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Daily Words as Defined by a Rugby Player

Define the following things in your own words:

  • Work: That place I go when I’m not at rugby things, so I can afford rugby things.
  • Car: That transporter that takes me from the place I sleep at night to rugby things.
  • Bed: That place I sleep when I’m not at rugby. It’s kind of like a giant tackling pad.
  • Bar: Place I go for rugby socials and to magically lose valuable items like my keys. Now how am I going to get to practice?!
  • Paycheck: You mean dues? Or did you mean airplane fare?
  • Pain-Free: …I don’t understand the question. Is that a thing? Like, feeling less sore because it was a practice day and not game day?
  • Sunscreen: That stuff I put on to prevent awkward sock/short tan-lines. It doesn’t actually work but I like to pretend it does.
  • Teammates: My family. And the family who promises not to tell my other family the things I have been doing with my life.
  • Blood: That red, iron-like liquid I wash off my uniform every Sunday morning and the reason I own so much hydrogen peroxide.
  • Saturday: Game Day. On the sixth day, God created Rugby Day and he saw it was so good that he threw a celebration which he called “a social” and got really drunk.
  • Sunday: A day of rest. On the seventh day, God rested because he was really tired, bloody, bruised, and hungover. Also because he couldn’t find his keys that he lost at the bar so there was no point in trying to go to work.
  • Football/NFL: A sort of barbaric game only men play (females are excluded and it is highly frowned upon for homosexuals to play), involving uncoordinated tackling while wearing giant pads and helmets and stopping after every tackle for a water break. These players are apparently above the law as well, so long as they follow the rules of the NFL.
  • Rugby: A humble game where everyone is encouraged to play and accepted as family. A game of grace, honor, blood, sweat, tears of sadness and joy. 80 minutes of play that exhaust the player while simultaneously reminding them why life is beautiful.

The Answer is Always to Love

I have seen a lot of hatred in the last few weeks. Some of it was caused by the NFL domestic abuse case and oddly enough, coincided with an article about “Beauty and the Beast.” The common theme I keep hearing from these articles is, “Sometimes, love isn’t enough. Love doesn’t change anything.”

I’m sorry, but once again, you couldn’t be more wrong.

In the case of domestic abuse, I would never advocate that a victim stay with their abuser. I just want to say that up front. A victim loving their abuser by itself, is not enough to keep the abuser from beating and even possibly killing the victim. However, that does not mean love is useless. The people equipped to help those abusers, counselors and support groups, those people all come from a place of love. We know that when people go to prison, it usually only gets worse because prisoners are surrounded by violence. Sometimes this can’t be helped because the person is just too dangerous to be out in society, but it doesn’t actually make things better. It’s just a band-aid fix because as a society, we just don’t know what else to do to keep people safe. Back to my original point, when people are transformed, it’s because someone showed love and compassion, sympathy for their situation. Most criminals who are violent are violent because they were also a victim of abuse or were desperate for something that society failed to provide for them.

In the case of “Beauty and the Beast,” there was a child with no parents who grew up spoiled and unloved. He had within him, the ability to be gentle, thoughtful, and loving, but he needed help. When he was magically transformed into the animal-like appearance that give him his name, his community only saw what they wanted to see, a monster. Fear is a strong and dangerous thing. Shunned from society, it was not until he met another person, Belle, who was also an outsider in their community, to change his heart. Aided by this friends and Belle’s patience, he was able to control his temper and learned how to express affection for others in a way that was socially appropriate and kind.

I do think that there is some evidence to suggest that Beast was borderline abusive. He threw temper-tantrums and screamed. He made Belle’s father a prisoner for trespassing and when Belle took his place, he would have treated her like a prisoner too, until his friends (again) recommended to him that there was a kinder way to treat her. The only reason I don’t say the case for abuse was strong, was because he never hit her and the words that he said to her were never ones that attacked her self-esteem. When he realized that he loved Belle, he released her, because that’s what you do when you love someone, you set them free.

Unfortunately, he was definitely not a significant other that I would have recommended to anyone else without first having Beast go through some serious psychological counseling (if the story had taken place in modern times). The fact that he never did hit Belle, and realized that holding her prison was merely manipulative before setting her free, really was highly unusual. Belle was really just extremely lucky that Beast merely sounded threatening but was really kind and gentle. Most people who have so much self-hatred and fragile tempers, are dangerous. I will repeat myself, Belle got lucky.

However, this does not actually take away from the story’s main message, that love transforms that which is ugly into something beautiful. That love sees beyond the superficial and can change lives.

Just because Belle was really not well-equipped to deal with Beast’s anger does not mean that other people who could have shown him compassion couldn’t help him. Counselors, doctors, and even family members (who make sure they do so from a safe distance) can still aid and save people who would otherwise seem lost. Show people love, compassion, patience, and with the proper tools and knowledge, their lives can be transformed. Show people anger, violence, and revengeful ways, and you can turn even the kindest person into a monster.

The missing element in abusive cases, is clearly that lack of knowledge and tools to deal with the problem in a constructive way. You are their spouse, you are not their counselor and you can’t be because it’s a conflict of interest. You’re not safe, and you’re not respected, so you are not in a position to be saving anyone.

But do not mistake that for saying that love cannot save people. Just because an abused girlfriend or boyfriend can’t save their significant other with love, does not mean that no one else can. It also doesn’t mean that the world cannot benefit from this movie. I believe that the movie never condone Beast’s behavior. He learned he was wrong and let Belle go. His friends told him “gently,” “you must control your temper,” “say please,” “give her something that sparks her interest.” They taught him how to show kindness instead of wallowing in pity and luckily, because Belle was bright and not superficial, she was able to see past his inarticulate ways and unusual appearance.

Movies are not realistic in many ways, but that is because they tell unusual stories. Beast was a giant toddler trapped in a animal-like body, who luckily, was able to control himself enough to learn how to love kindly. Belle was a beautiful, intelligent woman that was able to see past the superficial, and even love someone who was shunned by everyone else. They got lucky. And I know it’s very unusual and maybe in some ways unrealistic, but I still love this movie. If I ever have children, I will make sure they also get the chance to watch and love this movie – but we’ll also have some talks about abusive behavior and how to appropriately show strong emotions.

Apology to Jennifer Lawrence

I recently made a post defending victims of photo leaking online, especially the recent celebrities whose phones were hacked from the iCloud, but now I think I need to make a more important post about that incident.

I wrote the last post that I wrote, after I found out from a friend, who handed me her phone saying, “Look – Jennifer Lawrence, nude photos!”

I looked. To be fair, my initial thoughts were, “Gee, photos on the internet? Why should I believe for a second that these are real? Is this just some stupid joke right?” I looked. It wasn’t about trying to invade your privacy or oogle you because I believed what my friend was saying was a lie, but as soon as I realized they were real, I felt ashamed. Because I knew that those photos were not meant for my eyes or for anyone else’s but the person you gave them to.

I realized immediately, that I had made a mistake.

I want to personally apologize for looking at those photos. While I did not do it to hurt you, “I wonder if there’s any validity to these claims,” is not a good reason to actually look at them. I realized it too late. I wasn’t thinking clearly when I did it because someone just handed it to me and I didn’t process that decision the way I should have. It doesn’t really matter that my intentions were not meant to be harmful, because they potentially were. Having good intentions matters, but it does not mean that you won’t make mistakes.

I think that is very important that I own up to my mistake, not only because I need to admit when I’m wrong to be a better person than I have been also in an effort not be a part of the problem, but also so that others might follow suit. To be part of the solution. No one who looked is apologizing.

I am apologizing.

I am sorry if I hurt you. I am sorry that I saw something private that you did not give me consent to see.

If you are online reading this, Jennifer Lawrence, I hope my apology can in some way, help remind you that there are people who respect you as a human being and care about you – even if I have never met you. I cannot delete the photos that were taken of you. I cannot erase the fact that I or millions saw them, but I can apologize and say that as a human being, you deserve to be treated with more kindness.

Victim or Stupid? Why is this even a Question?

Facebook was flooded this week with comments about Jennifer Lawrence as well as several other actresses that had their nude photos hacked and leaked to the internet from their phones. What I found equally disturbing to the crime itself, was the way that the media and people I know talked about it. One of my Facebook friends actually posted a comment saying:

“If you are STUPID enough to take nude pictures, you get what you get.”

Really? I’d just like to know, what do you mean by “stupid?”

Because I certainly don’t think Jennifer Lawrence is a a “stupid” person. She is empathetically and emotionally matured beyond her years. She has several academy awards to prove that she is a successful actress. 

Did you mean that people who take nude photos in general are “stupid?” Because I guarantee to you, there are people all over the intelligent spectrum, including geniuses who have engaged in this activity or others of a pornographic nature. Those people certainly aren’t “stupid.”

Did you mean the activity itself is “stupid?” Because I can explain it to you if you like…but I think we both understand it’s about sexual pleasure and it need not be further explained.

By “stupid” did you mean “morally wrong?” Because that’s what it sounds like you’re getting at to me. An intelligent person certainly can do something morally wrong, but that is not the same thing as being “stupid.” And I’d also remind you, that being “stupid” in itself, not morally wrong, unlawful, nor makes you worthy of abuse.

Consider this similar scenario:

Public locker rooms, say at the city pool or at a public high school, are a place were women or men can undress and change into clothes appropriate for their next activity. People are meant to go into those rooms for one reason only, to change. However, locker rooms are easily accessible for anyone. All one really has to do, is acquire a membership of some kind. It would be quite easy, for someone to slip inside, especially while some stragglers are changing, and see whatever they wanted to see. They could even say…take pictures. People changing at that point are in a vulnerable position. Pretty much all they can do is run away, or try to cover themselves. Yet they did not lock the door, and they stripped down to nothing. Well then, I guess they deserved it didn’t they? Completely naked in a public place? Pretty scandalous right? Did they really think that the rules would prevent someone from taking advantage of them?

Actually, yes, yes they did, because we have agreed as a society that if a person was to take advantage of other people’s vulnerable situation, especially when they believe they have rules to protect them would be an invasion of privacy. Privacy matters, because such an event could be psychologically, socially, and emotionally traumatic for anyone who has not given their consent. Their would be no question that the actions of the photographer in this case would be unlawful and morally wrong (at least I hope their would be no doubt). 

Why should phones or the internet be any different? It is against the law to steal someone’s photos from their phone or the internet. And for a good reason. A person’s body belongs to them. What they chose to share with you, is all you get to see. That is what consent is. What happened to Jennifer Lawrence, is a form of sexual abuse and harassment. It is a crime. Why should the fact that she’s a celebrity matter at all? Is she not a human being? Can she not feel violated? Taken advantage of? Put on display like an animal in the zoo? Does she not have the same rights as any other citizen of the United States?

I can only assume, that because few would argue with me that the locker room scenario was not the fault of the victim (victim being the people changing in a room designated for that purpose alone) and that the person who either stared at them or took pictures was a predator, I must ask you why you think that the case with these internet photos are any different? What makes Jennifer Lawrence not a victim here? The person who stole those photos was a coward, who hide behind a screen to sell her for sexual reasons. They did it for money, and they didn’t even have to physically confront her to do it. Who is really more morally corrupt here? Why is anyone asking if she “deserved it” or if the photos make her unclean? Newsflash, taking sexual photos doesn’t make you a “bad person.” What people do sexually is none of your business, nor is it morally wrong, so long as all parties involved consent. The fact that she was sexual with one person, does not give anyone else the permission to be so with her body. If the people in the locker room scenario were in this situation, no one would say that they agreed to being photographed or stared at, simply because they were naked. Do you think none of them were ever sexual with someone at one point? The fact that they are naked and vulnerable at the time, that someone could take advantage of them, does not make it ok to do so.

Just because it’s easy, just because you can, does not make it morally right. Just because someone is not capable of protecting themselves, does not make them worthy of abuse.

Another thing I would like to ask the public about this whole ordeal, is why no male celebrities were targeted in this harassment? How often have you heard about or seen “dick pics” and why are those taken by male celebrities and why are those never the ones that get leaked and published? Why are men allowed to send out private photos that other people often do not consent to seeing, yet society looks the other way? Why are they allowed to feel comfortable with their body sexually and women are not? Men send these pictures out with consent, even boasting about their bodies, while women have pictures of their bodies stolen from them and yet we blame those women for being “immoral” or “stupid.” What is wrong with this picture?

Social Media Activism is not a “Waste”

Last year when the fight for Marriage Equality started an activism trend on Facebook which included the changing of a person’s Facebook profile to the symbol for the Human Rights Campaign, many social media “experts” and political activists claimed it was a “wasteful” and “useless.” The issue was brought up again recently when the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge took off on Facebook. To the people who believe media campaigns are “useless,” I’m sorry, but you could not be more wrong.

First of all, studies for business, marketing, and advertising all show that social media advertisement is a huge market for attention that only keeps growing. I don’t need to provide you with sources for that. Any major company will tell you that they have advertising presence in every major social media page from Facebook to Twitter to Youtube. If you want people to know about something, especially up and coming young professionals, you’re online.

This matters, because business studies will also tell you, that part of the reason that advertising works is repetitive messaging. The more times a person hears, reads, or sees something, the more the message fixes itself into your brain, whether you want it to or not. Even if you HATE the product or the idea that it “sells,” you’re more likely to buy it. Sells go up. Period. Even bad publicity in many cases, still means a raise in profits and attention because people remember it (obviously, there are some exceptions such as the Sea World/”Blackfish” situation, but in general, this statement holds true). They may not remember why they remember it, but they do. The more you think about something, the more likely you are to act on it. And most people also understand that when you buy into an advertisement, you’re really “buying an idea,” a lifestyle, it’s not the productive itself that sold you.

It’s not only hard to ignore the fact that around 3 million people changed their Facebook profile pictures for the Equal Marriage campaign simply because you saw the images and messages over and over again, but the fact that peer pressure kicked in also matters. The biggest way to “sell” any idea always has been (and most likely always will be) word of mouth. If your friends talk about it, if your friends endorse it, if your friends INSIST on it, you’re more likely to buy it. It’s a survival instinct because people are social animals that feel the desire to “fit in” with the group. This means, that even if someone didn’t change their profile picture or even doesn’t have a Facebook, they heard about it. They heard about it on the news, the read about it, someone who does have an online presence told them. That’s very hard for a politician to ignore. It may not have an immediate effect on the political sphere, but rest assured that in future campaigns, they will take it into account. The message that their is serious support and backing for gay marriage and for gay rights in general will sink in. Popular opinion matters to politicians, if only for selfish reasons.

If you want proof in the form of numbers that social activism “sells,” how about the fact that the ALS foundation raised over $5.5 million from the Ice Bucket challenge alone? You can’t say that $5.5 million dollars for research and support to a non-profit foundation is “nothing” or “useless.” Unless you can prove to me that the money doesn’t go directly to the Foundation or that the Foundation isn’t putting the majority of that money toward research and treatment of the disease.

Many people claim that the challenge wasn’t taken seriously by many people, who may not have even known what the disease is, because they jumped on the band wagon due to popular attention. That’s true. Many people did not and still do not know what ALS is after having taken the challenge. However, I will just remind you, that $5.5 million dollars was raised. I personally don’t care if the people who donated to the Foundation didn’t know what they were supporting nor really cared. However, I don’t think that most people who really fished out their wallets had zero idea why they were doing it. I can also tell you that I watched many videos where the participant either told you themselves what the disease was, admitted that they looked it up to find out, and/or even included links reminding people of what it was they were supporting. Several people also told me in person that they looked it up because they wanted to know. I also looked it up to expand my knowledge on the matter. The Ice Bucket Challenge did create real awareness for many people, even if there are some or even many people who didn’t “get it.” It does not take away from all the people who truly did have their eyes opened to it.

One of the things I heard echoed the most from people who either had the disease or had family/friends who had the disease was that they hated that no one knew what it was before this challenge (with the campaign for Marriage Equality, this is far less likely because if you changed your picture, you knew what you were doing and you strongly supported it because gay marriage is controversial). Before the Ice Bucket Challenge, they felt invisible, that no money would be raised because no one even knew or cared that they were in trouble. They said that they hated explaining to people over and over again why it was they were sick or had lost their loved ones. Suddenly, the struggle was hypervisual and many of these people have hope and feel supported, acknowledged again. One of my personal friends reached out on Facebook saying that she was so grateful to all her friends for doing the challenge because her mother had died of the disease and it reminded her of her mother’s bravery. I was surprised because the disease is supposed to be rare, I never knew that I knew anyone who was affected by it. Even if the money hadn’t been there, are the feelings and hope raised by people suffering from the disease more than enough of a reason to support the fad? I think so.

I cannot prove it, but I anticipate that their are more people who are having the same experience as I am across America right now. It also tells me, that there are more victims of rare diseases like ALS who are having similar struggles. Similarly, the campaign for Marriage Equality gave people hope. It bonded us together, made us believe that together, we can work miracles. Hope and support are very powerful tools, they are not to be taken lightly. And for a child who is struggling with disease or a gay child struggling with self-esteem, sometimes it makes the difference in whether or not you survive. Many studies show that people who have (for whatever reason), a more positive outlook on life, live longer. LGBT youth are more likely than most Americans to commit suicide. Positive thinking and self-confidence absolutely matter. They are not a “waste” nor are they “useless.” I am a person who knows what that pain feels like and every day that I logged into Facebook and saw that sea of red on my newsfeed, my heart got a little lighter. I was a gay youth in a small, homophobic town and to make matters worse, I suffer from genetic depression. I hated everything. I can tell you right now, if this “fad” had happened to me when I was still a teenager, it would have meant so much to me. Luckily, I survived.

While I suffer from a sickness that is often fatal without hope, depression is not as likely to kill you as ALS, and I can only imagine all the mixed feelings of pain and daring to be brave when you know it could blow up in your face and hope and confusion that may have gone through the mind of an ALS victim when they saw the Ice Bucket Challenge trending on all their social media sites. If it was even close to what it was like for me, I’d imagine that it was both overwhelming, and meant the world to them. It could mean literally everything to them, hope for the preservation or extension of their life. That hope may keep them alive a little longer, and even if it doesn’t, I certainly hope it brings them a couple of wonderful, “better” days. I know what those days feel like too. It always hurts, but some days are just better than others, and if we can give you even just one more of those days, I think any “fad” however silly it looks, is worth it.

While there are now several videos and articles from ALS victims that touch on this subject, including the Ice Bucket Challenge of Pete Frates who helped make the challenge popular, I think this one from Anthony Carbajal was the most touching:

Just remember that next time that someone tells you that social media activism is a waste, that it is not. If nothing else, it gives people hope. The next time that anyone tells you that something that makes you feel loved and connected and charitable to others is a “waste,” know that it does matter somehow. Sometimes it’s not making a difference in the way that you think it is, but it is making a difference. Never doubt the opportunity to help others. These things matter, they keep us all going and connect us to each other, and that is never a waste.

This is the Face of a “Thug”

Thug
noun
 1. a violent person, especially a criminal.
synonyms: Ruffian, hooligan, vandal, hoodlum, gangster, villain, criminal – Merriam-Webster.com
What makes someone dangerous or a criminal?
 
Someone is not a criminal because they wear clothes that are baggy, have holes, are hip-hop-related, associated with the lower-class, considered “gang apparel”
Someone is not a criminal because they wear a hoodie, sunglasses, or a hat that hides their face. 
Someone is not a criminal because they have tattoos or because of the way their hair is cut.
Someone is not a criminal because they throw up “gang signs” and it does not mean that they are in a gang.
 
Personally, I do not like to label anyone who is a human being as one thing. I don’t like to call anyone “good” or “bad” or “thug” because I believe that when people use those words, they are trying to make someone seem less than human. I also believe that all human life is valuable…even if it’s value is simply being an example of what not to do. However…if I was to call someone a “thug” or “criminal,” The person’s description might sound something like this:
 
1) Someone who is blatantly disrespectful for the feelings of others and takes advantage of those who have endowed them with the privilege and power that they have:
 
A person matching this description could be guilty of something like: urinating in public (showing a disregard for the comfort of others when it would have been easy enough just to find a restroom), spitting on your fans, egging someone’s house and causing a loud commotion in the middle of the night. Publicly calling out and humiliating the people who you’ve been intimate with and privately confided in you. And doing all these things knowing that because you are popular, you will not be punished for it. A person who does these hurtful things to others knowing their popularity and money will protect them. It is also not in the nature of this person to apologize or take responsibility for the unkind things they have done.
 
Admittedly, these are all minor offenses that are not illegal, but make them a generally unlikable person and they could certainly be considered “villainous,” which is part of the Merriam-Webster definition.
 
2) Someone who is both aggressive and cowardly/irresponsible.
 
This person is the type to start physical fights, be they in private or in public, and then hiding behind bigger people (say a bodyguard or a bouncer) to protect themselves instead of facing the consequences of their actions.
 
3) Someone who believes they are entitled to money and a luxurious lifestyle without contributing quality work or service to the society or community in which they live.
 
Art and music serve a purpose, but only if they do something more than casually entertain. Real art speaks to the human condition and the struggles and joys and responsibilities that come with it. It brings important questions to the table and leaves the artist’s peers with a sense of respect. It uplifts communities and helps to make us better people by questioning the way we live and celebrating life. A person who sings but does not leave the general community a better place than when they started nor is thought of as such by their peers, is not a real “artist.” They are not serving their community. A person who falsifies claims about being an artist and accepts millions of dollars because they think they “deserve it,” could loosely be labeled a “thief” and a “liar.”
 
4) Someone who has a blatant, selfish, disregard for human life and acts on those desires knowing that it could or will hurt other people:
 
The actions of this person might include something like drag racing on a public street or say, maybe drunk driving, or maybe doing both at the same time…This type of behavior could easily kill someone and drunk drivers do in fact, kill many people every day. This person would also make it worse by then refusing to take any responsibility for it, apologizing for it, or giving any reassurance that such an act won’t happen again.
 
5) Someone who is disrespectful of and believes they are above the laws that keep people safe and is disrespectful of law enforcement who are trying to do their job to protect possible victims of said broken laws:
 
This might be someone who resists arrest for doing an activity that is dangerous to others, like drag racing or drunk driving and then…oh I don’t know…is completely disrespectful of the law process that investigates these claims – doesn’t answer questions, rolls eyes, is generally uncooperative and wastes everyone’s time and tax money.
 
6) Is not intellectually curious, does not pursue academic nor culturally educational pursuits and does not engage in any other redeeming activities to better one’s self-worth to the community in which they live:
 
This person might have a great deal of money and political influence yet does little to nothing with their privilege to help others (or makes gestures that are ingenuine). Has traveled the world but made no effort to learn anything, bringing unwanted dangerous or unkind behavior into other people’s cultures and then leaving having benefitted from that community while attributing nothing or making things worse for the people that live there.
 
As I have mentioned before, I do not like to label people, especially in negative terms. However…
 
If I was to call someone a “thug,” with the potential to kill someone and the confidence to get away with it, it would be this person:
 
 
The fact that he has not yet killed or seriously injured someone is not enough for me to believe that he is not dangerous. He is aggressive, he engages in violent behavior, he has back-up, he has power, he does drugs, he doesn’t care about other people, and he “Biliebes” he can do whatever the hell he wants…and he’s unkind. This man is the man who is potentially dangerous. What makes someone a thug is not the way that they look, it is the way that they behave, the actions that they choose to take.
 
This gentlepeople, is a “thug” if there ever was one. This is white, male, straight, cis-gendered privilege if I ever saw it. He dresses the same way and appears to possess many of the superficial characteristics that the police and media deems “thug” worthy, except for one thing, he is white. Why are their hard-working, kind people and innocent children at the border literally (yes, literally) dying to come into this country when this selfish boy who was also an immigrant can stay here as a long as he wants with no consequences for the illegal things he has done? Why are people in Ferguson who are accused of petty, non-violent crimes being gunned down in the streets without a second thought as to their worth as human beings while this known criminal of dangerous activity was successfully arrested (and he DID resist arrest) without even minor injuries and walked away from jail unscaled? What he paid to the courts was, for him, considered pocket-change and the reassurance to the rest of us that the rich, white, celebrity male can do whatever he wants.
 
I am not an immigrant. I am not a person of color. But I am furious that the resources that are meant to be used to defend me and the people I love are instead being used to “defend” a border against people who need help and to pursue people (in a military style) who are accused of stealing things from a convenience store, while this boy walks freely among our citizens, accepted as if he has lived here his whole life and was family. I’m not saying that he never deserved that chance. He did deserve it, was given it, and now he should have lost that privilege. 
 
If you are not angry that innocent people are being treated as less than human while this boy who treats everyone else as less than human and thinks he himself is an untouchable god, is not in prison or kicked out of the country, then YOU ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION.
 

Knowing What’s Right, isn’t Always the Easy Part

People say all the time, “The hard part isn’t knowing what’s right, it’s doing what’s right.” Often times, that is very true. People are often selfish and they know what’s right, but it’s just too hard to do it. For me however, that is not what is hardest. That’s not to say that I don’t do the wrong thing and do selfish things, I do. I’m human, but most of the time for me, the hard part IS knowing what the right thing is. If you are a person who is educated on the injustice that plagues minorities of any kind in this country, the path of righteousness becomes clouded very fast. Trying to solve problems without making them worse or hurting someone else, is surprisingly difficult.

Have you ever watched a music video that tried to empower people with a heavy body by shaming people who are thin? Have you ever listened to a rap song that sought to empower black men by saying terrible things about black women? Have you read articles this week that tried to stop suicidal victims from taking their own lives by making them feel selfish about the people they were leaving behind? Have you heard people who call themselves feminists say that they don’t care about how men feel at all? 

If you’ve ever been on tumblr, chances are you’ve witnessed what I think of as “social justice warrior battles,” and more than just a few times. They happen everywhere, but they’re especially intense on tumblr, where people whose identities are hidden but hearts are passionate, regularly fling criticisms at each other.

Often, I find this to be so overwhelming that I just want to scream “STOP IT! Don’t you know who the real enemy is here?! You should all be working together, not against each other!” While some of that is true, I think we waste FAR too much time fighting each other, it is also necessary. We cannot randomly just assume that because some of us are victims (or all of us), that we know the right course of action to take or can therefore speak on behalf of other victims just because we feel entitled, or we risk creating chaos and making things worse. Everyone, everywhere has to check their privilege before you speak out on social justice issues and even with the mindset to be kind, it’s very difficult not to hurt someone. It’s not that your opinion doesn’t matter, it’s that your opinion isn’t based on the whole picture, limited to your own life experiences. It’s also very difficult to make social progress if no one acts. You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. Of course, I believe the right thing to do, is to just do something. No one can get better if we don’t try and if we don’t make mistakes. Apologies will happen regularly and hopefully they will be accepted, but even if they’re not, we should all keep trying.

I just find it very confusing when people say that we all know what the right thing to do is, because sometimes the answer is not so obvious at all. I can certainly tell you what the unkind thing to do would be, but the “right” thing? So controversial. I think that the real answer is that there is no such thing as the “right thing.” Just versions of progressive things. There is no path of righteousness, it’s more like a clouded forest and we’re all just walking along, bumping into trees and hoping we don’t get eaten by wolves. But maybe if we stick together, mark our progress and mistakes with little ribbons, we can remember what not to do and what we should do again, without the wolves catching and eating us. It’s just not necessary to treat anyone with aggression, especially if they’re already trying to accomplish the same goals that you are.

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