to me that it is fitting that Dumbledore’s speech should be echoed now, in the present time more than ever because we as a “world” (not all countries are actually present) are in the middle of the olympics in a country that is very homophobic.

Cedric was “a spare” who “got in the way” but also think about who he was at Hogwarts…he was taken by a house that is the least popular. A house that would take anyone, but only if they were hard-working, fair-mind, loyal, and kind – that seems to be the part that everyone forgets. People who are good and seen as not important get picked on and bullied because bullies think no one will stand up for them. Now Cedric happened to be very popular, because despite his house’s unfair reputation, he was also handsome (an unfortunate but realistic quality that is prided in the real world), kind, loyal, “infinitely fair minded, and a fierce, fierce, friend.” That is to say, that despite his house’s reputation, he was very well liked. Unfortunately, being nice was not enough to save him. Voldemort at least gave Harry a sporting chance because his followers were impressed with Harry’s ability to survive to that point, Voldemort wanted to prove that he could defeat him despite this. With Cedric, he ordered him murdered by Wormtail immediately because he believe no one would stop him…

THAT NO ONE WOULD STOP HIM.

Cedric was just one person, just one boy, from the house that was the most opposite of his own. People say Gryffindor is the most opposite of Slytherin but they are wrong. Gryffindors are very aggressive, confident, and brave. The only difference is that they see bravery as being a positive deed while Slytherins value only those powerful deeds that gain them something. That’s not to say that Slytherins are evil, many I’m sure were good people, but in principle, the houses were actually very similar. Hufflepuff house did not value bravery alone, for bravery for the sake of bravery is just showing off. Hufflepuffs believe in kindness and loyalty above great deeds. If great deeds are necessary to obtain this goal, then they will do it. This is why they had the second highest number (right after Gryffindor) of students who stayed to fight at the battle of Hogwarts. That is to say, the house that most valued diversity and acceptance, regardless of your background and talent was what Voldemort most dismissed, seeing it as a weakness, and that was a huge mistake.

Because when you get right down to it, when you force people to pick one or the other, they either believe in accepting diversity or they don’t. There’s a lot of gray matter as to whether or not they agree with every cause, but if push comes to shove, they realize that it is better to accept even the people they’re not sure about then to hate everyone altogether.

If we had to pick whole countries to represent this scenario, I’d say that America was Gryffindor and Canada, the country ever over-looked for their kindness was Hufflepuff. You underestimate them, while America has a lot of great people who made a stink about Russia’s treatment of the gays, our country as a government did little. Obama arranged to have Billie Jean King go who couldn’t at the last moment and ice hockey player Caitlin Cahow, which is symbolic but not an outright protest. We instead set out to prove through our bravery and power that we were better by winning more medals. More great deeds. Canada on the other hand, flipped Russia the politest bird they could muster:

They said far more straight-forwardly that they believed there was nothing wrong with being gay and that being homophobic was ridiculous, especially considering what serious Olympic athletes are required to do – touch each other, hug each other, cry together, put aside the competition to help others in the spirit of being human like this guy:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/olympics/canadian-ski-coach-plays-good-samaritan-to-fallen-russian/article16800279/

Really, this is what the spirit of the Olympics are meant to be about! Struggling together and sharing our humanity and the abilities we should be free to pursue as humans.

Now there’s lots of great Americans as individuals, but as a country, our aim has stayed the same – only do it if we get something powerful out of it. Don’t get me wrong, if there was a physical fight, we’d be right there to defend what we believe is right, but Canada responded more the way you’d expect a truly brave person would, with non-violence but not backing down on their beliefs. Maybe it’s because Canada knows what it feels like to be invisible and underestimated for their kindness, except to be verbally insulted and bullied by the other countries because it is assumed they won’t stand up for themselves and especially because no one else would stand up for them. It is very hard to say this if you look at this as if through the eyes of all of history, but at least within the context of just the last year and these olympic games, Canada has us beat. Hufflepuff won this time. They may not have won the house cup, nor the quidditch cup but when their triwizard champion was brutally murdered and thrown aside as if his values as a human being (and an excellent one at that) didn’t matter, Canada stood up. They stayed when it mattered, they didn’t run away or even hide their feelings, they stood and fought.

Do not make the mistake of thinking the values of kindness and loyalty makes them weak or unable to think for themselves. Kindness is not a weakness. Loyalty (in this case) is not thoughtlessness. And Canada is NOT weak. They’ve earned my respect, and I will remember this next time someone talks smack about them. They’ve got the right ideas. We must stand together as the Olympics once called us to do, to remember what we unite for and fight for – that we all share our humanity and the rights that come with it.

Russia and the board at the Olympics does not want you to remember that this is being covered up, but to not do so would be an insult to our humanity. Do not simply forget the when the Olympics end and the media leaves Russia, that the battle that the lgbt community faces is only just beginning. We cannot abandon them just because it’s easier to forget. Russia is a powerful country that does not deserve its power.

“Now, the pain… we all feel at this dreadful loss reminds me… Reminds us. …while we may come from different places and speak in different tongues, our hearts beat as one. In light of recent events, the bonds of friendship we’ve made this year will be more important than ever. Remember that, and Cedric Diggory will not have died in vain. You remember that. And we’ll celebrate a boy who was… kind and honest and… brave and true right to the very end.”

***I did not make this video, I only wrote the article.***

-AJLion, 2014

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